Vol.XVI No.V Pg.4
July 1979

Man's Part In Salvatlon —

Robert F. Turner

When old-time preachers spoke of "God's part, and Man's part" in man's salvation, they certainly were not saying man could earn or merit redemption on the basis of perfect works. I have heard the sermon scores of times and hundreds of our readers can verify my observations. "The God's part" portion of those lessons stressed the grace of God, the blood of Christ and the mercy of God extended in forgiveness — to "whosoever will..." Man's part may have sounded like legalism to "evangelicals"; and for that matter, the preacher may have unintentionally invited such criticism by his zeal and terminology, but one must ignore the first half of the sermon to draw such a conclusion.

The preachers of those sermons had listeners who were drilled in "faith only" concepts — who equated justification by faith (Rom. 5:1) with "the moment you feel God move in your heart." The "trust" essential to salvation had to be explained in detail. Knowing that their hearers thought of faith as an "experience," those sermons had to point out that the faith which saves is an obedient faith, and "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved."

In the frequent wrangles over "in order to" versus "because of" remission of sins, and other like particulars, it is possible that neither "side" gave much thought to the underlying principle at stake. But "faith only" and "experience of grace" had ancestry. The shallow ripples sprang from deep-seated theories: that man was so depraved as to be incapable of responding to God; that God had elected certain individuals to be saved and would "call them" in due time by a miraculous outpouring of grace (or spirit, or faith); and that one so "saved" could not be lost. And back of that, in the very foundation of that theology, was the idea that the sovereignty of God was incompatible with a truly" "free-will" man.

This theology seems to glorify God in the ultimate sense. ALL is in His hands, man can have no part! Extreme proponents of the theory Adam sinned as a result of a decree of God — and for this difficulty they can only plead, "His ways cannot be comprehended." Despite all of their praise of God's sovereign power, they really denied that God could and did make man a free agent, and will vindicate His ultimacy in His judgment of man.

On the basis that man can have no part (is NOT free to act in response to God's will, whether from the creation, or from Adam's sin) all commands of God, all invitations of man, all conditions of salvation, must be explained away. They must mean something other than their obvious import. These folk say there is no condition which man can meet in order to his salvation. If he must do anything at all, it is "justification by works of law" — and some of "our" preachers are as 'hung up' on this flaw as any Baptist debater I have ever heard. As they dig deeper and deeper into this type of theology they adopt the terminology: "finished work," "imputation of Christ's life," etc. And bit-by-bit, evangelical concepts of "faith" invade their thinking, and find expression in their writings. (continued next page)