Different Thoughts on the Use of Means in Bringing God’s People to Understanding

What Samuel Eyles Pierce thought of the present condition of Gospel Ministers

“I WOULD not say of every thing I deliver, this is as true as God is true. The apostles could. I am not an ambassador for Christ. I have no immediate message or commission from Him; nor do I believe any one man in the whole church of Christ, throughout the whole world hath. The ministers of our Lord Jesus Christ now, receive what they receive concerning the truths of the everlasting gospel, not immediately from Christ; they receive it mediately: some from the preaching of men: some from the word of God: some from conversing with saints: some from the writings of such, who may be justly esteemed as fathers in Christ: some by meditation and prayer: and some by the Holy Spirit’s divine light and instruction: so that we all receive light and knowledge one from another.  

We may be unwilling to acknowledge it: yet this is the truth of it: therefore none of the ministers of Christ, see so clearly into all truth, as to be uniformly of one and the same judgment: for instance, the doctrine of the Trinity is essential to salvation; without it we cannot speak of the Father’s everlasting love to the persons of his Elect, whom he chose in Christ before the foundation of tho world: nor of the Person of Christ, set up from everlasting, to be God-Man, the Head, Mediator, and Saviour of his church and people: nor of the Personality of the Holy Ghost, and his interest and concern with the Father and the Son in the everlasting covenant. Yet this great and fundamental truth, into the belief of which real believers in Christ, are baptized; saints of the greatest degree, although they most cordially believe the truth of the doctrine, do not state it alike. Mr. Romaine and Dr. Gill, whilst they most heartily believed in the Three in Jehovah, yet in their statement of the same they were quite different: why, beloved, had they been both infallibly taught by the Holy Ghost, they would not have differed one hair in expressing themselves on this most sublime subject; yet they were both great men of God, and the Spirit of the living God dwelt in them. It might have been said of them, But ye have an unction from the Holy One and ye know all things. What I have said, is with a design to shew that there is no man on the earth, in any of the churches of the saints, perfect in knowledge. 

Samuel Eyles Pierce 


 

My Views on the Above

Although I understand the intent of this article and agree with the essence of it, I feel the need to make some comments concerning it. I fully agree with Mr. Pierce that God does use means to bring His people to truth; we see this precept clearly in the following passages:  

I Corinthians 12:27 Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular. 28 And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.  

Ephesians 4:11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: 14 That we [henceforth] be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, [and] cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; 15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, [even] Christ:  

However, I take issue with his use of the phrase “some by the Holy Spirit’s divine light and instruction” — in particular, the use of that word… some. I believe that if a child of God were to, by God’s grace, think clearly, fully, and deeply on these matters, he or she would have to confess that though mediate means are used, the Spirit of God does indeed teach us directly (immediately) albeit through those means. In other words, all true knowledge and understanding, though it comes from human sources, must be derived from the Holy Spirit’s divine light and instruction – not just some.  

Please think of it this way: What child of God hasn’t experienced a time when they encountered a truth (right doctrine) and believed it intellectually, and yet at some point God has brought that truth to their hearts with such power and might that they had to confess that they really never knew that truth at all (at least not in comparison). We can learn many things by listening to faithful sermons, reading the works of godly men, participating in Bible studies, etc., but often our learning is after the flesh in these things (one more novel peace of information to discuss and puff ourselves up over). This will always be the case unless that which we learn is mixed with a God-wrought, experimentally felt, faith in, and love for the truth being taught.  

Thus, when the Spirit of God applies what we read and hear to our hearts, and does so in that quickening manner according to His word (not quickening in the sense of regeneration but in that sense wherein the regenerate soul experiences a renewed ferverency, joy, and zeal towards God and His word – Psalm 119:25, 37), we go beyond mere mental assent into the realm of power, life application, and true spiritual edification. 

John 6:45 declares “It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me.” God the Father is the giver of every good and perfect gift (James 1:17), this includes spiritual eyes to see, ears to hear, knowledge, wisdom, and understanding. He alones makes us to differ from those who lack these things (both intellectually and experimentally – I Corinthians 4:7). He imparts unto us God the Holy Spirit to bring His body into all truth (John 16:13). Thus, the individual believer is taught of God the Father, through God the Holy Spirit, as we are are found in Christ Jesus our Lord — and in that Way are we led in right paths — even the paths of righteousness (Proverbs 4:11).   

Finally, let us not think that sameness of word or exactness in words is evidence of being taught of God (as Mr. Pierce appears to suggest – lest I am misinterpreting him); many of God’s people in the Bible taught the same essential truths, albeit using different words and different phrases throughout. Duplicating the wording of others is not what we ought to look to for evidence that we are being taught of God; instead, the evidence is the oneness in message, theme, and purpose (amongst other things) as we profess and confess Christ and His Doctrine in Spirit and in Truth (and as we experientially grow therein throughout our journey in this life – whether it be through plains, mountains, and valleys, and whatever other paths through which the Lord ordained that we should travel).

Sincerely,

Curt Wildy 

 

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