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Written by R.Anna Phillips   


Zion’s Landmark, February 1900

Except ye see signs and wonders ye will not believe.--John 4: 48.

Now Jesus said this of a certain class and therefore it is true.

How many who have undoubted evidences of having “passed from death unto life,” will not believe; and that because they have seen no signs and wonders as accompanying evidence; that is, no great marvelous and miraculous manifestations, as seeing a great light from heaven and hearing a voice or words with supernatural power, &c., in connection with a change. They were simply more or less burdened with the guilt of sin, then somehow were relieved, and they loved the brethren and the doctrine and desire above all things to be fit to join the church and be baptized; but as lacking these signs and wonders they would not confess belief. Some will say this burden gradually left them, they know not how or when, and because no miraculous manifestation showed them how and when, they will not believe. Others who can claim a particular time; yet because there were no supernatural signs confirming it from heaven, will not believe. No, in both cases, because there Were no great signs and wonders from heaven whereby they might believe--yes, whereby they might know it of God, they will not believe. But, if so, then they would believe and be baptized. How many have I talked with who had all the necessary scriptural evidences of being born of the spirit, who would tell me they had been burdened with a sense of condemnation for sin, and that it had been removed by some means; and that they believed and loved our doctrine, and loved the brotherhood, and personally more in proportion as one bore the image of Christ--how they did love such!--and that they felt a drawing desire to the church and to baptism; and what a blessed privilege it would be if they were only fit subjects for such--how they desired above all things to be fit, but alas, they had no experience of grace, as Christians have, they had seen no special and miraculous manifestations (signs and wonders), of a spiritual birth in their case: and that, they seemed to think, all born of the spirit had seen, and hence absolutely essential to belief or faith. Others have said they could not say for certain they had ever been convicted for sin--it did not seem they had ever suffered enough on account of sin, or as they believed other’s had, but from some cause they felt wretched and lost, and then in time were relieved, they could not exactly tell when or why; nor how they came to love the Lord and his people, end wanted to live with them. I said in substance to one such, “then you believe in Christ and salvation by grace?” “Oh, no; I believe in salvation by grace but not in Christ as a believer--I have had no such undoubted evidence, that I expected, and think, all Christians have.” But you may think they must necessarily see signs or wonderful visions and dreams to be born of the spirit. Do you see any such experience in the Testament? Yes, Paul’s, whose far greater works, sufferings and trials demanded such. But none of the other apostles had such: the many thousands who believed and were baptized had not such. It is said they that “gladly received the words” were baptized. Acts 2:41. For without a spiritual birth they could not have gladly received the gospel. The spirit of Christ is that of the gospel; you must have the same spirit to receive it, and this is imparted alone in the spiritual birth. If you gladly receive it, it is because you have the same spirit. But no, because you have had no marvelous, undoubted evidences you will not believe. You want a great rock-rending storm of thrilling emotions, or an earthquake raising the dead, or fire consuming all sin and fear and doubt--you want to see these mighty outward demonstrations in your experience and in the church to confirm the Lord in them. Like Elijah, you have hid in a cave, or feel, to be an isolated case--none like you. But the Lord commands you to come out and stand on a mount and learn that he is in none of these wonderful demonstrations in nature, but in “a still small voice (1Kings 19:12)--the unspoken voice within you--a voice as the kingdom of God within you “that comes not by observation”--a still voice and small, yet powerful in springing love to the Lord and his people, and promptings to fulfill his ordinances; the voice of faith longing for the courts of the Lord. Therefore, come out of the cave of felt isolation, and l know that there are seven thousand who have no better or brighter experience than you have. Come out on Mt. Zion and show the coin of your faith and let her read and interpret the superscription in faithfulness. It is all a mistake about the church requiring a great long, wonderful experience of visions, dreams, &c. An evidence or token of repentance toward God, and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ is all the church or the Bible requires. How often have a few broken words revealed this and gained full fellowship.

Now it is to only such as have these and yet are fearful to lay hold on them--claim them and bring them to the church in that they saw no “signs and wonders,” so to speak, in receiving them, and therefore hide back, as it were, under the mistaken idea that such are necessary to a genuine experience of grace; such as the church requires I am writing. Such as have not these, we do not want to apply to the church: more membership of such would injure the church, and be a great injustice to themselves, especially in bringing them to a position they were not capable of filling; nor can there be feasting and communion in spirit or agreement in walk. Yet: some such may, and I suppose do, come in, but without these secret fears, these spiritual tremors and misgivings of fitness. How different from those I would now encourage--those born of the spirit, yet are doubting and fearful because they have nothing to testify to it but the “still small voice” within them: and who because within doubt as feeling to lack outward and seen signs in confirmation. I would show them the way of God more perfectly. I dearly love and would help such as these.

Last Updated ( Thursday, 05 October 2006 )
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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.