Vol.IV No.VII Pg.3
August 1967

Those "Strange People"

Robert F. Turner

Years ago I shared a seat on the train with a "missionary" returning from work in Alaska. He told me he met some "strange people" up there who thought they could work out their own salvation.

I said, "With fear and trembling; Phil. 2:12."

"No, No!" he said. "I mean they thought they could save themselves."

And I said, "From this untoward generation; Acts 2:40."

This was just too much for the old gentleman; and he sighed, and said he guessed I must be one of those folk. Well, I never did discover whether I was or was not; but I did try to make my point that there was nothing wrong in a faith that could be "spelled out" by the word of God.

It is common to hear preachers boldly assert that "the gospel of Christ must be believed -- it can not be obeyed!!!" I just recall that Paul said the Lord was coming "in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ." (2 Thes.1:8) When I hear someone say, "A child of God can not fall from grace" I remember that Paul told the Galatians who sought justification by the law, "ye are fallen from grace." (Gal. 5:4) Reminds me of the fellow in the jail cell who shouts at the jailer, "You can't do this to me!"

I know that sinners can not "save themselves" apart from the Lord; but there must be some way in which this admonition properly applies, or it would not be in God's word. The facts of the gospel can only be believed, but there must be commands of the gospel, which must be obeyed, or this responsibility would not be placed upon us. It is foolish to contend that Christians can not fall from grace, when Paul says some had done so. By the same token, there must be some sense in which we are saved by faith -- for in various ways the Bible says this is so. (Rom. 5:1) But it doesn't say "faith ONLY" -- and so we have no right to say so. If there were not some sense in which baptism washes away sins, the Bible would not tell us that it does. (Acts 22:16) Ignoring God's word won't change it.

How wonderful it would be if we all had enough confidence in the word of God to accept it just as God gave it; neither "explaining away" the statements we do not like, nor acting as though they didn't exist. The New Testament relates salvation to 18 or 20 different things. We are saved by grace, faith, works, baptism, hope, -and so, on and on. There is no ONLY attached to either of these things. It would seem that common "horse" sense would tell us that they are ALL necessary ingredients -- fitting perfectly into the divine pattern, each in its place. No "doctrine" that denies any of these matters, or places emphasis upon one to the hurt of another, could possibly be God's truth.

Folk who respect the word of God just "face up" to its statements and accept them. If this makes "strange people" -- then so be it.