REPLY TO A HARDSHELL BAPTIST ON
THE USE OF
MEANS IN THE NEW BIRTH [03/27/04]
Since my email about the Hunt-White
Debate, I have had some responses from various ones who express various points
of view. I had one email from a Primitive Baptist, or Hardshell, preacher, and
he gave a few isolated quotes from the likes of Boyce, Spurgeon, Pink, and Owen,
alleging that they were in agreement with the Hardshells on the internal,
pre-faith work of the Holy Spirit. Here is my reply to this
I think you know very well
that all the men you quoted believed in the Holy Spirit's working in
conjunction with the necessary use of "MEANS," which Hardshells deny.
I challenge you to show that any one of them ever taught that the new birth ever
took place or can take place apart from the Holy Spirit's use of
None of the men mentioned denied, nor do we deny,
that there is a pre-faith work of the Holy Spirit in the lost person,
variously described in terms, but no one disassociates this from the use of
And even though some writers may be found who broadly apply the
term "regeneration" to include or cover this pre-faith work of the Spirit, they
do not mean that this consitutes the new birth at that point; by the term
"regeneration" they do not mean that this pre-faith work is the new birth, but
it is only a partial or preparatory work. Furthermore, they insist that
it involves the conjunctive use of means.
example, on pages 373-375, makes it clear that in the terms he uses "The
Scriptures connect the two under the ONE IDEA of the new birth;" "the
whole work of Regeneration and Conversion is included under the
one term regeneration," and that the Scriptures "teach the use of the
word in regeneration." In fact, Boyce says that "the first step
here is to make known to man the gospel" (page 367), which obvioiusly
reveals that Boyce places the use of means as preceding the internal
work of the Holy Spirit.
PINK also insists on the
necessary use of means. "This He does by MEANS of the Gospel, by
the written word and oral ministry of the Scriptures, for the Word of God is the
only instrument He employs or uses (Phil. 2:16), but it only becomes such in the
experience of the individual soul by the immediate operation and application
of the Spirit of God" (Holy Spirit's Work in Salvation, page 13, Bible Truth
In his booklet, The New Birth, he has a section entitled,
"The New Birth is effected by the Word of God applied by the Holy Spirit" (page
22). He says "the Scriptures are termed 'The Word of Life,' because they alone
are capable of quickening those who are dead in trespasses and sins"
(page 23). He goes on to say that "dead souls are born again, but by the Word
of the living God" and quotes James 1:18, 1 Peter 1:23.
preach the Word of God, for by it, and it alone, are dead souls born again"
In his booklet, Regeneration or the New Birth, Pink says
"the only means or instrument which the Holy Spirit employs" in the new birth is
the Word (page 29). In his comments on the raising of Lazarus, which are
reproduced in book form in his Commentary on John, Pink says the following on
the "voice" of Christ which raised Lazarus: "And, too, it perfectly illustrated
the MEANS which God employs in REGENERATION. Men are raised
spiritually, pass from death unto life, by MEANS of the WRITTEN WORD, and by
that alone" (page 613).
In his Studies in the Scriptures magazine,
the issue of October 1952, he comments on 1 Thess. 1:5:
"It is for the
preaching of the GOSPEL to be ACCOMPANIED by the supernatural
operation of the SPIRIT, and the efficacious grace of God, so that souls are
Divinely QUICKENED, convicted, converted, delivered from the dominion of
sin and Satan. When the WORD is applied by the SPIRIT to a person, it
acts like the entrance of a two-edged sword into his inner man, piercing,
wounding, slaying his self-complacency and self-righteousness --as in case of
Saul of Tarsus (Romans 7:9, 10)" (page 233).
This reveals that Pink
considered the GOSPEL to be the same message as Christ gave to Saul in Acts 9
In the FINAL issue of his magazine (Dec. 1953), we
read about the preaching of the Gospel "to sinners as sinners:"
Gospel of salvation is ACCOMPANIED by the Holy Spirit with life and light to
elect sinners, and made the power of God unto salvation. By IT they hear
Christ's VOICE, see His glory, behold how He loved them, receive Him into
live by FAITH on the Son of God," etc. (page 266). So
Pink believed that "Christ's VOICE" is when the GOSPEL comes in the power of the
Holy Spirit, similar to what Paul wrote in First Thessalonians 1:5.
for SPURGEON, I need only refer you to his "Warrant
of Faith" sermon which was anathematized by the hypers of his day, such as
Mr. James Wells. See MTP, sermon #531. In that sermon, Spurgeon
"If I am to preach faith in Christ to a man who is regenerated,
then the man, being regenerated, is saved already, and it is an unnecessary and
ridiculous thing for me to preach Christ to him, and bid him to believe in order
to be saved when he is saved already, being regenerate" (Warrant
of Faith, #531, page 532).
Such sermons as the above should clearly
demonstrate that Spurgeon never meant to imply in any of his sermons that the
new birth is accomplished before the creation of faith, nor that means are not
involved in the Holy Spirit's work. He indeed taught that there is a
pre-faith, preparatory work of the Holy Spirit, but there is no justification
for the idea that this constitutes the new birth [or was apart from the use of
You also probably know that Spurgeon endorsed the 1689 London
Confession, whereas the Hardshells could not live with that Confession and
met to revise it in the Fulton Confession in November 1900.
effort to patch together quotes from "means" Baptists such as Spurgeon is
somewhat comparative to some Campbellites I have known who have tried to use a
line or two from Spurgeon in support of something which they think is favorable
to their views. -- Bob L. Ross
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