Tuesday, July 30, 2013

No Born Again Idolaters!

In reading the old periodicals of the "Primitive Baptist," such as the "Signs of the Times," the "Christian Doctrinal Advocate and Spiritual Monitor," and "The Primitive Baptist," during the 1830's, the decade of the genesis of the Hardshell denomination, I have discovered how different in beliefs they were to today's Hardshells. First, I find that they often cited Romans 11: 4-5, which reads:

"But what saith the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal. Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace."

Those old Hardshells saw this verse as teaching that all the elect, after regeneration, are no longer characterized as believers in such false gods as Baal, that they were made, by regeneration, believers in the one true God, and in Jesus Christ. This is not what today's Hardshells believe, however. Today's Hardshells believe that millions who worship and believe in heathen gods are nevertheless born again and of the elect. If they want to return to the faith of their fathers, they need to quit preaching that those who do not believe in Jesus and in the one true God are born again and of the elect. God's elect are not among those who "bow the knee" to false gods and lords. The "remnant," taught the Hardshell founding fathers, were "reserved" as a result of their election, and were therefore kept from false religion.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Hardshells Converted By Men & Money

Over the past 180 years, the Hardshells who have denied that God saves (regenerates or gives birth to) sinners by the preaching of the Gospel have argued that such a view logically leads to affirming that sinners are saved by money and that their salvation depends upon man rather than upon God.  Men must travel to preach the Gospel and there are expenses involved in traveling.  But, by this same logic, Hardshells must admit that their being "converted" or their experiencing "time" or Gospel salvation was by money and was dependent upon man.  A Hardshell preacher spends money on gas for his car to go preach.  A child of God hears the Hardshell preach and is "converted" by the preaching.  Was he not saved by men rather than by God, by Hardshell logic?  Was he not "converted" by money?

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Hardshells & Mission Opposition I

Chapter 144

Protracted or Revival Meetings

In beginning this series of chapters on the debate over the practice of church support of missions and missionaries, it is good to begin with the question of the methods used by evangelists and missionaries in addressing and persuading sinners regarding their being induced to be converted. The previous chapters titled "Addresses to the Lost" and "Hardshells and the Great Commission" should be reviewed by the reader in preparation for this issue.

In the "Black Rock Address" of 1832, which is the magna carta for the birth of the "Old School" or "Primitive" Baptist denomination, Hardshells spoke their mind on this issue under the heading "Protracted Meetings." They wrote:

"We now pass to the last item which we think it necessary particularly to notice, viz.: four days or protracted meetings. Before stating our objections to these, however, we would observe that we consider the example worthy to be imitated which the apostles set of embracing every opportunity consistently with propriety for preaching the gospel wherever they met with an assembly, whether in a Jew's synagogue on the seventh day, or in a Christian assembly on the first day of the week; and the exhortation to be instant in season and out of season, we would gladly accept. Therefore, whenever circumstances call a congregation together from day to day, as at an association or the like we would embrace the opportunity of preaching the gospel to them from time to time, so often as they shall come together; but to the principles and plans of protracted meetings, distinguishingly so called, we do decidedly object."

In the early 19th century there was a growth in revival meetings among the various denominations. These were generally special meetings that lasted several days and one of the purposes of these meetings was to preach the Gospel to the general public with the hope and expectation that sinners would be saved. There is no doubt that many of these revival campaigns went to the kind of extremes that the Black Rockers described. But, as in many cases, fighting an extreme led the Black Rock Hardshells to go to an opposite extreme.

One of the extremes that the Hardshells went to was their opposition to holding any protracted meetings. I have in my library a debate over this very issue that occurred years later. The topic became a hot issue in the early twentieth century because many Hardshell churches in the Mid-West were holding meetings for more than three days (and as some Hardshells do today) and some Southern Hardshells saw this as a departure from the old Baptist faith and practice. Elder W. A. Chastain of Springfield, Illinois defended having meetings for more than three days and Elder G. W. Stewart of Georgia opposed them. The debate was published in 1916 and titled "Discussion on the Worship of God."

Another extreme was in time manifested when many Hardshells began to deny that God used any persuasion via words and arguments to bring the unregenerate into a regenerate or converted state. In fact, many believed that the Gospel was not to be addressed to any man who was not already saved. Elder Gilbert Beebe wrote in the "Signs of the Times" in 1846 these words:

"...the gospel of God our Savior makes no address whatever to dead sinners; it addresses the living, the quickened, and them exclusively...But in their preaching they thus addressed the saints" (Article titled "Means" - see here)

This false idea I have shown to be both against Scripture and the teachings of the Old Baptists of prior centuries in my series on the Great Commission and on Addresses to the Lost.

The great Baptist preacher, Charles Spurgeon, battled such Hyper Calvinism in his day and said the following in his sermon "The Warrant of Faith" (1863):

"In our own day certain preachers assure us that a man must he regenerated before we may bid him believe in Jesus Christ; some degree of a work of grace in the heart being, in their judgment, the only warrant to believe. This also is false. It takes away a gospel for sinners and offers us a gospel for saints. It is anything but a ministry of free grace...If I am to preach faith in Christ to a man who is regenerated, then the man, being regenerated, is saved already, and it is an unnecessary and ridiculous thing for me to preach Christ to him, and bid him to believe in order to be saved when he is saved already, being regenerate."

In time the Hardshells became even more Antinomian and quit exhorting lost sinners altogether, as Elder John Watson bore witness to in his book "The Old Baptist Test." The first generation of Hardshells did, however, generally call upon sinners to repent and believe, but in time this practice was completely abandoned and many even decried the practice. The Black Rock Address spoke about being ready to preach the Gospel to those already converted, but were not so ready to preach the Gospel to sinners.

The citation above, from the Address, speaks of imitating the example of the apostles in preaching the Gospel.  But, the apostles did not limit their preaching to saints, but preached to all, to sinners.  They also preached the Gospel daily in a protracted manner. 

The Address also contained these words relative to protracted and revival meetings.

"The principle of these meetings we cannot fellowship. Regeneration, we believe, is exclusively the work of the Holy Ghost, performed by his divine power, at his own sovereign pleasure, according to the provisions of the everlasting covenant; but these meetings are got up either for the purpose of inducing the Holy Spirit to regenerate multitudes who would otherwise not be converted, or to convert them themselves by the machinery of these meetings, or rather to bring them into their churches by means of exciting their animal feelings, without any regard to their being born again. Whichever of these may be considered the true ground upon which these meetings are founded, we are at a loss to know how any person who has known what it is to be born again can countenance them."

It is evident from these words that there was even then the tendency to deny that God uses the preaching of the Gospel to produce regeneration. But, as Brother Ross and I have pointed out (with many other historians), the first Hardshells did not generally object to the preaching of the Gospel being a means in regeneration or new birth, but to methods of preaching the Gospel and how to present the Gospel to the unregenerate. It was methodology that was the chief objection. But, as we shall shortly see, the Address seems to uphold the means position. What is being objected to is the kind of evangelical meetings then being held, the high pressure tactics of getting sinners to make a confession by going forward in a meeting, to "altar calls." In further explanation of these objections, the Address adds these words:

"The plans of these meetings are equally as objectionable; for, in the first place, all doctrinal preaching, or in other words, all illustrations of God's plan of salvation, are excluded professedly from these meetings. Hence they would make believers of their converts without presenting any fixed truths to their minds to believe. Whereas God has chosen his people to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the TRUTH. - 2 Thess. ii.13."

It is clear from these words that the Black Rocker Hardshells, like many today, were decrying what some call "easy believism." They were denouncing the idea that men can become believers in Christ or in the Gospel without sufficient presentation of the doctrinal truth relative to the plan of salvation in Christ. These don't deny that preaching the Gospel is a means in saving the elect, but simply deny that calling upon men to believe in God or in Christ, without any central doctrines of the Gospel, is not sufficient to produce that faith which is unto salvation. The truth of the Gospel with its "fixed truths" must be presented before saving faith can be produced. As will be shown later on, however, it was not long before the first Hardshells would "throw out the baby with the bath water" in decrying against the revival and evangelistic methods of Arminians. The above extract from the Address shows that the first Hardshells believed that the elect were chosen to salvation via belief of the truth, the Gospel truth.

The Black Rockers said -  "these meetings are got up either for the purpose of inducing the Holy Spirit to regenerate multitudes who would otherwise not be converted, or to convert them themselves by the machinery of these meetings."

One wonders if the Black Rockers would consider Elder John Leland, who they call one of their own, as guilty of what they charge in the above words?  In chapter 49 ("Elder Leland's Preaching") I cited from the words of Leland where he prayed for the salvation of sinners and preached with the aim of being an instrument in their salvation.  Recall how he said "I knew what it was to travail in birth for the conversion of sinners. The words of Rachel to Jacob were the words of my heart to God: "Give me children or else I die."

He also said "there was not a day but what I had the spirit of prayer, and a travail for souls." 

He also said - "The following winter, I sunk into great distress of mind. It has always been a question with me of great importance, to know how to address a congregation of sinners, as such, in gospel style. And this winter it attacked my mind with great force. Neither Gill, Hopkins, Fuller nor Wesley, could remove my difficulties. My fears were, that I did not preach right, which was the cause why I was so barren in myself and useless to others. This burden lay heavy upon me a long time. At length, at an evenings meeting at a school house in Cheshire, my heart waxed a little warm with holy zeal, and I gave my spirit vent to the youth and school children, regardless of all authors and systems, which had a good effect." 

He also wrote:

"The Gillite mode of addressing sinners, seemed a little different from the New Testament mode. The Hopkinsian method appeared as if it took all the wisdom of God to devise a way for an honorable pretence to damn men. Dr. Fuller only cast snother bundle of straw on the fire. So that the great query which has agitated my mind for more than thirty years, 'How is a congregation of sinners to be addressed?' at the time I am speaking of, fell with such distress upon my mind, that I could hardly contain myself. But in the midst of my difficulties, I had a meeting at a school house; in the time of service my soul got into the trade winds, and without consulting Gill, Hopkins, Fuller, or Wesley, without comparing our translation with the Septuagint, Chaldee, or the King of Spain's Bible, I addressed the scholars and young people in a way I never can without God helps me. The spirit of the Lord fell upon them. Very soon after this, five of them came forward and confessed Christ."

The "Gillite mode" was to preach the Gospel without appeals to the unconverted, while believing that it would convict and convert without such appeals.  Leland rejected that method.  He did not like the method of early nineteenth century Arminian evangelists in using high pressure tactics.  But, he had no qualms about earnestly appealing to sinners.

Leland also said:

"I conclude that the eternal purposes of God and the freedom of the human will are both truths, and it is a matter of fact that the preaching that has been most blessed of God and most profitable to men is the doctrine of sovereign grace in the salvation of souls, mixed with a little of what is called Arminianism."  (as cited here)

Doubtless Leland believed in pleading with sinners and is the type of preaching that had a little mixture of Arminianism in it.  Such is the type of preaching done by the Baptists who wrote the 1689 Confession.

In Burkett & Read’s History of the Kehukee Association it is stated on page 139 that in 1794, a special day was appointed to pray God for a revival of religion, and on page 145, that "it was the custom of ministers of that date to invite penitents to come forward and keel down to be prayed for, just as we do in our revival meetings now."

Further, Beebe and the historically aware Hardshells admit that their forefathers often held prayer meetings, and that these prayer meetings often lasted several days.  Were those Old Baptists guilty of trying to get the Holy Spirit to do something he did not want to do?  Beebe's argument in opposition to protracted meetings will also condemn prayer altogether!  Is it not our purpose in prayer to "induce" the Holy Spirit? 

The Address continued:

"Secondly. The leaders of these meetings fix standards by which to decide of persons' repentance and desire of salvation, which the word of God nowhere warrants, such as rising off their seats, coming to anxious seats, or going to a certain place, &c. Whereas the New Testament has given us a standard from which we have no right to depart, viz: that of bringing forth fruits meet for repentance."

This is no doubt a misrepresentation of the majority of preachers who held revival and evangelistic meetings in the early nineteenth century.  It is probably not the case that those who held such meetings would disagree with the idea that the bearing of fruit was the sure proof of conversion.  It is also probable that those who conducted such evangelistic services would deny the charge of Beebe, and would agree that some of those who respond to altar calls and go forward in a service were not sincere and were therefore not truly converted.  I doubt that any of these revival ministers would assure people that they were saved because they simply "went forward."  I am sure that they not only prayed for those who went forward, as even the old Kehukee brethren did, and as Hardshell Wilson Thompson did, but that they also counseled them about how they can be saved, and told them the same thing that the apostle Paul told the Philippian jailer - "believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved." 

 The Address continued:

"Thirdly. They lead the People to depend on mediators other than the Lord Jesus Christ to obtain peace for them, by offering themselves as intercessors for them with God; whereas the Scriptures acknowledge but the one God and one Mediator."

This is a distortion of the role of "soul winners" (Prov. 11: 30) and of "they that turn many to righteousness" (Dan. 12: 3).  Surely they do not put themselves into the place of Christ who is "the one mediator between God and man."  (I Tim. 2: 5)  But, Beebe fails to understand that Christians share in the mediatorial work of Christ.  Are Christians not intercessors?  (I Tim. 2: 1)  Yes, Christ is the great high priest, but every believer is also a priest.  (I Peter 2: 9)  Notice this verse of Scripture:

"That I should be the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost."  (Rom. 15: 16)

John Gill, in his Commentary, made these comments:

"that the offering up of the Gentiles; not the offering the Gentiles offered up, their prayers, praises, or good works, though these are acceptable to God through Christ; but the Gentiles themselves, by the offering up of whom is meant their conversion; which was the end of the apostle's ministering the Gospel among them, and in which he was the happy instrument. The allusion is to the priests slaying and offering up sacrifices under the law. The apostle was a priest in a figurative and improper sense; the sacrifices he offered up were not slain beasts, but men, the Gentiles, cut to the heart by the sword of the Spirit, the ministry of the Gospel; whose inside being laid open to them, and they brought to a sense of their lost condition, and need of Christ, were, through the power of divine grace attending the word, made willing to offer, or give up themselves to the Lord, to be saved by him, and him only: this the apostle, as an instrument, was concerned in..."

Thus, for Beebe to deny that Christians function as priests and mediators, under Christ the great high priest and mediator, is a falsehood. 

In the next chapter, we will continue our review of the condemnation that the Black Rock Hardshells gave concerning protracted and revival meetings, and then go on to consider their views regarding missions, Sunday Schools, theological schools, etc.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Gill and Philpot on 'All Things'

In my examinations of the controversy over the predestination of all things (i.e. absolutism) versus the modern system of conditionalism, one of the more visible points of difference is on the interpretation of Romans 8:28. Quotations on this passage are much more numerous than they are on the topics of gospel means, perseverance, or other points pivotal in the discussion as to who are the real “Old” Baptists. I have in my possession dozens of citations from the 19th century in which the author placed no limit on the working together of all things for the good of the elect. It is so astounding to see the stark contrast between this “old” original position and the prevailing one today of limiting Romans 8:28 to being only “some things” or “five things” working together for our good, that the honest reader cannot help but suspect that something happened to create this shift in thinking, which a study of the late 19th and early 20th centuries will confirm.

It has already been stated on this blog that John Gill is generally held in high esteem by those claiming to be Old or Primitive Baptists. Another name, perhaps to a less degree, who meets with general approval is that of J.C. Philpot. In fact, my former pastor had a book of his sermons which he loaned me.

How did these men handle this lovely passage in Romans 8? Did they limit it?

Well, let us see. Any emphasis is my own.

Dr. Gill comments on the passage:

“…by "all things" may be meant, all beings good and bad: all good beings eternal or created: eternal, as Jehovah the Father, all his perfections, purposes, promises, provisions, and performances; Jehovah the Son, as the mighty God, and as Mediator, all that he is in himself, all that he has in himself, all that he has done, or is doing, all his titles, characters, and relations; Jehovah the Spirit, in his person, offices, and operations; these all have worked together in the council of peace, in the covenant of grace, and in redemption; and they do work together in sanctification, and so they will in glorification, and that for the good of the saints: all created ones, as good angels, good magistrates, good ministers of the Gospel: all evil beings, as devils, persecuting magistrates, heretics, and false teachers: all things, good and bad: all good things, outward peace and prosperity, external gifts, the ministry of the word, the administration of ordinances, church censures, admonitions, and excommunications; all evil things, sin the evil of evils: original sin, or the fall of Adam, which contains all other sins in it, was attended with aggravating circumstances, and followed with dismal consequences, yet has been overruled for good; hereby a Saviour became necessary, who was sent, came, and wrought out salvation; has brought in a better righteousness than Adam lost; entitled his people to a better life than his was, and makes them partakers of the riches both of grace and glory: actual sin, inward or outward; indwelling sin; which is made use of, when discovered, to abate pride, to lead to an entire dependence on Christ, to teach saints to be less censorious, to depend on the power and grace of God to keep them, and to wean them from this world, and to make them desirous of another, where they shall be free from it; outward sins, of others, or their own; the sins of others, of wicked men, which observed, raise an indignation in the saints against sin, and a concern for God's glory, and to look into their own hearts and ways, and admire the grace of God to them, that this is not their case; of good men, which are recorded, and may be observed, not for example and encouragement in sin, but for admonition, and to encourage faith and hope under a sense of it; of their own, for humiliation, which issues in weakening the power of sin in themselves, and the strengthening of the graces of others: but from all this it does not follow, that God is the author of sin, only that he overrules it to wise and gracious purposes; nor should any take encouragement to sin, to do evil that good may come; nor is sin itself a real good; nor is it to be said that it does no hurt; for though it cannot hinder the everlasting salvation of God's people, it does a great deal of hurt to their peace and comfort; and that it is made to work in any form or shape for good, is not owing to its own nature and influence, which is malignant enough, but to the unbounded power and unsearchable wisdom of God: all evils or afflictions, spiritual and temporal, work together for good; all spiritual ones, such as the temptations of Satan, which are made useful for humiliation, for the trial of grace, to show us our weakness, our need of Christ, and to conform us to him, and also to excite to prayer and watchfulness; the hidings of God's face, which make his presence the more prized when enjoyed, and the more desirable. Temporal afflictions, afflictions in body, name, or estate, nay even death itself, all work together for the good of God's people.”

Clearly Dr. Gill had no problem in understanding the truth behind this passage. Nor did he feel that such made God the author of sin, a common objection to those who disagree.

J.C. Philpot states:

To look at all our varied circumstances; and then to believe that if we are the lovers of God, all things we experience are working together for our spiritual good, what a view does it give us of the wisdom, grace, and power of a wonder-working God! And we are to measure this good, not by what the creature thinks, but by what God Himself has declared to be good in His Word, and what we have felt to be good in our soul’s experience. Have your trials humbled you, made you meek and lowly? They have done you good. Have they stirred up a spirit of prayer in your bosom, made you sigh, cry, and groan for the Lord to appear, visit, or bless your soul? They have done you good. Have they opened up those parts of God’s Word which are full of mercy and comfort to His afflicted people? Have they stripped off the covering that is too narrow? Have they made you more sincere, more earnest, more spiritual, more Heavenly-minded, more convinced that the Lord Jesus can alone comfort and bless your soul? They have done you good. Have they been the means in God’s hand of giving you a lift in hearing the preached word, of opening your ears to hear none but the true servants of God, those who enter into a tried path, and describe a gracious experience? Have they made the Bible more precious to you, the promises more sweet, the dealings of God with your soul more prized? They have done you good (1802-1869).”

This is a comforting thought from the great experimental preacher. It is most unfortunate that this comfort is being deprived by those who will not allow the scope of all things to be what the Holy Spirit intended, all because of a previous commitment to conditionalism.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Gross Error of Hardshellism

Elder Gilbert Beebe, one of the founding fathers of Hardshellism, wrote:

"...the gospel of God our Savior makes no address whatever to dead sinners; it addresses the living, the quickened, and them exclusively." (article titled "Means."  see here)

What a gross error! It makes one think that the Hardshells are reading a different Bible than the rest of us!  Notice these verses:

"And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people."  (Luke 2: 10)

"And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature."  (Mark 16: 15)

Of course, in their defence, Hardshells like Beebe will define what it means to "preach the Gospel" to a person.  To them, to preach the Gospel to a person is all the same as telling a person that he/she is saved, therefore, to preach the Gospel to every person is to tell every person that he/she is saved.  But, this is not what the Scriptures mean by preaching the Gospel to a person.  To preach the Gospel to every person is to announce to them that each can be saved, because of Christ, IF he/she believes in him and calls upon his name.  Notice these words of Paul:  "But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead."  (Rom. 4: 24)  Notice that the work of Christ being put to one's account is dependent upon "if we believe on him." 

Further, if Beebe is correct in his denial that it is wrong to preach the Gospel to the unsaved, then Christ and his apostles are guilty of error, for it is clear that they preached the Gospel to the unsaved.  This has been shown by me in my series "Addresses to the Lost" and in other numerous articles in the Old Baptist and Baptistgadfly blogs.  Oh that Hardshells could see their error and begin to preach the Gospel to the lost!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Hardshell Regeneration?

"But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me." (Acts 26: 16-18)

This passage of scripture is destructive to Hardshell descriptions of biblical "regeneration." It is also destructive to their anti-means or Spirit alone view of regeneration. The text is clear in showing that the ministry of the Apostle Paul would be instrumental in effecting five things in the lost Gentiles.

1. Open the eyes 2. Turn them from darkness to light 3. Turn them from the power of Satan unto God 4. To bring them to receive the forgiveness of sins 5. To bring them to receive inheritance among the sanctified

Hardshells insist that these five things do not describe regeneration or that experience which is necessary to being eternally saved. How could they? If they did view these things as intimately and necessarily connected with regeneration and eternal salvation, then they would have to admit that God uses the preaching of the Gospel to effect it. Thus, they affirm that these things are not necessary to be regenerated. But, in doing this, they have created a description of "regeneration" that excludes the above things. Who can believe it?

Imagine a person being regenerated but who is still blind! Imagine a person being regenerated who is still in darkness! Imagine a person being regenerated who is still under the power of Satan! Imagine a person being regenerated who is not yet turned to God! Imagine a person being regenerated who has not yet received forgiveness of sins! Imagine a person being regenerated who has not yet received inheritance with the sanctified!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

A Deceitful Book Title

On the cover of Tom Hagler, Jr.'s book Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth is the subtitle:

"God’s sovereignty versus man’s free will... the doctrinal paradox is solved by an ancient Bible doctrine."

Supposedly, the great question of how the seeming tension of God's sovereignty and the will of man is solved by the conditional time salvation argumentation, here referred to as an "ancient" bible doctrine.

Yes, it is so ancient that it was unheard of until the 19th century! What lack of respect does this show to those great minds of the past who really wrestled with this issue, when the solution all along supposedly lies in treating practically all passages dealing with human responsibility as having no place in the eternal salvation of God's people!