Recently brother Fralick and I wrote in response to a Hardshell who denied the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints. This Hardshell used the case of Solomon to deny the old doctrine (see here). Brother Kevin left some comments on the blog posting and became frustrated with the Hardshell's stubborn refusal to answer his questions and deal with his arguments. In this posting I would like to make some observations on that short discussion.
Brother Kevin asked the Hardshell why he denied the doctrine of the saint's perseverance when this was the acknowledged view of his forefathers. This Hardshell did what my dad has also often done when confronted with the fact that today's Hardshells do not believe what their forefathers believed. He says that he denies perseverance because the Bible does not teach it. What he does essentially is to admit that his doctrine is novel, that it is not in accordance with past Old Baptist doctrine, especially as expressed in historically accepted creeds. Of course, we are willing to argue from the Bible alone, but we want it understood that such Hardshells are admitting that their views are not what has traditionally been taught by Old Baptists. Therefore, their self styled name of "Primitive" Baptist is a lie, for such a name implies that they believe what has been regularly and continuously believed by the Baptist church of Christ since the days of the apostles. Since this Hardshell is admitting that his views are not the historic teaching of the Old Baptists, he ought rather to call himself a "Reformed" Baptist, which would convey the message that he is restoring a belief that has been lost. Of course, such a view destroys their idea that a present day church, in order to be a legitimate church, must have a pure line of churches who believe pure doctrine back to the apostles. But, if the church lost the truth on the doctrine of perseverance, and now has been restored, it still cannot be a legitimate church because its mother churches did not deny the doctrine of perseverance.
The first Hardshells did initially adopt the name "reformed," but later discarded it in favor of "old school" and "primitive." In doing this they claimed that they were the ones holding to historic Baptist teaching, in keeping with both the London and Philadelphia Confessions. All the oldest Hardshell churches accepted these confessions. The first Campbellites also called themselves "reformers" because they thought that they were restoring truth that had been lost. So, the fact that the Hardshell whose writing we have been critiquing calls himself a "Primitive Baptist" puts the burden on him to show that his views on perseverance are the traditional and historic teaching of his forefathers, a thing he cannot do. He ought therefore to discard the title.
The Hardshell who goes by the name of "TETH" did not answer Kevin's question about the Fulton Confession endorsing the London Confession and its section on the perseverance of the saints, which was endorsed without addition. Who is more "Primitve" on the subject of perseverance, Teth or Kevin? This writer wanted Kevin to read another posting of his, but he ought to read what we have written on perseverance and on how salvation is both conditional and unconditional.
Teth cited these words by Kevin:
"The righteous shall hold on his way" (Job 17:9), yet you're trying to say that Solomon was saved into heaven though he didn't hold on his way.”
Then Teth followed with these comments:
"Are you suggesting that if Solomon did not “hold on his way” that he would not be eternally saved? To do so is to place an obligation upon Solomon that the bible says was laid upon the Lord Jesus Christ. (Is 53:5)"
It is not Kevin who suggested that those who do not persevere, who do not hold on to their way, will not be saved, but is what the Scriptures positively assert in many places. For instance, Jesus said "he that endureth to the end shall be saved." (Matt. 10: 22 & 24: 13) Now, this Hardshell can argue till he is blue in the face that this text only concerns a "time salvation," but let him cite one Baptist, or for that matter, any theologian, prior to the rise of the Hardshells in the 19th century, who promoted such an interpretation of the passage. The only other denomination to assert such an interpretation are the Universalists, who, as might be expected, would not want to make it a condition for eternal salvation. No one who comes to the passage without bias would for a minute think that a mere temporal deliverance was in the mind of Jesus. Further, by the "end" is clearly intended to mean the end of one's life, and therefore the salvation that comes after enduring to the end cannot be a salvation in this life. Had Teth been present when Christ uttered these words, he would have responded to Jesus just as he did to Kevin and say - "are you suggesting, Jesus, that if one does not endure he would not be eternally saved?"
The argument that Teth makes on the Job passage is an argument based upon an illogical conclusion, and not one based upon Scritpure. Why does Teth not simply cite a passage that denies that one must endure to the end to be saved? He thinks that to teach that perseverance is necessary for being eternally saved would logically lead to the conclusion that Isaiah 53: 5 is false. But, he ought to quit relying on his logical reasonings and accept the plain teachings of Scripture. The truth of the matter is this; the atonement of Christ is what has purchased faith, repentance, and perseverance for the elect. This was affirmed by Paul when he wrote:
"He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?" (Rom. 8: 32)
Does Teth not agree with his Hardshell brethren when they say that "faith" is a gift of God that was made certain for the elect by the atonement? If he can believe that faith is a gift purchased by Christ for his elect, why can he not believe that perseverance is also a purchased gift?
However, the logic of Teth would force him to affirm that not only is perseverance not necessary for being eternally saved, but neither is faith, repentance, confession of Christ, and following Christ. To insist that faith and repentance are necessary for eternal salvation, by Teth's logic, would "place an obligation upon" sinners "that the bible says was laid upon the Lord Jesus Christ." Teth's position is that there is no obligation upon sinners to do anything to be eternally saved, for this would mean that Christ's atonement was not the sole reason for being saved. So, men do not have to believe, nor repent, to be saved. But, in this, he is against what is so plainly taught in Scripture.
Further, Teth did not prove that Solomon did not "hold on his way." It is not enough to show that he sinned, for no believer in perseverance affirms that to persevere means the same as not sinning. What perseverance means is that those who sin will be successfully corrected by God and brought to repentance. In fact, it was Solomon himself who wrote - "For whom the Lord loveth he correcteth." (Pro. 3: 12) Paul cites these words in Hebrews 12: 6. Consider also that the text does not say simply that the Lord tries to correct his children, but that he actually does it. Does Teth believe that God fails in his work of correction? Does he believe that God failed to correct Solomon? Obviously he does.
Teth again cited Kevin, who said:
"We learn as well that Christ achieved reconciliation for those who "continue in the faith" (Col. 1:20-23)"
To this Teth replied:
"Indeed if our “continuing in the faith” is a condition of eternal salvation, then Christ did not meet all of the conditions and salvation is not by sovereign grace."
What is this but a blatant denial of what the text says? Teth's opposition is not to anything Kevin has said, but to what the Apostle Paul said. Again, Teth argues against what the text says, not by exegeting the text, or citing other texts that might contradict or throw light on the text, but by his inability to see how perseverance does not contradict sovereign grace soteriology. Teth did not go to the text and try to show how the text does not teach that continuing in the faith was necessary for being eternally saved. He certainly cannot make this passage to deal with a mere temporal salvation. Paul is talking about that reconciliation that has come to the elect by the death of Christ and says that the Colossians are indeed reconciled by Christ's atonement "if you continue in the faith grounded and settled," and if you "be not moved away from the hope of the gospel."
Teth again cited Kevin, who said:
"...we are the house of Christ "if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end" (Heb. 3:6).”
To this Teth replied:
"The sense in which these things are intended is in the here and now."
This is scholarly exegesis? We are to just take Teth's interpretation as if it were inspired? Being made a partaker of Christ does not relate to being eternally saved? One does not have to be made a partaker of Christ to be saved? One does not have to be a member of the house of Christ to be saved? With this kind of Bible teaching, it is no wonder that only a cult few take Hardshell teachers seriously.
Teth then asks - "Is sin a turning away from God?"
No, sin is not a turning away from God, at least not in the sense in which the phrase turning away from God is used in Scripture. Certainly God's people transgress the laws of God. Certainly the children of God are sometimes disobedient to their heavenly Father. But, these sins are not total apostasies, a total giving up of faith and trust in God and his salvation. In this sense, God's born again people "cannot sin." (I John 3: 9; 5: 18)
Kevin also cited the words of the prophet who wrote:
"And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me." (Jer. 32: 40)
To this Scripture Teth wrote in reply:
"To accommodate the reality of remaining sin is to undermine what you imply is meant by “shall not depart.” So we see that this passage is in reference to the certainty of their standing before God as a result of the intercessory work of Christ, who most certainly DID NOT DEPART and whose righteousness is THEIR righteousness through imputation."
It is good that Teth sees that the promise that someone "shall not depart from me" is a result of the atonement. What he cannot accept however is the idea that it is the elect who are assured of persevering. He thinks that the one who is under consideration is Christ. He is the one who will not depart. But, this is poor Bible interpretation. The use of the plural pronouns "them" and "they" show that it is not Christ who "shall not depart" as a result of the atonement and covenant, but it is the ones in whose hearts God puts his fear.
Further, it is necessary to again point out the error of Teth arguing that the fact that the saints sin proves that they are not persevering. That is not what perseverance involves. Perseverence involves the idea that the saints will not be overcome by their sins, but will eventually overcome them, by regularly confessing their sins and turning from them.
In my next posting I will show how men such as Teth ought to read what Elder Watson said about salvation being both conditional and unconditional, and how he corrects the illogical reasonings of men like Teth.