OPENING STATEMENT IN DEBATE WITH A CAMPBELLITE By Elder F. L. Ray
(This debate was held at Long View Missionary Baptist Church in Gallatin, Tennessee, February 13, 1967, with Thomas O'Neal, a Campbellite. The proposition was: "The scriptures teach that faith in Christ is the last condition of remission of passed alien sins.")
Gentleman moderator, honorable opponent, brothers and sisters, ladies and gentlemen:
I am glad to appear before you in the affirmation of this proposition that has been read in your hearing, not merely to just be debating, but because I believe it with all of my heart. It states my convictions and I'm here to affirm this proposition. And we're glad that you're here to listen and we trust that you will take the advice of my moderator and that you will listen prayerfully, attentively, carefully, and listen as for eternity. So, it is my duty according to the terms of debating, to define my proposition. I'll do that, and I'll try to do that to the satisfaction of my opponent.
The scriptures teach that faith in Christ is the last condition of remission of past sins. By scriptures, I mean the 39 books of the Old Testament and the 27 books of the New Testament. By teach, I mean they instruct by imparting information by precept or example. By faith in Christ, I mean that extent of faith that is with the heart, Rom. 10:10 - For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness. And with all the heart as in Acts 8:37, which says, If thou believest with all thine heart (which follows repentance) This exercise of faith is wholly and completely centered to Christ, on Christ and in Christ as the all-sufficient redeemer and saviour.
By last condition, I mean there are other conditions required of all sinners, which condition enables them to fully and completely trust or rely on Christ's shed blood as the only cleansing medium from sin. By remission of past sins, I mean that man by nature is a sinner; that at the age of responsibility one becomes separated or alienated from God, because of sin. And in order for that person to have fellowship with God and be a citizen of God's heavenly kingdom, or family, his past standing is completely obliterated forever, when those sins are forgiven, washed away by the blood of Christ blotted out, never to be remembered again. This we refer to as soul salvation. Therefore, we believe that the terms of our proposition have been defined clearly and that everyone may see the issue between me and my opponent, If I havenít made the terms clear enough to satisfy my opponent, I will try- If I have failed, I will try to make them plain enough.
Now then, I would like to state, in addition to my proposition and the terms of definition, I would like to state my position. The true believer is pardoned, justified, saved, has eternal life, has the love of God shed abroad in his heart, has a pure heart, born again, past from death unto life, a child of God, and stands in the grace of God, and has eternal, everlasting salvation. Pardon means to forgive. Paul was sent to open the eyes and to turn them from darkness to light and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive the forgiveness of sins, an inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me, or in Christ, Acts 26:18 And by him, all that believe are justified from all things. Acts 13:29 Therefore, being justified by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Rom.5:1
And he said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee, go in peace, Luke 7:50. For by grace are ye saved through faith Eph. 2: 8. He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life, John 3:36. He that hath the Son hath life, and he that hath not the Son of Cod, hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God that ye may know that ye have eternal life, I John 5:12,13. And God which knoweth the heart bear them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us, and put no difference between us and them, purifying (or cleansing) their heart by faith, Acts 15:9. Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, I John 5:1. But as many as received him, unto them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name, John 1:12, the gospel of John. Verily, verily I say unto you, he that heareth my word and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation but is passed from death unto life, John 5:24. By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand and rejoice in hope of the glory of God; That is in the fifth chapter of the Roman letter, I believe the third verse.
We are justified, entered into the grace of God, rejoice in the hope of the glory of God, and have the love of God shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, Rom. 5:1-5. In whom ye also trusted after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, in whom also after that ye believed ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, Eph. 1:13. Receiving the end of your faith even the salvation of your souls, I Peter 1:9.
My opponent and his people say that baptism is the act of turning to God, but the Bible said it is by faith in Christ with all the heart. I am willing to stand with the Bible and what it teaches.
Alright, now, then, I want to give you the contrast between the believer and the unbeliever. John 3:18, He that believeth on Him is not condemned, but he that believcth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed on the name, or in the name of the only begotten son of God. Alright, there is your contrast, the believer is not condemned, the unbeliever is condemned, so says the word of God. Alright, John 3:36, He that believeth on the son hath everlasting life and he that believeth not the son shall not see life but the wrath of God abideth on him. The believer hath everlasting life but the unbeliever doesn't have everlasting life and the wrath of God abides on the unbeliever. Alright then, we call your attention ... I John 5:10, He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself. Notice now, he that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself. He that believeth not God hath made him a liar, because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son.
Alright again, we find in Hebrews, For we which have believed do enter into rest. They to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief. Now notice that, notice the word of God. Notice what it says, for we which have believed do enter in to rest. They to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief, Heb. 4:3-5. Alright then again, Heb. 3:18, 19, To whom sware he that they should not enter in to his rest, but to them that believe not. So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief. Alright, Rev. 21:8, But the fearful and the unbelieving or unbelievers shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.
Alright, Rom. 11:20, Well, because of unbelief they were broken off and thou standest by faith. Talking about the Jew and the Gentile. Because of unbelief, they were broken off, but by faith he said the Gentile stands. Alright, Luke 7:47, 50, Therefore I say unto thee, her sins which are many are forgiven, and he said to the woman, thy faith has saved thee, go in peace ,Alright, John 8:24, I said therefore unto you, ye shall die in your sins, for If ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins. There's the affirmative, and the negative. There's the positive believer in the Son of God. The believer is not condemned and the unbeliever is condemned already. And their (Campbellites) choice passage of scripture, where they try to hinge that baptism is the last condition of pardon or the forgiveness of sins is Mark 16:16. And that said, He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, but he that believeth not shall be damned. Alright I have given you a number of scriptures proving not only is the unbeliever under condemnation now but the unbeliever will be turned into hell. Why rest the unbelief as condemnation and eternal punishment and then say that belief in Christ does not bring justification and everlasting peace and joy. Just think of it, it's in the scriptures. That's what the Book says. And if these scriptures donít teach that, then I want him to take them up and explain them.
Jesus said, I said therefore unto you, ye shall die in your sins, for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins. Now let's notice about the terms of salvation. Let's notice the positive and the negative or the affirmative and the negative. Incline your ear and come unto me, hear and your soul shall live, Isa. 55:3. Alright, here is the negative, Acts 3:23, And it shall come to pass that every soul which will not hear that prophet shall be destroyed from among the people. There's the affirmative in hearing, there is the negative. The fellow that hears, this says come unto me, hear and your soul shall live. And every soul that will not hear will be destroyed. So says the word of God.
Alright, then we find in Heb. 11:6, and I want you to notice this: For he that cometh to God must believe that he is and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. Where is the negative? Psalms 14:1, The fool has said in his heart, there is no God. So then the fellow that comes to God must believe that he is - the fool has said in his heart, there is no God. That's the only class of people I know of that don't believe that there is a God. The Bible said they're fools.
Then we find in Acts 17:30, But now commandeth all men everywhere to repent. God commands all men everywhere to repent. The Son of God said in Luke 13:3, But except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. Alright, let's go just a little bit further. John 3: 18, He that believeth on him is not condemned, but he that believeth not is condemned already.
You cannot find in the Bible, the affirmative and negative where salvation is based on baptism and damnation or condemnation is based on unbaptized people. You cannot find it in the word of God. The reason you can't is the best one I know of, it is not in there. Let him hunt it up, if he thinks he can find it.
Now then, my next argument will be found in the fifth chapter of the Roman letter. I've already referred to this briefly, but I want to make an argument, because this is the state of condition; this is the state of condition of people that Paul is talking about - and he used the word therefore. Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulation also knowing that tribulation worketh patience, and patience experience, and experience hope, and hope maketh not ashamed, because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, which is given unto us. And this points out positively the state and condition of the individual that believes in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Justified. Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Alright, Paul said in the fourth chapter: the reason that he used the word therefore; it was in view of the arguments that he had made in the previous chapters. He referred back, or he used that statement to refer back to what he had said.
The fourth chapter said, What shall we say then, that Abraham our father as pertaining to the flesh hath found, for if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory, but not before God; for what sayeth the scriptures. Abraham believed God and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned by grace but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man whom God imputeth righteousness without works, saying, blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin. That's the believer, Paul said.
Again he said, Romans the third chapter, we find these words: Verse 28, 29, 30, and 31. Therefore, we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law. Is he the God of the Jews only, is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also, seeing he is one God; which shall justify the circumcision by faith and uncircumcision through faith. Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid. Yea we establish the law. And Paul also went on to say that this was not written for Abraham's sake alone, but for ours also, who believe in Christ.
Alright, let's notice what we find in Romans, the fifth chapter; we are justified by faith - that means to make or declare right. God looks down and God looks into the hearts. The Bible says that he knows the hearts of all men. Alright, we have peace with God. We are in unity, or concord with God. We have entered into grace, wherein we stand. That means we have found favor with God.
Then we are able to rejoice, rejoice in Christ. And it also said that we have hope, and that hope is an anchor to the soul, Heb. 6:19. We have the love of God shed abroad in our hearts, God's love is perfect love. There is no fear in perfect love, I John 5:18. This is the state and the condition of the person that is justified by faith through the Son of God, Paul tells us.
Love is greater even than faith. In the thirteen chapter of the Corinthian letter, speaking about the things that are great. And the writer said that love is greater than all. So then, the individual is justified, the individual is in the grace of God, has made peace with God, has God's love shed abroad in his heart, and is made to rejoice in the hope and glory of God, because that he has found peace with God. That's the condition of the believer, according to the Apostle Paul.
I won't have time to make another argument, but I would like to introduce the tenth chapter of the Acts of the Apostles. Here is a case where a preacher came to Cornelius and his household. He came over there to tell them words whereby that they could be saved. And he preached unto them, and while he was preaching, during the time that he was speaking, the Holy Ghost fell on all of them that heard the word, the Bible tells us. While he was preaching, he hadn't said a thing about baptism. And in the eleventh chapter, he rehearsed the whole thing in order and he didn't say a thing about, baptism in the eleventh chapter. Not in that sermon; he did not mention baptism. I know that he commanded them, but before that they were commanded to be baptized, they magnified God, they were filled with the Holy Ghost, they had heard the word; and Peter said that God had purified their hearts. Saved people, before they ever were commanded to be baptized. You'll find that sermon preached in the tenth chapter of the Acts of the Apostles. And to him the apostle said, give all the prophets witness. Now notice that Ė to him give all the prophets witness, that through his name, whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins. All of the prophets, twenty-one of them, some of the good authorities say.
And then John the Baptist, the Son of God, the preachers of the New Testament, Paul and Silas, and others join in with all of these prophets and with the New Testament preachers - and all of them declare that people are saved by faith, and that faith is with the heart and with all of the heart, in the Son of God.