Why Baptists Work
A friend of mine, who is a member of a Baptist Church, sent me a copy of the Baptist Standard, July 24 issue, with one article marked for my special attention. The article marked is entitled, "Baptists Do Not Work To Be Saved: Then Why Do Baptists Work?" My friend did not ask me to write an article about it, but he did attach a note stating that some of it didn't sound just right to him. Hence I am taking the liberty to review the article. Some of the things in it don't sound like truth to me either.
It would seem from the tone of his article that Mr. Roberts (the author of the article in question) is afraid that some of his people might get the idea from reading the Bible that obedience and service to Christ have something to do with one's salvation and he feels called upon to remind them that Baptists don't believe this. He asks: "Then why are Baptists so zealous in good works, and yet deny that they have anything to do with either procuring or preserving their salvation?" I have often wondered that myself. Maybe that has something to do with the fact that forty million people within the bounds of the Southern Baptist Convention do not attend Sunday school" (Baptist Standard, same page). But Mr. Roberts explains ''it is not the service rendered but the motive back of the service that counts." I 'suppose if a fellow has the right motive it wouldn't matter whether he obeys the truth or error whether he renders service according to the will of Christ or according to his own notions. Uzzah's "motive" was good when he reached forth his hand to keep the ark of the covenant from falling off the cart, II Sam. 6, but God slew him for it because his action was not in harmony with the will of God. Paul thought that service had something to do with salvation. He said to the Christians at Rome, "Know ye not that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death or of obedience unto righteousness? But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness." Romans 6:16-13. I would like for Mr. Roberts to tell us how a man can be a servant of Christ without "rendering service". And if he must "render service' to be a servant that makes "rendering service" necessary. Or perhaps Mr. Roberts will tell us that it isn't necessary to be a servant of Christ to be saved. Paul said we become servants of Christ by obeying Christ. "You have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine...being then made free from sin ye became the servants of righteousness. Obey — made free from sin — became servants of righteousness. This is the order, Mr. Roberts continues his explanation by quoting Paul's language in II Cor. 5:14-15. "For the Love of Christ constraineth us..." Certainly our service to Christ should be a labor of love. No one disputes that. But John said, "This is the love of God that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not grievous." I Jno. 5:3. Where did Mr. Roberts learn that keeping the commandments of God ha!; nothing ,to do with "procuring or preserving" our salvation? John said, "Blessed are they that do His commandments, that they have the right to the tree of life and may enter in through the gates into the city." Rev. 22:14. What will happen to the fellow who will not do the commandments? Will he enter anyway?
Says Mr. Roberts: "Baptists believe and teach the Bible doctrine of salvation by grace." Then he quotes from Eph. 2:8-10. "For by grace are ye saved 'through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast, For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them." Baptists have no monopoly on the doctrine of salvation by grace through faith. I have preached that for a good many years. But I have never preached that salvation by faith cancels out the obedience of faith. I read where the apostle Peter said, "And put no difference between us and them (Jew and Gentile) purifying their hearts by faith." Acts 15:9. And again where the same apostle said, "Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently": I Peter 1:22. If Peter didn't contradict himself in these two passages, both faith and obedience enter into our salvation. Again, the writer of the Hebrew letter said, "By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace." Heb. 11:31. But James says, "Likewise also, was not Rahab the harlot justified by work; when she had received the messengers and sent them out another way." Jas, 2:25. Paul says faith and James says works and both of them refer to the same incident and the same blessing received by Rahab. Which of these inspired men told the truth? Both of them of course. But Mr. Roberts can't understand that because he thinks that salvation by faith must exclude any act of obedience. According to Mr. Roberts, all obedience must come after salvation because salvation is by faith. It has never occurred to him that the obedience of faith is a part of the faith. The "walls of Jericho fell down by faith" said the writer of Hebrews, "after they had been compassed about seven days." Read Joshua six. God commanded Israel to march around the wall thirteen times; blow on the ram's horns; and give a loud shout. All this they had to do before the wall fell, and yet it fell by faith. Hebrews 11:30. A casual glance at the record will reveal that blessings received by faith were bestowed after the person had expressed that faith in some act. And if any conditions were stated the blessing always followed the obedience to the conditions. The wall of Jericho fell by faith after Israel had met the conditions. Naaman was cured of leprosy after he met the condition, II Kings five. The blind man was able to see after he had washed his eyes in the pool of Siloam. John 9. Baptism is an act of faith. Jesus said "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved." He ties faith and baptism together and places salvation after them. Mr. Roberts says, "No one is a fit subject for baptism until they have been saved." Just a slight difference between Mr. Roberts and the Lord.
Mr. Roberts makes another slight mistake when he says, "Baptists baptize for the same purpose for which Christ was baptized, not to procure his sonship but to declare it." The baptism of Christ was in order that he should be manifest to Israel as THE Son of God. I wonder if this gentleman thinks that every Baptist is the Son of God in the same sense that Christ was. The Holy Spirit said through the mouth of Peter, "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins..." (Acts 2:38.) Was Christ baptized for the remission of sins? It would be interesting indeed to hear Mr. Roberts try to answer that in the light of his statement given above. If he will try it, we will publish his answer. I wonder if he would print my answer in the Baptist Standard? I trove not!