About 10 years ago... Nov 2002
A friend from a RB church in Malaysia visited a Primitive Baptist Church in the US, and wrote the following observation...
“However, talking to one of their elders (who is their pastor, who preaches here one Sunday a month, but lives in another town about 200 miles away?), I seem to understand that PB does not believe in "gospel evangelism" (I think this was how he put it) - i.e. Salvation is all of God's work; God will save His elects even if no one brings the "gospel" to them. The gospel itself does not save (I agree) and men should not think they are indispensable in the work of salvation (to some extent I also agree) - but my question is "Isn't this the means chosen by God Himself - that His people should go and proclaim the message of salvation to the ends of the earth?" I just wonder if this is a reaction towards the many "man-centred evangelism", which to them seems to emphasise on the importance of God's people to the extent that if they do not preach then God cannot save! Well, what's your thought on this? I will try to find out more about their evangelistic efforts in the remaining two Sundays left here. But I would like to hear your views.
On Thu, 07 Nov 2002 13:06:51 +0800 sing wrote:
Good to hear from you. Yes, I will prepare summaries of the talks for the campers.
I have been on a Primitive Baptist email discussion forum for nearly one and a half years now - it is by invitation only, and I am probably the only non-PB on the list. Genie met me on another discussion forum, Particular Baptist, and sensed that I am committed to the 1689 and was interested to know who are the PBs, so he (as one of the moderators of a discussion list) invited me to join. I have asked countless questions and discussed with them over all sort of issues. I have learned not a little from them. Mostly our differences are centred in the way we state things. The majority of the PB have the 1689 as their doctrinal Standard. But some abhor it!
The manner they express about 'gospel evangelism' is liable to be misunderstood by non PBs. They do believe the preaching of the gospel to all who are able to hear - that is a given to them. Brother Genie said, 'I do think that the overwhelming majority of our ministers believe that the gospel should be preached to every person that God, in His Providence, brings into the hearing range of their messages. We should be actively reaching out to others in the ways that we can. We cannot possibly know who are the elect and who are not the elect----hence our ministers must preach the gospel and let it find its own application as taught plainly in II Corinthians 2:14-17.'
They would shun from all the modern gimmicks in evangelism. They start from the premise that all the elect are already eternally saved ('eternally' not in the sense of 'in eternity', but salvation that is eternal) by the finished worked of Jesus Christ, regardless of what is done or left undone by man - which is strictly true. Salvation in the eternal sense is as secure and as complete for all those whom God has given to His Son Jesus Christ, and for whom Jesus Christ came to save, and the Holy Spirit regenerates in their due time.
The preaching of the gospel will bring these eternally saved elect into the timely and conscious salvation here on earth. No amount of preaching activity will save a non-elect, and no neglect of gospel preaching will cause one of God's eternally saved elect to perish. They would put the matter as starkly as this: 'no amount of preaching activity will save a non-elect, and no neglect of gospel preaching will cause one of God's eternally elect to perish.' BUT don't conclude that they therefore don't believe in preaching the gospel.
They are only countering the common and terrible lies and practices of the Arminians as well as the Calvinists - that eternal salvation of sinners depended on man's acts of preaching, and believing, that without their preaching there is no eternal salvation. [The temporal salvation of God's children do depend very much upon the faithful ministry of the word.]
They are not denying that the preaching of the gospel is the means to gather the ALREADY eternally saved elect into a timely salvation in Jesus Christ. [If you don't understand this statement, please say so, and ask questions!!!].
Your observation may well be right. In reaction to the modern trash, they tend to state the biblical truth in such a manner that it comes as jarring to our ears. But I am convinced that they are dead centred on the matter.
Please discretely ask if any of the old folks there possess Elder Cayce's Editorial Writings (volume 1-7). Some older folks may have them, and it would be very good if we can laid hands on a set of them. They may want to give it away to a friend of the PB in Malaysia
Elder Genie said about the Editorials, "They are out of print and those that have them do not wish to relinguish them. There were seven volumes covering the time frame from 1896 until 1942 (if memory serves me correctly). My volume 7 and volume I have been borrowed and not returned. I only have five volumes of my own. I now have volume I borrowed but must eventually return it. Elder C.H. Cayce was a very able minister and was editor of the PRIMITIVE BAPTIST paper for nearly 50 years. His son is the present editor. I doubt very seriously that any of us can come up with a set of these writings, but I would be happy for you to read through all of them."
Well, that's all for now. Do keep well, and ask many questions!
Yours by His continuing mercies,
On 08.11.2002 12:51:45, Hornet wrote:
With the little info, here are my views on 2 points:
1. I seem to understand that PB does not believe in "gospel evangelism" (I think this was how he put it) - i.e. Salvation is all of God's work; God will save His elects even if no one brings the "gospel" to them. This sounds like they may be hyper Calvinists who do not believe in preaching the gospel to sinners.
2. The gospel itself does not save (I agree) and men should not think they are indispensable in the work of salvation (to some extent I also agree)- but my question is "Isn't this the means chosen by God Himself - that His people should go and proclaim the message of salvation to the ends of the earth?"
The gospel itself saves. It is God's word. It is God's way. It is God's promise to forgive sinners in Christ. God therefore will keep His promises to whomever listens to the gospel and responds to it. It is the power of God unto salvation (Rom 1:16?). That's why sinners get saved in charismatic and RC churches. In this sense, we cannot compartmentalize God and His gospel. No power or person on earth could ever think of the most glorious gospel to save wretched and miserable people. Only God can. That's why we are called to preach the gospel and God honors us by saving hearers only by His power and grace. Whatever is God's originates from Him and so the gospel is God's. He owns it. He authored it. His genius designed it. Because it is from God, it has the inherent power to save. You may disagree.
By His grace
On Sat, 09 Nov 2002 12:12:16 +0800, sing wrote:
== I wonder if Pastor Lau would like to comment on this - this sounds "theological" but it is interesting and helpful for me to have a more accurate understanding of what I really believe doctrinally about evangelism. ==
Yes, it is indeed good to discuss the issue so that we may all come to a closer understanding of the teaching of God's word. To be consistently 'reformed' is not an easy matter. It is contrary to human nature (even a redeemed one) and that explains why many 'reformed' people are actually and unconsciously 'arminianized' calvinists [grin, but a serious one though]. So let us all discuss this matter. I believe the PBs are the thorough bred in this particular issue.
The gospel has no inherent power to save. Gospel is the good news that announces and conveys the good news of the great salvation which has already been accomplished by Jesus Christ for and on behalf of His people, i.e. the elect from eternity whom God has given to His Son, and for whom Jesus came to secure their salvation, and the Holy Spirit applied it to each elect at God's appointed and approved time. And that mission to save His people is as complete and accomplished as can be.
That gospel is commanded to be preached to the world, among whom are found God's elect people, and the redeemed of the Lord Jesus Christ, [and effectually called to grace and salvation.] For this reason, the gospel is to be preached to all, and all hearers who come under the sound of the gospel are commanded to repent and believe in the blessed Saviour. The elect of God and the redeemed of Jesus Christ and the regenerated of the Holy Spirit alone are enabled to embrace the gospel message among the multitudes of hearers. The whole multitude will hear the same gospel message, similarly persuaded and urged to repent and believe, but only the elected, redeemed and regenerated (all of which are sovereign, and without human means) are able to believe because the message is already true of them. In the eternal sense, they are already saved by the finished work of Christ. The gospel message when believed and embraced brings them into a subjective, conscious and timely experience of what is already objectively true of them. Those whom God has eternally elected, and Christ has redeemed by His once for all sacrifice of Himself, and the Holy Spirit regenerated when and where and how He sovereignly wills ARE ALREADY saved with eternal salvation regardless of whether they hear the gospel or not.
Our Confession of Faith recognizes this fact. 1689.10 states like this:
3. Infants dying in infancy are regenerated and saved by Christ through the Spirit;(10) who worketh when, and where, and how He pleaseth;(11) so also are all elect persons, who are incapable of being outwardly called by the ministry of the Word. (10. Jn 3:3,5-6. 11. Jn 3:8.)
4. Others not elected, although they may be called by the ministry of the Word, and may have some common operations of the Spirit,(12) yet not being effectually drawn by the Father, they neither will nor can truly come to Christ, and therefore cannot be saved:(13) much less can men that receive not the Christian religion be saved, be they never so diligent to frame their lives according to the light of nature and the law of that religion they do profess.(14)
12. Mt 22:14; 13:20-21; Heb 6:4-5. 13. Jn 6:44-45,65; 1Jn 2:24-25. 14. Ac 4:12; Jn 4:22; 17:3.
NOW PLEASE NOTE CAREFULLY: They are people in heaven that have never heard the gospel - why? Because they 'are incapable of being outwardly called by the ministry of the Word. There are elect among the million and million of aborted babies. There are elect among the multitude of 'idiots'. There are also elect among the multitudes of adults who never have the opportunity or ability to hear the gospel in this life.]
Is it not a very blessed thing that ULTIMATELY the eternal salvation does not depend on the elect's hearing and believing the gospel message!!!
OF COURSE, the gospel message is ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY to bring God's children, those elect who are already effectually called, into a conscious and timely experience of that glorious salvation which has been completely and fully secured for them by pure sovereign grace. AND THAT IS THE REASON why the glorious gospel should be preached to the whole wide world. It is not that the gospel message may turn goats into sheep, but that the sheep may hear the voice of the Saviour and come to Him and follow Him, and know the glorious truth of their salvation. Only the elected, redeemed and regenerated will hear the voice of the Shepherd and follow Him. They are sheep, therefore they will hear and follow Him. Goats will not. And no among of gospel preaching will turn goats into sheep.
There is already spiritual life even before the hearing, repentance and faith!!! This is a given that any credible reformed Baptist will not dispute. Regeneration precedes repentance and faith. 'Regeneration is that sovereign acts of the Spirit of God by which the principle of the new life is implanted in man, and the governing disposition of the soul made holy, and the first holy exercise of this new disposition is secured.' Regeneration precedes the 'seeing' and the 'entering' of the kingdom of God.
Under all normal circumstances - and the Holy Scriptures deal chiefly with normal circumstances and not exceptional cases, i.e. preaching addresses men and women and boys and girls who ARE CAPABLE OF BEING OUTWARDLY CALLED BY THE MINISTRY OF THE WORD (gospel preaching) - those who come under the sound of the gospel and believe not the gospel has ABSOLUTELY NO warrant to hope that they are partakers of the salvation as it is in Christ Jesus.
Let us conclude with apostle Paul, "THEREFORE, I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory." 2Tim 2:10.
Let us also endure all things - all the sacrifices are demanded of us for the tasks and the many trials that we will face as we labours to preach the gospel to all, as exemplified in apostle Paul's life - for the elect sake, that they may be brought into a conscious and timely salvation here and now. [By God’s sovereign acts, they have been bestowed eternal glory; the gospel ministry is that they MAY ALSO, in addition to the eternal glory, obtain the timely salvation which comes from knowing the word of trth concerning Jesus Christ.]
In the world, many of the lives that are conceived never enter into a conscious and timely enjoyments of the good things of life. It is just as true in the spiritual realm. That is more of the exception, not the norm, so also in the spiritual realm. I hope this simple illustration will shed some light.
Thanks for your patience. I have rambled on for too long. Please correct me if I have gone off the old road. Any question which will motivate me to think and study God's word is welcome.
Yours by His continuing mercies
On Sun, 10 Nov 2002 07:44:45 +0800 Bee wrote:
You see, I was converted in a southern baptist church, and for whatever shortcomings they may have with certain doctrines, the church has grounded me well in the importance of mission work or evangelistic outreach, the importance of local church, as well as in "tithings"/givings to the LORD's work. So in my young spiritual mind, there was the prevailing understanding that "people are perishing in far away corners of the earth because no one brings the gospel to them - that therefore drives the evangelistic efforts of sending missionaries overseas to unknown civilisation and places where the name of Christ has not been heard." At that time (or may be later, I cannot be sure) I used to wonder whether it was rather unfair for God to send these people to hell just because no one has been able to bring the good news of salvation in Christ to them, and this through no fault of themselves. I was no better a sinner than these people in hidden corners of the earth, it was merely a matter of opportunity that I was led to meet some Christian friends who shared the gospel with me.
Later, when I was introduced to the doctrine of election, the thought crossed my mind that perhaps God has His elects in these unknown civilisations and places, and He saves them despite no one brings the gospel to them. However, I was quickly pointed out by someone that "salvation is only by trusting in Christ; no one can be saved without knowing Christ" - And isn't this the teaching of Romans 10:14-15 "How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent?....." which is often quoted in support of gospel evangelism and mission work. Thus I was left bewildered by this apparent contradiction.
Thanks to your explanation, I think I now understand that people (i.e. the elect) may be saved without the outward hearing of the gospel, but if they do hear it "the gospel brings them into a subjective, conscious and timely experience of what is already objectively and eternally true of them." as you put it. This I can understand. In another word, their salvation is as sure as God has elected them, but their earthly lives would have been so much better/richer if they have come to a conscious/clearer understanding of their salvation and of the God who has saved them - Have I understood it correctly, Pastor Lau?
Well, my next issue may be on "prayer" - which seems to also have the same kind of conflict between God's sovereignty and human responsibility. Can our prayers really make any difference to the (predetermined) events surrounding us? My time is running out now. This business centre in the S V Apartments where I stay will be closed soon and I have to return my key to get my ID card back.
I do wish to have more in-depth understanding of God's word. May God grant the time and the opportunity.
Much indebted to your help.
Yours in His grace,
On 10.11.2002 14:03:30, Hornet wrote:
Pr Lau's comments shed much light on who the PB really are and why their approach to evangelism is different. With that much more information, I would duly withdraw my earlier guarded remark that they MAY be hyper calvinists.
As I alluded earlier, I have deep respect for other brethren (who are not RB) who love God and live godly lives and put me to shame. Honestly, I have much, much to learn from these brethren.
Perhaps I need to explain a bit on why the gospel has inherent power to save. I take the gospel as broadly defined as a message constituting a large part of the Word of God.
Heb 4:12 says, “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”
A speech by President Bush may be profound and persuasive yet it is not alive. It is not living and powerful as the word of God. Prolific writings of great men do not discern thoughts and intents of sinners' hearts.
The gospel is inherently living and powerful and thus able to save. Having said that, one has to be consistent in applying all doctrines such as election and the work of the Holy Spirit in regeneration and salvation. Otherwise one will risk being branded a heretic.
Therefore the gospel only saves the elect. Election is an act of God. God honours His word. In the sense that the gospel is His word, He will honour it. He jealously guards what is His. The glorious gospel is His and His alone.
However, the gospel does not only save sinners. It condemns the impenitent, the lost (non-elect).
[Isaiah 55:11 So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.]
[1Corinthians 1:18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to those who are being saved it is the power of God]
God does not save those whom He has not chosen - the non-elect. The Holy Spirit does not regenerate the non-elect even though they may have heard the gospel preached a thousand times. As a result, one can be consistent with the doctrine of the sovereignty of God in election and salvation, even though one holds to the notion that the gospel has inherent power to save.
Pr. Lau, I have also read your disagreement with the notion that the gospel has inherent power to save. Thank you for sharing your views with me. I am open to be corrected. Thank you for the opportunity to discuss differences and yet remain in Christ's love.
By His grace,
On Tue, 12 Nov 2002 09:52:56 +0800 Bee wrote:
Thank you for your reply. I think it is open to further discussion. I need a bit more time to think about what you have said about your understanding on the "Gospel" and linking that with "the word of God". The word of God is indeed "living and powerful" - But does that mean it (referring to the printed text of the Scriptures)is inherently so? or Does it become so because God/Holy Spirit works through the message contained in His word?
The key issues now it seems to me centre on whether we mean the same thing when we say "Gospel" or the "Word of God", or "inherent"; whether we are speaking in "broad terms" or "strict sense". Do we understand correctly what the Bible means when it uses these words "gospel" and "the word of God"? So much we take for granted until challenged by others. This is interesting - I hope I have some time to study this. Unfortunately I don't have other resources here, except my Bible. A good dictionary and concordance would have been helpful.
In fact, somewhere in 1 Corinthians(?), Paul also talked about the "gospel" that he preached to them ......, “by which they (the Corinthians) were saved”, which may be taken to mean that the gospel had saved them, but I believe we can still reconcile this passage with what Pastor Lau has elaborated for us as the purpose of the gospel.
Well, let us together study to understand the Scriptures better (as iron sharpens iron), for it will make us "wise unto salvation".
Must go back now. Keep the discussion going. I hope Pastor Ho and Brother Daniel can share their thoughts too.
Yours in the bond of Christ,
On 13/11/02 5:22 PM, Hornet wrote:
I wish to continue our discourse on the gospel. I have thought through your questions and listed down 12 points for you to be convinced that the gospel indeed has inherent power to save sinners.
I attach MS Word file containing these points [the points sing responded to in the post below.] I will be not have access to email from tomorrow 14th to 26th because I will be going to K…. for a seminar. Pls pray for me.
May the Lord grant us grace to esteem Him and His word.
By His grace
It is good that we can discuss on this subject. See my response, prefixed by #### to some of your 12 points.
1. Thus far I have held that there is inherent power in the gospel to save. This notion is premised upon the broad definition of the gospel as being part of the word of God. I believe the article by the reformer Theodore Beza may have helped to establish the fact that the gospel is a part of the very word of God. To read the whole article of Beza, please go to: http://www.markers.com/ink/tblawgospel.htm
#### I concur with you and Beza that the gospel is a part of the very word of God, BUT I do believe that the gospel is NOT the same as the Word of God. There is no connection between the gospel as being part of the word of God and the gospel as having inherent power to save. You may wish to establish the validity of your conclusion.
2. The gospel is a message for the salvation of sinners by the grace of God alone (thus implying election and the work of the Holy Spirit), through faith alone, in Christ alone. However, it is not a mere message. It is the word of God. As such, it is an inalienable part of God. It comes from the heart of God’s love. It comes from the mouth of God given through the agency of holy men.
#### Indeed the gospel is a message… I would say it is THE message… i.e. the gospel is THE message of the sovereign and free redemption that has been completely accomplished by the Lord Jesus Christ for those whom He came to save. As the message of salvation, it is a part of the word of God, it is not the word of God. The term, ‘the word of God’ when it refers to the inscripturated word of God is larger than the gospel. The whole is larger than a part. Christ has declared, “It is finished.” And the gospel declares that finished work of redemption to the world.
3. The gospel being the word of God has inherent power and life as we have already seen in Heb 4:12.
4. Another proof text that there is inherent power in the gospel is Jeremiah 23:29 - "Is not My word like a fire?" says the Lord, "And like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?”
#### I don’t see how this passage is related to your thesis. It certainly reminds me that God does not threaten in vain. I need help.
7. The New Testament also does treat the gospel interchangeably with the word of God. One example that comes to my mind is Romans 10: 15-17
Rom.10:15 And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!" 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, "Lord, who has believed our report?" 17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
#### The gospel is THE message of glad tidings of good things, THE message of free and full salvation secured by the Lord Jesus Christ for poor undeserving people, THE message of reconciliation from God to ill-deserving sinners. The gospel message has NO inherent power to save because ‘they have not all obeyed the gospel.’ The message itself is not the good things themselves, but declares and announces the good things. If it has inherent power to save, then it ought to save all those who hear it! The gospel message has to be blessed by the Holy Spirit to be effectual to CONVERT sinners. “For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit…” Without prior regeneration of the Holy Spirit, there can be NO faith, there can be no power to bring about the conversion.
#### The gospel is not the same as the word of God. One is a subset of another. The gospel is part of the Holy Scriptures, but NOT the Holy Scriptures itself. They cannot be used interchangeably. Peter Masters has argued cogently that many Reformed Baptists are not preaching the gospel even though they are great expositors of the word of God!!! They have ceased to be evangelistic, gospel preachers.
8. One reason why the gospel has inherent power is because the Lord has promised in the great commission that He will be with us when we present it to people. This reinforces the fact that God’s word (gospel) is inseparable from God.
Mt.28:18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen
#### The reverse is the truth. It is precisely because the gospel message has NO inherent power, but only the glorious message of the free salvation accomplished by the glorious and omnipotent Saviour for poor ill-deserving rebel sinners, that the promises in the Great Commission make sense. If the gospel has inherent power, then the promises - ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth… and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age’ - would be entirely redundant and superfluous! All authority is invested in Christ Jesus, not in the gospel! And it is Christ’s power through His Holy Spirit by the word of regeneration that makes preaching of the gospel effectual to the salvation of those whom Christ died for. Because so, it is absolutely necessary for the exalted Lord to present with His church even to the end of the age! The gospel message only points to the person of the exalted Saviour
[ Disciples can only be made out of those whom God has effectually called to grace and salvation. Those still in sin and death can’t possibly be made into disciples.
9. Not only is the gospel identified as the word of God, but in the NT the apostle Paul equates it to Christ Himself. The following verses proof this:
- 1Cor. 9:16 For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for necessity is laid upon me; yes, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel!
#### I can’t see how this verse will serve your purpose!
- 1 Cor.1:23 but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness,
#### The gospel is the message concerning Christ and His work. So to preach the gospel one must necessarily preach Christ. But this does not mean that the gospel message is the Christ. If I receive a letter from you, telling me lots of things about you, I must not conclude that the letter is the same as you, of whom the letter speak. The person and the message about the person are different entities!!! Romans 1:17 says, “For in it [the gospel] the righteousness of God is revealed…” The gospel reveals the righteousness of God, i.e. the righteousness of God’s provision, which is none other than Christ Jesus our Lord. Apostle makes a clear distinction between the gospel of Christ and Christ Himself. Christ Himself also preached the gospel, Mt 4;23, Mk 1:14, Lk 3:18, etc. The two are clearly distinguished.
- 2 Cor.4:5 For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus' sake.
#### The gospel message begins and ends in Christ, from the ‘seed of the woman’ to the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ. He is the essence of the gospel message.
- Col.1:28 Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.
#### I can’t see how this verse will serve your purpose!
10. I believe herein lies the key to understanding why there is inherent power and life in the gospel. The gospel is Christ. Would that be too far fetched a conclusion? Paul one moment says he preaches the gospel and in the next says he preaches Christ. He wants us to believe that the gospel is emptied of its glorious power if it is devoid of Christ. The gospel is the good news of the birth (why, when and how), the life, the death, the burial and the resurrection of Christ. So the gospel is the person and the work of Christ.
#### The gospel is not Christ, but the gospel declares and announces Christ and His finished work of redemption.
11. We have established that the gospel is the word of God. We have also established that the gospel is Christ. Lastly, we must also establish from Scriptures that Christ is the Word. This is easy as John plainly tells us:
#### In point 1 you have asserted that the gospel is part of the word of God. You have now advanced a step further and declared that the gospel is the word of God, i.e the gospel is the same as the word of God has been established! That is a very big jump. But the apostle does make clear distinction between the gospel and the word of God. The gospel is a specific part of the word of God. The word of God is a term that embraces the whole of the inspired Scriptures.
John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.
#### Christ the eternal Word is a completely distinct entity from the historic inspired inscripturated word of God. We must not confuse the two. The John 1 passage does not serve your proposition that Christ is the word of God (i.e. inspired Scriptures.)
12. In Christ the infinite wisdom, power and glory of the whole Triune God dwells. He is indeed Jehovah. Colossians 2:2,3,9,10: Christ, 3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. 9 For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; 10 and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.
But Christ is full of grace and truth as John says:
John 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.
#### Amen and amen, but the passage lends no support to your proposition!
And therefore we have the gospel of grace, the gospel of peace, the gospel of Christ.
#### The gospel of (genitive) Christ declares Christ as the glorious and all power redeemer of all who believe in Him, who has power to draw sinners unto Him. Christ said, and repeated it, “No one can come unto me unless the Father who sent Me draws him…” The triune God alone has the inherent power to save – which is made known in the gospel.
Paul warns us, Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies (1Cor.8:1). Knowledge for knowledge sake evokes pride in us. This disease afflicts many, ministers included. Knowledge and doctrines should not be sought merely to satisfy one’s theological and intellectual curiosity. Most sadly, some Reformed Baptists these days esteem big heads and gifts more than grace - that distinct mark of unconditional election and free pardon for sins.
#### I THANK YOU FOR A VERY TIMELY WARNING. You are my dear brother. May our glorious and powerful Saviour keep and preserve me to preach the glad tidings of good things about Him.
It is a pleasure to study the word of God together.
Your by His continuing mercies,
On Thu, 14 Nov 2002 02:32:42 +0800 sing wrote:
It is good for us to exercise our mind together in seeking for clearer understanding of God's word. Perhaps we should set up a discussion list so that the people of our churches can discuss all sort of things easily. It would enhance fellowship and promote clearer understanding of God's word. It is relatively easy to set up a discussion list at yahoo.com. May be we can call it firstname.lastname@example.org. ('mysg' stands for Malaysia and Singapore).
My little interaction with brother Hornet's post is attached. Please be charitable with me where I may gone off the old road.
Yours by His rich mercies.
On Sun, 17 Nov 2002 07:23:03 +0800 Bee wrote:
Sing and Hornet,
I thank you both for the sharing of your thoughts on the above issues. I have also independently given these some thoughts myself. Human languages are indeed limited in expressing fully one's understanding, thoughts or ideas, especially on spiritual matters. Nevertheless, written word remains the best (albeit not perfect) tool we have in communicating thoughts/ideas to each other.
Therefore, let me try to sum up what we together have agreed:
1. Ultimately it is GOD ALONE WHO CAN and DOES SAVE sinners.
2. Only the elects of God will be saved.
3. The Gospel is the Good News which, from the beginning, and by His grace and mercy alone, God has announced to His Church: those who, by faith, embrace Jesus Christ shall partake of eternal life in Him (Rom 3:21, 22; John 6:40). [as summarised by Theodore Beza].
4. Only those who have been regenerated by the Holy Spirit can respond to the gospel call.
5. Only those who have been regenerated by the Holy Spirit can respond to the Gospel (by believing in Christ as the Saviour) when it is preached to them.
6. The Gospel is a part of the word of God; it is contained in the inscripturated word of God.
I would like, at the moment, to focus my thought on "whether the gospel has the inherent power to save". If by "the gospel" we mean including also "the work of the Holy Spirit in regenerating the hearer/recipient of the gospel", perhaps then I can see how the gospel can be considered to have the inherent power to save. But this means that every time the gospel is preached, it is accompanied by the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit, and so everyone who hears it will be saved - but this we know for a fact is not so.
The writing of Theodore Beza also helps to shed some light on this [his quotes are in the parentheses]:
[I say, therefore, that the Gospel is not "letter", that is to say, only a dead doctrine which sets before us in their bareness and simplicity (I do not say those things which it is fitting for us to do -- for that is the office of the Law) the things which it is necessary for us to believe: that salvation is promised freely in Jesus Christ to those who believe; but it is "spirit", that is to say, a powerful means full of efficacy from the Holy Spirit, and He uses it to create in us the power to believe the things which He teaches us, that is to say, to embrace free salvation in Jesus Christ.]
[Firstly, even as there is only one Saviour (Matt 1:21; Acts 4:12; 1 Tim 2:5), there is also only one doctrine of salvation which is called Gospel, that is to say, Good News (Rom 1:16).]
I understand from the above quotes that
1. Christ alone is the only Saviour, i.e. the One who saves.
2. The Gospel is the only doctrine of salvation, i.e. the teaching on how one is to be saved.
3. The gospel is "spirit" only because of the efficacious work of the Holy Spirit. Beza said that He (the Holy Spirit) uses it (the Gospel) to create in us the power to believe ....... This seems to me that Beza was saying the Holy Spirit is the One who has the power, but the gospel is the means by which that power is manifested/channelled. Did I understand that correctly?
Let me try to use an illustration to explain what I understand by "inherent" (NOT that I claim to have the correct understanding of the word):
Light by its very nature and by definition can illuminate. So anything that falls in its path will be illuminated by it, whether you like it or not. Thus, anything/any person that the light shines on will be made visible, even if that thing/person cannot itself/himself percieve it (for example a blind man). This means the power of the light to illuminate/shine is NOT dependent on the recipient or other condition but on its very nature, i.e. inherent. So I can say that light has the inherent power to illuminate.
Now if I use this analogy for the Gospel (as having the inherent power to save), then I would have to say that the Gospel has the power to save whomever it is preached to, regardless of other factors (e.g. whether he is an elect, or whether he has been regenerated by the Holy Spirit, or whether the person wants to believe it or not, etc.). And this I will have problem to accept, and I believe you will too.
But I know, Hornet, that you don't mean what I have just said in the paragraph immediately above. If I understand you correctly, you take "the Gospel" as all-encompassing to include also the work of God in electing and the power of the Holy Spirit in regenerating; that the gospel of Christ cannot be separated from God Himself, even in discussion.
Having considered all that have been said, I believe that we don't differ in our fundamental understandings on the Gospel or God's means of saving sinners (?), but we differ in the way we conceptualise these beliefs or the way we structure these thoughts in our finite minds or perhaps the way we express these thoughts in words.
I have found it helpful to know that God's people may have a different understanding when we use the same word, and thus it is often good for us to find out what each other means when we appear to have a difference of opinions. The discussion has helped me to recognise my deficient/shallow understanding of a particular doctrine and the need to be more precise/searching in the study of God's word. It just amazes me how God's word can be understood to different levels/depths. If we have not discussed, I would have remained at that shallow level!
I thank you again for your inputs. And I think Pastor Lau's suggestion to set up a discussion list at yahoo.com is a very good suggestion. I wonder if the fraternal would like to deliberate on that suggestion, but please do open that platform of discussion to the "non-fraternal" people like me. Looking forward to the opportunity to learn God's word together.
Yours in the bond of our Blessed Saviour,