Prepared by Elder G. B. Hudson
The Yellow River Old School Baptist Association in Session with the church at Camp Creek, Gwinnett County, Georgia, to the Churches of which she is composed:
Dear Brethren and Sisters: - Through the abounding goodness and mercy of our Heavenly Father we are permitted once more to convene in an associational meeting, and according to custom, you no doubt will expect to hear from us by a circular letter; and for a foundation for what we may have to say, we would call your attention to a Scripture found in Philippians, 2d chapter, 12th and 13th verses - “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure.”
This command of God given by the mouth of His apostle, is addressed to God’s own dear children, as will clearly be seen by noticing the commencing of the Epistle, which says, “To all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi with the bishops and deacons,” and so it will apply to all the saints in Christ Jesus with the bishops and deacons which are scattered abroad in the world, and to no one else; hence we understand that the salvation here spoken of means the safety and deliverance of God’s children from the dangers and troubles with which they are surrounded here in this world, and may properly be termed a “time or common salvation,” so we deny that any other but God’s people can engage in this work, for the Scripture declares that “the carnal mind is enmity against God, for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be,” and again we read that “the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto Him, neither can He know them, because they are spiritually discerned,” so then the sinner must first be born again before he can see the Kingdom of God. Previous to this time the sinner has no spiritual eyes to see, no ears to hear, and no heart to understand the things of the kingdom of God, for Jesus taught His disciples, saying, “Unto you is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but unto them that are without all these things are done in parables,” and Paul says to the Ephesians brethren: “You hath He quickened who were dead in trespasses and sins;” also that they were by nature the children of wrath even as others, but God who is rich in mercy for His great love wherewith He loved us even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, by grace are ye saved.” So we contend that this truth is plainly set forth in the word of God, that man has nothing to do in quickening himself or others into life or of bringing about the new birth, for what is born of the flesh is flesh; but the quickening and birth is brought about alone by the power of the Holy Spirit. The prophet Isaiah: “Behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call His name Immanuel, which being interpreted is God with us,” and when the virgin Mary being espoused to Joseph, before they came together, was found with child of the Holy Ghost, so Joseph had nothing to do in the matter. So it is with every sinner that has been born again. There was a time when he was quickened by the Holy Spirit, and he had nothing to do with it, neither knew what was the matter with him, but being in trouble is disposed to keep it to himself and say nothing about it, but at length the time rolled on for him to be born again, and when that took place he was made willing to confess that he had nothing to do in it, but that it was all of God – yea, it is Immanuel, God with us.
We hear something of the electing love of God to His people who were betrothed unto Him, as we read in the Prophet Hosea, 2d chapter, 18th and 20th verses: “And I will betroth thee unto Me forever; yea, I will betroth thee unto Me in faithfulness, and thou shalt know the Lord.” So being born again and made a fit subject for the kingdom of heaven, he feels an impression to work – for it is God in us who worketh in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure. And right here he commences to work out his own salvation and that too with fear and trembling. So it was with Paul - see Acts, 9th chapter, 6th verse. And he, trembling and astonished, said, “Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?” So too, with every heaven-born soul; we see them seeking instruction and asking “Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?” or, “Lord, if I am deceived undeceive me,” etc. We think the Scriptures abundantly teach that it is the obligation of every child of God to work, and the first step we find for him to take is to deny himself, take up his cross and follow Jesus, “for whosoever will save his life shall lose it, but whosoever shall lose his life for My sake and the Gospel’s, the same shall save it” - see Mark, 8th chapter, 34th and 35th verses. Here we see the importance of working out your own salvation, for we are surrounded by enemies here in the world, and our adversary – the devil - as a roaring lion walketh about seeking whom he may devour, so we are commanded to put on the whole armor of God that we may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil; and one of the poets says:
“But of all the foes we meet,
None so oft mislead our feet,
None betray us into sin
Like the foes that dwell within.”
The child of God has no time for idling, but is commanded to watch and pray always, “To be always abounding in the work of the Lord,” etc. And we are admonished “to be not deceived. God is not mocked, for whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to the flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption, but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting,” and how often is he made to realize the truth of the above Scriptures, either to his joy or sorrow. Then, dear brethren and sisters, in order that we may work out our own salvation, let us be diligent in the study of God’s word, and in attending to all the ordinances belonging to God’s house. The Psalmist says: “Blessed is the man whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law doth he meditate day and night. He shall be like a tree planted in the rivers of water that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither, and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.” And again: “Blessed are they that dwelleth in Thy house, they will still be praising Thee’ they go from strength to strength, every one of them in Zion appeareth before God.” This salvation is an individual or personal salvation; it is called “your own salvation.” Israel, by the sin and disobedience of some of the people, often got into trouble when the whole nation had to suffer, and as in the type, so in the antitype, the church of God, who are often made to suffer by the sin and disobedience of one or more of her members, for when one member suffers the whole body suffers. Then how important it is that each one of God’s dear children be found working out their own salvation, and that with fear and trembling, which, if each one will do then the peace of the whole, will not be disturbed. May each one of us feel the responsibility and importance there is of each one discharging his whole obligation faithfully, and may the Holy Spirit direct and enable us so to do, is our prayer.
Isaac Hamby, Moderator.
J. T. Jordan, Clerk.