Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Avoiding Perseverance

Not long ago I made a couple of postings on the saints' perseverance, one referencing goods views on the subject, and the other bad.  The other day I received the comments of a local made upon Hebrews 3:5, with emphasis upon the expression "firm unto the end". It reads:
                                                  Hebrews 3:5
                                            "firm unto the end”

 “And Moses verily was faithful in all his house, as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after; 6 But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.”

"Many of the Hebrews in that day held to the Old Testament law service and revered 'Moses', but they rejected the Church of Jesus Christ. They neglected to see that while 'Moses' 'was faithful' 'as a servant' 'Christ' was and is 'as a son over his own house'. That is, while 'Moses' was a 'faithful' 'servant'; 'Christ' is the Master, Lord, King, and High Priest over His own House. In this case, 'his own house' refers to the Church here on earth, which is our 'house' on earth until we are called into the eternal 'mansions' (John 14:2) in Heaven. The Jews in the Old Testament and many in the New Testament did not hold 'firm unto the end' and they lost their privileged to the 'house of God' (I Chronicles 36:19). In both the Old and New Testaments, invading armies came and destroyed them because they did not 'hold' 'firm unto the end'. The message to us is, 'if we' do not 'hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end' we can lose our privilege to the 'house of God'; that is, as the Lord warned the Jews, 'The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.' (Matthew 21:43). When the 'kingdom of God' is 'taken from' 'a nation'; that 'nation' falls into awful ruin. Therefore, let us pray that, in our day and in our nation, the Children of God will faithfully 'hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end'!
(J.C. Stanaland, Notes from the Pastor's Trumpet)

These comments are an example of how conditional time salvation is used to avoid the Calvinistic doctrine of the perseverance of the saints.  Seeing the "condition" that occurs in the passage, the text is construed to say that the blessing and judgment under consideration must be one of a temporal nature which, of course, does not affect one's eternal standing with God.  Men may be finally saved, and yet not "hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end".  Consequently, the house of Christ is explained to be the Church here on Earth.  Being familiar with such argumentation, I know that the purpose for stating this is to convince the reader that this is something which only applies "while we live here", as the cliche runs.  Combine this with Landmarkism and misapplied amillennialism, which often accompany this false teaching, and unfortunately this interpretation will be readily received by not a few.

This passage ought to be compared with verse 14.  This will show that matters of eternity are under consideration.

"For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end;" (3:14)

Is it not necessary to partake of Christ for salvation???

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Elder W. Thompson on the Gospel

"The gospel is sent to men as sinners, lying in the ruins of the first Adam, lost and condemned under the sentence of death; and proclaims and reveals the righteousness of Christ, as the justification of the ungodly..." (Triumph of Truth, chapter 8)

Though the Hardshells love to claim Elder Wilson Thompson as one of their leaders and founders, he did not go as far as today's Hardshells.  I have already shown in other writings how Elder Thompson believed, as did Elder Gilbert Beebe and other founders of the "Primitive Baptist" denomination, that the new birth was experienced in being converted by the Gospel.  He certainly did not believe that the Gospel was sent to only the elect or to those who were already born again.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Old Baptist Confessions

R. L. Vaughn of "Ministry and Musis - Seeking The Old Paths" has posted links to two old Baptist confessions of faith for early 19th century associations in western Tennessee.  (see here)  One of these is the Forked Deer Association.  This association continued with a Hardshell faction until recent years when it was disbanded.  In my younger days as an Elder in the "Primitive Baptist Church" I visited churches in this association.  I want to copy some of the articles of faith of this association for the year 1825 and ask whether today's Hardshells are in agreement with them.

"Art. V. Although the Gospel is to be preached to all the world and sinners be called upon to repent and believe in Christ, yet such is their opposition to the Gospel plan, that they all freely choose a state of sin, rather than enjoy the blessings of eternal life. But "where sin abounded grace did much more abound," God of his mere good pleasure, "and that he might make known the riches of his glory," hath elected or chosen unto salvation in Christ, "a great multitude which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people and tongues." These by the regenerating influence of the holy spirit, are "effectually called," become dead to sin, and alive unto God, and being the subjects of repentance, faith, &c., and having the love of God shed abroad in their hearts, freely choose Christ for their Savior, and willingly devote themselves to his service by a life of holiness.   Art. VI. Those who are thus united to Christ by a living faith, have the full and free forgiveness of all their sins, & a complete justification of their persons, which favors are bestowed, not on account of any works they may have performed, or disposition they may possess, but solely on account of the merits of Christ, arising from his Suffering and death.   Art. VII. All those who are born of the spirit, and justified by the imputed righteousness of the Son of God, shall persevere unto the end, being kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation."   (emphasis mine)

More From Elder Hume

Here are a couple more citations from Elder Joel Hume from the 1863 debate.  They are further evidence of what the Hardshells believed at that time respecting evangelical faith and its relation to salvation.  (emphasis mine)

"So with every child of God, when the evidence comes before them that Jesus Christ is their Saviour, faith is irresistible. You know this is so, when you believed in the Lord Jesus; you could not help it. I do not remember how many kinds of faith there are in the Bible; there is such a theory spoken of as the faith of men and the faith of devils, as false faith, as little faith, as great faith; but the faith I have in view here, is the faith of God's elect. I inquire, who has this faith? The answer is, God's spiritual Israel possess that faith, and nobody else."  (Closing reply on 4th proposition)

"Respecting Brother Stinson's passage, "he that believeth shall be saved," the question is, how does faith come? Upon what principles do men realize faith? I read in the first chapter of Ephesians, that they believed according to the working of the mighty power of God, which he wrought in Christ when he raised him from the dead. What is the conclusion? It requires the same power to enable the sinner to believe in Jesus Christ that it requires to raise Christ from the dead."  (last speech last proposition)

Those Hardshells today who say that evangelical faith in Christ is optional to the elect, and that many of them will never become believers in Jesus, is not true Old Baptist doctrine.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Elder Hume on the Elect

Elder Joel Hume was a first generation leader among the newly created "Primitive" or "Old School" Baptist denomination.  Like many in his times, such as Elder Lemuel Potter, Hume claimed to be a "Regular Baptist."  In 1863 Elder Hume held a debate with Stinson of the General Baptist Church.  It was held in Indiana.  Here is what Elder Hume said about the Gospel being God's means in saving his elect.

 "I understand, my friends, that the Apostle is here introducing, for the instruction of his brethren, a system of salvation that embraces the finally and eternally beatified in glory--I had like to have said, the elect of God. It embraces the whole human family that ever did believe the gospel, and those are the only men that will be saved; and we maintain that they will be saved. There is no mistake; God will not be disappointed."  (Hume-Stinson Debate on the Atonement - 1863 - see here)

And again he wrote:

"Who are the elect? Why, all the family of believers. Is that the way to come it, too? All believers in Jesus Christ; every sinner upon God's earth that is born of Jesus Christ; I care not their name or color; every single believer on the Lord Jesus Christ belongs to the number. My view of the matter is this: God never intended to exhibit a plan that would result in no profit to them."

I have already shown how men like Elder James Osbourn, a leader in the "Old School" or "Primitive Baptist" antimission sect after the 1832 split from the Baptist family, believed that the Gospel was the divine means in effecting the eternal salvation of the elect.  (see here)

Thus, Elders W. T. Pence, E. H. Burnham, leaders among the Old School Regular Baptists, in the late 1870s and early 1880s, were correct when they contended that the means position was the historic teaching of the first leaders in the antimission movement.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Gowens's Preface Text

Although I disagree with its message, easily the most academic attempt at defending conditional time salvation that I have read is "Temporal Salvation: A Bogus or Biblical Concept?" by Michael Gowens. There are of course many things stated which I think are an error, one of the primary ones being the text set forth at the very beginning to launch the apology.  At the head of the treatise, a portion of Galatians 1:4 is inscribed:

"Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world...".

This is obviously meant to persuade the prospective reader that the text is supportive of this doctrinal novelty and the subsequent argument the author makes. It is cited however without the adjoining expression "according to the will of God, and our Father". This is a deceitful omission, intentional or no, for its inclusion would actually suggest that whatever salvation is under consideration is the product of God's decretive will. And any text of scripture which speaks of salvation as originating in the eternal counsel must be assigned to the category of eternal salvation, for what God decreed shall most certainly be brought to pass, and not left optional as time salvation teaches!

Is time salvation according to the will of God? If so, then why is it accomplished in but a few? If so, then how is it said in contradiction that this salvation must be obtained by free-will, in that the regenerate elect must "save themselves", per Acts 2:40? Furthermore, saying that time salvation is rooted in God's decree is to give semblance to absolutism, the very thing sought to be avoided by conditionalism!

These arguments overthrow the attempt to make Gal. 1:4 a proof text for conditional time salvation, which teaches that God has not guaranteed this particular salvation to His people. Rather, it is what He has left uncertain and contingent upon the will of regenerate sons to choose or not choose whether they want to become disciples.

Speaking of Christ, Gal. 1:4 actually reads in its entirety:

"Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world; according to the will of God, and our Father."

I suppose the reasoning is that since the deliverance is said to be from something present, that this is sufficient proof that there is such a thing as a time salvation which may or may not take place for the Lord's people.  This is a terrible error.  First, it divides asunder what God has joined together. Deliverance from the present evil world is part of what eternal salvation is!  It is an error (as time salvation does) to extract elements out of eternal salvation and make them part of another salvation.  I could say that sinners shall be delivered "from unbelief" or "from self-righteousness" or "from this present evil world" but that would simply be defining eternal salvation!   Second, it may further deceive those who have erected an unbiblical wall between time and eternity, or who are confused in thinking that the timely phase of salvation and time salvation are one and the same thing. May those so deceived come to see that eternal salvation INVOLVES being delivered from this present evil world!

As we have done in the past with our challenges to time salvation we choose to do the same here. In the light of Gal. 1:4, with the presumption that deliverance "from this present evil world" has reference of time salvation, we ask some questions with the hope that they shall be approached and answered with an honest conscience.

1) Are those for whom Christ gave himself the same as those who shall be delivered from the present evil world?

2) If they are the same and Christ gave himself for all His elect, then does this mean that all shall receive time salvation?

3) Is it true that Christ gave himself for all his elect, but shall grant time salvation to only a portion of them?

e.g. "Who gave himself for ALL, that he might save SOME of them from this present evil world"?

4) Is being delivered from this present evil world a "second" salvation or part of eternal salvation?

5) Does eternal salvation involve being delivered from this present evil world?

6) Does the expression "that he might" mean that Christ intended to render time salvation possible, or to make it certain?

7) Is it true to say that Christ might save His people from the present evil world, or that they might save themselves?

8) Is it the absolute intent of the Lord Jesus to give His people a time salvation, or something He has left contingent on the human will?

9) If the former, then why is it effected only for a remnant of God's elect?

10) Are there any blessings connected to the death of Christ that shall not certainly be given (Rom. 8:32) to those for whom he died?

11) Is the blessing of time salvation freely given as a result of Christ’s death?

12) Is time salvation the effect of Christ's work at the cross or the effect of human free-will?

13) Is the deliverance promised the inevitable effect of the redeeming work of Christ?

14) Was it the intent of Christ to accomplish an eternal salvation for all the elect, and a time salvation for the "elect within the elect"?

15) Is time salvation according to God's decretive will?