By Voyd N. Ballard
I read with interest and appreciation Larry Ray Hafley’s article “Reviewing Gordon Wilson On Faith And Works” in Truth Magazine, Feb. 12 1976. While I have had no contact with Gordon since 1963 when he caused serious trouble in the church in Clovis, California, I have strongly suspected that he has been in sympathy with Ketcherside and his cohorts for some time. Evidently he has not only been in sympathy with them, but the transcription of his speech as quoted by Brother Hafley is proof that Gordon has been teaching false doctrine since 1972.
As Brother Hafley says, “Brother Wilson’s dissimulation is long overdue in being reviewed.” Gordon “WAS RAISED BETTER,” this I know. I have known the Wilson family most all of Gordon’s life. Gordon was married to my oldest daughter in March of 1956. His father, John W. Wilson was one of the first sound gospel preachers I became acquainted with when I came to the state of California in 1946. I worked closely with John off and on for several years while his children and mine were growing up. John was (and so far as I know still is) one of the able and capable preachers and debaters with the knowledge and ability to defend the Truth against every form of false doctrine. I have heard him again and again in debates with denominational preachers where he laid this very doctrine that Gordon taught in Hazelwood, Missouri so far in the shade that the denominational preacher was never able to recover from the sledge hammer blows John struck against it. So, I know that Gordon knows better. His dad taught him better, and Gordon started out as a young preacher with the determination to preach and defend the Truth as he had been taught and as his daddy had always done. What “hindered him that he should not continue to obey and defend this Truth?”
I do not know. but I do know this false doctrine needs to be exposed, and I thank God for such papers and Editors as Truth Magazine and Cecil Willis and now The Gospel Guardian and James Adams with staffs of writers who have the courage and willingness to do it. May your tribe increase, and may you never be turned aside by those who “don’t like the way you do it.”
These fellows like Gordon think they have discovered some “new truth.” What they are teaching is neither “new” or “truth.” It is as old as denominationalism and just as false as it was when some of us “old timers” were debating Baptist preachers years ago. Denominational preachers still preach this “Faith only, Grace only” doctrine, but it is next to impossible to get any of them to attempt to defend it in debate anymore. The last debate I had with a Missionary Baptist preacher was about four years ago. In this debate he made the very same argument that Gordon makes in his Hazelwood, Missouri speech. The only difference is that the Baptist preacher made the argument stronger and better and as Brother Hafley says he, while just as wrong as is Gordon, was at least “consistent.”
But, as I said, It is next to impossible to get a denominational preacher to attempt to defend his “Faith only, Grace only” doctrine in public debate, and I suppose it would be even more impossible to get one o# these Ketcherside boys with their “new truths” to attempt publicly to defend their false doctrines. In case any of them get up enough courage to attempt it, I will walk across a forty acre field of cockleburs barefoot if necessary to meet them in public debate. According to the transcription of his speech Gordon Wilson says, “no alien sinner is ever said to be justified by works.” I am willing to affirm that “No man (alien or otherwise) in any age was ever said to be justified by his faith until that faith had been expressed in obedience to the commands of God.”
True, we are not saved by our own works, but we are saved only in our obedience to the commands of God. These commands to the alien sinner are: Faith in Jesus Christ, Repentance of sins, confession of Christ as Lord, and baptism in water (Mk. 16:15, 16; Acts 17:30, 31; Rom. 10:9; Acts 2:38). Peter was sent to aliens to tell them “words, whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved.” He told them, “God is no respecter of persons (what He requires of one He requires of all). But in every nation he that feareth him and worketh righteousness is accepted with him” (Acts 11:14; Acts 10:34, 35). Gordon says, “Neither man nor any other New Testament writer ever uses the word “works” with approval, of the obedience of an alien sinner. Never! Look it up in your concordance, my friend!” Gordon, and those of his persuasion would do far better if they would “look it up in the New Testament.”
Paul and James are not “talking about two different periods of time in the lives of people” as Gordon wants to think. They are talking about different kinds of works. There are three different kinds of works set forth in the New Testament:
1. Man’s works which cannot save: Eph. 2:8, 9. Titus 3:5 says, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.” The washing of regeneration is admittedly water baptism; so Paul is saying, “Not by – But by” i.e. “Not by our own works, but by Baptism!” Gordon has heard Foy E. Wallace, John Wilson and other able preachers make this argument time and time again. And there was a time when Gordon said, “Amen” to it. The argument was true then and it is still true today Paul and the New Testament have not changed – Gordon has!
2. The works of the Old Law by which man could not be justified (Acts 13:39; Gal. 2:16). Paul and James do not contradict each other, nor are they talking about different people. Paul was talking about the works of man (man’s own righteousness) in Eph. 2. In Rom. 4 Paul uses Abraham as an example of one saved or justified without the Law of Moses. He shows Abraham was not justified by the works of the law. Paul is not saying Abraham was not saved by works of obedience, but that he was not justified by the works of the law, since his obedience and justification was long before the law. Abraham was justified by his works of obedience to God as pointed out in Heb. 11:8, 10. James uses Abraham to show that a man is justified by working the righteousness of God. “Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou has faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?” James says this fulfilled the scripture, and then quoted Gen. 15:6: “Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness.” Which is exactly the very same scripture Paul quoted in Rom. 4:3! No Sir, Paul and James were not talking about “two different time periods in the lives of the people they addressed.” They were talking about the same period of time, the same person, and the same Old Testament Scripture, which both agree was fulfilled when Abraham’s “faith wrought with his works, and by works was made perfect.” Both agree Abraham was justified by works of righteousness (obedience) and not by the works of the law.
3. The works of righteousness (obedience to the commands of God) without which no man (alien or child of God) can be justified. “Though he was a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him” Heb. 5:8, 9). If “all them” does not include the alien I would like to see the scripture that excludes him.
It is a shame that these fellows have made shipwreck of their faith; It is even a worse shame that they continue to parade themselves before the churches as loyal gospel preachers. If they are determined to continue in false doctrine it would be much better for them and for the church if they went into denominationalism all together. Even the liberals cannot stomach such foolishness.
Truth Magazine, XX:23, p. 10-11
June 3, 1976