Thursday, January 12, 2017

Resisting the Holy Ghost - Elder James Oliphant

"So the circumcision of heart referred to must be performed while they resist the Holy Ghost.
In this we see a strong statement of the doctrine of Primitive Baptists."
"You do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye." (Acts 7:51) They did not so resist the Holy Ghost as to hinder the Holy Ghost from carrying out his designs. If we remember that the Holy Ghost is God the maker of all things and these that Stephen addressed were men. It is plain that so feeble a being as man could not hinder God in any of his works. I cannot conceive of a sinner resisting the act of God in regeneration. This is a creative work and I cannot think of a matter refusing to be created nor is there room to think of a sin or refusing to be created by Christ Jesus regeneration is a life giving work. I cannot think of Lazarus refusing to be made alive. Nor can I think of a sinner refusing to be created in Christ or of refusing to be made alive or of his refusing to receive eternal life. The text cannot mean that sinners refuse to be regenerated. The new birth is "not of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man" (John 1:13) and as it does not depend on the will of the sinner, it is plain the resistance here does not mean that sinners refuse to be quickened by the Holy Ghost.

By resist here is meant the persecution of the followers of Christ. They opposed them, slew them, and imprisoned them. "Which of the prophets have not your father's persecuted?" (Acts 7:52) and I may add, which of the Apostles escape persecution? What illustrious and faithful man was not resisted oppressed and rejected? They resisted the spread of the truth, sought to reproach the truth and hinder it in every possible way. Those men would claim to be friends to the prophets, would garnish their tombs, and claim to be in line with them. Yet they would slay those who stood up in defense of their doctrine.

A favorite method of affecting new moves was and is yet to claim to love those of former generations who were faithful. Note the words, "Ye stiff necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears." (Acts 7:51) No, who resisted it was the uncircumcised. They were not refusing to be circumcised in heart and ears. We do not learn that the Holy Ghost was trying to circumcise their hearts and ears and that they were resisting it. But the uncircumcised in heart were resisting by killing the servants of God and the speaker on this occasion was stoned to death himself, being an example of their resisting. If it could be shown that God was seeking to regenerate them and they so resisted as to defeat his designs then this text would be a serious obstacle to those who hold to sovereign grace in the salvation of sinners. The friends of truth can quickly be found among the circumcised in heart. They are instances and illustrations of truth and no others can know or love truth. No person uncircumcised in heart can be a friend of truth. Such persons always resist. The only remedy for this resistance is to be circumcised in heart and ears. This and this only will cure the resistance. Prior to this circumcision they do always resist. So the circumcision of heart referred to must be performed while they resist the Holy Ghost. In this we see a strong statement of the doctrine of Primitive Baptists.

At the close of this sermon we read when they heard these things they were "cut to the heart and they gnashed on him with their teeth." (Acts 7:54) So they resisted the Holy Ghost by stoning him to death and so put an end to his teaching. If our churches are filled with men who are not circumcised in heart, they will oppose the truth and seek to suppress it and to supplant it with error. This is not only true some of the time but it is always true. An unregenerated man in the church will not love the truth and is not a safe custodian of it. It is good for a minister to be known as a builder provided he builds of gold silver and precious stones. But if he builds of wood, hay, stubble, all must be burned. Let us love our little churches and not become over anxious to compete with more popular churches. Our little churches are sweet places to be. No uncircumcised in heart. No resisting a faithful servants of God. No clamor for progression and no discontent with the goodness of God's house. No suppers, fairs, moving pictures, etc

Messenger of Peace - April 1917

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