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Cracking Hardshellism

 

If you would I would like for your to turn with me to the book of Romans,

Rom 1:15  So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also.

Rom 1:16  For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

Rom 1:17  For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.

 

Earlier this past week I was having a conversation with Brother Todd Bryant from Alabama.  He called me on the phone and the first thing out of his mouth was I guess your not a hardshell?  Now he said that in a joking manner as he has listened to some of the sermons that we’ve posted on the internet.

 

But I tell you what it really got me thinking throughout this week about the term because I have to tell you I have been called a hardshell more than once in life.  I used to have an old United Baptist lady who came into see me and she would always make mention that I was a hardshell. 

 

Now some of you are probably wondering just what hardshellism is?  You may be wondering even right now am I a hardshell and not even know it?

 

The term itself is usually used in a derogatory  manner.  Though some wear the term proudly.  Hardshellism is the underlying belief that the gospel is not needed for the salvation of man.  It takes the doctrines of grace that we faithfully hold two and takes them to extreme, what some would call hyper-Calvinism.  It is just as extreme in difference to what we teach and believe as Armenianism is.

 

The hardshell believes because God is the one who is doing the saving that the Spirit works in the life of one to bring them into regeneration, apart from the preaching of the gospel.  They do not believe faith in Christ is necessary for regeneration.  They believe that regeneration occurs in the subconscious of the mind and that man can be completely unaware of it.  Therefore, the heathen can be regenerated and not even know.

 

The sect therefore rejects any of mans efforts to convert the lost as the devices of men.  Therefore they typically soundly reject Sunday Schools, mission works, and seminaries. 

 

The growth of this group really came in the early 1800’s when the split in thinking really became evident.  The early leaders of the movement taught that this was the original position of the Baptist church and therefore called themselves Primitive Baptist.

 

Today there are different divisions of the Primitive Baptist based on how much they hold to certain doctrines.  It is not my intention to give you a history on the group that today wear the badge of Primitive Baptist.  My concern is in fact that many Sovereign Grace Landmark Baptist have developed tenets of these doctrines without even realizing it.

 

We know many brothers in the faith today that soundly reject any Sunday School as being something they consider to be unscriptural because it is not mentioned in the word of God.  I had a brother to remark to me one time who was on the road to this line of thinking without knowing it when we were holding a Bible School that we need to watch what we say after all we weren’t trying to get anyone saved.  It maybe true that I do not want to coarse a decision out of a child that doesn’t understand Christ at all.  But would we really be opposed if the Lord would use the words of a Sunday School teacher or a Bible School worker to sow the seeds of salvation in a child’s heart?  I certainly wouldn’t.

 

I know preachers who refuse to close a service with any kind or form of invitation at the end of the service.  I know where these thoughts come from.  They flow from a rejection of Armenianism.  That is the desire to force someone or persuade someone to make a decision to be saved.  For those that have been involved in those kinds of services you know that often the alter call, as they call it, is as long as the preaching service.  The call is built around emotion with hymns going on in the background pleas to accept Jesus, raising your hand, while everyone’s head is bowed in case your too ashamed to come down front. 

 

And let’s just face it people are emotional creatures and they react to the pleas and they come.  But within a short time you see they are right back to life the way it was because there has been no real change to the heart.  It is like the seed that was cast on shallow ground that sprang up quick and then withers away.

 

Sovereign Grace preachers have become so afraid of being called an Armenian that they will not utter any words that remotely sound like an invitation.

 

You know when we close services I nearly always make some kind of invitation.  I don’t know who the Lord is working on or has been working on.  I will tell you this we make an invitation not for someone to come up and get saved but rather we make an invitation for one to come whom the Lord has saved and desires to profess it before men and follow after the Lord in scriptural baptism.  That is the pattern of God’s holy word.

 

Folks there is nothing magical about the front of this church that saves people.  God does the saving and he can do it anywhere at anytime, but that being said it will never take place without the preaching, teaching, or instruction of the gospel message.  Whether it be here in this church or over dinner with a friend or even lying in the bed at night talking to your children.  And yes, let me clarify that as well everyone has the ability to witness the gospel message to another for the saving of the soul.  We soundly reject the notion as well that a person can only be saved by the preaching of an ordained preacher.

 

This morning though I want to look with you in God’s word.  Let’s see together was the early church as the Primitive’s might suggest or even the hardshell’s of our ranks really not missionary minded.  Were they really against the preaching of the gospel for the saving of souls?

 

Let’s first turn to the book of Matthew in the last chapter.

Mat 28:18  And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.

Mat 28:19  Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

Mat 28:20  Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

 

Here we have Christ giving what we call the great commission.  Christ told his church to go, teach and baptize.  Now Christ told the church here that he was going to be with them from then till the end of the world or the end of the current age.  Folks if this be the case then it ought to be the desire of every church of the Lord to take the word of God as far as they can take it using whatever ways they can do it.  This just seems simple to me.

 

The anti-mission idea seems to strike great difficulty with this scripture for they practice not the Great Commission but rather the Great Omission.

 

Now let’s look into the early movement of the church.  Let’s look at how they presented the gospel message.  Let’s turn to the first gospel sermon recorded in the word of God following the ascension of Christ.

 

Act 2:14  But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words:

 

From the beginning of the sermon Peter calls their attention to hearken to my words.  Now the people are there because of the great sound that was heard when the Spirit filled the house where the Apostles were.  No where are we told these men were regenerated before they heard the gospel.  In fact I can’t find that anywhere in the New Testament.

 

For the sake of time I‘m not going to read the entire sermon, but if you would look down with me to,

Act 2:21  And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.

 

I’m afraid I know a lot of men that because of the Armenian abuse of this verse would steer away from ever quoting it.

 

Act 2:22  Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know:

Act 2:23  Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:

Act 2:24  Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.

 

What is he doing here folks?  He is presenting the gospel of a crucified and risen Savior.  Why because that is the heart of the gospel message that calls men to salvation.  Now look down with me to verse,

 

Act 2:36  Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.

Act 2:37  Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?

Act 2:38  Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Act 2:39  For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.

 

Folks I want you to look at verse 37.  Pay close attention.  When they heard this, they were pricked in their heart.  They were not pricked in the heart before the gospel was preached.  They were pricked in the heart because it is the gospel which is the power of God unto salvation.  Is the message apart from the working of God?  No the gospel message is powerless unless the Holy Spirit breaks the hearts of sinful man so that the calling of the gospel might be made effectual.

 

Peter then offers the invitation of baptism to those who have been saved.  Peter is not a hardshell.

 

We learn in the word of God how the gospel of Christ was first preached to the Jews and then it was preached to the Samaritans who were kind of like half Jews and then lastly the Gentiles. 

 

So let’s look at the message that was taken to the Samaritans.  Was it anti gospel and anti missionary.  Well the fact that Philip a deacon from the church at Jerusalem was sent there ought to tell us that it wasn’t anti missionary, but look with me to what was preached.

 

Act 8:5  Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them.

Act 8:6  And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did.

 

So the first thing Philip did was to preach to them Christ.  That is preach to them the gospel message.  And the people once again were converted because of the power of the gospel and the working of the Holy Spirit.

 

Look down in verses,

Act 8:12  But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.

 

Folks I’m convinced that Philip didn’t have to beat a confession out of them.  When God is truly working in ones heart to make effectual the gospel call then no one has to beat a profession of faith out of anyone.  Here these people gladly were baptized following their salvation.

 

So that brings us to the Gentiles.  Were the Gentiles saved without hearing the gospel?  Were they saved and didn’t even know it?  The answer is no of course.  The Gentiles were saved through the preaching of the gospel of Christ.

 

In the word of God there is no greater missionary to the Gentile people than Paul.  Now in the beginning I opened up where he had written that the gospel was the power of God unto salvation.  That is to say that the gospel was the means in which God uses for the conversion of men.  However, let’s see if this is what Paul truly believed and practiced what he preached.

 

Look with me in the book of 1 Corinthians,

1Co 1:17  For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.

1Co 1:18  For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.

 

Now Paul was addressing the division of the church there over baptism.  Some feeling they were more important than others because some were baptized by Peter and others by other saints.  Paul makes it clear here by the way that baptism is not needed for salvation, otherwise he would have baptized everyone he could get his hands on.

 

But look what Paul says in verse 18.  As foolish as it seems for men to tell the story of Christ it is what God uses to save his people.  There is no other way.

 

Look down in verse 21,

1Co 1:21  For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.

 

So that was the message Paul preached to the people there at Corinth.  Look with me now to the book of Romans.  Let’s see what he told them.

 

We want to turn to a very familiar piece of scripture here.  One that is often half quoted in so called alter calls.  But in its entirety it is the truth of God’s word.

Rom 10:8  But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach;

Rom 10:9  That 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.

Rom 10:10  For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

Rom 10:11  For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.

Rom 10:12  For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.

Rom 10:13  For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Rom 10:14  How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?

Rom 10:15  And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!

Rom 10:16  But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report?

Rom 10:17  So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

 

Notice here that faith cometh by hearing.  Hearing what?  The word of God, the gospel of Christ of course.  One will never come to the knowledge of Christ unless the message is brought to them. 

 

Listen Paul knew that God has a chosen people.  Paul understood predestination and election.  He writes many wonderful words about these doctrines.  But Paul understood that God chose the hearing of the gospel as the way to bring salvation to man.

 

Paul no where or for that matter any of the Apostles teach that man can be saved without it.  To believe in any other way goes against the clear teaching of the Great Commission.  Now I believe whole heartedly in the sovereignty of God and God could have chosen not to use man in the calling of his saints.  But he gave man the privilege and honor to be able to tell another person about Christ and the Spirit use those words for salvation.

 

Hardshellism is anti Great Commission.  Hardshellism causes churches to begin to whither and waste away.  Hardshellism creeps into good churches when people become so bent on the preaching of the Doctrines of Grace that they begin to think that the Doctrines of Grace is the gospel message instead of Christ.  I love the Doctrines of Grace, but because of the Doctrines of Grace I know I have a people to preach the gospel too.

 

Now this morning I have talked a lot about the danger of theological hardshellism and how it stifles the preaching of Christ and the cross.  I think most of you would agree.  And you might think for a moment that you in no way could ever agree with the hardshell dogma.  I don’t think any of you could.

 

But as much as we disagree with the premise of their theology, do you know we very often in our lives exhibit practical hardshellism.  There is a difference.  Theological hardshells believe there is no need to go.  The practical hardshell is the one who knows the message must go forth, but does nothing themselves to promote its spread.

 

Church members, when was the last time you told someone else about Christ or invited them to church?  When we button our lips and are two ashamed or timid to speak about Christ, we are living a life of practical hardshellism.  We know in our hearts that God is always going to bring the gospel to his elect so he can send someone else.  God forgive us if this be our attitude.

 

God does have a chosen people and you are his chosen people to deliver the message of Christ.  Tell all that you can.  Invite them to church.  And be missionary minded.  We can’t go to the whole world, but support those who are being sent of God by your prayers and by your offerings.

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