Oct 31, 2008

Samuel Stennett & Hardshellism

A Hardshell web page (with some good historical writings) has the writings of "Seventh Day Baptist" Samuel Stennett of England. I have asked my dad about this church and the elders who serve the Hardshell church in Indiana. He does not know a lot about them. They seem to be Absoluters (believers in the "absolute predestination of all things") and perhaps supporters of the "liberal" wing that is supporting missions, bible classes, and other such things. They may even be among the number of "liberals" who are beginning to preach that all the elect will hear the gospel, or perhaps even, that the word of God is the means God uses in regenerating the elect.

I assume that this church publishes writings it agrees with. If so, do they agree with what Stennett said about the gospel being a means in begetting? Here is what Stennett said in his writing on the parable of the Sower and Seed.

"What a great blessing is the word of God!

It is more precious far than the seed with which the husbandman sows his ground. With this we are begotten by the will of God, that we may be a kind of first-fruits of his creatures."


Perhaps I should email the elders and ask them if they agree?

Hardshell Respass on the Parable

Elder J. R. Respass, a late 19th century Hardshell minister, wrote the following on the parable of the Sower and the Seed. I post this article here because it expresses the truth.

Most first generation Hardshells took the standard and traditional Baptist interpretation of the parable, the one that identifies only the "good ground" hearer with the truly born again. By the end of the 19th century, however, this view was being rejected and a new view, promoted by men like Elder Claud Cayce, was being accepted, a view that affirmed that all of the four kinds of hearers were the elect or born again people of God. Elder Respass, however, held to the original view. He also clearly presents the teachings of the parable in these words.

"Brother B.B. Stallings, of Humbolt, Tenn., writes us that some people in his section use this parable to teach the doctrine of "falling from grace;" but to our mind it teaches the opposite doctrine, or rather the absolute necessity of grace in the salvation of sinners. The Jews were well acquainted with sowing wheat and barley. They knew from experience that it was necessary to have the ground broken by the plowshare to raise it; and that, therefore, the Saviour was telling the truth when he taught them that grain sown by the way or road-side would be unfruitful, because men would walk on and tread it down, and the fowls would devour it; and that seed sown on stony, hard and unbroken land would yield nothing; because, though it sprang up quickly, it could take no root, and that when the hot sun necessary to its maturity should shine upon it, that it would be scorched, and soon wither away. They knew, also, that seed sown among thorns, in a briar patch, for instance, would make nothing, because the thorns would choke it. All these things they knew from natural experience as farmers or husbandmen. They knew that the land must be enclosed or fenced, cleared of thorns, bushes and briars, and be broken up before the seed was sown; enclosed from the fowls and the tread of men; cleared of thorns and briars that would choke it; and broken up so as to absorb and retain moisture, and the roots have depth of earth to strike down into the moisture when the hot sun poured down upon it. But, like people now, they did not perceive the truth when applied spiritually. No sensible Jewish farmer would have undertaken to make a crop of wheat otherwise than as taught by the Saviour in this parable. Nor would he have undertaken to break his land until the first or "former rain" was sent by the Lord upon it; because the land, especially in that country, by the dry, hot summer sun grew, like the sinner's heart, very hard, so that it could not be broken until softened by the first rain. But land softened by the rain, broken by the plow, enclosed from the fowls and cleared of thorns, and sown, will be unharmed by the fowls, the feet of men, the cares of the world or the heat of the sun, and will yield thirty, sixty and one hundred fold. Any thing short of this thorough preparation will be fruitless. So in the way-side, stony and thorny ground hearers the Saviour shows the lack of grace, rather than the falling from it. And another thing perhaps he taught, and that is, that the fault was not in the seed sown, or the word preached, but in the sinner's heart. "Ye will not come unto me that ye might have life."--John v. There were many of these kind or hearers in the Saviour's day as well as in this; and doubtless the Saviour spoke the parable for the comfort of his people then and his people now; that they should not be discouraged when they should see many, who had received the word with a temporary joy, turn back for love of the world, its honors or riches, or to escape persecution; that they should know that such professors had not received the word in a contrite and broken heart, and hence they neither understood it nor kept it. He asked his true disciples when many so-called disciples went back and walked no more with him on account of his hard and unpopular doctrine, "Will ye also go away?" but they answered him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life."--John vi. Thus the hot sun of trials and persecution that withered up the shallow letter hearers, only caused his good-ground hearers to take deeper root in Christ, making them feel more and more the necessity of Christ in their salvation; and thus they brought forth an hundred fold, whilst the others brought nothing to perfection. This briefly, Brother Stallings, is our understanding of Christ's teaching in the parable of the sower."

(Written by John R. Respess in the GOSPEL MESSENGER, May 1885)


Spurgeon Contradiction?

It seems to me that Spurgeon contradicted himself on the parable of the Sower and Seed. What do you think?

"I shall briefly treat of the third class, and may the Spirit of God assist me to deal faithfully with you. "And some fell among THORNS; and the thorns sprang up with it, and choked it." Now, this was good soil."

"I now close with the last character, namely, the GOOD GROUND. Of the good soil, as you will mark, we have but one in four." ("Parable of the Sower")


Oct 29, 2008

What is "Apostasy"?

What does it mean to "apostatize"? How does one become an "apostate"? What does it mean to "fall from grace"? (Galatians 5: 4)

If a believer commit any sin, from the least to the greatest, is he then immediately an "apostate" and severed from Christ and salvation? Is it only certain grievous sins that sever one from Christ and salvation?

Or, is "apostasy" and "falling away" restricted to certain specific kinds of sins?

I believe that the "falling away" most often addressed by the New Testament writers refers to what we call the "renouncing" of Christ and the gospel, the rejection of the Christian religion which was formerly "professed," or "confessed," or "believed."

"Falling away" is not a phrase or word that is used for every instance where a Christian sins. If it did, then "falling away," or to commit "apostasy," would be a daily common occurrence with all believers, and not that which takes place only occasionally and with only some professing believers.

A Christian sins, including even the holy apostles. The writer to the Hebrews spoke of "the sin that does so easily beset us." (Hebrews 12: 1) Does "apostasy" from Christ "beset" Christians as easily as sin "besets" us? It would if a Christian became an "apostate" every time he committed transgression.

More to come.

Allusions to the Parable in the Epistles

The teachings of Christ are evident in the epistles. In fact, it can be argued that the teachings in the epistles are but elaborations and enlargements of the teachings of Christ, with very little in the way of substantially new revelation.

For instance, what Christ taught about his second coming, particularly in the Olivet Discourse, is reflected in the epistles where the second coming is discussed.

It is also true that the Parable of the Sower and Seed is enlarged upon and alluded to in the epistles. Here are some examples where the parable is alluded to, in my opinion. I believe this list can be added to, but it is a good sampling.

"Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does." (James 1: 21-25 NIV)

"Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain." (I Corinthians 15: 1, 2 NIV)

"They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had (really) belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them (really)belonged to us." (I John 2: 19 NIV)

"Now all these things happened unto them for examples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall." (I Corinthians 10: 11, 12 KJV)

"These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so." (Acts 17: 11 KJV)

"We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain." (II Corinthians 6: 1 KJV)

"And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost." (I Thessalonians 1: 6 KJV)

"For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe." (I Thessalonians 2: 13 KJV)

"...they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved." (II Thessalonians 2: 10 KJV)

"For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins." (Hebrews 10: 26 KJV)

"Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent." (Revelation 3: 3 KJV)

"Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ." (Romans 10: 17 NIV)

In these passages, one sees a reference to how one "hears" the gospel, or "receives" the "seed," and how various disciples fit into one of the four categories given by Christ in the parable.

On Perseverence

"And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure." (I John 3: 3 KJV)

Perseverence is the proof of a prior regeneration. Indeed, if there be no real regeneration, there can be no perseverence. The question is, does a genuine divine "begetting" universally issue in perseverence?

There is no doubt that the scriptures promise salvation to the genuine believer, to the soul who has truly been born again, whose nature has been radically transformed. Further, there is no doubt that the scriptures promise salvation only to those who, having professed faith in Christ, persevere in it till the end.

Notice John's position. He speaks of a universal proposition, what is true of every individual who is a member of the class described as possessing the Christian "hope." He says "every man that has this hope."

What do Arminians and Calvinists say in regard to this class of people who have the Christian "hope"?

The Arminian, who denies "eternal security," denies that "everyone" who has, who really has, the "hope" of Christ, will "purify himself" thenceforth throughout his Christian life. But, John did not say such things, and he was therefore no Arminian on the point of genuine believers losing their salvation. He did not say that only some who have the Christian hope will be progressively sanctified, while some others would fail to continuously "purify himself," but contended that all those who have the Christian hope will "purify" themselves. John made it a universal proposition, Arminians do not. John said all who have the hope of Christ persevere. Arminians say only a few who have the hope of Christ will persevere.

If You Persevere

If you persevere

If you endure

If you continue

If you hold fast

If you keep on believing and obeying

If you keep bringing forth fruit

One finds these type expressions in the New Testament relative to the Christian persevering, and they all mean, in other words,


"Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words." (John 14: 23 NIV)

This verse is clear cut and ought to settle all debate on this matter of eternal security and perseverence. A man who loves Christ will persevere in his love and obedience. If a person who professes to love Christ does not persevere, he proves or demonstrates that he did not truly love Christ at the start.

"Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand." (Romans 14: 4 NKJV)

This is another clear cut passage of scripture on the subject of perseverence. Paul says that Christ will "make" his "servants" to "stand," and not fall, and this due to God's power. If a professing "servant" does not "stand," but falls, then he demonstrates he was not a genuine servant but a hypocrite or deceived soul.

There are many passages which say that a future perseverence is proof of a genuine conversion., such as I John 2:19 & 5: 1.

Temporary Believers

In the parable of the Sower and Seed, the shallow ground hearer is one who is said to "believe for awhile and in time of temptation fall away," and who also initially "receive the word with joy." The Arminian who believes that this passage teaches that one can lose salvation attempts to prove the shallow ground hearer was truly born again by pointing out that this hearer "believed" and "received with joy the word." But, these things do not in themselves prove it.

These two descriptions must be considered within the context which identifies the shallow ground hearer with NOT having a "good and honest heart," thus not really saved. Yet, even though not really saved, but a false professor, the text says they "believe" and "rejoice" when they first hear the word. How are we to explain that? Is there a "belief" of the gospel that does not save? Can unbelievers and unsaved people rejoice in the gospel?

Unregenerate Believers

Recently I wrote against the Hyper Calvinist view of James White and the Hardshells on I John 5:1, wherein they tried to demonstrate that one could be born again apart from faith. I showed how the verse does not put the initial act of believing and receiving of Christ before the birth, but puts the life of faith, or persevering faith, after the divine begetting. Thus, what John contended for, in that passage, bears upon the question of the perseverence of genuine believers. He taught that anyone who was truly "begotten" of God would certainly persevere in faith and in conviction of the truth.

Who, according to John, "has been begotten"? It is the one who is a continual believer, one who "is believing" (present participle), regularly and continuously, that is, one who believes perseveringly. But, if this is true, then the opposite is also true - those who believe only 'for awhile' and who do not persevere in faith, have not been begotten.

There are temporary believers who believe without being begotten, but every begotten believer perseveres in believing.

There is not a Calvinist who denies that there are many who "believe" but who have not been "begotten," but are deceived hypocrites, or "false professors." The Arminian, who denies eternal security for real believers, contends that all the examples, in the New Testament, that has a "believer" lapsing and "falling away" is the case of a real believer losing real faith, and real life, and real birth and salvation.

Thus, the Jews who "believed" but did not "confess" Christ are judged, by Arminians, to have been genuine and begotten believers. (John 12: 42) Thus Simon Magus is judged to have been a real believer, one who had been genuinely "begotten" of God, and was a "good ground hearer," even though he became a Christian for the wrong motive, in order to "make merchandise" of the Christian community. To a Calvinist, however, these are examples of people who do not believe genuinely with a full heart, with sincerity and honesty, but "believe" superficially, or "shallowly."

The above examples are not examples of good ground hearers failing to persevere, nor of those who have been begotten and yet who fail to believe continuously, but examples of "shallow ground" and "thorny ground" hearers who entered into the visible Christian community by a hypocritical profession.

Rejoicing of the Hypocrite

"John was a lamp that burned and gave light, and you chose for a time to enjoy his light." (John 5: 35 NIV)

"When Herod heard John, he was greatly puzzled; yet he liked to listen to him." (Mark 6: 20 NIV)

Here are clear examples of "shallow ground" hearers of the word who have some faint belief, for they "rejoice" at hearing the good news. But, who but the rankest Arminian, will affirm that Herod and the wicked serpentine Jews were genuine believers who had been begotten of God?

Oct 28, 2008

The Parable's Warning

"Take heed therefore how ye hear: for whosoever hath, to him shall be given; and whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he seemeth to have." (Luke 8: 18 KJV)

These words were said as additional commentary on the parable of the Sower and the Seed. The word "therefore" points back to what Christ had taught in the Parable of the Sower and Seed. With what point did that parable deal? Was it not with "how" one "hears" the gospel? Does not the warning of Jesus imply that some will "hear" it differently? Some will "hear" it but not in the right manner? Is this not the reason for the warning of Jesus about taking heed "how" one "hears"?

All in the parable "heard" the word with their ears and in this sense "received" it. This is the only way in which the "hearing" and "receiving" of the word (seed) is alike in all four cases! All "hear" it differently! Some "hear" it to salvation, the good ground hearers, while the others do not "hear" it savingly, or "with understanding," or "with sincere faith," or "with depth," but receive and hear it only in a "shallow" manner.

Also, the additional parabolic commentary of Christ, in the above words, not only tell us that the parable deals with "how" one hears and receives the divine message of salvation, but also with how some of the "bad ground" hearers (the wayside, shallow, and thorny grounds/hearts), particularly the "wayside" hearer, have things "taken away" from them, things that they only "seemingly" possess.

Jesus is expounding further the parable and warning us not to identify the wayside, thorny, or shallow ground hearers with those who are genuine possessors of his salvation.

They have some things, of course, actually "taken away," such as the word that has entered their ears, and gained their attention. Such "taking away" occurs every day when unbelievers hear the gospel, entertain it for a time in their minds, and then leave thinking of it, dismissing it from their minds.

But, some imaginary things are also "taken away," as Jesus said. Jesus, in this additional commentary on the parable, mentioned a day coming when "secret things" will be uncovered, and this uncovering is certainly an allusion to the deceit of the hypocrites described in the parable.

Their supposed or apparent, their seeming or hypocritical, professions of faith and religion, will be all revealed one day.

These hypocritical shallow hearers and believers of the word, who "rejoice" initially at the good news message, and who are hasty and precipitate "converts," and who often become "on fire" and "fanatics" in their beginning, and who produce some "sprouts" of fruit, nevertheless never become anything other than "shallow" believers, people's whose faith is insincere, not honest, and not coming from a good heart.

This faith is good only in that it accepts, though shallowly and insincerely, the facts of the gospel. But, so also does the faith of demons, as James said. It is not good faith, however, because it lacks depth and sincerity of heart.

Don't many people who become professing Christians begin their Christian lives as either shallow ground or thorny ground hearers? Are such not destined to "fall away"? Isn't seed sown on shallow rocks destined to fail?

Anyway, these are some thoughts on the parable in light of the recent discussions I have had with the bloggers mentioned. Perhaps I will have more to say later.

Perseverence Discussion

I have had a little discussion at


about the parable of the Sower and the Seed and its bearing on the "once saved always saved" topic, or the issue of "perseverence."

After many years of bible study, I am convinced that nearly every heretical group errs in its understanding of this parable.

In my debates with the Campbellites and Hardshells I have shown how these groups, one Arminian and one Hyper Calvinist, both err in their understanding of the parable. I devoted an entire chapter to it in my book on "The Hardshell Baptist Cult."

To me it is very clear that none but the "good ground hearers" were saved, born again, or regenerated. Arminians and Hardshells both want to try to say that one, or all, of the non good ground hearers, were saved. The Arminians will make the "shallow ground" hearers to be born again because it says they "believed for awhile." Many Hardshells say all of the other three were saved, not just the good ground hearers.

If a man fully understands this parable, he will be kept from much error. In fact, the epistles teach nothing but what is in keeping with this parable.

Who "fell away" in the parable? Did any of the good ground hearers "fall away"? No!

The Arminian says "you cannot fall away from a place you have not actually come," and "you can't have taken away what you don't actually have," yet in Luke 8: 18, in the same context of Jesus' words on the parable, he says that men will, in the Day of Judgment, have "taken away" from them that which they "seem to have," not what they really have.

I may decide to write an enlarged work on this parable. I discussed it quite a bit in chapter 35 and also in my debate with Pat Donahue (see link below) on "once saved always saved" a couple years ago.

Listen to the debate at http://www.bibledebates.info/

Oct 27, 2008

Upcoming Chapters

I am pleased with the amount of writing I have gotten accomplished over the past week. I still have several "reviews" to complete, and the following chapters in the "Hardshell Baptist Cult" book.

Once the "Hardshell Proof Texts" series is done, I will go next into two separate, back to back, series, one on "Conditional or Unconditional" and on "Paradigm Problems" (then probably followed by "Hardshell Hermeneutics" and "Evolution in Doctrine" series).

Chapter 86 - Hardshell Proof Texts VIII (Passages on total depravity)
Chapter 87 - Hardshell Proof Texts IX (Pentecosteal Penitents)
Chapter 88 - Hardshell Proof Texts X (Case of Cornelius)
Chapter 89 - Hardshell Proof Texts XI (Case of Saul)
Chapter 90 - Hardshell Proof Texts XII (Case of Lydia)
Chapter 91 - Hardshell Proof Texts XIII (Case of Athenian Pagans
Chapter 92 - Hardshell Proof Texts XIV (Hebrews 8:11)
Chapter 93 - Hardshell Proof Texts XV ((Romans 2: 12-14)
Chapter 94 - Hardshell Proof Texts XVI (Ezekiel's new heart)
Chapter 95 - Hardshell Proof Texts XVII (II Timothy 1: 10, 11)
Chapter 96 - Hardshell Proof Texts XVIII (Summation)
Chapter 97 - Conditional or Unconditional?

Oct 26, 2008

Piper Says What I Said

John Piper wrote in his blog today:

"I believe the Lord brought this word to mind in one of our prayer meetings on Friday:

The worst of all times is the best of all times for missions."


"Such words do not have intrinsic authority the way Scripture does. They must be tested. Here is the truth I hear in those words.

During an economic downturn we are more dependent on God. That is the most fertile soil for creating missionaries.

During an economic downturn unreached people around the world do not expect you to come, but to look out for yourself. So they may more likely see your risk as love rather than exploitation.

During an economic downturn those who need Christ around the world may be less secure in earthly things and more ready to hear about eternal life.

During an economic downturn people at home may be wakened to the brevity of life and the fragility of material things, and so may become more generous not less. And when they give under these circumstances, it will make Christ look all the more like the all-satisfying Treasure that he is.

And so it may well prove to be that the worst of all times is the best of all times for missions."


Here is what I wrote on October 10th.

"What An Opportunity!"

"What a blessed opportunity for Christians to witness now to the lost and hopeless! What a time for our spiritual leaders to step up and call the nation to repentance with genuine compassion and concern.

What an opportunity to take advantage of these troubling times to teach men about sin, including greed, and faithlessness! What a time to call our nation to "consider its ways"! What a time for giving solid spiritual guidance to men who are looking for answers!

How weak are we! We cannot solve our problems! We cannot admit our own guilt in causing them and cannot confess our own inability to solve them! Oh how have we forgotten God!

Even now the pride of man swells and he puts his faith in himself, in his own abilities to save himself!

Rise up preachers! God is opening doors to help people! To instruct people! Be not still! Cry aloud!"

I hope others will come to see what Piper and I have seen and also seek opportunities to preach the gospel to the lost and downtrodden.

Oct 25, 2008

Camp & Asking for Salvation

Ask For Regeneration?

"Never in the history of the world has an unregenerate sinner asked God for regeneration."

("The Notion of Preparatory Grace in the Puritans" by Martyn McGeown)


"Is that so?"

I wrote the above in a short entry a month or so ago. I am republishing it again so that I might use it to introduce the point again and enlarge upon it.

I continually see the neo-Reformed crowd, the folks who promote neo-Hardshellism and Hyper Calvinism, vehemently decry the idea that an unregenerate or "dead" sinner can, or should be called upon to, "ask" the Lord for the grace of regeneration. These same folks denounce the idea that the sinner's will is at all involved in the experience of the new birth. These believe that to say that the sinner "asks" for regeneration, or initital salvation, is to deny "total depravity" and affirm "Arminianism."

Rather, these folks believe that any sinner who sincerely "asks" God to save him is a person who has already been "regenerated" or "born again," for only the already regenerated "ask" God for deliverance from their sins. Their idea is that the heart must be first changed by "regeneration" before the person will desire or ask for God to save him. Again, I ask, is this so? Is this what the bible teaches? If it is, then is it wrong to advise dead sinners to call upon the Lord to renew and regenerate their hearts?

A couple days ago, Steve Camp at


cited some authors and I responded with these comments pertaining to a portion of a citation from an author named Winslow.

Dear Steve (Camp):

"Winslow said:

"What is your demand? Is it the Spirit to seal, to sanctify, to comfort you? Then draw near and ask the gift. "For if you who are evil know how to give good things to your children, how much more shall your Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?" Is it pardon? Then ask it." (emphasis mine)

I thought neo "Reformed" folks decried affirming that sinners ask for regeneration and salvation? In fact, one "Reformed" writer said there was not a single text in the bible that says the unregenerate "ask" for salvation.

But, is the above scripture, cited by Winslow, not proof that sinners ask God to regenerate, birth, save, justify, cleanse, them?

Certainly the "asking" and the "choice" to "ask" is of God's gracious work, spriinging from his eternal decree, on behalf of the elect, but still, does he not "make them willing," make them choose and ask?

I would love to hear you explain this to us in this forum, if you are one who also decries the idea of dead sinner's calling out to God and petitioning him to regenerate him.

Will the Lord "give the Holy Spirit," in every respect, even in regeneration, to those who "ask" him?



It was a sad commentary on the neo Reformed crowd for Steve Camp (and others , like James White) to not answer my simple questions.

Notice how "asking" is involved in being saved in these passages. I believe that the word "seek" involves the petitioning of the will.

"But if from thence thou shalt seek the LORD thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul." (Deuteronomy 4: 29 KJV)

A person "finds God" when he is saved, born again, or regenerated.

"And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart." (Jeremiah 29: 13 KJV)

"...your heart shall live that seek God." (Psalm 69: 32 KJV)

"He asked you for life, and you gave it to him— length of days, for ever and ever." (Psalm 21: 4 NIV)

"This is what the LORD says: "Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. But you said, 'We will not walk in it.'" (Jeremiah 6: 16 NIV)

"Ever since the time of your forefathers you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you," says the LORD Almighty. "But you ask, 'How are we to return?'" (Malachi 3: 7 NIV)

"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him?" (Matthew 7: 7-11 NIV)

"If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!" (Luke 11: 13 NIV)

"Jesus answered her, "If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water." (John 4: 10 NIV)

"Then they asked him, "What must we do to do the works God requires?" (John 6: 28 NIV)

"If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind." (James 1: 5, 6 NIV)

"You want something but don't get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures." (James 4: 2, 3 NIV)

I could also cite passages that show how the will or choice of the sinner is involved in regeneration, but will save that for another posting.

Oct 24, 2008

Chpt. 85 - Hardshell Proof Texts VII

"And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd." (John 10: 16 KJV)

Some Hardshell debaters and apologists, like Elder Lemuel Potter, have used this verse to uphold their "Spirit Alone" view of "regeneration," their aberrant "born again before and apart from faith" view.

Elder Potter argued, in his debate with Elder W. P. Throgmorton, that this verse proved that sinners are "regenerated" apart from the gospel and faith, that heathen who had not yet heard the word and truth of God, and who were worshipping false deities, were nevertheless "born again."

He cited the words of Christ in John 10 to show that people who had not yet been "brought" were "sheep," and that the fact that they were "sheep" before they were "brought" proves that they were "regenerated" before they were "brought," before they heard the truth of the gospel and were brought to faith and converted.

I must confess that I never heard this argument made by any Hardshell preacher when I was affiliated with them. This appears to have been an argument unique to Potter (much like the argument of Elder Grigg Thompson was unique on Romans 10 - see earlier chapters on that passage) and perhaps the time period in which he lived (2nd half of the 19th century). Nevertheless, I have included Potter's argument from John 10 in this series because it is worth addressing.

The question we must ask is simply this - is the term "sheep," in John 10 and elsewhere, used as a synonym for "regenerated person"? If it is, then Potter's argument is a valid one.

Obviously, however, the term "sheep" is synonymous with "elect," and not with "regenerated person." Certainly a person is "elect," or a "sheep," BEFORE one is saved, born again, or regenerated. Certainly he is "elect" BEFORE he is "brought to Christ" by the gospel.

If we make "sheep" to be synonymous with "regenerated person," then we must not only avow that they are "regenerated" before they are "brought," but also before Christ calls them, before they hear his voice, obey, and follow him. Such a view makes these things not a part of regeneration, what is not essential to it, but something apart from it, something ad hoc.

Such absurd consequences can never be made to harmonize with the bible teaching. The idea that a sinner can be said to be "regenerated" or "born again" who has no idea who is Jesus, or who is the one true God, and who has no faith, is absolutely rediculous and against the plain and express teachings of the scriptures.

Such an argument, though not made by today's Hardshell apologists and debaters, nevertheless was made by one of the leading apologists and debaters of the denomination. Elder Potter is an undisputed "authority" among the Hardshells. Such argumentation as Potter made on John 10, however, betrays his reputation.

In future chapters I will be having much more to say about this veritable second generation Hardshell patriarch.

The argumentation that Potter put forth in debate regarding the passage in John 10, is similar to arguments Hardshells make on a few other passages. Since the argumentation is similar, I will deal with them now also.

"And Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his house; and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized. Then spake the Lord to Paul in the night by a vision, Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace: For I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee: for I have much people in this city." (Acts 18: 8-10 KJV)

"And he said unto me, Son of man, go, get thee unto the house of Israel, and speak with my words unto them. For thou art not sent to a people of a strange speech and of an hard language, but to the house of Israel; Not to many people of a strange speech and of an hard language, whose words thou canst not understand. Surely, had I sent thee to them, they would have hearkened unto thee." (Ezekiel 3: 4-6 KJV)

"And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation." (Revelation 5: 9 KJV)

The case of Cornelius also is connected with this idea of "sheep," or "regenerated persons" existing among the heathen, among those who did not have faith in Christ, for the Hardshells use his case in an attempt to prove that sinners are first regenerated, apart from the gospel, and that the experience of "regeneration" is enjoyed by those without faith in Christ. But, I will not deal with the case of Cornelius here in this chapter but will saved it for when I get to the book of Acts and look into the examples the Hardshells bring from that book in an attempt to prove that people are "regenerated" apart from the gospel and faith in it.

Hardshells also attempt to use Romans 2: 12-14 to prove that "heathen" people, who do not know nor believe in the one true and living God, and who do not have faith in Christ, nevertheless are "regenerated" and "born again" souls. Such an attempt, however, as I have already shown, and will yet show further, is vain. The scriptures everywhere refute such an idea.

I have already shown how John Gill held no such view, nor the writers of the old London Confession of Faith. Both he and they affirmed that salvation, including "regeneration," was impossible apart from the gospel, and from faith in Christ. They affirmed that faith in Christ was not possible apart from a knowledge of the gospel, per such passages as Romans chapter 10.

I have also clearly shown their affirmation to be contrary to a host of scriptures (see earlier chapters on key verses in defense of 'gospel means' and in the 'hot shot' series).

Now let me look at the above verses that also supposedly teach Hardshellism, that there are heathen peoples who are "regenerated."

"And Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his house; and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized. Then spake the Lord to Paul in the night by a vision, Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace: For I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee: for I have much people in this city." (Acts 18: 8-10 KJV)

When the Lord informs Paul that he already "has" or "possesses" a "people" in Corinth, even before Paul's preaching to them, the Hardshells argue that this proves that they were already "regenerated," even though "heathens," and that they were now prepared or "enabled" to be "converted," to come to saving faith and repentance.

But, does the fact that the Lord identifies these yet untaught, and as yet unbelieving sinners, as his "people" prove that they were already "regenerated" apart from the gospel and faith? No! The passage only proves that there were "elect" people in Corinth, people who as yet needed to be "called" and "regenerated" by the gospel (I Cor. 4: 15; James 1: 18; I Peter 1: 23-25, etc.), not people who are were already "regenerated." Compare this passage with Matthew 1: 21, a passage that gets much "play" among the Hardshell preachers.

"And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins."

Does this mean save the already "regenerated," the already "saved"? No, clearly not.

Here the term "his people" means "his elect," those who have been "chosen TO salvation, and TO regeneration and TO faith."

Hardshells will no doubt admit this when pressed on the matter. Yet, in spite of acknowledging, on the one hand, that "his people" does not mean "his already regenerated people," but only "his elect," they will nonetheless argue elsewhere, on other passages of scripture, as did Potter, and affirm that such expressions that speak of sinners being God's "people" or his "child" before their regeneration, mean and prove that they were "regenerated" or "born again." They are inconsistent in their argumentation. For instance, on the following passage they will argue in the following manner.

"And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father." (Galatians 4: 6 KJV)

Here the Hardshells correctly argue that "because you are sons" means "because you are sons (by election or decree of God), God has sent forth his Spirit into your hearts (regenerated you)..."

So, the inconsistency is quite apparent. When the Hardshell wants to do so, upon his whim, he makes "his people" to simply mean those "chosen TO salvation," though not yet actually saved, but then also makes it, at other times, to mean "already regenerated."

So, the passage in Acts 18 does not prove that there were souls in Corinth who were already regenerated apart from the gospel and faith, but only that there were "elect" souls there who needed to be called and converted, regenerated and saved by, the gospel. There were people there just like the woman in John 4 whom Christ converted at Jacob's well. She too was a "child of God" by divine election, though not yet "begotten" or "born of God" by the gospel. Thus, Christ's expressed need to "go through Samaria," so that he might thereby encounter her, preach the word to her, beget faith and life in her, and she be not only a "child" of God by election alone, by also by divine regeneration.

"And he said unto me, Son of man, go, get thee unto the house of Israel, and speak with my words unto them. For thou art not sent to a people of a strange speech and of an hard language, but to the house of Israel; Not to many people of a strange speech and of an hard language, whose words thou canst not understand. Surely, had I sent thee to them, they would have hearkened unto thee." (Ezekiel 3: 4-6 KJV)

Elder Sonny Pyles, one of the greatest Hardshell preachers of the last part of the last century, and who is still, to my knowledge, alive and preaching, used this passage in a sermon, preached in the last few years, in order to fight a view gaining prominence among some of today's Hardshells (mainly those identified with Elder Lasserre Bradley, Jr., and of those called "liberal" by the "conservative" wing, by those who oppose any modern efforts of Hardshells to finally begin preaching the gospel to the heathen, to support missions and theological schools, and bible classes or Sunday schools, and perhaps musical instruments in worship, and who favor having open fellowship with the Progressives and with those "Reformed" Missionary Baptists who accept the Hardshell "ordo salutis"), that avows that all the elect will hear the gospel.

I will be reviewing that sermon, together with the writing of his son, Elder David Pyles (who has many writings on Hardshell doctrine on the internet), wherein the son seems to be trying to "tip toe through the TULIP" by trying to occupy a "middle ground" between those who affirm and those who deny the proposition, the proposition that says that "all the elect will hear the gospel," after they are regenerated, but before they die) but for now will simply address the argument that the father made, wherein he argued that the above passage in Ezekiel proved that God had "born again" and "regenerated" people among the heathen who had no true knowledge or faith in Jehovah. It was, needless to say, a "vain attempt" on his part. So, does the passage in Ezekiel prove that the heathen, alluded to by the Lord, were already saved, born again, and regenerated, though they were ignorant of the truth, and therefore lacked biblical faith? No!

Pyles might as well have tried to prove that the "Sodomites" and "wicked inhabitants" of the "plain" were "saved," and "born again," as to attempt to prove that the "heathen" referred to by the Lord, in the above passage in Ezekiel, for in both passages, Christ only speaks "hypothetically," of what could have been, not what is the actual case.

"Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not: Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you. And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day." (Matthew 11: 20-23 KJV)

A number of points need to be affirmed from this passage, and then some questions need to be asked and answered, in view of the argumentation of Pyles.

First, both passages deal with "hypothetical" cases, not with actual ones.

Second, both passages affirm that certain groups of heathen peoples "could have" been saved had a certain event or sufficient condition taken place.

Third, both passages indicate that the necessary event or condition did not take place, and thus the heathen under consideration did not "hear" and "learn" of Jehovah, nor come to know him as the one true God, nor that they escaped being eternally judged and condemned, nor from being "cast down to Hell."

Thus, they could not have been "elect," nor already "regenerated," for their fate is described. It is a vain attempt then for Pyles to try to use such verse to prove that there are actually elect sinners who die without coming to saving faith, or without being converted to Christ by the gospel.

"And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation." (Revelation 5: 9 KJV)

"And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed." (Genesis 12: 3 KJV)

This is a favorite verse of today's Hardshells to cite in an attempt to prove that there are multitudes of "heathen" who are saved, even though they die without knowledge and faith in the true God, and in the Lord Jesus Christ. The verse does not actually state their proposition, but they attempt to apply their infamous Hardshell "logic" to the verse in another vain effort to prove that heathen are saved apart from faith in Christ.

What is the "logical" deductive argument that the Hardshells make from this verse?

First, they argue that people are saved from every "family," and from every small segment of the human race. Then, having proven this premise, they add the second, the one that affirms that "every family, kindred, tongue, and tribe, has not heard the gospel." Then, they add their conclusion to the syllogism, one that says - "therefore the hearing and believing of the gospel are not absolutely necessary for being eternally saved."

But, this is not "proof," and this the Hardshells themselves must be "logically" forced to admit, if they are honest. This is clear when one remembers that it is the Hardshells who constantly remind us of the billions of "infants" who die in infancy, and who have, by their contention, been "regenerated" apart from faith and apart from the means of the gospel. Why can't these infants be part of the various groups enumerated? Did I not show, in earlier chapters, how the common Baptistic apologetic on this matter has been to affirm their regeneration in an "extraordinary" manner, unlike adults?

Did I not cite Spilsbury too on the matter of "infant regeneration" to show what was the first Baptist view and apologetic on the matter? Did he not affirm, like other Particular Baptists of the period, that one could not use the hypothetical case of "infant regeneration" to prove anything relative to the matter of regeneration and means?

Besides the possibility of the case of infants satisfying the Hardshell incongruity of seeing how all families and tribes could have saved people, but yet not all these groups having had the gospel preached to them, I mention also the fact that it cannot be successfully proven that these groups did not have the gospel preached to them.

As I have shown in other writings of mine, the gospel was "written" in the stars, or the ancient Zodiac or Mazzaroth, as others have demonstrated, and also in the meanings and significations in the names of the first ten descendents of Adam, and in the names (with their significations) of the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet, and in the names of the heads of the twelve tribes of Israel, and perhaps even in other ways, such as in the Pyramids of Giza, and in the Sphynx. Certainly the magi who "came from the east" were men who, following the gospel written in the stars, and in these other ways, understood the gospel and believed it.

Also, it is amazing that the Hardshells argue as they do from Revelation 5:9, seeing they argue at other times, when trying to affirm that the "Great Commission" has been fulfilled, that "every nation has already heard the gospel," citing such passages as Colossians 1: 23!

I have also heard other Hardshells cite the various nationalities mentioned in Acts 2, who were assembled in Jerusalem on Pentecost and who heard the gospel preached by Peter, as also evidence that all the nations heard the gospel that day! So, they can say, on one hand, that all have heard the gospel, but then argue, on the other hand, that all have not heard it.

So, I see no proof in any of the passages, analyzed in this chapter, that uphold Hardshellism and Hyper Calvinism, nor the born again before faith, or salvation apart from Christian faith, errors.

Chpt. 84 - Hardshell Proof Texts VI

John 8: 47 is another passage of scripture that Hardshells genereally use in an attempt to prove that one is born again before and apart from faith. A modern "Reformed" writer, Vincent Cheung, upholds the same interpretation of the passage as do the Hardshells. Therefore, I thought best to cite his words on the passage and rebut them. Certainly his arguments for the born again before faith error are exactly what the Hardshells themselves put forth, and Cheung's writing would receive a hearty "amen" from them. Cheung wrote (emphasis mine):

"Now here comes something very interesting, something very straightforward, and ties back to our exposition on John 3:4 about spiritual dullness. Jesus says in verse 43, "Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say." Why are they unable to hear? He says, "You belong to your father, the devil." Then, he continues, "If I am telling the truth, why don't you believe me? He who belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God."

"Can anything be plainer? Jesus tells them the truth, the truth about spiritual things, using simple and direct language. Why do they not understand? Why do they not believe? " The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God." Here is the answer. The devil is their father, but the devil is a liar, and this is why they cannot understand or believe the truth. They cannot process something that is not in their spiritual nature to grasp."

"For a person to understand and believe the truth, he must first "belong to God," that is, to be the child of God rather than the child of the devil. Just because they are the natural descendents of Abraham does not make them the spiritual descendents of Abraham, nor does it make them the spiritual children of God. So to believe the gospel of Jesus Christ, God must give birth to them – they must be "born again.""

"One must first "belong to God" in order to believe the truth, so that regeneration, the new birth, must come before faith. This demolishes the teaching, so common nowadays, that we are born again by faith, that we are born again because we believe. If the condition of your soul is such that you can have faith, why would you need to be born again? Jesus says that these people have the devil as their father, and they do not "belong" to God, so that they cannot have faith. We are born again by a sovereign act of God, completely apart from human decision or human effort, and it is after we are born again that we are able to believe the gospel. This means that we are entirely at God's mercy when it comes to salvation."

"The biblical teaching is, "You must be born again, so that you may both believe and understand." Faith and understanding promote and depend on one another, and both are impossible unless one is first born again. This in turn makes faith and understanding dependent on divine sovereignty and not human decision, as Jesus, John, and Paul repeatedly declare to us."


No Hardshell could have argued the "case" better than has Vincent Cheung, in his attempt to prove the "born again before faith" error from John 8: 43-47. I perhaps could not have written it better, were I still a Hardshell apologist. In fact, when I was a Hardshell, this was one of my favorite passages to cite in order to prove the "born again before faith" error. I would argue just as "eloquently" and "logically" as did Cheung.

It is the view of Cheung and the Hardshells that it was the intention of Jesus to instruct these Christ rejecting Jews in the divine "ordo salutis." This is not the case however. Why would Jesus be instructing, according to Hyperism, unregenerate children of the devil in the "ordo salutis" in the first place? According to Hyperism, what could have been Jesus' purpose in teaching them about such a matter?

Is it the Hyperist idea that Christ spoke to them with no intent to incite them to repentance? To want to truly "belong to" God? If the Hyperist admits that Christ spoke to these children of the devil, what was his intent? Was there no intent at all for them to disinherit their (evil) spiritual parentage and be adopted into God's family?

Cheung and the Hardshells admit that Christ is speaking to children of the devil, to those who are "dead" and "unregenerate." They admit that he tells them that they do not "belong to" God. But, will they admit that he was telling them they were responsible for their "belonging to" either God or the devil? How could Christ condemn them for "belonging to" the devil? And, for not "belonging to" God?

The "reasoning" of the Hyperist here is circular and leaves a person going round and round with no end.

A man cannot "hear" nor "understand" unless he is first born of God (belong to him, become his child, etc.), but, according to scripture, he must "understand" and "hear" in order to belong to God!

If it is argued that Christ puts the "hearing" and "understanding" after the birth, then he must, to be consistent, aver that "hearing" and "understanding" never "precede" the birth. So, what does the Hyperist do with those passages that put "hearing" as a means to birth and life? If he avows that "hearing" does precede the birth and life, and yet avows that it follows, then he has put the sinner in an inescapable strait. He must hear to live, but he must also live to hear!

At this point, the typical Hardshell, will use his infamous "hermeneutical principle" of the "double sense" or "double meaning" of words and ideas, and say - "well, there are really two kinds of 'hearing,' one kind going before the life (birth) and one going after."

Jesus said in John 5: 25-28 that the "dead will hear his voice and live." The hearing of his voice, even though effectual and irresistable, in the case of the elect, precedes the coming to life, whether it be the resurrection experience of conversion, the coming to life of the inner soul, heart, and mind, or the future resurrection of the physical bodies.

Does not Jesus affirm both these ways of stating the matter?

1. You do not belong to God (not regenerated, born, alive spiritually, etc.) because you do not hear, understand, and believe.

2. You do not hear, understand, and believe because you do not belong to God?

Yes! He states it both ways! So then, does this mean Jesus put the matter in a circular manner, making salvation impossible by making one thing to depend upon another? How are we to solve this seeming difficulty? After the manner of Cheung and the Hardshells? No. Here's how.

Jesus is not saying that one thing causes another! If he did affirm that A caused B, and then turned around and also said, B causes A, we would call him illogical and a stater of an impossibility, of a falsehood.

Rather than giving an order salutis and giving a oracle on what causes what, he is rather showing how one thing is vitally connected with another, yet not in the way of cause and effect. He is affirming that two things are the effects of the same cause, and that where one effect is present, so is the other. Thus, he is giving us a description of the essential characteristics of the new birth, of what it means to "belong to God," and what it means to "hear" and "understand" God and truth.

Classes of people

1. Those who belong to God but who do not hear
2. Those who hear but do not belong to God
3. Those who hear and belong to God
4. Those who neither hear nor belong to God

Jesus, by his words, is denying that there is any such character as #1 and #2. The only sinners that exist anywhere are those described under #3, and #4.

Now, suppose a person wanted to counter the person who says that there are people as #1 and #2, would he not speak as did Jesus?

The use of the word "because" in the words of Jesus are not to be taken in a metaphysical sense, of what produces something else, but for a legal, forensic, or logical use of "because." We make use of this kind of "because" (or 'cause') all the time in regular speech. For instance, one says - "his heart is dead because his brain is dead," but then says, "his brain is dead because his heart is dead."

When two things are vitally connected, and only exist together, and never apart, then one would also speak as did Christ. In such language Christ is not saying that one thing absolutely "precedes" another thing, but that one thing cannot exist alone, without another thing.

Thus, I see absolutely no evidence that this passage teaches that one can belong to God without hearing and understanding. The born again before faith view creates a non-scriptural creature, a born again unbeliever. Likewise, using the terms in our text, the Hyperist creates a born again child of God, one who belongs to God, but who has not heard, believed, nor understood. Such a view dilutes what it means to "belong to God." To exclude "hearing," and "believing," and "understanding," from what it means to "belong to" God (or the devil, for that matter) is to make it mean nothing concrete or substantial.

Ironically, I think the words of Christ actually destroy Hyperism and what Cheung affirms. His analysis makes it possible to have a person who belongs to God (a completed fact or action) and who has not yet heard, learned, believed, nor understood! Christ affirmed, in this passage, that such a case is an impossibility.

On this verse John Gill wrote:

"ye therefore hear [them] not, because ye are not of God; because God was not their Father, or they were not born of him, as they boasted; therefore they had not eyes to see, nor ears to hear, nor hearts to understand: and it may as fairly be inferred, that because they did not hear the words of God, therefore they were not of God; for these two necessarily imply each other." (Commentary)

But, the view of the Hypers, like Cheung, affirms that they do not imply each other, affirming that one can "belong to" God and not have "heard" and "believed," or that one can "hear" and "believe" and yet not belong to God.