The subject of the conditionality of salvation is so misunderstood by many of my friends today who are in the Primitive Baptist order. By falsely concluding that a condition would be equivalent to a meritorious cause or "work", they remove any and all apparent conditions from the scheme of eternal salvation. The strategy is to then pigeon-hole any verse which seems to demonstrate some cognitive motion (i.e. a condition) on the part of man for salvation into the conditional time salvation category.
This is a grave error. The conclusion is wrong because the starting premise is wrong! Those virtues and dispositions which the scriptures demonstrate as necessary for salvation contain no merit from the simple fact that they are divine gifts of God to his elect children. In other words, grace provides what God's holiness and justice demands. They would become a "work" only if they were obtained by the free will of man and not provided for by God. One of the fundamental errors, therefore, of the time salvation scheme, is in assuming that faith and repentance are meritorious, and must therefore have no definite place in eternal salvation.
While reading Spurgeon's sermon on perseverance I ran across a beautiful quote of his which explains it well. We hope that it will be of help to those who have gone astray.
“Again, in the covenant, everything that can be supposed to be a condition is provided. It is necessary that a man, to be forgiven, should repent; but then the Lord Jesus is exalted on high to give repentance and remission of sins. It is necessary that a man, in order to be saved, should have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; but faith is of the operation of God, and the Holy Ghost worketh in us this fruit of the Spirit. It is needful, before we enter heaven, that we should be holy; but the Lord sanctifies us through the Word, and worketh in us to will and to do of his own good pleasure. All that is required is also supplied. If there be, anywhere in the Word of God, any act or grace mentioned as though it were a condition of salvation, it is in another Scripture described as a covenant gift which will be bestowed upon the heirs of salvation by Christ Jesus. So that the condition, which might seem to put the covenant in danger, is so surely provided for, that thence ariseth no flaw or fracture” (Perseverance in Holiness)
Wonder why Spurgeon didn’t extract faith, repentance,holiness from eternal salvation and invent a second optional timely salvation and place them in that category?
Our moderns would do well to learn from this ministerial giant. He correctly understood that God does not distribute his grace at the expense of His righteousness (Rom. 5:21). Faith and repentance are demanded, but yet they are provided!