"Thou hast given a banner to them that fear thee, that it may be displayed because of truth." — (Psalm 60:4)
"Lift ye up a banner upon the high mountain, exalt the voice unto them." — (Isaiah 13:2)
Devoted To The Defense Of The Church Against All Errors And Innovations
Vol.XI No.I Pg.9-10
January 1949

Some Old Doctrines Restated And Examined

R. L. Whiteside

The Holy Spirit in Conversion

In the latter part of my previous article, I made some observations on the plain statement of the passages that speak of the word of God as seed. The purpose of seed is well known. If you want to produce plants in the spiritual kingdom, you must plant the seed, which is the word of God, Anyone who has sense "enough to raise vegetables could understand that the word of God, the seed, is necessary to produce Christians, if he were not blinded by foggy theology. But here is one thing that should make people think: If the theory is true that life is generated in the sinner before he can understand or accept the word, then the word of God is not seed! This thought has not had the attention its importance deserves. If "seed" is incapable of producing life, it is not seed.

Now read carefully Matt. 11:28-30: "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give thee rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." To whom is this invitation extended? Our hereditary depravity advocates tell us that a sinner cannot do anything till he is regenerated or made alive, by a direct work of the Holy Spirit; and they tell us that when that occurs all burdens of heart are rolled away, and happiness reigns. If that is true, then Jesus is not inviting them—his invitation is to those who labor and are heavy laden, and who desire rest. Read the verses again. Jesus is not inviting those who have been made shouting happy over being regenerated and thereby having their burdens of sins rolled away, And certainly Jesus would not be inviting people to come, who are so bound by hereditary depravity that they cannot come. But these advocates are wrong, as wrong as wrong can be. Jesus is inviting those who labor against the adverse forces of the world and who are burdened with sin and doubt; and he places motives before them to induce them to come—rest, sweet rest, and association with Jesus. If the promises of the gospel and the dread of punishment do not move sinners, nothing will.

To show the helplessness of the sinner John 6:44 is quoted and wrongly applied: "No man can come to me, except the Father that sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day." It is assumed without any sort of proof that God draws the sinner by a direct operation of the Spirit. It is hard to believe that such argument is made ignorantly, for in the next verse Jesus says: "It is written in the prophets, and they shall all be taught of God. Everyone that hath heard from the Father, and hath learned, cometh unto me." There is therefore a drawing and a coming. What is learned through being taught draws people, and they come. "I drew them with cords of a man, with bands of love." (Hos. 11:4). "Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love; therefore with loving kindness have I drawn thee." (Jer. 31:3), God does not draw people to him by physical power. He draws with the power of the gospel, and that is done through teaching. But no one will be drawn by this teaching, unless he believes; "for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that seek after him." (Deb. 11:6). The sinner must be taught, must believe and then come; in this way God draws.

"The Word is nigh thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach: because if thou shalt confess with thy mouth Jesus as Lord, and shalt believe in thy heart that God raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved: for with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be put to shame. For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek: for the same Lord is Lord of all, and is rich unto all that call upon him; for, Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call upon him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? and how shall they preach, except they be sent? even as it is written: How beautiful are the feet of them that bring glad tidings of good things! (Rom. 10 :8-15) .

To understand this Scripture we need first to notice some of the terms used by Paul. "The word" and "the word of faith, which we preach" of verse 8 are the "Glad tidings of good things" of verse 11. In the New Testament a preacher was "Gods ambassador, and the herald or proclaimer of the divine word."—Thayer. Paul says he was made a preacher and an apostle. (I Tim. 2:7; II Tim. 1:11). God qualified and sent certain men, called apostles, to proclaim the gospel—to reveal it. No one could reveal the gospel unless God sent him. And if these men had never proclaimed the gospel, no one could have heard it, and therefore no one could have believed. But as it was written for us, we can read and believe. "Many other signs therefore did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: but these are written, that ye may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye may have life in his name." (John 20:30-31) Life or salvation, depends on hearing, and hearing depends on the original proclamation of the gospel. No hint is here given that some direct power is necessary to enable anyone to believe; but it is plainly taught that the original proclamation of the gospel is the only thing that is necessary to enable anyone to believe. "For seeing that in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom knew not God, it was Gods good pleasure through the foolishness of the preaching to save them that believe." (I Cor. 1:21). Or, through the foolishness of the thing preached. To the Greek philosophers the gospel was foolishness, but it was Gods means of saving all who would believe it. Not a hint is here given that any other power was necessary, or that any other means would be used.

When I was teen-age I frequently witnessed rousing mourner-bench exercises in revivals of a church which then thought that such exercises were the supreme method of converting sinners. When they succeeded in getting several mourners to come to the mourner-bench, they sang to them, and talked to them, prayed for them, and shouted over them. One man of years and of more than average intelligence, seemed to be the main one to pray. One of his petitions in a long prayer was, "0 God, try some untried means on these hard-hearted sinners," He wanted God to experiment on them to see if he could find something that would work. That sort of prayer was made when a group of mourners could not be excited into raising a shout. It reminds me of the rich mans prayer in Hades to father Abraham when he thought of his hardhearted brethren back home: Send Lazarus to testify to my five brethren, lest they also come into this place of torment. He wanted Abraham to try something on his brethren that had never been tried before; but Abraham said, "They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them." But the rich man knew they would not pay any attention to Moses and the prophets; "but if one go to them from the dead, they will repent." But Abraham knew it was useless to try some untried means on them; so he said, "If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, if one rise from the dead," (Luke 16:19-31). In view of what we hear today, is it not singular that neither the rich man nor Lazarus thought of the direct operation of the Spirit—no untried means was used on these five brethren, though the rich man asked to have it done.

The Jewish Sanhedrin, or council, opposed the gospel and antagonized and persecuted Gods preachers. For this reason Stephen said to the council, "Ye stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Spirit: as your fathers did, so do ye." Surely no one thinks these men were able to resist a direct impact of the almighty power of God! But they could, and did, resist, or oppose, the preaching the Holy Spirit did through chosen men. The connection and circumstances show clearly that this was the way of explaining how they resisted the Holy Spirit. Stephen, by way of explaining how they resisted the Holy Spirit said, "Which of the prophets did not your fathers persecute? And they killed them that showed before of the coming of the righteous one: of whom ye have now become betrayers and murderers; ye who received the law as it was ordained by angels, and kept it not." (Acts 7:51- 53). To illustrate further, read Nehemiah 9: 20, 30: "Thou gayest also thy good Spirit to instruct them." This instructing had been done through Moses and the prophets. "Yet many years didst Thou bear with them, and testifiedst against them through thy prophets: yet would they not give ear." In this way they resisted the Holy Spirit. To attempt to do so would be an uneven wrestling match. But to resist any person does not necessarily mean a personal impact, or wrestling match. Paul resisted Peter; that is, he opposed what Peter was doing. (Gal. 2:11-14). James said, "Resist the devil," (Jas. 4:7). Jesus resisted the devil with words; and the Jewish council had been resisting the Holy Spirit with words up to the time Stephen said, "Ye do always resist the Holy Spirit." Because they could not answer Stephenss arguments, they had decided to kill him. The Spirit had been striving with them, but they had resisted him.

The people before the flood became very wicked—"all flesh had corrupted their way upon the earth." Noah preached to them, but apparently made no impression. It was by his preaching that Gods Spirit was striving with them; and so God said, "My Spirit shall not strive with man forever." Yet God gave them one-hundred and twenty more years of probation. But they grew worse; "and Jehovah saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually." They had reached the limit of wickedness, even though Gods Spirit was striving with them through Noahs preaching. Surely no one is simple enough to think Gods Spirit made a direct assault on them, but they were too powerful to be subdued!

There are recorded cases of direct supernatural influence, impact, or power on people, and even on animals; but it does not appear that any change in nature or character resulted from such influence or power. But these matters will be given some attention in our next article.