Friday, September 29, 2017

TETH's Refutation of Elder David Bartley's Anti Time Salvation Polemic

In a recent internet discussion with another Primitive Baptist who is very much opposed to the notion of Conditional Time Salvation (CTS), I was pointed to the following anti-CTS polemic by Elder David Bartley from 1905 entitled The Heresy of Conditional Time Salvation. Since this brother seemed to offer this up as a solid proof of the CTS "heresy" (of which TETH is an hearty and enthusiastic promoter) and since I found the article so riddled with unsustainable assertions, I have decided to publish Elder Bartley's article in its entirety  along with my refutation for your consideration. I believe it establishes the doctrine of Conditional Time Salvation as indispensable in avoiding contradictions in our handling of biblical truth.



The Old Baptist people have long been troubled with the confusing doctrines of “means of salvation,” “means of grace,” and such like; but not until the present young generation rose up, who assume to be wise above all the fathers, has the confusing and uncertain sound of “conditional time salvation” (CTS) been trumpeted forth in almost all the camps of Israel. (Elder David Bartley)
Elder Bartley comes out swinging by accusing CTS adherents of believing that they are "wise above all the fathers." This common tactic seems to discount the possibility that some of the fathers may stand in need of correction and that subsequent generations may be more diligent with respect to spiritual truth than their predecessors. One need look no further than the book of Galatians to find an example of some early "fathers" who very much stood in need of doctrinal correction. All that really matters is the validity of the bible's teaching on the matter, not the traditions of the fathers which are prone to vanity and error, but rather than belabor that point, let us examine the specifics of Bartley’s objections to CTS in light of the scriptures, our only rule of faith and practice.

Elder Bartley Accuses CTS of Dividing God's People

The last ten years this strange and startling blast of trumpets has echoed and reechoed with exciting and bewildering effect, and great has been the widespread confusion and division, where peace and good-will prevailed before. This dividing of salvation, and subdividing it into fragments and parts, partly eternal salvation, and partly time salvation (as the teachers of this yea and nay gospel call it) they boastingly claim, is “rightly dividing the word.” It certainly has a dividing quality, for it has scattered the flock. Yea, it has brought bitter strife and alienation into the rank and file of the conditional Baptists themselves. Thus has God confounded their language, and they cannot understand one another. And, as did the confused Midianites, they are now falling upon one another in deadly strife. But the remnant according to the election of grace, the little band with their spiritual Gideon, break their earthen pitchers that the light may shine out, and shout, “The sword of the Lord and of Gideon.” By this they conquer, for the Lord fights for them and gives them the victory. (Bartley)
That’s a pretty grand setup. Suffice it to say that when men promote the truths of the word of God in a wicked world where many false ideas have taken hold, that the preaching of truth may have a dividing quality among the flock to the degree that many resist it. But neither mere observations of division nor church history are sufficient to establish the matter of truth. We must examine the claims of CTS in light of the scriptures and if it is true, we should promote it as the truth whether it divides or not.

"Salvation" is "One Single, Simple Word, Never Plural, Complex" 

Let us now consider salvation in the light of the Lord as revealed in the word. “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God.” “Salvation” is a Bible term, and it runs all through the divine book, being used very many times, yet it is always the one single, simple word, never plural, complex or compounded. (Bartley)
Bartley's casual declaration that “salvation” is a "single, simple word" is an unsubstantiated assertion that does not establish that the word "salvation" has a simple and singular meaning in scripture. It is evident from any sober reading of the word of God that Bartley's assertion is not true, as "salvation" and its variants are used in numerous ways in scripture to describe events with temporal consequences such as the parting of the Red Sea (Exodus 14:13) as well as events with eternal consequences such as Christ's authorship of eternal salvation (Hebrews 5:9). More on this important aspect of rightly dividing “salvation” in a minute.

"The Plural Word 'Salvations' Is Not In The Holy Bible" 

“Salvation.” The plural word, “salvations,” is not in the Holy Bible. This term, “salvations,” so common and popular now, belongs to the literature of a yea and nay gospel, but it is not in the gospel of Christ. (Bartley)
Here Elder Bartley sets forth a pedantic technicality that does nothing to sustain his anti-CTS argument. Absence of the plural word “salvations” in scripture is no proof that there is only one salvation spoken of in the bible. I might say, “Jesus saved my soul,” and later state, “I saved 20% at Bed, Bath, and Beyond,” but the fact that the plural word “salvations” is absent from those statements does not prove that I am speaking of only one "salvation." The context of my remarks establishes that I am speaking of more than one salvation, not the presence or absence of plural terminology.

God's Sending of "Saviours" Troubles Bartley's Case

What's more, the bible speaks of God sending "saviours" in the plural (Nehemiah 9:27, Obadiah 1:21). This creates an enormous dilemma for Elder Bartley's assertion. If there is only one salvation in the word of God as Bartley insists, then what "salvation" were these "saviours" sent to accomplish? If it is the one salvation that includes our eternal state in glory, then one has embraced the blasphemous atrocity that Christ alone did not accomplish our eternal salvation, but rather did so in conjunction with a host of other "saviours." It should be obvious that this position is completely untenable. It follows that there must be some sense in which men may be "saved" in this lifetime other than the eternally saving work of Christ, and that the "saviours" of Nehemiah were instrumental in that salvation and not to eternal salvation. So the existence of "saviours" (plural) proves the existence of "salvations" (plural) in the word of God by unavoidable logical consequence.

Bartley's Dilemma Ends Up Proving the Existence of CTS

So let me summarize Bartley's dilemma again here because it is very important:
  • If Elder Bartley insists that there is but one salvation in the bible, then he must admit that there are multiple "saviours" involved in that one work. This position is an assault on the singular, high-priestly office of Christ and salvation by sovereign, monergistic grace, and must be rejected on that basis. 
  • If, on the other hand, Elder Bartley develops some means of explaining how these "saviours" existed and fulfilled their saving office, yet Christ alone is the Saviour of men, then he violates his insistence that the topic of salvation is "simple" and that it is "never... complex or compounded" and in so doing undermines his own argument.
Simply put, Elder Bartley's premise that the absence of the plural word "salvations" establishes that there is only one salvation taught in the bible is insufficient to bear the weight of his anti-CTS argument and this is its undoing.

Bartley Objects to ANY Salvation that is "Conditional" or That "Rewards"

This late word, “salvations,” is incomplete without another word, “conditional,” joined to it. For the recent salvations, so much talked of, which depend upon creature obedience, are necessarily conditional. Any conditional salvation is necessarily of works, and entitled to a reward, therefore all conditional salvation is legal, yea and nay, and most uncertain. (Bartley)
Let's take a look at a three passages of scripture that dismantle Elder Bartley's coarse statement.

CTS is Affirmed in Isaiah 1:19-20

We believe that the notion of conditional salvations and the timely rewards thereof is a truth very clearly and repeatedly set forth in the word of God. Consider, “If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land” (Isaiah 1:19) Clearly deliverance or salvation unto the eating of the good of the land is conditioned upon one’s willing obedience, as there are dire consequences spelled out for those who refuse to heed this admonition (v20). As a result the following observations regarding Isaiah 1:19-20 are unavoidable:

1. There is a salvation in view in this text.
2. This salvation is not eternal deliverance unto immortal glory.
3. This salvation is conditioned upon man’s willing obedience.
4. There is a reward in this lifetime for that obedience.

No Christian should shy away from any of those observations as they are the clear testimony of the word of God and they affirm CTS beyond any reasonable dispute. Let’s look at another example…

CTS Affirming Observations from Deuteronomy 30:16-19

“In that I command thee this day to love the LORD thy God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments and his statutes and his judgments, that thou mayest live and multiply: and the LORD thy God shall bless thee in the land whither thou goest to possess it. But if thine heart turn away, so that thou wilt not hear, but shalt be drawn away, and worship other gods, and serve them; I denounce unto you this day, that ye shall surely perish, and that ye shall not prolong your days upon the land, whither thou passest over Jordan to go to possess it. I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:” (Deuteronomy 30:16-19)

Clearly there is a blessing of deliverance from the temporal punishment of God set forth here before Israel that is conditioned upon their obedience to the commandments of God. Now if this designs eternal salvation and deliverance into immortal glory then eternal salvation is indisputably by works; which is completely untenable (II Timothy 1:9). So here again it is important to recognize the following observations from the context of Deuteronomy 30:16-19:

1. There is a salvation in view in this text.
2. It is not eternal deliverance unto immortal glory.
3. This salvation is conditioned upon man’s obedience.
4. There is a reward in this lifetime for that obedience.

CTS Affirming Observations from Acts 2:40

While those two texts are compelling in establishing the doctrine of CTS, we recognize that there are those who might reject all of those observations simply because no form of the word “salvation” is explicitly present in those texts. While this is an irrelevant technicality, it is not difficult find scriptural examples that invalidate all such objections. Consider these words from the apostle Peter: “And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation.” (Acts 2:40) Now here is a place where regenerate, believing men are admonished to “save yourselves." Given that Christ explicitly taught Peter that with men eternal salvation is “impossible” (Matthew 19:25-26) then it is a bald logical contraction to insist that the “saving” that Peter has in mind is eternal deliverance unto immortal glory. Indeed the “saving” Peter has in mind is explicitly spelled out for us in this text. It is not salvation from eternal damnation in the lake of fire, but saving from this untoward generation. Peter is speaking of the salvation that comes as a result of bringing forth the answer of a good conscience by the resurrection of Jesus Christ found in the waters of baptism as well as the deliverance that a regenerate child of God experiences by turning from sin and error to embrace the truth and live in accordance with it as they ought.

Bartley Insists That Absolutely ALL "Salvation" is Unconditional

There is no grace at all in any conditional salvation, because the grace of God is free, unconditional, never sold and never bought. “Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.” “And if by grace, then is it no more of works.” (Bartley)
The scripture passages that Elder Bartley rallies to his support (Romans 4:4, 11:6) are all made in reference to ETERNAL SALVATION from the eternal consequences and condemnation of sin. We do not disagree that where eternal salvation is concerned, it is entirely of grace in such a way that works are explicitly excluded (Ephesians 2:8-9). In fact this is absolutely central to our doctrinal position. What Bartley repeatedly does, however, is attempt to cast the CTS position in a negative light by insisting that we apply CTS to passages that deal with eternal salvation. That is a gross misrepresentation of the CTS position. This he does so repeatedly in his article that it calls either his understanding or honesty in dealing with CTS into question.

More Biblical Observations that Affirm CTS

But the question remains, does the indisputable bible fact that eternal salvation excludes human conditions establish that EVERY possible salvation scenario that presents itself to a child of God during their natural lives likewise excludes conditionality? We believe that the following biblical observations are unavoidable :

1. The eternal life imparted to a child of God has among its purposes the performance of good works (Ephesians 2:10).

2. Those good works are synergistic acts of God and man given that God’s promised provision for doing good is ever-present (I Corinthians 10:13) and such good works do not come to pass apart from man’s willing and active participation therein (Isaiah 1:19).

3. It is for this reason that the bible regularly and repeatedly exhorts men unto good works and unto the mortification of sin in their lives. This is demonstrated in Peter's exhortation at Pentecost, “SAVE YOURSELVES from this untoward generation.” (Acts 2:40).

4. There is a blessing of salvation (i.e., temporal deliverance) found in obeying God as disciples in this lifetime that is available to the Lord’s people and they only enter into that blessing to the extent that they are diligent and obedient to the precepts of Christ in this lifetime. "If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full." (John 15:10-11)

5. This temporal salvation has absolutely NO BEARING on a child of God’s eternal state of grace (eternal salvation) but rather has a great deal of bearing on the quality of his life, his discipleship, the profitability of his example before others, and the degree to which he avoids the temporal consequences of sin’s practice in this lifetime.

Practical Observations of CTS

Consider this: If a regenerate man chooses to be faithful to his wife, will he not be saved from the devastating temporal consequences that practicing adultery would visit into his life? Clearly such a blessing is available to him and it is conditioned upon his obedience (Exodus 20:14, Ephesians 5:25). Now, if he chooses to commit adultery, even as King David did, will he experience salvation from the consequences associated with the adulterous practice of this untoward generation? Clearly not, even as David did not experience that salvation as a result of his own adulterous behavior (II Samuel 12:10). The salvation that David missed out on due to disobedience was not his eternal salvation. He referred to his eternal salvation as being the result of an everlasting covenant that is ordered in all things and sure (II Samuel 23:5). It follows that David’s disobedience caused him to miss out on the salvation from this untoward generation he could have experienced had he chosen to obey God where Bathsheba was concerned.

So to state that very plainly: while the blessing of eternal salvation is conferred upon an object of mercy based entirely on monergistic grace apart from any works or effort on the part of the beneficiary whatsoever, the blessings of obedience in discipleship for one who has already passed from death unto life are NOT conferred in the same monergistic fashion wherein man is a mere passive beneficiary. Man's obedience in discipleship does not work the same way as his regeneration from death unto life. In the latter, he is utterly passive and his works are not involved; in the former his willing and active participation is required. As such a regenerate man’s obedience is a synergistic act of God and man by definition, not a monergistic act of God alone. To suggest otherwise is to drift into the error of HyperMonergism.

HyperMonergism and the Denial of CTS

I’ll state briefly here that the position that Elder Bartley is staking out here is similar to a belief that I have encountered among some sovereign-grace-professing Christians that I refer to as HyperMonergism – the belief that since eternal salvation is monergistic, that therefore everything in the life of a child of God is monergistic. It is a denial of synergism in the life of a child of God. In my experience, the reason that some stake out this position is due to the fact that they have carelessly embedded man’s works (i.e., righteous things that regenerate men do) into the work whereby man is eternally saved, at least in some sense. Thus to prevent their scheme of salvation from being justly accused of synergism, they must insist that our works are also monergistic acts of God. The proper way to resolve the dilemma, however, is not to posit the daffy, language-defiling solution of declaring synergistic acts of men as monergistic acts of God, but rather to recognize that man’s works have absolutely no participatory involvement with the work whereby man is eternally saved and thus the fact that they are synergistic does nothing to alter the fact that eternal salvation is monergistic.

Bartley's Crass Caricature of the CTS Position

All conditional salvation calls for works to obtain it, for something must be done. So grace is entirely excluded from the yea and nay doctrine of conditional salvations. (Bartley)
This too is a very coarse handling of our position. Elder Bartley would do well to redouble his efforts at understanding the CTS position because the case he sets forth is a crass caricature that opens him up to the accusation of employing a straw man argument or failing to adequately understand the CTS position he opposes. We do not believe that eternal salvation calls for works to obtain it. In fact we insist that works are excluded from it. It is for this very reason we insist that when we see a conditional scheme in the scriptures that requires man’s willing and active conformity to those conditions, we must recognize that the "salvation" in view is something other than eternal in nature.

Moreover, since the gospel deals primarily with the message of the finished work of Christ in saving his people from their sins, eternal salvation therefore is not conditioned upon man’s works at all. The exhortations to obedience that attend the gospel message are not in order to acquire salvation but admonitions to act as one ought to act as their reasonable service to God, given one's belief of gospel truth (Romans 12:1). But it is essential to note that no one is ever eternally saved by acting as they ought. We are eternally saved by grace, which means we are saved in spite of the fact that we have not acted as we ought. Nevertheless, a regenerate child of God, who is passed from death unto life, may save himself from this untoward generation by acting as he ought in obedience to the precepts of God and in so doing be delivered from the devastating consequences that accompany the commission of sin in this lifetime.

"All Conditionalism is a Denial of Salvation by Grace"

The teachers of conditional salvation have not yet presumed to say the grace of God is conditional, and so all conditionalism is a denial of salvation by grace. (Bartley)
God’s eternally saving grace is most certainly unconditional. It is conferred upon those who are dead in trespasses and in sins and who were totally incapable of contributing to that work at all (Ephesians 2:1). But the grace of God whereby a child of God may obey the Lord in discipleship is an ever present provision (I Corinthians 10:13) and one benefits from it only to the extent that they willingly and actively obey God. So again, what Elder Bartley is doing here is building his argument against CTS by conjoining things that CTS doctrine insists the bible will not allow us to conjoin. The irony is that Bartley's reasoning thoroughly underscores the biblical basis for rightly dividing the topic of salvation per CTS doctrine and reveals that his refuge of functional HyperMonergism arises from the embedding of man’s works into Bartley's single salvation. Since there is but one salvation in his scheme, he posits the goofy notion that such works are actually monergistic acts of God lest his system resolve to synergistic eternal salvation.
Conditional Baptists, however, seem to think that they take away the objectionable feature of Arminianism or conditional salvation, by confining it to time, and so they qualify this legal doctrine of salvation by works by inserting the word “time” between the two words, conditional salvation, and make it read, “Conditional time salvation”; that is to say, salvation in time is conditional. If so, then salvation in time is not by grace, nor of the Lord. (Bartley)
Obedience is a synergistic act in that it requires one’s willing and active participation in order to come to pass. This means that while obedience to God is “of the Lord” it is not “of the Lord” in precisely the same sense as our monergistic eternal salvation is said to be. Eternal salvation is “of the Lord” in the sense that God does all of the work. Time salvation (our temporal obedience to God) is “of the Lord” in the sense that apart from God’s having FIRST given us of his Spirit we would remain utterly incapable of obeying God by faith. That is a very important distinction and it is required to avoid the crass error of HyperMonergism that is increasingly becoming the view of many so-called "sovereign grace" Christians in our day.

Another Bartley Assertion Ends Up Proving the CTS Position

Now it behooves us to know what salvation is, when it is, and who it is to. Salvation is redemption, deliverance; (Bartley)
Eternal salvation is redemption and deliverance from the wrath to come. Temporal salvation is deliverance from this untoward generation during one’s natural lifetime. The key question to ask here is - Does the eternal salvation wrought by Christ at Calvary provide the same and certain level of deliverance from the practice of sin in this lifetime as it provides from the wrath to come? A sober answer to that question is a step toward affirming the distinction between unconditional eternal salvation based solely on the work of Christ, and Conditional Time Salvation from this untoward generation which requires man's willing and active participation in the form of saving himself (Acts 2:40). It is readily evident that the eternal salvation wrought by Christ at Calvary does not guarantee timely obedience in discipleship in the same way that it guarantees redemption and that distinction is foundational to CTS doctrine.
...[Salvation - TETH] is always in time, (Bartley)
Salvation in the mind and purpose of God has its origins before the foundation of the world, not in the created domain of time (Ephesians 1:4-6). That said, most of the events involved in our eternal salvation do occur in time (incarnation, substitution, redemption, sacrifice, resurrection, regeneration, etc.) even as do the events involved in one’s time salvation (obedience, blessing, discipleship, fellowship). But it is VERY important to note that while Christ's work ensures that all of his sheep will be regenerated without exception, it does not ensure that all of his sheep will exhibit the same degree of obedience to God during their natural lives to the same degree of certainty. The evident differences in the lives of Daniel and Lot, or John the Baptist and Solomon make this a matter of no controversy whatsoever. Diligent and consistent obedience to God in discipleship is not a matter of certainty to the degree that God's monergistic works of regeneration and redemption are. Thus the scriptures regularly exhort men to obedience in order that they might though obedience save themselves from this untoward generation.

Bartley's Unnecessarily Rigid Definition of "Lost" Causes Problems 

...and it is always to the lost. No one who is not lost can be saved. The one who knows what to do, and can do it, is not lost. (Bartley)
Here Elder Bartley presses an unnecessarily rigid definition of “lost” into the argument. There are many ways that one can be “lost” and not all of them design “dead” or “incapacitated” with respect to finding the way. Anyone who has spent time in the woods can relate to the idea of being “lost” (i.e., not knowing where one is or the right direction to go) but this does not mean that they are utterly without capacity for rectifying that situation provided they consistently apply the navigational precepts they have learned. So while an unregenerate man may be said to be "lost" in an abject sense (II Corinthians 4:3), nevertheless a regenerate man may be "lost" in this world at times because they have failed to follow the admonitions of the word of God. But such a man most certainly can find his way back in this lifetime through the spirit’s enablement, repentance, and obedience (Luke 15:18,19,24). This is part and parcel of the Christian walk.

Bartley Insists The Blessings of Temporal Obedience are Working for a Reward

So doing conditions is not salvation at all, but merely working for a reward. (Bartley)
The bible plainly sets forth blessings for obedience (Isaiah 1:19). We should not shy away from that concept nor that such blessings constitute some form of salvation or deliverance from the consequences that would otherwise be visited upon our temporal lives (v20). The fact that this is so repeatedly laid out in the word of God forms the basis for why these statements must be regarded as having respect to our temporal well-being (time salvation) rather than our eternal salvation, because if our obedience is required for eternal salvation, then salvation is indisputably by works. What Elder Bartley has done here, once again, is solidify the case for why Conditional Time Salvation is an absolutely essential concept for right division without which it is impossible to avoid logical contradictions in scripture.

The Salvation of Baptism Indisputably Proves Bartley's Error

We never go to salvation, because salvation is righteousness and justification, and we are sinful; but salvation must and does always come to us as lost. (Bartley)
Really? Did you go to be baptized or did baptism come to you and force you into the water? The bible plainly states that there is a salvation in baptism: “The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:” (I Peter 3:21) So the idea that “we never go to salvation” is utterly false because it is indisputable that for one to receive the salvation found in baptism one must go to it in an act of willing obedience to God. Simply put, baptism is an example of Conditional Time Salvation, not eternal salvation. No man is ever born again (eternally saved) by being baptized or by any other willing act of obedience to God (Titus 3:5); but many are temporally saved by bringing forth the answer of a good conscience toward God by the resurrection of Jesus Christ in the waters of baptism. That is temporal salvation and to the extent that baptism is voluntary, it is perfectly accurate and biblical to refer to such an arrangement as Conditional Time Salvation.

So to summarize:

1. There is a salvation in baptism. (I Peter 3:21)
2. That salvation is not eternal salvation. (Titus 3:5)
3. That salvation involves man's willing, active, obedience to God.
4. Not all of God's elect are baptized.
5. It follows that Baptism alone proves that there is a Conditional Time Salvation distinct from the eternal salvation wrought by the Lord Jesus Christ at Calvary.

More Proof That Temporal Salvation's Are Often Conditioned Upon Man

Salvation has no meaning to the one who is not lost, but claims ability to do and obtain the desired good. It is hypocritical to call that which is within our own power salvation. (Bartley)
Really? How about if your doctor says, “You’ll be dead in a year if you don’t quit smoking.”  There’s a timely salvation laid out for you in that statement that is conditioned upon your behavior. That salvation is something that lies within one's power to do it, yet this does not in any way negate that it is a real salvation from temporal consequences. Herein lies the difference in Conditional Time Salvation and eternal salvation; the former is the living doing as they ought in accordance with the word of God, the latter is the dead being brought to life in spite of the fact that they have NOT done as they ought. Both are salvations: the former from this untoward generation, the latter from the eternal condemnation of the wrath of God, and ne'er the twain shall meet.

The Example of Peter

So long as Peter stood on the water, he did not pray, “Lord save me.” Such a cry would have been false then; but when he had no power left, then the prayer was one of need, and salvation came to him. (Bartley)
So those in need of salvation are those who need saving? I agree. But it is incredibly important to note that the example of Peter walking on water is a matter of temporal salvation from start to finish and has nothing to do with Peter's eternal destiny. Nevertheless, was Peter saved to eternal heaven in the “salvation” that Christ provided him in answer to his prayer? No. He was saved from drowning - a temporal consequence of sinking. Did Jesus regenerate Peter as a result of Peter’s request? No. Peter’s request was for time salvation, not eternal. That is evident from the context of the story. So once again, this example sets forth a clear picture of salvation in time, not eternal salvation.

Bartley's Assertions Ignore The Inconvenient Truth That Baptism is a Salvation

When is salvation? Does it take place in eternity, or in time? It is important that we understand when salvation is. While the Bible clearly shows that God’s purpose to save his chosen and predestinated people in Christ is eternal, the divine testimony is abundant and clear, that all the work of their full and glorious salvation unto holiness and a blissful immortality is begun and ended in time. This triple work of the Father, Son and Spirit, three in One, consists in redemption, regeneration and resurrection. (Bartley)
It is all well and good to affirm that the triple work of Father, Son, and Spirit consists in redemption, regeneration, and resurrection, and we completely agree with that affirmation. But the more probing question where Conditional Time Salvation is concerned is - Does this triple work of Father, Son, and Spirit consist in baptism, obedience to God, joining the Lord’s true church, avoiding fornication, and raising your children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord? Any sober view of the Lord’s people makes it evident that these deliverances (or salvations) do not transpire for ALL of God’s elect in the same way and to the same degree of certainty that redemption, regeneration, and resurrection do for all of God's covenant people. I’ll state this very plainly using just one example: the moment one admits that one’s eternal salvation does not inevitably result in the salvation of water baptism (Luke 23:43), they have admitted that there are additional salvations in the bible that are distinct and separate from eternal salvation that are available to disciples provided they are obedient to gospel instruction. Thus Conditional Time Salvation is an evident, biblical reality in the lives of God’s people and its temporal blessings are related to our wellbeing in this lifetime and are experienced to the degree that we are diligent in our reasonable service to God (Romans 12:1).
The resurrection of all the redeemed and heaven-born people of God shall take place at the last day of time. And so Christ said of all the church, that the Father’s will is that “I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.” And of every believer in him he says, “And I will raise him up at the last day.” The last day is a part of time. The resurrection of all the dead, who sleep in Christ, is the completion and crowning glory of their salvation. This is in time. Redemption from the law of sin and death, by the death of the Son of God, is in time. So is salvation by his risen life in time. (Bartley)
All of that is true. But baptism is in time, and there is a salvation associated with it (I Peter 3:21), and it does not occur for all of God’s elect family (Hebrews 11). So  Elder Bartley's refutation of CTS based on the existence of only one salvation not only falls flat but actually ends up affirming the necessity of CTS in avoiding either logical contradiction or turning a blind eye to the salvation of baptism.
Paul says, “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.” This salvation by his life includes being born again, and passing from death unto life. (Bartley)
I don't doubt that the salvation by Christ's life includes being born again, and passing from death unto life. Nevertheless it does not include baptism in which there is a salvation (I Peter 3:21) and to which a candidate must submit willingly. Elder Bartley’s argument, once again, ends up brilliantly underscoring the precise reason why Conditional Time Salvation is essential to rightly divide the topic of salvation if we are to avoid conjoining human works with the work of eternal salvation.
“Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” “Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God.” All this is wrought in time. Paul therefore says, “He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” That is, until the full revelation of Christ in you in his resurrection, power and glory. Until that glorious day, God will perform the good work of salvation in you. (Bartley)
Again, all true but unless this work which God will perform in ALL of his people is the work of willing submission to baptism under the sound of gospel proclamation, then it is evident that this work DOES NOT INCLUDE all aspects of “salvation” described in the word of God, and thus Conditional Time Salvation is sustained.

Perfect Obedience Is Not an Provision of Eternal Salvation in This Lifetime

O this is assuring and blessed, my beloved! In this faith Paul said, “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” This is the full glory of our ascended Lord Jesus Christ. God, who exalted him at his own right hand of power, will perform his blessed work of salvation in us until the redemption of the purchased possession. “Then we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.” (Bartley)
Bartley's affirmations are all very exciting as they speak of a glorious future for all of God's people, but they are also the reason why Conditional Time Salvation is an indisputable biblical reality, because the obedience required for all aspects of one’s deliverance from the consequences of sin in this lifetime is not an ironclad provision of the covenant in the same way that regeneration is. The latter is a monergistic, eternal, and ironclad certainty for all, the former a synergistic, temporal, and variable possibility for all conditioned upon their obedience in discipleship.

The Conditional-is-Not-Found-In-The-Bible Argument Part Deux

All the work of salvation is fulfilled in time. But the adjective, the long and dangerous handle, “conditional,” is not found in the Bible as belonging to our time salvation. But this is true: “Salvation is of the Lord,” and salvation is in time. All the redeemed of the Lord shall be saved in time. “Who is like unto thee, O people saved by the Lord!” (Bartley)
Here Elder Bartley returns to his dull battle-axe, the old Conditional-is-not-found-in-the-bible argument. Indeed, the word “bible” does not appear in the bible, but only a fool would use this to assert that the bible does not exist. It is true that the term “conditional” does not appear in the bible but this does not in any way establish that conditional blessings in obedience are not found in the bible.

Numerous Scriptural Examples of Conditional Time Salvation

Consider the following salvations or deliverances that are conditioned upon the obedience of man found in the word of God:

“If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land: But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.” (Isaiah 1:19-20)

“In that I command thee this day to love the LORD thy God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments and his statutes and his judgments, that thou mayest live and multiply: and the LORD thy God shall bless thee in the land whither thou goest to possess it. But if thine heart turn away, so that thou wilt not hear, but shalt be drawn away, and worship other gods, and serve them; I denounce unto you this day, that ye shall surely perish, and that ye shall not prolong your days upon the land, whither thou passest over Jordan to go to possess it.” (Deuteronomy 30:16-18)

“And with many other words did he testify and exhort saying, ‘Save yourselves from this untoward generation.’” (Acts 2:40)

“The like figure whereunto baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” (I Peter 3:21)

Examples could be liberally multiplied because the concept is found throughout the word of God. Every example underscores that Conditional Time Salvation arises from the word of God and one that is essential to rightly dividing the topic of salvation without logical contradiction.

CTS is NOT Law Keeping for Eternal Salvation

All legal teachers, who strive to burden the salvation of the Lord’s people with conditions, are putting a yoke upon their necks which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear, but which is a curse and snare to the people, and a reproach upon salvation. (Bartley)
Peter’s remarks regarding the law as a burden that their fathers could not bear is made in opposition to Judaizers who were insisting that law keeping was required for eternal salvation (Acts 15:10). Peter's argument does not insist that none of God’s blessings are conditioned on obedience. Indeed, if it did then his command to "save yourselves from this untoward generation" at Pentecost makes no sense at all, neither does his apostolic affirmation of the principle that if the church at Jerusalem would abstain from fornication, they would do well (Acts 15:29). Clearly the salvation wrought by Christ at Calvary does not ensure that disciples will certainly abstain from fornication in the way it ensures their redemption. These observations are precisely why the concept of Conditional Time Salvation exists, because apart from it, salvation as a singular topic in the bible is unavoidably laden with many, many untenable contradictions. In some instances salvation is said to be "impossible" (Matthew 19:26) while in others men are told to “save” themselves. (Acts 2:40).

Baptism, Once Again, Undermines Bartley's Anti-CTS Argument

But when they think that they have improved upon Arminian conditional salvation by inserting the word “time” in it, they are deceiving and being deceived, for this is the day of salvation. “(For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succored thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.)” (Bartley)

Those words are the Father speaking to Jesus Christ in Isaiah 49:8 and quoted by Paul in II Corinthians 6:2. Now we should take note of the following:

1. This “day of salvation” (Isaiah 49:8, II Corinthians 6:2) was not the “day of baptism” for all of God’s people given that many were never baptized at all (Hebrews 11) and none are properly baptized until some time after they are regenerated (Acts 8:37).

2. There is a salvation in baptism. (I Peter 3:21)

3. Baptism is conditioned upon one’s willing and active participation.

4. It follows that the unconditional salvation of Isaiah 49:8 is separate and distinct from the conditional salvation to which Peter makes reference in I Peter 3:21 in that requires man’s willing and active participation.

5. Given that the salvation of baptism also takes place in time, it follows that Conditional Time Salvation is an accurate moniker for this biblical phenomenon.

Bartley's Most Embarrassing Assertion

So any one who is not saved in time has no salvation. Therefore, the modern term, “conditional time salvation,” means no more nor less than conditional salvation. (Bartley)
This is an embarrassingly thick assertion that simply does not follow from his line of reasoning. Is baptism conditional? Yes. Is it a form of “salvation” in the bible? Yes. Does it take place in time? Yes. It is therefore unavoidable that Christian baptism is an example of Conditional Time Salvation. Yes.

Now, does baptism occur for all of God’s covenant people? No. (Hebrews 11) Is baptism a requirement of eternal salvation? No. (Luke 23:43) If a regenerate man never submits to baptism will this have any effect on where he will spend eternity? No. (Luke 23:43) Thus the temporal salvation found in the synergistic, willing, obedience of baptism is rightly divided from the eternal salvation by a monergistic, unilateral covenant, and Conditional Time Salvation is fully sustained once again as a perfectly biblical concept; yea, an absolutely essential one if we are to avoid contradictions on the topic of salvation (Titus 3:5 vs Acts 2:40).
To prove this, they must first prove that Jesus is a conditional Savior. This they dare not attempt to do. Salvation is of the Lord and in Christ. (Bartley)
Yes. Eternal salvation is of the Lord and it is unconditional. But the question is this: Was the salvation from this untoward generation available to David by avoiding adultery an unconditional matter, or was it conditioned upon his obedience to the precepts of God? The eternal salvation of Christ imparted to David most certainly did not guarantee David's sexual purity in the way that it guaranteed David's redemption and glorification. Thus Christ’s work accomplished David’s eternal salvation apart from David’s willing and active cooperation, but David’s salvation from adultery and murder was not guaranteed by Christ’s eternally saving work in the same fashion and to the same degree. God promises to provide the enablement of the Spirit such that a regenerate man is able to avoid sin (I Corinthians 10:13), but God does not forcibly compel man to avail himself of His gracious provision (James 1:14-15). Rather, God exhorts man to obedience and conditions his deliverance from the temporal consequences of practicing such sins on man’s willing compliance.

Bartley Misapplies Eternal Salvation References 

Yea, he himself is Salvation. “Mine eyes have seen thy salvation.” “Neither is there salvation in any other.” Then there is no salvation in conditions nor in man. “For by grace are ye saved …not of works.” “Truly my soul waiteth upon God; from him cometh my salvation. He only is my rock and my salvation. … My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him. He only is my rock and my salvation: he is my defense; I shall not be moved. In God is my salvation and my glory: the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God.” David here personified the man Christ and every member of Christ. As this was true of David and Christ under the law, is it not equally true of us under the gospel of grace? Since God only was the rock and salvation of his people under the old covenant, which was conditional, is he any the less their only rock and salvation under the new covenant in Christ Jesus, which is free from all conditions? (Bartley)

New Covenant salvation does not include an ironclad promise of salvation from the practice of sin in this lifetime. That is an indisputable fact of revelation that is born out in our lives as we continue to struggle with sin until our dying day (I John 1:8, Romans 7). Nowhere does the New Covenant promise that a man will be totally free from the practice of sin in this lifetime. But in many places in the word of God, regenerate men, those who already possess eternal life, are told that they can "save themselves" from the consequences of sin through their obedience to God and be blessed thereby (Acts 2:40ff, Isaiah 1:19-20, Ephesians 4:17-32, Romans 12:1ff, etc.).

The Corinthian Fornicator and Conditional Time Condemnation

Consider the following questions that arise from the church at Corinth:
  • Did the salvation wrought by Jesus Christ guarantee that the man of I Corinthians 5:1 would be regenerated? Yes. Clearly. (Galatians 4:6)
  • Did the salvation wrought by Jesus Christ guarantee that the man of I Corinthians 5:1 would avoid committing the sin of fornication? No. Clearly not. 
  • Whose fault was it that the man committed this awful sin? Was it God's fault for not monergistically forcing the man to obey by the same eternally saving power whereby He monergistically forced the man's quickening from death unto life? Or is it the man's own fault for willfully and disobediently pursuing his own lusts and not availing himself of God's promised provision to avoid sin? (James 1:13-16, I Corinthians 10:13) Clearly the bible lays the blame at the feet of man for his disobedience. 
  • What happened to this disobedient fornicator? He was delivered unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh (I Corinthians 5:5) as a result of his disobedience (I Corinthians 5:5). This is a corollary of Conditional Time Salvation; namely, Conditional Time Condemnation which is the temporal chastisement of God that inevitably comes upon all of his disobedient sons in this lifetime (Hebrews 12:5-17).
  • Would the man's obedience have resulted in a deliverance or salvation from that temporal chastisement? Yes
  • Did his eventual repentance from that sin deliver or save him from some of the temporal punishments that he received as a result of his sin? Yes. He was restored to fellowship with the church and forgiven for his trespass (II Corinthians 2:6-11).
It is no overstatement to say that these six observations are impossible to refute. As such they sustain the reality, yea the necessity of Conditional Time Salvation in rightly dividing salvation into the proper categories of eternal and temporal.

Texts Against Works-Salvation Do Not Disprove The Blessings of Obedience

The Lord said, “For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.” This is a perfect description of conditional salvation; for it can hold no water of salvation. (Bartley)
Much like Peter's words at the Jerusalem council (Acts 15), these words from Jeremiah 2:13 design the belief that men could gain acceptance with God through law keeping. That speaks of eternal salvation by works. CTS does not suggest that man can gain eternal acceptance from God based on our works or meeting some conditions, not at all. Rather, we insist that God’s regenerate people, who are already eternally saved and eternally pleasing to God in Christ (Colossians 2:10, Acts 10:35), may avoid the temporal consequences of sin and ignorance in this lifetime by living in accordance with the precepts of Christ (John 14:15). This blessing, which is not eternal salvation but temporal well-being, is conditioned upon man’s obedience.

Don't believe that? Well, then let's put it to the test. Go out and commit wanton fornication and drunkenness for the next 6 months and let's see if your marriage is saved, if your ministry is saved, if your employment is saved, if your reputation is saved, if your membership in the Lord's church is saved, if your respect in the community is saved. It is readily evident to any sober-minded Christian person that their spirit-enabled obedience to God (I Corinthians 10:13) saves them from the consequences of practicing sin in many ways every day.

Eternal Life Does Not Guarantee Obedience to God in This Lifetime

But blessed be the Lord of salvation, Jesus saves his people from their sins, gives them the water of life, and says, “The water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” This is all my salvation and all my desire. (Bartley)
True enough of eternal salvation, but notice Jesus does not say, “And in this lifetime I will cause them to stop sinning.” Rather, the New Testament repeatedly exhorts the disciples to righteous living and separation from the world and conditions many temporal blessings upon conformity to this standard, “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” (II Corinthians 6:17-18)

Consider this: Can a man who is a drunk and a fornicator properly receive the blessing of becoming an Elder in the Lord’s NT church? (I Timothy 3:2) Clearly not. It follows that the “deliverance” or “salvation” unto the office of Bishop is conditioned upon the man’s conformity to the NT standard.


And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified. (Bartley)
I am sure Elder David Bartley was a good and godly man; no doubt a better man that I am, even as a great many if not all of our Baptist forefathers were. Nevertheless, upon close examination, his anti-CTS polemic falls flat on every single point he makes. While he certainly strikes a powerful, authoritative tone, the bluster is unable to conceal the evident flaws in his line of reasoning on the matter of CTS. I can honestly say that the time I have spent examining his argument has only served to further solidify my conviction that Conditional Time Salvation is an irrefutable teaching of the bible that is absolutely essential to rightly dividing the biblical topic of “salvation” without contradiction.


  1. Ditto to your closing statement...the more time I spend examining and debating alternatives to the doctrines of Grace, the shakier said alternatives seem

  2. Excellent arguments, well ordered and proving the case to any reasonable person searching the scriptures. To me the parable of the sons sticks out as they are both deemed sons but the one who does his father's will has the actual satisfaction of knowing it through the father's evident approbation of his obedience, but they both remain sons.

    1. Thanks for taking a moment to leave an encouraging comment. I agree with your observation regarding the parable of the sons. Our ministers have often described this as the distinction between relationship and fellowship. We are related to our parents based entirely upon THEIR actions, whereas our fellowship with them may vary greatly based upon OUR actions.

      God bless,

    2. Friend,
      it is I that am encouraged but thank you.
      Jeremiah 25:7 Yet ye have not hearkened unto me, saith the LORD; that ye might provoke me to anger with the works of your hands to your own hurt.

    3. Since I am not an absoluter, is it ok for me to post the entirety of the above into my SwordSearcher bible program which I do share with others who might want it? Thanks.

    4. Feel free to share anything you find profitable on my blog and YouTube channel with anyone you think might benefit from it.