From 33 AD to today (assuming you are reading this before the Rapture of the church) a man is saved from hell by receiving Jesus Christ as his personal Saviour after he admits he is a sinner and that Christ died on the cross in his place and rose again three days later. I don’t mean to make this complicated. We usually just say that a man is saved by grace through faith. After this a man is born again, given eternal life, is eternally secure, and will go home to heaven to be with Jesus Christ at death or the Rapture. If a man believes anything else, he will go to hell and burn for forever.
That is good Bible doctrine. A good Independent Baptist will agree with everything except the first line. The average Independent Baptist church teaches that all men from Adam to the last man saved in the Millennium is saved “by grace through faith.” Here, the Independent Baptists are dead wrong.
The only way to study the Bible is to use the system known as Dispensationalism. Dispensationalism can mean many things but it is the God ordained method to keep the Bible from contradicting itself and it fulfills II Timothy 2:15. This verse commands Christians to “study” and to “divide.” Dispensationalism does this without changing one word in the Bible. One problem that the average Independent Baptist will have is that this doctrine is not an inherently Baptist doctrine. In fact, it mainly comes from John Nelson Darby and his group called the Plymouth Brethren. Other Christians got a hold of these doctrines and methods and continued to study. C.I. Scofield (Congregational and Presbyterian) and his buddies (Methodist, Reformed Episcopalian, Presbyterian, and Baptist) published their study Bible which seemed to push for a different way of salvation in the Old Testament. Clarence Larkin explored to implications of the doctrine even further. But Larkin was a Baptist. Men (including “bad” Independent Baptists) who read his books, like Dr. Peter S. Ruckman, finally began to admit that the Bible taught that, outside of the Church Age, men were saved by grace, but works were involved. Nevertheless, truth is truth; regardless of who came up with the idea and even if it does not make you a good Independent Baptist.
Without being dispensational, a man will have to dump the crucial doctrine of eternal security. Samson lost the Holy Spirit and then got it back. Saul lost his salvation and then went to hell. David sinned mightily and prayed that God would not take his spirit from him. Finally, in the Tribulation (Time of Jacob’s Sorrows), if a man trusts Christ and then gets the Mark of the Beast, he goes to hell no matter what. So, eternal security is not true in the OT and the Tribulation. Clearly, salvation outside of the Church Age is different and a study on eternal security will prove that.
Let me ask this, if Noah had not built the ark, would he have gone to heaven when he died? Of course he would not. Without the ark, Noah would have died and gone to hell. Is building an ark a work? Of course. Therefore, works were part of Noah’s salvation. Remember: this is Genesis, not 2016. This has nothing to do with how to get to heaven today. You would have to wrest the text to make it seem like Noah was saved apart from works.
Along the same lines, look at Abraham. Most Independent Baptists are keen to bring him up as an example of salvation always being by grace through faith. They quote Romans 4:3 which is a reference to Genesis 15:6. Paul is saying (why I say it like this will be explained later) that Abraham’s salvation is like ours in how he obtained imputed righteousness. He obtained this by faith. But what, I ask, was his faith in? Read Genesis 15 to find out. It says that Abraham is going to have a son and his descendants will be like the stars of heaven. NOTHING is said about Christ dying for him or rising from the grave. His faith was not in the Gospel at all. If a man in 2016 believes that God will give him a son and that his descendants will be like the stars of heaven, he will not get any righteousness. They are completely different situations.
But there is more. When you get to the book of James, you see that Abraham was not JUSTIFIED in Genesis 15. And when he was, it was not by faith. James 2:21 says that Abraham was justified by works in Genesis 22. More than a dozen years after he had been imputed righteousness by faith (albeit in something besides the Gospel), Abraham is justified by works. This is not like the salvation of a Christian at all. When a sinner trusts Jesus Christ and believes the Gospel, he is imputed righteousness and justified (Romans 4:24,25) at that exact instant. There is no time lapse in between. There was with Abraham. Many Independent Baptists will try and say that the justification of Abraham in James 2 is just “proving that you are what you say you are before men.” In this case, it would mean Abraham proving that he was a “Friend of God.” But then look at the example of Rahab in vs 25. Would anyone be so foolish as to think that Rahab PROVED she was a harlot by protecting the Hebrew spies? Any interpretation of the text must take both examples into account. But the average Independent Baptist just pretends that Abraham, Rahab, and our salvation were all the same. This does not work. Abraham and Rahab had faith involved in their salvation, but it was not a faith in any way, shape, or form like our faith in Jesus Christ and the Gospel.
In the Tribulation or the Time of Jacob’s Sorrows, salvation will also be different that in the Church Age. As already stated, if man in the Tribulation takes the Mark of the Beast, he goes to hell, regardless of his faith in Jesus Christ. In the books of Hebrews through Revelation, God shows that men need faith and works to get to heaven. This doctrine is clearly stated in James 2. Most will run to Hebrews 11 to teach about faith as opposed to works, but this chapter teaches nothing of the sort. Noah, Abraham, Moses, etc. had faith and they used it to do works. This matches Tribulation salvation completely. In the book of Revelation, faith and works are clearly shown in 12:17 and 14:12. Differences about between salvation in the Church Age and salvation in the Tribulation, but that will not stop most Independent Baptists from believing that salvation has always been the same.
A final example of the different ways of salvation is the disciples in the Gospels. These men were called by the Lord Jesus Christ to minister. They were hand selected preachers. Yet according to the doctrine of most Independent Baptists, they were not even saved. Look at Mark 16. Jesus Christ had risen in verse 9. The disciples had already been preaching for a number of years, but in verse 11 and again in verse 13, they do not believe that Jesus has risen from the dead. Folks, that is the Gospel (I Cor 15:3,4). According to Paul’s epistles, they are not saved and are on their way to hell. The only way to handle this is to recognize the truth that they had been saved according to another way of salvation. It is hard to tell exactly when the Gospel, as preached by Paul, came into full effect, but by Acts 8 the Ethiopian eunuch is believing it. Having said that, all would agree that is in full effect now, but to put that on the men before Acts 8 is to end up with God-called apostles who are lost and going to hell. That is the foolishness that you get into, when you try and read NT Church Age doctrine all through the Bible, as most Independent Baptists are wont to do.
We live in a day and age when the Independent Baptists are falling away to many perverse doctrines. One of the main heresies is that the church is going into the Tribulation. One way to prove this wrong is to show that there is a faith and works setup in the Tribulation. This stands in direct contrast to our salvation in the Church which is by grace through faith. But the average Independent Baptist will not allow this, though the Bible clearly shows it. It is crazy how the rejection of one clear doctrine leads to the acceptance of more and more heretical doctrine. This will become more and more prevalent in the Independent Baptist churches until the day that Jesus Christ calls all the saved home; before the Tribulation.