"Thou hast given a banner to them that fear thee, that it may be displayed because of truth." — (Psalm 60:4)
"Lift ye up a banner upon the high mountain, exalt the voice unto them." — (Isaiah 13:2)
Devoted To The Defense Of The Church Against All Errors And Innovations
Vol.VI No.VI Pg.10-12a
January 1944

Preaching Salvation Now

W. Curtis Porter

Sometime ago the following paragraph from the pen of Ben M. Bogard appeared in the Orthodox Baptist Searchlight:

Now Is The Time

In the Firm Foundation recently a Campbellite preacher relates his experience which he had in Cambridge, Mass. He was preaching in a rented room and of course there was no baptistry in that rented room. A soldier was present and accepted his invitation and came forward saying he believed Jesus Christ is the Son of God. But there was no place to baptize the man. The preacher telephoned the Baptist preacher near and asked him to allow the baptizing in the Baptist baptistry and was refused. He even offered to pay the Baptist preacher for the use of the baptistry and still was refused. Poor soldier might die and go to hell because a Baptist preacher refused to allow the use of the baptistry to wash away the sins of this soldier. Then they betook themselves to the river, some distance away, and the baptizing was done! Everybody was then happy. If that Campbellite preacher preached that night that, "Now is the time," as the Bible says it is, he contradicted his own words by having to wait until a place for the baptizing could be found. No Campbellite preacher can preach now is the time and stay with his doctrine that baptism is necessary. 2 Cor. 6:2.

It was very consistent of the Baptist preacher to refuse his baptistry to be used to "wash away the sins" of a soldier, for such an action might leave stain on the inside of his baptistry and thus contaminate some of his sheep who subsequently were baptized "because their sins were already washed away." It would be too bad, of course, for such sheep who had already had their sins washed away to be baptized in a baptistry where some one was baptized to wash away his sins. Ananias evidently didn't have that trouble in Damascus when he baptized Saul of Tarsus. He told him: "Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord." Acts 22:16. The record tells us that Saul "received his sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized." Act. 9:18. Thus we are informed that the baptism of Saul was not long delayed. But Ananias did not have to deal with a Baptist preacher. If the place where Saul was baptized had been under the control of a Baptist preacher, he would likely have refused its use to a man who wanted to be baptized to "wash away his sins." In that case, his baptism might have been longer delayed. But that problem did not have to be faced at that time, for there were no Baptist preachers in the days of Ananias. And it was therefore unnecessary to obtain the consent of any such in order to baptize Saul.

But I want to look at a number of things in this paragraph by Mr. Bogard and see something about what the consequences may be when his interpretation of 2 Cor. 6:2 is accepted.

Meaning Of "Now" Is Misrepresented

In 2 Cor. 6:2 Paul said: "Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation." And Bogard claims that that "Campbellite preacher" who says "baptism is necessary" could not preach that "now is the time" for he had to "wait until a place for baptizing could be found." In other words, he thinks that "now" means a thing must occur within a split second of time that immediately follows the utterance of the word, or that it must occur even before the word is finished. If you must wait for two hours, or an hour, or thirty minutes, or even five minutes to accomplish the thing, it cannot be now. So the man that must take time to baptize somebody cannot preach that "now is the time" if he believes that baptism is necessary to salvation. But that Bogard's idea of the word is entirely wrong can be seen from several points of view.

In the first place, the very language of Paul himself reveals Bogard's blunder, for Paul said: "Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation." He had just quoted from the prophecy of Isaiah: "I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succored thee." And he showed the application of that prophecy to the time in which he was living; hence, "Now is the day of salvation." He did not say, as Bogard's position would force him to say: "Now is the split second of salvation," but "now is the day of salvation." The "now" refers to the "day" and the "day" refers to a period of time that is much longer than a split-second. The word day, in its fullest scope, could thus be made to mean an age the gospel age, the age or day of salvation. And as it pertained to any individual it could easily refer to his lifetime. Jesus said one time: "I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh when no man can work." John 9:4. Thus he applied "day" to his lifetime, followed by the night of death. So the thought of the apostle Paul is that one's opportunity is confined or limited to his lifetime that such is the day of salvation and there will be no chance for him to accept salvation after death. And since, of course, he has no guarantee of years to come, he should accept the way of salvation when he has the opportunity. But to make it mean a split-second of time was certainly never in the purpose of the apostle.

This idea may be further substantiated by other uses of the word "now." In Acts 10 we are told of the visit of the angel to Cornelius, telling him that his alms and prayers had come up as a memorial before God. And to Cornelius the angel said in verse 5: "And now send men to Joppa, and call for one Simon, whose surname is Peter." This is the same "now" used by the apostle Paul in 2 Cor. 6:2. But what did Cornelius do? "And when the angel which spake unto Cornelius was departed, he called two of his household servants, and a devout soldier of them waited on him continually; and when he had declared all these things unto them, he sent them to Joppa." Acts 10:7, 8. Remember that he was told to send men to Joppa "now." But after the angel left he took time to call men to him, and then he took time to "declare all these things to them" and then sent them to Joppa. If Bogard had been present he would have said: "Cornelius, you are all wrong. You are not doing what the angel told you to do at all. He told you to send men to Joppa now, but you have waited till you could call these men into your presence, and you waited till you could declare all these things to them before you sent them. You just can't claim that you obeyed the voice of the angel at all."

Likewise you may look at the statement Jesus made to Saul in Acts 26:17, 18: "Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom I now send thee, to open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God." This would mean, according to Bogard's idea of "now," that he must start preaching to the Gentiles at that very instant. But did he? Oh no, he had to be led by his companions to Damascus and there wait for three days for Ananias to come and tell him what to do. After learning what the Lord wanted him to do he was baptized, and then he preached Christ in the synagogues of Damascus. Acts 9:20. So he tells us that he "showed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God." Acts 26:20. Had Bogard been there he would have said to Saul:

"The Lord said he was sending you now to the Gentiles, but you waited three days in Damascus until you were baptized, and you waited till you preached in Damascus, and you waited till your preached in Jerusalem, and you waited till you preached throughout all the coasts of Judea, before you went to the Gentiles. You were therefore disobedient to the heavenly vision." But what does Paul say about it? He says: "I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision." Acts 26:19. So Bogard is wrong in his interpretation of the word "now."

"Now" Used In Connection With Baptism

That Mr. Bogard is wrong about this whole matter is shown by the use of the word "now" in connection with baptism. When Jesus came to John to be baptized of him, John hesitated. He felt that he needed to be baptized by Jesus. But the Lord said: "Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness." Matt. 3:15. Does this mean that John had to baptize Jesus within a split second of the utterance of that word? It does, according to Mr. Bogard. But after Jesus uttered that word, they had to wait till he could go down into the water before the baptizing could take place. It will not change the meaning of the word now to say that Jesus was not baptized "for the remission of sins," for neither was he baptized "because of the remission of sins." It certainly was not inconsistent with the word "now" for enough time to be taken to perform baptism.

And we might take another look at the statement of Ananias to Saul. He came to him to tell him what he must do. Saul was engaged in prayer when Ananias arrived. So Ananias said to him: "And now why tarriest thou? Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins." Acts 22:16. I don't suppose there was a baptistry "in the house of Judas" where Paul was praying, and it must have been necessary to make some arrangement for a place to baptize, or at least it required time to get to a place where the baptizing could occur. And this man was to be baptized in order that his sins be washed away. If Ananias preached that night that "now is the time," I wonder if he contradicted himself because he had to wait till he could get to a place to baptize Saul. He used the word "now" right in connection with baptism as a condition upon which sins were to be washed away. Too bad Bogard was not there to set him right on this.

Likewise, the statement of Peter adds force to the fact that Bogard does not know what he is talking about. Peter said: "The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us." 1 Pet. 3:21. Bogard says that baptism cannot save us now, and if a man claims baptism has anything to do with our salvation, he cannot even preach that salvation is now; but Peter said that baptism now saves us. But did not Peter know that it takes time to arrange for a place to baptize? Did he not know that it takes time to get to a place for baptism? Yes, I have an idea that he knew all of this. Yet he said: "Baptism doth also now save us." So salvation can be now and still depend on the condition of baptism. Somebody blundered either Peter or Bogard and I don't believe it was Peter.

Paul Preached Salvation "Now"

It was the apostle Paul who said: "Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation." What attitude did he take about baptism? Did he preach that baptism is necessary to salvation? If he did, there is no conflict between that idea and "now is the time," unless he contradicted himself. And I hardly think that even Bogard would be ready to affirm that. Let us note some of the statements made by this apostle. In Rom. 6:3, 4 he said: "Know ye not that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life." Since the same writer affirmed in 2 Cor. 5:17 that a man must be "in Christ" in order to be "a new creature," then he made baptism necessary to becoming a new creature, for he says we "were baptized into Jesus Christ." This same thought is repeated in Gal. 3:27. A man therefore cannot get "into Christ" without baptism, for he is "baptized into Christ." But he must be "in Christ" to be "a new creature." Becoming a "new creature" is thus made to depend on being "baptized into Christ." This certainly makes baptism necessary to salvation unless a man can be saved without being in Christ and without becoming a new creature. Also this passage in Romans tells us that we are raised from baptism to "walk in newness of life." So Paul affirms that the new life does not occur before the burial, but that men are raised into it. If the new life is the Christian life, the life of justification and forgiveness, such cannot be claimed before baptism. Bogard would insist that the new life must be walked before a man is a proper subject for the burial, but in that he is in direct conflict with the apostle Paul. And in Rom. 6:17, 18, referring to baptism as the "form of doctrine," Paul also declared: "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." We cannot obey the doctrine death, burial and resurrection of Christ but we can obey the form of it in baptism; and when we do, Paul says, we are "then made free from sin." Certainly this means we are not made free from sin before then, as Bogard and his brethren teach. Then in Col. 2:11-13 we have a very interesting statement from Paul. "In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses." The word "circumcision" means cutting around, or cutting loose. In the Old Testament there was fleshly circumcision among the family of Abraham. But Paul speaks of a different circumcision, a circumcision made without hands, the circumcision of Christ. But it also means a "cutting loose." In it there is a cutting loose or a putting off "the body of the sins of the flesh." This is done by "the operation of God." God performs this operation when he cuts loose "the body of sins of the flesh." But when is this circumcision of Christ performed? Paul answers: "Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead." Hence, the circumcision of Christ, the cutting loose of our sins, is accomplished when we are buried and raised in baptism. And then what? When this is accomplished we are "quickened together with him" and have all our trespasses forgiven— "having forgiven you all trespasses." According to Paul, then, our trespasses are not forgiven, we are not quickened with Christ, and the body of sins is not put off until we are buried and raised with Christ in baptism. This definitely shows that Paul preached that baptism is necessary to salvation. Yet he said: "Now is the day of salvation." If friend Bogard had been there, he would have said something like this: "Now, Paul, you are certainly mixed up on this matter. You say that now is the time.' Yet you claim that one must wait till he can be baptized before he can enter Christ, become a new creature, be made free from sins, walk in newness of life, have the body of sins cut loose and be forgiven all his trespasses. You just cannot preach these things and yet tell people that now is the time without contradicting yourself." But Paul did preach those things even while saying that now is the day of salvation; and as Paul did it, I am sure that a preacher today can do the same thing.

Bogard's Argument Applied To His Position

In public debate Bogard has often objected to baptism as a condition of salvation because it would make it possible to "place a rock between a man and his salvation." He illustrates by putting a man in a cave, letting a rock fall between him and the exit, thus shutting off all means of his getting out. A "Campbellite preacher," he claims cannot preach to this man that "now is the time," for he is behind that rock and cannot get out to be baptized. The preacher cannot get to him with water to baptize him. So the man is doomed to die with a rock between him and his salvation. But he says a Baptist preacher, who believes you are saved just as soon as you believe in Christ, can preach Christ to the man, tell him that "now is the time" and the man behind the rock can believe in Christ and be saved without ever getting out of the cave. But the objection of Bogard to baptism can easily be made against his idea that faith is a condition of salvation. In order to do this, we are going to make the man behind the rock an unbelieving Jew. And we are going to make the rock big enough that the man behind it cannot hear the voice of Bogard on the outside. The Jew believes in God but he does not believe in Jesus as his Son. Bogard preaches that a man must believe in Christ in order to be saved. He also claims, as does Paul, that faith comes by hearing the word of God. Rom. 10:17. So it is necessary to preach to men that they may become believers in Christ. The Jew understands that there is an eternal destiny for him. He knows that Daniel says that some will awake to everlasting life and others to shame and everlasting contempt. He knows he must die if he is not freed from the cave. He wants to die as one prepared for everlasting life. But he has never heard the gospel and does not believe in Christ and must therefore be lost unless some man can preach to him. But Bogard and his brethren cannot reach him with the gospel so that he can believe. He therefore dies "with a rock between him and his salvation," and Bogard, according to his own position, cannot say with respect to this man that "now is the time." If we cannot preach that "now is the day of salvation" because the man would have to wait till we removed the rock or dug another opening to him so we could baptize him, then Bogard cannot preach it either, for according to his position, the man must wait till the rock is removed or another opening is made so that Bogard can get to him to preach Christ that he might believe. So this argument, as is true with so many arguments made by Baptists, proves to be a boomerang to my blundering friend, Mr. Bogard.