Without realizing it a nationally known religious "humbug" has recently cast a great deal of light on an issue that has harassed the Primitive Baptists for the last one hundred years.
In the Midwest there is a TV evangelist who avows God told him he would die March 31st, 1987, if he didn't raise the sum of eight million dollars. We would not even observe this folly were it not for the fact that it touches on a vital doctrine we believe and hope to defend.
The said minister admitted by his pronouncement that previously his time was not fixed to die. However, since this burden of "humbugging" money out of the populous had been laid on him, he had an appointed time to die if he couldn't fulfill these weighty requirements. Therefore, he may or may not have had a time to die, according to what he said, based on whether he did or did not come up with the cash.
Now, we would desire to ask, wherein does this differ from our Primitive Baptists who have been lured off by the Conditionalist time salvation system? They tell us with great vehemence that a man does not have a certain time to die. With equal vigor they inform us that if we live up to God's commandments and requirements He will bless us with long life, but if we come short, or fall into carnality, or loose living, He might at any minute kill us and take us to Heaven. Is not this very, very similar to what this TV racketeer has promoted? If it is not similar we would desire to know where the dissimilarities lie.
To our notion and certain understanding the Bible affirms that a man has a time to be born, and a time to die, nothing withstanding. The TV evangelist might believe he may or may not die at a fixed time. The Conditionalists may believe he may or may not die at a fixed time depending upon doing or not doing, but the true Bible believer acknowledges that before eternity when God sat solitary in the Heavens He had bound up in His eternal wisdom our appointed time, place, and means for both our birth and our death. We find this very comforting.
Now, if our religion is "humbug" had failed in his project and could not come up with the eight million that his god so eagerly needed, then, according to him, death must come and oft to Heaven he must go; whether he wanted to stay here on earth or not. That which nags at us is this - would not Heaven be preferable to earth? If to die is gain would not he have been wiser to deliberately fail to raise the money and waft off to Heaven in a hurry? As we see it, his shortest route to Heaven was to come short of the goal.
Even so with the Conditionalist error, when they teach that if we live in carnality and sin God is liable to cut our lives short, are they not in effect teaching us that the quickest way to Heaven for God's children is to live in disobedience? If we live holy and righteous then a long life in this wicked, cruel, cold, and trying world will be ours. However, if we "up jump Johnny" and run off into all sorts of iniquity then a short life will be ours and we will be zapped away to Heaven. If someone can show us any difference between the doctrine of the TV "humbug" and the time-salvation conditionalists they would do us a great favor.
J. F. Poole
Volume 1, No. 4
June - July, 1987