Thursday, May 10, 2012

De-Emphasizing Time

The doctrine of conditional time salvation can be somewhat deceiving.  At first glance, it might appear that it places greater emphasis on what we call ‘present salvation’ than that which is understood by average Christians.  All Christians recognize that there is a timely phase of the salvation of man.  Apart from the objective aspect of salvation (e.g. election, predestination, redemption) there is also the subjective side of it.  We receive new hearts and have our lives transformed in regeneration, and subsequently walk in the timely phase of our salvation, before final conformity to Christ in glorification.  To the reader who does not see through the smoke and mirrors of time salvation, he might be duped into heaping praise on the system, feeling that it points out the way for Christians to attain to the higher life.

It is most unfortunate if this is the case.  The fact of the matter is that conditional time salvation actually de-emphasizes the timely phase of the Christian experience, by being something which doesn’t happen for many of God’s elect.  Now do not understand me.  I do not mean to lead anyone into thinking that the system claims that many of God’s elect do not pass through the timely phase of salvation in the sense that they somehow skip from regeneration to glorification by being immediately wafted away to heaven.  What it does do, though, is strip the Christian of the subjective reality of the timely phase of his journey towards glory.  It may sound like a broken record for me to say it, but if I’m ever going to reach those who have become ingrained in this heretical system I must incessantly repeat that the whole point of conditional time salvation is to render the subjective Christian experience as optional.

Probably the foremost spokesman for this heresy today, Michael Gowens writes (emphasis mine):

“To say, ‘Yes, I believe in time salvation, but I just don’t believe it is optional’ is to pinpoint the very root of the conflict. It is that idea – namely, that discipleship is certain for everyone who is truly saved, that every son will be a disciple, that repentance, faith, obedience, and daily growth in grace is a “guaranteed part of the salvation package” – that we object to.”(Q&A regarding recent PB tensions, April 2009)

Gowens is correct.   Though the title time salvation may place emphasis on the present life, the teaching itself detracts from it, by claiming that “discipleship, repentance, faith, and daily growth in grace” do not necessarily follow regeneration.  This makes the salvation of the “Christian” to be an empty experience.  Accordingly, these false teachers can often be found making the assertion that men can be regenerated and not know it, continue in impenitence, worship heathen Gods, etc.  In essence, the elect may remain in a state of “unconversion”.  This heresy meets with surprising success among the Hardshell Baptists as it appeals to the sentimental mind, whose only objective is to get sinners into heaven with no real concern of seeing them actually "come to Christ".

The phrase conditional time salvation was adopted to characterize the experience of a small remnant within the remnant of God’s elect who WORK and receive those blessings which are presumably not guaranteed in God’s covenant promise.  They are conditions which the “already regenerated” person meets under his own strength and power to attain to a second salvation in addition to the first one he already has.

In reality, it is Calvinists who actually emphasize the timely phase of salvation by claiming the subjective elements of salvation do in fact follow.  The elect of God do come to knowledge (John 17:3), faith (Eph. 2:8; John 6:37), and repentance (Acts 5:31).  Hearing the voice of the Shepherd, they proceed to follow Him (John 10:27).  They continue in their Christian profession to the end (Col. 1:23; Heb. 3:6; 10:39).

May God open the eyes of those who know not these things.

May He grant repentance to those who do know, but remain obstinant.

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