Guy N. Woods
According to the Baptistic view, the order and conditions essential to salvation are: (1) repentance and (2) faith. Repentance is a change of mind, produced by sorrow for sin and leading to a reformation of life. What produces a change of mind (i.e., attitude of heart) in the sinner? In a word, all the factors involved in the scheme of redemption. The sinner, through contemplation of his lost condition, is led from feelings of gratitude for the provisions made for him to decide to turn from rebellion against God to humble and complete obedience to Him. From what source does he derive information touching his lost condition, and where does he learn of the provisions thus made in his behalf? From the Scriptures, of course. What prompts him to act upon the impressions obtained in this manner? His confidence in the reliability of the facts and principles presented! But is not this confidence he now enjoys in the Sacred Writings nothing more nor less than faith? It is indeed, and without it there can be no repentance. Furthermore, it is the acceptance of the facts presented that leads him to desire to repent.
Faith, then, must precede repentance. Faith enables the sinner to repent—in fact, prompts the desire. Without faith, the sinner cannot repent; without faith, he would not if he could. As irresistible and conclusive as these facts are, they are, nevertheless, in hopeless conflict with Baptist doctrine. Why? The basic assumption of their doctrine is the dogma of salvation by faith only. They insist that the sinner is saved at the very instant of belief, before and without additional acts of obedience.
With such a position, it becomes clear that they cannot place repentance after faith in their scheme; to do so they would have the sinner saved before and without repentance.
Thus, to get repentance in their plan of salvation at all, they must place it before faith. Such an arrangement is illogical, unscriptural, and psychologically impossible. It is, however, but the inevitable consequence of their false theory regarding the plan of salvation. It is the fruit of an effort to be consistent in error while clinging tenaciously to a false premise—namely, that salvation is conditioned upon faith only.
They face a similar difficulty in their position regarding an alien sinner’s prayer. While it is a tenet of their doctrine that God will hear and answer the prayer of an alien sinner, their position thereon makes such psychologically impossible. In their view, faith and salvation are concurrent—that is, the moment the sinner believes, he ceases to be an alien, he is saved. Manifestly, then, he cannot pray as an alien after faith, for he is—according to their conception—no longer an alien. If, therefore, he prays as an alien sinner, it must be before he believes. It is, however, psychologically impossible to pray without faith; moreover, such is displeasing to God (Heb. 11:6). Thus, since an alien cannot pray before he believes, and since Baptist doctrine has it that he is no longer an alien after believing, their doctrine makes it logically and psychologically impossible for an alien sinner to pray any time! Yet, it is of the very essence of their doctrine that an alien sinner must pray to receive salvation.