W. Curtis Porter
People who have heard Baptist preachers in debate know the position of Baptists concerning the idea of future salvation. They claim that when a man is saved, or when he becomes a child of God, he then obtains the only salvation and all of salvation that he will ever receive. According to them, at the point of conversion the man gets eternal life in all of its reality and completeness. Right then and there he is eternally saved, and there is no such thing as a “future salvation” for him.
In my recent debate with L. R. Riley at Gleason, Tennessee, he drew a line on the blackboard after this fashion:
By the 15 at the beginning of the line he represented the age of a person at conversion. And by the 75 at the end of the line he represented the age of the person at death. So that would give the man 60 years of service to God. Then he wanted me to tell him at which end of this line a man gets salvation—at the beginning or at the end of it. He seemed considerably set back when I told him that man gets salvation at both ends of the line. When he is converted at 15 years of age he obtains salvation from his past sins—he get forgiveness or pardon—and begins the new life to which Paul refers in Romans 6:3-4. So “present salvation” is obtained at the first end of the line. But if he lives faithfully in the service of God for 60 years, he will be given in the world to come eternal salvation. Hence, there is a “present salvation” and a “future salvation!” One of them is obtained when he becomes a child of God and the other is received after his life is over.
Furthermore, I showed, from the statement of Paul in Romans 13:11, that “now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.” Or as the Revised Version says, “when we first believed.” I demanded that he tell us how our salvation could be “nearer than when we believed” if we got all of it at the moment we first believed. If there is no future salvation—if no salvation can ever be obtained except that obtained at conversion—then it is not possible for “our salvation to be nearer than when we believed.” Mr. Riley endeavored to make a play on this by arraying Porter against Paul. He introduced 1 Cor. 1:18 which says: “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.” He emphasized the statement, “unto us which are saved.” Paul, he insisted, said we “are saved” right now, but Porter says that “our salvation is nearer than when we believed.” So Porter contradicts Paul—Porter says we are not saved—that our salvation is nearer—but Paul says we “are saved.”
The thing backfired on him, however, when I demanded that he tell us who is the author of Rom. 13:11—Porter or Paul. He had ascribed that language to me, but that is not what Porter said at all. It was Paul who said, “Now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.” Porter is not the author of that language at all. It was the apostle Paul who wrote both the Roman and the Corinthian letters. Hence, Paul is the author of both statements; and instead of arraying Porter against Paul, he had arrayed Paul against Paul. He had not made Porter contradict Paul at all, but according to him, Paul had contradicted Paul. I assured the audience that I believed both statements of Paul. When he said we “are saved” he referred to present salvation from sin and to the “newness of life” that men reach at conversion. But when he said “our salvation is nearer than when we believed” he referred to that future eternal salvation that is to be received in the city of God above. The statements of Paul are in perfect harmony with the position occupied by me and my brethren but cannot be harmonized with the doctrine preached by Baptist preachers.
Mr. Riley referred to the statement in Rom. 6:23 that “the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” He claimed that this gift of eternal life is received at the beginning of the line—not at the end of it—and that no salvation is future. And again he pressed the question as to which end of the line a man received life or salvation. I showed that we did not have to go out of Rom. 6 to find an answer to his question. In Rom, 6:34, Paul mentions the “newness of life” that one walks after he is raised in baptism. This is the life that is received at the beginning of the line. Then in verse 22, the verse just before the one he quoted on eternal life, Paul said: “But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.” At the beginning of the line he is “made free from sin” and has his “fruit unto holiness.” But “at the end everlasting life” is received. So salvation, or freedom from sin, comes at the beginning and everlasting life comes at the end.
Some Baptist preachers, when confronted by the statement of Paul in Rom. 13:11, will say that Paul referred to the salvation of the body, but there is no such thing as future salvation of the spirit. They introduce Rom. 8:23 in which Paul speaks about waiting for “the redemption of the body.” This, they claim, means the body will be redeemed from sin at the resurrection and is the only future salvation the Bible speaks of. It is true that the body will be redeemed at the resurrection, but there is no intimation that it will he redeemed from sin. Hosea said, “I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death: O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction.” Men, therefore, will have their bodies “redeemed from death” at the resurrection but not “redeemed from sin.”
To say that there is no future salvation for the spirit is to deny a plain statement of the word of God. Regarding the fornicator in Corinth who had taken his father’s wife, Paul said: “To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” “The day of the Lord Jesus” certainly refers to the final judgment day. But Paul said the purpose of this punishment was “for the destruction of the flesh” and “that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.” Here is a “future salvation” from the spirit of man. This certainly, overthrows Baptist doctrine and proves there is both a present and a future salvation for the spirits or souls of me