In this chapter I will deal with another novel
idea relative to the "Primitive Baptists."
I have already mentioned their novel
idea about "time salvation."
I have shown that this was an "invention"
in doctrine, in Bible "interpretation"
relative to soteriological passages
of scripture, and that it was created out of necessity
in order to deal with those numerous passages that connect "faith"
and "gospel means"
Thus a passage that connected "hearing the gospel"
(or word of God) with the creation of "faith"
and for "salvation,"
would need to be reworked
and shown to deal not with "eternal"
salvation but with only some "temporal salvation";
thus, by "interpreting"
certain passages in that manner they could thereby deny to them any connection with "eternal"
salvation. By referring a host of scriptures that have historically
been interpreted as dealing with "eternal"
salvation to some "timely deliverance"
they helped to inoculate (at least in their own minds) themselves against the charge of being "opposed to preaching the gospel."
By this novel
idea the Hardshells
now had a "sophisticated"
defense of their aberrant "Spirit Alone"
views of "regeneration."
If one interprets the words saved, salvation, deliverance,
in their normal, ordinary, predominant, and scriptural usage, he will discover that they are overwhelmingly a reference to eternal salvation
idea of "time salvation,"
though suitable enough for some
passages of scripture, in "getting around"
their clear support of gospel means, yet it was not sufficient for every passage. These other passages, with their obvious prima facia
support for gospel means,
had to be dealt with by another method other than pigeon holing
it into the "time salvation"
So, in those passages that speak of being "saved"
and "born again"
by "hearing the word"
or "voice of God,"
or "voice of Christ,"
and where the result is clearly "life,"
from "spiritual death,"
as in John 5:25,
another kind of method of "interpreting"
them had to be formulated, another way of "getting around"
them had to be invented
in order to show that though they seemed to teach the instrumentality of the word of the gospel, they did not do so in fact. This other novel
idea has come to be called the "DIRECT VOICE"
or "DIRECT SPEAKING"
method of regeneration.
This is a new idea
among the Baptists
and it seems to have been an idea first formulated by Hardshell
founding father, Gilbert Beebe.
Here is what Brother Bob Ross
wrote about the matter. Ross on Beebe"Gilbert Beebe (1800-1881), editor of the Signs of the Times magazine, the foremost Anti-mission periodical following the 1832 split, was perhaps the first one -- at least, one of the first -- to propagate this new theory of "direct speaking" regeneration. He says:
"The word of the Lord, which is Spirit, and which is life, which liveth and abideth forever, is that by which regeneration is affected; not MERELY by the Scriptures in their LETTER, not reading or preaching them, but the words which Jesus himself SPEAKS
to the individual persons who are made to hear and live." [Compilation of Editorial Articles, Vol. IV, pages 21, 22].This theory gives precedence of power to the spoken words of Christ, which He supposedly speaks directly to the individual. Notice that the "speaking," according to Beebe, PRECEDES the "hearing" and the "life." This would mean that Christ speaks to the "dead alien sinner" BEFORE the sinner is "alive." Therefore, the Word of Christ is addressed to the "dead," yet the Hardshells object to the Baptist position that the Gospel, or Word, is to be preached to the "dead," and is accompanied by the Holy Spirit in pursuance of God's sovereign purpose in effectual calling.
This means that the INSPIRED written Word of God does not have the same power of the Holy Spirit in, upon, or with that Word to the same extent as the Word spoken by Christ has power!
Claud H. Cayce, editor of The Primitive Baptist in the first part of the 20th century, would represent the view of the "conditionalist" faction of Primitives, or "Old Schoolers," when he says:"Sinners receive eternal life, are regenerated, just one way. The Lord SPEAKS to them as He did to Saul of Tarsus when he was on his journey from Jerusalem to Damascus, and when He SPEAKS to the dead sinner he IMPARTS LIFE. He regenerates the sinner. 'The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life,' says the Redeemer." [Selected Editorials From The Primitive Baptist, Vol. I, page 194].
According to the Scriptures, Jesus preached the Gospel (Luke 4:16-21). Is the Gospel a part of the "WORDS" spoken by Christ which are "SPIRIT" and "LIFE"? Is this not the SAME Gospel that was preached by Peter, Paul, and the Apostles -- the "Words" of Christ which are "SPIRIT" and "LIFE"? Is not this SAME Gospel recorded in the Scriptures by the INSPIRATION of the Holy Spirit? Is not this Gospel "the WORD that goeth forth out of My mouth" (Isa. 55:11)? Is this Word void of spirit and life in its SPIRIT-INSPIRED WRITTEN FORM?
Evidently, the Hardshell doctrine is that the Gospel is "spirit and life" when Jesus personally speaks the Word, but the Gospel is void of "spirit and life" in its SPIRIT-INSPIRED WRITTEN FORM!If Jesus speaks this Gospel DIRECTLY to the dead alien sinner, then it is "spirit and life;" but when Peter and Paul spoke the SAME Gospel in the power and demonstration of the Holy Spirit which was "sent down from Heaven" (1 Thess. 1:5; 1 Cor. 2:4; 1 Peter 1:12), this SPIRIT-INSPIRED WORD which proceeded out of the mouth of the Lord (Matt 4:4) does not have "spirit and life," according to the Hardshell theory. The only time this Gospel has "spirit and life," according to the Hardshells, is when Jesus Himself speaks it directly to the dead alien sinner! When preached by Peter and Paul it was only to "comfort" those who had already been regenerated -- that is, if Hardshellism is true.
We believe the fact is, this is merely a distortion of the experience of Paul, misused by Hardshells in their effort to convince themselves and others of their notion that the Holy Spirit of God does not bless the Gospel to the dead alien sinner in producing the new birth. We who have been born again under Gospel preaching do not have the same identical experiences, but we do know something about how it was that we became Christians. We hardly had the type of experience that Paul had, nor that the thief on the cross had, nor that Simon Peter had -- and I have yet to meet a Christian who claims such an experience. We don't believe the Lord speaks directly to the sinner, but we do believe that the SAME GOSPEL comes to us in the SAME POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT that the Gospel came to Paul. Whether it is spoken by Jesus, by Peter, by Paul, or read in the Bible, it is the SAME WORD OF GOD that is blessed by the SPIRIT OF GOD and it produces the NEW BIRTH.This is the Old Baptist doctrine of our Confessions. This is the true primitive Baptist Gospel."
(From HISTORY AND HERESIES OF HARDSHELLISM, #6 [05/11--2006)Brother Ross
writes further:"In the course of these chapters, it will be noted, Hardshells have no Baptist writings prior to the 1800's which affirm the type of doctrine they believe as to the New Birth, Effectual Calling, the Work of the Holy Spirit, and the "Place of the Gospel," or the Truth, in relation to the Spirit's work."
(From HISTORY AND HERESIES OF HARDSHELLISM, #2 [04/24--2006] - some emphasis mine)
Thus, from what has been written above, we have a definition of what is the theory of "Direct Voice"
and from one who seems to be the first, or one of the first, to promote this new
idea on what it means to hear
of Christ in salvation. There are really not that many passages of Scripture where this new interpretation was viewed as needed. The Hardshell
idea of "time salvation"
was sufficient for most passages talking about "gospel means."
But, there were some other passages where it could not be made, honestly, to deal with "time salvation";
Such passages as John 5:25,
where being "raised from spiritual death"
is the result
of "hearing the voice of the Son of God,"
could not be "gotten around"
with the "time salvation"
tactic. So too with passages that speak of the "word of God"
as a means in "regeneration,"
and where the "time salvation"
tactic would not work successfully, they would then use the tactic of the "Direct Voice"
or Direct Speaking"
completely overthrew, from the Scriptures,
and from common sense reasoning from it, that the Hardshell
novel theory about hearing
of Christ is fraught with absurdities and contradictions, and with propositions that are untenable and not according to the Scriptures
nor the Old Baptist Confessions of Faith.
I will be enlarging upon his refutation in this and the next couple chapters. I will first discuss further the "History of the Novel Theory,"
look at some key verses relative to the application of the theory, and mention some of the after effects of this new idea for other areas of bible doctrine, such as the false doctrines dealing with "eternal vital union,"
or to the "eternal children"
doctrines, to the "Hollow Log"
theory of "regeneration,"
to "soul sleep"
heresies. Besides this, they also developed a mystic, psychic, metaphysical,
views relative to the leading, teaching,
of the Holy Spirit. "New Age"
and other "mystic"
Christian groups, like the Quakers
or the "New Lights"
of the 18th and 19th centuries, all emphasized the "direct speaking"
of the Holy Spirit to individuals and therefore played down any importance given to the ministry of the word in the role of "teaching"
people the doctrines of the Lord. Each individual, it was believed, by the Holy Spirit, was free to follow their own "private interpretations"
of the Bible, each having their own promise of "inspiration"
and of the "direct speaking"
of the Lord and Holy Spirit.
Of course, no Baptist will deny that the Lord and his Spirit speaks directly to the heart of people. But, what is denied is the idea that this "speaking"
does not involve words
that are cognitively understood
by the one to whom the words are spoken. When the Lord "speaks"
to the heart and mind of a person he "communicates truth,"
and "imparts knowledge and understanding." History of the Doctrine
Both Brother Ross
and myself have challenged the Hardshells
to produce the proof
of anyone prior to Gilbert Beebe
who espoused the heterodox view of "Direct Voice"
or "Direct Speaking"
of Christ. None have yet produced the evidence! Some, however, rather than giving us the "names"
and the "proofs,"
say such things as these.
From Elder C. C. Morris
:"Some few years ago, a man
) raised a question about whether there was “any writer among the Baptists who taught the view of "direct voice" or "direct speaking" regeneration before Elder [Gilbert] Beebe....”
By his question the man implies that Elder Gilbert Beebe, along about the year 1832, is the one who originated the doctrine of “direct regeneration.” It is not our intention in this article to prove such a writer or writers existed before Elder Beebe and to name them, but rather it is to prove the ancient, widespread, and accepted proclamation of the doctrine of regeneration without the “benefit” of human help. In so doing, the answer to this man’s question should be apparent.
Also, it has been falsely said, “There weren’t any who believed in the direct operation of the Holy Spirit before the Hardshells came along. In their opposition to Missions, the Hardshells concocted this new doctrine.”
(I think this latter citation is a reference to my writings) Either the ones who perpetuate this falsehood are ignorant of history, or they would deliberately deceive those who are, or both. In the next few pages, we propose to look into some historical truths about the doctrine of immediate regeneration, hoping our understanding will be enlightened by the light that comes only from Christ Himself."
Is it not striking that this Elder did not simply give Brother Ross
and myself the answer we want? Why did he not just cite another Elder, prior to Beebe,
prior to the rise of the Hardshells,
to prove we were wrong? He states that we are wrong in our charge, but he does not give us the evidence that we are wrong! If we are so wrong, where are the citations of Baptists prior to Beebe
who believed as he on the "Direct Speaking"
If we are "ignorant of history"
then why does he not cite the sources? He does go on to cite from a work to try and prove that some Anabaptists
and others perhaps believed as he does (which he does not even prove), but he never produces one historical proof
that any prior
believed the "Direct Voice"
view, and certainly not among the Baptists.
He said: "It is not our intention in this article to prove such a writer or writers existed before Elder Beebe and to name them."
Why not? Why not take a few minutes and name them? Who is really the "deceiver"
here? Anyone with enough sense to lick a postage stamp can discern that this Elder does not have any "historical proof"
that the Baptists,
prior to the Hardshells,
believed this new novel
view of what it means to hear Christ
After trying to prove that there were some possible heretics among the Anabaptists who believed in "immediate"
regeneration without means (which he does not do), he says:"As we find in every century an extensive, unbroken chain of believers in the virgin birth of Christ Jesus, His deity, His effectual blood atonement, and His literal bodily resurrection, even so we find in every age those who believed in regeneration by the Holy Spirit without human intervention. The fact that many denominations besides the Old Baptists held to this doctrine of regeneration without human means or instrumentality does not militate against its truth, any more than such a fact could be used successfully to argue against the deity of our Lord, His virgin birth, His blood atonement, or His bodily resurrection.
When we cite the beliefs of the Anabaptists and the Mennonites, we are not necessarily tracing Old School Baptist “perpetuity” through them, as though we of necessity are their modern descendents and counterparts, nor are we saying that we necessarily have any other particular point in common with them. Rather, for now, we are pointing out as straightforwardly as possible that down through the ages, the belief in the Holy Spirit’s direct operation in regenerating His elect has always been far more common and widespread than our doctrinal opponents suppose or will admit."
(Elder C. C. Morris - http://www.the-remnant.com/backissue10.htm)
Again, he gave no long list, or chain, of those who have believed Hardshell
ideas on the new birth
and gospel means.
Why claim there is such a "chain of witnesses"
and then not gives us some names in that chain?
Why not cite some Baptist
sources? Why not cite the London and Philadelphia Confessions?
Why not quote some leading Elder in the 1700s,
like John Gill
or John Gano?
Why not some some pre-1800
association minutes or circular letters?
Let me now cite another Hardshell
who trys to say the same thing, without any evidence whatsoever, saying that there have been great men down through the ages of the church who held Hardshell
views on the new birth.Sarrels
wrote:"The view we hold with regard to this fundamental doctrine is not new, nor, we hasten to say, has it ever been without a witness. Across the centuries it has been firmly held and consistently defended by men who in the main were unaccredited by the scholarship of the world. Here and there, like monuments in distant lands, these fearless sentinals have stood in defense of the everlasting truth...however, these voices in the wilderness, with their labors little noticed and their names seldom recorded, have left their mark on Christian civilization. We thank God for the privilege of standing where these immortals stood, of defending the unpopular but glorious doctrine which they defended, and of sharing in some small measure the hardships which they endured."
(Systematic Theology, page 305, 306)
Let us ask ourselves these questions in view of the above writing.
1. Why did Sarrels
simply not give us the "names"
of all these great "immortals"
? If their "names"
have been "seldom recorded,"
why not take the time and RECORD THEM!?
2. How can you decry, in one breath, the fact that these esteemed "immortals"
have been "little noticed,"
and then not give us their "names"!?
Why not give us their writings that supposedly support Hardshell
3. If these supposed people are the "great sentinels"
of "this fundamental doctrine"
of the Hardshell church,
surely the Hardshells
would want to record their "names"
and to perpetuate their writings! And yet, what do both these Elders do? They do not produce the evidence that they say exists in such abundance!
Now let us hear from another Hardshell Elder
on this point.Elder Gowens
writes:"Most discussions of the 1832 separation,"
writes Elder Gowens, "within Baptist ranks focus on the practical issues dividing the two camps, i.e. mission societies, Sunday Schools, and various parachurch organizations. It is true that the Black Rock Address said very little about doctrine. Its focus was primarily practical. I suggest, however, that beneath the legitimate complaints they highlighted concerning some of the practical innovations of their day, a deeper theological chasm was developing. Successive history reveals that this underlying doctrinal disagreement concerned what is known as the “external means of grace” question."
(Christ, the Only Mediator By Michael L. Gowens, sovgrace.net)
Again he writes, saying:"The primary issue at stake might be defined by the question, “Does God employ the use of external means in the eternal salvation of sinners? Is grace mediated to the sinner through human agency? Does the church play an instrumental role in eternal salvation?” Those answering in the affirmative were loosely and informally termed “means” Baptists, and those responding in the negative were labeled “antimeans” Baptists."
He says also that the most important issue, however, in the great division, was a "...theological issue."
Again, it is very interesting that Gowens
does not cite any sources to prove his statements regarding history along this line. Also, as Brother Ross
has clearly shown, the issue was absolutely not a theological one at the outset,
but one that dealt strictly with mission "methodology." Gowens
seems to acknowledge that this is what the historical record shows. But, what does he do? He simply makes an assertion,
saying that "underneath"
the verbal and written discourse about the "causes"
of the division, there was something else that was the greater or "real cause"
of the division. What was that? Gowens
says it was a disagreement over the doctrinal issue
This is something I am sure that Gowens
and his Hardshell
friends WANT DESPERATELY TO BELIEVE,
but which simply is not true, nor is there any historical evidence to prove it to be true.
He said, "The primary issue at stake was whether God used the preaching of the gospel as a means in the new birth." Was it?
Why does he not cite the writings of the first Anti-Mission Baptists
to prove that point? He already admits that the Black Rock Address does not mention this doctrinal point!
How then can he claim that in 1832
were "declaring non-fellowship"
against those who believed in gospel means? Give us the evidence for this unfounded assertion! It is clear that the gospel means view was not
the original issue. It is also a fact that many people who were in the "anti-mission"
party were not Hardshell
on the subject of means in the new birth! John Leland,
for example, was against many of the things that the Black Rockers
condemned, but there is no evidence that he believed in the "Spirit Alone"
view. He had accepted the Philadelphia Confession
all his preaching life, so why would he not believe what it said on regeneration
and gospel means?
Certainly his evangelistic preaching style
shows he was not in line with the Hardshells,
for he called regularly upon sinners to repent and believe.John Watson,
and other Hardshells
claim, was truly against "mission boards,"
and against many of the new mission "methods,"
but he opposed vehemently those in the "anti means camp"
who were Hardshells,
saying they were "apostates from the Old Baptist faith,"
as expressed in those confessions, in their belief that faith is not
produced by the gospel and was not
a means in regeneration.
So, it is wrong for Gowens
to suggest that from the very outset
the opponents of many of the new mission schemes and organizations, to mission methodology, were all opposed to the historic Baptist view that the preaching of the gospel is God's means in producing faith and repentance in regeneration. Gowens
suggests that the controversy started because the "New Schoolers"
came along and started preaching gospel means! He says, like nearly all Hardshells,
that all Baptists prior to 1832
and "no one believed in gospel means till the "New School Baptists" came along!
They say such things without the least shred of evidence to support it, however, as is very clear from their remarks above.
Ironically, it is just the other way around, as Brother Ross
and I have been showing (and other Baptists before us also), for all Baptists
prior to the "rise of the Hardshells,"
believed what the London and Philadelphia Confessions of Faith
stated on the matter! So, it is a flat lie and historical distortion to affirm that the Baptists
did not believe in gospel means in regeneration till they, the "New Schoolers,"
came on the scene! That is an outright falsehood! It can be easily disproven by the facts.
No sir, even Hassell
admits that every Baptist
church in the 1700's
and into the 1800's
accepted the Philadelphia Baptist Confession of Faith!
That Confession of Faith
is very clear in its belief that the word of God
is a "means"
the Spirit uses to save and regenerate the elect. The reason why the first Hardshells
did not speak out against the doctrinal view of "gospel means"
position was twofold.
First, they would not have had such a widespread support in their umbrella group of "antis."
Some of those first "anti"
groups were opposed to a list of things, such as Sunday Schools, Seminaries, musical instruments,
and other such things, but who, nevertheless,
did not believe in the "Spirit Alone"
or "Direct Speaking"
view of "regeneration."
Someone, in the first half of the 19th century could believe in gospel means
and yet still be viewed as part of the larger "anti" movement
due to their opposition to one or more of these things. Not all the first "antis"
were equally opposed to the same things. They were a "loosely knit group"
at the beginning. Soon, men like John Watson
could no longer be identified with it, however, when it forsook the confessions
and became identified with doctrinal extremism and "do-nothingism."
Second, their own views were still being formulated in regard to the new idea that the "word of God"
is not involved in the creation of faith
and in the work of regeneration
I am sure the first Hardshells
vied with each other for who could come up with the best "alternative explanations"
to formerly understood passages that Baptists
have traditionally believed supported the confessional view on gospel means.
This novel idea
of Elder Beebe
seems to have "carried the day"
with regard to that certain class of passages that connect hearing Christ's "word"
with the reception of spiritual life.Gowens
writes again:"Baptists have historically disagreed with Cyprian’s dictum. They insist that the Lord Jesus Christ, not the “church”, is Himself the “one Mediator between God and men” (1 Tim. 2:5)— the only means by which the salvific benefits of the covenant of redemption are dispensed. They understand the instrumental role ascribed in the Bible to the Word and Sacraments to be a disciplinary (that is, in respect to discipleship), not salvific (that is, in respect to salvation), role— viewing these “means” as pastoral resources for the nurture of disciples, not instruments by which the merits of Christ are applied to individual sinners. They do not believe that “grace” is applied through the “church” and its various functions, but directly and immediately (that is, without the use of means or media) by the Holy Spirit. They affirm that Christ actually procured salvation by His death, so that the gospel is a declaration (or proclamation) of a specific and objective fact, not a general invitation or free offer. Good works give evidence of grace— they are not conditions to final salvation."
says -- "Baptists have historically disagreed"
about the instrumentality of the word of God in giving regenerating grace, he is again wrong. What he does, by a writing "sleight of hand,"
is to tie the belief that "sacraments"
are not means of regenerating grace with the Hardshell
view that the word of God is not a means for the same. Again, why does he not just cite those Old Baptists
from the 1600's
to show that they did not
believe the word of God was a means of grace? It is really unbelievable how these Hardshells
say things about "history"
that has absolutely no proof therefrom.
uses another tactic, one I have mentioned before. He builds a "straw man,"
telling people that the Mission and Means Baptists believe that Christ is not the one and only Mediator! He says that those who believe in gospel means make a meditor out of the word of God and the preachers of it! I guess men like John Gill
were too ignorant not to see such a grave mistake?
The use of means by the Mediator does not take away from the Mediatorship of Christ! To suggest that it does is to build a "straw man"
to fight with and to use "sophistry"
and make arguments based upon human logic and understanding rather than upon the word of God.
He writes again, saying: "Sometimes, the pressure to conform to more popular standards has spawned controversy among the Baptists themselves. Hassell speaks of John Brine and John Gill, two eminent Baptist ministers of the 1700’s, who rejected Andrew Fuller’s emphasis on the universal and free offer of the gospel, focusing in their preaching instead “on the Divine purposes, and on the Bible fact that salvation is of the Lord.” Consequently, Gill and Brine were stigmatized as “selfish, hardening, refrigerant, soporific, hyper-Calvinistic, Antinomian” and blamed for the growing “indifference [among the churches] to the means of grace”."
It may be true of the above men that they went overboard, relative to what the Bible teaches about gospel commands and invitations, but, both Gill
believed that God used the preaching of the gospel to regenerate and call his elect out of sin and death! Yes, Hyper-Calvinism
did exist before the Hardshells
came along. But, it was always kept in check by an able clergy and a sound confession of faith.
I will have more to say in later chapters about this "pressure to conform"
about which Gowens
speaks. He ought to read what Elder John Watson
had to say about this "pressure."
I felt that "pressure"
all the time I was in the "Primitive Baptist Church."
There is always the fear of being accused of being an "Arminian,"
of being an "Absoluter,"
of being "Missionary,"
etc. Elder Bradley
and those Hardshells
today who are getting involved in "missions"
and "preacher education"
and "Bible Classes,"
know the kind of "pressure" Gowens
is talking about and about which I too am not unfamiliar. But, there will be more in later chapters on this too.Gowens
writes again: "Thompson published two books, “opposing Fullerism”—Simple Truth and Triumphs of Truth.
Sylvester Hassell said that these works “brought upon himself [Thompson] much persecution”. He summarizes Elder Thompson’s convictions about the “means” question as follows:
“In regard to the use and effect of the preached gospel, Elder Thompson held, with the majority of Old School Baptists, that it is not the means of imparting spiritual life to the dead sinner; that as no means can be used to give life to one literally dead, even so no means can be used to give eternal life to those who are dead in sins; that, as all temporal means are used to feed, nourish and strengthen living subjects, and not dead ones, so the preaching of the gospel is the medium through which God is pleased to instruct, feed and comfort His renewed children, and not by which he gives life to the dead sinner whom the Spirit alone can quicken; that the gospel is the proclamation of good tidings of great joy to those who have a hearing ear and an understanding heart to receive it, and to these it is the power of God unto salvation, saving them from the false doctrines of men, and feeding and making them strong in the truth.”"
I have that placed marked in my copy of Hassell's "history"
about Wilson Thompson.
Notice that Hassell
does not cite Thompson
himself on the issue of means but simply tells us what he, Hassell,
believes were the views of Thompson.
Am I denying that Thompson
believed what Hassell
said he believed? I don't know for sure. The writings of Thompson
on the topic are few. I will be writing further upon Thompson
in later chapters, but I can prove that he believed in gospel means when he was first ordained to preach.
So, it becomes then a question as to "when" Thompson
forsook the Old Baptist Faith
as expressed in the Philadelphia Confession
that every church of which Thompson was a member endorsed.
Consider also that we have seen how Hassell
does not always get his facts straight about what certain preachers believed. He is also infamous for his "half quotes"
from sources, leaving out pertinent information in an attempt to mislead and deceive his readers.Gowens
writes further: "Controversy is frequently the fire that refines theological precision, and Thompson spoke very precisely. He wrote the following in his 1825 work entitled Triumphs of Truth: "The prisoner in the dungeon can only know that he is justified by the judge in court by some messenger who may be sent to him, with the tidings of it; and however long he may disbelieve the message, it cannot make it untrue, because the fact does not depend for its truth upon the prisoner's faith, but is a truth before he believes it, as certainly as afterwards, and his faith adds nothing to the truth of the fact, but only to his comfort in the enjoyment of a knowledge of the fact. So justification is a fact before faith, and faith adds nothing to it, but only believes the fact as it is declared in the gospel..."
But, this does not mitigate against gospel means. What Thompson
wrote about "justification"
does not exclude the view of "gospel means"
Actually, John Gill
said similar things relative to "justification"
but he did not believe Hardshell
views thereon, nor on the purpose of the gospel. In fact, the only place the Hardshells
attempt to cite from Gill
in an attempt to get the learned Doctor to conincide with their heretical views, they will cite what he says about God being the "efficient cause"
and the death of Christ the "legal grounds"
of our "justification."
Certainly the placing of faith in the righteousness and death of Christ does not add anything to the fact of what Christ has done. Surely the Hardshells
can quote something from Thompson
that is much more clear to the precise point than this, can they not? Certainly we are not "justified by faith," viewed as an independent act of our wills. But, "justification by faith"
is the receiving
of that justification, the actual liberation
from the bondage of our legal condemnation. That, however, is precisely just what Richardson
and the Old Baptists
believed but which todays so called Old Baptists
do not! Gowens
writes further:"Of course, Thompson’s distinctions are more antiquated than 1825, but he wrote more distinctly than Baptists had written for some time previous because of the resurgent threat that the “means” theory now posed to orthodoxy. He was by no means, however, the first to make such distinctions. In 1647, for instance, Samuel Richardson published an essay entitled “Justification by Christ Alone” in which he argues against the concept that any aspect of eternal salvation, be it legal or vital, is by external means. Richardson wrote to affirm “that we are justified by Christ alone and not by our believing” and to set forth “the true place of faith in salvation as an evidence of interest in Christ but not a joint-partner with Christ”. To the potential objection some would make to his position, namely, that “God has decreed the means as well as the end, and faith is one of the means,” Richardson says:
“We grant God has decreed the end and the means, and whatsoever God has decreed shall unavoidably come to pass. But we deny that faith is any means of our Redemption, Justification, or Salvation. Nothing but the Lord Jesus Christ is the means of our salvation. There are means that are necessary to the revealing and enjoying the comfort of it, as the Holy Spirit and ministers to reveal it and faith to receive it; also, there be fruits and effects of the love of God, as faith, love, and obedience to Christ… yet these are no means of our salvation.”"
(ibid, emphasis mine)
Where is the clear statement that the gospel
and word of God
have absolutely nothing to do with creating faith and bringing about the new birth?
But, Samuel Richardson
endorsed the London Confession of Faith of 1644,
which clearly upholds gospel means. His fellow laborers, Kiffin, Keach, Spilsbury,
believed in the means of the gospel and that those who died without hearing or believing it were lost and without hope. They also believed like Gill
that "justification" is not on the grounds
of our faith as a reward, but that faith is the medium by which justification is experimentally realized.
The following is from Hardshell Mark Green:"The fact that Richardson's article carries an Introduction by the well-known William Kiffin [1616-1701] indicates the respect his peers held for him.
Additionally, Richardson's name appears as one of the signatories on the 1644 London Confession. Had he lived, it is likely that Richardson's name would also have appeared with Kiffin, Knollys, Keach, and other venerables on the 1689 Confession."
Here is a citation from that same writing by Richardson
:"The taking away of sin, as Isa. 53, the destroying of sin, we call pardon. In time we know it and enjoy it. Do you call the manifestation of pardon, pardon? It shall be manifested to all the elect."
Is that Hardshell
views? Do they believe that ALL the elect
will have pardon revealed to them, that they come to know forgiveness experimentally and really in the soul? No, they do not. Only a few of the elect, the PB's
say, will come to know experimentally this pardon and forgiveness.
So, some Hardshells
are thinking they have a friend among the first Baptists in Richardson.
Do they? Have I not already shown how he was in agreement doctrinally with Kiffin, Spilsbury,Keach,
Did not all these men write the Old Confessions
and write in favor of the gospel means position? Yes, of course. But, let us hear another modern Hardshell
who also wants to claim Richardson
as one of their forefathers."Richardson's view of the role of Faith is representative of the Particular Baptists although there was a degree of diversity among them in their explanations and descriptions. For these English Baptists, the Gospel is a declaration of objective truth. Regarding the role of Faith, Richardson says, "Now the work of faith is, to assent to the truth of this testimony, and receive it." Although the article being reviewed was written over 350 years ago, Primitive Baptists of today have no difficulty identifying with Richardson in his arguments against the Objectors."
So, what can we say about Richardson
further? Let us cite some of his other remarks that don't get quoted by today's Hardshells."This was spelled out in Article V which spoke of the fallen and sinful nature of humankind: "Yet the elect, which God hath loved with an everlasting love, are redeemed, quickened, and saved, not by themselves, neither by their own workes, lest any man shoud boast himselfe, but wholly and onely by God of his free grace and mercie through Jesus Christ." And while the gospel was to be preached to all people, the death of Christ brought forth salvation and and reconciliation "onely for the elect". Underscoring the helplessness of humans in achieving salvation, the confession stated that "faith is ordinarily begot by the preaching of the Gospel...without respect to any power or capacitie in the creature, but it is wholly passive being dead in sinnes and trespasses, doth beleeve, and is converted by no lesse power, then that which raised Christ from the dead." These Calvinistic Baptists of seventeenth century England believed that the grace of God came freely and required no preparation on the part of the individual."
And again:"Onely...alone the naked soule, as a sinner and ungodly" person received Christ as crucified, dead, buried, and risen again."
(mercer.edu/baptiststudies/classic/baptist_classics_London_Confessio)"The older brethren claimed that the redemption of Christ quickened the inner man, renewed the mind and delivered the physical man from the old man, from the dominion of sin, from the law of sin and death, and the practice of sinful ways. Sin still remained, but not as a dominating way of life. Now, Jesus Christ, and His newness of life dominated. Because the elect were redeemed by this unconditional, sure and certain redemption of the Lord Jesus Christ, it was unthinkable that any of the elect would fail to profess Jesus Christ and serve Him in the ways of the New Covenant. And, yet, they recognized that there were exceptions and these exceptions belonged to the secret things of God."
writes further under this heading: "The Mystery of Justification by Christ Alone" "This mystery of Christ is a great mystery. Oh meditate and dive as deep as you are able into this mystery. The benefit will be great and sweet. The more I am exercised herein, the more I see into it and enjoy justification by Christ alone, and more clearly see our believing cannot justify us. Yet I deny not but the power to believe is from the Spirit, Who is the life of motion in faith. The life of faith is the life of Christ as I have treated elsewhere; what faith is, and what it does, and wherein it differs from presumption, etc. God hath given faith in His to know, assent and believe the Truth, Heb. 11:3, Acts 28:24. This encourages us to go to God for all we need, Acts 26:18. This enables us to suffer for Christ, Heb. 11. This enables us to conquer enemies, Eph. 6:16. It makes our afflictions easy to bear. It enables us to obey, Rom. 15. It helps us to cleave to God, Acts 11:23, and to His word, Psal. 119:30, 31. This helps us to hope in His mercy, Psal. 147:11. Faith causes us to depend upon Jesus Christ alone for life and salvation. What more necessary and useful in this life than faith? There is a light in faith, and as our blind eyes and dark understandings are enlightened, Eph. 1:18 and 5:13. So, accordingly, we are filled with the fullness of God, Eph. 5:19."
Again, what I have highlighted above is not in accordance with Hardshellism.
Under the title "Faith Is Not The Cause,"
he writes further:"That faith or any thing in us is not a cause, means, or condition, required to partake of the Covenant of Grace, justification or salvation, but only fruits and effects of the Covenant."
The above citation had Kiffin's
name attached to it though it is in the body of the work by Richardson. Kiffin
did write the introduction to this work by his friend Samuel Richardson.
believed and were avowing was the fact that these things were not the moving causes for God choosing us but are the fruits of election. But, they believed they were all sure fruits
of unconditional election and that all
the elect would be brought to "believe in Christ"
and to a "confession"
of him. Richardson
said:"Faith and Christ go together, where one is present, the other is present also."
That is not Hardshell
Back to Elder Gowens.
He writes further: "The controversy continued between the “means” and “anti-means” schools
throughout the nineteenth century, spawning debates on the topic, “Who are the
original Baptists?”. Elder Thomas P. Dudley, pastor of Bryan Station Church, near Lexington, Kentucky, from 1825 to 1880, complains that missionary societies were unknown in Baptist circles prior to that day, “yet their advocates presume to tell us they are Old School Baptists”. In the kind of unambiguous candor that seemed to characterize the pioneer preachers of yesteryear, Dudley writes:
“Experience and observation of more than fifty years have satisfied me that where Andrew Fuller’s system, attempting to harmonize Divine sovereignty and human free agency, a general atonement and special application, salvation by works and salvation by grace, prevails, it has only widened the flood-gates of error, making the preacher the instrument, and the preached gospel the means, of the eternal salvation of our apostate world. I, however, have not so learned Christ. [emphasis original]”"
(Christ, the Only Mediator By Michael L. Gowens)
Yes, but Gowens
is simply citing one of the Hardshell
forefathers when he cites Elder Thomas P. Dudley
His father, Elder Ambrose Dudley,
and a founder of the Bryan Station Church,
all believed in gospel means, all accepted the Philadelphia Confession of Faith
as the standard of orthodoxy! Elder Gilbert Beebe
wrote:"Regeneration, as we understand it, like generation, involves the begetting, conception and birth, of that which is generated, and in both cases, implies that that which is so generated had a seminal existence in its progenitor before its manifestation by generation; as Levi was in the loins of Abraham when Melchizedek met him, and as we all as natural men were in Adam the day he was created, and as the spiritual seed was chosen and preserved in Christ Jesus before the world began. In the order of regeneration, or the development of the children of God, no intermediate agencies are employed, no system of means can bring forth the promised seed, as was demonstrated in the case of Hagar and Ishmael; it is the immediate work of God himself. “Of his own will begat he us, with the word of truth.”—James i. 18. How, by the word of truth? Jesus saith, “It is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life.”—John vi. 63. In the preceding chapter Christ testified of the power of that word which is spirit and life, by which the children of God are begotten, quickened and born; saying, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God; and they that hear shall live.”—John v. 25. But will all the dead be thus quickened by his words which are spirit and life? No, for he says, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me; and I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall any pluck them out of my hand. My Father which gave them me, is greater than all; and none is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. I and my Father are one.” “And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him; for they know his voice.”—John x. 4, 27-30."
Again he writes:"The word of the Lord, which is Spirit, and which is life, which liveth and abideth forever, is that by which regeneration is affected; not merely by the Scriptures in their letter, nor reading or preaching them, but the words which Jesus himself speaks to the individual persons who are made to hear and live. Hence Peter could say, “To whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.”— John vi. 68, 69. Until this word, which is spirit and life, is spoken by Christ himself, who is the quickening Spirit, or life-giving Spirit, to an individual, that individual is in a state of alienation from God, dead in trespasses and sins, and utterly beyond the reach of any power, short of that which is in Christ, to quicken him. “As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.” When a sinner is thus quickened, the incorruptible seed, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever, is implanted in his heart, and the evidence of this implantation is first given by a sense of the purity and holiness of God, and the spirituality of his law, contrasted with a sense of guilt, pollution and just condemnation of the person to whom this communication is made, and consequently a struggle for deliverance. The ear is now opened to hear the thunders of Sinai, and the eye is made to see the justice of God as a sin avenger; a brokenness of heart that he or she, as the case may be, has been all their lifetime in open rebellion against so holy, just and righteous a God, who has followed them with his mercies all their days. A sense of his goodness leads them to repentance, contrition and humble acknowledgment of their guilt. Now the quickened and awakened sinner becomes burdened with the load of depravity, which they vainly try to put away from them; an effort is made to reform; a resolution is formed to sin no more; tears flow in anguish of spirit, and prayers are offered for pardon; the sinner is pricked in the heart, and cries out, Men and brethren, what shall I do? But all that he can do for himself, and all that kind, sympathizing friends can do for him, does not ease his pain or lighten his burden. At length he concludes there is no hope in his case, he sees that all his efforts, cries and tears, have been unavailing, and all hope of salvation seems to be shut out from his view."
He continues:"Now all this conviction, contrition, lamentation and distress, is the legitimate consequence resulting from life implanted, and indicates to all who know experimentally the way of life, that the poor sin-burdened soul is drawing near to the time of his birth, or deliverance. He who has thus arrested him, and brought him to a sense of his lost and helpless estate, will perform the work in his own time, but the burdened soul must wait until “God who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, shines in [not into] his heart, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” —2 Cor. iv. 6. Or, as Paul relates his own experience, “When it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace, to reveal his Son in me.”—Gal. i. 15. Then by the revelation of Christ in us the hope of glory, the way of salvation through him is brought to view, the burden of guilt is removed, the blood of Christ is applied, the demands of the law are canceled, the curse is removed, the prison doors are opened, the captive is delivered, the love of God is shed abroad in the heart, old things are passed away; behold all things have become new; a new song is put in his mouth, even praise unto God, the gospel pours its joyful sound into his quickened ears, his goings are established and he is a new creature, the old man of his corrupt nature is subdued, not dead, that which is born of the flesh continues to be flesh, and only that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. (John iii. 6.) And, as in the flesh there is nothing good, so in the spirit, there is nothing evil. That which is born of the flesh is corruptible, because it is born of corruptible seed, but whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. Here then the christian finds in him, two men, which are called the old man and the new man. (Eph. iv. 22-24; Col. iii. 9,10.) Outward man, and inward man, (2 Cor. iv. 16,) and the hidden man of the heart. (1 Peter iii. 4.) The old, outward man, is called the flesh, because it is born of the flesh; but the new, inward, and hidden man of the heart, is called spirit; because it is born of the Spirit."
(Editorials of Gilbert Beebe, Vol. 4, Middletown, N. Y., September 1, 1857)
The above views by Beebe
is not the view of but few among today's "Primitive Bapists."
It seems that others held the same view as did Beebe
relative to the work of "birthing"
the children of God, it having three separate "stages."
It does seem that Elder Samuel Trott
view. He was a frequent writer in the "Signs Of The Times"
Where he is contradictory in his above remarks is in his saying that means were not used in any of the three stages of the "birth."
Yet, if you look at what the finished product is, the completed "developed"
child of God, he is a gospel character
who has been made to believe
certain things that are only known by the gospel.
He did affirm however that all the initially "begotten"
ones will all be brought to a full birth!
And, that full birth
involves the gospel, for it is a time when the gospel is "poured into the soul,"
Here are some other statements by Beebe
on this subject."The new man being born of God, must live on that bread which comes down from heaven, but the old man being of the earth earthy, must have its sustenance from the earth, until it returns to the dust of the ground from whence it was taken; for dust it is, and to the dust it shall return."
If a born again child of God must
live on that bread from heaven, then is the gospel
and word of God
not a means in preservation
and thus in eternal salvation?
But, it is established, historically, that Beebe
was one of the first to introduce the idea that the hearing of the "voice"
and "word of God"
(I Peter 1:23 & James 1:18) was a Direct Speaking"
I will be dealing with these verses in my next chapter where the "Direct Voice"
view is looked at from the Scriptures. Where is the citation from Thompson
about the "direct speaking"?
What I have been able to ascertain, he believed that though the Spirit spoke oftentimes apart from the preaching of the gospel, yet is was still a case of the Spirit applying words of truth previously heard
by the individual being addressed. But, as I said, I will be saying more about Thompson
in later chapters.Beebe
writes again:"We have endeavored to give our views on the subject proposed by our brother, and in doing so, to trace the generation of the children of God, as a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation; which are born, not of a corruptible seed, but of an incorruptible seed, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever. What we have written are our views, and what we have understood to be the views of the Old order of Baptists, from the days of John; but if we are mistaken in our views, (and we are liable to be) or in any part of them, we hope that our brethren will in all christian kindness point out to us the more excellent way."
I believe it is very clear, from the above citation, that Beebe
and his other contemporary Hardshells
were not yet fully united in their views, which were still evolving, on the subject of regeneration. Why else would he say, "We are liable to be mistaken in our views"?
He writes again:"...then it follows that all mankind will assuredly be saved; the atonement of our Lord Jesus Christ would then be nullified, inasmuch as sinners uninterested in that atonement can and will be quickened by the Holy Ghost..."
clearly implies that it is a false view to believe that anyone who is "uninterested in the atonement of Christ"
are, in any sense, "quickened by the Holy Ghost."
Then, in a clear attack upon the Missionary and Means Baptists, he says the following:"They can possess no adequate idea of the Spirit, or of its work, who suppose that the number of the quickened shall be in proportion to the amount of means employed by mankind, or that protracted meetings, anxious benches, submission chairs, benevolent religious societies, (so called,) or any other human inventions, can change the sovereign course of the Eternal Spirit from any of those on whom it has listed, or engaged to apply the atoning blood of Jesus experimentally, or add one to the number of those originally “ordained to eternal life."
Yes, that may be true relative to "human means"
but it is not true of those divine means, such as the gospel and word of God, or the Bride of Christ, saying to all sinners, "Come!"
But, I have already answered this argument in a previous chapter when I showed that the number of the elect are in direct proportion to the means God makes available to them in his providence. Remember my remarks on the miracles of Christ being unavailable to the Sodomites and to the Tyreans, and thus their condemnation was sealed by the unavailability of those means?
No sound Baptist at the turn of the 19th century, who believed the Old Confessions, asserted what Beebe
and the Hardshells
imply is believed by those "Mission Baptists"
who still abide by the Old London
and Philadelphia Confessions.
He writes again: "If, then, we admit the sovereignty of the work of the Holy Ghost in the new birth, why talk about the use of means to produce it? If it depends on the performance of conditions, or the use of means on our part, then the Holy Ghost ceases to be a sovereign in the work, and all must turn at last upon the pivot of works, and our bible must be forced to read, It is of him that willeth, and of him that runneth, and not of God that sheweth mercy. Could any thing be more absurd? Away with these yea and nay systems of the present day, which, like the Baptist Repository, will on one page tell us that regeneration is the sovereign work of the Omnipotent God, and anon, insert upon the other that souls may be rescued from a burning hell by the efforts of men and the use of mone..."Beebe
shows the same error in judgment that his heirs have shown ever since on this important issue. Had they spent more time reading Gill, Kiffin, Keach, Spilsbury, Knollys, Fuller,
and others of our Baptist forefathers than they did in fighting over everything in the world, then they would have no doubt been better fortified against being so far removed from the faith of the Baptists and of the Holy Scriptures.Beebe
seems to think that the Holy Spirit using the preaching of the gospel somehow takes away from God's sovereignty. This is something that the really Old Baptists never once thought was the case. They rather saw the elect coming to faith in Christ by the gospel as an evidence of the sovereign working of God's power. They did not see any inconsistencies in this view as did Beebe.
He writes further, saying:"That the Spirit is irresistible in this work, we call to witness the experience of (not those mushroom converts, of human means,) but all such as have passed from death unto life, and know the Lord Jesus, and the power of his resurrection. The child of God will tell us, I was an enemy to God by wick-ed works; I was in love with sin, an enemy to holiness; there was no fear of God before my eyes. In short, I was dead in trespasses and sins; but about mid-day, O king, a light shone around me, and I heard a voice saying unto me, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? Yes, says the poor soul,, I was suddenly arrested, an awful trembling shook my frame, I felt myself undone, my sins in all their magnitude rushed in order before my afrighted eyes; loud peals of thunder from Mount Sinai caused me to tremble exceedingly, and quake, while vivid flashes of divine wrath taught me the dreadful reality, I am a sinner. There is a hell, a burning lake; I feel it this moment in my very soul. Whither, O whither shall I flee from the wrath of God? If up to heaven I direct my course, God is there. I dread to meet him. O ye rocks and mountains, shew pity and fall upon me; hide, O hide me from the face of him that sitteth upon the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb. In this condition, the poor wreteh will not require knives or lancets, anxious benches nor arminian task-masters, to persuade him to “agonize.” We risk nothing when we say that such a soul will testify that the Spirit’s work upon the heart is irresistible. The Spirit having thus quickened the man, the vital principle implanted is manifested by a struggle for deliverance,
(like a baby begotten but still in the womb?) for light, for freedom; but all in vain he prays; the heavens are as brass, the earth is as the dust; his prayers are shut out. He flies to the law, but
“Justice cries with frowning face,
This mountain is no hiding place;
He reads; the promise meets his eye,
But cannot reach his case.”
Thus burdened with guilt, and pressed down with wo, he sinks, despairs and dies. Here let us leave him one moment, (for we cannot help him; his case is desperate; no eye can pity, no arm can relieve him,) while we enquire, Dear reader, if the quickened sinner be thus helpless, thus destitute of power, if he that is made alive by the quickening power of the Holy Ghost, and slain by the law, can do nothing, what canst thou do? What can that poor soul do who has never been quickened, nor made to feel one spark of any thing more than totally depraved human nature? Now let us look back, and enquire what has become of that poor soul we left in the valley of death. Behold he is raised from the dead! The same irresistible Spirit which brought Jesus again from the dead, has raised him up. He is a new creature; old things are done away. He is no longer an arminian, no longer a work-monger; he is stripped of his filthy rags; he is clothed, and in his right mind. Lo, he sits at Jesus’ feet: his feet are placed upon a rock, his goings are established, and a new song is in his month. He no longer sings, Do, do, do, but he sings, It is done, it is finished. “The Lord has taken me out of an horrible pit,” &c. But whence this glorious change? He that brought to the birth, gave strength to bring forth. Hence the soul was, and is delivered; the Spirit applied the cleansing blood of the Lamb; and he is washed and made clean; the Spirit gave him eyes, and he saw Jesus; the Spirit gave him faith, and he embraced him as his Savior, his Lord and his God."
You can see how far the Hardshells
have come in their "evolutionary ideas"
about the new birth!
say that the person being born again is not even consciously aware of the fact! He does not learn anything! Yet, according to Beebe
a person who is fully born of the Spirit of God is "no longer an Arminian"!
It seems to me that the first Hardshells
did not so divorce the experience of conversion
from regeneration. Beebe
even mentions the word conversion
and explains it in such a way that it cannot be anything other thing than a gospel experience. He even has this fully born and delivered soul at the feet of Jesus and in his right mind! Can the Hardshells
find anyone in heathen lands who have experienced this without the gospel?
He writes further: "If this position be not correct, there must be some case or cases where the work of the Spirit has proved ineffectual. We call for such a case to be produced. Where has the Spirit ever wrought ineffectually in any case? Such an example, we bless God, cannot be found; and if there could, it would make all heaven shudder; for the very instant that the Holy Ghost fails to accomplish any thing which it has undertaken to do, that moment he ceases to be God, ceases to be omnipotent, immutable and perfect. If there is any thing which the Holy Ghost cannot effectually perform, we speak with reverence, he cannot be omnipotent. But he was omnipotent once, when he spake the world into existence; hence there must have been a change, and he is no longer immutable."
But, I would ask, is God not omnipotent in the blessing of his word as it is preached by his sent messengers?
(The above citations are from the Editorials of Gilbert Beebe, Volume 1, Pages 96-104)
The above citations are taken from the first volume of his writings in the Signs of the Times.
So, we have what his early views were on this subject. Now let us take some citations from this patriarch in his later writings."But while it is conceded that the saints of all ages are personally and experimentally subjects of the new birth, as defined in the foregoing remarks, it is held that the Scriptures in no case apply the word regeneration to this birth. The word regeneration occurs but twice in the Bible, and in both instances it is believed to be applied to the death, burial and resurrection of Christ as the Head and embodiment of his church."
Then again:"In the doctrine thus far stated, we apprehend no serious disagreement among Old School, or Bible Baptists. Where the word regeneration, as used but twice in the Scriptures, is applicable to this circumcision of Christ, and crucifixion of the old man, baptism into death and resurrection of the church in Christ in new immortal life, or to the personal individual experience of the children of God, is the question on which there may be some difference of opinion."
And once more I quote:"Let us now inquire, is this death and resurrection of Christ, and of his church in him, set forth in the light of a regeneration in the Scriptures? Generation, whether natural or spiritual, is understood to involve begetting, conception and birth, by which the life of the progenitor is brought into manifestation in a posterity. Generation cannot be applied to the eternal Godhead, for that is underived, unbegotten, self existent and eternal; but it is applied to Christ in his mediatorial identity, as the Son of God and Head of the church.""To our understanding this begetting from the dead in him who from the dead has the pre-eminence as the first born of the dead, is called the regeneration, in which all the chosen of God are redeemed from that corruptible nature which they received by their natural generation, and by the resurrection of Christ begotten again to a lively hope to eternal life and to an incorruptible inheritance and immortal glory."
In all this language it is clear that Beebe
has added to his views as expressed when he was younger and first started the Signs of the Times.
He still is holding to the three stages to the birthing of the children of God, but now he sees that "regeneration"
refers to the resurrection
and the begetting of Christ from the grave
of physical death, and then secondarily, by vicarious representation of the elect in Christ. By this view then "regeneration"
is not something experienced by the person being "born again"
It is a legal and positional matter. I do not wonder, therefore, that some of his brethren were having difficulty over this matter. I know that Elder J.M. Thompson
about this time, of believing in the "eternal children doctrine"
and also of believing that regeneration "produced no change in the person,"
which was the position of the believers in the "Hollow Log"
doctrine believed. This became a serious issue and matter of discussion for the Hardshells
from 1840-1880. But, I will have more on that in a separate chapter.Beebe
writes again: "That Christ was begotten and born from the dead is so clearly stated in the word as to forbid all controversy on the subject, and that he was raised up as the embodiment of his church, as his body, as a perfect man, the fullness of him that filleth all in all, and perfectly filling up the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, Head and body, and all his members, is confirmed by its exact conformity to the prophecy of Isaiah. “Who hath heard such a thing? Who hath seen such things? Shall the earth be made to bring forth in one day? Or shall a nation be born at once? For as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children (Isaiah 66.8)."
Again, he wants to try to speak of only representative resurrection and begetting, by the mystical body of Christ, when Jesus was raised and quickened from the dead. I do not have a problem with that, nor do the Baptists, but that he implies that this was all there is to "regeneration,"
and that it is totally divorced from what is received and experienced by the quickened soul in the new birth, then not only J.M. Thompson,
but myself too would have a problem accepting.
He writes again:"Viewed in her identity with Christ, the church which is his body was not left behind when he arose from the dead; the doors of death were opened, and the portals of immortality were entered. Death and the grave were vanquished, and he who was delivered for our offences arose for our justification. The church of God is redeemed; the law holds no further dominion over her; her life is now with Christ in God, and she sits with him in heavenly places, and all his redeemed must in due time follow him experimentally in this regeneration. With him on the cross, and in the tomb, they shall all be in experimental fellowship with his sufferings here, and participate in his glory hereafter in a world without end."
(Middletown, N.Y. July 15, 1867. Editorials Volume 7 – pgs. 43 – 50.)
The following citation will reveal that Beebe's
views, as I intimated, did not "sit well"
with many of the Hardshells
of his time."Recently some difference has been obvious in the views of brethren in regard to the scriptural signification of the word regeneration, as used in the New Testament; some holding that it is, and others that it is not, the same in signification and application with what is called the new birth. Some applying the word regeneration to the resurrection power of God which brought again from the dead the crucified body of Christ, and in him the resurrection life and immortality of all his mystical body and members, from under the law which was the ministration of death, into the resurrection life and immortality of the Son of God."
And again:"Now, as a birth, either natural or spiritual, always implies a generation, because without generation there can be no birth; and whatever is born is the development of that which was generated, it is not strange that the two terms have been thought by many to mean one and the same thing. Such indeed had been our view for years; but as we now conceive, because we had not been led to closely investigate the subject until it was presented for consideration by some of the brethren. Here let us observe that those who take the position that the terms regeneration and the new birth mean one and the same, and that both apply to the experimental quickening of the children of God, do not deny that all the saints are redeemed and quickened together with Christ, and raised up together, and made to sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. Nor, on the other hand, do those brethren who apply the word regeneration to the quickening of the whole elect family of God by the resurrection of Christ hold with less tenacity the vital importance of the new birth, as it has always been held by the church of God, in its personal application to all the saints in their individual experience, in being quickened by the Spirit, and born into the liberty of the sons of God.
While, so far as we understand them, we agree with our brethren that the regeneration which is mentioned but twice in the Bible, in both cases refers to the reproduction from death of the whole mystical body of Christ, by his resurrection, we at the same time hold, as we have ever held, that every member of the body of Christ must experience the new and spiritual birth, of which Christ spake to Nicodemus in John 3:3-10.
Still in perfect harmony with that vitally important sentiment, we also believe that Christ in his incarnation took on him the seed of Abraham, and that all who are Christ’s are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise; and that they were so identified with him in his assumption of our flesh, that when he died, they were legally dead with him; and when he arose from the dead, they were quickened together with him, and they were raised up together, and made to sit together in the heavenly places. The whole church, as the body of Christ, was buried with him by baptism into death, regenerated, or reproduced from death, by the resurrection life of his resurrection; so that in like manner as they were buried with him into his death, they were raised from the dead with him to newness of life; married and identified with him in resurrection, or regeneration life. How else can it be said we are quickened, and raised up together with him; that we are risen with Christ, and dead to the law by his body? How else shall we understand that we are raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, to walk in newness of life? Raised up from under that law which holds dominion over a man as long as he lives; being by that law crucified with Christ, dead with him to the law by his body, and regenerated in a new life, and reproduced in a new relationship, over the which the law of wrath and condemnation has no dominion. And being thus risen with Christ, now instead of continuing to seek for righteousness by the works of the law, or for those things which belong to the legal dispensation or worldly sanctuary, we who are risen with Christ are instructed to seek those things which are above, even in the heavenly places of the regeneration, which are the heavenly places of the spiritual kingdom, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.""Hence it is said that God hath begotten us again to a lively (or vital, immortal) hope, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance which is (like the seed by which this immortality is generated) incorruptible, undefiled, and fadeth not away. Is it heresy to call this regeneration? Redeemed from the generation of the earthly Adam, reproduced in the life and immortality of the second Adam, which is the Lord from heaven, our relation to earth, to the flesh, to the law, to sin, corruption and death is dissolved and we are identified with the risen Savior in his resurrection life, is not this regeneration?""But, in other words, was not that life which quickened and resurrected the crucified body of our Lord, the same resurrection life of which we are made experimentally the partakers when we are born again? If so, was it not communicated to the whole church of God, in her spiritual Head, when he was raised from the dead? If not, at what period was it communicated from God the Father, through Christ, the Mediator, to his mystical body and members? But why apply the terms generation, regeneration, begetting and birth, to this reproduction of the church in her spiritual life? Because the Bible uses terms which, in our judgment, fully warrant us. That his resurrection was a regeneration will appear from the record. He was begotten in the flesh by the Holy Ghost, conceived in the womb of the virgin Mary, and that holy thing which should be born of her should and was called the Son of God. Thus by generation he was made flesh, made of a woman, made under the law, that in this flesh he should be put to death. In his resurrection divine inspiration has used similar terms. “Thou art my Son. This day have I begotten thee (Psalm 2:7).” And in Acts 13:32, 33, these very words are applied to the resurrection of Christ. “And we declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise made to the fathers, God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee.” If these Scriptures, together with those which declare him to be “the first begotten of the dead (Revelation 1:5);” “The first born from the dead (Colossians 1:18),” do not imply a regeneration, then we are at a complete loss to find words in our language to express the idea. Generated, in being made flesh, circumcised, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ, and begotten again from the dead, and born from the dead, in immortal life, over which death hath no power; and to be known no more in the flesh, but to be known henceforth as the Resurrection and the Life of all his members.""But, admitting the application of the term, to the resurrection of Christ from the dead, some may ask why we include it in the regeneration of the church."
Yes, that is indeed a good question! Again, I think these first Hardshells
were trying to find ways of defending their Hardshellism,
and some of these new interpretations
had to be "tested"
and some did not "pass muster."
He writes further, however, saying:"Blessed God, who hath begotten us in this resurrection regeneration, “to a lively hope, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance which is incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away; reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God, through faith unto salvation, ready to be revealed in the last time.""Now, brethren, does this doctrine of resurrection regeneration alarm any of you? Examine it closely, carefully, and prayerfully, and compare it with the Scriptures and with your experience."
Well, I do not doubt that not only this teaching of Beebe
on what the word "regeneration"
means, especially in Titus 3:5, caused considerable "alarm"
but also other untried new and "innovative interpretations"
of passages bearing upon the "means question."
He says further:"Do you really think the Head of the church was begotten from the dead at one time, and the body and fullness of Christ at another?"
Yes, I do! And so too do most Hardshells
who will reject Beebe's
teaching in this area. Certainly the theological turf was very fertile, in the mid to late 1800's, for the blossoming of "hybrid views"
on faith, repentance,
the word of God, the voice of Christ
, and of "regeneration," "begetting,"
and the "new birth.""But, say you, Jesus arose from the dead eighteen hundred years ago; and our birth transpired but recently. True, but can you ascribe it to anything short of the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ? Had he failed to have risen from the dead, could you have been born again?"
Again, he wants to agree with his Hardshell
brethren who insist that the term "regeneration"
is not a word used in reference to the quickening of Christ from the dead, but to the experience of the "new birth.""Paul declares to us the gracious purpose of God in quickening, and raising us up together (or simultaneously) with Christ; and it is “That in the ages to come,” for in order of time, ages are required for the development of this regeneration, and the personal development of that people, who, being already regenerated in Christ, shall be born of his resurrection life and spirit; yet all this shall certainly be accomplished in the one day, in which God will make up his jewels, and in which a nation shall be born."
Again he has this work of birthing the elect as a process with distinct stages. But, he relies upon the fact that whether they are all personally regenerated, they are all regenerated vicariously in Christ.
He writes further:"One further consideration. Our Lord Jesus Christ is expressly called the Only Begotten of the Father; how then is it possible for us to be brought into the vital relationship of sons of God, unless we were begotten and regenerated in him, as sons of God, and heirs of immortality?"
He then says, "Hereafter, we propose to treat on the new birth as taught in the word and experienced personally by the saints."
(Middletown, N.Y September 1, 1868. Editorials Volume 7 – pgs 249 – 258)
One can see from the date of these latter citations that Beebe
had been still formulating strange views on the "new birth."
Why? Was it not to try and make a case for Hardshellism
that could withstand attack? Elder Samuel Trott
wrote the following on the "new birth.""In accordance with brother Woody’s wishes, I forward my answer to you (Beebe) for publication in the Signs, if you think it proper to publish it...Brother Woody, in replying to your enquiries, in order, if possible, for me to make my views plain, I wish first, if I can command language to do it, to explain myself on one important point connected therewith. The point is this: that a person, one who exists as an individual being, may have a distinct nature from what he before existed in, superadded to him, so as to be made to exist in that distinct nature, without destroying his former personality, and yet changing his personal relations into conformity to his new nature, or new birth; for since the creation of Adam and Eve, I know of no way in which an individual existence in nature is produced but by a birth. Many brethren seem not only entirely indisposed to admit the correctness of such an idea as the above, but also to allow me and others to believe it. But if the above position, in substance, is not correct, I am ignorant, and must remain so, of the testimony of Scripture concerning both the new birth and the incarnation of Christ; as well as concerning His spiritual headship."
He says further:"I now come, brother Woody, to give you my views, briefly, on the new birth, as to what it is. Regeneration, as I hold it, is the implanting in an individual, or adding to his mind, that incorruptible seed which Peter speaks of, even the spiritual seed of Abraham, which is Christ, Christ in you, and which is that life that was in the Word, which is the light of men; for Christ is the true light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world John 1:9. Hence this individual sees his relation and accountability to God and to the law, and sees his sinfulness as he never saw or felt it before, for by the law is the knowledge of sin. He sees this as the natural man cannot see it, for the law is spiritual. And he so sees and knows the reality of these things, that he cannot shake off or drive them from him as he could former impressions, which arose from mere fleshly views, or a natural conscience. The reason of this is, that whilst the implantation of this seed is of God, and of God only, and not through any instrumentalities of men, the seed itself being life and light, quickens the mind and conscience to such a sense of the reality of these things, that the individual feels himself as standing before a heart searching and rein trying God; and in the ultimate view of this, and of the purity of the law, all his goodness and doings are turned to corruption, and he falls helpless at the footstool of mercy, or at the feet of that God against whom he has sinned. Being thus stripped and killed by the law, he is prepared to be married to another, even Christ, or brought to view in his relation to a crucified and risen Jesus.
The new birth I understand to be the being born again of the incorruptible seed by the word of God which liveth and abideth forever. Whether by the word of God in this text is understood the essential Word, who is God, or, as is frequently intended by the word of God, that which God DIRECTLY speaks or communicates to a person, is immaterial, for both ideas are true. For Christ said, “Verily, verily I say unto you, The hour is coming and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall live” John 5:25. This person being, as we showed, dead, killed by the law, is now made to hear the voice of the Son of God, the proclamation of pardon and salvation through Christ’s atonement. And every child of grace knows that it took something more than the power of man to make him hear; that it came with the power and as the word of God; and he already having Christ or the seed of life in him, he is enabled to receive, believe and rejoice in that word, and feels himself standing in a new relation to God, no longer a condemned and banished one, but a pardoned, justified one; has peace with God, and is enabled to cry Abba, Father; that is, he feels that God is his Father. Thus in the new birth there is a striking correspondence to the natural birth; to each there is a seed implanted, and then a quickening by which life is manifested. And when the natural child is brought to the birth, the sorrows of the woman in travail, the fetus being broke loose from that by which alone it had been hitherto nourished, strongly represents the agonies and the killing by the law belonging to the second birth. But then there is a contrast in the births. In the first birth the child comes into the world in the image of Adam, an alien from God and subject to pain, disease and death, as the fruits of depravity and condemnation. In the second birth, he comes into the kingdom of heaven, where grace reigns through righteousness; has communion with God as a Father through Christ; stands manifested as one with Christ; and having a common interest with all the members of Christ’s body, in all that Christ accomplished by redemption, in all the promises of God, and in that inheritance which is reserved for the saints in light.
I now come, brother Woody, to your second point of enquiry, namely: “What it is that is born again?” If by this enquiry, you mean what is the production of the new birth? I answer, the “New man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness” Eph.4:24. This new man I believe to be Christ in you the hope of glory; for Paul said, It was Christ that lived in him. See Col. 1:27 & Gal.2:20. But I presume that your enquiry relates to that which has been the matter of discussion in the Signs formerly. I therefore answer, our Lord said, “Except a man be born again;” and I know not what right I have to suppose He did not mean as He said, did not mean the man. In conformity to this I say, in reference to brother Woody’s being born again, that it is brother Woody himself in his whole person that was born again. And here is the application of the position with which I started, namely: That a distinct nature may be superadded to a person so that he shall actually exist in that new nature, without destroying his former personal identity, or his former existence. This I illustrated in the case of the Word being made flesh. So I understand that a spiritual nature called life has been superadded to brother Woody by the spiritual seed being implanted, and he being brought to the birth, by his being brought to live the life he now lives in the flesh, by the faith of the Son of God, that is, as before God. Yet his individuality is not changed, it is Davis S. Woody, his old man or nature is the same as it was before, his rational powers the same. And yet his personal relations by the new birth are altogether changed. He no longer belongs to Adam’s family, but to Christ’s; is a living member of Christ’s body; is not under the law, but under grace; is not of the world, as Christ is not of the world; is not under condemnation, but in a state of justification; although he feels the workings of depravity in all he does, it is no more he that does it, but sin that dwells in him. He is, in a word, a son of God, and a joint heir with Christ to glory; although he has in the old man all the elements that would constitute him a child of hell if still standing in his relation to Adam and under the law.
In reference to the idea that the principles laid down by brother Dudley
(the Dudley mentioned earlier in connection with the Bryan Station Church) favoring the non-resurrection notion, I will say that so far as I have understood brother D., I know of no material difference between his views and mine in relation to the new birth. And the views I have above advanced as to what is born again are the only views, in my estimation, consistent with the idea of the resurrection of the bodies of the saints to glory. For I cannot believe that whatever is not born again of God can ever enter heaven to participate in the glory of Christ. Whilst what ever is born of God through Christ, the only begotten of the Father, must partake with Him in glory. Hence if I believed that only the souls of persons were the subjects of regeneration and the new birth, I must believe that only their souls enter heavenly glory. But believing as I do, that it is the man that is born again; that after the second birth he exists personally in a spiritual life, whilst he retains all that in which he before existed as a natural person, and in which he still exists in his fleshly life, and therefore believing that his whole person was represented by Christ in His atonement, I must believe that in his whole person, soul and body, he must enter glory, as a member of Christ’s body, and as a trophy of Christ’s redemption and of His conquest over death. And I can see nothing in this sentiment concerning the new birth that can favor the non-resurrection notion."
(Centreville, Fairfax County, Virginia, July 27, 1853. S. Trott. From: SIGNS of the TIMES: Vol.21 (1853) Writings of Elder Samuel Trott pages 404 - 409)
Again, notice the date on the writing. I believe that Trott
too was evolving in his views, but he still had enough former understanding, like Beebe,
from being taught in the Old Confessions, to make "regeneration"
not much different from the "conversion"
experience that today's Hardshells
apply to a strictly gospel experience.
Before I close this chapter and go to a more doctrinal look at the "Direct Voice Speaking"
theory of "regeneration,"
I want to include a few more things relative to the teaching of the Hardshells
on this subject, showing particularly how their views were still evolving
and in a state of flux and transition.Elder John R. Daily
wrote:"The gospel is not intended to give spiritual hearing to those who are deaf to its sweet teaching. The preaching of Jesus himself failed to do this. He said to the Jews, "Why do ye not understand my speech? Even because ye cannot hear my words." In another verse he tells them that none hear God's words (gospel) except those who are of God; that is, those who are born of him. Those who are born of God, then, did not hear the gospel in this sense before they were born of him. Hence the gospel was not a means by which they were born of God."
(J. R. Daily, The Gospel. Zion's Advocate, Vol. 40, No. 7, July 1901.)
But, my question is, why did not all those who heard the "voice"
Christ regenerated and raised spiritually from the grave? It seems to me that their view on the "personal spoken words of Christ"
as having "life"
would regenerate all who heard his personal voice. That is indeed a strange saying in view of Hardshell
theology. "Cannot hear my words (my voice)"?
I know the Hardshells
will say that the dead alien sinner cannot hear the words
of Christ in the gospel, because they are not personally spoken by him directly to the sinner, but now, on the other hand, they are saying that these dead cannot hear that personal voice?
The following are some questions and answers from Hassell
and Pittman.Q. Are regeneration and obedience produced by the same kind of process? "A. According to the Scriptures, they are not. Regeneration is declared by John to be "not of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God" (John 1:12,13; 3:3,5,6,8; I John 2:29). While in obedience to the commandments of God, the will of man is always represented to be involved, God commanding and commending for obedience, and forbidding and condemning for disobedience (Gen. 2:16,17; 3:16-19; 4:7-12; Exod. 20, 35; Deut. 22, 23; Josh. 24:15-24; I Kings 28:21; I Chron. 38:9: Eccles. 12:13,14; Isa. 1, 19, 20; Ezek. 18, 30; Matt. 16:24,25; John 5:40; II Cor. 8:12; Rev. 22:17); but the will to obey the Lord comes from the inworking and powerful grace of God (Psalm 110:1-3; Phil. 2:12,13; Heb. 13:20,21)."
From the above it is clear that the Hardshells
do not include obedience and the involvement of the will in regeneration. They will say this in one breath and turn around and affirm that Lazarus "obeyed"
the command of the Lord to "come forth"
and say that the passage in the Psalms that says, "Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power"
as referring to what is experienced in regeneration. It is simply a case of more contradiction and inconsistency."Q. Will any persons be saved unless the gospel is preached to them? "A. While it is true that the ministry is to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature, as the Spirit of God may direct them, and as the providence of God may open the way to them, and it is the duty of other members to help them on their way after a godly sort, and those to whom they minister in spiritual things should minister to them in carnal things, as the Scripture teach, it is at the same time true that all the elect and redeemed people of God, both infants and adults, will be saved. (Psalm 33:12; Isa. 35:10; 45:17; 53:11; Jer. 31-34; Matt. 1:21; 11:25-27; 16:16,17; John 5:25; 6:37-40; 10:27-30; 17:1-3, 24; Rom. 8:28-39; I Cor. 1:26-31; 12:3; Eph. 1:1-14; I Pet. 1-5; Rev. 5:9,10). Jesus is the Great Preacher, and, by His omnipresent Spirit, He preaches His gospel savingly to His people (Isa. 61:1-3,10,11; Luke 4:16-30; Heb. 2:11,12; Psalm 110:3)."
That is unbelievable! I have heard some Hardshells
try to argue that since the scriptures say that God "preached before the gospel unto Abraham,"
that therefore he personally appears to those in heathen lands who have never heard the gospel and preaches it directly to them! The above is another example of such a view. Is it not fabulous? I guess Paul did not know anything about all this, for he says, "How shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard?" "Q. How shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? and how shall they preach except they be sent? Does this mean that there is no salvation in heaven where there are no preachers to preach?" "A. No. Paul was defending the preaching of the gospel, to the Gentiles. And remember, there is a gospel faith - a belief of gospel truths, separate and distinct from the faith of God's elect. The saving faith of God's elect may exist in those who never hear or understand the preaching of the gospel. Infants, idiots, the deaf, and millions cannot be reached by the preached gospel, and surely there is salvation for them. However, there is need for the peached gospel, and a belief of gospel truths is proof that such believer "hath everlasting life." The right living and right preaching of a minister also saves from false ways and false doctrines. In this sense they cannot believe and cannot be saved without the preacher, and there cannot be preaching unless one is sent to preach. P."
at the end of the above citation shows that it was written by the younger Elder R. H. Pittman,
an admirer and follower of Hassell.
But, I have already so thorougly shown all the above to be so against both the Scriptures and the Old Confessions that I need not rehash it. "Q. Does God use any means in regeneration?" "A. None whatever, any more than He does in creation or in resurrection, for regeneration is a creation in Christ (which is all of God, Eph. 2:10; II Cor. 5:17,18), and it is a resurrection from the death in trespasses and sins, which God alone effects by His immediate and irresistible power (Eph. 2:1-10; John 5:25; Ezek. 16:6; Mark 5:41,42; Luke 7:14,15; John 11:43,44). It is being begotten or born of God, with which neither the person born nor any other creature has anything to do (John 1:12,13; 3:3, 5-8; I John 2:29; 5:1). It is a direct quickening by the Three-One God, the Father, Son, and Spirit (Jer. 31:33,34; John 5:21; 6:63). It is the giving of spiritual, eternal, and divine life by God to the sinner who was previously destitute of that life (Rom. 6:23; John 10:28; 17:1-3; I John 5:11,12). It is the free gift by the Three-One God of Himself to all His loved and chosen people, to dwell in and with them forever (Gen. 15:1; Psalm 48:14; 73:26; John 3:16; Gal. 2:20; Eph. 5:25-27; Titus 2:14; John 6:51,58; Col. 1:27; Ezek. 36:21-38; Zech. 12:10; 13:9; Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4,5; 2:17,18; John 7:37-39; 14:17; II Cor. 6:16; Eph. 2:18-22). The Lord Jesus Christ, our only Master, commands us to call no man on earth our father, that is our spiritual father, for one is our Father who is in heaven (Matt. 23:8-10). Therefore, when the Apostle Paul calls himself the father of the Corinthian Church (I Cor. 4:15), he means, as he himself explains his language, not their spiritual, but only their ministerial father (II Cor. 3:3), the minister by whom, or under whose preaching, they first believed the gospel, even, he says, as the Lord gave to every man; he was, under God, the founder or planter of that church (I Cor. 3:5, 6) and it was sinful "carnality" for them to say that they were "of him" (I Cor. 3:4). Christ declares that only they who are of God (that is, as explained by the Greek lexicons, "born of God") hear God's words (John 8:47) ; only they that hear the voice of the Son of God live (John 5:25) - indeed, He Himself is their life (John 11:25; 14:19; Col. 3:4). "God, according to His abundant mercy hath begotten us again or regenerated us unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible," etc. (I Pet. 1:3-5). Believing in Christ as the Son of God and our Saviour is not a part, but an evidence of our regeneration (John 1:12,13; 6:47; I John 5:1)."
But again, I have already addressed most of this argumentation. If they take this logic to the valley of dry bones in Ezekiel 37 they will be overthrown.
The following is an interesting question relative to this whole debate over whether the "hybrid views"
of the Hardshells
are new or old. "Q. Have Baptists always denied the use of means in regeneration?" "A. In careless expressions some Baptists have advanced this error, but the same men, when taking into consideration the entire teaching of the Scriptures on this point, have, in their more exact expressions, repudiated it."
What an answer! Deceitful too. How can what the Old Baptists
who wrote the London
and Philadelphia Confessions
be styled "careless expressions"?
Where in the world are those "more exact expressions"
that supposedly spout Hardshell
views on faith, repentance, regeneration,
It is more assertion without the least bit of evidence. It is a habit with the Hardshells
to do this.Q. Was Nicodemus a regenerated man? "A. I think that his coming to Christ for instruction and his tender love for Him after His death (John 3:1-15; 19:39-40) prove that he was."
I have heard this question debated by the Hardshell
faithful many times during my time with them. It is my opinion that the majority believe that he was indeed already regenerated when Christ spoke to him. There are reasons why today's Hardshells
do not want to make Nicodemus a lost man when he is first addressed by the Lord Jesus. First of all, they do not believe in telling anyone that they need to be born again. Plus, if they did meet someone whom they were convinced was not born again, they would have nothing to say to him.
The above view about Nicodemus is different from Grigg Thompson
who said:"The man to whom the Savior addressed this language was a ruler among the Jews, and of the Pharisees, a religious sect among the Jews, who were very strict in their religion, and he, being a ruler among the Jews, was, doubtless, taught in all their religion. His religious training and character had not prepared him for the kingdom of God, hence Jesus said to him, "Ye must be born again."
Who it is that must be born again. It looks like there could be no difference of opinion on this point, for Nicodemus was the man addressed, and evidently the man that must be born again. Jesus says, "Ye, the man I am talking to, the fallen sinner of Adam's race, ye must be born again." And Nicodemus evidently so understood Jesus, for he said, "How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born?"
I do not think many Hardshells
will agree with Grigg Thompson.
Rather, I think they would be afraid, due to that "pressure"
about which Gowens
says further, "...it was Nicodemus to whom he was talking, and Nicodemus, the Pharisee, he meant. If not so, why should he say to Nicodemus, "Ye must be born again?""
(From His article "THE SECOND BIRTH"
(Hassell & Pittman, "Questions and Answers")