By Larry Ray Hafley
Baptist “Dr.” John R. Rice recently sought to “note” the errors “of the teachings of the Church Of Christ,” because it is “a false cult (that) disturbs many people on the plan of salvation.” (Sword Of The Lord, John R. Rice, editor, June 8, 1973, Pp. 1, 8, 9). Mr. Rice became so disturbed and perturbed by the teachings of this “false cult” that he made a number of false statements. It is a sad day for Baptist doctrine when “a false cult” can shake a New Testament at a Baptist literary luminary and cause him to step into unscriptural holes.
The Same Plan
” people in all ages have been saved exactly the same. In Acts 10: 43 this is expressly stated: ‘To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.’ This Scripture says that every prophet in the Old Testament and in the New Testament alike taught the same plan of salvation-that is, salvation by faith in Christ. Now it is foolish and wicked to contradict that plain statement and try to make different plans of salvation for different times.”
If Acts 10:43 says what Baptist Rice says it says, then I do not know how to read. The Old Testament prophets witness in the Old Testament Scriptures that through the name of Christ “whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.” They said nothing about one plan of salvation for all ages. They said nothing about the necessity of faith in Christ in their own age. “Now it is foolish and wicked to” say a passage says what it does not say (Rev. 22:18, 19), hence, Dr. Rice is foolish and wicked.
There has not been one plan of salvation for all ages. (1) “But now,” not earlier, says Paul, God’s plan of making men righteous by the faith of Jesus Christ “is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the Prophets.” The Old Testament prophets wrote of a system of making men righteous. “Now,” not before, but “now” it is revealed. (2) Repentance and remission of sins through the authority of Christ had never been preached prior to Pentecost in Acts 2 (Cf. Lk. 24:47; Acts 2:38; 19:1-5). This plan of salvation was to be preached “beginning at Jerusalem.” (3) We draw near unto God today, not by the “same” way, but “by a new and living way” (Heb. 10:20). Editor Rice speaks of “the same plan of salvation.” The Hebrew writer speaks of “a new and living way.”
“By Faith Only”
Twice our Baptist Rice refers to “salvation by faith alone.” Remember that Mr. Rice is the one who says it is “foolish and wicked to contradict” a “plain statement.” The only time the word of God ever speaks of salvation by faith only, it says it is not so. “Ye see then bow that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only” (Jas. 2:24). “So we can see that a man is justified in the sight of God by faith alone” (John R. Rice).
Mr. Rice uses and abuses Romans 4 and James 2 to establish “salvation by faith alone.” He avers that Abraham is our example of “salvation by faith alone.” This fails to account for obedient faith. Abraham’s faith was indeed counted to him for righteousness (Rom. 4:3; Gen. 15:6). This, however, was stated of him after he had lived for years in an obedient faith. “By faith Abraham . . . obeyed and he went out” (Gen. 12; Heb. 11:8). Seeing this obedient faith, God accounted it unto him for righteousness. Yes, Abraham is the father of the faithful, but he is only the father of those who -walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham” (Rom. 4:12). Baptist Rice’s faith alone has no steps in it, so it is not the faith of Abraham.
No one is saved by works, by perfect keeping of law. Paul denied salvation by works of law without especial reference to works or commands of faith. James showed salvation is by works of faith without reference to the keeping of law for justification. One should not array God’s commands against God’s grace. Paul said works of law cannot save because no one keeps the law perfectly. James says one’s faith will not justify if faith is not obedient.
Observe this classic statement by disturbed Rice, “It is true that faith that is without works is dead. But it is equally true that salvation, justification in the sight of God, comes by faith, without works.” In other words, salvation in the sight of God comes by a dead faith! Can you believe it?!
“In John 3:18 Jesus says, ‘He that believeth on the Son is not condemned.’ One who has trusted in Christ is not condemned, whether he has obeyed the Lord about baptism or not” (John R. Rice). John 3: 18 refers to the obedient believer. If it does not contemplate the obedient believer; (1) It means those disobedient believers in John 8:30; 12:42,43 were saved; (2) It contradicts such passages as Matt. 7:21 and Heb. 5:9. “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of MY Father.” Jesus is “the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him” (Cf. Acts 10: 34, 35); (3) It contradicts Jas. 2:24-“not by faith only.”
Let us serve up some Baptist Rice. Baptist doctrine says repentance precedes faith, that a man repents before he believes. The Bible teaches that the penitent “shall not perish” (Lk. 13:3; 2 Pet. 3:9). Thus, “One who has repented is not condemned, whether he has obeyed the Lord about faith or not.” Will Rice accept his own logical dish? No, he reasons that the penitent ones contemplate the obedient, believing penitents who do all God says. Just so with baptism. But yet another side order is on the menu. Baptists teach that once one is saved he is forever saved. Therefore, he can believe, be saved by faith alone, and then stick his tong-tie out at God and at every passage commanding baptism, for according to Baptist doctrine, he is “not condemned, whether he has obeyed the Lord about baptism or not.” It does not matter that Jesus said, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.” One can live all of his life and mock and sneer at the Lord’s command to be baptized and go to heaven at last “whether lie has obeyed the Lord about baptism or not.” “Foolish and wicked,” indeed! Excuse me while I throw out this serving of Baptist Rice.
TRUTH MAGAZINE XVII: 44, pp. 9-10
September 13, 1973