header image
Home arrow Griffin's History arrow Regeneration--Chapter 5
Regeneration--Chapter 5 PDF Print E-mail
Written by W.H. Crouse   

 

BIBLE TEACHING AS TO HOW MEN ARE REGENERATED

Argument Three: Based on Ephesians 2:2-5. “And you hath he quickened, who were DEAD in trespasses and sins; wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. But GOD, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ.
“-Paul.

Paul declares sinners to be DEAD. GOD quickens them, or makes them alive. Paul says the medium through which this work is accomplished is Christ. Nowhere in his argument here does the Apostle mention the gospel. If God uses the gospel in this work, Paul either did not know it, or knowing it, he failed to make mention of it. Paul cannot be charged with criminal neglect; and since regeneration is one of the fundamentals in the religion of Christ, and in the statement of that doctrine he makes no mention of the use of the gospel, we argue that sinners are NOT regenerated through the instrumentality of the written or spoken Word  Paid learned this doctrine from Christ.

John 17: 2- “As thou hast given him (Christ) power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.”

This not only proves that Christ gives them eternal life, but it forever refutes the idea that “God first quickens the sinner and then gives him to Christ.” God gave them to Christ BEFORE they had received eternal life, and Christ gave them eternal life in consequence of that gift-just as many, no less and no more, as God had given him.

Paul further teaches this doctrine in Romans 6:23 “The wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through JESUS CHRIST OUR LORD.” Not through the gospel, but through Jesus Christ.

John 5:26-”As the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself.”

John 5:39-” Search the scriptures; for in them ye THINK ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of ME.”

Argument Four: Based on John 5:21-29. “For as the Father raiseth up the dead and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will. * * * Verily, verily, I say unto you, the hour is coming and now is, when the dead shall hear the VOICE of the Sox OF GOD: and they that hear SHALL live. * * Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear HIS VOICE, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.”-Jesus Christ.

“But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your MORTAL BODIES by his SPIRIT that dwelleth in you.”-Rom. 8:11.

Here Christ himself, and Paul by inspiration, tell us HOW the dead sinner is quickened, regenerated or born again. It is by the VOICE of the SON OF GOD!

Not the preacher’s voice; not the gospel; but the same voice with which he will raise the dead from the grave. And Paul explains this voice to be the SPIRIT. Unless Christ will use the preached word in raising dead bodies from the grave, he does not use it in quickening or regenerating the dead in sin. The instrumentalities and means are the same. And since Christ and Paul positively state that the medium through which this work is done is the Spirit, and no mention is made of the preached word, though Christ is telling us HOW sinners are regenerated, we argue that sinners are NOT regenerated through the preached word. This argument is not new. Time and again it has been used, and never has been found a man intelligent enough to destroy its force. Turn to 1 Corinthians 15 and note what Paul says of the resurrection of the dead; and “let him be put to confusion” who argues that men have anything to do, either direct or remotely, with the raising of the dead in sin to a life in God!  Argument Five: Based on John 6:62-63.

“It is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing.”-Christ. If sinners are quickened or horn again through the preached word, this scripture cannot be true. It would be just as reasonable to say that since Christ quickens through the Spirit the Spirit profits nothing, as to say that sinners are regenerated through the preached gospel and yet the preaching profits nothing in the work. No intelligent person would think of using an instrument or means in any work that was of no profit, and certainly we cannot charge God with ignorance or with greater inconsistency than men. And we lay down the following propositions as self-evident and unanswerable:

1.God, being intelligent, uses no means or instrumentalities that are not profitable.

2. He expressly declares that in the quickening of sinners, the flesh-which certainly includes preachers-profits nothing.

3.Therefore, God does not use the ministry in the quickening of sinners dead in sin.
It is true David says, “Thy word hath quickened me.” (Psa. 119:50.) But David does NOT refer to his regeneration. The gospel does quicken the saints, but that is quite different from quickening the dead. We might very easily quicken a living horse, but we have no power to quicken a dead one. That requires creative and resurrection power, and this is found alone in the three-one God.

Argument Six: Based on 2 Tim. 3:16-17 and Eph. 4:8-15. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.”

“Wherefore, he saith, when he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. And he gave some apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; “-for the quickening of the dead in sin? for the regeneration of the lost? for the eternal salvation of the unsaved? for the effectual calling of the ‘elect’ yet by nature the children of wrath? NO! “For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: till we all come to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; but speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ.”

Here Paul clearly states the purpose of the gospel. He is very explicit. He mentions all the gifts. He leaves no room for debate. The gospel is for the man of God; that HE may be perfect; it is for the saints. Not once does be mention a sinner dead in sin. No allusion to the unregenerate. Not the least intimation is made that it was any part of God’s plan or purpose that through the ministry of the word sinners would be regenerated. Certainly nothing is of greater importance than the regeneration of sinners, for except they be born again they can never reach heaven. And we ask, in all candor, could we believe it possible, if the gospel preached is the medium or means “ordinarily” used in regenerating sinners or borning them again, that Paul would have been so negligent as to make no mention of that as one of its uses? To say that God uses the gospel in that work is to charge Paul with ignorance or criminal neglect!

Paul wrote by inspiration. Since in stating the purpose of the gospel he makes no mention of it in the work of regenerating, we argue that God does NOT use it in that work.
 
Argument Seven: This argument we found upon the Parable of the Sower. Matt. 13 :3-9. “And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold a sower went forth to sow: and when he sowed, some seeds fell by the wayside, and the fowls came and devoured them up: some fell upon the stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: and when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them: but other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold.”

The Savior’s commission was to preach the gospel to every creature-Gentile as well as Jew. The world was to be the field. Unlike the earlier commissions, they were not limited to a certain people or a certain section, but were to preach to all men everywhere. They may have had the idea that through their ministry and the ministry of those who followed, sinners would be effectually called, receive eternal life-be regenerated. If so, Jesus taught them that this would NOT be the result of their teaching. Instead of teaching that God would use their preaching in the work of regenerating sinners, he taught them that this work would be separate and apart from their ministry. Their preaching would only be effective and bring forth fruit in hearts already prepared and made good and honest by the Holy Spirit. But where hearts are ALREADY prepared and made good their preaching would produce fruit.

As the sowing of the seed had nothing to do with making the ground good, so the gospel has nothing to do with changing the hearts of dead sinners, who are said to have stony hearts, and hearts of flesh. If Jesus intended by this parable to illustrate the preaching of the gospel (which is almost universally admitted by all denominations), sinners are NOT regenerated through the preached word, unless indeed Jesus used a parable which was misleading and utterly failed to correctly represent his teaching. The latter we know could not be true; therefore, we argue, that it was no part of the teaching of Christ that sinners are regenerated through the instrumentalities of the preached word.

Concerning this parable Elder Lemuel Potter says: “Doubtless this parable is intended to teach the effect of the preached gospel, dependent on the state or condition of the heart. The unconverted heart is represented by the wayside, and the gospel fails to reach such a heart effectually. The fruit of the gospel in such a heart is as certain to be a failure as the natural seed sown by the wayside, which fowls devour up. The same is also true of the stony ground, and the thorny ground. In the parable, the reason all the seed sown on these three different grounds was a failure, is because the ground had not been previously prepared for the reception of the seed. As this is true, literally, so it is true that the human heart must, of necessity, have a previous preparation for the reception of the gospel, in order that the gospel bring forth fruit to perfection. The seed that fell into the ground, that had been prepared for the reception of seed, was the only ground that was productive of fruit, as the result of sowing seed in it. Seed could not fall into good ground, if there was no good ground for it to fall into. The ground was good before the seed fell into it. So the heart must be good before the gospel is preached, if it brings forth any fruit.” Labors and Travels, page 321.

Our ministers who met in Cordele (1909) said: “In the parable of the sower we learn that the seed were sown broadcast, falling on different kinds of soil, but only that falling on good ground-ground that had been prepared-brought forth fruit. So we understand as the gospel is preached in the hearing of all who may be present, yet it lodges and brings forth spiritual fruit only in those whose hearts have been touched by divine grace.”-Expression of Elders, page 10.

And here let us observe that if our interpretation of this parable is correct (and HE has said it is), Elder Screws is wrong in saying that the three thousand on the day of Pentecost were regenerated through Peter’s preaching. Peter preached according to the commission that day-he sowed the seed broadcast. It fell upon different kinds of soil. The wayside, the stony ground, and the good ground were certainly represented in that congregation. As, in the parable, the good ground was good before the seed fell and the seed had absolutely no part in making the ground good, just so were the hearts of those who were touched and moved by Peter’s preaching changed, good hearts, regenerated hearts, BEFORE he preached to them, or before they were affected by it.  It is the wildest speculation for Elder Screws to say that “not one of them was regenerated when they entered the house at nine o’clock that in morning.” We think there is evidence to show that he is mistaken in this, but we shall not argue that part of the question, for certainly God can regenerate a man while the minister is preaching as well as he could while he was following the plow, wielding the hammer in the shop, or in slumber on his bed. His remark only shows how hard pressed he was to prove his position, how recklessly he handles the word of the Lord, and how willing he was to wound the feelings of his brethren and to provoke a battle. Elder Screws must either give up his teaching concerning that meeting on the day of Pentecost or repudiate his interpretation of the Parable of the Sower. He cannot hold to both.

The same is equally true of his position in reference to those “begotten through the gospel,” and of every other scripture he interprets to teach gospel regeneration. He must repudiate his interpretation of that parable or he must acknowledge his error in teaching that God uses the preached word in the work of changing the hearts of dead sinners. It is a glaring inconsistency, a contradiction which all can easily see.

Argument Eight: Since the Scriptures teach that unregenerate sinners are DEAD, having eyes they see not, ears they hear not, hearts and understand not, they cannot be reached or affected by the gospel. Life must first be imparted, the eyes given sight, the cars opened, the heart capacitated to understand. The three-one God alone can give life, open blind eyes, unstop deaf ears, take away stony hearts and give hearts of flesh. He alone can dispel the darkness of death and give the light of life. The ministry and the gospel can dispel the darkness of ignorance and bring the light of instruction, but farther than this they cannot go. This was Paul’s commission as recorded in Acts 26:15-18. Through his preaching HE was to open eyes, but not blind eyes. If you want to know who opens BLIND eyes, turn and read Isa. 42:6-7. And since the natural man, the unregenerate man, the man dead in sin, the man who has never been born again, cannot see, hear, know, feel, understand, or receive the things of the Spirit, we argue that they cannot be regenerated through the preached word.

We have heard much said about limiting God; what God can do, &c. We do not think it would be sacrilege, but rather honoring, and scriptural, for me to say that God CANNOT regenerate a sinner through the preaching of the gospel. For to do so, would be a denial of himself, a setting aside the law of life, and a denial of the whole tenor of the teaching of his word.

Note the following scriptures:

1. “And you hath he quickened who were dead.” Eph. 2:1.

2. “But we had the sentence of death within ourselves, that we should not trust, in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead: who delivered us from so great a death.” 2 Cor. 1:9-10.

3. “For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all (of us), then were all (of us) dead.” 2 Cor. 5:14.

4. “And you being dead in your sins * * * hath he quickened together with him.” Col. 2:13.

5. “There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. There is no fear of God before their eyes.” Romans 3:9-19.

6. “So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.” Rom. 8:8.

7. “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, for they are spiritually discerned.” 1 Cor. 2:14.

8. “If our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost.” 2 Cor. 4:3.

9. “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us WHICH ARE  SAVED it is the power of God.” 1 Cor. 1:18.

10. “But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness; but unto them which are CALLED, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.” 1 Cor. 1:23-24.
 
11. “Why do ye not understand my speech? Even because ye cannot hear my word. * * He that is of God heareth God’s words: ye therefore hear them not because ye are not of God.” John 8:43, 47.

12. “Ye believe not because ye are not of my sheep.” John 10:26.

13. “We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us.” I John 4:6.

Then turn back and read all the scriptures we have offered in our other arguments. And if, after reading all of these, you decide that the gospel can reach the heart of the unregenerate-if it can be used as a means in the regeneration of sinners; if it is through the preached word men are created anew; I beg you to tell me what reason under heaven cam you give for the further existence of the Primitive Baptist denomination!

Argument Nine: Deut. 32:2. “My doctrine shall drop as the rain, my speech shall distill as the dew, as the small rain upon the tender herb and showers
upon the grass.”

I suppose all will admit that God’s ‘‘doctrine’’ and “speech” mean the gospel. The gospel in its effect is compared to rain; it affects the people as the rain affects the grass. If the rain gives life to dead vegetation, then we must concede that the gospel gives life to dead sinners. Or if God gives life to dead vegetation through the rain, then it is true that God gives eternal life to sinners dead in sins through the gospel. Unless the first is true, the second cannot be true, for God uses the one to represent the other. If the first is false and absurd, the second is equally so, for God declares both to be alike-the gospel SHALL drop upon men just as the rain falls upon vegetation. And unless the life giving power comes to dead vegetation in the rain, the life-giving power of God does NOT come to dead sinners in the gospel. To deny the first and then affirm the second would destroy the figure. Since the former cannot be true, we argue that the latter CANNOT be true.

God cannot regenerate sinners through the preached word for the express reason that to do so would make null and void the law he here so positively declares. God declares his gospel SHALL be just like the rain; should he give eternal life to one sinner through the preaching of the gospel this declaration would be proven false. God CAN NOT be untruthful. Therefore God cannot regenerate through the gospel. If this limits God, God set the “limit” himself. The rain does administer to living vegetation. It feeds, nourishes and develops its life; but its effect upon dead vegetation is quite different. So it is with the gospel. How different the gospel showers fall upon men!

Some mock and say, “these are full of new wine,” while others are deeply touched and cry out, “men and brethren, ‘what shall we do?” Glorious gospel! not to the dead, but to the LIVING. And the living are ALREADY regenerated.

Argument Ten: 2 Cor. 4:3-4. “But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost. In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.”

In this text the glorious gospel of Christ is  represented as a light that shines. It declares that the god of this world has blinded the minds of unbelievers (the “lost” or unregenerate) so that this light of the gospel cannot shine unto them. Note the figure. If every avenue of light is blinded, our room is dark, even at noon day. The sun cannot shine in until the blinds are removed. Light will NEVER remove the blinds; it will only shine in after the blinds have been removed. Nor can the light be used as a means in removing the blinds. Man cannot remove the blinds by, with, nor through the light. Neither is it any part of the office of the light of the sun to remove blindness. It only gives light to those who can see.

Just so with the gospel. It cannot shine into the mind of an alien sinner for his mind is blinded. It cannot remove that blindness, nor can any power remove blindness through its light. To take the position that GOD opens the blinds (removes the dead sinner’s blindness) through gospel light would set aside and make meaningless this figure given by Inspiration.

The light of the gospel ‘will “open” eyes of regenerate people, but NOT of dead sinners. And dead sinners are under consideration in this text. They must FIRST be regenerated; THEN the light of the gospel can shine in. They are NOT regenerated through gospel light.

Argument Eleven: Everywhere in God’s word the quickening of the sinner, the new birth, regeneration, is attributed to God-the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, but never to the preached word. We, therefore, argue that in this work God never uses the preaching of the gospel as a means.

That heaven-born souls are made believers through the gospel, the Bible abundantly teaches. But it no where teaches that children of God are made that way. Christ prayed for all who should afterward believe on him through their word (John 17), but he did NOT pray that God would regenerate sinners through their word. Paul said the gospel is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth. (Rom. 1: 16.) John says he that believeth that Jesus is the Christ IS born of God. (1 John 5:1.) If this means anything, it means that the new birth or regeneration must precede belief. The gospel reaches those who are saved with eternal salvation, and saves them from a thousand and one things that will distress, corrupt and harm in this life, and unto joy, peace, happiness, and the glory of him who has called them out of darkness into his marvelous light. It “begets” us unto a lively hope and faithful service. But for it to be the means which the Holy Spirit employs in the regeneration of sinners, it must do vastly more than this-it must reach the unbeliever, must save the unsaved, must beget the soul destitute of eternal life. This it does NOT do; this it CANNOT do.

We may be mistaken, but it seems to us that in his zeal to remodel his faith to harmonize with the faith of some of the “Fundamentalists,” whose faith he has adopted on other lines, Elder Screws has sought to invert the order of Primitive Baptists and make belief precede rather than follow the new birth;and in the attempt he has finally accepted the theory that none but believers shall ever reach heaven. We love the Fundamentalists. They teach and defend many doctrines dear to my heart. But they are Arminian on the plan of salvation. They use Romans 10 to teach their plan of salvation-first the preacher; then (by hearing) the believer; then calling upon Christ; then salvation, (eternal). This confines eternal salvation to believers, and makes the ministry and the gospel a means in regeneration.

Argument Twelve: The Bible teaches the doctrine of the quickening or regeneration of sinners dead in sins. In the statement of that doctrine the preached word is NEVER given as a means or medium to that end. If it is not given in the statement of that doctrine, as it is taught in God’s word, it does NOT belong to that doctrine.

If, notwithstanding it is nowhere mentioned in connection with the statement of that doctrine, it may be added as a part of that doctrine, then what is there on earth which may not also be added!
We are told that the deliverance of the Israelites from Egyptian bondage and their passage through the Red Sea was a type of regeneration; and we arethen reminded that God led them out and through that sea THROUGH Moses-it was God who did it, BUT through Moses. But, to make this more acceptable to our people, we are assured that Moses was NOT a means. If this is a type of regeneration (and we have often so used it in a limited sense) the Children of Israel must, of course, represent God’s elect, covenant people.

The next thing for us to determine is, who did Moses represent? OF WHOM WAS MOSES A TYPE? If Moses represented the gospel minister, as we arc told by our means brethren, then what right have they to say that ANY ONE will ever be regenerated except through the preacher? Every soul who came out of Egypt and through the Red Sea did so under the hand and leadership of Moses. Not a single exception. So again we are confronted with the doctrine that eternal salvation is limited to the preached word. But Moses there is NOT a type of the gospel  minister, he is a lively type of CHRIST. And this eliminates the preacher and the preached word. God’s word is perfect. We are exhorted to study and rightly divide the word of truth. Our faith is consistent at every point. To espouse the theory of gospel regeneration involves one in a maze of difficulties and inconsistencies and carries him eventually into the whirlpool of Arminianism.

Last Updated ( Thursday, 05 October 2006 )
< Previous   Next >

Purpose

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.