Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Gowens's Preface Text

Although I disagree with its message, easily the most academic attempt at defending conditional time salvation that I have read is "Temporal Salvation: A Bogus or Biblical Concept?" by Michael Gowens. There are of course many things stated which I think are an error, one of the primary ones being the text set forth at the very beginning to launch the apology.  At the head of the treatise, a portion of Galatians 1:4 is inscribed:

"Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world...".

This is obviously meant to persuade the prospective reader that the text is supportive of this doctrinal novelty and the subsequent argument the author makes. It is cited however without the adjoining expression "according to the will of God, and our Father". This is a deceitful omission, intentional or no, for its inclusion would actually suggest that whatever salvation is under consideration is the product of God's decretive will. And any text of scripture which speaks of salvation as originating in the eternal counsel must be assigned to the category of eternal salvation, for what God decreed shall most certainly be brought to pass, and not left optional as time salvation teaches!

Is time salvation according to the will of God? If so, then why is it accomplished in but a few? If so, then how is it said in contradiction that this salvation must be obtained by free-will, in that the regenerate elect must "save themselves", per Acts 2:40? Furthermore, saying that time salvation is rooted in God's decree is to give semblance to absolutism, the very thing sought to be avoided by conditionalism!

These arguments overthrow the attempt to make Gal. 1:4 a proof text for conditional time salvation, which teaches that God has not guaranteed this particular salvation to His people. Rather, it is what He has left uncertain and contingent upon the will of regenerate sons to choose or not choose whether they want to become disciples.

Speaking of Christ, Gal. 1:4 actually reads in its entirety:

"Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world; according to the will of God, and our Father."

I suppose the reasoning is that since the deliverance is said to be from something present, that this is sufficient proof that there is such a thing as a time salvation which may or may not take place for the Lord's people.  This is a terrible error.  First, it divides asunder what God has joined together. Deliverance from the present evil world is part of what eternal salvation is!  It is an error (as time salvation does) to extract elements out of eternal salvation and make them part of another salvation.  I could say that sinners shall be delivered "from unbelief" or "from self-righteousness" or "from this present evil world" but that would simply be defining eternal salvation!   Second, it may further deceive those who have erected an unbiblical wall between time and eternity, or who are confused in thinking that the timely phase of salvation and time salvation are one and the same thing. May those so deceived come to see that eternal salvation INVOLVES being delivered from this present evil world!

As we have done in the past with our challenges to time salvation we choose to do the same here. In the light of Gal. 1:4, with the presumption that deliverance "from this present evil world" has reference of time salvation, we ask some questions with the hope that they shall be approached and answered with an honest conscience.

1) Are those for whom Christ gave himself the same as those who shall be delivered from the present evil world?

2) If they are the same and Christ gave himself for all His elect, then does this mean that all shall receive time salvation?

3) Is it true that Christ gave himself for all his elect, but shall grant time salvation to only a portion of them?

e.g. "Who gave himself for ALL, that he might save SOME of them from this present evil world"?

4) Is being delivered from this present evil world a "second" salvation or part of eternal salvation?

5) Does eternal salvation involve being delivered from this present evil world?

6) Does the expression "that he might" mean that Christ intended to render time salvation possible, or to make it certain?

7) Is it true to say that Christ might save His people from the present evil world, or that they might save themselves?

8) Is it the absolute intent of the Lord Jesus to give His people a time salvation, or something He has left contingent on the human will?

9) If the former, then why is it effected only for a remnant of God's elect?

10) Are there any blessings connected to the death of Christ that shall not certainly be given (Rom. 8:32) to those for whom he died?

11) Is the blessing of time salvation freely given as a result of Christ’s death?

12) Is time salvation the effect of Christ's work at the cross or the effect of human free-will?

13) Is the deliverance promised the inevitable effect of the redeeming work of Christ?

14) Was it the intent of Christ to accomplish an eternal salvation for all the elect, and a time salvation for the "elect within the elect"?

15) Is time salvation according to God's decretive will?

1 comment:

Stephen Garrett said...

Dear Brother Kevin:

Those questions are hard nuts for Hardshells, like the walnuts in my yard. Let us see if any of the Hardshells in agreement with Gowens will attempt to answer them.


Stephen Garrett