Elder Sylvester Hassell (1842-1928), Hardshell historian and apologist, wrote:
"Jesus is the Great Preacher, and, by His omnipresent Spirit, He preaches His gospel savingly to His people (Isa. 61:1-3,10,11; Luke 4:16-30; Heb. 2:11,12; Psalm 110:3)." (see here)
I believe that this position of Elder Hassell represents a middle position between today's Hardshells and the position of the Old Baptists prior to the rise of the Hardshells in the early 19th century. The position of most Hardshells, since the days of Hassell, has been to affirm that only a few of the elect will hear the Gospel and believe in Jesus, and that believing in Jesus is not necessary for final salvation. Some Hardshells today are seemingly going back to the position of Hassell and it is hoped that all will. However, going back to the view of Hassell, though better than today's neo-Hardshell view, nevertheless only goes halfway back to the original view of the Old Baptists who endorsed the Philadelphia and London Baptist confessions. Further, it is a serious error, one fraught with dangerous consequences.
Elder David Pyles, present day Hardshell leader, wrote:
"We allow that God has every right and all ability to preach the gospel himself without the aid of man. According to Galations 3:8, God preached the gospel to Abraham long before there ever was an apostle, elder, or missionary. It is presumptuous for us to take any position asserting that only man can preach the gospel." (see here)
"I believe I speak for all Primitive Baptists by saying that God will reveal Himself, in His own chosen way and degree, to all of His elect people here in time. In this sense it could be said that the gospel will reach all of the elect."
"These texts also show that without the "gospel" preached by God, one will never receive the gospel as preached by man. Observe that in the last verse, it is asserted that the Jews would not receive the outward word because they did not possess the inward word. Only God can implant this inward word, and He will do it to all of His chosen in time."
"While we allow that God may, in His own sovereign pleasure, quicken whom He will, where He will, and when He will, and while we allow that God may do all of these even among those who are, and shall remain, deprived of the true gospel as preached by man, the scriptures deny that uninspired man can identify the presence of a regenerate heart in the absence of belief in the Lord Jesus. Accordingly, we have no authority to offer the promises of the gospel to anyone who has not accepted it."
Jason Brown wrote:
"They have no Biblical hope of eternal salvation as long as they reject Jesus Christ, as all the elect have Christ revealed directly and spiritually at regeneration (John 17:3, 1 John 4:4), and this testimony of Christ and the spirit (1 John 3:24) quite precludes the worship of idols, even in those apart from the preached word by mental competence or geography." (see here)
This view says that the elect will hear and believe the Gospel, will believe in Jesus, but only as it is personally and directly preached to them by Jesus.
"For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?" (Rom. 10: 13, 14)
"So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Vs. 17)
There is no denying that Jesus preached the Gospel. There is no denying that he personally preached the same Gospel to both elect and non-elect. Further, there is no denying that Jesus revealed himself directly to certain men while he was on earth, both before and after his resurrection. But, does Jesus still speak directly to people today? Does he personally appear to people today as he did to the apostles? Apparently the Apostle Paul did not believe so, for he says that God has ordained that men hear the Gospel through preachers.
Jesus connected the salvation experience (called regeneration, conversion, or the new birth) with Christ being revealed to a person and hearing Christ speak.
"And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day." (John 6:39-41)
On this verse Dr. Gill wrote:
"That everyone which seeth the Son, and believeth on him; who so sees him as to believe in him; for this is not to be understood of a corporeal sight of Christ, or of a mere speculative knowledge of him, or historical faith in him; for it is not so to see him, as merely to believe what he is, the Son of God, the Messiah and Saviour of the world, or what he says, but to trust in him for righteousness, life, and happiness. Men are by nature blind, their eyes are shut to all that is spiritually good; it is the Spirit of God that opens blind eyes, and illuminates the understanding: and in his light men see not only themselves, their sin, and want of righteousness, and their lost state and condition, but Christ, and a beauty, glory, and excellency in him, ability and willingness to save, a suitableness in him for them, and a fulness of all grace..."
On Gal. 3: 1 Gill wrote:
before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth; meaning in the ministry of the Gospel, in the clear preaching of it by the apostle; Jesus Christ was the sum and substance of his ministry, in which he was set forth and described, and, as it were, painted to the life by him; the glories and excellencies of his divine person, the nature of his office, as Mediator, the suitableness of him as a Saviour, the fulness of his grace, the efficacy of his blood, sacrifice, and righteousness, were so fully, and in such a lively manner expressed, that it was as if Christ was personally and visibly present with them; yea, he was so described in his sufferings and death, as hanging, bleeding, dying on the accursed tree, that he seemed to be as it were, as the apostle adds,
crucified among you: for this cannot be understood literally, for he was crucified without the gates of Jerusalem; nor does it respect the sin of the Galatians in departing from the Gospel, as if that was a crucifying of him again, and a putting him to open shame; nor their sufferings for the sake of Christ, as if he, in that sense, was crucified in them, and with them: but it intends the clear Gospel revelation of a crucified Christ, in the preaching of him by the apostle, which was such that no picture, no image, no crucifix would come up to, and which, where such preaching is, are altogether vain and needless; and the clear view these saints had, by faith, in the glass of the Gospel of Christ, and him crucified, which so realized the object, as if it was present and before the natural eye. Now this was an aggravation of their weakness and folly, that after such clear preaching, and clear sight, they had of the Gospel, and of Christ in it, that they should in the least degree depart from it.
Christ is revealed through the Gospel. Christ speaks through the Gospel. Christ spoke through Paul. (II Cor. 13: 3) It is in the Gospel that men "see" and "hear" Christ.
If the view is correct that Christ preaches the Gospel personally to all the elect, then Paul would not have written these words:
"Yea, so have I strived to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another man's foundation: But as it is written, To whom he was not spoken of, they shall see: and they that have not heard shall understand." (Rom. 15: 20, 21)
On these words Dr. Gill commented:
"...he chose rather to go to such Heathen nations, as were wholly without any knowledge of him; who had only the dim light of nature to guide them; had had no promises nor prophecies of the Messiah, nor so much as any hints, at least very distant ones, concerning him; and where as yet the sound of the Gospel bad not reached."
But, if the heathen must have Christ to personally preach the Gospel to the heathen before Paul could have any success in preaching the same Gospel to them, then Paul could not categorically say that Christ was not known among the heathen.
"That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world." (Eph. 2: 12)
On Ephesians 2:17 Dr. Gill wrote:
"And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, &c.] Which is to be understood not of Christ's coming in the flesh; for when he came in the flesh, he came only to the Jews that were nigh, and preached the Gospel in his own personal ministry to them, and not to the Gentiles, who are the persons afar off; ( Ephesians 2:12 Ephesians 2:13 ) but of his coming by his Spirit in the ministry of his apostles, to whom he gave a commission after he had made peace and reconciliation by the blood of his cross, to go into all the world and preach the Gospel to the Gentiles in the furthest parts of the earth; and on whom he bestowed gifts, qualifying them for such service, and succeeded them in it by his power and grace..."
Dr. Gill did not believe that Christ personally preached the Gospel to the heathen before they heard the Gospel preached by him. He says that they were "without Christ" and "without hope" before they heard him preach Christ to them.
Here are the statements that represent leaven in the lump.
"He preaches His gospel savingly to His people" (Hassell)
"God has every right and all ability to preach the gospel himself without the aid of man" (Pyles)
"God will reveal Himself, in His own chosen way and degree, to all of His elect people here in time." (Pyles)
"...without the "gospel" preached by God, one will never receive the gospel as preached by man." (Pyles)
"...all the elect have Christ revealed directly and spiritually at regeneration..." (Brown)
But let us notice the problems with this view.
Problems with this view
1) It is not supported by Scripture
2) It is not supported by the London Confession
3) It makes apostles of all the saints
4) It makes Gospel preaching unnecessary
5) It makes Paul's teaching in Romans 10 false
"Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles?" (I Cor. 12: 29)
Two of the qualification for being an "apostle" was to have seen the resurrection Christ and to have heard him speak the Gospel, or impart revelation, directly. Thus, the view of the Hardshells who affirm such make apostles of all the elect. Thus, Paul could not have denied that all the elect were apostles.
These verses also show this view to be false.
"Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall also this, that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her." (Matt. 26: 13; Mark 14: 9)
If Jesus has preached the Gospel to the heathen prior to their hearing the Gospel preached by missionaries, then there should be evidence that the heathen know of the above story.
"And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen." (Mark 16: 20)
These words show that the Lord does not work apart from the Gospel preached by the disciples, but works with and through them.
"Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus." (Acts 8: 35)
But, if the Eunuch was already born again, as Hardshells affirm, then he must have already heard of Christ by the direct preaching of Christ to the Eunuch. But, obviously, the Eunuch had not heard of Christ prior to hearing of him through Philip.
"Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into." (I Peter 1: 12)
These verses affirm that preachers preach the Gospel "with the Holy Ghost," and thus with the power of God, and this is sufficient to reveal Christ.
Brother Bob Ross, in his book "The History and Heresies of Hardshellism," wrote the following in chapter six:
Is the Word Spoken by Christ More Powerful Than
Other Inspired Revelation?
According to various Hardshell sources, the new birth (regeneration) is performed by the direct Word of Christ, spoken to the "dead alien sinner;" allegedly, there is power in that Word, but there is no such power in, with, through, or by the Written Word or preached Word, according to this view.
The position of the Baptists who wrote the London Confession of 1644 [articles 14, 15] and the London Confession of 1689 [articles 10, 14] is rejected by the Hardshells, as both of those Confessions conjoin the Gospel, or Word, and the Spirit, creating the immediate, simultaneous repentance from sin and faith in Jesus Christ by the sinner. R. V. Sarrels wrote the only book by a Primitive Baptist which is represented as a "systematic theology." He does not quote a SINGLE Baptist Confession of Faith to represent the historic Baptist position. Rather, he repudiates what he calls the "Reformed" doctrine, which is set forth in the Westminster (Presbyterian), London (Baptist), and Philadelphia (Baptist) Confessions of Faith (pages 303-359). He didn't quote a single Baptist confession because Sarrels was not a historic Baptist; he was part of the modern "Primitive Baptist" CULT which at HEART is opposed to the Gospel of Jesus Christ being preached to the unregenerate. This malice against preaching to the unregenerate is the "axle" on which the wobbly wheel of the "Old School" turns in its BACKWARD path.
According to Hardshellism, the historic Baptist position would make regeneration "conditional" on the sinner, despite the fact that this position by Creedal Baptists asserts that the SPIRIT ALONE is the "efficient cause" of both repentance and faith. Irrespective of the Hardshell allegation, this was the position of 17th century Baptists, William Kiffin, Benjamin Keach, Elias Keach, John Bunyan, John Myles, John Gill, and the Baptists of the Philadelphia Association, the first association in America. (see here - capitals and bold lettering are the author's)
Bob also wrote:
"Gilbert Beebe (1800-1881), editor of the Signs of the Times magazine, the foremost Anti-mission periodical following the 1832 split, was perhaps the first one -- at least, one of the first -- to propagate this new theory of "direct speaking" regeneration. He says:
"The word of the Lord, which is Spirit, and which is life, which liveth and abideth forever, is that by which regeneration is affected; not MERELY by the Scriptures in their LETTER, not reading or preaching them, but the words which Jesus himself SPEAKS to the individual persons who are made to hear and live." [Compilation of Editorial Articles, Vol. IV, pages 21, 22].
Bob also wrote:
"This theory gives precedence of power to the spoken words of Christ, which He supposedly speaks directly to the individual. Notice that the "speaking," according to Beebe, PRECEDES the "hearing" and the "life." This would mean that Christ speaks to the "dead alien sinner" BEFORE the sinner is "alive." Therefore, the Word of Christ is addressed to the "dead," yet the Hardshells object to the Baptist position that the Gospel, or Word, is to be preached to the "dead," and is accompanied by the Holy Spirit in pursuance of God's sovereign purpose in effectual calling."
Bob also wrote:
"According to the Scriptures, Jesus preached the Gospel (Luke 4:16-21). Is the Gospel a part of the "WORDS" spoken by Christ which are "SPIRIT" and "LIFE"? Is this not the SAME Gospel that was preached by Peter, Paul, and the Apostles -- the "Words" of Christ which are "SPIRIT" and "LIFE"? Is not this SAME Gospel recorded in the Scriptures by the INSPIRATION of the Holy Spirit? Is not this Gospel "the WORD that goeth forth out of My mouth" (Isa. 55:11)? Is this Word void of spirit and life in its SPIRIT-INSPIRED WRITTEN FORM?"
Bob also wrote:
"If Jesus speaks this Gospel DIRECTLY to the dead alien sinner, then it is "spirit and life;" but when Peter and Paul spoke the SAME Gospel in the power and demonstration of the Holy Spirit which was "sent down from Heaven" (1 Thess. 1:5; 1 Cor. 2:4; 1 Peter 1:12), this SPIRIT-INSPIRED WORD which proceeded out of the mouth of the Lord (Matt 4:4) does not have "spirit and life," according to the Hardshell theory. The only time this Gospel has "spirit and life," according to the Hardshells, is when Jesus Himself speaks it directly to the dead alien sinner! When preached by Peter and Paul it was only to "comfort" those who had already been regenerated -- that is, if Hardshellism is true."
Bob also wrote:
"If Jesus speaks directly to dead alien sinners like He did to Saul of Tarsus, we who hold to the Gospel as a "means," according to the Baptist Confessions of Faith, marvel that the Hardshells who hear the Lord's words do not know their experience as Paul knew his. I have read numerous "experiences" in various Hardshell literature, and I have yet to read one that relates the details such as Paul recalls of his experience in Acts (chapters 22 and 26) and in the epistles he wrote."
"Hardshells are very "short" of any knowledge of what the Lord spoke to them, where He spoke it, and when He spoke it."
"We who have been born again under Gospel preaching do not have the same identical experiences, but we do know something about how it was that we became Christians. We hardly had the type of experience that Paul had, nor that the thief on the cross had, nor that Simon Peter had -- and I have yet to meet a Christian who claims such an experience. We don't believe the Lord speaks directly to the sinner, but we do believe that the SAME GOSPEL comes to us in the SAME POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT that the Gospel came to Paul. Whether it is spoken by Jesus, by Peter, by Paul, or read in the Bible, it is the SAME WORD OF GOD that is blessed by the SPIRIT OF GOD and it produces the NEW BIRTH."
"This is the Old Baptist doctrine of our Confessions. This is the true primitive Baptist Gospel. It is not a theory such as that concocted by those who are given to oppose Gospel preaching to dead alien sinners. It is not an excuse for avoiding the responsibility and privilege of obeying the Lord in bearing the Gospel message to the world as a means of reaching the elect of God whom He will call to Christ."
What an overthrow of Hardshellism and their "direct voice" speaking!