Friday, September 14, 2012

F.A. Chick on Conditional Time Salvation

In 1899, Brother J.E. Wilkinson wrote to the editors of the Signs of the Times, and inquired into the matter of ‘time salvation’. He writes:

Now, brother Chick, do you not think there is some misunderstanding about ‘time salvation’? Please give your views upon the following scriptures: Eph. 4:1; Col. 3:1; Rom. 8:13; 12:1; Deut. 4:39-40. Does this pertain to our ‘time salvation’? If so, is it on conditions? I think it is, though I may not understand what ‘time salvation’ is. Please let me hear from you on this subject, when you have time.”

In Volume 67, issue #12, Elder F.A. Chick replied with a lengthy article in answer to the brother’s question. The charges he has against the teaching often appear here on the Old Baptist blog, so I shall refrain from making elaborate comments at this time. Instead, I summarize by simply saying that the objections the elder has are often seen by those who agree that the doctrine is an error:

1) Conditional time salvation denies absolute predestination.
2) Conditional time salvation is Arminianism.
3) Conditional time salvation disconnects time from eternity.

This is demonstrated throughout some of the excerpts from Chick’s article. I highlight those places where this is seen.

Chick wrote:

“The expression ‘time salvation’, to which our brother refers, no doubt sounds differently to some minds from what it does to others. In our view (absolutism – KF) it would involve conclusions which another might not see in it. The doctrine of unlimited predestination does not involve in the minds of those who hold to it, what it is charged with by others (conditionalism - KF). Now we would not think it right to be charged with the conclusions which proponents of the doctrine think would follow from it, and neither would we ascribe to others what they deny holding, although to our mind it seems impossible to believe the one sentiment, without believing another which seems to us to necessarily follow. Opponents of predestination say it involves a denial of the accountability of man. We do not believe this, but do believe in the sinfulness of man, and his accountability. We would resent it, were we charged with denying man’s accountability. Yet to him who opposes the doctrine, it seems that such conclusions must follow. So, it may be, that those brethren who use the term ‘time salvation’, so much, and make such a broad distinction between it, and what they call ‘eternal salvation’, may not hold such conclusions which we draw from the sentiment. Some things which have been said concerning it, have sounded to us like the Arminian idea of conditionalism, and also like claiming the possibility of perfect obedience, or sanctification in the flesh. Yet when those who use this expression deny that they mean, or that they believe any such thing, we have no right to charge this conclusion of ours, upon them, although we may with perfect propriety, charge this conclusion upon what they have said. It should be our business, if we see such a conclusion as this from their sentiment, to strive to show them that they ought to give up the sentiment, since it does indeed involve such conclusions. If we can show them that the doctrine which they advocate is susceptible to such objections, perhaps they will then forsake the sentiment itself, in abhorrence of its proper conclusions.”

Chick wrote:

“We have not felt willing to use the term ‘conditional time salvation’, because it has seemed to us to involve more than the word of God justifies. Conditions, just as far as they go, seem to exclude grace. Still further, it does not seem to us that the Scriptures make such a broad distinction between grace here below, and glory hereafter, as these words seem to imply. One has said, ‘Grace is glory begun, and glory is grace finished. The Lord will give grace and glory.’ It does not seem to us that there is such a broad distinction between salvation here, and hereafter, as this expression ‘conditional time salvation’, implies. Do not the Scriptures speak of our present salvation, as an eternal salvation? Do they not speak of it as salvation begun, but still the same as shall be bestowed, only in more abundant measure, beyond? Do not they speak of eternal life as a thing already given and possessed? See John 6:54; 10:28; 17:3; 1 Tim. 6:12,19; 1 John 5:11,13. Eternal life and eternal salvation then are the heritage of the saint here, and now. In that salvation we find embraced first, the giving of life to the dead in sins, the entrance into communion with God, and fellowship with those who love and serve God; repentance, which Jesus has been exalted as a Prince and Savior to give; faith, which is the present fruit of the Spirit, and hope, and love, and all the graces of the Spirit, with a love of righteousness, and an abhorrence of sin. All this belongs to what the Scriptures call eternal life, or eternal salvation, of which Jesus is declared to be the author. Now in all this, there are no conditions left to the performance of man. All the conditions of this salvation have been performed by the Captain of salvation, our Daysman and Mediator. Believers are saved now in the Lord, with an everlasting salvation. This salvation is all of God, and he is the author of it. Now we should be slow to believe that any Old School Baptist would deny this. If any who bear the name, do deny it, they are not Bible Baptists, and they are not Old School Baptists. We trust that none who have been writing upon this theme, and who use the term ‘conditional time salvation’, mean by it that the new birth which is here in time; the bestowment of eternal life, which is now; the entrance of light and life, and all the spiritual fruits of this life, which are felt from time to time in the heart of the believer, and which exercise him in all godliness and righteous living, are dependent upon conditions of our performance. Yet those things are parts of that salvation which is received in time, and which take hold upon eternity. In this sense, our time salvation is but eternal salvation begun. If there be any conditions connected with the entrance of this salvation here, then it must follow that those conditions affect our destiny to all eternity, and this is Arminianism, or legalism.”

Chick wrote:

“'Conditional time salvation' seems to say, that the wages of God are eternal life, as well as the wages of sin, and to infer that all the blessings which we receive here are, in a sense, earned, or that we at least can say to another, who has not received so much of this life as we think we have, If you have lived as well as we, you would have fared as well. This is not the work of grace; it is not the fruit of eternal life to in any way exalt ourselves over any one. Eternal life says to the soul, and in the soul, All that I have is a mercy from God, bestowed upon a hell-deserving sinner.”

Chick wrote:

Much that has been said concerning ‘conditional time salvation’, has seemed to leave room for men to say, because I have lived right, I shall have a blessing, instead of putting all the blessings to credit of the grace of God.”

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