“Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6)
“Looking unto Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith . . .” (Hebrews 12:2)
“For we are His workmanship, CREATED in Christ Jesus . . .” (Ephesians 2:10)
“And you hath He QUICKENED [made alive] who were DEAD in trespasses and sins.” (Eph. 2:1)
THERE IS A DECEPTIVE DOCTRINE, a false doctrine, a false gospel that has been around hundreds of years, but has been especially popular the last hundred years, known historically as Arminianism. So popular has it been that if you go down the road, most churches you pass by will preach this false gospel that is deceiving poor souls right and left. Usually the preacher himself is deceived. I know of one preacher who had a famed radio broadcast who preached it for 25 years, until the Lord showed him he had never even been born again, and had been preaching a lie!
With this doctrine in one’s brain, and in his heart, a man well could be on his way to hell, thinking he is on his way to heaven! Even the Lord Jesus tells us about the MANY that will say to Him at that day of Judgment, Did we not do these mighty works in Your name. And He will not recognize them as His own, but will say,—
“Depart from Me; I never knew you!”
I am just a man, and you may think I am being unreasonably bold and blunt, but Jesus is Deity Himself, and look what He said! So it MUST be that many are deceived into thinking something that is not true, deceived into believing a false gospel and feeling SECURE that they will make it to Heaven. This false gospel is one that is just naturally believed and accepted by the human nature. It takes a miracle of grace, the very revelation of God to convince a soul of what the TRUE gospel is all about! The more a child of God studies, the more he takes seriously the very words of Christ and His apostles, the more he sees—in growing measure—just how cruel and deceptive and false the Arminian doctrine is.
Some of these deceived preachers say many good things, many true things, and are not aware of their deception and that as to salvation they are like the blind leading the blind. I would hope and pray that they would come to see the light just as the preacher I refer to above who had a radio ministry in the 1900’s. The more a child of God studies this issue, having the very Spirit of God in Him to teach him, the more he will see just how cruel, misleading and deceptive this Arminian doctrine is. Oh! If he is delivered from it, how he will praise God in all humility!
DID YOU READ THE LEADING VERSES at the head of this article? The Arminian may say he believes them, but it is only because he glosses over them, without realizing what they really are saying. They all REFUTE the Arminian theology, and if such a person would realize the meaning of these words in God’s Word, it would go a long way in removing the scales from his eyes and lead him into truth. But this of course, must be by the grace and work of God to make the blind to see.
A man, to be saved, must be CREATED in Christ Jesus. (Study Ephesians 1 and 2.) Since Jesus is the Author and Finisher of the believer’s true faith, where, then, is there room for the sinner to start it and finish it himself? And if it is God that quickened or made alive the soul dead in trespasses and sins, where is there room for him to somehow make himself alive? It is the sovereign work of God. Man CANNOT do it, no matter how many aisles he is persuaded to walk to make an easy profession with his natural will. Not that we always know whether it is one’s natural or a new spiritual will that has been activated, but with such deceptive theology as Arminian “easy believism,” it is quite likely that most such so-called decisions are actually false professions with no real fruit to show that they are real. Thus with a false gospel being presented, the true God and the real Jesus is not known! Not unless somehow God works on a soul apart from and in spite of such gross error.
And what about that first verse mentioned at the beginning. Philippians 1:6? Did God begin the work in the soul, or not? If it was God, then, as the verse says, we can be CONFIDENT that He which BEGAN the work WILL complete it! And why would God leave the beginning of the work up to man, when He tells us in so many to other place about the man being dead, being helpless, without the needed power, and that the natural man can in no way understand the things of God because they are spiritually discerned and he is spiritually BLIND? Would you expect a blind man to walk through a cemetery without stumbling over a tombstone? Would you expect a dead man in those graves to rise up and hear the voice of a preacher without first being made alive, just as Lazarus was when Jesus told him to come forth from the grave? In talking to a preacher one time who was a bit Arminian, he admitted and confessed “that a dead man could not even put on his socks.” And so it is.
And if you will look up words like Complete, Finish, Perfect, you will see that our Almighty and All-Powerful God teaches us to complete what we start. Jesus tells about NOT to undertake a task, like building a house, without counting the cost, to know if you are going to be able to finish what you start. Even from that, you can know that God will not start something that He does not finish. That is impossible, just as it is impossible for God to lie. He sees the end from the beginning, and He finishes everything He starts. He is the Author AND the Finisher of our faith. Neither me nor the Arminians are able to be the author of our faith.
NOW LET US LOOK AT SOME EXAMPLES:
Most are aware of the poor publican that felt so convicted as a lost sinner; so much so that he could not even raise his eyes to heaven. So he smote his breast and cried out, “Lord, be merciful to me, a sinner.” But what most people have not even thought about is why did he cry out in recognition of his sad state? A dead man cannot know and feel that. A man of nature, with no understanding of the things of God, can’t realize how bad he is before the holy God and how he has broken God’s law over and over and have godly sorrow over his condition.
It must be that even to cry out, he must have already been made ALIVE, or what the book of Ephesians calls “quickened” to life. Even in nature a baby does not cry out until he is born. And if you say the baby in the womb cries, I happen to agree with that; but that baby in the womb is a LIVE baby. Life begins with conception. So that crying publican, crying out for the mercy and forgiveness of God, was not yet knowledgeable of being forgiven and having God’s mercy, BUT HE WAS ALIVE, or he never would have cried! That was God’s work.
What about the apostle Paul, when his name was Saul before his conversion. He was on the way to persecute Christians when the Lord struck him down, made him alive, converted him after “quickening” him and—note—revealing Christ not only TO him but as being IN him. That is what his testimony says. So, I take it that when God quickened him, Christ entered him also, and then it was a revelation to him that let him know that Christ was indeed IN him, and Saul had absolutely NOTHING to do to make this happen. Making Saul (Paul) alive was God’s work. Had God NOT done it, then Saul would have continued on in persecuting the Christians and the Jesus who he hated and did not believe in. Not until God began the work in him and became the Author of his faith! In fact, Paul was always careful to give all the glory for his salvation to God and His grace. He said,—
“But now, after that ye have known God, OR RATHER are known OF God . . . .” (Galatians 4:9)
And note, Paul did not brag about “taking care of his salvation,” or “making a decision to get into Christ.” True, the true gospel is “worthy of all acceptation,” but do you hear Paul confess that he made a decision of his own natural will to accept Christ, and therefore he got born again as a result of this work? No, nothing like that at all! In fact Paul says much about it NOT being “by blood, or by the will of man, or by the will of the flesh”; it was not by works in any sense, but by grace. His own words are, and his own testimony is,
“But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by His grace, TO REVEAL His Son IN me, that I might preach Him among the heathen.” (Gal. 1:16) Paul is spoken of as our pattern.
And what about Peter? The Arminians like to speak much about John 3:16, and it is gloriously true, but what about Matthew 16:16? Jesus, in verse 15 asked Peter, “But whom say ye that I am?” And Simon Peter answered and said, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Did Jesus say, “Great! Peter, you have made a good decision”? No! No, but He said, “Blessed art thou . . . for flesh and blood HATH NOT REVEALED it unto thee, but My Father . . .”
This understanding and knowledge of God in Peter was NOT attributed any way to the flesh, but rather Jesus denied such was the case. He said it by the REVELATION of the Father. And I might point out that revelation comes NOT to a dead man, but to a living man, a man who has been made alive by God Himself, “quickened,” and “created in Christ Jesus.”
Thus Jesus also said, “No man can come to Me, except the Father draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.”
“And this is the Father’s will which hath sent Me, that of ALL which He hath given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.”
“All that the Father giveth me shall come to me. . . .”
“My sheep hear My voice and I know them, and they follow Me. . . .” Study John 6,10 & 17.
“All things are delivered unto Me of My Father; and NO MAN knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, AND HE TO WHOMSOEVER THE SON WILL REVEAL Him.” (Matthew 11:27)
All this being true, even true gospel truth, Jesus could and did say to God the Father,—
“I thank Thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and HAST REVEALED THEM to babes. Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Thy sight.” (Matt. 11:25,26)
There are so many other pictures of salvation and redemption in the Bible, that depict the redeemed as helpless until God undertakes for him and says LIVE. Then He washes him or her up, and prepares her, the church, to be the spotless bride of the Lord Jesus Christ, our heavenly Bridegroom. Thus ALL the Father gave to the Son for this Bride, shall be saved. None shall ever perish. Not one. He will see to it that are GIVEN life, that they are redeemed and prepared for His Son, for the great wedding day. He will give them life and by His power make them willing. Yes, willingly willing. They will have life and a will to believe. They will thus be the recipients of the Authorship and the Finishing of their faith. They will have been created in Christ Jesus. The work will be complete, performed to perfection. The saints will be housed in glory for all eternity. Praise and worship the God of our salvation for His gift of eternal life, and for the Savior and Shepherd of our souls. Amen and praise the Lord. Worship the King.
Hatred of Election Turned to Love
YEARS AGO in England lived a most excellent minister by the name of John Kershaw. He was born and grew up a natural man, rebellious toward the spiritual things of God, not unlike all sons of Adam.
You can read of his life in his autobiography, Memorials of the Mercies of a Covenant God or Autobiography of John Kershaw or you can order from us a small booklet containing his struggles as a youth before his conversion to the true Christian faith.
But this booklet in your hands right now contains his account of his hatred of election, even after the Lord had dealt much with him in grace, giving him hunger for the things of God. At that time he still had no understanding of the doctrine of election. Though he was familiar with many of the scripture references to this doctrine, he did not know what they meant. Furthermore, when it was first explained to him what they meant, natural hatred for this doctrine arose in his heart as a doctrine most unfair and a doctrine to be HATED!
But I will let him tell you his own story. If you have some of the same feelings he had, then his story may be of help to you.
It will be seen from the following narration that when I first heard of election I was upon old covenant ground. One Sunday evening I went with my father and my mother’s brother to the Independent meeting in Rochdale to hear Mr. Roby, of Manchester. As we returned home, these two pilgrims were wonderfully pleased with the sermon, saying that he had preached election very clearly and strongly. Election was evidently the joy and rejoicing of their souls; sweeter to their taste than honey or the honeycomb.
I wondered what this election could be that they were so delighted with. I could not at that time make free to ask what it meant; but the next day I went to the house of a cousin who had formerly lived with my father, and was a member of the Baptist church at Rochdale under the pastoral care of Mr. Littlewood, for the purpose of inquiring as to this important subject.
When I got to his house, he was just taking down his basket to go to the market, and I went with him. As we were walking towards the town, I said, “Last night you heard Mr.Roby.” “Yes,” he replied, “and a very good sermon he preached.”
As we were going home, I then said, “Your father and mine were well pleased that he had been, as they termed it, exceedingly strong and firm upon the doctrine of election, and I am come on purpose to ask you what this election means.” He said, “Do you not recollect that in the New Testament you read of the elect; that no flesh shall be saved, ‘but for the elect’s sake’? ‘And if it were possible, the false Christs and prophets would deceive the very elect’? ‘And shall not God avenge His own elect, which cry day and night unto Him, though He bear long with them’? “Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect?’ ‘Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father;’ ‘That the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of Him that calleth;’ ‘Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace;’ ‘But the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded;’ ‘Knowing, brethren beloved your election of God;’ ‘And God will send His angels, with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together His elect from the four winds, from the one end of heaven to the other’?
“Yes,” I said, “I have read all these texts many times; but I did not know what they meant, and I wish you would explain them.”
He answered, “The elect are God’s people that He hath loved and chosen in Christ from before the foundation of the world, and ordained them unto eternal life and salvation through Christ; and He has done this according to His good will and sovereign pleasure, as He has said to Moses, ‘I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and compassion on whom I will have compassion.’ ‘So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy.’ Thus, you see, it is those whom He has loved and chosen and ordained to eternal life that will be saved, and none else; as Paul says in Romans 11:7: ‘But the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded.’”
As I looked at the doctrine as thus laid down, I shall never forget the hatred and indignation that rose up in my carnal heart against it. I said within myself, “It it the most unjust, unreasonable doctrine that ever could be broached. I may read and pray, and go to the chapel and do all the good I can, and if I am not elected be lost after all. It does not even give a man a chance to be saved. I neither can nor will believe this election.”
Just as I was about to open my mouth against it, and utter with my lips the horrid feelings of my heart, this thought came into my mind: “There must be something in this election that I do not understand; for if there be two good men in this country, living to God and for another world, it is my father and my uncle, and they glory in it. Mr. Roby is a good minister of Jesus Christ, and highly esteemed, and he believes it, and preaches it, too. I will say nothing against it till I know more about the matter.” Thus I was mercifully prevented from lifting up my voice against the God-glorifying, soul-humbling and heart-enlarging doctrine of election.
There is no branch of divine truth left upon record that has been so bitter and galling to my mind as God’s election; yet I can truly say there is no doctrine recorded in all the Bible that has been so sweet and blest to my soul. But more of this anon.
My cousin saw that I was much confounded and perplexed in my mind about it, and spoke very kindly to me, saying he was sorry I did not hear Mr. Gadsby the other day at Manchester, as he opened it up so clearly, and proved it from the Word of God that there were thousands of God’s elect unborn, that lay in the loins of their ancestors, that must be brought into existence, called by grace, and landed safe in glory; and that when the Lord had gathered in the number of His elect, the world would be at an end. There appeared something so solemn in this statement that it rather tended to fill my mind with awe. He told me if I would go again to his house, he would lend me a book which would more fully and clearly explain these things, and he wished me to read it carefully over, and make it a matter of prayer to the Lord to guide and direct me into the truth. He moreover exhorted me in reading to have my Bible by me, and examine by it the proofs that the author brought forward.
I had no rest in my spirit until the book was in my possession. It was “Elisha Coles on God’s Sovereignty.” I began to read, and prayed to be guided right, referring to the proofs in the Word of God, and such light shone into my mind that I was astonished. I saw that election shone like a sunbeam from Genesis to Revelation, and many were the hours that I spent in this manner. Like the noble Bereans, I searched the Scriptures daily, and found that election was the solemn truth of God, and can never be overthrown, either by men or devils. And one strong proof of its divine authenticity is, the carnal proud heart of fallen sinful man hates it, and fights against it, as mine did.
Finding that election was the truth of God, the question then with me was: “Am I one of them that the Lord hath loved with an everlasting and electing love, one that Christ has redeemed from amongst men by His blood?” I could not, however, find that evidence within me, that I was one of God’s chosen people, which my soul longed for.
One night I went into the wood to pray that I might know my election of God. My mind was dark, hard, miserable and wretched. I feared lest I should be a reprobate. My carnal wicked heart boiled with enmity and rebellion against God that ever He gave me a being; blasphemous thoughts against Him were working in my mind as I was kneeling before Him. I shuddered at what I felt, and as I went home that night, the enmity of my carnal heart was so stirred up that I had even to lay my hand over my lips to keep these vile thoughts from breaking out in words. O how my spirit sank! I was ready to call myself a thousand bad names, that ever I should have such feelings against the God in whose hand my breath is, and against whom I have sinned and done evil in His sight, even as I could.
Strange as this may appear, it was to teach me that God had neither loved nor chosen me because of my goodness, but for His great love wherewith He loved me, even when dead in trespasses and sins. The apostle Peter says, “Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure.” I was, however, led to see that if I could prove my effectual calling by grace, it was true evidence of my election. I was therefore led to look “unto the rock from whence I was hewn, and to the hole of the pit from whence I was digged.” I knew that it was not my own will nor power that had brought me out of the world of the ungodly, for instead of putting a helping hand to the work, I had long fought against Him.
Another question arose in my mind, “Why was it that the Lord singled me out from the rest of my father’s house, and from amongst my sinful companions?” It could not be because I was either better or more deserving than they, for I was one of the worst; but it was “the good will of Him that dwelt in the bush” that I should be effectually called and formed for Himself to show forth His praise. I was led to ask myself what obligation had I laid the Lord under to save me and have mercy upon me—what demand I had upon Him for His mercy and favour. I felt in my inmost soul that I had no demand upon the Lord, that should the Lord mark my iniquities I could not stand before Him. I knew that He had not dealt with me after my sins, nor rewarded me according to my iniquities, and that it was of His mercies that I was not consumed, and because His compassions fail not. Thus I found that He would be just and righteous in my condemnation. My mouth was stopped, and I could say with Dr. Watts:
“Should sudden vengeance seize my breath,
I must pronounce Thee just in death;
And if my soul were sent to hell,
Thy righteous law approves it well.”
I felt that if I was saved, it must be by grace, through faith, and that not of myself; it is the gift of God. “Not of works, lest any man should boast.”
Since this period, the Lord has been graciously pleased at sundry times to shed His electing love abroad in my soul, as I shall state hereafter; and it has filled me with holy wonder that ever He should have thoughts of love and mercy toward such a vile wretch as myself. Many times, with sweet and solemn pleasure and tears of joy, have I united with the dear people of God at the Lord’s Supper in singing the following lines:
“While all our hearts and all our songs
Join to admire the feast,
Each of us cry, with thankful tongues,
Lord, why was I a guest?
“Why was I made to hear Thy voice,
And enter while there’s room,
While thousands make a wretched choice,
And rather starve than come?
“’Twas the same love that spread the feast
That sweetly forced us in,
Else we had still refused to taste,
And perish’d in our sin.”
For many years past, when we have an addition to our number, I have given out the hymn that contains the above verses. When the Lord, by His Holy Spirit, says to the poor sinner, “I have loved thee with an everlasting love, therefore with loving kindness have I drawn thee” it draws him from sin to holiness; it enlarges his heart, and his feet run with a sweet and solemn pleasure in the way of His commandments. I am a witness for God that election made known to a poor sinner will never lead him to sin but to love, honor and obey the Lord in the precepts and exhortations of His Word.
As it respects election not giving a man a chance to be saved, I have proved that had it been left to chance, as they call it, upon the ground of my own free will, I should have been lost forever. My free will as a depraved sinner would have left me on the broad and downward road that leads to destruction, and so would it have been with all Adam’s fallen race. Not one soul would ever have been saved. It is the eternal purpose of God in our election, which He purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord, that inevitably secures the salvation of countless millions of Adam’s fallen race: “For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the Firstborn among many brethren. Moreover, whom He did predestinate, them He also called; and whom He called, them He also justified; and whom He justified, them He also glorified.” This scripture has with great propriety been called the golden chain of salvation, and is so firmly put together by our Triune Jehovah that one link of it can never be broken, either by men or devils, the world or sin, death or hell. Paul exults in this saying: “Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors, through Him that loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:38-39).
I was brought up amongst the sect calling themselves Independents, so that all my earliest attachments were to that people. The ordinance of baptism I was taught to believe was that of infant sprinkling. After my cousin, above mentioned, left my father’s house, he began to attend the Baptist chapel at Rochdale, and I heard that he and some others were to be baptized by immersion. Moved by curiosity and attachment to my relative, I went to see the ordinance administered. I got there in good time, and had a seat where I could see the whole of what was attended unto.
Mr. Littlewood preached upon the ordinance, proving that believers are the proper subjects, and that immersion was the scriptural mode of its administration. He was an able advocate for the doctrine, though what he said had not the least effect upon my mind in convincing me it was right. After the sermon he left the pulpit, and a hymn was sung, during which time my mind was filled with anxiety. The minister and candidates for baptism came out of the vestry, and standing by the water-side, the minister delivered a short address. They then, like Philip and the eunuch, went down into the water, “and he baptized them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” As I sat and looked on, my mind was greatly affected. I said within myself, “This is the baptism of the Bible.” I thought of John baptizing at Enon, near to Salim, because there was much water there, and of Jesus being baptized by John in the river Jordan.
From this time I became a decided Baptist in principle, and nothing that I have ever heard or read against it since has in the least tended to move me from it, but rather to establish my mind in the truth of the doctrine. The arguments raised in support of infant sprinkling I conceive are founded upon supposition, drawn from circumstantial evidence, viz., supposing that there were infants in those households that were baptized in the apostolic age without having one “Thus saith the Lord” to build on. . . .
MY SOUL SET AT LIBERTY
Leaving for a time the historical part of my narrative, I return to the more immediate dealing of the Lord with my soul. In a former part of my memoir I have stated how I was led to see the way of salvation by Christ Jesus under the ministry of Mr. Hurst, and the question with me was, “Is He my Saviour and Redeemer?” Feeling so much darkness of heart, coldness, deadness and barrenness of soul, darkness of mind, and the workings of sin within, I often said, “If it be so, why am I thus? Why this dull and lifeless frame?” Fears and temptations crowding in upon me, the enemy telling me the good work of grace had never been begun in my soul, that I had never repented right, and that my prayers were so poor and half-hearted, such wanderings of affection when on my knees, I could not be a child of God, nor a friend of Him I attempted to worship.
In this state of mind I went one Sunday evening to a prayermeeting. One of the friends took a new hymn book out of his pocket, which he called “Rippon’s Selection.” It was a book I was entirely unacquainted with, being always accustomed to Dr. Watts psalms and hymns. He give out that hymn of John Newton’s:
“Tis a point I long to know,” etc.,
He read the hymn through. I stood and listened with the deepest attention; every word of it had a place in my heart and soul. It was such an opening up of the feelings and excercises of my mind which, if my salvation had depended upon it, I could not have described so well. This was a great help and encouragement, knowing that others of the Lord’s family had travelled in the same path before me, and that I was in the footsteps of the flock; and that “as in water face answereth to face, so the heart of man to man.” My regard for this hymn, and that of Cowper’s:
“The Lord will happiness divine
On contrite hearts bestow.
Then tell me, gracious Lord, is mine
A contrite heart or no?”
is such that I hope never to forget them, and the benefit I derived from them, as long as I live. I have great union of soul to all who labour under the same feeling and exercises of mind; but I can feel no union of spirit to those who can pour contempt upon such hymns, and say “they ought never to be printed.”
I knew a minister of the above description who said “he never had a doubt or fear of his interest in Christ for twenty years;” but his end, alas! proved that he had mistaken a presumptuous confidence for a tender conscience and fear of the Lord. “For as the body without the soul is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” With all such professors I wish to have no intercourse. “Poor worm Jacob and the men of Israel,” Christ’s “little flock,” who knew what Paul meant when he said, “Without are fightings, and within are tears,” I would choose for my companions in tribulation and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ.
My heart was so hard and obdurate that I could only repent as the Lord gave me the grace of repentance, blessed me with a broken and contrite spirit, and laid me low at Jesus’s feet. I felt, too, that I could only believe savingly and feelingly as the Lord gave me faith, and I proved experimentally that true saving faith which brings peace, joy, and rest into the soul is not of ourselves; “it is the gift of God; not of works, lest any man should boast.”
Hearing Mr.Gadsby, in one of his monthly visits to Rochdale, describe the marks and evidences of a heaven-born and Spirittaught child of God, helped me much. The Saviour said to Nicodemus, “Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit ye cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” The truly converted soul becomes like the new-born babe spoken of in Ezek. 16: “But thou wast cast out into the open field, to the loathing of thy person, in the day that thou wast born.” In this new-born babe I saw an emblem of myself. It was cast out into the open field; so was I cast out from all my former connections and sinful ways. It was weak and helpless; it could neither wash, nor clothe, nor feed, nor guard, nor protect, nor defend itself. All that it could do was to cry and bewail its indigent, pitiable state. Its very crying was sighing and crying to the Lord. I saw and felt that I was polluted with sin, and stood in need of being washed in the blood of the Lamb, that I was naked, and stood in need of the robe of righteousness, and to be clothed with the garments of salvation. As a new-born babe desires the breast of its mother, so did I desire the sincere milk of the Word. Oh the many hours that I spent in reading the Word of God! I stood in need of being guarded, protected, and defended from the curse and condemnation of the law, the assaults and fiery darts of the devil, the pleasures and allurements of this vain and sinful world. I saw that the Lord did all for this poor helpless infant it stood in need of, and I felt He must do all for me; for without Him I could do nothing but add sin to sin, and sink myself deeper and deeper in the horrible pit and miry clay.
I had a confidence wrought in me by the blessed Spirit that Christ was able to do all these things for me; and indeed I entreated His blessed Majesty that I might be saved by Him, washed in His blood, and clothed in His righteousness. Nothing could satisfy my poor longing soul short of knowing that I had “redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.” Though I did not receive the blessing of pardon as soon as I wished it, I was sometimes “helped with a little help” by the way, with a little softening of spirit, a sweet savour in longing and thirsting after the Lord, and sometimes a little encouraged under the ministry of the Word. At other times I was greatly discouraged, tempted to believe that I had prayed in vain; that though I sought the blessing it would forever be denied.
Unbelief put up its head, and told me the Lord says, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you;” yet you have been asking, seeking and knocking for many months, and you have not found the blessing, that peace and pardon your soul longs for. The promise cannot be true, or you have not sought it in the right way. Rebellion began to work in my heart, and the enemy said, “Pray no more; it is all in vain.” My spirit sank. I staggered in my mind like a drunken man, and was at my wits end. The things that I had to contend with, both from within and without, made me so miserable that I was weary of my life, shut up as in a prison, bound in affliction and iron; under the preached word miserable and wretched, in the company of the people of God agitated; as David said, my soul “refused to be comforted.”
Those around me could see in my countenance that I was in a very low and distressed state, and were afraid of me committing the horrid crime of suicide, watching me in order to prevent it. I was sorely put to it for some time, such thought haunting me that I cannot find words to express the misery and bitterness of soul I felt.
One Lord’s day, in this state of mind, I went to the house of God. The people all appeared happy and comfortable; the minister preached the truth, but it had no effect upon my mind, only to make me more miserable. Like the poor prisoner who through a grate “sees others walk at large,” so it increased my misery and distress. After morning service I followed the people to the house, where some of them dined. They all appeared cheerful and happy in their souls, whilst my mind was torn to pieces with sin, guilt, fears and temptations. I could not stay among them. The enemy said, “Dost thou not see how happy and comfortable these people are? They are the people of God, enjoying the blessed presence of the Lord, but thou art a castaway, a reprobate. Thy prayers are all in vain. It is of no use thy appearing amongst them. Thou art but a deceiver. Put an end to thy miserable existence, and try the worst of it.”
With these feelings I left the house and went to the town bridge, where I stood for a few minutes, my mind greatly confused. I, however rambled on towards the wood, through which the river ran, and where there was more depth of water. I entered the wood, when these thoughts rushed into my mind: “It is a solemn and awful thing to go out of time into eternity. I will try to pray.” I climbed up into the wood and leaned on a fence, trying to pour out my soul to the Lord, but could not. I felt so shut up and rebellious. I came down towards the spot whence I previously thought of jumping into the water, but when I got to the brink I stood trembling before the Lord. Turning around to look if there was anyone in sight, I saw a large tree higher up in the wood, and the thought came across me that I would kneel down behind it. I had not kneeled under the fence, and fancied that if my knees were bent to the earth the Lord might peradventure hear me.
I went and fell down before Him, and He was graciously pleased to break into my soul. My hard stubborn heart began to soften, and my darkness to flee away, and I was blest with a contrite and humble spirit whilst confessing my sins before Him, and had nearness of access in pleading with Him for mercy on such a rebellious wretch. I thanked Him for keeping me in the hour of temptation, beseeching Him that He would never leave nor forsake me, but guide me in all my ways.
How long I was in this frame of spirit, confessing my sins and pleading with the Lord, I cannot tell; for when the Lord appears, time goes on swiftly and sweetly. The first thing that called my mind from this delightful communion was a man standing near the water, looking up into the wood, who called out, “A Methodist, a Methodist, praying behind the tree!” I made no reply to his taunts, but returned to the town, thanking the Lord that my soul had escaped as a bird out of the hand of the fowler, for the snare was broken and I had escaped.
This kind interposition of the Lord was very seasonable, because much needed; yet not that deliverance from guilt and condemnation my soul longed for. The temptation, however, did not return with the same force, but the joy I then felt soon declined, and my soul sank lower than ever. Oh the sighs and groans, with strong crying and tears! The agonies my poor soul has endured I cannot describe. I did not want company, but wandered alone, pondering things over in my poor soul. There was nothing that I could lay hold of to bring comfort and rest into my wearied mind. Looking to Mount Sinai and the Law of Ten Commandments made me tremble. If I looked to my past life, I was ashamed and confounded. If I looked within, I could find no good thing. The buffetings of Satan, a conscience laden with guilt, bowed me down greatly. These were my constant companions. I would fain have gotten rid of these feelings, but I could not. Like David, “I roared by reason of the disquietness of my heart.” To tell me that it was in my power to act spiritual faith and relieve myself from the burden, tended only to increase my misery. I could say, as John Newton sings:
“O could I but believe,
Then all would easy be;
I would, but cannot; Lord, relieve me;
My help must come from Thee.”
If David could have delivered his soul, he would not have needed to cry so earnestly, “O Lord, I beseech Thee, deliver my soul.” Whoever they are that can believe when they please, their faith stands in their own wisdom and power, and not in the wisdom and power of God, and, consequently, is not the faith of God’s elect, but of the stony-ground hearers, who have not the root of the matter in them; who for a while believe, and appear to receive the Word with joy, but in time of temptation fall away. The Lord’s living family “are not of them that draw back unto perdition, but of them that believe to the saving of the soul,” being kept by the power of God, through faith, unto salvation. That faith which has not Jesus Christ for its author and finisher will never stand the test, bear the soul up in the swellings of Jordan, nor land it safe in glory.
The nearer my deliverance approached, the greater was the burden and distress of my soul; and so it was with the children of Israel before God brought them out of Egyptian bondage, and they were never to forget the memorable night of their deliverance.
I hope never to forget the night the Lord brought my soul out of bondage into the glorious liberty of the gospel. It was on a Lord’s day evening. I went in the morning to the house of God in a very distressed state of mind, and remained so all day. The preaching only tended to increase my misery, the enemy telling me that, like Simon Magus, I had neither part nor lot in the matter. Having attended three services, I was returning home (it was a fine summer evening), in my feelings worse than when I set out in the morning. So sinful, miserable and wretched did I feel myself that I was ready to give all up for lost, the accuser of the brethren harassing me with his temptations, saying it was of no use going any more either to chapel or prayer-meetings. It was folly and presumption to read and pray, for the more I attended to these things, the more wretched I grew. My soul gave way under these temptations, and I said within myself, “I will give all my religion up, for it is nothing but a stench in my own nostrils. What must it be then to the Lord of Hosts?”
So engaged was my mind that I stood in the road, when this question arose within me: “What am I to do? Go back into the world I cannot. I have tried again and again to do this, and found their society more and more distasteful.” I then concluded that I would have nothing to do either with the world or the people of God, but be a kind of go-between, or as the sparrow alone upon the house-top, moping and solitary as a dove or the crane in the wilderness, and try to make myself as easy as possible in my present outcast condition; but alas! There is no comfort for a guilty sinner in such a state of mind.
Whilst pondering on these things, the following words came with such power upon my mind, as though I had heard them spoken by an audible voice: “O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from this body of sin and death?” I was so struck with their import that I stood amazed, saying to myself, “
“These are the words of St. Paul in the seventh chapter to the Romans. He was a good and gracious man, a minister of Jesus Christ, and the great apostle of the Gentiles. If he had thus to complain of sin and wretchedness, who can tell but I may be a child of God after all my fears and temptations?”
The latter part of the chapter flowed in my mind like a river. I could truly say, “For that which I do I allow not; for what I would, that I do not; but what I hate, that I do. For the good that I would I do not; but the evil that I would not, that I do. I find then, that when I would do good, evil is present with me.”
My soul was greatly encouraged. I found I was a brother and companion with Paul in this path of internal tribulation and Christian experience. I hastened home to get my Bible, in order to examine the chapter through. I read it with such light, power and comfort, as I had never felt before; so pleased and blest in my soul that I began to read the next chapter, commencing thus: “There is therefore, now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”
As I read these words, their blessed contents were brought into my soul with power and glory. I saw and felt that I was in Christ Jesus, saved with an everlasting salvation. The burden of sin was removed, my conscience cleansed by an application of the precious blood of Christ. I felt the sealing testimony of the Holy Spirit of God that I stood complete and accepted in the Beloved. I read the chapter through with a joy I cannot describe. I now knew my election of God, and that no charge could ever be brought against me, because Christ had died for my sins, and was raised again from the dead for my justification; that He ever lived to make intercession for me, and would receive me into His kingdom of glory. The love of Christ was shed abroad in my heart; I saw and felt that nothing could separate me from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. How precious and glorious were the truths contained in this chapter to my soul on that memorable evening; and often, in reading and preaching, when I have cited portions of it, I have felt a little of the same sweetness and savour. Thanking the Lord for the great deliverance He had wrought for me and in me with the joy of salvation in my soul, I retired for the night, but so ravished was I with the beauty and glory of Christ as my Saviour and Redeemer that sleep departed from me.
Many restless nights had I previously endured with a guilty conscience, a broken law, an evil heart, a tempting devil, crowds of doubts and fears and carnal reasonings; but all had now departed. The year of jubilee was come, the prisoner was brought out of the dungeon into the banqueting house, and the banner over him was love.
I well remember this question passing across my mind: “Where are all my sins, that have so long been a burden and plague to my soul?” I saw by faith that a precious Christ had put them all away by the sacrifice of Himself, and made an end of sin; as it is written: “In those days, and in that time, saith the Lord, the iniquity of Israel shall be sought for, and there shall be none, and the sins of Judah, and they shall not be found; and I will pardon whom I reserve” (Jer. 50:20). My sins had appeared as scarlet and crimson, but were all washed away in the blood of atonement. As I stood in Christ, I was white as snow or as wool. Such was the joy of my heart in the dead of the night, the family asleep around me, that I sang in my soul-feelings:
“See, here an endless ocean flows
Of never-failing grace.
Behold, a dying Saviour’s veins
The sacred flood increase.
“It rises high, and drowns the hills,
Has neither shore nor bound;
Now, if we search to find our sins,
Our sins can ne’re be found.
“Awake, our hearts, adore the grace,” etc.
Bless the Lord, this song has been sweet and precious to my soul many times since the memorable night of my deliverance, and I hope will be until I join the everlasting song, “Unto Him that hath loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and His Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever, Amen.”
All my doubts and fears were now removed by that perfect love which casteth out fear. I felt assured that the good work of grace was begun in my soul, and, with Paul, had a confidence “that He which had begun it would carry it on until the day of Christ Jesus.” No fears of my sins standing against me, nor of the curse of the law, nor of death or hell. I saw that all my foes were vanquished. My soul could now joyfully sing, “Behold, God is my salvation. I will trust and not be afraid; for the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song; He also is become my salvation.” These were the things I had long been praying for; and I now proved to the joy of my heart that there is a prayer-hearing and a prayer-answering God.
I lived in the sweet enjoyment of the liberty of the gospel for many months. The word of the Lord was more precious to me than gold; yea, than much fine gold. I saw the declarative glory of the Lord shine forth in the sacred pages, which were once as a sealed book unto me. My delight was in the word of the Lord, and in His law did I meditate day and night. My soul took delight in approaching to God, as my covenant God and Father in Christ. Christ and His finished salvation, all of grace, was the joy of my heart and the boast of my song. The Holy Spirit was in my soul as a Spirit of praise and thanksgiving, constraining me to say with David: “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy Name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits; who forgiveth all thine iniquities, who healeth all thy diseases, who redeemeth thy life from destruction, who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies,” —-John Kershaw
John Kershaw’s Baptism
Having the love of Christ shed abroad in my heart, and as one of His sheep, I heard His voice saying unto me, “If ye love Me, keep My commandments.” I had been a Baptist in principle from the first time I saw it administered, as mentioned in a former part of my narrative. I now felt it to be my duty and privilege to follow my Lord and Master in that solemn ordinance. The nine persons who were separated from the church in Town Meadows, under the pastoral care of Mr. Littlewood . . . agreed to be formed into a church. As my heart and soul were more united to them and Mr. Gadsby than to Mr. Littlewood and the people who remained with him, though I loved them much, and felt it a trial to leave them and the place where I had thought to have been buried, I resolved to join their little community. They were my most intimate companions. I attended their meetings, to consult what steps we should take, there being several individuals who had not been baptized who wished to unite with them. A special meeting, therefore was appointed to hear their experience.
The Lord laid it upon my mind that I must attend. I had much exercise of soul respecting this affair. My father was rather against it; not that he was opposed to the ordinance itself, but in consequence of my youth. Not being yet seventeen, he had his fears lest I should be drawn aside by sinful lusts and pleasures, and he wished me to defer it until I was older. What he said had its due effect, knowing in some measure my own weakness, and that I had fallen into sin before; so that I was much cast down at times when I thought of being baptized . . . I saw it was according to God’s word, and I knew the Lord had done great things for my soul, whereof I was glad. I loved Him too, and had it in my heart to honour and obey Him by bowing to His scepter in attending to the ordinance of His house.
The day came when the experiences of those who wished to join should be heard, and such were the feelings of my soul that I could not keep away. Before going I went into a barn to pray that the Lord would go with me, and if it was His blessed will that I should join His . . . people, He would be with me to keep and preserve me from evil, so that I might not bring reproach upon His cause, which He knew lay nearer my heart than either father or mother, or even my own life.
I found the friends assembled. The meeting commenced with singing and prayer to the great Head of the church for His blessing to attend us as a people uniting together in church fellowship. Along with the rest who were to be baptized, I gave a reason of the hope that was in me with meekness and fear, but had not that liberty which I expected in declaring what the Lord had done for my soul. The friends agreed to receive us, but said that Mr. Gadsby, who was to administer the ordinance, wished to hear us relate the dealings of God with our souls. We should, therefore, have to meet him at a certain time appointed for that purpose. I trembled at the thought of having to be examined by so excellent a man.
When the time came, be brought a minister with him from London, who also wished to hear what we had to say. My turn came. Like Ephraim, I began to speak tremblingly; but the Lord was graciously pleased to shine into my soul and upon the path wherein He had led me, so that I had sweet liberty and enlargement of heart in declaring the things which the Lord had taught me. When I had finished, Mr. Gadsby asked me several questions upon the doctrines of grace, and my views respecting the ordinances of God’s house, baptism, and the Lord’s Supper. I well remember the last question, which was this: “John, you are very young, and you will be exposed to many snares and temptations. Do you think you can stand your ground, and not bring reproach upon yourself and the cause of God and truth?”
I replied, “Yes, the Lord keeping and preserving me; as Paul said, ‘I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.’” He smiled and said to his London friend, “Have you anything to ask this lad?” He replied, “No; there is everything in him that can be desired. I am well satisfied that the good work of grace is begun in his soul.”
The 24th of May, 1809 . . . was the appointed day for baptizing and planting the church. As we had neither chapel nor baptistery, the question arose as to where the ordinance was to be administered. One of the friends, a farmer, said he had a small stream of water running through one of his fields, which could be made use of for the purpose. This was agreed to. When the day came, nearly 2,000 people were assembled. Professor and profane were gathered together to witness the ordinance of baptism by immersion. Mr. Gadsby stood on the bank of a reservoir, which served as a kind of gallery where many sat, the great body of the people being before him in the field. He preached from John 5:39, “Search the Scriptures,” etc. At this time he was about thirty-six years of age, and such was the power of his voice that the sound of it was heard nearly a mile off, but not to distinguish the words. After sermon he baptized six persons. In an hour after, we met together in the farmhouse, were formed into a church and partook of the Lord’s Supper. This was similar to the apostolic custom, when the churches met in private houses for breaking of bread and prayer.
I have a sweet and solemn remembrance of the day when fifteen souls were thus united together. They have all long been gone but myself. Many have been the changes I have seen since that day. But, having obtained help of God, I am still continued. Bless the Lord, O my soul, for He has wrought wonders amongst us. Three churches have sprung from us. In each case I have organized them, by the mutual consent of our church, it being done for the furtherance of the gospel, that Zion’s cords might be lengthened and her stakes strengthened. We have also had removed by death at this time (1866) 170 members, many of whom have left a blessed testimony behind them that they died in the Lord, and about the same number remain as members.
After I was baptized I had a flood of persecution to wade through; even my own relatives did not like the idea of my joining the “sect everywhere spoken against.” If I went out on matters of business, my being “dipped,” as they called it, was thrown in my face by way derision, so that I proved the truth of these words: “They that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” I was, however, enabled to rejoice and be exceeding glad, knowing that “so persecuted they the prophets.”
Before the formation of the church, we had met on a Lord’s day for some months in a schoolroom, where we had regular preaching, John Warburton being our principal supply; and we had to enter into a weekly subscription to support his coming amongst us to labour in word and doctrine.
When I left Hall Fold Chapel, and was determined to go amongst the Baptists, my father was so grieved that he would not allow me anything for my Sunday dinner, so that I was forced to go without, having no friend’s house to go to. I used to ramble about until one o’clock, and then went to the Methodist chapel, service at which in those days commenced at that time. At length, however, when my father saw that I was determined not to go with him, he agreed to allow me three-pence per week for my Sunday dinner. Some of the people from the country, whose conversation I much valued, went to a place during the intermission where each had to pay three-pence. For the benefit of their company I went too, and by so doing I was still deprived of food for the body. Some time afterwards my father allowed me sixpence, which gave me great pleasure, as I could give threepence per week towards the subscription for the minister, which still left me without dinner. Many times have I left home on the Lord’s day morning and never tasted any food for the body until I returned about nine or ten o’clock at night.
I never told my friends the state I was in, for the preached word at times was exceedingly precious to my soul; so I did not live by bread alone, but by the word of God. No thanks to me that I was enabled to bear privations, for had the Lord left me to myself and my sinful inclinations, instead of pinching my appetite to support the cause of God and truth, I should have been wallowing in sin and doing my poor body much more harm than occasionally going without a dinner. My soul says, “Not unto me, not unto me, O Lord, but unto Thy Name be all the glory.” For, “By the grace of God, I am what I am.”
Directly after the formation of the church, we gave Mr. Warburton a call to become our pastor, and in November of the same year he accepted it, and was dismissed from the church at Manchester, where he was a member, in order that he might come. The Lord greatly blessed his labours.
While I thus speak, I feel very much for a man of God in the ministry who has a large family, a poor people, and a heavy chapel debt. Such have many errands to a throne of grace, and much work for faith and patience. The Lord will stand by them, as He did by His servant John Warburton, and make a way for them in the wilderness, both in providence and grace. Their enemies, too, shall be clothed with shame, who watch for their halting. Thus when we were in our great difficulties, and could not see our way, the Lord opened the say, as it is written, “The valley of Achor for a door of hope.”
In the past I have been asked on occasion:
“Are any Arminians Saved?”
“Are any Calvinists lost?”
Truly I believe the answer to both questions is “Yes.”
Even to accept Arminian theology is right in line with what man in his nature thinks, even his sense of “what would be fair.” He can’t figure out a God who would be opposed to man’s natural sense of fairness, or that would not plan for every one to be saved or have “chance” to be saved. So it seems that if a natural man would have a religion, it would likely be Arminianism.
But this fails to take into account what the Bible teaches and how the Bible plainly describes the Almighty sovereign God, who He is, what He has done and the real Jesus even as He describes Himself and His work. That life and even the will has to be given by Himself. Otherwise, if the system of salvation were by “chance,” knowing who and what man is in his lost, unregenerated condition, NO ONE would meet all conditions in a conditional system of salvation. As one has said, “What God requires of His people, Christ supplies.” A system of “chance” saves no one.
Yet many good people, even some of the elect, are confused and deceived, and need to be taught. They need to be DILIGENT in seeing what the Bible says. Some may have truth in their heart but error in their head. Somewhat like Charles Spurgeon, a Calvinist said: In essence, you can tell what a man is by the way he prays. That reveals his heart. In other words, true faith, true religion, the very truth of God goes against natural logic. That is why the natural man cannot receive it. It is spiritually discerned and must come by revelation and understanding being given by the very Spirit of God to a people who have been quickened and born again. If you truly HAVE the Spirit of God within, look for Him to teach you His own truth.
We publish this booklet and others in the hope that even God’s sheep will come into more and more truth. To God be the glory; to them be blessings.
A Few of Spurgeon’s Words on the Subject:
Sovereign grace is the answer to abounding guilt. With rejoicing Jesus sees [Matthew 11:25,26] how sovereign grace meets the unreasonable abounding of human sin, and chooses out its own, according to the good pleasure of the Father’s will. Here is the spirit in which to regard the electing grace of God: “I thank Thee.” It is cause for deepest gratitude. Here is the author of election: “O Father.” It is the Father who makes the choice, and reveals the blessings. Here is His right to act as He does: He is “The Lord of heaven and earth.” Who shall question the good pleasure of His will? Here we see the objects of election, under both aspects; the chosen and the passed-over. Babes see because sacred truths are revealed to them, and not otherwise. . . . The objects of divine choice are such as these. . . . The truths of the heavenly kingdom are hid, by a judicial act of God, from men who, in their own esteem are “the wise and the prudent.” They cannot see, because they trust their own light, and will not accept the light of God. Here we see the reason of election, the divine will: “So it seemed good in Thy sight.” We can go no further than this.
Why do some preachers make honorable reference to Charles Haddon Spurgeon, that “prince of preachers,” when they DO NOT teach and preach the sound doctrine that he taught? They also may make loving reference to George Whitefield and Jonathan Edwards without really believing what these men taught and believed. Why?
Could it be to make their own faulty theology seem to be more credible, as a means to add weight to their own deceiving words? Could that at all be?
I believe most of the time it is rather they themselves are deceived and believe a natural man’s religion without really deeply studying the Word of God themselves, or historic Christianity. They, while preaching to others, need to be awakened to the truth of God themselves, even the truth that was preached by the very men they claim to hold in high esteem—the dead prophets.
The Arminian preacher waters-down the true Gospel, making it “another gospel” in order to “get more people saved” by appealing to natural sympathy. “Oh, won’t you let him save you; he has done all he can do.” This puts man in a false position, thinking he has power he does NOT have. So rather than inhabiting Heaven with more converts, the preacher is inhabiting hell with false professions. But the true gospel will shut the elect up unto God, shake them up and stir them up to cry out to God for mercy. Just as Jonathan Edwards and others experienced in their preaching.