By Weldon E. Warnock
Well, Brother Billy Williams has been finally “smoked out of the woodpile.” All can now see his true color (if they want to). His article in Truth Magazine made it crystal clear where he stands.
He had crept into the Sciotoville church at Portsmouth, Ohio, unawares, and almost immediately began laying the groundwork to take the church into the Ketcherside Arnold Hardin-Edward Fudge Camp. Before he was able to accomplish this task, the brethren detected his strategy and terminated his services. Billy said in his article, “And no one would say (at Sciotoville) that I taught false doctrine.” They did not fire him because of the way he parted his hair. Billy is now a member where Arnold Hardin preaches. That tells us something.
As you observed from Brother Williams’ article, he does not like to put emphasis on law, commandments and obedience. There is a reason for this. If a person must strictly and faithfully abide in the commandments of the Lord to be saved, then Billy would not be able to find room for the salvation of the Christian Church people, the premillennial brethren or the institutional brethren. By relying on the grace of Christ and his righteousness, sincere baptized believers are accepted by Christ, even though they are not keeping all of His commandments. Is not this what you believe, Billy?
Brother Williams, I ask you some questions and be man enough to face them head-on.
(1) Are members of the Christian Church who trust in the blood and righteousness of Christ, condemned, even though they use instrumental music in worship? Now come on, and answer this question forthrightly.
(2) Are the premillennial brethren who trust in the blood and righteousness of Christ, condemned, even though they deny that Jesus is now King, deny the kingdom is now here and the church is just an accident?
(3) Are the institutional brethren who pervert the organization of the church, condemned, even though they trust in the blood of Christ and his righteousness?
Brother Williams, I am not asking whether you believe instrumental music in worship, or premillennialism or church support of human institutions is wrong, but rather whether you believe those people are condemned who espouse those false doctrines? I challenge you to answer these questions.
Now then, let us address ourselves more to his article in particular. Nobody among us denies that Jesus is Savior and Redeemer. Billy, you are “riding a dead horse” and “milking a dry cow” to accuse brethren of such. Nobody in the church believes what you are implying. I have never known of one Christian, and neither has Billy Williams, who believes that belief, repentance, confession and baptism are our Savior or that we earn salvation. Name one, Billy?
All my brethren teach that Jesus saves, but He saves conditionally. These conditions constitute the plan (method, procedure) of salvation that the sinner is to obey. Billy does not know the difference, seemingly, between who saves and what saves. The who is Jesus (Mt. 1:21; 1 Tim. 1:15). The what is several things. All work together in the forgiveness of our sins by Jesus. Notice:
(1) Grace saves. “. . . . by grace ye are saved” (Eph. 2:5).
(2) Gospel saves: ” . . . . it is the power of God unto salvation . . .” (Rom. 1:16).
(3) Word saves: ” . . . . receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls” (Jas. 1:21).
(4) Works save: ” . . . . though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him” (Jas. 2:14)?
(5) Faith Saves: ” . . . . believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved” (Rom. 10:9).
(6) Baptism saves: ” . . . . baptism doth also now save us . . .” (1 Pet. 3:21).
(7) Save ourselves: ” . . . . Save yourselves from this untoward generation” (Acts 2:40). Brethren, if we would just let the Bible speak for itself, and accept it, we would have no problems.
True, nowhere is the phrase, “plan of salvation,” found in the Bible. However, Billy uses it, anyway. He says the notion is in Eph. 1:3-14. That is true in a broad sense. But the notion (to use his word) is also found in a limited sense in Acts 2:36-38; 16:30-33; 22:10-16, referring to conditions. God has a plan (conditions of pardon) for alien sinners to meet. Peter told the Jews on Pentecost to “save yourselves” (Acts 2:40). In other words, comply with the conditions of pardon. Billy, may the requirements for a sinner to be saved be called, “a plan”?
Brother Williams said, “We are not saved by works (Eph. 2:8-10). Any works.” Well, Brother Peter says differently. Listen to an apostle: “But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh (emp. mine) righteousness, is accepted with him” (Acts 10:35). Brother James wrote, “Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only” (Jas. 2:24). It is hard to believe that Brother Williams made such a statement in direct contradiction to the Word of God.
Gospel obedience is not meritorious works. No one is turning BRCB into works of merit, but telling lost people what our Savior said they must obey in order to be saved. Billy, you are “barking up the wrong tree.” You are chasing a track that is not even there. You are not even cold trailing.
Preaching Christ crucified is preaching His Word. When the apostles and others preached what a man must do to be saved, they were preaching Christ. When Philip preached Jesus to the Samaritans (Acts 8:5, 12), he preached the kingdom, the name of Jesus and baptism. Philip later preached Jesus to the Eunuch, and among other things, he preached baptism (Acts 8:34-39). Certainly, he preached Christ and Him crucified, but in that sermon he preached baptism. Peter commanded Cornelius and household to be baptized (Acts 10:48). Billy says baptism is a response. Why not call it a command?
Paul had to do a little preaching on baptism at Ephesus to get those disciples straightened out on the difference between John’s baptism and Christ’s baptism. Of course, they had to get their faith right – faith in a resurrected Christ. So do we.
When we preach belief, repentance, confession, baptism, we are preaching that a person has to have (1) faith in the divinity of Jesus (Jn. 8:24), faith in His humanity (1 Jn. 4:2), faith in His blood (Rom. 3:24-25) and faith in His resurrection (Rom. 10:9), (2) a turning from sin to Christ in the act of repentance (Acts 17:30-31), (3) a declaration of the Lordship and Sonship of Jesus (Acts 8:37), and, (4) baptism into Christ to appropriate the blood and be saved by his grace (Rom. 6:3-4).
Billy, what is wrong with the preceding doctrine – the four points? You say, “Our `plan’ (BRCB) is no better than anybody else’s `plan’.” I would bow my head in shame for advocating that God’s plan, as outlined above, is no better than the plans of a bunch of sectarians. Can you blame the brethren at Portsmouth, Ohio for asking Brother Williams to move? We commend their courage and love for the truth.
In the New Testament much emphasis is placed on keeping the commandments of God. Jesus said, “if ye love me, keep my commandments” (Jn. 14:15). “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me . . .” (Jn. 14:21). “If a man love me, he will keep my words . . .” (Jn. 14:23). “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love . . .” (Jn. 15:10). Love for Jesus is shown by law-keeping. Is one meriting Jesus’ love by strict adherence to His commandments? Certainly not!
John wrote, “And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments” (1 Jn. 2:3). “And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight. And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him . . .” (1 Jn. 3:22-23). “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments” (I Jn. 5:2). “And this is love, that we walk after his commandments . . .” (2 Jn. 6).
If preaching obedience to the commandments of God makes me a legalist, then I am a legalist. Whatever doing the will of the Lord makes me, I am it! I offer no apologies. Jesus saves our souls by obedience to His commands. “Blessed are they that do his commandments that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city” (Rev. 22:14, emp. mine). Jesus is the “author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him” (Heb. 5:9).
Peter wrote, “Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit . . .” (1 Pet. 1:22). Paul told Timothy, “Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee” (1 Tim. 4:16).
Poor old John, Peter and Paul. They did not know that when people obey the commands of God that they are earning their salvation by doing meritorious works. They had not read Baptists manuals or heard Baptist preachers.
The following quotations will show us where Brother Williams is getting his doctrine. In fact, the quotes sound about like what Brother Williams wrote.
Pendleton’s Baptist Church Manual, p. 48: “. . . that justification includes the pardon of sin, and the promise of eternal life on principles of righteousness; that it is bestowed, not in consideration of any works of righteousness which we have done, but solely through faith in the Redeemer’s blood; by virtue of which faith in his perfect righteousness is free imputed to us of God.”
Philadelphia Confession of Faith, pp. 30-31: “. . . and by accounting and accepting their persons as righteous; not for anything wrought in them, or done by them, but for Christ sake alone.”
Brother Williams stated that Jesus nailed the law to the cross and gave a system of grace. Is he trying to tell us that we do not have to obey law now, but just rely on God’s grace? I am aware that Jesus nailed the law of Moses to the cross, but He did not nullify law. Paul said, “Do we then make void law through faith? God forbid: Yea, we establish law” (Rom. 3:31, ASV footnote). We are under the law of Christ (1 Cor. 9:21; Gal. 6:2; Jas. 1:25).
Certainly, we are not under a system that requires perfect obedience to law for justification. That was the situation in the Old Testament (Rom. 2:13) because there was no remission of sins in it. The blood of Christ was not in the Old Testament. But under the new law, the law of Christ, we have forgiveness by obeying His commandments in order to appropriate His grace. Hence, Jesus’ law is a law of grace wherein forgiveness is offered to the violaters by obedient faith.
In conclusion, I ask you, the reader, if Brother Williams has been misrepresented? I am persuaded the unbiased can see that he was accurately portrayed. We did not misunderstand him. We knew exactly where he was coming from. Joining up with Arnold Hardin further substantiates our judgment. His accusing me of slander, dishonesty, trying to prejudice, subtlety, innuendo, lying, gossiping and backbiting, all in one article, is the best Brother Williams has in trying to defend his position. Some of his personal letters are of the same character when he is challenged.
Friends, the fox has been caught in the chicken house and he does not like it.
Truth Magazine XXIII: 19, pp. 309-310
May 10, 1979