Lent

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I know, I know I’ve posted,“I’m giving up Romish/Popish holidays for Lent!” but lately I’ve been attending an Anglican Church and will be taking part this year. The Liturgy has become soul soothing especially the Evening Prayer services. God willing I’ll post some reflections as the season unfolds. As always please leave your comments and or scoldings below.

Yours in the Lord,

jm

 

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Interpretation of the Scriptures

a. w. pink

Arthur Walkington Pink is one of my spiritual fathers. His work the Interpretation of the Scriptures really helped me iron out issues I’ve had with biblical interpretation. I still refer to his works when needed (especially his commentary on Hebrews) when studying the word. He is far from perfect but always enlightening and I thank God for devout men such as him who display such careful handling of the word of God with a real zeal for truth. For every rule he provided in the “Interpretation of the Scriptures” I provided the amen. His refutation of Dispensational theology was instrumental in helping me shed some of that interpretive framework and become more biblical in my management of God’s word.

A brief outline of A. W. Pink’s work published by Baker.

Chapter 1: The first chapter highlights the need and importance of interpreting scripture without falling prey to two common extremes.  One extreme would be the idea held by Rome and other denominations that teach the scriptures are too difficult to understand and therefore need to be presented to the average person by someone with special authority.  The other extreme teaches that we are simply to read and believe without any interpretation needed at all. Pink gives three reasons for interpretation: 1) explain seeming contradictions, 2) to seek the meaning and sense of the words and 3) inserting of an explanatory word into the text.

Chapter 2:  To understand scripture Pink tells the reader that we must have both the tools and the skill.  We must be humble when we approach the word and avoid arrogance when we seeking an interpretation.  Being a regenerate believer does not guarantee we will be able to understand all things perfectly or even well but that we must continue to work on it.  We understand the Bible through reason that is impressed by the Holy Spirit. Pink gives five elements needed to interpret the word: 1) a mind illumined by the Holy Spirit 2) an impartial spirit 3) a humble mind 4) a praying heart 5) a holy design.

Chapter 3:  Expository preaching is covered in this chapter with the emphasis on preaching solid doctrine.  To quote Bible verses is not enough, the student of the word must labour to gleam a meaning from the text to feed self and others.  The lessons learned are not taught through diligent study alone but through experience.  Pink writes, “No one can learn what humility is by means of the concordance, nor secure more faith by studying certain passages of Scripture. The one is acquired through painful discoveries of the plague of our hearts, and the other is increased by a deepening acquaintance with God.”

Chapter 4: The Bible is described as the sole textbook for the student with the author using the Authorized Version.  Commentaries are viewed as useful only when you have exhausted a concordance.  Pink takes a dig at Dispensational theology on pages 25 – 26 for their unbiblical focus on things that differ instead of unity.  Pink gives us the first three rules of biblical interpretation in this chapter: (1) there is a need to recognize the “inter-relation and mutual dependence of both testaments,” (2) to carefully study scripture when it quotes scripture, and to (3) “conform all interpretations to the analogy of faith.”

Chapter 5: Rule 3 is explained in further detail at the beginning of this chapter.  Here the author introduces two more rules, that of (4) context and (5) scope.  It is mentioned that “proof texting” is quoting scripture outside of its context to support the theologians thoughts rather then scripture.

Chapter 6:  Continues with examples of proper and improper use (4) context and (5) scope with Dispensationalism once again in his cross hairs.  The next rule offered is to (6) interpret scripture by scripture or “comparing spiritual things with spiritual things.”

Chapter 7:  The thoughts expressed in chapter 6 are carried over and explained in full detail before recommending the next rule, that being, (7) briefer statements are to be interpreted by fuller ones.   Little is written but common sense agrees with Pink.

Chapter 8:  Collecting and collating (8) scripture is explained as the next rule.  The author goes on to give examples, one being the term “born again.”  It is used in scripture to describe regeneration but idea is found elsewhere with such as “passing from dark to light,” “renewing,” and “resurrection.”  By collecting and collating passages the doctrine will become clear.

Chapter 9:  The rule of (9) simple negative is briefly touched upon as well as (10) interrogative form and the proper use of (11) reason.  It is explained that negative conclusions can be used to infer the opposites, rhetorical questioning of the Socratic method proves useful and human reason does play apart in understanding divine things, although it is subject to divine things.

Chapter 10: Pink gives us an idea of how we find (12) limitations of general statements in this chapter.  The example being “judge not,” being considered in light of “judge righteous” and “thoroughly judge.”  We cannot make a universal truth statement from general truth statement.  In the same line of thought we are told that (13) positive statement with a comparative force, or, seek the context of absolute statements keeping our understanding within the analogy of faith.  This will help to remain consistent.

Chapter 11:  (14) Non-literal language must be viewed as such.  Both translators and expositors must be aware of the finer nuances of the languages.  The wooden literalism found in the more classic schools of Dispensationalism are to be avoided since they remove the original meaning from the text and fail to (15) understand types.

Chapter 12:  The use of the analogy of faith is mentioned in connection with the next rule, to seek a proper (16) exposition of the parables, which are supplementary to direct teaching.  Pink’s sharp mind then directs the Bible student to be aware that words are not translated uniformly so we are to seek other (17) or different meanings that each word might have.

Chapter 13:  The idea is carried forward from the previous chapter with a different emphasis, this being, (18) the Holy Spirit’s use of the words.  We are to note the actual use of the word in scripture alone and not to rely on classical literature to seek a meaning.  The author sites his suggestion of a concordance rather then a dictionary.  Although we find a dislike of Dispensational theology in this work (19) distinguishing between things that differ is still important, and well explained, just not the crux of our theological grid.

Chapter 14 & 15:  The next rule we are instructed to follow is to seek (20) the spiritual meaning of scripture, that scripture often has a double purport, a natural and a spiritual.  Chapter 15 explains this concept in great detail giving plenty of examples.  Anyone familiar with A. W. Pink’s work will know he does implore this rule often and takes care to fully detail its use and importance.

Chapter 16: (21) Double reference and meaning is now taken on and explained. In this chapter, to my surprise, the author confuses a belief that man is tripartite!  Using the rule of double reference Genesis 1:26 is used as support for this belief.  Interesting.

Chapter 17:  The author enlightens the reader to the (22) the law of order, meaning, the position the idea is found within scripture and how it relates to what follows it.

Chapter 18:  (23) The law of cause and effect traces the steps and connection between events.  The example of Peter’s fall is given; self-assurance (Mark 14:29), failed to pray and watch (Mark 14:38-40), disregarded the warning to be sifted (Luke 22:31-33) and trying to take control by force (John 18:10).  This is explained to be a law of cause and effect.  The next canon is that of (24) emphasis.  What God has placed emphasis on, should be well noted to the believer.  The Companion Bible written by the famous Ultra Dispensationlist is mentioned.

Chapter 19:  The (25) origin of a word is understood as being of some use but we are direct back to rule 19 where we are instructed to seek out the Holy Spirit’s use of the words.  (26) The law of comparison and contrast was written to be of interest but of less importance overall.

Chapter 20 & 21:  The first use of a word, (27) the law of first mention, should guide our understanding of it.  (28) The law of progress or progressive revelation is explained in detail and we are reminded that the Bible is full of life.

Chapter 22:  We come to the last chapter and the last interpretive rule given to us by A. W. Pink.  We are reminded of the (29) law of full mention with examples given of John 17 where Christ is interceding for believers, the total inability of man in Romans 3 and election and reprobation in Romans 9.

(more detail)

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The Need for Interpretation

Pink opens this work with a warning:

“Man is notoriously a creature of extremes, and nowhere is that fact more evident than in the attitude taken by different ones to this subject.”

O Lord how true this is!  In my own life I wish someone had warned me to avoid the “notorious” extremes that permeate natural man and our understanding of the simple things God has revealed.  “…obscurity is not in them” but in us.

“Since the imagination of man, like all the other faculties of his moral being, is permeated and vitiated by sin, the ideas it suggests, even when pondering the Divine oracles, are prone to be mistaken and corrupt. It is part of our sinful infirmity that we are unable of ourselves to interpret God’s Word aright; but it is part of the gracious office of the Holy Spirit to guide believers into the truth, thereby enabling them to apprehend the Scriptures.”

We find the light of God’s word so bright at time we turn away and hide the truth or hide from it.  I am guilty of trying to obscure the truth using a manmade scaffold that, by the Grace of God, could not support the word and I was eventually convicted of this sin leaving Dispensationalism forever.  We are to test what we find in theology and give thanks for both the milk and the meat we find therein.

We must seek rules or canons for interpretation because interpretation is needed to understand the deeper things that God has revealed.  These rules guide us and help us to be consistent with the word and we read they will help to:

1) explain seeming contradictions

2) find sense of the words

3) inserting of an explanatory word to assist in our understanding

We gain a deep knowledge of God by using these canons as tools to develop skills of interpretation.

“To declare that I need none but the Holy Spirit to teach me may sound very honoring to Him, but is it true? Like all human assertions that one requires to be tested, for nothing must be taken for granted where spiritual things are concerned.”

When helping to instruct new Christians this is often the idea many have, that since they are born again, it’s all done.  The important work is complete, finished so don’t argue with me but argue with the word of God!  “Study to shew thyself approved” seems to have to slipped their minds if they have even gone that far in their Bibles.  I wonder if we can blame Post Modernism for this idea, that since they have “experienced” the goodness of God in the regeneration of their souls, nothing is left for them.  It is assumed that everything will be given them including a perfect interpretation of the word of God.  Perhaps I’m going too far but the false idea remains and I have personally encouraged this dozens of times in person and on the internet.  I really like the point A. W. Pink makes against this misunderstanding, he points out that God has supplied Pastors and teachers for the perfecting of the saints, the Holy Spirit uses these men and their instruction to aid the believer in understanding the scriptures.  To believe all we need is the Holy Spirit is to possess a low view of the Body of Christ.  This, of course, does not lessen our reliance upon God, but should humble us before Him.  God found it pleasing to use man.

While listening to “Christian radio” recently one of the speakers said she was, “waiting for God to speak to her, just resting in His will…”  God has give us His word and has spoken to us.  We must interpret it and interpret correctly.

Avoiding Extremes

Although we gain an understanding of scripture through reason and understanding our understanding must be impressed or influenced by the Holy Spirit.  I believe Thomas Manton is quoted as writing, “Our hearts are overcast with strong affections of the world, and so cannot clearly judge practical truth.”  This quote is offered along with a few preliminary points that I believe offer the student of the word sound, spiritual direction:

1) a mind illumined by the Holy Spirit

The sinner must be brought to a place, by God, where we can understand divine revelation.  Christ tells in Matthew, “Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.”  And, “This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart:” Ephesians 4:17-18

J. K. Popham who was a minister of the word for over 50 years in the United Kingdom has delivered some of the most powerful, experiential sermons I have ever read.  He tells us of the Holy Spirits work;

“One end, one covenant to open, one mercy to give, one life to impart, one justification to bring, one salvation to work, one heaven to give to those who deserve hell.”

The work of the Spirit is in building a united Body of Christ.  This is the beginning and not the end as some believe.

2) an impartial spirit

It is a commonly held idea that we can approach a subject with a spirit of impartiality, that we can understand the world around us from a neutral standpoint, which is contrary to scripture.  “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” Romans 8:7  Even after we have come to faith in Christ the old man remains.  We seek to find what we want in scripture and ignore the often weightier or more difficult passages.

3) a humble mind

I will quote Pink on this point given that he is so crystal clear, “The knowledge of a proud man is the throne of Satan.”  Charnock put it this way, “A proud faith is as much a contradiction as a humble devil.”  How many times has the church proclaimed the Gospel, answered the objections using evidence and presuppositionalism only to have a far more “educated” person proclaim us “ignorant!”  A servant shall not be greater then his master.  Pink warns the Bible student to be humble before God by studying His word from a position of a beggar asking for the riches of God’s knowledge and not a rich man.

4) a praying heart

We approach the inspired work with a humble heart, a heart that realizes we do not deserve what we have in our hands, that being the thoughts of God.  If we are to “think God’s thoughts after Him” we must place our vanities aside and seek Him and His will.  Our minds must be open to the impressions of the Spirit and the way this is accomplished is with a prayerful heart.  Pink refers to the “prayerless scholar” who uses the word of God as he would use a work made by the mind of man ultimately failing to understand the need for a divine assistance.

5) a holy design

Lastly, we must not seek the answers to our curiosities but to learn truth from the scriptures.  Not too long ago God has gave me the opportunity to aid a fellow believer in setting his house in godly order, whose background is in the The Gospel Hall churches or Brethren Assemblies.  After one evening of discussing scripture I was astounded at how little practical truth, day to day truth, his previous church had equipped him with.  Instead of understanding his role as a father and leader of the home in all matters he was taught about the Rapture.  Instead of learning from God’s word how to raise children for the Lord he was instructed about pre-flood giants that walked the earth who were the offspring of Angels and man!  This is not following “a holy design” to seek truth but a feeding of the curiosities and vanities of the old man.  More then a thought or form of entertainment the truth of scripture is truth to live by.

A Note to Ministers

Having laid a preliminary foundation in the first two chapters Pink now explains the need to be faithful to seek the pure word of God and to be faithful to what we find.  The emphasis is on preaching with the warning too many have failed to heed:

“Every minister of the Gospel will yet have to render a full account of his stewardship unto the One whom he claims called him to feed His sheep (Heb. 13:17), to answer for the souls who were committed to his charge. If he fails to diligently warn the wicked, and he dies in his iniquity, God declares “his blood will I require at thine hand” (Ezek. 3:18).”

Much of this chapter applies to anyone proclaiming the truth of the Gospel and should serve as a reminder to keep subservient to the word. The exposition of the word is hard work so Pink tells the reader to work hard at it.  It must be expounded and applied not simply read from the pulpit, or in the case of the layman quoted and dismissed, it must be explained for as quickly as the minister delivers truth Satan takes great pains to obscure sound doctrine.  The truth of the word is to be proclaimed in all its wonder and beauty, not for the adulation of the flesh or for the praise of our brothers and sisters in Christ, but for God’s glory alone.

Our Textbook

A. W. Pink reminds the Bible student that his textbook for study is the Bible.  Only after he has exhausted his abilities in exegesis of the sacred text does the student go beyond the covers of his Bible.  It might sound simple but in our time, when many commentaries are free online, it is far more tempting to read a commentary instead of the word or to read the word with a commentary open beside it.  It can be more tempting to quote an authority then take the time to dig deeper into scripture.  The Bible and the Bible alone contains the direct revelation of our Triune God and therefore should be studied before any human work is consulted.

“The Bible is to be his sole text-book, and from its living waters he is to drink deeply and daily. Personally, we use nothing else than the English Authorized Version and Young’s concordance, with an occasional reference to the Greek Interlinear and the American Revised Version. Commentaries we consult only after we have made a first-hand and exhaustive study of a passage.”

Amen.  This is solid advice to all those new Christians who are given or purchase “study” Bibles.  The damage done by Scofield’s notes is incalculable.  The struggle to understand a difficult passage is where the blessing is.  The struggle to see how it relates to the greater context of scripture is where godly wisdom is found, but many today prefer the word to be opened for them, the work already done.

“The soul of the sluggard desireth, and hath nothing: but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat.” Proverbs 13:4

“If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.” 1 Corinthians 3:14

The Evangelical church has been lulled into a lazy stupor and distracted by the world.  From Pink’s other writings it is clear he saw the beginnings of it in his day.  The father no longer leads the home but feels the influence of an ungodly world and delegates his job to the wife.  The mother no longer has time for the children believing she could better serve them by planning a getaway to have “me time.”  The children are left to their own devises without much guidance.  This is in the “Christian” home.  I write without much guidancebecause, after all, they do have their televisions, internet and video games.  The church has become lazy and distracted foregoing the difficult task of handling God’s word and have been left with only a shadow of truth.  It is at this point Pink begins to outline the principles to guide the Bible student as they study.

The Principles of Interpretation

It total there are 30 principles varying in their importance listed in Arthur Pink’s work “Interpretation of the Scriptures.”  It was truly a blessing to read this work and find confirmation to some of the principles I was using previously.  It was also convicting because I had learned where I need improvement.  Instead of trying to deal with all 30 principles I will try to interact with what I believe are some of the most important and useful rules to understanding scripture.

The Analogy of Faith

Some suggest the “analogy of faith” should be called the “analogy of scripture” and for the sake of clarity and I must agree.  The church has seen the misuse of this rule as an ecclesiastical tool wielded like a club in the hands of the Roman Catholic magisterium.  I believe this is one of the most important, but often misunderstood and inconsistently used, rules describes by A. W. Pink.  (It can be found at the closing of chapter 4.)  My own understanding of this principle hindered my ability to properly handle God’s word and continues to a lesser extent today and I wish the author would have spilled more ink on this subject with emphasis on its importance in sound interpretation.  What he did give us is sound advice,

“The exposition made of any verse in Holy Writ must be in entire agreement with the Analogy of Faith, or that system of truth which God has made known unto His people. That, of course, calls for a comprehensive knowledge of the contents of the Bible—sure proof that no novice qualified to preach to or attempt to teach others.”

Again, Pink reminds us of our need to have a comprehensive understanding of our textbook, the Bible.  This analogy or rule of faith is gleamed from the scriptures themselves:

“Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith;” Romans 12:6

“And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.” Galatians 6:16

This rule is explained in the London Baptist Confession of 1689 as follows:

1.9 The infallible rule of interpretation of Scripture is the Scripture itself; and therefore when there is a question about the true and full sense of any Scripture (which is not manifold, but one), it must be searched by other places that speak more clearly.  ( 2 Peter 1:20, 21; Acts 15:15, 16)

To illustrate the importance of applying this principle with consistency I would like to point out a few verses from Acts 15,

“And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written, After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up: That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things.”

If we use the analogy of the scriptures expressed in the Reformed confessions it is easy to see the apostle Luke referring to Amos 9,

“In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old”

The passage from Acts 15 is alluding to Amos 9 in reference to the assembled church.  A common Dispensational interpretation of Amos 9 misses the meaning completely and regulates a complete fulfillment of these verses to a future Israel and millennial reign of Christ.  Instead of using the analogy of the scriptures we see a system of belief forcing a literalistic understanding of Amos 9 and gives us with a clear case of dogma influencing the interpretation.  The mind of God is then subjective to exegesis and not objective truth revealed.

_______________________________________

Arthor Walkington Pink has given the church so much to think about in this tiny volume on interpretive principles.  He worked in what must have seemed, at times, in utter obscurity but he remained faithful to the God that saved him, working for His glory, a worthy servant of the truth.

[details; Interpretation of the Scriptures, published by Baker 1996, ISBN: 0801070252]

jm

Nicene Creed with References

-The modern cry 'less creed and more liberty' is the degeneration from the vertebrate to the jelly fish, and means less unity and less morality, and it means more heresy.- (1)

I believe in One God, (Deuteronomy 6:4; Mark 12:29, 12:32; Ephesians 4:6; 1 Corinthians 8:6) The Father Almighty (Genesis 17:1-8; Exodus 6:3; Matthew 6:9; Ephesians 4:6; 2 Corinthians 6:18)
Maker of heaven and earth (Genesis 1:1; Job 38:1-30)
And of all things visible and invisible (Colossians 1:15-16; John 1:3; Hebrews 11:3; Revelation 4:11)

And in one Lord, Jesus Christ (John 20:28; Acts 11:17, 16:31; 1 Corinthians 8:6; Ephesians 4:5)
The Son of God, the Only-Begotten (Matthew 3:17, 14:33, 16:16; John 1:14, 3:16)
Begotten of the Father before all worlds (Psalm 2:7; John 1:1-2)
Light of Light (John 1:4, 1:9, 8:12; Psalm 27:1; Matthew 17:2, 5; 2 Corinthians 4:6; Hebrews 1:3; 1 John 1:5)
Very God of Very God (John 1:1-2, 17:1-5; 1 John 5:20)
Begotten, not made (John 1:1-2, 16:28, 1:18)
Of one essence with the Father (John 10:30)
By Whom all things were made (Hebrews 1:1-2, 10; John 1:3, 1:10; Colossians 1:16; 1 Corinthians 8:6; Romans 11:36)
Who for us men and for our salvation (I Timothy 2:4-5; Matthew 1:21; 1 Thessalonians 5:9; Colossians 1:13-14)
Came down from heaven (John 3:13, 3:31, 6:33-35, 38)
And was incarnate by the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary (Luke 1:34-35)

And became man (John 1:14; Hebrews 2:14)
And was crucified for us (Mark 15:25; I Corinthians 15:3; 1 Peter 2:24) under Pontius Pilate (Mark 15:15)
and suffered (Mark 8: 31; Matthew 27:50) and was buried (Luke 23:53; 1 Corinthians 15:4; Matthew 27:59-60)
And He rose again on the third day (Mark 9:31, 16:9; Acts 10:40; 1 Corinthians 15:4)
According to the Scriptures (Luke 24:1, 45-46; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4)
And ascended into heaven (Luke 24:51; Acts 1:9-10; Mark 16:19)
And sitteth at the right hand of the Father (Mark 16:19; Acts 7:55; Luke 22:69)
And He will come again with glory (Matthew 24:27; Mark 13:26; John 14:3; 1 Thessalonians 4:17)
to judge the living and the dead (Acts 10:42; 2 Timothy 4:1; Matthew 16:27; 2 Corinthians 5:10; 1 Peter 4:5)
His kingdom shall have no end (2 Peter 1:11; Hebrews 1:8)

And I believe in the Holy Spirit (John 14:26; Acts 1:8)
the Lord and Giver of life (Acts 5: 3-4; Genesis 1:2; John 6:63; 2 Corinthians 3:6)
Who proceeds from the Father (John 15:26) and the Son, (John 16:7)
Who together with the Father and the Son is worshipped and glorified (Matthew 3:16-17)
Who spoke through the prophets (I Samuel 19:20; Ezekiel 11:5; 1 Peter 1:10-11; Ephesians 3:5)

And I believe in one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church (Matthew 16:18, 28:19; 1 Peter 2:5,9; Ephesians 1:4, 2:19-22, 4:4, 5:27; Acts 1:8, 2:42; Mark 16:15; Romans 12:4- 5; 1 Corinthians 10:17)

I acknowledge one baptism (Ephesians 4:5; Galatians 3:27; 1 Corinthians 12:13) for the remission of sins (Colossians 2:12-13; Acts 22:16)

I look forward to the resurrection of the dead (John 11:24; 1 Corinthians 15:12-49; Romans 6:4-5; 1 Thessalonians 4:16)

And the life of the world to come. (Mark 10:29-30; 2 Peter 3:13; Revelation 21:1)

Amen. (Psalm 106:48)

Was Gill a Hyper?

From 2010: We should keep in mind that it’s not a clear cut issue, “Gill’s relationship with hyper-Calvinism is a matter of academic debate.”

Quote: First, this view applied to Gill is an anachronism as the idea of saving faith being the known duty and within the natural ability of all men reached its fullest expression amongst the Baptists in 1785 with the publication of Andrew Fuller`s controversial book The Gospel Worthy of All Acceptation. Gill, however, died in 1771 thus obviously having nothing to do with the debate that tore the Baptist churches apart after the book was published.

The second reason is that during the earlier part of the 18th century the view of what came to be called ´duty-faith`, formerly propagated by Anglican Latitudinarians such as Tillotson , was gaining ground amongst the Independents but Gill, a staunch Baptist, maintained he did not take part in this debate . Even Andrew Fuller believed that Gill did not enter into the controversy and John Ryland Jnr, quoting Gill`s The Cause of God and Truth, argued that Gill never wrote on the subject of ´the Modern Question ` and exonerates him from taking the usual Hyper-Calvinist stand. John Rippon assumes that Gill did enter the debate in later life because of certain ´corrections` he made to his book The Cause of God and Truth. Rippon, however, does not state what these ´corrections`, are and how they might have applied to the debate in question .

When Gill denies man’s ability to repent he’s not saying that it’s not their duty to do so but that, “the power and liberty of the will of man to come to Christ , that they rather declare the perverseness and stubbornness of it; that man has no desire, inclination, or will, to go to Christ for life, but rather go anywhere else, than to him. Man is stout-hearted, and far from the righteousness of Christ, and submission to it; is not subject to the law of God, nor the Gospel of Christ; nor can he be, till God works in him both to will and to do of his good pleasure; or until he is made willing in the day of his power. No one can come to Christ, except the Father draw him; nor has he a will to it, unless it is wrought in him .” [quoted from the Ella article linked below]

The hyper Calvinist will conclude that since they can’t/won’t come to Christ they can’t be expected to do so.

The Confessions:

“This saving repentance is an evangelical grace, whereby a person, being by the Holy Spirit made sensible of the manifold evils of his sin, doth, by faith in Christ, humble himself for it with godly sorrow, detestation of it, and self-abhorrency, praying for pardon and strength of grace, with a purpose and endeavor, by supplies of the Spirit, to walk before God unto all wellpleasing in all things. Zech. 12:10; Acts 11:18; Ezek. 36:31; 2 Cor. 7:11; Ps. 119:6, 128.” Tabular Comparison of 1646 WCF and 1689 LBCF

I think Gill’s views are high but within the Confessional realm of Reformed theology, the Confession does not deny duty faith but makes it clear that “saving repentance is an evangelical grace” using Gill’s term “sensible” to describe the work of the Spirit.

A few places to look:

Tom Nettles says of Gill, “He has doubtless been judged more harshly and even maliciously than any man of comparable repute in Baptist history.” Many have called John Gill a hyper-Calvinist who denied the need to preach the gospel to the lost. I will not seek to answer that question in this forum. Read Tom Nettles By His Grace and For His Glory, pages 73-107, for a thorough and balanced discussion of this issue

John Gill – The Baptist Page – Portraits

It’s not a settled issue:

“Gill’s relationship with hyper-Calvinism is a matter of academic debate.”

(John Gill (theologian – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

A little more:

Nettles finds one place where Gill “appears to hold the hyper-Calvinist view,” in that “Theoretically Gill held that the non-elect were not obligated to evangelical obedience, because the necessity of such obedience did not exist in unfallen humanity as deposited in Adam” (226). Nettles demonstrates, however, that this view did not work its way into Gill’s own practice (227). Gill disputed with Wesley, but he “did not differ in any essential theological category from the Grand Itinerant, George Whitefield” (241).

Some took hold of Gill’s “theoretical” answer, and as a result they did not call sinners to repentance. They reasoned like Grantham: sinners are not obligated to do what they are unable to do (247–48). Helped by Jonathan Edwards’ distinction between Natural Inability—what one is physically unable to do, and Moral Inability—what one is unable to do because one is unwilling to do it (the Gospel does not call people to do what they are physically incapable of doing but to what they volitionally refuse to do)—Andrew Fuller wrote The Gospel Worthy of All Acceptation, which argued for “the congruity between divine sovereignty and human responsibility” (250). Like their Baptist forefathers, Fuller joined with John Ryland Jr. and William Carey in the opinion that “the affirmative side of the Modern Question [the Gospel should be indiscriminately proclaimed and all called to believe it] was fully consistent with the strictest Calvinism” (290). These three men who held to “the strictest Calvinism” initiated the modern missions movement. Clearly “strict Calvinism” is not to be equated with “hyper-Calvinism,” which Fuller rejects as “false Calvinism” (245). There is an important point here. Hyper-Calvinism is a specific theological position. It seems today that some non-Calvinists are ready to label anyone who appears to be less evangelistic than they think themselves to be as hyper-Calvinistic. The rejection of manipulative methods and coercive techniques in favor of boldly proclaiming the pure Gospel and trusting the Spirit to quicken hearts is not less evangelistic but more so (compare Paul’s practice in 1 Cor 2:1–5).

The Baptists, vol. 1 of 3, by Tom Nettles « For His Renown

Another one:

A Hyper-Calvinist, Gill`s major critics say, does not believe that God calls indiscriminately all who hear about Christ to believe in Him. They say this, holding that man is obliged as a matter of duty to trust in Christ as a condition of salvation. It is odd that this opinion is often closely associated with Gill for several reasons. First, this view applied to Gill is an anachronism as the idea of saving faith being the known duty and within the natural ability of all men reached its fullest expression amongst the Baptists in 1785 with the publication of Andrew Fuller`s controversial book The Gospel Worthy of All Acceptation. Gill, however, died in 1771 thus obviously having nothing to do with the debate that tore the Baptist churches apart after the book was published. The second reason is that during the earlier part of the 18th century the view of what came to be called ´duty-faith`, formerly propagated by Anglican Latitudinarians such as Tillotson , was gaining ground amongst the Independents but Gill, a staunch Baptist, maintained he did not take part in this debate . Even Andrew Fuller believed that Gill did not enter into the controversy and John Ryland Jnr, quoting Gill`s The Cause of God and Truth, argued that Gill never wrote on the subject of ´the Modern Question ` and exonerates him from taking the usual Hyper-Calvinist stand . John Rippon assumes that Gill did enter the debate in later life because of certain ´corrections` he made to his book The Cause of God and Truth. Rippon, however, does not state what these ´corrections`, are and how they might have applied to the debate in question .

In The Cause of God Gill clearly stresses the Christian duty, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, to call and command sinners to repent . All men are naturally bound to repent, argues Gill, because they have naturally broken the law. Commanding them to repent is putting them under the curse of the law which they have broken in their natural state. To Gill, this is a law-ordained need for repentance in the legal sense. What man has broken, he has a duty to mend. This does not mean, however, that man can mend what he has broken and obtain legal righteousness, but he is still a debtor to the law for having broken it. The law forces its demands on every one because all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. What Gill calls evangelical repentance, is for him another matter. He sees this as a turning form sin to receive pardon in Christ. This kind of turning from sin to Christ can only come about by a sovereign act of God`s goodness which leads to true repentance and Gospel righteousness.

Calvin taught likewise that there was an ´antithesis between Legal and Gospel (i.e. evangelical) righteousness`. Quoting Romans 10:5-9, he argues that there is a righteousness which is according to the Law described by Moses, “that the man who doeth those things shall live by them”. This is quite different to the righteousness of faith which says, “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.”

John_Gill_and_Hyper-Calvinism

Some have attributed to Gill to be the first systematizer of a Baptist Hyper-Calvinist theology. Others have argued that Gill was in fact not a Hyper-Calvinist. Regardless, it was during Gill’s time period when the Particular Baptist Churches began their decline into Hyper-Calvinism. Gill did believe in eternal justification (that the elect were justified in eternity past) and did not seem to appeal to all in the same way that further generations of Evangelical Calvinists did, but it seems difficult to say that Gill was undeniably in fact a Hyper-Calvinist. Instead, most likely, Hyper-Calvinists used Gill’s theology and went past him to solidify their own theology.

Brief Biography of John Gill (1697-1771) « Working out Salvation with Fear and Trembling

Nettles says that Daniel started with the assumption that Gill was a hyper-Calvinist, and then defined hyper-Calvinism from Gill. For ages, people have said that Gill was a hyper-Calvinist without offering any proof from the writings or sermons of Gill (or at least not in context), and people simply accept what they are told.

Another reason people mistakenly believe that Gill was a hyper-Calvinist is they do not read his supposed anti-free offer comments in the context in which they were written. Usually, in these cases, he was writing against universal salvation. He did not deny that ministers should urge sinners to believe. He simply said that this external call in and of itself can do nothing. There must also be the irresistable internal call of the Holy Spirit as well.

The Sane Asylum: Another John Gill Post

New Focus | That the purpose of God according to election might stand

New Focus Interview on Hyper-Calvinism