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Most of the articles on these WebPages have been written by godly men with a central belief in the Lord Jesus Christ. However as with most of us, they may have different beliefs concerning some particular doctrines. These articles have been made available for the purpose of “gleaning the good” where good can be found. I do not necessarily endorse all that is written by others, anymore than I expect others to endorse all that I write.

   Morning Thoughts by Elder Philip Conley

II Corinthians 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."

This morning, there are a few subjects that have always and will always galvanize different groups of people into any number of flavours of debate. I have been asked many times, "What is the biggest difference between Primitive Baptists and 'Regular Baptists?" or "What beliefs make Primitive Baptists different?" Indeed, we might point to doctrines such as election, predestination, eternal security, particular redemption, or total depravity. We might point to practices like a cappella singing, foot washing, or non-seminary ministry. However, many of these items are common to other groups as well (although no single other group has all of them together like Primitive Baptists). You can find people holding to any of the above-named doctrines or aforementioned practices, even foot washing (to some degree) in other orders. But, the Biblical perspective (that I believe to be taught in Primitive Baptist churches) of the gospel, its nature, and its
effects is unique to the group that I very thankfully and appreciatively call my own and my people.

The gospel, in its purest and most basic sense, means "good tidings." Doing a Scriptural comparison of Isaiah 61:1-2 and Luke 4:18-19 shows the English words rendered as "the gospel" Luke and "good tidings" in Isaiah. Without having to consult the Greek or Hebrew, the English translation shows the definition of the gospel to be good tidings. Therefore, what we know about tidings applies in a large degree to the gospel. For example, tidings are brought to declare of "how things are already." When a messenger heralds some tidbit of news (by whatever vehicle), he is telling things that have already come to pass or are currently coming to pass. If I were to hear news today of cessation of conflict in some war-zone, the tidings are speaking of some circumstance and reality that has already come to pass. Therefore, when the gospel brings us tidings, it is telling us things that have already come to pass and are a reality whether or not they are
received. I could choose not to believe the news about the war's end, but if that report be true, then my lack of belief does not change reality. Likewise, when someone does not believe the gospel, that does not change the reality of its message.

Paul is very specific in his writings about the gospel. He mentions it several times in language of its power (Romans 1:16), its singularity (Galatians 1:6-8), and its ineffectiveness at times (our verses above). We understand then that the gospel is different from any other type of heralding known to the world as it goes forth in power and demonstration of the Holy Ghost. (I Thessalonians 1:4-5) We understand further that it cannot be called the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ when it has become perverted into another gospel which is really not another gospel. Paul was stingy about the gospel and its true sense and meaning, and I believe his exhortations to us are to be likewise. Just not anything can be called the gospel when it has become perverted and/or diluted. Just not anything can be called the church when it bears not the marks of the church that Christ established here upon this earth and has remained here ever since.

So, what are we to make of the gospel's ineffectiveness at times in our lives? It would be easy to say, "Well, those that do not hear me or listen to what I have to say must be goats or non-regenerated sheep." While this thought may have some merit at times (if a goat heard the message proclaimed), Paul declares here that it cannot be true of every circumstance. Furthermore, it shows great arrogance on the part of the gospel minister to believe that he proclaims the message with attendance of the Spirit and power every time. It is arrogance to think that our message is clearly relayed each and every time. Sometimes, listening to my own efforts on CD (which is like pulling teeth by the way) makes me say, "I can't believe that point was that confusing and unclear" or "Did I say that?" Our own efforts sometimes sound differently than we intended (but certainly should be sound), and therefore, our own failings cannot be passed off as a lack of
gracious state in the hearers.

But, Paul makes another case for gospel inattentiveness. This case, I believe, may be one of the predominant reasons for people's lack of adherence to the message, its teachings, and lifestyle. Paul speaks of people who are lost in this passage. Obviously, from the language, the people lost in verse 3 are the same people in verse 4. Perhaps some might make a case that these lost in verse 3 are eternally lost, but consider the language and exercise in the very next verse. Satan is working overtime on these people to keep them blind from the message of the gospel. Would Satan spend his effort and energy working on people that are already blind? More specifically, would Satan work on people that are ALWAYS going to be blind? Paul says that man, in his natural state, cannot receive the things of the spirit of God (of which the gospel certainly applies), and the blindness continues forever without a change of nature. (I Corinthians 2:14) Satan is,
therefore, working on people that have the capacity to receive and rejoice in what is being said. The last clause of verse 4 shows their capacity by use of the word "lest." Without Satan's influence, these people have the ability to be illuminated by Paul's message.

Now, this begs the statement by some, "That gives Satan more power than God!" Indeed, one might come to such a conclusion, but let us look at what Paul immediately cautions against in our context. Verse 2 speaks of "renouncing the hidden things of dishonesty," "not walking in craftiness," and "not handling the word of God deceitfully." While I believe verse 2 shows a primary application to the ministry in particular, consider what happens when anybody does the above mentioned things that Paul warns against. If someone holds the word of God deceitfully, they can teach, "You are not so bad. Get yourself right with God." Such a teaching feeds pride and vanity of the flesh. By not renouncing the hidden things of dishonesty or thereby walking in a dishonest fashion by word or deed, there is no preparation of ground to be self-less and self-sacrificing. Rather, that tendency leads to a mindset of trying to get ahead in life by whatever means
necessary. By walking in craftiness (like dishonesty), we fall victim to building card houses in our lives with one lie propping up another lie, which is propping up another lie, etc. Eventually the structure is all lies and full of inconsistencies.

What is the point of these tendencies? Where do they all lead? By walking after the things that Paul speaks against, we are vulnerable and often fall prey to Satan's devices. Just like seed sown on way side ground is an easy target for birds to swoop down and carry away, so is unprepared ground (hardened over by pride, craftiness, and dishonesty) ripe ground for Satan to blind and steal the joy of the gospel away. Is this giving Satan more power than God? No, it is admitting that without the Lord's help, the devil is more powerful than we are. We must submit ourselves unto God first before we can resist the devil and have the effect be him fleeing from us. (James 4:7) Then, the statement becomes, "Then we have more power than God!"

To address that thought, let us consider how the Lord was pleased to have preaching go forth. We are told that it pleased God to save them that believe by the foolishness of preaching. (I Corinthians 1:21) From clear Scriptural language in other places, we understand this saving to be of a timely nature as eternal salvation was effected by God and His work alone. The gospel is simply the good news of that blessed work. (II Timothy 1:7-10) But, God was pleased to have His children taught and saved from ignorance under the powerful attendance of the Spirit through gospel preaching. Could God have given every heir of grace all the necessary knowledge immediately following regeneration? Certainly that is within His power to perform, but it was not within His will to execute. Rather, He gave authority, gift, and calling to men to herald the gospel. Those that have been born of His Spirit and are seeking to elevate Christ and put down self are those
that readily receive its message and teaching.

This pleasure of God through preaching is not something that all of God's children enjoy, not even by all of God's children that hear the true gospel's message. Some of the kindest people I know (possessing far more charity than I have) sit under the sound of a perversion of the gospel and absolutely abhor the message of particular redemption and the finished work of Christ. Are they God's children showing forth good fruit in their lives? Absolutely, but they still have that tinge of pride that cannot let go of works theology, and this blindness and pride is something that Satan delights to find. The end result is that this glorious light that we so dearly love of the full gospel of Christ does not shine unto them and bring the comfort to their guilt-laden souls. They weep at certain funerals as others which have no hope, as they truly do not see the hope for their loved one that did not do "XXXX." Thankfully, that does not change the reality of
that sureness and foundation of God (II Timothy 2:19), but they are lost to the joy and benefits of it.

May we pray for Zion, that the light of the gospel would continue to shine unto us that we be not lost in this fashion and tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine. One thing to never take for granted about the gospel is that its blessing, once enjoyed, is not guaranteed over the entire course of our lives (like regeneration is). Regeneration is like a light switch that, once flipped on by God's power, cannot be flipped back off (one way switch in other words). But, gospel light and illumination is like a bulb that experiences different levels of brightness (or is completely dark). We may be shining brightly one day, dimly the next, be out completely, or worse blown completely like those in Hebrews 6:4-6. Finally, may we never be negligent to let our light of this glorious gospel shine. There are those who are hungering and thirsting after righteousness, completely unsatisfied by what they are getting everywhere they turn, and looking for
something their soul longs for. I have heard countless experiences of those searching for the truth and true church saying, "O is there anyone like me?" When they heard the true gospel and saw the true church, they say, "Hallelujah, I am home!" May we let our light so shine, so that those looking may see it and rejoice in its radiance that brings honour and glory to our Heavenly Father and His only Begotten Son.
This morning, there are a few subjects that have always and will always galvanize different groups of people into any number of flavours of debate. I have been asked many times, "What is the biggest difference between Primitive Baptists and 'Regular Baptists?" or "What beliefs make Primitive Baptists different?" Indeed, we might point to doctrines such as election, predestination, eternal security, particular redemption, or total depravity. We might point to practices like a cappella singing, foot washing, or non-seminary ministry. However, many of these items are common to other groups as well (although no single other group has all of them together like Primitive Baptists). You can find people holding to any of the above-named doctrines or aforementioned practices, even foot washing (to some degree) in other orders. But, the Biblical perspective (that I believe to be taught in Primitive Baptist churches) of the gospel, its nature, and its effects is unique to the group that I very thankfully and appreciatively call my own and my people.

The gospel, in its purest and most basic sense, means "good tidings." Doing a Scriptural comparison of Isaiah 61:1-2 and Luke 4:18-19 shows the English words rendered as "the gospel" Luke and "good tidings" in Isaiah. Without having to consult the Greek or Hebrew, the English translation shows the definition of the gospel to be good tidings. Therefore, what we know about tidings applies in a large degree to the gospel. For example, tidings are brought to declare of "how things are already." When a messenger heralds some tidbit of news (by whatever vehicle), he is telling things that have already come to pass or are currently coming to pass. If I were to hear news today of cessation of conflict in some war-zone, the tidings are speaking of some circumstance and reality that has already come to pass. Therefore, when the gospel brings us tidings, it is telling us things that have already come to pass and are a reality whether or not they are received. I could choose not to believe the news about the war's end, but if that report be true, then my lack of belief does not change reality. Likewise, when someone does not believe the gospel, that does not change the reality of its message.

Paul is very specific in his writings about the gospel. He mentions it several times in language of its power (Romans 1:16), its singularity (Galatians 1:6-8), and its ineffectiveness at times (our verses above). We understand then that the gospel is different from any other type of heralding known to the world as it goes forth in power and demonstration of the Holy Ghost. (I Thessalonians 1:4-5) We understand further that it cannot be called the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ when it has become perverted into another gospel which is really not another gospel. Paul was stingy about the gospel and its true sense and meaning, and I believe his exhortations to us are to be likewise. Just not anything can be called the gospel when it has become perverted and/or diluted. Just not anything can be called the church when it bears not the marks of the church that Christ established here upon this earth and has remained here ever since.

So, what are we to make of the gospel's ineffectiveness at times in our lives? It would be easy to say, "Well, those that do not hear me or listen to what I have to say must be goats or non-regenerated sheep." While this thought may have some merit at times (if a goat heard the message proclaimed), Paul declares here that it cannot be true of every circumstance. Furthermore, it shows great arrogance on the part of the gospel minister to believe that he proclaims the message with attendance of the Spirit and power every time. It is arrogance to think that our message is clearly relayed each and every time. Sometimes, listening to my own efforts on CD (which is like pulling teeth by the way) makes me say, "I can't believe that point was that confusing and unclear" or "Did I say that?" Our own efforts sometimes sound differently than we intended (but certainly should be sound), and therefore, our own failings cannot be passed off as a lack of
gracious state in the hearers.

But, Paul makes another case for gospel inattentiveness. This case, I believe, may be one of the predominant reasons for people's lack of adherence to the message, its teachings, and lifestyle. Paul speaks of people who are lost in this passage. Obviously, from the language, the people lost in verse 3 are the same people in verse 4. Perhaps some might make a case that these lost in verse 3 are eternally lost, but consider the language and exercise in the very next verse. Satan is working overtime on these people to keep them blind from the message of the gospel. Would Satan spend his effort and energy working on people that are already blind? More specifically, would Satan work on people that are ALWAYS going to be blind? Paul says that man, in his natural state, cannot receive the things of the spirit of God (of which the gospel certainly applies), and the blindness continues forever without a change of nature. (I Corinthians 2:14) Satan is, therefore, working on people that have the capacity to receive and rejoice in what is being said. The last clause of verse 4 shows their capacity by use of the word "lest." Without Satan's influence, these people have the ability to be illuminated by Paul's message.

Now, this begs the statement by some, "That gives Satan more power than God!" Indeed, one might come to such a conclusion, but let us look at what Paul immediately cautions against in our context. Verse 2 speaks of "renouncing the hidden things of dishonesty," "not walking in craftiness," and "not handling the word of God deceitfully." While I believe verse 2 shows a primary application to the ministry in particular, consider what happens when anybody does the above mentioned things that Paul warns against. If someone holds the word of God deceitfully, they can teach, "You are not so bad. Get yourself right with God." Such a teaching feeds pride and vanity of the flesh. By not renouncing the hidden things of dishonesty or thereby walking in a dishonest fashion by word or deed, there is no preparation of ground to be self-less and self-sacrificing. Rather, that tendency leads to a mindset of trying to get ahead in life by whatever means necessary. By walking in craftiness (like dishonesty), we fall victim to building card houses in our lives with one lie propping up another lie, which is propping up another lie, etc. Eventually the structure is all lies and full of inconsistencies.

What is the point of these tendencies? Where do they all lead? By walking after the things that Paul speaks against, we are vulnerable and often fall prey to Satan's devices. Just like seed sown on way side ground is an easy target for birds to swoop down and carry away, so is unprepared ground (hardened over by pride, craftiness, and dishonesty) ripe ground for Satan to blind and steal the joy of the gospel away. Is this giving Satan more power than God? No, it is admitting that without the Lord's help, the devil is more powerful than we are. We must submit ourselves unto God first before we can resist the devil and have the effect be him fleeing from us. (James 4:7) Then, the statement becomes, "Then we have more power than God!"

To address that thought, let us consider how the Lord was pleased to have preaching go forth. We are told that it pleased God to save them that believe by the foolishness of preaching. (I Corinthians 1:21) From clear Scriptural language in other places, we understand this saving to be of a timely nature as eternal salvation was effected by God and His work alone. The gospel is simply the good news of that blessed work. (II Timothy 1:7-10) But, God was pleased to have His children taught and saved from ignorance under the powerful attendance of the Spirit through gospel preaching. Could God have given every heir of grace all the necessary knowledge immediately following regeneration? Certainly that is within His power to perform, but it was not within His will to execute. Rather, He gave authority, gift, and calling to men to herald the gospel. Those that have been born of His Spirit and are seeking to elevate Christ and put down self are those
that readily receive its message and teaching.

This pleasure of God through preaching is not something that all of God's children enjoy, not even by all of God's children that hear the true gospel's message. Some of the kindest people I know (possessing far more charity than I have) sit under the sound of a perversion of the gospel and absolutely abhor the message of particular redemption and the finished work of Christ. Are they God's children showing forth good fruit in their lives? Absolutely, but they still have that tinge of pride that cannot let go of works theology, and this blindness and pride is something that Satan delights to find. The end result is that this glorious light that we so dearly love of the full gospel of Christ does not shine unto them and bring the comfort to their guilt-laden souls. They weep at certain funerals as others which have no hope, as they truly do not see the hope for their loved one that did not do "XXXX." Thankfully, that does not change the reality of that sureness and foundation of God (II Timothy 2:19), but they are lost to the joy and benefits of it.

May we pray for Zion, that the light of the gospel would continue to shine unto us that we be not lost in this fashion and tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine. One thing to never take for granted about the gospel is that its blessing, once enjoyed, is not guaranteed over the entire course of our lives (like regeneration is). Regeneration is like a light switch that, once flipped on by God's power, cannot be flipped back off (one way switch in other words). But, gospel light and illumination is like a bulb that experiences different levels of brightness (or is completely dark). We may be shining brightly one day, dimly the next, be out completely, or worse blown completely like those in Hebrews 6:4-6. Finally, may we never be negligent to let our light of this glorious gospel shine. There are those who are hungering and thirsting after righteousness, completely unsatisfied by what they are getting everywhere they turn, and looking for something their soul longs for. I have heard countless experiences of those searching for the truth and true church saying, "O is there anyone like me?" When they heard the true gospel and saw the true church, they say, "Hallelujah, I am home!" May we let our light so shine, so that those looking may see it and rejoice in its radiance that brings honour and glory to our Heavenly Father and His only Begotten Son.


In Hope,

Bro Philip