Will All Of The Elect Hear and Believe the Gospel? (Part One)

Will All Of The Elect
Hear and Believe the Gospel?

Part One

by Curt Wildy

Introduction

There are many amongst those who call themselves Primitive Baptists (Old Baptists or Old School Baptists) who believe that God regenerates multitudes of His elect, but never converts them. They believe that there are large numbers of elect sinners whom God has not ordained to hear and/or believe the Gospel (preached or read). These professors argue that God is absolutely sovereign and that He does not regenerate through means – both of which I would agree with. However, they add that God does not need or use the Gospel proclamation to eternally save His people — this is grave error as I aim to discuss below.  These Primitive Baptists will claim to believe in election, predestination, total depravity, righteousness imputed, eternal vital union, experimental theology, and other key doctrines that Christians have been given faith, by God, to both believe in and stand fast in. Yet by over-emphasising their corrupted views of the sovereignty of God and the immediate work of the Holy Spirit in regeneration (to the exclusion of the rest of His Holy Word), they prove themselves to be not just mistaken, but utterly shipwrecked in the faith. I can say this with all clearness of conscience because those who hold to this stance actively speak spiritual peace where there is no peace and bid Godspeed to those who remain the very enemies of God (in their denial of Him and His Gospel). Not only do they hold that large numbers of active Arminians and Sacramentalists are nonetheless regenerate, but they believe that amongst the Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Animists, etc. there are those who, though never hearing the Gospel, are nonetheless born again and ‘working righteousness.’

What makes the situation so egregious is that the Primitive Baptists were once a very faithful association of godly congregations. The Primitive Baptists can trace their origins back to the Particular Baptists of England and in the eighteen hundreds (1800’s) many of the Primitive Baptists had close fellowship with those amongst the Strict Baptists of England (who also stem directly from the Particular Baptists).  Unfortunately, this Regeneration Without Gospel Conversion heresy, coupled with the rapid spread of the Conditional Time Salvation heresy (not to mention the abysmal stance that many of them took on the issues of slavery and race relations — even amongst brethren), evidences just how far they have fallen in such a relatively short period of time.

Speaking of time, they will often claim that their point of view on regeneracy without conversion and on conditional time salvation (the two heresies go hand-in-hand) were the positions of the earliest Baptists; however, this does not appear to be true at all. The earliest Baptist confession that I could find touching the matter was the Somerset Confession of 1656. In this confession, the full title being: A Confession of the Faith of Several Churches of Christ In the County of Somerset, and of some Churches in the Counties neer adjacent, the authors had this to say on the matter (emphasis added):

XIX.

THAT the Spirit is administered by or through the word of faith preached (Gal. 3:2) which word was first declared by the Lord himself, and was confirmed by them that heard him (Heb. 2:3.), which word is called the gospel of God’s grace (Acts 20:24.), the word of reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:19.), the sword of the Spirit (Eph. 6:17.), the weapon of a Christian (2 Cor. 10:4.); a faithful (Rev. 22:6.), quick, powerful (Heb. 4:12.), plain (Prov. 8: 9.), comfortable (Rom. 15:4.), pure (Ps. 12:6.), right, true (Ps. 33:4.), sound (Tit. 2:8.), and wholesome word (I Tim. 6:3.).

XX.

THAT this spirit of Christ, being administer’d by the word of faith, worketh in us faith in Christ (John 3: 5; I Pet. 1:22 Acts 16:14; Gal. 5:22.) by virtue of which we come to receive our sonship (John 1:12; Gal. 3:26.), and is further administer’d unto us through faith in the promises of God (Eph. 1:13; Acts 2:38, 39; Acts 1:4.), waiting on him in those ways and means that he hath appointed in his word (John 14:15, 16, 17; Luke 11:9, 13.), this faith being the ground of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen (Heb. 11:1.).

Another example is the London Baptist Confession of Faith 1646 (second edition) signed by such notable early Particular Baptists as William Kiffin, Thomas Patience, Samuel Richardson, and Hanserd Knollys. In it they declare (emphasis added):

XXIV.

Faith is ordinarily (Rom. x. 17 ; 1 Cor. i. 28) begotten by the preaching of the gospel, or word of Christ, without respect to (Rom. ix. 16) any power or agency in the creature; but it being wholly (Ezek. xvi. 16; Rom. iii. 12) passive, and dead in trespasses and sins, doth believe and is converted by no less (Rom. i. 16; Ephes. i. 19; Col. ii. 12) power than that which raised Christ from the dead.

Note that they so closely yoke regeneration and conversion that when discussing faith (which is usually ascribed to the conversion aspect of salvation) they actually quote verses related to regeneration (spiritual resurrection). This is clear in their inclusion of both Colossians 2:12 Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with [him] through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead and Ephesians 1:19 And what [is] the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, 20 Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set [him] at his own right hand in the heavenly [places]

Though these confessions of men are of no real matter (given that we have the Bible to which we can refer), for historic purposes it is interesting to note that such early confessions clearly reject the position of these Primitive Baptists. 

Heretical Samplings

Before I continue on to further describe their Regeneration Without Gospel Conversion error and their reasoning behind it, please consider the following examples of their views on this matter (emphasis added):

Alabama: Excerpt from An Open Door: The First Primitive Baptist Church of Tanzania by Sam Bryant of the Vestavia PBC in Birmingham, Alabama (speaking of his Brother Obey, published on October 12, 2006 – http://www.vestaviapbc.org/joomla/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=10&Itemid=13):

He said his heart’s desire and prayer to God for Tanzania was that they might be saved from ignorance of the truth of salvation by grace alone! He could bear record that many in his homeland, even among the Muslims, showed evidence that they were children of God because they were bearing the fruits of the Spirit. He could see they had a zeal of God, even as he had possessed, but not according to knowledge. He was so happy to believe that many of his African ancestors would be in Heaven even though they were never blessed to hear the gospel and know the truth in this life!! The missionaries who had gone to Tanzania had taught them that all who had not heard the gospel were lost. That meant that whole generations of his ancestors were in hell. Brother Obey believed that himself until he came to the Primitive Baptist church.

Georgia: Excerpt from How one is Born Again (revised) by Tom Hagler, Jr., of Augusta Old Line Primitive Church, published on  September 21, 2006 – http://www.basicbibledoctrines.com/downloads/Born_Again.pdf

Jesus has power over all flesh, so He could save everyone. However, this verse says Jesus limits eternal salvation to those the Father gave Him to save. This happens to be a very large number, as given in Revelation 5:9 and 7:9. Those Jesus saves include those who die as infants (it is the position of the writer that the non-elect do not die young…see more on this below), or those elect who have a mental deficiency, or the elect who live in a remote place and never hear the gospel preached. It also includes those of the elect of God who hear the gospel preached, but reject it for one reason or another.

Mississippi: Excerpt from Extent of the Gospel by David Pyles (son of Sonny Pyles who also holds to this error); David leads the Grace Primitive Baptist Church, in Pearl, Mississippi.

Right or wrong, scriptural or unscriptural, it is verifiable fact that practically all Primitive Baptists allow the possibility that some elect will never be brought to a complete belief of the true gospel in this life. I hope that my position and defense will be a fair and respectable representation of common Primitive Baptist views…. The world we observe is not consistent with the doctrine asserting that God has ordained all the elect to hear the gospel. Why are so many of God’s people hearing a false gospel? If the providence of God brings the gospel to all the elect, then why is it a perverted gospel in more cases than not? Shall we say that it is the providence of God that has exposed modern multitudes to the corruptions of Arminianism? I suppose that of all heresies considered in the scriptures, the heresy of the Galatians was as near to modern Arminianism as any…. There is no doubt that Almighty God has the ability to direct gospel preachers to all of his elect, but the evidence does not support the claim that He has purposed to do so in time.

North Carolina: Excerpts from Will All The Elect Of God Hear And Obey The Gospel” published by the Mountain Home PBC of Asheville, NC,  – http://www.mountainhomepbc.com/media/Writings/TheElectandtheGospel.doc – on 2/17/2007; they are currently led by Kerry Lathrop).

So then we see that there is only one true gospel.  This conclusion will still lead us into error if we say that all of the Elect will hear the gospel.  We, the old Baptist, would have to conclude that we have the gospel.  And if so, then it would only stand to reason that heaven is going to be pretty empty, for there are not many people that hear that gospel.  But Paul tells us that Christ died for many…To move the ancient landmarks that Christ and his apostles have set in the gospel is to risk loosing all the blessings that come from the gospel.  If all the elect will hear the gospel and obey the gospel then time salvation is wrong, and perseverance is right.  Heaven will only have a few and hell will have the “many”.  These thoughts I cannot hold.   

Ohio: Excerpt from Questions Answered by Lasserre Bradley, Jr. (leader of the Cincinnati Primitive Baptist Church, Cincinnati, Ohio) as published in the “Baptist Witness,” December 2003, Vol. 52, No. 10.

Concerning the evangelization of the elect, I understand the Scriptures to teach that all who hear the gospel and sincerely believe it give evidence of being God’s elect. The elect of God are born again by the direct work of God through the immediate operation of the Holy Spirit. Jesus tells us, in John chapter 10, that all of his sheep hear, know, and follow Him. However, these facts do not imply that all who are deprived of hearing the gospel are of the non-elect. The experience of Cornelius in Acts chapter 10, for example, forever puts to rest the idea that God is limited by men in His ability to reach or to teach His children. Hence, it does not follow that infants, mentally challenged persons, and all unevangelized persons are damned.

Tennessee: Excerpts from The Extent of the Gospel by Zack M. Guess of the Grace Chapel PBC in Memphis Tennessee (published on April 9, 2003 – http://www.gcpbc.org/documents/TheExtentoftheGospel.doc)

I have been asked to give my view as to whether all the elect family of God will hear the gospel preached by a preacher. I do not believe that all the elect will hear the gospel. I have never believed this; I have never taught this; I have never written this. Anyone who says that I have ever taught or believed this is either misinformed or is dishonestly spreading misinformation…. While I do not believe that each and every one of the elect family of God will hear and believe the gospel, I want to preach that glorious message to as many as the dear Lord directs me to. — Zack M. Guess, Memphis, Tennessee, April 9, 2003

Texas: Excerpts from CC Morris’ work titled “Regeneration Without Means” (published in The Remnant, September-October, 2000 / Volume 14, No. 5, http://www.the-remnant.com/014-SO00.pdf)

Whole continents were left for centuries without exposure to the Missionary scheme of salvation. Certainly He neither loved any of those people nor desired to have any of them born into His heavenly kingdom, if gospel regeneration were true. Must we then conclude that the Most High God had no children among the Jews or the Gentiles until He made some Bible verses for men to work with? Shall we also presume God cannot now regenerate coolies and slaves in the hinterlands of Communist China because we can’t get a Bible and a missionary to them? Shall we suppose that God never had an elect vessel of mercy among the aborigines before a preacher arrived with Bible in tow? (published in The Remnant, July – August, 2000 / Volume 14, No. 4 – http://www.the-remnant.com/013-JA00.pdf)

The saints are not to judge any person as being “unsaved” or “lost” (as the Arminians and the gospel regenerationists do) just because he is “a foreigner” who has never heard the gospel preached in its purity. Peter told Cornelius, “Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: but in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him (verses 34-35).” Note well that:(1) In every nation there are at present those who fear God and work righteousness. Must religionists be so self-satisfied as to think that, until they come along and teach them how, no one else in all the world can fear God and work true righteousness? They who fear God and work righteousness are not just in nations which have been blessed with the gospel ministry…. (b) the Holy Spirit effectively applies regeneration and salvation to them in His own good time, regardless of where they are; and (c) He does so when He so wills, in spite of the irrelevancy of whether or not the gospel or good news of their salvation has been preached to them. (published in The Remnant, September-October, 2000 / Volume 14, No. 5, http://www.the-remnant.com/014-SO00.pdf)

Sadly, I could go on with such examples; this is but a very small sampling of the number of Primitive Baptist churches throughout my own state of Georgia, throughout this nation, and throughout the world that make the Gospel virtually worthless as it pertains to the eternal salvation of sinners. If anyone challenges this, one need only Google the matter to see how extensive this heresy really is amongst the Primitive Baptists.

Immediate Regeneration

Many Primitive Baptists emphasise the importance of the doctrine of immediate regeneration; speaking specifically of regeneration as opposed to the related doctrine of conversion, the essence of this doctrine is that the Holy Spirit quickens elect sinners by His own power, without the use of means or intermediaries. We see this doctrine highlighted in the following passage:

 John 3:5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and [of] the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. 8 The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.

I too believe that this doctrine is a legitimate and important one. However, I refuse to twist it to make the Bible appear to declare something that it does not. Whereas the Holy Spirit does not require the preaching of the Gospel to actually quicken, or give life to, that soul (as far as the ‘mechanics’ of it go) — nowhere in the Scripture does He ever quicken someone apart from the preaching of it. In other words, although the Spirit of God does not use the preached word as some magic wand or incantation in order to make spiritually dead sinners alive in Christ, He nonetheless makes spiritually dead sinners alive in Christ for the express purpose of stripping them of their former idolatry and causing them to hear, with ears to hear, and to believe, with a God-given faith, the Good News of Christ, His work, and His Kingdom. He regenerates with the express purpose of converting via the Gospel.

Far too many Primitive Baptists deny the above; they deny that Gospel conversion, by necessity, accompanies regeneration. They believe a person can be regenerated of God, and yet go weeks, months, years, decades, or (many even argue) all of their lives without ever hearing the Gospel and/or believing the Gospel once heard. They corrupt the truth of God’s word in claiming immediate regeneration as a basis for denying the vital importance of the Gospel preached (or witnessed) in the salvation of souls. Consider the following passage:

Ezekiel 37:1  The hand of the LORD was upon me, and carried me out in the spirit of the LORD, and set me down in the midst of the valley which [was] full of bones, 2 And caused me to pass by them round about: and, behold, [there were] very many in the open valley; and, lo, [they were] very dry. 3 And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord GOD, thou knowest. 4 Again he said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the LORD. 5 Thus saith the Lord GOD unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live: 6 And I will lay sinews upon you, and will bring up flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and ye shall live; and ye shall know that I [am] the LORD.  7 So I prophesied as I was commanded: and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold a shaking, and the bones came together, bone to his bone. 8 And when I beheld, lo, the sinews and the flesh came up upon them, and the skin covered them above: but [there was] no breath in them. 9 Then said he unto me, Prophesy unto the wind, prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live. 10 So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army. 11 Then he said unto me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel: behold, they say, Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost: we are cut off for our parts. 12 Therefore prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. 13 And ye shall know that I [am] the LORD, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves, 14 And shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the LORD have spoken [it], and performed [it], saith the LORD.

The word breath in verse 9 is the Hebrew word ruwach (roo’- akh, Strong’s #07307) and it is translated 232 times in the AV/KJV as either Spirit or spirit (compared to 92 times as wind and 27 times as breath). The first use of ruwach in the Bible reads as follows:

Genesis 1:2 And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness [was] upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit (ruwach) of God moved upon the face of the waters.

It could very well be that the four winds refer to the breath of life in general; however, many (including myself) see its ultimate fulfillment in the Spirit of God. When a preacher or witness of the truth declares the Gospel, they do so with the mindset that their words will be futile unless the Spirit of God comes into the hearer (indwells them), causes them to live (spiritually resurrects or raises them) so that they can stand as another soldier in the Lord of Host’s exceeding great army.

Notice that in Ezekiel 37:9-10, although the wind (Spirit) caused the slain to live, He did not do so in a vacuum. It is clear that a witness, a prophet, was involved in the overall scenario — for God declares that the prophet prophesied unto the wind (Spirit), saying to it, “Thus saith the Lord GOD; Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain.” This is essentially what every faithful witness prophesies when God has ordained that, through their witness, the hearer will hear and believe. It is true that we do not dictate to the Holy Spirit when He should breathe life into a sin-slain soul, but whenever we witness to such a one, by God’s grace, we figuratively prophesy unto the Spirit as Ezekiel did.  This is not regeneration by the use of means or intermediary, nor is it Gospel regeneration as some like to call it. However, it is the Spirit of God working in conjunction with this God-ordained witnessing of the Truth to lead that person into Gospel faith and repentance (spiritual conversion) once quickened. Thus, the fact that regeneration is by the Spirit of God without means or intermediary does not mean that one can disassociated regeneration from conversion when, in the Bible, the two are firmly yoked together (as we will discuss further in the Common Objections section in Part Two, Lord willing).  Likewise, just because it is true that regeneration must precede conversion (only a regenerate soul can be truly converted), it does not mean that the Bible recognizes a period of weeks, months, years, decades, or lifetimes wherein the regenerate soul continues to hold to false gospels and other false religions. Quickening precedes, but Gospel conversion surely thereafter follows. No quickened soul continues to believe in salvation by the will of man and dead works of the law; upon regeneration they are stripped from Arminian, Semi-Pelagian, or any other such will-worshipping notions.

Even in John 3:8 wherein we read that “The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit;” we see that in the context of that discussion, there was a faithful witnessing. Jesus Himself was witnessing to Nicodemus, and in the context of witnessing He declares the need to be born again via the Spirit. There is nothing in this passage to suggest that absent a witness, the Spirit regenerates. Moreover, there is nothing in this passage to suggest that once regenerated, the Spirit leaves the quickened soul unconverted, unaware of (or unsubmitted to) the Gospel. In fact, just the opposite is true; we read in John 18:8 that when the Spirit of God indwells quickened souls, He reproves them of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:: “9 Of sin, because they believe not on [Christ;] 10 Of righteousness, because [He] has gone [risen, righteous and justified to His] Father [and the elect as well, in Him and as Him], and we see [Him] no more [with our carnal eyes for He is seated, victorious, on the right hand of the Father]; 11 Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged. We also read in verse 13 that when the Spirit comes to the saint whom He quickens, He guides [them] into all truth — not the ‘truth’ of Arminianism which is nothing short of a lie, not the ‘to one degree or another truth’ of many of these Primitive Baptists, but unto the Truth which is fully and completely in Christ and His Gospel.

In Ezekiel 37 God declares: “13 And ye shall know that I [am] the LORD, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves, 14 And shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the LORD have spoken [it], and performed [it], saith the LORD;” yet He starts off this declaration with “12 Therefore prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD….” God declares the nature of the work of the Holy Spirit in granting life to the spiritually dead, but this declaration is associated with the prophesying (preaching or witnessing) of His servants. Whether it be through a live witness, written material, a recording, or (though in rarer instances perhaps) through the Bible itself, God brings the Gospel message to those whom He is quickening.

I checked John Gill’s commentary to see what he had to say (given that he is also respected by many amongst the Primitive Baptists) and Dr. Gill stated the following:

Then said he unto me, prophesy unto the wind,…. Before he had been prophesying to the bones, and over them; and something was done, but not to purpose, breath being wanting; wherefore he is bid to prophesy a second time, and that not to bones, but to the “wind”, afterwards rendered “breath”; and may allude to the soul or breath of man reentering the body, as at a resurrection, which causes it to live: it signifies the “spirit” {x}, for the same word is used for the wind, for breath, and for the spirit; and in the mystical sense may be applied to the Spirit of God: and if ever ministers prophesy or preach to purpose, it must be with a view to the Spirit of God, both to assist them in their work, and to make their ministrations effectual; without which, how many formal professors soever may be made, not one dead sinner will be quickened. The Syriac and Arabic versions render it, “concerning the Spirit”: and to discourse concerning the person, operations, and grace of the Spirit, is one part of the Gospel ministry, and a means of the conversion of sinners.

Prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind; ministers must not only preach, but they must pray for the Spirit to accompany the word with his power, and make it the savour of life unto life:

Concerning 1 Corinthians 1:18 (For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God), Dr. Gill goes even further and yokes the gospel proclaimed with regeneration. Although I hold to immediate regeneration, I also hold to the precept that God-wrought salvation consists of the quickening and converting of a sinner — there is no such thing as a half-way salvation. Given that quickening is immediately followed by Gospel conversion, many of old spoke of the two as one act — I believe Dr. Gill had such a view in mind when he wrote the following:

[The preaching of the cross, the Gospel] is the power of God; organically or instrumentally; it being the means of quickening them when dead in sin, of enlightening their dark minds, of unstopping their deaf ears, of softening their hard hearts, and of enemies making them friends to God, Christ, and his people: and it is likewise so declaratively, there being a wonderful display of the power of God in the ministration of it; as may be seen when observed who were the first preachers of it, men of no figure in life, of no education, illiterate mechanics, very mean and abject; into these earthen vessels were put the treasure of the Gospel, that the excellency of the power might appear to be of God, and not man; as also the doctrine they preached, a crucified Christ, disagreeable to the wisdom of men; the manner in which they spread it, not by force of arms, by carnal weapons, but spiritual ones; moreover, the opposition they met with from rabbins, philosophers, princes, kings, and emperors, and all the states and powers of the world; and yet in how short a time, maugre all opposition, did they carry the Gospel throughout the whole world, to the conversion of millions of souls, and the planting of churches everywhere; and which Gospel has continued and increased, notwithstanding the efforts of persecutors and false teachers, and all the power and artifice of men and devils; all which can be attributed to nothing else but the mighty power of God: add to this, that the Gospel is the power of God in the esteem of the saints, who know it to be so by inward experience; they have felt the power of it on their hearts; it has wrought effectually in them, and therefore they are the best judges, and are capable of giving the best account of it.

As stated, I aim to show  in the Common Objections section of Part Two that Gospel conversion always follows spiritual regeneration. Knowing those persons and passages in the Bible which many of the Primitive Baptists erroneously use to support their views, I aim to show that there are no instances in the Bible wherein God regenerates elect saints and then leaves them unconverted, clinging to false religions and gospels.   However, for now, I move on to the subject of….

Absolute sovereignty

This doctrine pertains to the fact that all things and all events are not only purposed of God from before the foundation of the world, but created, ordered and brought to fruition by Him (see The Absolute Sovereignty and Purpose of God in the Life of Men for more details). In seeking to evidence their ardent (albeit skewed) belief in the doctrine of the absolute sovereignty of God, many Primitive Baptists so twist this doctrine that they actually end up  severely limiting His sovereignty (in their own words and positions, never in actuality).

Going by the statements of their more popular leaders, the majority of Primitive Baptists would argue that ‘God is so sovereign that He can, and does, save His elect by the immediate work of the Holy Spirit, even if they never encounter a Bible, a preacher, or any other witness of the Gospel truth.’ They promote this argument as proof of their belief in His sovereignty, but esteem His actual sovereignty (as well as His might) so little that they reject the reality that the sovereign, almighty God can and does cause His truth to reach all whom He regenerates. They believe in a god who is either unwilling or unable (incapable) of ordaining the lives of men to get His word to His elect people; because their god is thus limited, they have devised a scheme wherein he either preaches directly to them or leaves them ignorant of his truth. This is not the God of the Bible as shall become even clearer as we progress.

You see, the issue really is about the sovereignty of God, but not as they make it out to be. The truth is that they utterly hate the true sovereignty of God — they hate His sovereignty both in the salvation of men and the reprobation of them. They hate the fact that though the elect are a multitude that no man can count, they are nonetheless a remnant, a chosen few, in comparison to the reprobate masses. They hate the precept that thousands upon thousands, millions even of heathen men, women, and children have perished under the wrath of God never having heard the Gospel and/or never being brought to believe, in love, and rest in the Truth of it. These Primitive Baptists despise the precept that all of those who die in Arminianism, Romanism, Mormonism, Deism, Atheism, Animism, Mohammedanism, Occultism, Buddhism, and every other form of will-worshipping, works-mongering ism that exists are eternally lost. They hate the reality that there will be more in Hell, more who traversed that wide gate and broad way that leadeth to destruction, than in Heaven; they ultimately deny the fact that He who is a Just God and a Saviour, both Just and Justifier, can send countless millions of rebellious sinners to Hell who “never had an opportunity to hear the Gospel” or who never decided to believe it due to their own failures, or that of the witnesses proclaiming the Truth. Not only do they implicitly (and often explicitly) reject the justice of God in damning so many to Hell due to their own sins, but they perceive the true God to be a failure unless the balance (numbers-wise) is tipped in favor of the majority of mankind going to Heaven.

Direct Revelation, or Gospel Preaching, From God

Many Primitive Baptists believe that God can, and does, still bring direct revelation to people; the following from David Pyles speaks for the views of many of them (emphasis added):

First, the definition of “gospel.” We mean by this the true gospel as preached by man. We allow that God has every right and all ability to preach the gospel himself without the aid of man. According to Galatians 3:8, God preached to gospel to Abraham long before there ever was an apostle, elder, or missionary. It is presumptuous for us to take any position asserting that only man can preach the gospel. Now, there will be different opinions about how much information is conveyed by direct revelation from God, or as to how this revelation will manifest itself in the lives of those affected, and it is certain that God directly reveals more to some than to others; however, I believe I speak for all Primitive Baptists by saying that God will reveal Himself, in His own chosen way and degree, to all of His elect people here in time. In this sense it could be said that the gospel will reach all of the elect.

In our day, God reveals Himself to His people through His holy word, the Bible. God speaks to us, communicates to us, through His  holy word and only through His holy word. It is true that God can teach us many lessons through nature, adversities, and the numerous other events and experiences in our lives — but now, spiritual revelation from God to man is always through, and in light of, Scripture — for  the words that God speaks unto His people through His word, [they] are spirit, and [they] are life (John 6:63). Yet these Primitive Baptists love to make arguments like “God preached the gospel to Abraham long before there ever was an apostle, elder, or missionary” to show that what God did for men before the completion of the Bible, He still does for men today. They argue that if God brought direct revelation to Noah, Moses, Abraham, Jeremiah, Paul, etc., then he can surely, and does surely, do so for the heathen elect in remote regions of the world (where there is no witness through human means).

Their reasoning is flawed, God is not bringing additional revelation to His people today; God speaks to His elect through His holy word the Bible (as it is read, but also very much through the means of its proclamation via faithful preaching and witnessing). It is true that when the Lord speaks to His quickened people through His word, He does so in a way that the reprobate can never experience or imagine; He does so by directly communicating and applying His word, via the Holy Spirit, to their hearts and minds. God’s words are spirit, they are living when He applies them; He quickens us experientially with them (Psalm 119:25) and through the spiritual hearing of it, He freely gives us faith, peace, repentance, and strength. The dead in spirit will never have the letter of the word do anything unto their benefit because God does not spiritually speak to them through it; it is a killing letter to them and not a living, spiritual word. Whenever God teaches us truth through scripture and gives us the grace to believe it, it is like Jesus saying directly to us “Blessed art thou, [enter the name of any quickened soul]: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. (Matthew 16:17).

However, this direct, spiritual application of the word of God is not the bringing of new, extra-biblical revelation; spiritually, it is the making use of the biblical truths being proclaimed via faithful witnesses and materials as described above. We need to be very clear on this, God is not bringing direct revelation of any spiritual nature outside of the Bible. There are no additional books to be added to the Bible, words to be added, or anything else of that nature (no heavenly angelic visitations, physical manifestations or appearances of God, inspired dreams or visions from God, audible voices or writings on the wall — there is nothing like that today). In Revelation 22:18 He declares that if any man shall add unto the words of the prophecy of this book (not the Book of Revelations only, but the entirety of scripture), then God shall add unto him the plagues that are written therein. In other words, if any person claims that God is bringing them direct revelation outside of what is written in the Bible, they evidence themselves to be under the wrath of God.

God brought direct, divine revelation to His people (Enoch, Abraham, Moses, Paul) during the Old Testament era and the early New Testament era because the Bible was not yet complete. However, now that the Bible is complete, we have a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts (II Peter 1:19). Peter stated that we have this more sure word of prophesy right after stating how he and the apostles with him received direct revelation of a wondrous kind, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased – this voice which came from heaven they heard, when they were with him in the holy mount. God clearly puts forth the written word of the Bible as being superior to the direct revelation experienced even by the Apostles. When this more sure word was finalised with Revelation 22, God put an end to such revelation (until the return of the Lord, there will be no further extra-biblical communication).

The Primitive Baptists will no doubt argue that they are not adding to the word of God when God brings this direct revelation. Yet remember that David Pyles, and those like him, believe that “….God has every right and all ability to preach the gospel himself without the aid of man. According to Galatians 3:8, God preached the gospel to Abraham long before there ever was an apostle, elder, or missionary. It is presumptuous for us to take any position asserting that only man can preach the gospel….God will reveal Himself, in His own chosen way and degree, to all of His elect people here in time. In this sense it could be said that the gospel will reach all of the elect.”

Thus, according to their own testimony,when this gospel is allegedly preached via divine (extra-biblical) means to those without the Bible and without a faithful witness, that gospel preached is clearly a form of communication – one that is outside of (and thus in addition to) the Bible. They may argue that no words are actually heard audibly, but only a spiritual feeling or hungering is produced; however, this production of feelings clearly is not Gospel preaching of any kind (though, by God’s grace, true Gospel preaching will stir-up godly feelings in a quickened soul). They may argue that Revelations 22:18 is not violated because what ‘god’ preaches directly to the unconverted regenerate is in complete harmony with, and never contradicts, the Bible. The problem with this argument is that Revelations 22:18 does not state ‘If any man shall add unto these things anything that contradicts the word of God, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book’ — instead it declares ” If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book.” Even spirits of divination (Acts 16:16-18) can proclaim true things, but salvation comes when God quickens a saint and causes them to believe the truth being proclaimed by a faithful witness, preacher, recording, or piece of Gospel literature.

Many of them will refer to that still small voice mentioned in 1 Kings 19:12; however, from their own collective testimony, that voice (as they portray it) often fails to cause the unconverted but regenerate soul to really know the True Christ and the true Gospel in this life. They may argue that God reveals something of Christ in these unconverted regenerates, but if they can remain Pagans, Muslims, etc., then clearly this voice often never leads them to know the meaning and import of the name Jesus (for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved) or the titles Christ and the Son of God (or whatever the equivalents would be in their native languages). Likewise, this voice of theirs may never lead such a one to know of, or believe in, the victorious substitutionary work of the Lord Jesus on the cross.

So according to this heretical position, if a regenerate saint can go all, most, or a good portion of their quickened lives completely ignorant of the Gospel (or completely unsubmitted to it), what do they experience after regeneration?  If they do not know the Gospel, or submit to it by God’s grace, what does this regeneration do for them besides leaving them in ignorance? Why it does a lot according to their view. Firstly, it makes them real holy (as religious men view holiness). Secondly, they will be moved to pray to ‘god’ ignorantly (whether it be in the name of their current ‘god,’ e.g. Zeus, or in the name of the otherwise namesless ‘one god‘ or  ‘unknown god. Thirdly, they will start doing “real works of righteousness” (“not the supposed works of righteousness like the Pharisees” they say). To sum it up, they argue (implicitly or explicitly) that multitudes of the so-called elect can remain Muslims, Talmudists, Arminians, whatever, so long as they evidence that they believe in… something…, clean up their character and conduct, and start doing some good works. Talk about giving false hope and refuge to the enemies of God; this is a wretched doctrine indeed. Now if you think I am going to far in attributing such beliefs to these people, research it yourself, I am sure my words will be vindicated. We need only reread the words of Sam Bryant, who wrote that his friend Obey rejoiced in that he could “bear record that many in his homeland, even among the Muslims, showed evidence that they were children of God because they were bearing the fruits of the Spirit.”  What utter nonsense; what utter and complete foolishness in the name of religion. What a complete denial of Christ, His Gospel, and the Godhead of whom He is the fulness bodily.

Mark 16 clearly states that Jesus declared 15 Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. The words that the Apostles preached audibly, were the words of the Gospel which the hearers heard physically. They heard it, it entered their hearts and minds, it was something that intellectually at least, they could accept or reject. They could reject it unto their everlasting damnation, but they could also accept it with the same carnal acceptance that many formalists / dead-letterists accept such things (also unto their eternal damnation — see Mark 4:16-19). However, for a person to truly believe the Gospel, God must first quicken them and cause them to believe; He must grant them that divine gift of faith and repentance which causes them to believe. He must work in them effectually so that they can believe. And what is it that they are caused to believe? They are caused to believe that true Gospel being preached or witnessed to them via human means. They believe that the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of God of whom Abraham said “God will provide Himself a lamb” is the sinner’s victorious Substitute who, through His suffering and dying in their stead (having borne their sins in His own body on the tree), atoned for them and redeemed them (obtaining and guaranteeing all aspects of eternal salvation for them). They do not believe some “to one degree or another” gospel; they believe the actual Gospel — not in a few weeks, or a few months, or a few years, or a few decades, or ‘not until eternity’ but they believe it upon regeneration because the Holy Spirit of God converts His own; He does not leave them to abide in a false gospel (or other false religion) after giving them life — for Christ is their Wisdom and Life; He is their Truth; He will not abide in them to lead them into a lie, nor will He enable them to remain in one; He delivers His saints from such falsehood.

Continue to Part Two

  3 comments for “Will All Of The Elect Hear and Believe the Gospel? (Part One)

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