Do You Worship A Counterfeit Christ?

Do You Worship a Counterfeit Christ?

The following chart compares the True Christ, the Christ of the Bible, to the many counterfeits that are promoted in the vast majority of churches in our day. The number of congregations faithfully worshiping the biblical Christ is exceedingly small, representing but a remnant, a chosen few that God has seen fit to keep faithful by His sovereign grace and mercy. Sadly, the vast majority of churches proclaim from their pulpits a christ that is pleasing only to the carnal flesh and corrupted will of men — and their hearers love to have it so. But for His own, the Lord will tear down their false refuges and turn them unto Him — the only True Refuge and Safe Haven.

Why I reject the use of the term"Double Predestination"

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Why I Reject “Double Predestination”

Double predestination is the term used by many within “High Calvinistic” circles to describe the notion that just as God predestinated the elect unto salvation, He also predestinated the reprobate unto damnation. In light of the relevant scriptural terms (see appendix two below), it is my belief that this doctrine  is unbiblical. Moreover, it is my belief that this doctrine undermines the value and significance of the true doctrine of predestination as  it relates to the people of God. I believe that the double predestination error stems from a misunderstanding of how God uses the terms purpose and predestination when dealing with mankind. I believe that what the proponents of double predestination are doing is confusing the former with the latter. God does indeed use the words purpose and predestination in a synonymous, or at least a near synonymous, way as it pertains to things and events. We see this in the following two passages: 

Acts 4:27 For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, 28 For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before (proorizō) to be done. 

I Corinthians 2:6 Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought: 7 But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before (proorizō) the world unto our glory: 8 Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known [it], they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 

However, when it comes to men, particularly in light of their state before God, the words purpose and predestination — are not — synonymous. We see this as well, in the following passages: 

Romans 8:29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate (proorizō) to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom he did predestinate (proorizō), them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. 

Ephesians 1:5 Having predestinated (proorizō) us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, 11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated (proorizō) according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: 

Pertaining to man, we can look at the distinction between purpose and predestination in this wise: part of the eternal purpose of God is the predestination of His chosen people. God purposed the creation of man; He purposed their fall in Adam; He purposed to show forth His power and wrath upon the reprobate in their eternal damnation, and He purposed the election and predestination of His chosen people unto their salvation (based solely upon the Person, Work, and Righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ). 

The dictionary (merriam-webster.com) defines purpose as (1) a : something set up as an object or end to be attained : intention b : resolution, determination; (2) : a subject under discussion or an action in course of execution. Many use it as a synonym for intent. To do something on purpose is to do it with intent. The purpose behind something is the intent behind it. However, the dictionary should not be our guide for interpreting biblical words; the Bible itself must determine how we interpret and use the terms found therein. When God uses the word purpose, there is a much greater meaning than simply intent or objective (in their dictionary senses). In the New Testament, the primary Greek word for the verb form of  purpose stems from two other Greek words that together form the primary meaning : to set/fix from before; to set forth from before, to establish from before, to make from before, to ordain from before. In the Old Testament, the word purpose often corresponds to the counsel of God, the very mind of God. Whatever it is that God purposedintended / and set as an objective in eternity is precisely what He actually executed and performed; nothing can stand in the way of it because it is what He already established. His eternal, divine, intentions are utterly and completely fixed. God is not constrained by time, He operates both within it and outside of it; He sees the end from the beginning and what He sees is what really is for He is the great I AM. Thus, what God purposed cannot fail; for what He purposed stems directly from His immutable counsel and omnipotent might – it therefore always comes to fruition simply because it is — “The thing that hath been, it [is that] which shall be; and that which is done [is] that which shall be done: and [there is] no new [thing] under the sun. Is there [any] thing whereof it may be said, See, this [is] new? it hath been already of old time, which was before us (Ecclesiastes 1:9-10).”   

We
read in Ephesians 1:11 “…being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will…” As it pertains to men, predestination is but a part of the overall, cohesive, purpose of God – albeit a very prominent part. The purpose (i.e. the afore-establishing) comes first, it is from eternity – even before the world was. Included in that purpose is the predestination of God’s people – also from eternity. Likewise include in that eternal purpose is the creation and reprobation of the wicked for the express purpose of showing forth His wrath and power against them due to their sins. Thus, the damnation of the reprobate was set forthand established before the world was – but the reprobate were never predestinated unto damnation; I aim to explain this further below.  

Concerning purpose, I do not believe that a simple linear breakdown will do justice to the topic given that God knows all things, ordains all things, and operates both in and out of time; nonetheless, I put it to you as follows:  

  1. The counsel of God comes first (i.e. the perfect and omniscient deliberations that stem directly from the eternal mind and will of God); 
  2. That counsel is set forth and established from old (i.e. His purpose is established from everlasting to everlasting, His will be done); 
  3. That purpose has many different facets (election, predestination, reprobation, creation, the fall, incarnation, substitution, redemption, justification, sanctification, judgment, glorification, damnation, etc.); 
  4. These various facets are made manifest both in time and outside of time as God thought, purposed, decreed, and carried/carries them out. 

Be Still

Be Still

And Know That I Am God

Mr. Ian Potts
Audio sermon
The Lord’s Day – 6/27/2010
39 min | Psalm 46:10

Comment: What a comforting, encouraging sermon. This sermon not only points us to our great Refuge, but details how and why the Lord Jesus Christ is our refuge, and why we have every reason to be still and rest in Him. This sermon was brought home, powerfully, to my heart — Thank God for the sermon and the ministry.

Listen: http://www.sermonaudio.com/playpopup.asp?SID=62810441330

The Eternal and Sovereign Providence of God

For it is God who Purposes, Ordains,
and Brings All Things to Fruition

By Curt Wildy

We have before us the worst ecological disaster in American history – yet God is in control. We have protracted wars on two fronts, both with no end in sight, both with seemingly little progress being made (if there ever was progress to be made) – yet God is in control. We have threats of new wars on the horizon (namely, Iran and North Korea, a very serious recession, significant unemployment, an increasingly devalued dollar, and States of the Union facing insolvency over border-related and other issues. We also have astonishing levels of moral degradation, perversion, crime, cruelty, corruption, indifference, and we are seeing an overall retardation of the maturation of our populace — yet in all of these things, and in much, much more, God is still in control. In fact, God is in control of all things, for He has purposed and ordained all things; He works all things after the counsel of His own will (Ephesians 1:11). This is the first precept that I would like to consider in this message. 

Made Sin – The Ministry of Reconciliation

Made Sin

The Ministry of Reconciliation

Ian Potts
Audio sermon
Sunday – 7/04/2010
55 min | 2 Corinthians 5:21

For he hath made him [to be] sin for us, who knew no sin;
that we might be made the righteousness of God in him:
2 Corinthians 5:21

Comment: I’ve heard and read quite a few sermons on this subject over the past year — this is one of the most comprehensive; especially as it pertains to the need to have our sin addressed and not just our sins (you need to hear this sermon if the distinction is unclear).  Mr. Potts addressed the vital nature of reconciliation, our inability to reconcile ourselves to God, the need for a Substitute, the nature of our Blessed Substitute, and the means by which He effected a full and eternal reconciliation for His people. Nonetheless, the subject is controversial in this day; many of God’s enemies, and many confused brethren, reject the right doctrine of substitution – choosing instead to follow the errors of men.

Listen: Made Sin

Ten Experimental Waymarks

Ten Experimental Waymarks of Salvation


“How can I know if I am really saved?”

The question often arises, “how can a person know if they are truly saved?” Some may answer: “If you believe the Gospel you are truly saved,” or “if you trust in Jesus as your only hope of salvation then you are truly saved.” Although these statements are *objectively* true, they may not always help with the *subjective* troubles experienced by the true, but at times fearful, child of God. Others, in answering, may look to dead works and state something to the effect of “If you accepted Jesus into your heart then you are saved;” or “If you said the sinner’s prayer then you are saved;” or “If you made a decision for Christ and were baptized then you are saved.” Such responses are utter nonsense to the child of God and only serve to further trouble their hearts and minds (for no peace or comfort can be found in these false refuges).

Spiritual Waymarks and Their Nature

God has a faithful remnant and this remnant will both truly believe and forever persevere by the sovereign grace, mercy, and preserving hand of God. Although the Christian is to work out their own salvation with fear and trembling, making their own calling and election sure, they ought not look to self for peace and assurance. Instead, they should look to the Lord Jesus Christ (His person and His finished work) for all of the peace, comfort, and assurance they would ever need. Nevertheless, though the sun abides in the sky, the storm clouds can obscure it from our vision for a season (hiding its light and warmth from us); likewise, though assurance based on Christ alone should always be our only source of hope, God knows that His people are but weak and feeble and that our eyes will at times drift from the Sun of Righteousness (Malachi 4:2) and will focus instead on the dreary storm clouds of sin, self, and satan (all of which can obscure our personal interest in Him, experimentally, for a season).

As a result, the Bible is filled with waymarks to show forth the clear path through which God has ordained that His people must walk. Along this path, the saint will encounter the core beliefs, feelings, and experiences shared by every regenerate child of God. These shared tokens make up the divinely ordained guideposts that God has graciously provided for us (and revealed to us in His word). Though God brings His people by a way [that] they knew not, and leads them in paths that they have not known (Isaiah 42:16), these signposts are made manifest to help the saints who are in need. They are clear markers, used by God as a means to help the Christian recognize the path that all of God’s people take (to one degree or another) as they journey in the Way. Hence, the Bible is filled with things that God has written to us who believe on the name of the Son of God; that we may know that we have eternal life, and that we may believe on the name of the Son of God (I John 5:13). You see, the saints believe, yet God writes to us so that we may know experimentally that we believe (and thus know that we already have eternal life); He writes to those of us who are already believing so that we may grow in that belief (i.e. in grace and faith), be confirmed in it, and keep on believing in it – persevering until the end — all by His grace and power.

Ten Waymarks Identified

In considering these signposts, we need to keep in mind that every one of His saints is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ (according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith in Him – Romans 12:3, Ephesians 4:7). Though the following will apply to all of the saints, to what degree or intensity depends upon the measure that God has ordained for each and everyone one of us. Similarities in experience does not equate to sameness (or exactness) in experience. For some that are born of the Spirit, the wind bloweth where it listeth like a gentle breeze (John 3:7,8). For others, the wind bloweth where it listeth like a furious tempest. Somewhere in between these two extremes can be found all of the regenerate elect of God.

Also please keep in mind that I limited the number of waymarks listed to just ten; there are many others not here listed (perhaps to be added in a separate post at a later time or in separate posts for each particular waymark left untouched herein).

I. The Christian has a sight of God’s Holiness: The quickened saint will have a sight of the holiness of God; they will see the perfection in all that He says and does. They will not understand all things, nor will their carnal flesh cease to offer objections here and there – but they will know that God is utterly holy and righteous in all that He is, says, and does. They will see Him as the only One holy in and of Himself, He alone is the source of all that is good. They acknowledge concerning themselves, and their fellow-man, that there is none good but God (for He putteth no trust in his saints; yea, neither the stars nor the heavens are clean in His sight – Job 15:15, 25:5; Mark 10:18). God is of purer eyes than to behold evil and cannot look upon iniquity (Habakkuk 1:13); therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; the foolish shall not stand in His sight because He hates all of the workers of iniquity (Psalm 1:5; 5:5).

The regenerate saint will not only have an intellectual grasp of these truths, but they will have a life-changing, experiential understanding of the reality of these truths (combined with certain very real and perhaps even powerful emotions that go along with it). As they beseech the Lord for his grace and mercy, they will be able to say along with the Psalmist: “Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done [this] evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, [and] be clear when thou judgest” (Psalm 51:4).

II. The Christian has a sight of their sin: In John 9:39-41 we read: “And Jesus said, For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind. And some of the Pharisees which were with him heard these words, and said unto him, Are we blind also? Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth.”

The Christian, blind by nature just as the reprobate, has what the unsaved lack – a real God-given sense of the sinfulness of their sins. They do not see sin in its fulness, nor can they ever see it as such in this earthly life. I suspect that the heart would utterly fail in fear and disgust if God were to fully reveal to us just what we are by nature. Nonetheless, a quickened soul will experimentally feel, to one degree or another, just how burdensome, loathsome, and abominable their sins really are, both to them and in the sight of a holy God. They will not be content to admit that they sin sometimes, or that they have sin, or that they are sinners (in the general sense that the world gives mental assent to these things); instead, they will confess that they are indwelled by sin, that their sins are theirs, that there is a mass of it stemming from them, originating from their own person (as it pertains to this body of death). Thus, they will admit their blindness before God and men (and in so doing, they evidence the fact that though they were blind, they have been made to see and to keep on seeing due to the goodness of God and the grace and mercy that stems from it).

In light of the above, the Christian will wholeheartedly agree that God would be utterly righteous, just, and good to eternally damn them to the lowest pit of Hell for their transgressions (Psalm 11:5-6) were it not for the substitutionary work of Christ on their behalf . The Christian has been given eyes to see that they have sinned against a thrice-holy God (Isaiah 6:3, Revelation 4:8) and that they have done so innumerably (Job 15:16, Psalm 14:2-4). They see that they would be utterly deserving of His wrath for committing even one sin, even the least of them; they will readily confess to all that they deserve every last drop of the infinite fury of God for all of the foolish things that they have done. They will be meek before God (Matthew 5:5) seeing themselves as nothing, even worse than nothing, before an all-powerful, all-knowing, all-righteous God. As such, they can say with Eli (concerning their own selves) “It is the LORD: let him do what seemeth Him good” (I Samuel 3:18). Though the saved sinner will desire and seek earnestly after God and His mercies – nonetheless, that saved sinner will know that God is perfectly just and good to do with them what He will (i.e. to do that which seemeth good to Him concerning them – no matter how His hand is turned towards them).

Moreover, the quickened saint will see themselves as *experimentally* sinful (Luke 5:8), wretched (Romans 7:24), being both unclean and undone before God and a sight of themselves (Isaiah 6:5). They will mourn and lament over their sin (Matthew 5:4) and they will abhor themselves (Job 42:6) being loathsome in their own sight because of their iniquities and abominations (Ezekiel 36:31). God will cause them to be as one standing afar off (as they see His holiness and their natural vileness; they will not dare presumptuously intrude into the presence of God in prayer and in the assembling together of the saints as the wicked do). The Christian becomes as one who cannot lift up so much as their eyes unto heaven (due to their felt sense of shame, unworthiness, and burden in the light of divine perfection). They will strike at the very source of their sin (the natural heart) and seek earnestly that God would be a propitiation for them; hoping that He will reveal His mercies to them, in Christ, forever.

*However,* in due time, God will cause them to see that they are righteous, precious, blessed, and perfectly good in Him — for even as Christ is, so are we in this world. As has been stated recently, we must separate our subjective experiences and points of view from the objective reality that we have been made the righteousness of God, in Christ, in light of His great salvific work for us. Therefore, despite our subjective view, we are not (after the inner man upon regeneration) totally depraved, incapable of good works, desperately wicked, etc. — our flesh still is such, but our flesh, our indwelling sin, is not who we are primarily (per Romans 7). We are what God has made us in, through, and by Christ — and that is righteous! — despite our subjective “reality” to the contrary.

III. The Christian is without strength in themselves: The Christian, in seeing the wretchedness of their sins (and even of their own natural selves), and in seeing the justice and holiness of God, will feel a weight that they can neither remove nor bear. Some feel it with more intensity than others, but all of God’s people will feel this massive burden of self and the sin to some degree. Our indwelling sin becomes our worst enemy and we feel without strength, in and of ourselves, to do anything about it. We not only have a burden, but we feel ourselves to be the source of that burden; this recognition serves only to make us more heavily laden, as we struggle, labouring under the load of our own loathsomeness. We see that nothing we think, nothing we say, nothing we do, or abstain from doing will lighten the burden – let alone remove it. We see that if we are to be free of this abysmal load our freedom must be procured by someone outside of ourselves. We know emphatically that we have nothing inherent within ourselves to hope in or trust in. We see our will as fallen and corrupt, our desires as completely tainted with lust, depravity, and folly, and our resolve against these things as being utterly weak and helpless before the onslaught. As a result, we are made to be poor in spirit, Lazuruses before Dives, without riches of our own to redeem ourselves (and often scorned by those foolish enough to think that they have the wherewithal to obtain a righteousness of their own – Matthew 5:3, Isaiah 64:6, Luke 16:19-31).

Yet, in due time, Christ will reveal to us His strength. We will see that we are now ‘clean through the word which [Christ has] spoken unto [us].” We will see that we abide in Him and Him in us. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can we, except we abide in Him. He is the vine, we are the branches, we who abide in Him, and Him in us, bring forth much fruit: for without Him we can do nothing’ (see John 15:3-5). Likewise, per 2 Corinthians 12:10, when we are weak in our own strength, in our own natural selves, we are strong in Him who makes us strong by His grace. Though we will never cease to maintain that we have no strength in and of our own natural selves, we will all the more testify to the amazing strength and perseverance that is in Christ Jesus.

IV. The Christian has a felt sense of need: The regenerate have something else that the unsaved lack and that is a felt sense of need for the Lord Jesus Christ. The saints cease to be as those who say “I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing,” for they know that by nature they are but wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked (Revelations 3:17) and the weight of this realisation is upon them. The quickened soul, in seeing their natural filth, feeling their awful burden, and acutely experiencing their inability to do anything about it, turns (or, more accurately, is turned) to the Great Physician (for the Father of the Great Physician draws them to their blessed Hope and Cure). They know that Christ alone has the remedy for their sin-sick souls because they know that He alone is their Remedy. They see eternal wellness and life in His (a) Person – being fully and perfectly both God and man; (b) work – that is, in His finished work of substitution, atonement, propitiation, and redemption on the cross, and (c) righteousness – in particular, that righteousness that He established for His people as a result of His keeping the law perfectly, dying in their stead, and rising again for their justification.

V. The Christian hungers and thirsts after the Lord their Righteousness. God declares: “Blessed [are] they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled (Matthew 5:6.) However, God also declares concerning the cursed (i.e. the reprobate) that they are those who are hungry, thirsty, naked, in want of all things, under a yoke of iron (the law and its demands) and ready to be destroyed (Deuteronomy 28:48). Despite their accursed condition, the reprobate have little or no understanding (or felt sense) of their hungerings, thirstings, nakedness, bondage, etc. Whatever sense they may have is but temporal and will only lead them to destruction.

These things are not so for those who are alive in Christ; though they are already blessed with all of the spiritual blessings in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus (having been chosen in Him from before the foundation of the world as per Ephesians 1:3,4), they are nonetheless as the children of wrath by nature and feel as such experimentally. As a result of their quickening, they see their natural baseness and past transgressions in a whole new light. This light reveals their inward filth (after the flesh, after the “body of death”) and that felt sense of need results; they begin to hunger and thirst after spiritual food and drink.

It is God who generates within them that hungering and thirsting after righteousness: righteousness, firstly, in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ who is their righteousness (both legally and actually, and in whom they are being made the righteousness of God), and righteousness, secondly and experimentally, in that they desire to be free from sin, it’s presence, power, effects, and burden. The saint wants to walk uprightly before God and adorn the doctrine that they profess before men. The quickened soul hopes for an interest in Christ and seeks strength in this life to do that which is pleasing in His sight.

When time comes to an end, God declares that His people will be before His throne, serving him day and night in His temple with the Lord Jesus Christ dwelling amongst them. At that time, we shall neither hunger nor thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on us, nor any heat, for the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed us, and shall lead us unto living fountains of waters (Revelations 7:15-17). But must we wait until future glory in heaven to be fed and to receive this drink?

Not at all! It is true that in this life, we experience spiritual hunger, thirst, nakedness, buffetings from world sin, self, and satan, and doubts (I Corinthians 4:11, II Corinthians 11:27). However, even on this side of the grave our hungerings and thirstings (experimentally felt) do not accurately reflect the present reality of our blessed situation. On earth, indwelling sin and the sins of the world taint our experience of these truths; in Heaven, there will only be uninterrupted bliss with our God and Saviour. Nonetheless, the Lord Jesus is right now, Jehovah, the Bread of life: and all that cometh to Him shall never hunger; and all that believeth on Him shall never thirst (John 6:35). Even if our subjective experiences, for seasons here and there, may seem to dictate otherwise — the fact remains that here, God already gives us that spiritual Bread from heaven for our hunger, and brings forth living water for us out of Christ, our Rock, for our thirst (Nehemiah 9:15). We must never confuse our subjective experience with the objective reality that is found in the Lord Jesus Christ. Though we wander in the wilderness in a solitary way and find no (earthly) city to dwell in, and though we sometimes feel so hungry and thirsty that our souls faint in us, the LORD causes us to cry unto Him in our trouble, and He delivers us out of our distresses. He satisfies our longing souls, fills our hunger with goodness (Psalm 107:4-9), feeds us in the Way (our pastures being in all high places), and leads us and guides us by the springs of water (Isaiah 49:7-10). Therefore, with joy shall His people draw water out of the wells of salvation (Isaiah 12:3); they shall eat and be satisfied, giving praise and thanksgiving unto the Lord.

VI. The Christian seeks (having first been sought) and finds: Not being content with merely feeling a need, and hungering and thirsting after that need, God’s people actively seek the fulfillment of their need – they seek the Lord Jesus Christ. God’s people are seekers. We do not seek Him as a result of our own natural will, inclination, or desire. We have no natural (felt) need for Him, no natural love for Him, nor natural interest in Him; by nature, we ask not for Him, nor do we seek Him. Thrice God has declared that there is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after Him (Romans 3:11, Psalm 14:2-4, Psalm 53:2-4). Having a sight of their sin, and their natural weakness and proclivity to do ill, many of God’s people doubt that they have ever sough the Lord in Truth. Sin (in self), Satan, and the world may conspire and cause all sorts of doubts and fears to arise.

The Godly seeker may ask as a result: “Am I really seeking God or just deceiving myself; am I really diligently seeking Him or am I under a strong delusion, a working of error, and simply believing a lie – not really seeking him sincerely but just pacifying myself.” The seeker is burdened by the fear that they are seeking God under their own carnal strength and effort. At times, they find their motives, earnestness and sincerity to be suspect; and think, “if I was truly seeking, would I be as thus: cold, tempted, tossed about, confused, down-trodden, distressed, etc.” Such living seekers often fail to realise that though their feelings and experiences may suggest otherwise at times, they have already found Him, and they have already found Him in the abundance of all of His riches and mercies. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened (Matthew 7:8). They found Him because Christ sought them and found them first, for “the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost (Luke 19:10).”

The Lord Jesus Christ left the ninety and nine in the wilderness who are not experientially lost (although they are indeed actually lost), to seek us, find us, lay us on His shoulders, carry us safely home, and to ever rejoice over us (Luke 15:4 -6). In the day of His power, He reveals Himself to us and makes us willing to seek Him, find Him, trust Him, and love Him (Psalm 110:3). When Christ, through His Spirit, abides in us, we become willing seekers by His effectual working and might; He works in us causing us to both will and to do of His good pleasure (Philippians 2:13). It is to such that He declares “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” Therefore, the Christian can be defined as one who, having received grace, mercy, and power, believes that God is who He says He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6). As a result, they seek Him, keep on seeking Him, and they experimentally find Him; when they do, they will be able to proclaim with the Shulamite ”I found Him whom my soul loveth: I held him, and would not let Him go, until I had brought Him into my mother’s house, and into the chamber of her that conceived me.”

VII. The Christian loves the Lord and His people: Christians, in seeking after their only true Hope, find Him and see the infinite beauty in Him. They are the ones loving the Lord, loved of the Lord, and who have found Him whom they seek (Proverbs 8:17). Though experientially they know that they do not love the Lord as they ought (sometimes doubting whether they truly love Him at all in sincerity, fearing the deceitfulness of their own indwelling sin), they nonetheless truly love Him with a God-given love; moreover, they desire earnestly to love Him all the more by god’s grace.

I John 4:19 declares that We love Him, because He first loved us – this is the thought and emotion of every true child of God; verse 10 goes further in stating “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins (I John 4:10).” We love the Lord because of who He is, what He has done for us, what He has done in us, and because His love for us abounds infinitely and eternally (what a blessed thought to contemplate). We cannot even begin to breach the surface of the infinite depths of understanding, as t pertains to how deserving the Lord is of our love, admiration, respect, reverence, and honour; all glory and praise is due Him.

In our experience, , as we grow in our knowledge and understanding of Christ, and as we experience more of that communion with Him (and reliance upon Him), we will see our awareness of our love for Him grow increasingly stronger (though, again, never reaching the level of what it ought to be or what we desire it to be — not even close). We may have periods of coldness, dryness, and of much desiring to restore that joy of salvation that leads to a heart-felt panting and longing after Him; nonetheless, the Christian can ever declare in His inner man “Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee” (John 21:17). The saint will put no trust in this love (in the sense of it meriting favour with God), will see flaws in this love, will at times doubt the veracity of this love (especially upon a grievous / prolonged stumble or fall), and will see it as but a small and feeble love quite often – but it is a real love and a powerful love nonetheless because God has wrought it in us. We truly love Him because He first loved us.

Though God gives us this love and works it out in us – it is our own. Just as He gives us breath, but it is our own breath, and He gives us a beating heart, which is our own beating heart, He gives us love for Him and we willingly and thankfully manifest that love through the godly thoughts, emotions, words, and deeds that He has before ordained that we should walk in and manifest (Ephesians 2:10). Therefore we can proclaim with the Psalmist, I love the LORD, because he hath heard my voice [and] my supplications; because he hath inclined his ear unto me, therefore will I call upon [Him] as long as I live (Psalm 116:1).

One of the primary manifestations of our love for God is our love for the brethren. I Thessalonians 4:9 declares: “But as touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another.” I John 3:14-16 states: “We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not [his] brother abideth in death. 15 Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him. 16 Hereby perceive we the love [of God], because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down [our] lives for the brethren.” Consider also the beauty of I John 2:9 “He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now. I John 2:10 He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him. I John 4:11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. I John 4:21 And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.”

Just as we cherish communion with the Lord, we cherish communion with His people. We want to be with them, to talk to them; we want to edify one another, comfort one another, and encourage one another. We want to share our common experiences as we exhort, admonishment, and rebuke one another in Godly love. We want to talk of Jesus – but not talk only, but show forth our love with action, faithfulness, and dedication. We seek to assemble together through whatever means the Lord provides; for some it is a “house church” of just a very few; for others a larger-sized congregation in a separate church building; for others, it may be a telephone call, a conference call, and/or a video-conference. No matter the means, God’s people want to be in communication with one another.

But how woefully short we fall in these things (myself being a chief offender in that I do not communicate as often as I know I should). Nonetheless, a true and God-given desire is there and I pray that it will increasingly be made manifest in resulting action.

Likewise, how easily do we let petty squabbles separate us; yet even in this, there must be love. We may fall-out as Paul and Barnabus for a season; fleshly folly, pride, and sin in general may cause hardships with the liking at times – but it ought never to cause hardships with the loving. We may not like every aspect of the qualities, characteristics, and conversation of God’s people – just as it often is with some of our own physical friends and families. Yet we have a stronger bond than the physical; we are bonded together with that divine “glue” that stems from eternal vital union with the Triune God, being one body in Christ (Romans 12:4,5; I Corinthians 10:17, John 17:20-23). Such blessed realities should cause us to ever seek a strengthening of the bonds of fellowship and communion and to overlook the shortcomings of our brethren (that are no doubt, more often than not, motes compared to our own beams). Would to God that we had the strength to put fleshly obstacles aside and embrace all of the brethren, equally, in love and in heart-felt fellowship. There are times when we must separate — especially in the face of prolonged, unrepentant doctrinal or behavioural error AS SPECIFICALLY put forth by God, in the Bible. Nonetheless, God’s grace is sufficient; His will be done (knowing it is always for our benefit and, more importantly, for His glory).

VIII. The Christian is not offended in Christ or His doctrine. The regenerate saints of God love to speak favourably of God; they want to be identified with Him, and tell others of Him as God opens the door to speak. They do not want to be identified with the false religion and false professors that come in the name of a christ of their own creation; they want to be associated with Him who is True. They are not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ: for they know that it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believes (Romans 1:16). They know that it is the Gospel that declares Christ and His accomplishments; the entire Bible speaks of Him for the volume of the book is written of Him (Psalm 40:7; Hebrews 10:7). Scripture alone is the inerrant authority concerning the testimony of Jesus (Revelation 22:18, 19) and we know that the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy (Revelations 19:10). Thus, the Christian is not offended in Christ (Matthew 11:6) or His word; instead, they are those who willingly confess the Lord before men (Matthew 10:32-33).

However, in their experience, the Christian will often wish that they could be bolder in declaring Him and in taking advantage of the opportunities to witness that arise. In failing to speak up, they will often feel sorrow over their foolish shyness and introvertedness in these matters; however, they are not as those who are ashamed of Christ and His word, not wanting to declare Him openly lest they be embarrassed by His being or doctrine. They are not as those who love the praise of men more than the praise of God (John 12:43) or who seek to receive honour from other men instead of God (John 5:44). They do not allow the fear of abandonment, mocking, reviling, persecution, and the like to quench their profession (at least not for long) because God maintains both them and the love that they have for Him.

Moreover, in loving the Lord, the regenerate saint also loves His doctrine. Doctrine is another word for teaching and instruction, and all who do not love the vital teaching and instruction of God are yet unsaved. Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God (II John 1:9).

If one claims to love God, and yet they hate such doctrines as (a) the deity of Christ and the Triunity of the Godhead; (b) the righteousness established by Christ and imputed to the elect; (c) the election and predestination of the elect by God’s own sovereign will and purpose (without any contribution from the sinner); (d) the total depravity of mankind and their utter inability to turn from their sinfulness (in their own strength); and (e) the perseverance of the saints by the preserving hand of God –they evidence themselves to be His enemies (in reality as it pertains to the reprobate and only experientially (and that, but for a season) for the yet unregenerate elect).

The regenerate saint delights in the doctrine and law of God after the inward man (Romans 7:22, Psalm 1:2). When quickened according to His word (Psalm 119:25) they esteem the words of His mouth more than their necessary (physical) food (Job 23:12). To them, the statutes of the LORD are a rejoicing to the heart (Psalm 19:8). Though they often wish they could be in the word more, absorb it more, appreciate it more – and see Christ in it more; nonetheless, it is a delight to them. They know that it testifies of the Lord Jesus and want to find Him on every page (John 5:39, 46; Revelation 19:10). The Christian also knows that the word of God is the principle means by which the Lord brings about repentance and ongoing conversion in His people (for Psalm 119:9-11 declares: “Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed [thereto] according to thy word. With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments. 11 Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee”).

IX. The Christian desires not only to hear the word, but to keep it and do it. Revelation 1:3 declares “Blessed [is] he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time [is] at hand.” John 14:23 declares that if a man loves the Lord Jesus, he will keep His words. The Christian evidences His love for God, and His word, not by hearing the word only – but by being doers of it as well to the extent that God has ordained for them and wrought in them (James 1:23-25).

In seeing their indwelling sin by means of the light of the Holy Spirit, the saint will catch a glimpse of just how far they fall short in obeying and keeping God’s word. In Christ, they have kept God’s word perfectly, and have done all that the law requires. However, in their walk, things are not so. The saint earnestly desires to do God’s will (though seasons of coldness and foolishness will arise), and wants to walk in a way that will neither displease Him nor cause others to blaspheme His holy Name. Nonetheless, to the quickened soul made sensitive of his sins, they will appear to themselves to be more like forgetful hearers than joyful doers. They will feel their inadequacy and sense their inability; yet, others will see the change and growth in them. More importantly, God maintains them and causes them to grow. This growth will seem slow and unsubstantial oft times, but let us not despise the day of small things. Instead, let us remember that we have an incorruptible seed that causes us to grow, by union with our great Husbandman, to become fruitful trees of Righteousness and branches of the divine Vine (by this I mean experientially for we are already such by the virtue and efficacy of Christ and His work).

I believe that God causes us to grow slowly and not so clearly to us, to keep us from abounding in pride, and to cause us to rely on Him solely for our strength and righteousness. He makes us to cry out “Teach me to do thy will; for thou [art] my God: thy spirit [is] good; lead me into the land of uprightness (Psalm 143:10); show me thy ways, O LORD; teach me thy paths (Psalm 25:4). The saint will desire to be led, to be taught, to be guided, and directed. He does not want to be left to his own understanding but to learn of Christ (who is His wisdom) and to be taught by the Spirit of God. He will see more and more of his utter ignorance, folly, and ineptitude, and will thus turn away from self, and towards God in His search for knowledge and understanding. In this way he will learn and grow; he will both hear and do. Thus, we ought to glory in tribulations also (tribulations without and tribulations within our own hearts and minds): knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope: and hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us (Romans 5:3-5). May it be that we can be all the more patient, waiting on Him, and hoping in Him, and trusting that He will cause us to grow all the more in Him.

X. The Christian, in desiring to hear and do, will nonetheless stumble and fall – but never utterly. God’s children want to be obedient and to glorify His holy name via their character and conduct. They want to adorn the Gospel of God (Titus 2:10) and to forsake those things that would cause anyone to speak ill of God as a result of seeing or hearing their sin. Nonetheless, what imperfections there will be — and there will be imperfections. What stumblings there will be, what falls, what wretched failures will the believer encounter and experience. How loathsome will the regenerate sinner be to himself in light of the sinful thoughts, words, and deeds they commit. They will sometimes feel down-trodden, empty, lifeless, cold, thoroughly foolish, and a burden to themselves. They will hate the things they think, say, and do — and hate the very fact that they are sinning against a most gracious, loving, kind, and generous Saviour. They are sinning against their Elder Brother, Husband, Friend, Physician, Chief Prophet, High Priest, King of Kings, Lord of Lords, and their very God! How wretched will they be in the sight of themselves when God grants light, understanding, and repentance unto them.

Yet, what blessed hope there is. They are not like the work-mongers and their Christ is not the false christ of dead works. They have a faithful Lord who will never forsake them; His love endureth forever because it is from forever. His love cannot allow His beloved people to fall away and apostatize. His own glory and honour demands that He must move to recover them, to bring them back, to show forth His forgiveness, and to cherish them always — even if His displeasure and chastisements are manifest for but a season here and there. You see, God declares “For a just [man] falleth seven times, and riseth up again: but the wicked shall fall into mischief” (Proverbs 24:16); God shall deliver thee in six troubles: yea, in seven there shall no evil touch thee. (Job 5:19). Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all (Psalm 34:19); no matter the temporal stumblings and falls no evil befall us, neither shall any plague come nigh unto our Dwelling (Psalm 91:10) because Jehovah has moved us to make Him our Refuge and our Habitation.

Let all fears and despondency due to “desertion,” separation, the loss of a felt sense of communion, and a loss of that joy of His salvation – fall to the wayside in the presence of his glorious smile upon our souls. Though our souls cleave unto the dust (Psalm 119:25) and though we would have fainted unless we had believed to see some sight (no matter how faint or miniscule) of the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living, we must ever remember to look not to self, sin, and to our ever present failures, but to look to Christ and to wait on the LORD instead. In Him, we have every reason to be of good courage – for He is faithful and He shall (not He might, not He may, but He shall) quicken His own according to His word; He shall strengthen the hearts of all who come to Him as little children (needy, hungry, helpless, often fretful, afraid of chastisement, and fearful of losing that communion they so cherish). The Lord is Faithful, He is immutable, He cannot lie, and He is omnipotently victorious. How much does He deserve our trust, love, praise, and worship? There is no limit to it — infinite is His worth and value (everything else must and does pale in comparison).

To Him be all the glory, forever and ever.

Curt Wildy

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.  

A Brief Review of Strict Baptist Periodicals (UK)

English Strict Baptist Magazines Of Old

The following is a work in progress and is sure to have some gaps and errors (especially as it pertains to original publishing dates in light of periodicals with shared names and the length of time that has transpired since the magazines were first released). Lord willing, as time and insight allows, I hope to be able to clarify some of the uncertainties mentioned below. For now, this is a listing of some of the early Strict Baptist magazines/periodicals (with brief descriptions of each); these magazines, to one degree of faithfulness or another, focused on “high doctrine” and experimental religion.


The Gospel Standard; or Feeble Christian’s Support Magazine
The most conservative and faithful of the Strict & Particular Baptist magazines, The Gospel Standard Magazine was originated by John Gadsby (1808-1893) in 1835 with the assistance and support of his father, William Gadsby (1773-1844). The magazine was commenced to contend for the doctrines of grace, but especially for the necessity and gracious, sanctifying effect of the work of the Holy Spirit in the hearts and lives of the Lord’s people. It also advocated believer’s baptism and strict communion. The preaching of such men as William Gadsby, John Warburton, John Kershaw and J. C. Philpot (one of the first editors of the magazine) stood out against the more moderate and general Calvinism which, along with the infusion of a dry and legal spirit, was beginning to appear in Baptist churches (thus, some sources identified the Gospel Standard Strict Baptists as Huntingtonian Baptists due to their shared emphasis on doctrinally sound experimental/experiential preaching). As one old, well-tried Christian exclaimed of Mr. Gadsby’s ministry, “It is not a new doctrine – but the old, preached with life and power.” The circulation of the magazine grew rapidly and was much appreciated by many who found it an interpreter of their experience and proved the Lord’s blessing on it. In the early 1860s the editor, J. C. Philpot, gave a most gracious defence of the doctrine of the Eternal Sonship of the Lord Jesus, concerning which there had been many errors propagated and which resulted in a division among the Strict Baptist churches.

It was as a result of this division (and perhaps also the division brought about by the views promoted in The Gospel Herald Magazine in general, and those views of Mr. John Stevens in particular regarding the Pre-existarian error) that many of the Strict Baptist churches began to align themselves with the Gospel Standard Magazine and have become known as Gospel Standard Baptists. Thus a list of Gospel Standard churches appeared; there are about 115 at the present time including those from overseas. The Gospel Standard Strict Baptists separated, and remain separate, from the other Strict Baptists to this day.

The Gospel Standard is still published and is currently edited by B. A. Ramsbottom. The Friendly Companion Magazine was begun in the mid 1860s by John Gadsby as a magazine for children; it is still published alongside the Gospel Standard and is edited by Gerald D. Buss, pastor of the Old Baptist Chapel, Chippenham, Wiltshire (http://www.gospelstandard.org.uk/history.html).


The Earthen Vessel and Christian Record Magazine
Another conservative Strict Baptist magazine centered upon sound experimental preaching was The Earthen Vessel which started in 1845 by its editor and proprietor, Charles Waters (C.W). Banks. Also associated with the Earthen Vessel was Thomas Stringer and James Wells (and also perhaps Joseph Irons and Robert Hawker). The Earthen Vessel was somewhat renown for being rightly critical of Spurgeon and his error (Spurgeonism). The following quote has been attributed to the magazine:

What is Spurgeonism but Fullerism? What is Fullerism but moderate Arminianism, and what is Arminianism but free-will and free-grace mixed with the traditions of carnal men, dished up by a depraved, inventive genius, and instructed by the Devil to overthrow the grand old cardinal doctrines of the Bible, and rob Jesus Christ of his crown?

James Wells was a highly popular experimental preacher (he preached at the Surrey Tabernacle, Southwark) who had quite a following. However, he was deemed be highly controversial and abrasive by many (especially amongst those under the ministry of Mr. Gadsby and Mr. Kershaw, the former of whom he is said to have insulted in regards to his age and usefulness). It seems that Mr. Wells’ controversial statements played a major role in keeping the Gospel Standards and the Earthen Vessels from unifying. The Earthen Vessel editor, Mr. C.W. Banks was a personal friend and defender of James Wells; however, he thought highly of the Gospel Standard ministers and personally held to the doctrine of Eternal Sonship. Nonetheless, it “seemed to him to be a matter of indifference whether it was believed or not” (http://www.blunhambaptist.org/Blunham%20Chapel%20Account.htm). He published works from various sources (including J.C. Philpot) in his magazine and reportedly stated

“Whether a work be sent us by ‘Standard men’, or ‘Herald men’, or ‘Vessel men’, or any other class of men (terms we would not employ were they not so much in use), if those works are designed for the elucidation of pure Gospel truth, and for the separation of the precious from the vile, they shall always be as faithfully noticed by us as our small abilities will allow.”

However, it seems that the Earthen Vessel later became identified with the Non-Eternal Sonship position. J.A. Jones had an article published in the Earthen Vessel denying the Eternal Sonship of Christ. Mr. Philpot rebutted Mr. Jones’ position in the Gospel Standard Magazine, only to have James Wells write his own rebuttal against Mr. Philpot’s stance in the Earthen Vessel. Although Mr. Banks publicly sided with Mr. Philpot on the issue, he allowed Mr. Wells to publish his rebuttal in the October 1860 edition allegedly thinking that the discussion would be beneficial for God’s people. Sadly, although the controversy eventually died down, the rift remained and the Gospel Standards distanced themselves from the Earthen Vessels as a result. The Earthen Vessels eventually merged with the Gospel Heralders; they are now collectively known (along with other former, non-Gospel Standard, Strict Baptists) as the Grace Baptist Assembly (dropping the word strict from their title altogether).


The Christian’s Pathway and Calvinist Pulpit Magazine
The Christian’s Pathway Magazine was published by Francis Kirby (minister of Mount Zion Strict and Particular Baptist Church, Margate); it too was a conservative, experimental, Strict Baptist magazine. Apparently, the magazine was first published as The Calvinistic Pulpit (1891-95) and then continued as the Christian’s Pathway from 1896 forward. One source states that the content of the magazine suggests that the editors were in favour of peaceful relations between the separated Strict Baptists groups, recommending that his readers attend Gospel Standard society annual meetings but being rather uneasy about the Gospel Standard’s treatment of Earthen Vessels over the Eternal Sonship controversy.” (http://reynoldsbooks.weebly.com/1/post/2010/01/latest-books-18-january-2010.html). The status of this magazine is not clear to me; one source states concerning this magazine: “they were a smaller group that grew up in the later 19th cent, but were eventually reabsorbed into the Earthen Vessel group” (http://www.baptistboard.com/archive/index.php/t-7780.html).


The Gospel Herald; or, Poor Christian’s Magazine
Samuel Collins was, for many years the acknowledged leader of the Strict Baptists in the county of Suffolk. In 1832 (some sources say 1831) he devised a plan to produce a cheap monthly magazine for the Strict Baptist Churches and the following year the first number of The Gospel Herald Magazine was produced. For a number of years he took the whole responsibility for its publication and editing (http://www.strictbaptisthistory.org.uk/_private/scollins.htm). The Heralders were experimental in their preaching as well, and produced many sound works. Some notables associated with the Gospel Heralders included John Foreman and John Bloomfield. Apparently, the Gospel Herald was created with the aim of warning its readers against Arminianism and, like the Earthen Vessel, they went so far as to criticize (legitimately, and rightfully so) C.H. Spurgeon’s open-invitation style of preaching (http://www.theologian.org.uk/churchhistory/englishbaptists.html#b7). Sadly, though this magazine was deemed by many to be conservative, I found several instances of published articles wherein the author(s) clearly engaged in the heresy of Spurgeonism (embracing Arminians as fellow-Christians). In fact, The Heralders seemed to have no qualms embracing Quakers as well. For more on the matter see my article titled: http://lookuntothelord.com/2010/03/20/gospel-herald-compromise/


The Gospel Ambassador; or, Christian Pilgrim’s Friend Magazine
I am not sure who started The Gospel Ambassador, or when (perhaps 1840/41), but it was alleged (by someone whose article was posted in the Gospel Heralder magazine) to have been set up to “address the errors found in the Gospel Standard and Gospel Herald Magazines.” Any information available on the editor(s) and principle ministers associated with this magazine would be greatly appreciated. It would appear that James Wells was closely associated with the magazine – or those who edited it. Mr. Wells was apparently in a very heated controversy with Mr. John Kershaw of the Gospel Standard Strict Baptists (the latter writing negatively about him in a sermon); in 1846, the Gospel Ambassador published an article(s) in favor of Mr. Wells. Likewise, the magazine defended a Mr. Osbourne who was alleged to have said something to the effect of “I’d rather preach to drunkards than to those doubting and fearing.” Mr. Osbourne was prevented from preaching at a Gospel Standard church as a result, and the Ambassadors felt the need to come to Mr. Osbourne’s defense (an interesting act given that the Gospel Ambassador appeared to promote experimental preaching). Nonetheless, the Ambassador contained the sermons of Mr. Kershaw, Mr. Warburton, and Mr. Gadsby, so it must have recognized the blessings of the ministry of the Gospel Standard ministers. Please note that this magazine is distinct from the earlier Gospel Advocate and Impartial Investigator Magazine.


The Primitive Church (or Baptist) Magazine
In the book “The Press in English society from the seventeenth to nineteenth centuries” by Michael Harris, Alan J. Lee, they deemed The Primitive Church Magazine to be the “best known of the less rigid Strict Baptist journals.” This Magazine started in 1838 and lasted until 1865 and in 1863 the editor was the Reverend W. Stokes of Manchester (U.K.).


The Gospel Magazine and Protestant Beacon (a.k.a. the Spiritual Magazine)
The Gospel Magazine is a Calvinist, evangelical magazine from the United Kingdom, and is one of the longest running of such periodicals, having been founded in 1766. Most of the editors have been Anglicans, but they were deemed High-Calvinists and thus closely associated with the Strict and Particular Baptists. Some notable editors included Joseph Gurney, William Mason, Augustus Toplady (who used the magazine as a platform to denounce the heretic John Wesley), George Cowell, and particular Baptist minister John Andrew Jones (possibly the same J.A. Jones associated with the Eternal Sonship controversy as mentioned above in the Earthen Vessel section, but I have not verified). John Newton also contributed to the magazine. The Gospel Magazine Trust are currently working to have all of their extant copies – going back 240 years – digitised and uploaded onto their website and available to read on their archives page.

Between 1783 and 1796 the Gospel Magazine was suspended for some time and a magazine called the Spiritual Magazine was produced (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Gospel_Magazine). The Spiritual Magazine, appears to be separate from The Royal Spiritual Magazine published by the Reverend John Allen in 1752. Mr. Allen was a Calvinist-Baptist theologian and the pastor of a Particular Baptist Church in London. Mr. Allen was a leading Pre-existarian, predating Mr. Stevens (of the Gospel Herald). However, one source (The Press in English society from the seventeenth to nineteenth centuries By Michael Harris, Alan J. Lee, footnote #82) states that the Spiritual Magazine ran alongside the Gospel Magazine from 1825 to 1852. The Gospel Magazine, the Spiritual Magazine, the Spiritual Wrestler, and Zion’s Trumpet were all published by the same publisher.

Note that Volume I, No. 1, of the Gospel Magazine (New Series) was released in January, 1840.

[Please see Mr. North’s comments below for corrections to some of the above; I would incorporate it into the body, but would like for him to have the credit on the matter].


Zion’s Trumpet; or the Penny Spiritual Magazine
The Editor, Edward Palmer, first published Zion’s Trumpet in 1834 (1834-68). It was a more liberal Strict Baptist magazine, possible associated with C.H. Spurgeon (though I am not certain). This appears to be separate from the periodical that Robert Hawker published in 1798, also titled Zion’s Trumpet (http://grace-gospel.org/robert-hawker.htm).


The Spiritual Wrestler; or Zion’s Children in the Wilderness Magazine
The Spiritual Wrestler was published in 1847 by the same publisher as The Gospel Magazine, the Spiritual Magazine, and Zion’s Trumpet — I am still researching this particular magazine (not much is available on it except that it was clearly experimental in nature).


The Voice of Truth; or Strict Baptists’ Magazine
The Voice of Truth was first published in 1863; the editor was Thomas Wall (I believe). It was created to be the ‘official journal/magazine for the Strict Baptist denomination’ in the tradition of Gill and Brine (perhaps, as opposed to the Huntingtonian Strict Baptists like the Gospel Standards, Earthen Vessels, etc.).


 
Note:
The Baptist Quarterly produced a write-up on the history of Strict Baptist magazines that can be found here. Please also see Mr. North’s statement (correction) concerning the Gospel Magazine in the comment section below.

Who are those deceptive enough to lead astray, if possible, even the elect?

For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if [it were] possible, they shall deceive the very elect (AV/KJV – Matthew 24:24).

For false christs and false prophets will rise up. And they will give great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect (LITV – Matthew 24:24).

For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and they shall give great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, also the chosen (YLT – Matthew 24:24).


Those not deceptive enough

I. When many in the religious world think of Matthew 24:24, they think of men like David Koresh, Jim Jones, Sun Myung Moon, Joseph Smith, and other famous cult leaders. Surely no regenerate child of God would ever, or could ever, be led astray by such blatant deceivers as these.

II. Still others in the world would add the Mormons as a whole, the so-called Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Charismatics, the Quakers, and other such fringe, pseudo-christian, assemblies as being in view. Again, what soul born of God would mistake such blindness for truth?

III. Some a bit closer to the truth will include the Roman Catholic, Old Catholic, the various “Orthodox,” and related Sacramentalist denominations as well. Though no child of God would be deceived by such, sadly many who claim to believe in sovereign grace were and are so deceived (J.I. Packer is one notable example).

IV. Some approach yet closer to truth and declare that Arminians and Semi-Pelagians are also in view. However, what child of God (having been regenerated and converted) is led astray into the Arminian/Semi-Pelagian will-worshiping belief system? Thank God, the answer is none!

V. Finally, there are those who approach even closer to the truth than any of the previous. They, like the true Christian, would include the tolerant Calvinists (i.e., compromising Calvinists, those who partake in the will-worshipers evil deeds by bidding them Godspeed). Tolerant Calvinists evidence their unregenerate and unconverted state by (a) knowingly counting any of those who hold to these errors as brethren in the Lord, and/or (b) claiming that they, themselves, were regenerate when they were actively holding to, promoting, defending, or otherwise believing in the error of dead works.  We see this deception rampant in the Free Presbyterian Church, several of the various Reformed denominations in America,  and amongst many of the more popular Calvinists of old (Spurgeon, Whitefield, etc.). Had these false brethren had a true experience of the sinfulness of their sin, their utter inability to save themselves, and the holiness and glory of God, they would not cling to the “free-will” error as they do, nor would they count as brethren those who do.

Those who are deceptive enough…

The true child of God cannot stop at the above. There is one other type of false prophet to consider, one who is far more deceptive than any of the above. These specific deceivers are found amongst those of us who profess the Christ of the Bible. This error is specifically found amongst those who reject such heresies as Semi-Pelagianism, Arminianism and Sacramentalism, and who appear to hold to the same vital doctrines as the regenerate saints of God (the doctrines of grace, which is the Doctrine of Christ).

What is this deadly error, and who are those who hold to it? The error is Formalism and those who hold to it are called Notionalists, Formalists, Letter-men, and Dead-Calvinists. Although formalists proclaim essential Gospel doctrine, they err in thinking that mental assent to these doctrines alone (albeit in conjunction with obedience) is the essence of that true faith that accompanies regeneration and conversion. They believe that as long as one is in agreement with Gospel truths (or for some, certain creeds, traditions, and or logical suppositions related to these Gospel truths), then one is saved. The following is a very common example of their erroneous thinking on these matters:

  1. The Gospel is God’s promise to save elect sinners based not on their character and conduct, but on the atoning blood and imputed righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ alone.”

  2. Salvation consists of simply believing that the above statement is true and evidencing this belief by striving to obey God;

  3. I believe that the above statement is true, and I strive to obey God, therefore I must have salvation (i.e. I must be saved).

This type of “salvation” is nothing more than a dry, formulaic, system of belief that only superficially pertains to the Gospel truth. This system is either empty of, or distant from, emotion and experience as wrought by the Spirit of God. It is strong on talking about doctrine and salvation, but not living out the doctrine (and thus salvation) in their day-to-day lives. To the religious Notionalist, faith has to do with logic and precepts exclusively; some stick to the Bible alone, but many more have effectively replaced the Bible with their denomination’s creed, confession, and tradition.

While the Christian would denounce excess, mawkishness, and carnal emoting in the name of true religion, these letter-men have no need or desire for those things legitimately felt and experienced by the people of God. The formalists would reject Joseph Hart’s poetic assertion that “Vain is all our best devotion, If on false foundations built; True religion’s more than notion, Something must be known and felt.” Thus, they are like Moab, they have been at ease from their “high doctrinal” youth, and have settled on their “intellectual” lees. They have not experienced the humbling of being emptied from vessel to vessel, nor do they have any understanding of what it is like to go into captivity when that felt sense of communion with the Lord is lost for a season (Jeremiah 48:11). They likewise have no spiritual changes (no highs, no lows, no dry spells, no bathings in the living waters of life), therefore they have no true, Holy Spirit-generated fear of God (Psalm 55:19). Their struggles, troubles, and (what they deem) “chastisements” are nothing more than the problems that everyone in the world faces. Spiritually, they have no sense of being wretched and undone because  their carnal strength is firm; they are not in trouble as other men, neither are they plagued by a felt sense of sin and inability (as the regenerate children of God are — Psalm 73:4-5).

What becomes of these false professors

If God does not arrest them, quicken them, and turn them from their evil ways, they shall surely perish along with all of the other unbelievers. However, I fear that their everlasting torment will be worse than most, having been so close to the truth (in doctrine and intellectual learning) yet being so far away. What a weight of guilt and lost opportunity to have to bear in the conscience for all eternity. Such a thought should be enough to give anyone pause, and to remind us all that we must make our own calling and election sure (prayerfully seeking God for His grace and mercy, and for a right understanding in these matters).

But in this life, what becomes of the reprobate Formalist?

  • Some remain “experts” at promoting right doctrine (e.g. election, absolute predestination, imputed righteousness, etc.), but never come to a real, experimental, knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ;

  • Some forsake their former profession and embrace one or more of the heresies mentioned above (like one Strict Baptist who, not so long ago, left his former profession and went off to join with the Greek Orthodox denomination);

  • Some forsake their former profession by becoming hyper-literalists and taking verses completely out of context (or otherwise formulating their own heretical doctrines). These are they who, being unlearned (never taught of God) and unstable, wrest those things in Scripture that are hard to be understood – and they do so unto their own destruction (II Peter 3:16);

  • Some forsake religion altogether (like one former high-Calvinist who allegedly became an evolution-touting atheist); and

  • Others amongst the Formalists take an even more deceptive route. For a season at least, having learned to mimick the language of the true saint (in describing their walk, faith, troubles and overall experience), some become very convincing when they feel they need to be. They may call themselves dogs, worms, wretched, etc.; however, when the novelty wears off and the opportunity arises, they will often forsake their experimental play-acting for something new and novel (like the “Reformed pastor” who went from adding S.S. after his name in honour of William Huntington, to forsaking true (experimental) religion altogether – proclaiming instead, the false gospel of Legalism as found in the errors of Reconstructionism/Theonomy/Dominionism.

In the Bible we see several examples of those who appeared to be godly for a season, only to fall away at the end. Judas no doubt appeared to be a brother in Christ to the other Apostles before he betrayed the Lord; Demas, Balaam, Phygellus, Hermogenes, Hymenaeus and Alexander are also examples of those who appeared to be faithful for a season, but who went out from the saints, evidencing that they were not of us (I John 2:19). These examples exist in the Bible as a reminder for us to be watchful and to try the spirits (I John 4:1). Likewise, these examples exist to comfort us when such false brethren are made manifest. We are comforted in knowing that there is nothing new under the sun, the saints of old have experienced this menace and have come out all the better for it (for God worketh all things together for the good of His people; all things are ordained of Him and come to pass by His strength, power, wisdom, and fore-ordination).

John Rusk, who sat under the ministry of Mr. Huntington, had this to say about Formalists:

Now we are by nature in this state spiritually, till the voice of Christ reaches us, and calls us out of this world, saying to this effect, “Come out from amongst them, and be ye separate,” etc.”Forsake the foolish and live.” Now in this work there is light and life communicated to the soul, and we see more and more the state of this world, and what an awful end they will make, and ourselves also. Yes, and we feel wretched, and wonder what is the matter with us; and these wretched feelings sets us to work to alter our ways, to avoid what appears evil, and embrace what appears good; we therefore shun our former companions, and go to a place of worship, but it is ten to one we unite at first with formalists; however, in time God will have us out from these; and here He calls again, telling us to turn from them that have a form of godliness, without the power. But some go on long before this takes place; for it is not easy to believe that one who preaches the letter very sound is altogether destitute of the power; and therefore they hold us fast, and refuse to let us go; but God says, “My people shall know in that day that it is I that do speak; behold it is I!” How well do I remember running after these preachers, truly wretched and miserable, that my life was a burden to me! But I never found one to describe my state till God brought me under Mr. Huntington; neither could I believe that these preachers were only in the letter, but tried hard to unite them altogether, hearing him on the Tuesday night, and them on the Sunday; but the Lord called me in time from them.

May God call all of His people out from amongst those who have this exceedingly deceptive form of godliness without the power thereof. May He also cause His people to cling more tightly to Him, and to one another, and to all that is true (especially as the darkness spreads and apostasy becomes more and more the norm rather than the exception in this wicked world).

Sincerely,
Curt Wildy

For more on this topic please click on the links below:

1.  Mental assent alone is not true faith

2. A Seven-fold Description of the Stony-ground Hearer

3. The misuse of logic in biblical discourse

Christ: Our Substitute, Life, and Righteousness (part two)

Christ: Our Substitute, Life, and Righteousness
Part Two


XI. Hope deferred maketh the heart sick

Consider also Proverbs 13:12 (in light of the above; this time where Hiphil is used in the participle form): “Hope deferred maketh the heart sick <02470> (8688): but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life.” Hopelessness is also a punishment for, or form of suffering under, sin. In Hell, the reprobate will feel what true hopelessness and despair really is. Now I cannot go so far as to say that the Lord was utterly hopeless; the Psalms (and other passages throughout scripture) evidence the fact that in “hopelessness” the Lord Jesus never sinned by not trusting the Father. Even when His heart sunk to where He cried in Psalm 22:1,2 “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? [why art thou so] far from helping me, [and from] the words of my roaring? O my God, I cry in the daytime, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent;” He still had hope because He said in Psalm 16:8 “I have set the LORD always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope. For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.” I do not feel comfortable delving more deeply into this aspect at this time, except to say that the Lord Jesus Christ no doubt came as close to feeling as completely hopeless as anyone possibly can – yet without any presence or stain of personal sin.