George Ella, Doctrinal Matters

God’s Word, the Bible, teaches clearly that all that is necessary for a sinner’s salvation is worked out in eternity and reserved in Heaven for whoever is placed in Christ from eternity. This teaching starts at the first page of Genesis and continues to the last page of Revelation, revealing more and more of the Father’s covenanted way for mankind worked out in eternity with His Son. Thus, Christ, in eternity, secured the salvation of all in and for eternity irrespective of that elect person’s historical or geographical position. This was also the teaching of our Reformers.

However, nowadays, a number of Christians are following the old heretic Marcion’s ‘criticism with a penknife’ and, calling themselves New Covenant Theologians, they reject Old Testament covenantal teaching, arguing that it has been abolished by the New Testament. Yet there is not a doctrine in the NT which is not based on the OT as this was the only Bible Christ and the Apostles had and needed. Indeed, there is not a…

Continue reading

The March/April, 1999 number of Reformation Today features four articles on John Gill. The first, entitled John Gill – a Sketch of his Life, is a succinctly written biography of Gill’s faithful and productive life in the service of the gospel. Next, Editor Errol Hulse continues with John Gill – An Appreciation, presented as a review of The Life and Thought of John Gill (1697-1771), (ed. Michael Haykin). Here, Hulse ignores the facts of Gill’s own testimony to make what he calls ‘a fair assessment of the damage which emanated from his errors.’ Thus, though the book Hulse reviews chiefly depicts Gill as a great evangelist and soul-winner, Hulse’s one-sided critique is centred on Gill’s supposed Hyper-Calvinism and lack of evangelistic fervour. This is stretching the meaning of words such as ‘appreciation’ and ‘review’ until they mean ‘disappreciation’ and ‘rewrite’.

Hulse’s unjust criticism is continued under the title John Gill – Eternal Justification. Here Hulse confuses Gill’s doctrine of Justification from Eternity with Eternal Justification, arguing that adherence to the latter doctrine proves Gill to be a Hyper. Gill’s doctrine of Justification from Eternity deals with the source and application of justification seen in relation to God’s infinite and immutable decrees and Christ’s atoning work in the fullness of time. It entails justification in union with Christ from eternity through the imputation of Christ’s righteousness and received by the elect via a conscious act of appropriation due to faith given. In contrast, Eternal Justification points to a per se, innate, inherent and eternal state of justification in the elect. This erroneous doctrine, based on the self-contradictory idea of past eternity, sees no need for reconciliation or conversion as the elect are declared righteous rather than made righteous as a divine act in the manner described above. This hypothetical view is…

Continue reading

“This is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.” Jeremiah 23:6

“… to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.” II Peter 1:1

Present day evangelicals tend to believe that the fierce Calvinist-Arminian controversy of the eighteenth century was merely a question of whether God chose the elect or the elect chose God. This is an oversimplification. Then the point of discussion was not so much the broad question “Who are the elect?” as the more basic question “Whom does God consider righteous?” Our brethren in those days were more interested in the means of salvation rather than the outcome.

How the Calvinist-Arminian Controversy of the Eighteenth Century Began

The controversy really began with the publication in 1755 of James Hervey’s Theron and Aspasio. Hervey had been a pupil of John Wesley’s at Oxford and was one of the very earliest pioneers of the Evangelical Revival. Balleine, the church historian, tells us that Hervey’s parish, Weston Favell, near Northampton, was the first Evangelical parish in the Midlands. Hervey produced a series of books aimed at the academic reader and men of letters, outlining the Reformed faith. His language so affected the gentry of his day that they…

Continue reading

Following Theological Fashions

Our modern theology has apparently become a matter of fashions. In my youth, Christians kept to their theological opinions closely. Whether a Plymouth Brother, Particular Baptist, Wesleyan Methodist or an Evangelical Anglican, they remained true to their affiliations all their Christian lives. Nowadays, Christians seem to be changing their theological bent regularly. I have friends who have adopted one supposedly modern fad after another, going through Hyper-Fullerism, Hyper-Calvinism, New Covenant Theology, New Perspectives, Dispensationalism and other old warmed up errors within a few years. I have even received letters from irate brethren scolding me for not keeping up to date with new theological trends myself.

Being made sin and being made righteous refers to facts not fictive pictures

When browsing through magazines, web-pages, chat-groups and blogs, one gains the impression that it is now fashionable to discuss the limitations of the Manhood of Christ and His alleged cooperation in a gigantic hoax whereby the Father and the Son worked out what their proponents call a ‘forensic’ method of freeing sinners from the…

Continue reading

A lecture given by George Ella at the Protestant Reformation Society, August 27th, 2009, Wycliffe Hall, Oxford, England

Irresistible grace represents the traditional ‘I’ in the acronym ‘TULIP’. So now I shall tease you a little. The name ‘Tulip’ comes from the same Turkish root as ‘turban’ and the flower of that name was introduced by the Turks to Europe as a symbol of the spreading Ottoman Empire, or the TULIP ERA as the Islamising of Europe was called. The popular strains Tulipa turkestanica and Tulipa kurdica point to this. Why the Turkestan turban-shaped talismanic Tulip and Turkoman black merchants robes were chosen as Christian symbols of faith and ministry by post-Reformation parties, must be the subject of another lecture.

The T-U-L-I-P, beautiful as it is, does not sum up the Christian Gospel. British Reformers had other flowers, too, like the rose of Sharon, in their doctrinal bouquets. There is no doctrine of the Word, no justification, no sanctification, no repentance, no faith, little Christology and little ecclesiology in the tulip’s five letters. They outline correctly and superbly God’s sovereign will, but they are alarmingly silent on…

Continue reading

Most readers are familiar with the Calvinist-Arminian controversy of the 18th century in which free-grace, championed by Whitefield, Toplady and Romaine was set against free-will, maintained by Fletcher, Sellon and Wesley. The controversy dealt with whether salvation was made possible by Christ, depending on man’s acceptance of it, or whether Christ secured His Church’s salvation by His atoning death. At the same time, a similar controversy was raging on a closely related topic. “Is the Mosaic Law God’s eternal standard or has it become irrelevant to unbeliever and believer alike as a Covenant of Works and as a yardstick of sanctification?”

The leading contestants in the Calvinistic-Arminian controversy were mainly Oxford and Cambridge dons and men of a first class education. The opposite was the case in the bitter debate concerning the Law which came to be referred to as the Antinomian Controversy. William Huntington (1745-1813), who took the side of the Law as God’s eternal standard, had a mere few months’ schooling and before becoming a pastor, was a coalman’s labourer. Andrew Fuller (1754-1815) who took up the…

Continue reading

A lone campaigner for educational reform

Public School expert Edward C. Mack said the poet William Cowper was a lone voice in campaigning for reform in eighteenth century English schools[1. Public Schools and British Opinion 1780 – 1860, 1938.]. This may surprise poetry lovers who have not yet discovered Cowper’s writings on education. Cowper’s most neglected long poem Tirocinium or a Review of Schools, for instance, deals in detail with educational reform. Parents thinking of home-schooling their children as a legal alternative might care to consult Cowper who denounced the school system of his day as barbaric and developed ideas of education most acceptable to Christian parents. First a few words about Cowper’s own education.

Christian parents, the Bible and Pilgrim’s Progress

Cowper was born on 31 November 1731 (Old Style) in Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire. His parents were of noble blood but the poet remembered them more for their Christian testimony rather than their genetic heritage.

Cowper was taught to read and write at home before starting school at the age of four or five. His first ‘book’ was a sheet of paper with the Lord’s Prayer printed on it, protected by a thin covering of…

Continue reading

Copyright © 2019, The Association of Historic Baptists