Thursday, July 28, 2016

A Lesson on Conditions for Hardshells

I'm currently reading a very good book by Greg Nichols entitled Covenant Theology: A Reformed and Baptistic Perspective on God's Covenants. I came to a particular section which I thought would be very helpful to my Hardshell friends who automatically discard the notions of conditions, necessities, etc. as Arminianism.  The fact of the matter is that these terms are a most necessary addition to an explanation of how God saves sinners which the author correctly understands.  I cannot help but comment on his comments and how they relate to the heretical system I used to teach and the light God has since granted.

Nichols wrote:

"Good men speak of the covenant of grace as conditional to avoid errors and dangers."

Yes, such as the dangers which we see in Hardshellism in which it is affirmed that faith, repentance, personal holiness, and anything else subjective are not required for eternal salvation.  It is the failure of Hardshells to recognize the need for retaining such terms as necessities, conditions, requirements, etc. when discussing soteriology that they falsely accuse Calvinism as being the same as Arminianism, in which these terms are frequently associated with works and free-will.  Seeing the latter as an error, they then make an error of their own by rebelling to the opposite extreme, discarding any and all notions of conditions, and creating a theological system I think more fatal than the one against which it rebelled. This truth was observed by Elder Thomas Mann who concluded that in rebelling to one error, the Hardshells who first invented this notion ended up overstating their case, and fell into another error, whereas the truth actually lies somewhere in the middle.  I agree completely.

Nichols wrote:

"Further, when we say that the covenant of grace is unconditional in essence, we must take care to avoid fatalism. A fatalistic mentality would say, if God will certainly apply redemption to his elect, then why pray, why preach, why parent? Rather, we affirm, preach, pray, and parent, because God uses means. Unconditional in essence doesn't equal absolute, without means, in fulfillment!"

I saw this fatalistic mentality all throughout the years I was among my Hardshell brethren.  Not only “why pray, why preach, why parent”, but why believe and why repent?  For these are conditions are they not?  And so we would immediately flee from the idea that responsibility can be mentioned in the same breath as eternal salvation so that we may remain do-nothings with respect to our own salvation and that of others.

Nichols makes an essential distinction when he remarks that unconditional in essence does not equate to unconditional in fulfillment!  Amen!  Here in my opinion is the key to unravelling the whole conditional vs unconditional controversy.  Here me, my Hardshell friends!  Election is unconditional, agreed?  Yet election is not the summation of what’s called eternal salvation, so we err if we affirm that salvation is unconditional simply because election is.  Men were unconditionally elected unto salvation, but as God works out the matter of salvation in history means and conditions are employed to accomplish it both FOR those and IN those whom He unconditionally elected! When I was excluded by my former friends one of the things which began to be circulated was that “Kevin does not understand that salvation is unconditional”.  Oh no, Kevin understands it just fine.  It is you who does not understand the distinction between the decree of salvation and its administration.

Nichols wrote:

"We stand committed to teach unconditional election, even if men abuse the doctrine. The covenant of grace reflects and rests on this unconditional decree. Did God decree in eternity to require faith and repentance for initial salvation and perseverance in faith for final salvation? The answer is, yes. Does that make his decree conditional? The answer is, no, because God also decrees to supply all he requires, and that not for anything done by his elect. So also is his covenant of grace."

Faith and repentance belong not in the category of election, which we agree is unconditional, but in the administration of salvation in time, where things are required of men in order to be saved.  These requirements are unconditional in the sense that they are not accomplished by works and free-will, but are conditional in the sense that they must be obtained by the elect somehow.  The matter is solved in the teaching that what God requires of His elect he freely gives them.  Unfortunately, this is rejected by my Hardshell friends who have so sliced and diced the scriptures that they are left with the sad conclusion that the fulfillment of conditions are not to the praise and glory of God but rather merited by so-called regenerated men, to the praise of their works and free-will as they temporally save themselves (Acts 2:40).

Perhaps the most helpful thing is to understand this fact.  A condition is not necessarily the same thing as an efficient cause, meaning that all accusations that Calvinists are “adding” to the grace of God and blood of Christ are totally baseless.  By a condition we simply mean that something has to be in place for some transaction to occur.  I could say that a garden hose is a condition for my flowers to become wet, yet the life-giving source is in the water itself, whereas the hose is merely the means through which it is conveyed.  I could say that a new heart is a requirement for a transplant, meaning only that the heart must be put safely in place before the surgery can be called complete.  It is the same thing in the administration of salvation.  The birth of Christ was a necessity which needed to be met in order to the redemption of the family of God.  Those who crucified our Lord were the means by which He was placed on the cross (Acts 2:23).  When it comes to God’s dealings with the sinner himself, faith is a necessity in regeneration.  We are regenerated by grace not at the expense of it but through it (Eph. 2:8).  The sinner meets the condition by God’s gift of faith unto him in regeneration, and this new birth cannot be considered as complete until it is there, just like we would not consider heart surgery complete until a heart has been put in place.  The same holds true with final salvation, as it too is through faith (1 Peter 1:5; Heb. 10:39).  And when the scriptures look back from the perspective of those who have achieved it, it gives the impression that they met the requirements in their life.  "Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth...their works do follow them." (Rev. 14:13). Good works did in fact follow!  Why?  Because God did effectually work in them the will and doing of His good pleasure (Philippians 2:13).  The tree being made good, it does in fact bear fruit!

There most definitely are conditions to salvation when the term is used properly as Nichols does.  It is , I think, because of my Hardshell friends' previous agenda against anything that gives an appearance of Arminianism that they fail to understand this or give it any consideration. 

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Waiting For The Huiothesia


Students of the Bible, if they are using an English translation, will find that the word "adoption" has most often been chosen by the English translators to convey the meaning of the Greek word "huiothesia," the word used solely by the Apostle Paul, only five times (with variant case endings) in his epistles to the Galatians, Ephesians, and to the Romans. Unless instructed not to do so by a Bible teacher, they will naturally give to the word "adoption" its current definition in the English language, which speaks of the act of taking a child that is not one's own child by birth and making him/her a child by legal process.

Taking this definition and idea into consideration creates an incongruity in the mind of Bible students, for they ask themselves "how can I be an adopted child of God if I am so by birth of the Spirit?" Or, perhaps ask "if I am God's child by birth, what need is there for me to be adopted?"

Doesn't being adopted mean that my legal father is not my actual father by procreation? Whoever in the English speaking world ever had a child that was so by both birth and adoption? Don't all know that one excludes the other?

A search for a solution to this problem is sought, especially by those who are serious and industrious in their Bible studies. Others, sadly, simply accept the solution most often given to the problem, which solution leaves the incongruity in place, and so the Bible student goes on thinking that he is God's child both by birth and by adoption, though such a case is not possible by western ideas about the word "adoption." Simply put, he accepts the contradiction, though often not without some hesitancy and dissatisfaction.

A search, by the more serious Bible student, is made for the views of commentators, translators, and leading interpreters, men and women who are expert in the Greek and English languages. He will discover how the majority of such "scholars" give the English word "adoption" as the correct translation of "huiothesia." Yet, if he is studious enough he will discover that there are a minority of scholars who reject "adoption" as being correct, averring rather that such is even misleading and the cause of the whole knotty problem.

Had none of the five "huiothesia" verses been translated as "adoption" then there would never have been the problem to start with. Discovering the meaning of the Greek word is paramount.

We cannot escape personal responsibility in our Bible studies. Each Bible student must judge of the reliability of "translations," because translations are in fact but "interpretations." I know that those who think that the KJV is without error will not even consider whether "adoption" is correct. Others, thankfully, will be led to  enter more fully into the debate on this matter, and then hopefully come to the truth of the matter by the Holy Spirit and in the fear of God.

In order to give what is to me the correct solution to this incongruity I am publishing these chapters for my book on the subject. I will show that Christians are God's children by birth and not by adoption. I will show that "huiothesia" does not mean "son making" but "son placing."

I give thanks to God for blessing me to see the truth on this subject and for the joy in spirit that it has given to me as I spend my time as a Christian in eager anticipation of "the huiothesia."

Interest From Russia?

Over the past week I have had several thousand visits to this blog and to my Baptist Gadfly blog. This is the highest number of hits I have ever had on these blogs in this time period. Looking at the sources or audience statistics, it seems that the huge upswing in visits is from Russia. I have tried to figure out why this is so. I will give you my "interpretation" for this interest from people in Russia.

Some of the Hardshells who have begun to do "mission" work in foreign countries in the past decade or so have visited churches in Russia and Ukraine in order to convert them to Hardshellism. They have also made efforts in the Philippines and in Africa.

I have over the past few years heard from some in the Philippines who confronted the Hardshell proselytes and have written about it. (See Philippine Brother Confronts Hardshellism) Though I have not personally heard from anyone from Russia or Ukraine, I have no doubt that some of these people are doing research on "The Primitive Baptist Church" and have thus, via the Internet, found my writings.

I know that these Hardshells, probably connected with the Hardshell Liberal Movement, have made such efforts in Russia. At "The Pastor's Blog" Elder Herb Hatfield of the Aberdeen Primitive Baptist Church speaks of preaching in Russia and Ukraine with Elder Jeff Harris.

The churches that they preach in (how I do not know) believe in the 1689 London Confession of faith. Wrote Hatfield:

"These are men who say they believe the Baptist London Confession of Faith of 1689. Pray that I may be blessed of the Lord to teach and encourage these dear pastors and saints." He also says - "I will fly on to Moscow to meet up with Elder Harris and we will continue on to Irkutsk, Lord willing. We are looking forward to a great time of fellowship with the saints and pastors in the four churches there."

He also speaks of Harris and him "discussing doctrinal issues" with them, for he says:

"I will conduct a two day teaching/preaching seminar among the saints there. Four native pastors from other churches have made plans to be at the seminar."

Well, I just believe that many who have been taught "hardshellism" are having a hard time swallowing it and are doing research on how they might find the truth and fight this error. All I can say is that such makes me very happy. To know that our writings are helping to save people in places other than the USA from the hurtful heresies of hardshellism, is cause for rejoicing. I hope some of our Russian brethren will contact us personally and let us know how things stand with them.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Christ The Capstone

Copied from "The Baptist Gadfly" blog (See Here)

The following citations are from that chapter "THE PYRAMID AND CHRIST" by J. A. Seiss, and from his book "Miracle in Stone" (SEE HERE)

Seiss holds that it is wrong to think that when the Scriptures speak of Christ as being "the chief cornerstone" or "head of the corner," that it refers to one of four corners at the base of a building. This view is indeed wrong, as Seiss shows. Let us notice his words (emphasis mine).

"But then we would expect it (the great pyramid - SG) also to refer to Christ and redemption. The great subject of (p. 121) all sacred Revelation is the Christ and his glorious kingdom, and we can hardly suppose this pillar Divine if it has not something on this point. Men may well sneer at the idea of a special revelation to old Cheops or his architects to teach the diameter, density, and temperature of the earth. Something of mightier moment to mankind must be involved when Jehovah thus interposes. Such claims need to be tried by the pre-eminent theme of all inspiration. But even on this high ground the Great Pyramid sustains itself full as grandly as in the sphere of cosmic facts and geodetic measures."

"When Zerubbabel and Jeshua were engaged rebuilding Jerusalem and the Temple on the return from the great captivity, they had in hand a work of extraordinary greatness, difficulty, and discouragements. So important was it in itself, and so bound up in history and type with another and greater restoration, that it was made the occasion and subject of special Divine communication through Zechariah the prophet. And in those prophecies that work and all that it typified is set forth under the image of the building of the Pyramid. A "great mountain" of worldly power and difficulty was in the way, but God said it should (p. 122) become "a plain before Zerubbabel," as the Gizeh hill was levelled to receive the Great Pyramid. As despite all hindrances the Pyramid was successfully carried forward to completion, even to the laying of the peculiar corner-stone of its apex amid the songs of "the morning stars" and the shouts of "all the sons of God," so was Zerubbabel and he whom Zerubbabel typified to succeed in their Divine work, even to the "bringing forth of the headstone thereof with shoutings, crying, 'Grace, Grace unto it.'" (Zech. 4: 6, 7.) The pyramid idea is absolutely essential to an intelligible and consistent interpretation of this imagery. The picture is an exact parallel to the one in Job, only transferred from nature to grace, from geologic to Messianic territory.

By necessary implications of Holy Scripture then the Great Pyramid is immutably linked with the building of the Church of which the adorable Jesus is "the headstone," "the chief corner-stone."

"It is also a clear and outstanding fact that the Scriptures continually make the pyramid capstone the type and symbol of Christ, both in the Old Testament and in the New. Who heeds to be reminded with what brilliant diction Moses likens Jehovah to a rock, and how (p. 123) triumphantly he asserts against all the heathen world, that "their rock is not as our rock, even our enemies themselves being judges!"

"He is not only such a rock as that which yielded thirsty Israel drink, or as that which gives the weary traveller shelter from the scorching sunshine or beating storm, or as that which the prudent builder seeks whereon to found his house securely, but especially such a rock as that which forms the apex of the Pyramid—a rock which is the head and crown of all the works of Providence and grace—the unique bond in which the whole edifice of time is united—the headstone of redemption lifted high above all other rocks, "that in all things he might have the preeminence." So David conceived of him when he sung, "The stone which the builders refused is become the headstone of the corner," or "the head corner-stone," as the Septuagint renders it. (Ps. 118: 22.) So Peter being (p. 124) "filled with the Holy Ghost," conceived of him when he said to the Jews who had condemned and crucified him, "This is the stone which was set at naught by you builders which is become the head of the corner." (Acts 4: 11.) Hence, also, he wrote to his scattered brethren in the faith as having come to Jesus, "as unto a living stone disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious," in whom they also "as lively stones were built up a spiritual house," according to the saying of God, "Behold I lay in Zion a chief corner-stone, elect, precious," even "the stone which the builders disallowed," but which now "is made the head of the corner, and a stone of stumbling and a rock of offence even to them which stumble at the word." (1 Pet. 2: 4-8.) So Paul conceived of him when he wrote to the Ephesians, Ye are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner-stone, in whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord, in whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the spirit." (Eph. 2: 20-22.) And the same conception Jesus applied to himself when he said, "Did ye never read in the (p. 125) Scriptures, the stone which the builders rejected the same is become the head of the corner? And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken, but on whomsoever it shall fall it will grind him to powder." (Matt. 21: 42-44.)

All these are great central passages of the Divine word, and not one of them will interpret without the Pyramid, whose light alone brings out their full significance and beauty. It is absurd enough when men speak of a river's head at one end of it., and its mouth at the other end; but it is unbearable to represent the Holy Ghost treating of the head of a thing as in its toes. Interpreters may put such absurdities in the Bible, but its author never does. The head is not the foot nor the foot the head in any consistent or intelligible use of language. So the head corner-stone cannot be the foot or foundation corner-stone. Where there are four alike, to regard one as chief is a mere conventionalism without reality in fact, and such as the Bible never employs. Common architecture furnishes no one pre-eminent corner or corner-stone. There is no head corner without the Pyramid. That alone has such a head at the head, or a cornerstone uniquely and indisputably the chief. It (p. 126) has the usual four at the base, alike in shape, place and office, but it has a fifth, different from all others and far more exalted. It is at the top, and properly the head one. It is the last to come into place and so may be long rejected while the building still goes on. The base corner-stones must be laid at the beginning. Work cannot proceed while either of them is disallowed. They are also of such regular shape as renders them capable of being worked in as well at one place as at another. They furnish no occasion to be disallowed. Not so the head corner-stone. The shape of that is altogether peculiar. It is five-sided and five-pointed. From foundation to summit there is no place at which it will fit till everything else is finished and its own proper place is reached. Till then it is naturally enough rejected by the builders. They have no place for it. To those ignorant of its purpose it is only in the way—"a rock of offence and a stone of stumbling." With one sharp point always sticking upwards, any one falling on it would necessarily "be broken." And when on its way to its position hundreds of feet in the air were it to fall on any one it would certainly "grind him to powder."

"But though rejected to the last, it finally (p. 127) turns out to be the very thing required, and reaches a place to which it alone fits; a place above all others, where it sublimely finishes out and binds together everything in one glorious whole. It is itself a perfect pyramid, the original model of the edifice which it completes and adorns. It is emphatically the head stone of the head corner. It is at the head and not at the feet. It has its own peculiar angles and they are the angles of the entire structure. There is but one stone of that shape and it is the shape of the pyramid complete. It is the stone which stands toward Heaven for every other in the building. Every other stone in all the mighty construction stands in it, and has place with reference to it, and is touched by its weight and influence, as well as sheltered under its lines, and honored and perfected by its presence. It is indeed the "all in all" of the whole edifice. To its angles is "all the building fitly framed together." And in it every part and particle that belongs to the structure from foundation to capstone has its bond of perfectness, its shelter, and its crown."

"About such imagery there should be no question. In all the richness of the Scriptures there is not a more luminous, expressive, (p. 128) and comprehensive picture of the Christ, in himself, in his experiences, in his relations to his friends or foes, in his office and place in all the dispensations of God toward our race, than that which is given in these texts when studied in the light of the Great Pyramid. These passages alone consecrate and sanctify it forever. In them the Holy Ghost takes hold of it, traces in it a sacred significance, and assigns to it relations and connections, the truth and beauty of which cannot be disputed. And thus by the highest authority known to man it is rendered impossible to be thoroughly true to the utterances of inspiration, and yet regard this venerable monument as nothing but the profane tomb of a pagan despot."

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The Reason for the Reposts

The recent repost of certain former writings of mine from The Baptist Gadfly and from My Daily Bread on this blog site is because this site is read more by Hardshells than the other blogs and these writings I thought might be of some interest to them (or ought to be), as they study the Scriptures.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Peter The Rock II

John Broadus was one of the ablest of Baptist theologians. He wrote:

"Many insist on the distinction between the two Greek words, thou art Petros and on this petra, holding that if the rock had meant Peter, either petros or petra would have been used both times, and that petros signifies a separate stone or fragment broken off, while petra is the massive rock. But this distinction is almost entirely confined to poetry, the common prose word instead of petros being lithos; nor is the distinction uniformly observed.

But the main answer here is that our Lord undoubtedly spoke Aramaic, which has no known means of making such a distinction [between feminine petra and masculine petros in Greek]. The Peshitta (Western Aramaic) renders, “Thou are kipho, and on this kipho.” The Eastern Aramaic, spoken in Palestine in the time of Christ, must necessarily have said in like manner, “Thou are kepha, and on this kepha.” . . . Beza called attention to the fact that it is so likewise in French: “Thou art Pierre, and on this pierre”; and Nicholson suggests that we could say, “Thou art Piers (old English for Peter), and on this pier.”
(Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew, (Valley Forge, PA: Judson Press, 1886), 355-356.)"

And, the able theologian, Hendriksen, wrote this:

"The meaning is, “You are Peter, that is Rock, and upon this rock, that is, on you, Peter I will build my church.” Our Lord, speaking Aramaic, probably said, “And I say to you, you are Kepha, and on this kepha I will build my church.” (New Testament Commentary: Exposition of the Gospel According to Matthew (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1973), 647.)" (From

D. A. Carson (Protestant Evangelical) wrote:

"Although it is true that petros and petra can mean 'stone' and 'rock' respectively in earlier Greek, the distinction is largely confined to poetry. Moreover, the underlying Aramaic is in this case unquestionable; and most probably kepha was used in both clauses ('you are kepha' and 'on this kepha'), since the word was used both for a name and for a 'rock.' The Peshitta (written in Syriac, a language cognate with Aramaic) makes no distinction between the words in the two clauses. The Greek makes the distinction between petros and petra simply because it is trying to preserve the pun, and in Greek the feminine petra could not very well serve as a masculine name."
(Carson, The Expositor's Bible Commentary [Zondervan, 1984],

"The word Peter petros, meaning 'rock,' (Gk 4377) is masculine, and in Jesus' follow-up statement he uses the feminine word petra (Gk 4376). On the basis of this change, many have attempted to avoid identifying Peter as the rock on which Jesus builds his church yet if it were not for Protestant reactions against extremes of Roman Catholic interpretations, it is doubtful whether many would have taken 'rock' to be anything or anyone other than Peter." (Carson, Zondervan NIV Bible Commentary [Zondervan, 1994], volume 2, page 78, as cited in Butler/Dahlgren/Hess, page 18)

"The change in Greek is due to the fact that petra, the normal word for rock, is feminine in gender, and therefore not suitable as a name for Simon! The echo of Peter's name remains obvious, even in Greek; he is the rock, in the sense outlined above." (France, New Bible Commentary with consulting editors Carson, France, Motyer, Wenham [Intervarsity Press, 1994], page 925, 926)

Herman Ridderbos (Protestant Evangelical) --

"It is well known that the Greek word (petra) translated 'rock' here is different from the proper name Peter. The slight difference between them has no special importance, however. The most likely explanation for the change from petros ('Peter') to petra is that petra was the normal word for 'rock.' Because the feminine ending of this noun made it unsuitable as a man's name, however, Simon was not called petra but petros. The word petros was not an exact synonym of petra; it literally meant 'stone.' Jesus therefore had to switch to the word petra when He turned from Peter's name to what it meant for the Church. There is no good reason to think that Jesus switched from petros to petra to show that He was not speaking of the man Peter but of his confession as the foundation of the Church. The words 'on this rock [petra]' indeed refer to Peter. Because of the revelation that he had received and the confession that it motivated in him, Peter was appointed by Jesus to lay the foundation of the future church." (Ridderbos, Bible Student's Commentary: Matthew [Zondervan, 1987], page 303 as cited in Butler/Dahlgren/Hess, page 35-36)

Craig Blomberg (Protestant Evangelical) --

"Acknowledging Jesus as The Christ illustrates the appropriateness of Simon's nickname 'Peter' (Petros=rock). This is not the first time Simon has been called Peter (cf. John 1:42 [wherein he is called Cephas]), but it is certainly the most famous. Jesus' declaration, 'You are Peter,' parallels Peter's confession, 'You are the Christ,' as if to say, 'Since you can tell me who I am, I will tell you who you are.' The expression 'this rock' almost certainly refers to Peter, following immediately after his name, just as the words following 'the Christ' in v. 16 applied to Jesus. The play on words in the Greek between Peter's name (Petros) and the word 'rock' (petra) makes sense only if Peter is the rock and if Jesus is about to explain the significance of this identification." (Blomberg, The New American Commentary: Matthew [Broadman, 1992], page 251-252, as cited in Butler/Dahlgren/Hess, page 31-32)

Francis Wright Beare (Presbyterian/Reformed) --

"The play on words -- 'Peter', this 'rock' -- requires a change in Greek from petros (properly, 'stone') to petra. In Aramaic, the two words would be identical -- Kepha the name given to Peter, transliterated into Greek as Kephas (Gal. 2:9), and kepha, 'rock'. The symbol itself is Hebraic: Abraham is the 'rock' from which Israel was hewn, and in a rabbinic midrash, God finds in him a rock on which he can base and build the world..." (Beare, The Gospel According to Matthew [Harper and Row, 1981], page 355)

Eduard Schweizer (Presbyterian/Reformed) --

"The 'rock' is Peter himself, not his confession. Only on this interpretation does the pun make sense." (Schweizer, The Good News According to Matthew [John Knox Press, 1975], page 341)

Thomas G. Long (Presbyterian/Reformed) --

"Since, in the original Greek, Petros and petra both mean 'rock,' it is easy to spot this statement as a pun, a play on words: 'Your name is "Rock," and on this "rock" I will build my church.' Jesus' meaning is plain: Peter is the rock, the foundation, upon which he is going to erect his church...Jesus spoke Aramaic, however, not Greek. In Aramaic, the words for 'Peter' and 'rock' are the same (Kepha)...the most plausible interpretation of the passage is that Jesus is, indeed, pointing to Peter as the foundation stone, the principal leader, of this new people of God...there is much evidence that he also played a primary leadership role in the early Christian church....For the church, the new people of God, Peter was, indeed, the 'rock,' corresponding to Abraham of old, who was 'the rock from which you were hewn' (Isa. 51:1)." (Long, Matthew [Westminster John Knox Press, 1997], page 185, 186)

Richard B. Gardner (Brethren/Mennonite) -- McCarthy, when he sadly left the Catholic Church became part of a Protestant "Brethren" sect --

"The key question here is whether the rock foundation of the church is Peter himself, or something to be distinguished from Peter. If the latter, Jesus could be speaking of Peter's faith, or of the revelation Peter received. It is more likely, however, that the rock on which Jesus promises to build the church is in fact Peter himself, Peter the first disciple (cf. 4:18; 10:2), who represents the whole group of disciples from which the church will be formed. At least four considerations support this view...." (Gardner, Believers Church Bible Commentary: Matthew [Herald Press, 1991], 247)

I agree with this statement:

"The question about the papacy is broader than the interpretation of petros and petra in Matthew 16:18. Do not be fooled by Catholic apologists who make a big deal about ‘this rock’ as if the papacy is vindicated if it could be proved that ‘this rock’ refers to Peter. This passage says nothing about universal jurisdiction, successors or Roman bishops."

And of this affirmation:

"In fact there is a sense in which the apostle Peter, together with the other apostles and the prophets, form the foundation of the church because the Gospel was first given through them. This has nothing to do with the claimed universal jurisdiction of the bishop of Rome as the Roman apologist would have us believe." (

The early church fathers differed on the precise interpretation of the passage. None of them gave it the significance that the Church of Rome does today, however.

"...the Church Fathers are not unanimous in understanding that Peter, as opposed to his confession of faith, is the "rock" referred to."

The Demonstrative Pronoun

"This (demonstrative pronoun) rock..."

"...the basic rule of grammar is that a demonstrative generally refers to its nearest antecedent."

This fact would therefore favor the view that Peter was the rock referred to and upon which the church would, in part, be constructed.

"You are Rock and on this [very] rock I will build my Church" does seem to indicate and emphasize a direct connection between the demonstrative and its immediate antecedent."

And to this I would once again give my hearty approval as the proper understanding of the syntax of the passage.

"Would it not be strange for the Lord, immediately after calling Simon the "Rock," to expect His hearers to understand his next reference to "rock" to refer to a completely different antecedent?"

Again, I think this reasoning is correct and has not been adequately dealt with by those opposed to Peter being the rock.

"...why not use alla instead of kai to join these clauses and say, "You are Peter but on your confession I will build my Church?"

This is an excellent argument against the idea that Jesus is contrasting Peter, a supposed "pebble" with himself, a bolder.

"A prime minister might say when eulogizing a famous humanitarian, "You are a Beacon of Hope, and to this beacon all Europe will look as a source of comfort in these dark days." Or a king says to his champion, "You are The Hammer, and under this hammer all the enemies of England will be crushed."

These are solemn, even stylized pronouncements. But we all understand immediately what is being said. Far from inclining us to hunt for some separate referent to which the demonstrative refers, we see immediately that the same person is addressed. To introduce (indeed, to insist on) a separate referent is not only foreign to the rhetorical device, but destroys it. These examples illustrate the almost jarring disjunction that the confessional interpretation introduces into the text." (

Again, all this is but added weight to the argument that "petra" refers back to "petros."

"The KJV translators had no problem translating the Greek tautee tee as "this same" or "the same" because they recognized the demonstrative force this adjective could carry (cf., 2 Cor. 9:4-5; 8:6; 1 Cor. 7:20; Acts 13:33), as did other translations such as the NIV, NEB, and NASB in other verses of Scripture."

Again, this is but additional proof of the rock referring back to Peter.

"...there is no English grammar rule that says that because an indirect address follows or is in the vicinity of a direct address then the indirect address cannot be identified with the direct address."

The above was written by Catholic apologist, Robert Sungenis, and though I do not agree with what he and Catholics attempt to superimpose upon the passage, I do agree with their position that the rock is Peter. I disagree too that it was Peter alone and that such a view necessarily leads to the papists views on the primacy of Peter.

Again, though Geisler would not agree that Peter is the rock, he nevertheless expresses the view of other Protestant apologists who believe Peter, and all the apostles, were rocks upon which the Church was built. He and his co-author wrote:

"Even if Peter is the rock referred to by Christ, as even some non-Catholic scholars believe, he was not the only rock in the foundation of the church. As noted above, Jesus gave all the apostles the same power (“keys) to “bind” and “loose” that he gave to Peter (cf. Matt. 18:18). These were common rabbinic phrases used of “forbidding” and “allowing.” Thesekeys were not some mysterious power given to Peter alone but the power granted by Christ to his church by which, when they proclaim the Gospel, they can proclaim God’s forgiveness of sin to all who believe. As John Calvin noted,

“Since heaven is opened to us by the doctrine of the gospel, the word keys affords an appropriate metaphor. Now men are bound and loosed in no other way than when faith reconciles some to God, while their own unbelief constrains others the more” (Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion 4:6.4).

These are, to me, irrefutable arguments for Peter being the "Rock" that Christ referred to in the passage. But, as I said, granting this does not give one inch of ground to the Papists in support of their views of the episcopacy.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Peter The Rock I

Taken from "The Baptist Gadfly" for Oct. 21, 2008 (See Here)

I believe the Roman Catholics, and those who believe in the papal system, and Peter's supremacy over the other apostles and over the entire church, err not in saying that the church was built upon Peter as upon a rock, but rather err in saying that this was true ONLY of Peter.

If it can be shown that Christ, though specifically addressing Peter, nevertheless, does not say to Peter anything that could not, with propriety, be said to them all, then the papal arguments from the passage are overthrown.

Just because Christ does not speak, on this occasion, with plural pronouns, as he does on most occasions, when he is addressing all in the apostolic group, and addresses Peter singly and specially, yet this does not mean that what he says to Peter was intended solely for Peter. I think the evidence for this position is more than tenable.

First, let us cite the entire passage.

"When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, 'Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?' So they said, 'Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.' He said to them, 'But who do you say that I am?' Simon Peter answered and said, 'You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.' Jesus answered and said to him, 'Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosedd in heaven.' Then He commanded His disciples that they should tell no one that He was Jesus the Christ." (Matt. 16:13-20 KJV)

Notice how the question that initiates this eventful occurrence is one addressed by Christ to ALL his apostles. "Who do men say that I am?" He did not ask this of Peter alone. He, therefore, intended that they all answer that question. We are told that the twelve reported what was the common public opinion.

Next followed Christ second question, "But who do you (12 apostles-plural pronoun) say that I am?" Matthew then records the words of Peter, with the implication that he spoke up first, and seemingly, rather quickly, as without deliberate thought, as though he had already deliberated the question, sometime in the past, and knew the answer.

We may ask ourselves at this point, did the others not respond to the question? If not, why not? If they did respond, why does Matthew not tell us this?

They certainly would have confessed the same thing as Peter. Perhaps they did not respond because, first, Peter beat them to the draw (as was his habit, sometimes to his detriment, sometimes to his compliment) in responding to the question; Perhaps they simply all said, "amen" at that point. Why would they not?

Secondly, Christ could have done two things, after Peter's hasty confession; first, he could have waited till they all responded and then spoke in conclusion, or, secondly, he could have responded to Peter's answer with the same hastiness as Peter, which is exactly what he seems to have done.

There is no question that, in this whole interrogation scene, there is a play on words, or pun, a volleying back and forth of mutual ironies and applied sentiments.

It is clear that after Peter and the apostles confess who Christ is, that he then begins to tell them who they are (in the person and confession of Peter and to which they all assent).

It is also clear that Jesus is quick to point out something in Peter, now being displayed, that exemplifies the prophetic significance of his name, given him previously by Christ. It is as if Christ were saying, with hastiness of spirit, and perhaps, with good humor, "Peter, you are a rock, just as your name signifies! You are firm and resolute in your faith regarding me."

But, does this mean, that the apostles were not also "rock" in this sense? Were they not ALL solid in their faith and loyalty to Jesus? Were they not ALL equally the "rock from whence we (the NT Church) are hewn"? Are we hewn ONLY from Peter, the great rock that he was? But, was he any more a rock for the testimony of Jesus than Paul or John? Any more the father of the church than they? Was Paul not also a rock upon which the church is constructed?

If James and John said "amen" to the words of Peter, perhaps they "thundered" their amen, after all, they were equally surnamed, spiritually, by the Lord, being called "Boanerges," or "sons of Thunder." Was Peter not also a "son of Thunder"? If the name "Cephas" (Peter, petros, or rock) was intended to teach us that ONLY Peter is the rock, then would the name "Boanerges" not say then that Peter and the other nine apostles were NOT spiritually "sons of Thunder"?

Now, let us look at the context to show that it is clear that Christ did not intend to say that Peter was the sole and lone rock upon which the church was to be built. I think I can do this best by asking these questions.

1) When Jesus said to Peter, "Blessed are you Simon, son of Jona," did he mean to imply that the other apostles were not blessed as he? If the papal advocates are right in their exegesis, then they would have to say that the other apostles were excluded because he only speaks to Peter and calls him blessed.

2) When Jesus said to Peter that this blessing consisted of his having been shown the gospel truth by the Father, was this true only of Peter?

Certainly the power that was to be given to Peter, signified by the "keys of the kingdom of heaven," to have bound in heaven what he bound on earth, etc., was not given to him alone; yet, it must be him alone if Peter alone is the rock on which the church is built.

Look at these passages:

"And in that day you will ask Me nothing. Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you. Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full." (John 16:23 KJV)

"So Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” (John 20:21-23 KJV)

Here the power given to Peter, in Matthew 16, is here said to have been given to ALL the apostles equally. This proves my assertion that what Jesus said to Peter was not intended to be true with regard strictly to him alone.

"And the Lord said, “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.” (Luke 22:31,32)

This latter passage is parallel to that in Matthew 16. In both passages Peter is specifically addressed. But, is it not clear that what Jesus says regarding Peter is not true ONLY of Peter? Did Christ not pray for the faith of ALL the apostles not to fail? Did Satan not equally desire to sift ALL the apostles?

Again, I argue that what is sometimes addressed to one disciple was not intended to be applicable only to that disciple. So is it with the case in Matthew 16 and Peter being a rock upon which the church is built.

"And He said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, hereafter you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.” (John 1:51)

Was what Jesus here specifically says to Nathaniel true ONLY of Nathaniel? Did not ALL the apostles see heaven opened, and see the angels coming and going? Yes.

Papists, in arguing for what they call the "supremacy" of Peter, give these reasons for doing so.

1. "Peter is the only apostle to be called "Rock" by Jesus."

2. "Simon's name was changed to Peter. This is a similar act as God changed Abram's name to Abraham, or Jacob's name to Israel. A change in name meant a change in vocation; Simon was no longer a fisher, Peter is the head disciple of Christ."

3. Peter's name appears first in every Scriptural listing of the names of the apostles (although he was not the first called).
4. Peter is mentioned by name more than any other apostle in the New Testament (182 times). Second is John (34 times).
5. Peter is the only apostle prayed for by Christ that his "own faith may not fail." (Luke 22:31-32) Christ then says "you must strengthen your brothers."
6. Luke 24:34 and 1 Cor 15:5 show that the first apostle Christ appeared to after His Resurrection was Peter.
"These are just a few of many examples of the primacy of Peter" was the conclusion of the Catholic apologist.

The above quotations are from
It is a great error, however, for the papists to argue that the above verses prove the supremacy of Peter over the other apostles, and consequently, of the whole church.

If Peter had some kind of primacy, in age or gifts, does this prove all that the papists claim? Absolutely not. The quotations following, from a Protestant source, show that, by the same reasoning, Paul is superior over Peter.

"Simon" means "wavering." There is an internal transition in Peter from someone who would "waver" to someone who would proclaim the truth boldly. This transition is itself borne out by Matthew’s account. Peter is shown to be a clumsy, awkward (Matt 17:4-5), sometimes-in (Matt 26:35), sometimes-out (Matt 14:28-31; 26:69-75), sometimes-on-target (Matt 17:24-26), sometimes-off-target (Matt 18:21-22) disciple of Jesus. He is vocal and boisterous, is sometimes praised (Matt 16:16-17), and sometimes rebuked (Matt 15:15-16; 16:22-23), is sometimes "with" Jesus (Matt 19:27-28) and other times "against" him (Matt 16:22-23). So then, Jesus’ words are prophetic: "You are Simon/you are now Peter." Later, after the resurrection, we see that Peter boldly proclaims the gospel and eventually dies a martyr’s death (John 21:18-19). However, simply referring to Peter as "rock" does not establish primacy or authority—it refers only to Peter’s changed personality."

"While we may concede that Peter was a prominent and outspoken member of the early church, when one considers this evidence compared to the evidence supporting the primacy of Paul, an entirely different picture emerges. Paul wrote half of the books included in the New Testament canon—Peter wrote only two. Paul’s life and mission are the focal point in Acts, comprising sixteen of its twenty-eight chapters—Peter’s ministry comprises approximately eight chapters. Paul was appointed the apostle to the Gentiles (Acts 9:15, 15:7, Rom 11:13, 15:16, Gal 2:7-9, Eph 3:1, 8, 1 Tim 2:7, 2 Tim 1:11)—Peter is said to be the apostle to the Jews only (Gal 2:7-9). Since the church is made up primarily of Gentiles (not Jews), it is odd that Paul should not have primacy afforded to him by the Catholic church. Moreover, Paul writes that whatever "pillar" Peter may have been in the church made no difference to him: he did not see Peter as having the slightest primacy over him (Gal 2:6). Paul lumps Peter in with James and John when he speaks of the so-called "pillars" of the church (Gal 2:9), not giving any higher status to Peter than to the others. Indeed, in this passage Paul names James before Peter (perhaps then James should have primacy instead of Peter!). Paul rebuked Peter to his face for his hypocrisy (Gal 2:11-14). Paul did not submissively address Peter as "Holy Father," "Supreme Pastor," or "Vicar of Christ" and gently point out his mistake. Instead, he publicly censured him! Paul seems to go out of his way ("I said to Peter in front of them all"—v. 14) to show potential followers of Peter that Peter had no more authority than he himself did. Paul denies that any apostle has pre-eminence over him when he says, "I consider myself not in the least inferior to the most eminent apostle" (2 Cor 11:5; 12:11). Paul seems to claim ecclesial preeminence over all of Christendom when he writes, "This is the rule I lay down in all the churches" (1 Cor 7:17), and claims responsibility for the spiritual welfare of all Christians in his statement to the Corinthians, "Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches" (2 Cor 11:28).

Obviously, in light of these points, Paul is at least as qualified as Peter (if not more so) to hold ecclesial primacy. Of course, it would be nonsense to conclude from all this that Paul was a pope. But that is just the point; the Catholic apologist engages in special pleading when he points to all the passages that seem to single out Peter in an attempt to demonstrate Petrine primacy, but concludes something completely different about those passages that single out Paul in a very similar way."

The above good quotation was taken from

But, the truth is, as one writer affirmed, - "All of the apostles are the rock - (8 Church Fathers taught this interpretation). Since all of the apostles are the Rock, the church is built upon them (Eph 2:20)."

The following enumeration of the views on who or what is the "rock" in Matt. 16:18 is typical, yet it leaves out a 4th view, one held to also by some of the church fathers, and many since, that the "rock" represents the entire apostolic college.

"Historically, scholars have offered the following interpretations:

(1) "This Rock" refers to Jesus Himself;

(2) "This rock" is Peter’s confession of Jesus; and

(3) "This rock" refers to Peter’s person. Church history reveals that these three understandings of the "rock" passage were held by a number of early church fathers both in the East and the West. Indeed, some can be quoted as holding more than one view (e.g., Augustine)."

A fellow author, with Norman L. Geisler, wrote sentiments that I can endorse. They say, "even if Peter is the rock referred to by Christ, as some Protestant scholars believe, he was not the only rock in the foundation of the church, as many early church fathers point out."


In the next chapter, I will look at the Greek text to help us to identify Peter with being specifically named "Rock" or "Rocky," and with the church being built upon him. In this chapter I have demonstrated how Peter's "rockiness" was shared by the other apostles, yea, by every Christian, in one degree or another.

Exegeting Acts 2: 38

(From my debate with John Gentry in 2008)

Garrett's Position on Acts 2: 38

It has been said about Acts 2: 38, by those in my opponent's religious group, known historically as "Restorationists," and sometimes as "Campbellites," this little saying - "give me an ax and two 38's and I'll kill any Baptist," so strong is the conviction of this group that this passage teaches against the Baptist view that sinners are saved by faith alone and that it upholds the teaching that water baptism must be added to the salvation equation. In view of the historical controversy over the meaning of the Greek preposition "eis," sometimes pronounced as "ace," and other times as "ice," other Restorationist preachers have warned Baptist preachers "not to walk on the ice lest they fall through."

However, as confident as my opponent, and his brethren in the so-called Church of Christ, are that this passage teaches salvation in the act of water baptism, I am just as confident that it teaches, not the essentiality of water baptism for remission of sins but rather the essentiality of repentance and faith for it.

The Greek rule regarding agreement between verbs and pronouns requires that the remission of sins be connected with repentance, not with baptism.

The fundamental question is this - to which verb, the verb "repent," or the verb "be baptized," does the prepositional phrase "for the remission of your sins" refer to or connect? That is the $64, 000 question.

First, lets talk about the ANTECEDENT OF humon or the pronoun "your" in English. What is the antecedent of this pronoun? In order to answer this, we must first note that there are two main clauses preceding the prepositional phrase.

Though both leading clauses are imperatives, they are not identical, for the first clause, "repent ye" (including both verb and pronoun), is second person plural, while the second clause, "each one of you be baptized" (including both verb and pronoun), is third person singular. Thus, there is a change of both person and number between the verbs and pronouns in these two clauses.

In the prepositional phrase, "for the remission or YOUR sins," the pronoun “your” is second person plural. The effect of this change from second person plural to third person singular, and then back again to second person plural, shows that the phrase connects directly with the command to “repent.”

Essentially what you have is - “You (plural) repent for the forgiveness of your (plural) sins, and let each one (singular) of you be baptized (singular).” Or, “You all repent for the forgiveness of all of your sins, and let each one of you be baptized.”

Acts 2:38 has two occurrences of the pronoun "your" or "humon"; both are second person plural in the genitive case. The first occurs in the phrase "each of you," in which humon functions as a partitive genitive, indicating the group from which each person derives. The second occurrence is in the phrase "for the remission of your sins," in which humon is a subjective genitive indicating whose sins are involved in the remission.

The basic rule of concord, in Greek, stipulates that a personal pronoun (in this case humon) agrees with its antecedent in gender and number.
The concord between verb and pronoun requires that the remission of sins be connected with repentance, not with baptism.

If one associates forgiveness with baptism, the verse translated into English, with due accord to person and number, would read like this, "let him [third singular] be baptized for the remission of your [second plural] sins." But, such an interpretation or translation would be supporting an absurdity. It would be affirming that an individual's baptism remitted the sin of others, in this case, that of the Pentecostal penitents, or of the crowd, as a group.

The structure of Acts 2: 38 illustrates that the command to be baptized is parenthetical and is not syntactically connected to remission of sins. When Peter commanded the people to repent, he was speaking to the crowd. Then the command to be baptized was directed to each individual. In the "remission of your sins" phrase, Peter again directed his words to the crowd collectively.

The issue in Acts 2:38 is that of agreement between the personal pronoun humon and its antecedent.

One must not impose English word order rules on the Greek text. In English the phrase "for the forgiveness of your sins" may be connected to either "repent," "be baptized," or both. However, in the Greek it cannot be so.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Dr. Watson Warned You

My Hardshell brothers, Elder John M. Watson warned you in his famous book "The Old Baptist Test," the name adopted for this blog. Of the many things he warned against was one I also want to to sound the alarm about as I appeal to my "Primitive Baptist" friends in Christ. It is the loss of exhortation and gospel invitations in preaching.

It was the "Two Seeders" who first began to call all such exhortations and appeals to the unconverted as "Arminianism"; And, it was this intimidation that helped to exorcise this type of preaching from the "old school" churches so that today not one can be found that exhorts the unregenerate, or that exhorts the regenerate in things relating to their eternal salvation. Today it is all doctrinal preaching, or preaching designed to stir the emotions.

My Hardshell preacher brethren, you must address the lost if you are ever going to be blessed in your ministry to the conversion of sinners. Why not end your sermons as did the Baptists who put forth the 1689 London Confession, or as did the first Hardshells, as did Elder Grigg Thompson, who ended their sermons with exhortations, commands, and invitations to saints and sinners?

Spurgeon showed us the way! God blessed his preaching. He taught the doctrines of grace, but he also preached the gospel to sinners and exhorted them. Follow him.

If you do not do this type of preaching, the kind we see done by the prophets, Christ, and the apostles, then you will continue to die and have not the approbation of the Lord.

After I left the Hardshell cult, I enjoyed preaching like Spurgeon, ending my sermons with appeals for the audience to heed what they had heard. I have no fear of men calling such "Arminian." All I can say is "God forgive them for they know not what they do."

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Sound The Alarm!

Copied from "My Daily Bread" from JULY 7, 2007 (See Here)

"Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the LORD cometh, for [it is] nigh at hand; A day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness, as the morning spread upon the mountains: a great people and a strong; there hath not been ever the like, neither shall be any more after it, [even] to the years of many generations." (Joel 2:1,2)

Alarms are of such value to us today. 

We have alarm clocksfire alarmsburglar alarms, and all kinds of high tech alarm systems, all designed to either "wake up" one from sleep or to "detect" dangers. They are designed to "give warning," so that one might thereby be "alerted" and escape threatening dangers"Sirens" are also a kind of "alarm," used to alert of tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, and other perils.

Alarms are meant to save and preserve life, to aid in preparation against possible lossThankfully Lord God has his ways to alarm and alert people! Lord God has given instruments of alarm, men who "sound" the alarm, who metaphorically "blow the trumpet" and are"sirens" for the truth, all in order to give "alert" and to alarm the unconverted and the spiritually and morally careless.

We ought to know when we should become "alarmed" and when we ought not to become alarmed. We are often alarmed when we have no reason to be. On the other hand, we are also often not alarmed when we ought to be alarmed.

It is a balancing act! This trying to "sound an alarm" about real dangers without appearing to be "Chicken Little" or guilty of "crying wolf," or of being an "alarmist." But, there are indeed serious and real dangers about which all surely need to be urgently and regularly warned.

Sin, evil, guilt, death, pain, sorrow, Satan and evil spirits, and the coming judgment of God, are things that ought to alarm all. These things ought, in themselves, to "alert" all of the seriousness of these pressing "dangers" and to heed the "warnings" and "alarms" given of the Lord.

"By them (God's oracles) is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward." (Psalm 19: 11 NIV)

The Scriptures are filled with warnings! 

If we took all these scriptures and put them together, we would be saying to sinners, to ourselves, in our modern vernacular, -- Watch out! Be careful! Warning! Danger! Look out! Beware! Caution! Attention! Be on the alert! Keep your wits about you! Be circumspect!

The intent of all these imperatives is to spur us to become more "alert," more "on guard," more "careful." They can scarcely be uttered or written without the exclamation mark (!), for urgency is integral to such warnings. Sinners also are in a desperate "emergencysituation, and to delay heeding God's warnings increase one's odds of being destroyed.

"From the time I brought your forefathers up from Egypt until today, I warned them again and again, saying, "Obey me."(Jeremiah 11: 7 NIV)

Obviously the thing warned against is "disobedience" and "rebellion"against the Lord

We need to always be telling ourselves to "be careful"; And, not simply careful about driving our cars or doing some physically dangerous work. Rather, it ought to be a constant warning echoed in our spiritual ears about dangers to our souls as well. 

Notice how Lord God is the one who is giving warning. He is personally involved in the work. He has been faithful in giving out his warnings.

"In every case that comes before you from your fellow countrymen who live in the cities—whether bloodshed or other concerns of the lawcommands, decrees or ordinances—you are to warn them not to sin against the LORDotherwise his wrath will come on you and your brothersDo this, and you will not sin." (II Chronicles 19: 10 NIV)

God "warns" by various means. His word is the chief means. Those who preach and teach God's word and relate the warnings of God to others, are those who God uses to that end. All good leaders are they who have foresight of perils and who are able to give good warning."

Ministers of the word of the Lord are they who warn sinners about "sinning against the Lord."

"Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me. When I say to a wicked man, 'You will surely die,' and you do not warn him or speak out to dissuade him from his evil ways in order to save his life, that wicked man will die for his sin, and I will hold you accountable for his blood. But if you do warn the wicked man and he does not turn from his wickedness or from his evil ways, he will die for his sin; but you will have saved yourself. "Again, when a righteous man turns from his righteousness and does evil, and I put a stumbling block before him, he will die. Since you did not warn him, he will die for his sin. The righteous things he did will not be remembered, and I will hold you accountable for his blood. But if you do warn the righteous man not to sin and he does not sin, he will surely live because he took warning, and you will have saved yourself." (Ezekiel 3: 17-21 NIV -See also 33: 5-9)

It is sin to not give warningGod is bolder through Ezekiel about this matter. Those who fail to warn others of the dangers they see are accountable to the Lord for their failure and manifest their own unbelief, and of their doubt about the seriousness and reality of the dangers.

"You warned them to return to your law, but they became arrogant and disobeyed your commands. They sinned against your ordinances, by which a man will live if he obeys themStubbornly they turned their backs on you, became stiff-necked and refused to listen...Our kings, our leaders, our priests and our fathers did not follow your law; they did not pay attention to your commands or the warnings you gave them." (Nehemiah 9: 29, 34 NIV)

It is easy to go to sleep in this regard, to become careless, to get a false sense of safety and security, and fail therefore to "take warning" when it is given. We ought to be in the warning business, especially as the people of God. We both receive and give warning.

"warned you when you felt secure, but you said, 'I will not listen!' This has been your way from your youth; you have not obeyed me."(Jeremiah 22: 21 NIV

How many warnings have parents given to their children! Is God not a"father"? Has he not warned all since the world began? Did he not warn the antediluvians through the preaching of NoahGod's "watchman"? Those wicked sinners were all warned at a time when they had a "false sense of security" and "felt secure," when they were all crying "peace, peace, when there is no peace." God also warned the inhabitants of Sodom also at a time when she "felt secure." (See Ezekiel 16: 16) Again, notice how God is a faithful watchman who has never failed to give warning to sinners.

"To whom can I speak and give warning? Who will listen to me? Their ears are closed so they cannot hear. The word of the LORD is offensive to them; they find no pleasure in it." (Jeremiah 6: 10 NIV)

How many have died or been severely harmed by "not listening" to the words of warning! What makes people so careless? Why do some people "live dangerously"? Especially in spiritual and moral matters? Why do they "live on the edge" of danger? Part of the answer is given in the words above. They are deaf! They have "closed their ears"! They are like a man who sets his alarm clock to wake up but muffles his ears before he goes to bed! The reason also lies in the fact that they despise and disbelieve the watchman, and reject his words, and "find no pleasure in the word of the Lord." 

"So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled." (I Thessalonians 5: 6 NIV)

"Let us be alert"! Let us take heed to the "alarms" sounded by the Lord through his word. Let us not hinder our ability to hear the warnings, for then they will do no good. The alarm of God is now sounding and it is not time to sleep or to be careless, but a time to wake up and be prepared. Notice how the apostle connects being "alert," warned, or "alarmed," with "self-control" or "continence." 

"Be sober, be vigilant, for your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walks about, seeking whom he may devour." (I Peter 5:8 KJV)

Certainly the words "be careful" apply to anyone who is in a jungle with lions all around, all hungry and looking for food! Christianslike men in the midst of perils, have all their energies engaged in "watching" and in "preparation" for possible harms and dangers. In this world, they are like soldiers in war and who are constantly "on alert."

"So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears." (Acts 20: 31 NIV)

Paul was, like Ezekiel, like Christ, yea, like God himself, a faithful herald of warnings, a faithful watchman upon the wall, one who did not fail to give warning upon every occasion to every soul. It is done earnestly and fervently, with pleading, with urgency, with strong cries and yells for the careless to wake up to the impending dangers about them. 

Paul wrote to the Corinthians:

"See what this godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm (alertness), what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done. At every point you have proved yourselves to be innocent in this matter." (II Cor.7:11 NIV)

There are lots of areas in our Christian lives where we need to be constantly warned and thanks be to God for those faithful watchmen who give out their fervent warnings, yea, even blowing loudly upon the trumpet of truth, of scripture. We need to learn to be "alert, "like men in war, who are expecting imminent attack, and who are appropriately "on alert." 

"In my alarm I said, "I am cut off from your sight!" Yet you heard my cry for mercy when I called to you for help." (Psalm 31: 22 NIV)

Even the Lord's people, who trust in the Lord and believe his word, have their times when they become alarmed due to lack of faith and understanding of their alarming situations. They need to be told that they have little or no cause for alarm

"You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmedSuch things must happen, but the end is still to come."(Matthew 24: 6 NIV)

"Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come." (Mark 13: 33 NIV)

See how Jesus sought to remove all causes for alarm in the hearts of his people! How he exhorted and encouraged them, assuring them that with them it would "all be well," as it is promised to be for the"righteous." 

"As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed"Don't be alarmed," he said. "You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucifiedHe has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him." (Mark 16: 5, 6 NIV)

He is risen! He is victorious over death and its awful curse! No more reason to be alarmed about death and judgment! Jesus assures the believer and tells him that he has no reason to be alarmed. Others do, they however, do not.

"And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints." (Ephesians 6: 18 NIV)

"Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers, not to become easilyunsettled or alarmed by some prophecyreport or letter supposed to have come from ussaying that the day of the Lord has already come." (II Thessalonians 2: 1, 2 NIV)

More exhortations against the believer becoming alarmed! 

We have been forewarned and alerted to the coming judgment. Are you ready to stand before the awesome God of Scripture? Have you fled for refuge in Jesus? He is the Rock of Ages, the cleft in which you may hide and be safe. Will you come to him today and be safe?