Sep 29, 2014

Fuller against Modalism

Andrew Fuller, that great Baptist theologian, wrote on the trinity, saying (emphasis mine):

"An economical trinity, or that which would not have been but for the economy of redemption, is not the trinity of the Scriptures. It is not a trinity of divine persons, but merely of offices personified;  whereas Christ is distinguished from the Father as the express image or character of his person, while yet in his pre-incarnate state." ("The complete works of Rev. Andrew Fuller," Volume 2, page 505, SEE HERE

I have had posted in this blog a series of writings against Sabellianism and Modalism. I have had to confront Sabellian "Baptists" over the past several years and studied the subject in that time period more exhaustively than ever before. In my Old Baptist Test blog, where I write against Hardshellism, I have shown how some of the first leaders of the newly created "Primitive Baptist" church (1832) were Sabellian Modalists, denying the historic teaching of the trinity, that God is an ontological trinity, not merely an economic trinity.

In writing against those who denied the eternal sonship of Christ, and against those that deny that his sonship equates to his divinity, Fuller wrote (emphasis mine):

"The sacred Scriptures lay great stress on the character of Christ as "the Son of God." It was this that formed the first link in the Christian profession, and was reckoned to draw after it the whole chain of evangelical truth. "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God." From this rises the great love of God in the gift of him: "God so loved the world as to give his only-begotten Son "—the condescension of his obedience: "Though he was a son yet learned he obedience —the efficacy of his blood: "The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin"—the dignity of his priesthood: "We have a great High Priest Jesus the Son of God"—the greatness of the sin of unbelief: "He that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed on the name of the only-begotten Son of God"—the greatness of the sin of apostacy: "Who have trodden under foot the Son of God." The incarnation, resurrection, and exaltation, of Christ declared, but did not constitute him the Son of God; nor did any of his offices, to all which his Sonship was antecedent."

Fuller continued:

"God sent his Son into the world. This implies that he was his Son antecedently to his being sent, as much as Christ's sending his disciples implies that they were his disciples before he sent them. The same may be said of the Son of God being made of a woman, made under the law. These terms no more express that which rendered him a Son, than his being made flesh expresses that which rendered him the Word. The Son of God was manifested to destroy the works of the devil; he must therefore have been the Son of God antecedently to his being manifested in the flesh. I have heard it asserted that "Eternal generation is eternal nonsense." But whence does this appear? Does it follow that, because a son among men is inferior and posterior to his father, therefore it must be so with the Son of God? If so, why should his saying that God was his own Father be considered as making himself equal with God? Of the only-begotten Son it is not said he was, or will be, but he is in the bosom of the Father; denoting the eternity and immutability of his character. There never was a point in duration in which God was without his Son: he rejoiced always before him. Bold assertions are not to be placed in opposition to revealed truth. In Christ's being called the Son of God, there may be, for the assistance of our low conceptions, some reference to sonship among men; but not sufficient to warrant us to reason from the one to the other."

"The Holy Spirit is not the grand object of ministerial exhibition; but Christ, in his person, work, and offices. When Philip went down to Samaria, it was not to preach God the Holy Spirit unto them, but to preach Christ unto them. While this was done, the Holy Spirit gave testimony to the word of his grace, and rendered it effectual. The more sensible we are, both as ministers and Christians, of our entire dependence on the Holy Spirit's influences, the better: but, if we make them the grand theme of our ministry, we shall do that which he himself avoids, and so shall counteract his operations. The attempts to reduce the Holy Spirit to a mere property, or energy, of the Deity, arise from much the same source as the attempts to prove the inferiority and posteriority of Christ as the Son of God; namely, reasoning from things human to things divine. The Spirit of God is compared to the spirit of man; and, as the latter is not a person distinguishable from man, so, it has been said, the former cannot be a person distinguishable from God the Father. But the design of the apostle, in 1 Cor. ii. 11, was not to represent the Spirit of God as resembling the spirit of man tn respect of his subsistence, but of bis knowledge; and it is presumptuous to reason from it on a subject that we cannot understand. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you, and your affectionate brother —A. F."

Sep 25, 2014

Agreeable Comments on the Atonement's Extent

The following are some citations from Dr. B. H. Caroll in which he is discussing the extent of the atonement. I think they are worthy observations on this subject and I would like to present them here with some of my thoughts on Caroll's observations. (SEE HERE):

Carroll, in commenting upon the commentary of J. P. Boyce, wrote:

"What is the difference so far as Christ’s work is concerned? Does not the difference come in the Spirit’s work in connection with the application of the atonement and the ministry of reconciliation? Do election and foreordination become operative toward atonement or toward acceptance of the atonement? These questions are submitted for consideration in the realm of the study of systematic theology. The author does not dogmatize on them."

What I like about this comment is the fact that he says that he "does not dogmatize on them."

I think it is wrong for some Calvinists to think it is heresy to believe that the atonement was, in some sense at least, general or universal.

My own view aligns more with Boyce, whom Carroll thought was possibly the ablest theologian of his time. I believe that "election and foreordination" become operative towards BOTH atonement and acceptance of the atonement.

Carroll said:

"While he has only a very moderate respect for philosophy in any of its departments as taught in the schools, and prefers rather to accept every word of God without speculation, and believes it true and harmonious in all its parts, whether or not he is able to philosophically explain it, yet he submits merely for consideration along with other human philosophizing on the atonement the philosophy of Dr. Wm. C. Buck on this matter. It is found in his book, The Philosophy of Religion. On the question of general or limited atonement he takes this position, as I recall it: Jesus Christ through his death repurchased or bought back the whole lost human race, including the earth, man’s habitat. The whole of it and all its peoples passed thereby under his sovereignty. What debt they once owed to the law they now owe to him, the surety who paid the debt. From his mediatorial throne he offers to forgive this debt now due him to all who will accept him. But all alike reject him. The Father, through the Spirit, graciously inclines some to accept him. Thus those really saved are saved according to the election and foreordination of God, not operative in the atonement which was general, but in the Spirit’s application which was special. Those thus saved were originally promised by the Father to the Son. He dies for the whole world as the expression of the Father’s universal love. He died for the elect, his church, as his promised reward."

I cannot find anything wrong with Buck's view, except possibly in the way in which the atonement is general. I have often argued much the same way over the years. Further, Carroll seems willing to accept the view of Buck.

Carroll wrote:

"Let us do with this or any other philosophy what we will, but let us not hesitate to accept all that the Scriptures teach on this matter. When we read John 10:14-16; 11:26-29; Acts 13:48; Romans 8:28-29; Ephesians 5:25-32, let us not abate one jot of their clear teaching of Christ’s death for the elect and their certain salvation. And when we read John 1:29; 3:16; 1 Timothy 4:10; Hebrews 2:9; 1 John 2:2; Ezekiel 33: 11; Matthew 28:19; 1 Timothy 2:4, let us beware lest our theory, or philosophy, of the atonement constrain us to question God’s sincerity, and disobey his commands. There are many true things in and out of the Bible beyond our satisfactory explanation. Let faith apprehend even where the finite mind cannot comprehend."

I think these words of Carroll are quite agreeable.

The above citations as given on the web page link are from Carroll's “Colossians, Ephesians, and Hebrews” in, An Interpretation of the English Bible (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1978), 86-92.

Jul 26, 2014

Euthyphro dilemma & Homosexuality

I agree with Matt Slick at carm.org in his writing "What is the Euthyphro dilemma?"  His answer to the question as to why evil is evil, and why good is good, is biblical.  The Euthyphro dilemma deals with these questions:

“Are moral acts willed by God because they are good, or are they good because they are willed by God?"

Said one writer:

"Philosophers both past and present have sought to defend theories of ethics that are grounded in a theistic framework. Roughly, Divine Command Theory is the view that morality is somehow dependent upon God, and that moral obligation consists in obedience to God’s commands. Divine Command Theory includes the claim that morality is ultimately based on the commands or character of God, and that the morally right action is the one that God commands or requires." (see here for citation)

The bible upholds the divine command theory of ethics. Good and evil are defined by God. Why is murder evil? Why is it evil to disobey certain commands of God, like what I can eat? Or, to disobey any rules from God about my sexual conduct, or what to do with my body?

Is is naturally discoverable either by human reasoning, or by the use of human standards of what is good and right, to know that homosexual is either good or evil?

How does the concept of "natural law" enter into this discussion?

Apr 12, 2014

On the Problem of Evil

I fully accept the following citation as an expression of my own thinking.

"However, when one enters the Christian view of reality fully, it is clear that Christian theology has a doctrine of evil—both of its origins in the Fall and of its continuing presence due to sin. Christianity takes evil seriously, and reveals the character and goodness of God in contrast to the evil that grieves him. The Bible also teaches that God has morally sufficient reasons for evil’s present existence,[3] and that he will judge all evil and remove it in the end. Christians are not in a position of being able to claim that they know the purpose behind any and every particular instance of evil, or that the relationship between evil and God’s loving designs is entirely without mystery. Lest we become like Job’s “friends,” we must avoid simplistic explanations or quick justifications for someone’s suffering; rather, we direct them toward to the character of God, who can be trusted, and the truth that he has revealed." ("God and the Problem of Evil" - see here)



Oct 13, 2013

The Fearful & Unbelieving

"But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death." (Rev. 21: 8)

Those who are finally cast into the Lake of Fire and experience the second death are described as being both "fearful" and "unbelieving." Obviously then, those who are saved are not either "fearful" or "unbelieving."

Lest any of those who are true believers lose heart at such a description, let it be known that such descriptions do not assert that true believers never have fears and never unbelief. Every true believer comes to Christ saying "Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief." (Mark 9: 24)

No Christian has perfect faith. As it was with the apostles at the first, so it is with most disciples that they "are of little faith." (Matt. 6: 30, etc.) After the resurrection we are told by Mark that Christ "appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen." (Mark 16: 14) In the Hebrew epistle we find the Christians being warned about the dangers of unbelief.

"Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God." (Heb. 3: 12)

Christians are to ever be on guard against having an unbelieving heart and disposition. They are to battle against it, and seek to grow in their faith and confidence in the Lord. Though the Apostle said that "the love of money is the root of all evil" (I Tim. 6: 10), it seems that unbelief is the root of all evil. Why does a man love money? Is it not because he is an unbeliever? How can one disconnect love of money from faith in money? Likewise, how can a man disconnect love for God with faith in God?

Fearfulness is a natural consequence of unbelief just as confidence and lack of fear is a fruit of faith. Well did Solomon say - "In the fear of the Lord is strong confidence: and his children shall have a place of refuge." (Prov. 14: 26)

It is impossible to disconnect John's two descriptive participles of "fearful" and "unbelieving" because they naturally go together. Where you find one you will surely find the other. Fearfulness is a natural product of unbelief. Jesus asked some - "Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith?" (Mark 4: 40) Notice how Jesus connects "no faith" (unbelief) with being "fearful."

In what ways do we manifest unbelief in our lives?

First, we manifest it by being fearful, by worry and anxiety. Are there not many exhortations in Scripture against it? Do not worry and fear spring from unbelief? Are they not symptoms of unbelief and is unbelief not an evidence of an evil heart? Remember the words "evil heart of unbelief." Did not Jesus tell us not to worry about tomorrow as Christians? Would not doing so be an act of disobedience? Has God not said many times, in addressing his people, "fear not"? Again, to do so would show unbelief and would be an act of disobedience. When we fret and worry, when we sit in fear, are we not distrusting God?

Second, we manifest unbelief when we murmur and complain, and when we curse our circumstances and are angry. When we have strong faith we say "I will fear no evil for thou art with me." (Psa. 23: 4) The Lord also says - "But whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil." (Prov. 1: 33) What person does not want to "be quiet from fear of evil"? To be in such a state requires that we increase in our faith and confidence in the Lord. It is the antidote for fear, worry, doubt, and murmuring.

Third, we manifest unbelief in being impatient, in our failing to wait upon the Lord. On the other hand, faith gives us the will and strength to wait and be patient, as well as to persevere.

It is therefore of the highest urgency that Christians constantly ask the Lord to give them increase of faith and to rid them of all unbelief.

When the lost are described as being fearful and unbelieving, it is to be understood that this is what they are characteristically. Further, it is affirmed that the saved are they who are generally and characteristically not so. If we are mostly fearful and unbelieving as professing Christians, then let Rev. 21: 8 be a means of exciting us to come to the Lord and asking him to help rid us of our evil heart of unbelief.

Jul 18, 2013

Hardshellism's Severe Error

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mar 21, 2013

Our Brother Is Gone!

One of my two younger brothers, David Daniel Garrett, who just turned fifty about two weeks ago, has gone to be with the Lord.  He had major surgery on his spine and died today around noon due to a blood clot.  He was a fine Christian man and had premonitions that this was going to happen.  We loved "Danny"!  He is with the Lord and I hope one day to see him again.  Keep us in your prayers.

Jan 22, 2013

Calvinist Extremism

My dear friend Bob L. Ross has written extensively in defense of "altar calls" and answered many of the objections offered by many Calvinists against them.  In this posting I want to join brother Ross in defending them and answering the objections made against them.  In an Internet posting titled "The Altar Call" -  "CONVERTS FREQUENTLY MADE IN RELATION TO PUBLIC INVITATIONS" (see here), brother Ross wrote:

"Perhaps the most popular "whipping boy" of the Reformed Hybrid Calvinist camp of theology is the "altar call" or the "public invitation."

I have often read items critical of public invitations and in most cases they were written by persons whose own conversions were related to public invitations. Some, after their "indoctrination" into the Hybrid Calvinism of the Reformed camp, later say they were saved "despite" the invitation.

Oh, well, it is no marvel that it has been observed that a number of the anti-invitation churches fail to evangelize by any method and thus fail to make converts, their memberships dwindled, and some of them have even closed their doors. They didn't seem to have a "better idea" on how to invite lost men and women to come to Christ and confess Him as Lord and Saviour.

I have written several articles in which I think I have just about replied to every conceivable objection to public invitations, and you can find a number of these articles at this link: Select Writings of Bob L. Ross."

I recommend all to go to the above web page and read Bob's writings on this subject. 

The Sinner's Prayer

"And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted."  (Luke 18: 13-14)

Bob points out that the great Calvinist evangelist, Charles Spurgeon, had no qualms with calling upon sinners to pray the sinner's prayer for salvation.  For a sinner who is under conviction of sin, and who is seeking salvation, what better advice to give to such than to pray as did the publican?  For the life of me I cannot comprehend why so many Calvinists decry giving sinners this advice.  Jesus said that the publican "went down to his house justified" after having so prayed.  Certainly sinners must be exhorted to pray such a prayer in earnest, but who can doubt that a sinner who does so will enjoy the same result as did the publican? 

Giving one's heart to the Lord

"My son, give me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe my ways."  (Prov. 23: 26)

"And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God."  (II Cor. 8: 5)

Many times I have heard Calvinists decry others for exhorting sinners to give their hearts to Jesus for salvation.  When I have challenged these extreme Calvinists about this ridiculing I have found that they often take the tactic of saying, especially about the words of Solomon, that they are not addressed to the lost, but to those who are already the saved children of God.  Thus, what they are denouncing is the indiscriminate calling upon sinners to give their hearts and lives to Christ.  They think that such exhortations should only be made to those sinners who appear to already be saved.  But, this is simply Hyper Calvinism at its worst.  Some of these extreme Calvinists will decry such an exhortation by saying - "what does Jesus want with your depraved and corrupt heart?"  But, the fact is, no one will ever be saved who has not given himself wholly unto the Lord.  So what if some do this insincerely?  Such is to be expected.  But, this does not invalidate the exhortation itself. 

Inviting Jesus into your heart

"Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me."  (Rev. 3: 20)

Extreme Calvinists decry calling upon sinners to "invite Christ into your heart," thinking that to do such promotes Armnianism.  Yet, this is a non sequiter.  These same Hyper Calvinists will even try to defend themselves by saying that the above words of Christ were addressed to those who were already saved and therefore cannot be used as justification for advising lost sinners to do as Christ bids.  But, the ones Jesus addressed are described as being "wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked."  Such could not be a better description of a lost soul.  Why would Calvinists deny that there are many lost and unconverted members of the church? 

Some extreme Calvinists will argue the Christ is not knocking on the door of the alien sinner's heart, but on the door of the church, who had locked out Christ.  But, this is not tenable.  First, the exhortation is not to the church as a body but to individuals.  It is to "any man" and "to him."  The singular pronouns "him" and "he" show this to be the case.  Second, the door cannot be the door of the church, but to the door of the individual sinner's heart.  Christ is speaking to the individual sinner, knocking on the door of the sinner's heart.  It is the individual sinner who hears the voice of Christ and opens the door to Christ.  Third, it is not a promise of communion with the church as a group, but with the individual.  "I will come in to him" and "I will sup with him."  Fourth, Christ is viewed as being on the outside, not of the church, but of the sinner's heart and inner being.  Fifth, no individual sinner in the church at Laodicea can open the door of the whole church by obeying the words of Christ.  Christ does not say "if any man will hear my voice and open the door then I will come in to them (the church)," but "in to him."  The focus is on Christ entering the heart of the individual, not his entering into the corporate entity of the church.  I can see no harm in telling sinners who are hearing the voice of Christ and who sense that he is knocking on the door of their hearts, to open their hearts to him with the promise that he will indeed come and dwell in them.

Accepting Christ

"Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed."  (I Peter 2: 7-8)

"As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him."  (Col. 2: 6)

I hear extreme Calvinists decrying the practice of calling upon sinners to "accept Christ" for salvation.  There is no essential difference between "receiving" Christ and "accepting" Christ.  In the words of Peter there is the use of the word "disallowed."  To disallow means to reject.  Those who reject Christ are they who do not "allow" him, do not receive him, do not accept him.  On the other hand, those who receive Christ are they who accept and allow Christ.  Disallowing Christ is to disbelieve him, while to allow Christ is to believe him.  Doing the former brings damnation, while doing the latter brings salvation.  Again, there is no denying that this must be done sincerely, but this is no reason to be against calling upon sinners to accept Christ and be saved. 

Easy Believism

"And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house."  (Acts 16: 30-31)

If some of my Calvinist brethren had been present on this occasion, they would have accused the Apostle Paul of practicing what they call "easy believism."  If it makes my Calvinist brothers feel better, let them always insist that the sinner do this sincerely and with the heart.  If it makes them feel better, let them warn the sinner that such a believing is more than simple mental assent, that it must be done with full conviction.  Still, nothing is wrong with simply telling sinners that they can be saved by simply believing and trusting in Christ alone for salvation.

It is argued that these kinds of invitations or altar calls are "Arminian," and therefore cannot be acceptable.  It is argued that these kinds of invitations lead to many false professions.  But, are Calvinistic churches free of false professions?  Certainly not.  Has it not been the claim that the success of the preaching of the Gospel depends upon the work of the Spirit making such invitations successful?  Why should we worry about the matter?  The parable of the sower and the seed shows that we should expect there to be fase conversions.  Even the preaching of the Apostles produced such false conversions.  So, no matter how we try to give the invitation, there will always be such.

"And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely."  (Rev. 22: 17)

"Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord."  (Acts 3: 19)  

"But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved."  (Rom. 10: 8-13)

Here are some examples of how we may invite and call sinners to salvation.  We should tell them that Christ and the church says to them "come."  That is an invitation as well as a command.  We should exhort them that they can be saved "if" they but confess and acknowledge Christ as Lord and Savior.  Our preaching should be filled with such exhortations and no church is going to grow which does not have preaching that is full of them.  We should constantly be calling upon sinners to "repent," and to "convert," and to "call upon the name of the Lord," and to "come" to Jesus for salvation.  Such is not "Arminianism," but if it is, then count me one!

Jan 17, 2013

Gospel Invitations

That the bible contains invitations to men is undeniable. The very word "come" is used perhaps more than two thousand times in scripture. As an example, let us read Isaiah 55: 1-3

"Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness. Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David."

"You all come to the waters!" That is an invitation, gracious and merciful, and it is extended to all who are "thirsty." Further, all men are "thirsty," in the sense of this text, whether they know it or not.

Some Hyper Calvinists say that the "thirsty" mentioned here in the text, are they who are already spiritually alive because "thirst" is an evidence of "life." Dead men do not thirst, it is argued. But, an investigation of the scriptures relative to this "thirst" will show them that spiritual death, not spiritual life, is what is alluded to by the descriptive word "thirsty."

"Thirsty" is a term denoting our condition outside of Christ, our condition in sin and death. Regeneration, or being born again, on the other hand, is described as a being saved from thirst. Notice these words of Christ:

"But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life." (John 4: 14)

"And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst." (John 6: 35)

Notice how Jesus associated being made spiritually alive with drinking the water of life, and with being saved from "thirst," or a "thirsty condition." Salvation is to partake of Christ, his flesh and blood, the bread of life, the water of life. And, how does one drink? Is it not when he believes? When he has Christ and truth revealed to him?

This invitation to the thirsty to come and drink Christ is an invitation to salvation. It is a call to those who have not drunk Christ, and who are therefore lost, to come and drink Christ in order that they may have life.

Thirsty land is dry land, land where there is no moisture, and where there is no moisture there is death and barrenness. The heart that is thirsty has not come to the waters and drank. They are parched in heart and soul. Their mental life is a desert wilderness.

But, it is, of course, more than an invitation. The invitation is in what we call the imperative mood, that is, it is a command to do something, and a command is more than an invitation. The thirsty are urged, exhorted, authoritatively told to do something in order for salvation from thirsty condition.

The invitations of the gospel are nearly always couched in compelling words. Jesus compelled men with his words, even men who did not believe or heed his words. Jesus said that his emissaries were to "Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled."  (Luke 14: 23) People are compelled with words, words of truth, words of revelation and inspiration, the words of the gospel. Preaching the gospel to sinners involves urging and exhorting them, begging and pleading with them, and commanding them. It also involves persuading sinners. The Holy Spirit persuades through the preaching and teaching of his evangelists. Some are not persuaded, others are, and we know that divine election is the reason.

"King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest. Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian. And Paul said, I would to God, that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost, and altogether such as I am, except these bonds." (Acts 26: 28, 29)

The Holy Spirit, through Paul, was in the persuading business, on this occasion. Paul habitually persuaded unbelievers and sinners to become Christians, and be saved in doing so. Notice also how he wants "all who hear me this day" to become Christian and be saved. Surely most who heard Paul testify of the gospel on that day, in Agrippa's court, were unbelievers, were not Christians. Paul indiscriminately called upon his audiences to believe in Christ, to become Christian, and to be saved. He taught, urged, pleaded, commanded, and persuaded men, in the way of salvation.

"Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences." (II Cor. 5: 11)

We have looked now at two passages that use the word "persuade" in relation to gospel preaching. What does it mean to "persuade"? Well, it means to "succeed in causing a person to do or consent to something." It means "to win someone over," or to prevail. It means to "convince" or to "convict" someone about something. It is from the Greek word "patho" from which we get our word "pathology."

"And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment..."  (John 16: 8)

The word "reprove" here carries the idea of convicting, or convincing, of refuting, of confuting, with the added idea of exposing erroneous belief or conduct. The Holy Spirit does this, and he does it through the medium of his revealed word, or by the truth of the gospel.

"Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers." (Titus 1: 9)

It is the Holy Spirit who "exhorts" and "convinces" the gainsayers of the gospel. Who are the gainsayers? Are they not the non Christians? The pagans? The unbelievers? The dead in sin? What does it mean to "gainsay"? It means to "declare false, to deny, to oppose, especially by contradiction."

In the words of our opening text, the Lord says "hear and your soul shall live." Notice then how the words of the invitation are to people who are both thirsty and dead. He is inviting and urging the spiritually dead and thirsty soul to hear the gospel in order that they may "live."

"Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." (Matt. 11: 28-30)

This invitation is similar to the one in Isaiah 55. It is an invitation to lost sinners who are not only parched in spirit, but to those who are weary and depressed with their sinful lives. It is a call to come to Christ made to those who have not come to Christ, to those who are without saving knowledge of Jesus. It is a call to sinners who are slaves to sin to become slaves to Christ, an appeal to change masters and lords.

I see Christ uttering these words of invitation with urging, with pleading, with strong compelling spirit, with persuasion, as did Paul to king Agrippa.

Invitation & call to a wedding feast, Matt. 22:1-10.

"The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son, And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come. Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage." (Matt. 22:1-4)

Notice several important words in this parable concerning the work of evangelists. First, the word "call," secondly, the word "bid," the word "come."

We to invite, urge, plead and beg, exhort, persuade, command, sinners, to come to Jesus for salvation. Our preaching will be filled with addresses to dead lost sinners, as was the preaching of Jesus and the apostles. Of course, Hyper Calvinists will not preach to dead sinners.

Evangelists are like Ezekiel preaching to the dead, dry, thirsty, bones. God asked Ezekiel "can these bones live?" Can they come to life by your preaching them? By your commanding them to "hear the word of the Lord?" Yes, they can, when that word is accompanied by the power of God, by a demonstration of the Spirit. (II Thess. 1: 5)

Who can deny that Jesus was addressing dead sinners in John 5: 40 when he said - "you will not come to me that you might have life"? Notice these words of Paul to the Ephesians.

"Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness." (Matt. 23: 27)

Notice how Christ speaks of the heart condition of dead sinners as being like "dead men's bones," the very kind we read about in the story of Ezekiel and the valley of dry dead bones. We preach to men's hearts, knowing that their hearts are dead to our message, to a valley of dry dead bones, as did Ezekiel. We preach knowing that the word alone cannot effect resurrection and bring life. But, the words of the evangelist, when attended with supernal power of the Holy Spirit, will effectually bring to life the barren soil of men's hearts, bring to life the heart that is like dead dry bones.

"Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light." (Eph. 5: 14)

When we preach in the name of Christ to lost dead sinners, we are to command them to believe, to repent, to "arise from among the dead" and live. And, just like Ezekiel, dead sinners come to life by the power of God attending the exhortations.

When Paul said that his "persuading" of men resulted from a knowledge of the "terror of the Lord," he connects preaching with opportunity of salvation from the judgment and terror of the Lord. When Paul witnessed to king Felix, Luke tells us that "he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come," and, specifically, the preaching of the terrible "judgment to come" caused Felix to "tremble."

"Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus..." (Col. 1: 28)

Notice several important points of truth in these words. First, preaching the gospel is the preaching of Christ. If there is no Christ in preaching, then there is no gospel preaching. Second, preaching includes "warnings," warnings to the wicked to flee from the wrath to come, as did John the Baptist. Third, this gospel preaching is directed to "every man." We do not, like the Hyper Calvinists, think it a waste of time to preach to the dead, and therefore only preach to those who are already saved. Fourth, our preaching and teaching to every man is for the purpose of saving every man, or as Paul said, "that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus."

When we are warning people of real impending danger, do we not do it in the imperative mood? Do we not say "flee" with a sense of urgency? Do we not say in in compelling words of speech?

"Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God." (II Cor. 5: 20)

Notice a few things of importance from these words of the apostle. First, evangelists are ambassadors of Christ and his kingdom. They are his representatives and have authority to speak in his name. Second, God speaks through his ambassadors. God beseeches through the ministers of his word. When one is beseeched by a teacher of the word, he should see past the messenger to the one who sent him. We talk a lot about hearing God speak to us and we often leave the impression that this speaking of God to us is only direct speaking. But, most of God's speaking to us is done through his spokesmen, his ambassadors. Third, God not only "beseeches" but he also "prays," or "pleads with," sinners, with those who are not reconciled to God, to be reconciled. Paul is saying to the Corinthians, "I beg you," and "I plead with you," or "I urgently request you."

Jan 16, 2013

Stopping their Mouths

"Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.  For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision: Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre's sake."  (Titus 1: 9-12)

"And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake."  (Acts 6: 10) 

"For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist."  (Luke 21: 15)  

"And no man was able to answer him a word..."  (Matt. 22: 46)

Over the past couple years I have had opportunity of stopping the mouths of several Bible teachers regarding errors on Bible doctrine.  In each of the cases to follow I was able to so refute their errors that they were left speechless, were not able to make a rebuttal.  It is my opinion that their not offering any rebuttal or counter argument proved that they could not overcome the evidence which disproved their false doctrine.  Sadly, none repented of their error, which is an amazing thing.  It is hard for me to imagine someone offering proof against something I believe the Bible to teach and which I am unable to rebut and yet continuing to believe my opinion.  But, men become wedded to their false ideas and often not even clear refutation is able to separate them from it.

Example #1

I have argued with those who take the view of Scofield that no one was "born again" before the death of Christ, or before the day of Pentecost.  Though I gave several arguments to disprove this notion, there was one in particular that I kept insisting upon and to which I received no answer, which proved that it could not be answered and that the doctrine was not biblical.  Here is the argument.

In Matthew 16: 16 Peter says "you are the Christ, the Son of the living God."  Thus, it is clear that Peter believed that Jesus was the Christ prior to the death of Christ.  What is the condition of one who believes that Jesus is the Christ?  John wrote:  "Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God." (I John 5: 1)  Thus, it is clear that Peter was born of God before the death of Christ.

Example #2

I have argued with those who are Sabellians/Modalists, who believe that the Father and the Son are the same person.  Again, though I offered numerous arguments to disprove this false idea, I focused on one which never got an answer, which was proof that the gainsayers mouths were stopped and that their error was exposed.  Modalists argue that Jesus' statement "I and my Father are one" (John 10: 30) means "I and my Father are the same person."  Yet, I cited the words of Jesus - "that they may be one, as we are." (John 17: 11, 22)  Thus, if Jesus and the Father being "one" means they are the same person, then all the saved will ultimately become one person!  The Modalists presented with this refutation could not offer a rebuttal.

Example #3

I have argued with those who say that God does not know everything, particularly the sins God has pardoned.  They argue that God does not know everything, but only knows all he wants to know, and affirming that God does not know certain things because he does not want to know them.  Thus, when verses were cited that say that God knows all things (I John 3: 20) , they at least make a rebuttal saying that it simply means God knows all he wants to know.  But, they will argue that the Bible says that God will no longer "remember" our sins once they are forgiven (Heb. 8: 12), which to them means that God will no longer have any knowledge of them, and thus cannot be said to know all things.  In refuting this interpretation I cited these words of Paul:

"Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief."  (I Tim. 1: 13)

Obviously God, who was inspiring Paul to write these words, had not lost knowledge of the fact that Paul had sinned even though he had forgiven Paul and promised not to "remember" his sins.  When God says he will not "remember" our sins it does not mean that he becomes ignorant of them, but that he will no longer bring them up.  It is a legal erasure.  I cannot get those who argue that God loses knowledge of our sins when he pardons them to respond to this, which again is proof that they cannot and that their interpretation has been disproven.

Example #4

I have argued with those who say that "demons" are not intelligent living creatures but simply false ideas or false doctrines.  Though I presented numerous arguments against this view, there is one argument that always leaves those who argue this position speechless.  I cite them these words:

"Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils (demons) also believe, and tremble."  (James 2: 19) 

False doctrines cannot "believe"!  Only intelligent beings can know and believe!  Again, my opponents were left speechless!

It is important that we all become "skilled in the word of righteousness" (Heb. 5: 13) and that we know how to stop the mouths of the gainsayers and false teachers.