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What Is Truth? PDF Print E-mail
Written by David Montogmery   

The subject of “Truth” is on our mind at this time as we consider John 4:23-24, “But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.”

There are 3 categories of truth that we should strive after so to properly worship the Lord:

    1.  Doctrinal Truth - The teaching in the worship service. Matt. 15:8, Titus 1:14
    2.  Practical Truth - The form of the worship service. Col 2:16-23
    3.  Personal Truth - The sincerity of the individual worshipper. Ps 66:18

We shall turn into the pages of our Primitive Baptist history, and read from the “giants” of our past to embellish these points.

Let us first consider Point #1 - Doctrinal truth.  Elder R.A. Biggs of Texas, writes a very concise and understandable listing of vital points of doctrine. Elder Biggs was born in 1849 and died in 1908. He constituted several Churches in the central portion of Texas, and left a great legacy to bless our fair state. I’m sure you will appreciate Elder Biggs’s clear writing.

    “Trusting it may tend to peace and help unify our beloved brethren on some points of doctrine and good order, I feel it a duty to give what our people, the Primitive Baptists, have and do subscribe to on some vital points.

    First: On predestination. I have understood our people to believe that God’s predestination embraces everything needful in the salvation of his people from sin. God is the author of his predestination, together with its results, full establishing his foreknowledge of all conditions and events harmonizing in his election of his people to salvation in Christ Jesus, in the effectual calling, justification, and final glorification of his people in heaven.
    Second: I have always understood our people to believe that Christ made a special atonement on the cross for all the sins of all his people.
    Third: I have always understood them to believe that His elect people are sons and daughters of Adam’s fallen family.
    Fourth: That they (his people) are in time regenerated, or born again in soul and spirit and that their bodies will be in their resurrection.
    Fifth: That the man in regeneration is passive and receives eternal life from God as a free gift.
    Sixth: That after regeneration, God’s people are complex, possessing two natures, human and divine, two lives; natural and spiritual; two men, the outward man and the inward man, hence the continual warfare.
    Seventh: That the child of God is active in obedience; that he obeys from the heart that form of doctrine delivered to him, that the grace of life in the soul is the efficient cause, and all acceptable obedience thereafter is the effect or fruit of the good tree or renewed heart.
    Eighth: That the man that is quickened or regenerated in soul and spirit loves God, mourns over and hates his sins, hungers and thirsts after righteousness; but that man in body -- sins, makes mistakes, goes astray; man in body – dies, man in spirit – goes to heaven at the death of the body; man in the body – goes to the grave, but in the resurrection the body will be quickened, made spiritual, immortal, and spirit and body reuniting, then man in his entirety will be changed and glorified in Heaven.
    Ninth: That divine life in the soul precedes hunger, thirst, love, faith, joy, peace, and all holy aspirations; life is the efficient cause and that which life produces being the effect.
    Tenth: That the child of God as a complex being can do wrong and live after the flesh and thus lose his spiritual enjoyments here in the present world.
    Eleventh: That the child of God by the grace of God in the soul, can mortify the deeds of the flesh and keep his body in subjection and glorify God in his body and spirit which are his.
    Twelfth: That sin is a transgression of God’s Holy Law by his creatures.

    One hundred years ago, Elder Biggs penned these tenets down, and were commonly believed by the Primitive Baptists. One hundred years later, they are still confessed and adhered by our people.

Now to Point #2 - Practical truth. I turn my attention to Elder Ephriam Rittenhouse of Delaware writing in the Gospel Messenger, Feb 1886. This dear minister was born in 1819 in New Jersey, and died in 1902. He was a very gifted writer, and wrote extensively on many subjects during his lifetime.

    “Truth is single. It is one way, one truth, and one life. Error is made of ways devious and multifarious; and they are movable, as to be more likely to mislead. The counterpart of truth consist oftentimes  not in open opposition, but merely in deception instead of reality. The Lord requires truth in the inward parts, and in the hidden part he makes man to know wisdom. All outward show of religion, of worship, of piety, or charity, and all profession of whatever kind, if not true is false. It has not been a source of anxiety or discouragement to me that my congregations have frequently been small. If I know the truth  and declare it, and the larger crowds turn their ears from it., it is not for me that is in need of any sympathy.

    I am writing these things in reference to the churches and as suggestions to gospel ministers. We come in contact with many who manifest kind feelings and great respect for us, but who seem to lament for our sakes that we pursue the course we do. I believe many of them sincerely think that we should introduce fashionable and flashy music, have costly instruments and skilled musicians.  Use lively and sensational songs instead of such solemn devotional hymns we use. If we would attract the world and increase our congregations, we should introduce those allurements, that the world, and especially the young admire, and provide frequent amusements, such as festivals, exhibitions, tableaux, and such like. The children of wisdom know that there is no truth nor life in prosperity of this kind. Let the truth and the life be exhibited in the word, and it will do its own work, find its own subjects, possess all necessary powers of attraction, and so the building will grow to an holy temple in the Lord. Blessed word of truth, and blessed preachers of the word that discerns broken hearts and contrite spirits, and all those who fear the Lord and think upon His name. That gather the Lord’s ransomed, the mourners, and poor in spirit, from all places where they have been scattered, to be jewels in the royal diadem that crowns their Redeemer.”

Finally, Point #3 - Personal truth. I include a portion of an article by Elder J.R. Respess of Georgia writing in the Gospel Messenger, July 1886. Elder Respess was born in 1831 and died in 1895. He remains one of the most outstanding ministers that has ever labored among the Primitive Baptists. He left a promising career in the field of Law to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He was the founder, and for many years editor and proprietor of “The Gospel Messenger”, a very useful and influential paper. I have read several of Elder Respess’s writings and have enjoyed them remarkably. I hope to include his writings frequently on this resource. Notice carefully the following quote.

    “Christianity produces the highest order of civilization; because it checks effeminacy, waste, extravagance, hypocrisy, idleness, oppression, and builds up industry, honesty, economy, and all morality and robustness of thought and action. Christ teaches him neither  to waste his time nor his substance; and that it is much his duty to provide an honest living as it is to be baptized.

    A great many so-called Christians, think they may go to meeting weeks at a time and neglect their business, and that God approbates such idleness because it is religious, as if religion consisted in going to meeting and ended when meeting was over. But the truth is that Christ’s religion is as much in the field, the store room, the work shop, as it is in the church house. A Christian does not go to meeting as if he conferred a favor on God by going, but the privilege of going he esteems a favor of God to him. The mere outward profession will fail in time of trial and persecution, whilst the profession in Spirit will be intensified by trials and persecution. He who merely goes in form can give it up without regret, whilst he who goes in Spirit has no rest in disobedience. The one is a mere convenience while the other is a necessity.”

FINAL THOUGHTS: My great desire in my worship of the Lord, is to seek the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. We would be foolish not to carefully consider the meditations of our forefathers, and seek instruction from them. They were fallible of course, but they were great men and women of God. It is a joy to me, to have the opportunity to allow them to lead me in the way of truth more perfectly. Visit this page again, for more instruction in righteousness from these giants of the past.

In His service,
Elder David Montgomery

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The Primitive or Old School Baptists cling to the doctrines and practices held by Baptist Churches throughout America at the close of the Revolutionary War. This site is dedicated to providing access to our rich heritage, with both historic and contemporary writings.