In the last issue of "The Remnant" we published a piece in response to an article written by a conditionalist editor who took great liberties with the Scriptures in attempting to prove the absolute predestination of all things to be false. We believe to every fair-minded child of God we successfully answered each and every false charge. Be that as it may, we are satisfied that his (the conditionalist) mind will not change, and neither will those who have been led by the Spirit of God to rejoice in God's eternal counsels be convinced otherwise, either. This same editor followed his article the next month with another diatribe against predestination, and attempted to prop up his doctrine of conditional time salvation as being the true and proper doctrine of the Primitive, or Old School Baptists. We feel compelled once again to sound the alarm, and by the grace of God respond to the villainous charges.
Before looking at the subject matter written by the conditionalist editor, we feel it advisable to give a brief history of the rise of this new doctrine, and it is new, called "conditional time salvation." In 1832, when the Baptists met at Black Rock meeting house in Butler, Maryland, for the purpose of formulating the now famous Black Rock Address, conditional time salvation was unheard of in the whole world. No one preached it; no one had thought it; it simply did not exist! We have challenged the proponents of that new doctrine throughout this land to supply one shred of evidence that the Particular, Primitive, Old School Baptists ever advocated such a doctrine at that time. From 1832, when Elder Gilbert Beebe began publishing "The Signs of the Times" until his death in 1881, that doctrine was not one time introduced among the Baptist churches. Again, we would say that there is not one shred of evidence to support otherwise. We do not doubt that evil men crept in unawares who harbored that sentiment in their bosom, but they did not speak out or write during the years when those Old Soldiers of the Cross boldly defended the absolute predestination of all things from one end of this country to another. And we would again say that we offer any conditionalist in this nation an opportunity to prove with historical evidence that there ever was any writings or preaching to support their new subject called conditional time salvation during that period.
Sadly, after the death of Elder Dudley, Elder Leachman, Elder Trott, Elder Beebe and other soldiers of the cross, this new doctrine began to be introduced in the latter years of the last century. At first it was couched in plausible language. It was chiefly introduced by Elder J. H. Oliphant, who was, without question, an eloquent and able man. Regrettably, it was obvious that he considered himself much more intelligent and learned than the uneducated ministry of the Old School and Primitive Baptists. A close reading of his writings will show clearly that he was little better than a Fullerite arminian who assented to predestination to hide his erroneous views. That is not to say that he did not advocate many good things, but within that bushel of wheat there were those grains of error which he was ready to sow, and did sow. Following Oliphant, there came a number of other able men who went run-dog mad after a duty, works, and free-will system which evolved into what is now "conditional time salvation." They chiefly lashed out against the churches and ministry for their neglect of duty. And duty, duty, duty seemed to be about all they could preach or write about. "Up and be doing-," "Ye are idle", seemed to be their watchword. Chief among these men in the East was Elder K H. Pitman, and Elder J. H. Dailey, and in the South there was Elder Lee Hanks and Elder J. A. Momma. In the Southwest the most notable voice against absolute predestination was Elder Claude Casey, who in the early part of this century as a young minister considered himself the match for all of the old preachers of the Cross, and then some. Casey's vitriolic and abusive diatribes against predestination and those who held to it are seen in his editorial writings which can still be found for those who wish to read such. He was unrelenting and unmerciful in his ridicule and attacks upon the absolute predestination of all things, and championed the cause of conditionalism with much zeal.
These men all, however, had enough sense, or should we say, caution, to be careful in the things they contended for at the first, for there were still then many who were astonished and revulsed at the introduction of this new doctrine. This doctrine was so new that it divided churches and associations throughout the land in the early part of this century. From one end of our nation to another the churches and associations were rent asunder almost solely because of the confusion this new doctrine caused. Ironically, today our new generation of Primitive Baptists have been lied to so long about the history of our churches that they almost, to a person, among the conditionalist element, believe the divisions occurred because absolute predestination was introduced among their churches, and not otherwise. We are thankful to say, however, that recorded history is on our side, and reams of evidence are available to prove that absolute predestination was the original doctrine of the Old School, or Primitive Baptist churches. We thank our God that our forefathers left on record these facts for all to see who are not blinded by hatred.
Over the years, especially the last seventy-five, we have seen the duty-system which we now call conditional time salvation, as well as the disciples of it, grow and prosper to some measure. The predestinarian churches, as has always been the case with those who hold to the old and narrow way, began to diminish in number. We, however, rejoice to know that there is yet a remnant that does not despise the day of small things. It is as if history is only repeating itself, for in centuries past there were but a few scattered ones throughout the Piedmont of France, in England, Germany, and other nations who adhered to the truth in the midst of darkness and confusion. God's flock has always been a little flock, and there has always been those who would pretend to be the true church who would hold to some of the major tenets of truth while promoting with fantastic zeal their works systems. The chief works systems among Primitive Baptists at this time is the new doctrine called "conditional time salvation."
We ask; Is conditional time salvation the truth, or is it error? If it is the truth, then by all means, we should be supporting it, preaching it, teaching it, and with all that we possess, extolling it. However, if it is not the truth, and it isn't, then God's children everywhere have an obligation to avoid it, to condemn it, to come out from among it, to stand alone, and to walk the narrow path, irrespective of the revilings, criticisms and abuse that might be heaped on them for it. We ask again, Is it true, or not? With no hesitation, and great boldness, we submit conditional time salvation is a new and false doctrine. Conditional time salvation is barely one hundred years old, and cannot be found in the old history of the Church of Jesus Christ, not even the early history of the Primitive Baptists. Conditional time salvation is a doctrine unique to the Primitive Baptists who have embraced it. With some few exceptions among the Sovereign Grace churches, we know of no group of people the world-wide over who hold to this system, or ever did since the dawn of time. Thus, since it is new, it cannot be apart of the Old Way and should be condemned and cast aside.
The editor we referred to at the beginning of this article has gone to great lengths to attempt to separate salvation into two aspects which he calls time salvation and eternal salvation. While doing this, he makes it clear that he believes in a time salvation, to which he appends the word "conditional". Conditional time salvation, according to the editor, is dependent wholly on creature effort. Though probably if pressed he would admit some little particle of grace should be applied to make it effective. His contention is that conditional time salvation is the duty of God's children which they "ought" to do, and that eternal salvation is solely the work of God. We concede that he is about half right, for there can be no question that eternal salvation is solely, and wholly, the work of our great God and Redeemer. The editor's writings are such that he builds up a straw man which he contends that the absoluters hold to, and then proceeds to tear it down. This straw man consists of the notion that absoluters do not believe in time salvation. Now, we dare not speak for all others, but we hesitate not to say that we do most clearly believe in time salvation. Our difference with the editor is that we do not believe in conditional time salvation. That there is salvation in time should be denied by no one. We go so far as to say that all of the salvation we know of with one exception occurs in time. That one exception being that which the Apostle Paul alluded to in Romans when he said, "Now is our salvation nearer than when we believed." Our final salvation in Heaven, we believe to be eternal and not in time. As far as all other deliverances, or salvation, we regard them to occur in our lives as we live and move and have our being in God. As far as being born again, we believe that to be in time also. As far as being delivered from our failings, we believe that to be in time. As far as baptism, church membership, walking in the footsteps of the flock, and all such things, we believe them to be here in time. So we must say, the editor has falsely erected his straw man when he says we do not believe in time salvation. We heartily support the notion of time salvation.
Question - Is time salvation of works, or grace? If it is of works, then it is no more grace. Wit is of grace, then it is no more works. As we have clearly learned from the Roman letter, works and grace cannot mix. They are not the same and are diametrically opposed. If salvation here in time is not of grace, then we submit that time salvation must be arminianism. Time salvation is humanism and time salvation is heresy if it be of conditional works. Our understanding of the Bible leads us to believe that all salvation, time and eternal, is of grace; nothing more and nothing less. It would not be difficult to supply a number of scriptures to support this. The whole tenor of the Bible indicates it. But we will suffice ourselves with only two; the first being from Jonah. We all know the story well of how Jonah, who thought he was running from God in his wayward course, was thrown overboard from the ship in a great storm. It didn't just happen that a whale, or great fish, was there to swallow him, but God had prepared that fish, and it was there at the right time, and Jonah was tossed overboard at the exact moment for him to be swallowed by the whale. Neither was too early, or too late, but both arrived at the exact location, and the given moment, to satisfy the eternal purpose of God. There can be no question in the minds of believers that Jonah was saved from drowning by the whale. That was a salvation, and it was here in time. That salvation was as certainly the work of God, over which Jonah had no control, as our eternal salvation is. Jonah was seemingly on his way to a watery grave; but God had planned otherwise. God had willed otherwise, and He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. We are very satisfied that Jonah's time salvation was of the Lord.
While Jonah was in the belly of the whale, he uttered that glorious statement, "Salvation is of the Lord." And to that we joyously agree, and submit that we know no other salvation. Salvation, whether it be in time or eternity, is of the Lord. There can be no exceptions. That we are saved in many ways in time, we question not, and vigorously proclaim, but no salvation is of bare creature effort. Though there are many secondary agencies involved in our being saved here in time, the ultimate source of that salvation is grace. An example of that is found in the subject of baptism; "The like figure whereunto baptism doth also now save us." We are saved in baptism, not for Heaven, but saved here in time. But no one is baptized until he has been granted, or blessed of God, to bring forth fruit meet for repentance, as John required in the earliest baptisms. "Bring forth therefore fruit, meet for repentance, and think not to say within yourselves". No one may be saved in baptism until he has first repented, and no one can repent until God grants him repentance. Acts 11:18, 2 Tim 2:25. Thus the first cause of baptism is repentance; the first cause of salvation in baptism is grace. There can be no question in the minds of those who accept the supremacy and sovereignty of God that He is the Great First Cause of all things. Underlying all our duty, our zeal, our works is the grace which worketh in us and for us. And grace is the gift of God.
The second text we would use is found in the opening verses of the New Testament, "And she shall bring forth a son and thou shalt call his name Jesus for he shall save his people from their sins." (Matthew 1:21) This enunciation came from Heaven itself as God had sent His angel to Joseph to instruct him how he was to deal with his wife, Mary. Mary was with child, conceived of the Holy Ghost. This child was to have a name, Jesus, which means Saviour. His ultimate purpose in this world was to save His people from their sins. Jesus did not come to save all people from their sins. He came to save His people from their sins, and we believe heartily, and with all our being that He did just that. He saved His people from all their sins. Not all people from some sins; or some people from some sins; but some people from all sins. Those people were His elect family, those that God the Father had given Him in eternity, in the counsels of the everlasting covenant. And His glorious redemption was sufficient, and He saved them from their sins. Now the point of our subject here is their being saved from their sins. If Jesus saved them, and saved them completely, from their sins, we ask, and believe we ask fairly, is there anything else for them to save themselves from? If He saved them and saved them completely from all their sins, no amount of effort, duty, works, obedience or anything else can make them any more saved than they already are. And though it might be objected that this is speaking of eternal salvation, we submit that it embraces all salvation for all the sins of all His people. The children of God were conceived in sin. They were born with the Adamic sin upon them and in them. They go forth from their mother's womb speaking lies. They grow up in sin. They live in sin. They practice sin, and even when born of the Spirit of God, they are made to join with the Apostle Paul in crying out, "Oh, wretched man that lam; who shall deliver me from the body of this death", for they see that sin worketh death in all their members, and it makes them wretched. Yet sin they do; and sin they must; though, if possible, they would never sin again. They would give ten million worlds, if they possessed the whole, in order to cease from sinning. But they find not a way how to cease, how to desist, and how to avoid sinning. Sin is their composition, and sin is their way, at least in the outward man. And while inwardly, in the new man they rejoice in the law of God, they know that in their members dwelleth no clean thing. And thus, they live a life completely ingulfed in sin. Is it then unreasonable to say that the Saviour's work covered all these things? Is it unreasonable to proclaim that Jesus paid it all, that all to Him we owe? And this being so, what then of a conditional time salvation wherein a sinner must do something himself either in obedience, works, or duty in order that he might somehow save himself. We submit, and submit fairly, that it is a gross injustice to the Scriptures to suggest that a poor sinner, delivered by grace, can do anything that can match the wondrous salvation from our sins that Jesus wrought for us. We cannot believe that this text can be in any way construed other than Jesus has accomplished all that is necessary for our deliverance from sin in time and in eternity. While this text neither uses nor employs the word "time" or "eternity", it is fairly obvious that it covers one thing needful, and that is salvation from sin; salvation from sins, all sins, every sin of every sort, of any type, now and forever, Jesus shall save His people from their sins. What does that leave the conditionalist then to exhort us to do since Jesus has already done all?
It is needful to interject at least one more scripture, though it essentially teaches the same thing we have already stated, and that is from Galatians 1:4, "Who (being Jesus) gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father: To whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen." If Jesus gave Himself for our sins, is there anything else for us to do? Can that mean simply that He gave Himself for our sins that we might go to Heaven? Yes, it means that, and it means more. It means that our sins have been removed from us - all of them - as far as the east is from the west, to be remembered by God no more. For Jesus has paid the debt. There can be no sin excluded here. There can be no transgression omitted. He gave Himself, He freely gave Himself. He hung upon the tree; He agonized and He died to give Himself a sufficient sacrifice for our sins. Not just some of them, but all of them. This will cover every aspect of our life and every sin we may ever commit, and that was that He might deliver, not necessarily only to the eternal world, but from this present evil world which is here in time. So, we must fairly conclude that time salvation is involved in the great and wondrous work of Jesus giving Himself for our sins. Thus leaving us with nothing to do. Salvation is of the Lord. Salvation is by grace. Salvation is no more works; there is nothing a sinner can do for time or eternity to make himself more clean, or pure, or justified, or reconciled than he already is in Jesus Christ. As we journey on through life, knowing that we shall continue to stumble, to fall, to transgress, we know that the debt has been paid. And though we often seek to do something by way of confession, crying out, repentance, remorse, etc., we realize that the final payment, the full payment, was made in the wondrous work of Jesus, our Redeemer. There is nothing we can do to make God more pleased with us than He already is in Jesus. He saw the travail of His soul and was satisfied. There is no way that a sinner can make God more satisfied now than He already is with the one sacrifice for sin forever which the Redeemer wrought for His people. Yes, He shall save His people from their sins. There is no salvation to be wrought by the creature, or by his effort, or by his will; it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but God that showeth mercy.
How thankful we should be then, when viewing this subject aright, that though there is much in time that we abhor, there is much in our lives that we loath, and there are many times that we would cry out to God in our darkness, in our deadness, in our listlessness, that He would be merciful to us as sinners, yet we must ever keep in mind that the work has been accomplished. Nearly two thousand years ago full and free pardon was wrought that we might be delivered from our sins, all of them, every one of them. And there is now no charge against God's elect. Who shall lay anything against the elect people of God, and say, "This is their fault", for it is Jesus who has justified and we do stand just before our Heavenly Redeemer by the merits of His Son. Conditional time salvation is nothing more than a contrivance of arminianism veiled in a thin garb of supposed mixture of grace in order to appeal to the eye of the confused little children of God. But God's children will not long be confused by another doctrine or another gospel, for they know that it is anathema, and let it be cursed. There is no room in the gospel of our great God and Saviour for a conditional time salvation. That salvation is in time, we heartily agree, but that salvation is by grace, we also strongly affirm. There is no salvation apart from grace. There is no redemption apart from the blood of Christ. And if there is any standing before the Father, (and we believe there is) it is because Jesus shall save His people from their sins, as He gave Himself for our sins that He might deliver us from this present evil world and that according to the will of God. For you see, God does have a will and that from everlasting, and that will embraces every aspect of our lives from beginning to end.
We must conclude by saying that we believe, after a long and studied observance of the doctrine of conditional time salvation, that this erroneous view was gotten up as a direct result of denying the absolute predestination of all things. Had those ministers and advocates of conditional time salvation in the beginning not parted with our forefathers on the doctrine of God's predestination, they would never have had a necessity for such a doctrine as conditional time salvation, for the absolute unconditional predestination of all things embraces our salvation from first to last in time and eternity, and there is no need then for a creature effort system, or a workmonger system, or an "up and be doing" system. All of this is eliminated in the glorious, full, final, finished work of a sufficient Redeemer who shall deliver a prepared people to a prepared place because He is the Saviour of sinners. As He said Himself, "Think not that I am come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance." He calls not at them, but He calls them. And He calls them effectually, and they are washed from their sins. They stand just, not because of what they have done, but because of what He has done. The doctrine of conditional time salvation may have its followers, but those who are needy sinners can never find the least comfort in its galling yoke, for they have found the Saviour only a sure refuge from the damning effects of sin.
January - February 1989