Vol.II No.XII Pg.7
January 1966

Queries And Answers

Robert F. Turner

Dear bro. Turner:

Must an unbeliever receive the Holy Spirit before he can understand the written word of God? Please discuss 1CO.2:12 in this connection.


Apparently you have read the Nov. 9, '65 Firm Foundation, in which this doctrine is espoused. I have written the editor, pointing out the error, and urging him to repudiate it. This is Calvinistic doctrine, wholly without proof in the scriptures.

The writer makes the old arguments of Calvinism, i.e., scriptures are "spiritually" discerned, and "the Spirit becomes the glasses, as it were, through which he (alien, rft) can perceive the truth of the gospel". He joins the unbeliever "in his very analysis and examination of that revelation, so that he can rightly undersand it (1CO.2:12)". There is much more, but space limits quotations.

1CO.2: refers to inspired men, as the apostles; not to an unbeliever who is studying the word. Paul says, (1CO.2:4-f) "my speech -- was in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, desiin the power of God". Compare 1CO.2:7,10, "we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery" and "God hath reveled them unto us by his Spirit" with Paul's statements in EPH.3:3,5, "by revelation he made known unto me the mystery" and "now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit". It is shameful that such a blunder was printed without some sort of correction. The F.F. writer says "A natural or unspiritual man cannot even understand the message the Spirit brings, because it is 'spiritually discerned' 1CO.2:14". But in context (above) this only explains the difference in the uninspired man and the "apostles and prophets" of the NT. One injects, without warrant, an entirely new thought into Paul's statement when this is applied to any unbeliever.

Further, Paul is talking about receiving information directly from God; not about reading what inspired men wrote. Paul told the Ephesians that "when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ" (EPH.3:4). Truth had to be revealed to the apostles and prophets, but we can grasp this truth by reading (see JOH.20:30-31; 2PE.1:13-21, 3:1-2).

True, the gospel is hidden to them that are lost (2CO.4:3-f). This is the results of willing blindness, not the failure of the H.S. to enlighten (Context -- "when it (the heart) shall turn to the Lord, the veil shall be taken away" 2CO.3:15-16). Compare JOH.5:37-47; MAT.13:11-16 etc.

I dislike sounding like an "old-timer" -- I'm not really that old; but many of our current preachers need to lay aside their commentaries and other books written by Calvin College, Presbyterian and Reformed, and like scholars; and read their Bibles for awhile. Ramm, Hendricksen, Barclay, and others like them have some fine works; but many of them are shot through with Calvinism, and/or other H.S. error. If you just must -- read T.W. Brents, Gospel Plan of Salvation.