The Heresy of Conditional Time Salvation
A nagging heresy reviewed.
BELOVED:-The Old Baptist people have long been troubled with the confusing doctrines of “means of salvation,” “means of grace,” and such like; but not until the present young generation rose up, who assume to be wise above all the fathers, has the confusing and uncertain sound of “conditional time salvation” been trumpeted forth in almost all the camps of Israel. The last ten years this strange and startling blast of trumpets has echoed and reechoed with exciting and bewildering effect, and great has been the widespread confusion and division, where peace and good-will prevailed before. This dividing of salvation, and subdividing it into fragments and parts, partly eternal salvation, and partly time salvation (as the teachers of this yea and nay gospel call it) they boastingly claim, is “rightly dividing the word.” It certainly has a dividing qualify, for it has scattered the flock. Yea, it has brought bitter strife and alienation into the rank and file of the conditional Baptists themselves. Thus has God confounded their language, and they cannot understand one another. And, as did the confused Midianites, they are now falling upon one another in deadly strife. But the remnant according to the election of grace, the little band with their spiritual Gideon, break their earthen pitchers that the light may shine out, and shout, “The sword of the Lord and of Gideon.” By this they conquer, for the Lord fights for them and gives them the victory.
Let us now consider salvation in the light of the Lord as revealed in the word. “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God.” “Salvation” is a Bible term, and it runs all through the divine book, being used very many times, yet it is always the one single, simple word, never plural, complex or compounded. “Salvation.” The plural word, “salvations,” is not in the Holy Bible. This term, “salvations,” so common and popular now, belongs to the literature of a yea and nay gospel, but it is not in the gospel of Christ. This late word, “salvations,” is incomplete without another word, “conditional,” joined to it. For the recent salvations, so much talked of, which depend upon creature obedience, are necessarily conditional. Any conditional salvation is necessarily of works, and entitled to a reward, therefore all conditional salvation is legal, yea and nay, and most uncertain. There is no grace at all in any conditional salvation, because the grace of God is free, unconditional, never sold and never bought. “Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.” “And if by grace, then is it no more of works.” All conditional salvation calls for works to obtain it, for something must be done. So grace is entirely excluded from the yea and nay doctrine of conditional salvations. The teachers of conditional salvation have not yet presumed to say the grace of God is conditional, and so all conditionalism is a denial of salvation by grace.
Conditional Baptists, however, seem to think that they take away the objectionable feature of Arminianism or conditional salvation, by confining it to time, and so they qualify this legal doctrine of salvation by works by inserting the word “time” between the two words, conditional salvation, and make it read, “Conditional time salvation”; that is to say, salvation in time is conditional. If so, then salvation in time is not by grace, nor of the Lord.
Now it behooves us to know what salvation is, when it is, and who it is to. Salvation is redemption, deliverance; it is always in time, and it is always to the lost. No one who is not lost can be saved. The one who knows what to do, and can do it, is not lost. So doing conditions is not salvation at all, but merely working for a reward. We never go to salvation, because salvation is righteousness and justification, and we are sinful; but salvation must and does always come to us as lost. Salvation has no meaning to the one who is not lost, but claims ability to do and obtain the desired good. It is hypocritical to call that which is within our own power salvation. So long as Peter stood on the water, he did not pray, “Lord save me.” Such a cry would have been false then; but when he had no power left, then the prayer was one of need, and salvation came to him.
When is salvation? Does it take place in eternity, or in time? It is important that we understand when salvation is. While the Bible clearly shows that God’s purpose to save his chosen and predestinated people in Christ is eternal, the divine testimony is abundant and clear, that all the work of their full and glorious salvation unto holiness and a blissful immortality is begun and ended in time. This triple work of the Father, Son and Spirit, three in One, consists in redemption, regeneration and resurrection. The resurrection of all the redeemed and heaven-born people of God shall take place at the last day of time. And so Christ said of all the church, that the Father’s will is that “I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.” And of every believer in him he says, “And I will raise him up at the last day.” The last day is a part of time. The resurrection of all the dead, who sleep in Christ, is the completion and crowning glory of their salvation. This is in time. Redemption from the law of sin and death, by the death of the Son of God, is in time. So is salvation by his risen life in time. Paul says, “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.” This salvation by his life includes being born again, and passing from death unto life. “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” “Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God.” All this is wrought in time. Paul therefore says, “He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” That is, until the full revelation of Christ in you in his resurrection, power and glory. Until that glorious day, God will perform the good work of salvation in you. O this is assuring and blessed, my beloved! In this faith Paul said, “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” This is the full glory of our ascended Lord Jesus Christ. God, who exalted him at his own right hand of power, will perform his blessed work of salvation in us until the redemption of the purchased possession. “Then we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.”
All the work of salvation is fulfilled in time. But the adjective, the long and dangerous handle, “conditional,” is not found in the Bible as belonging to our time salvation. But this is true: “Salvation is of the Lord,” and salvation is in time. All the redeemed of the Lord shall be saved in time. “Who is like unto thee, O people saved by the Lord!”
All legal teachers, who strive to burden the salvation of the Lord’s people with conditions, are putting a yoke upon their necks which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear, but which is a curse and snare to the people, and a reproach upon salvation. But when they think that they have improved upon Arminian conditional salvation by inserting the word “time” in it, they are deceiving and being deceived, for this is the day of salvation. “(For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succored thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.)” So any one who is not saved in time has no salvation. Therefore, the modern term, “conditional time salvation,” means no more nor less than conditional salvation. To prove this, they must first prove that Jesus is a conditional Savior. This they dare not attempt to do. Salvation is of the Lord and in Christ. Yea, he himself is Salvation. “Mine eyes have seen thy salvation.” “Neither is there salvation in any other.” Then there is no salvation in conditions nor in man. “For by grace are ye saved …not of works.” “Truly my soul waiteth upon God; from him cometh my salvation. He only is my rock and my salvation. … My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him. He only is my rock and my salvation: he is my defense; I shall not be moved. In God is my salvation and my glory: the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God.” David here personified the man Christ and every member of Christ. As this was true of David and Christ under the law, is it not equally true of us under the gospel of grace? Since God only was the rock and salvation of his people under the old covenant, which was conditional, is he any the less their only rock and salvation under the new covenant in Christ Jesus, which is free from all conditions?
The Lord said, “For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.” This is a perfect description of conditional salvation; for it can hold no water of salvation.
But blessed be the Lord of salvation, Jesus saves his people from their sins, gives them the water of life, and says, “The water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” This is all my salvation and all my desire.
And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.
by Elder David Bartley
April 1, 1905