Maxey - Hughes Debate

First Rebuttal
to the First Proposition
by Michael Hughes

Friday, September 13, 2002

Please note that any capitalizing in this article is to indicate emphasis and is NOT intending to convey shouting ... Thank-you.

PROPOSITION: If a repentant, confessing believer in Jesus Christ has fully committed himself/herself to being obedient to Christ Jesus in baptism, but dies unexpectedly prior to actually complying with that command (due to circumstances beyond his/her control), God's grace will cover that person, and they will receive the gift of eternal salvation, based on the genuine intent of their heart at the time of their death.

The above is the proposition that Al signed. With that signature he has taken on the responsibility to prove that one is saved, will receive the gift of eternal salvation, without the benefit of having had their sins washed away. That is a tall order.

In a response on this very list to Ira Mikell, Al turned down a proffered proposition from Ira with the following statement, "The point of MY proposal was simply to demonstrate God COULD, by grace, based on special circumstances, regard the INTENT OF HEART as equal to obedience in extreme cases." (Emp. Al Maxey -- exact cut and paste). That proposal is the very proposition that Al and I are now debating.

Let me assure you Bro. Maxey, it is not your job to prove in this debate, nor am I interested in this debate about what God COULD do. You must prove that one "will receive the gift of eternal salvation based on the genuine intent of their heart."

On one occasion as I was teaching the plain Bible teaching concerning God's creation of the universe and all that is in it within a six literal day time frame, one of the students approached me after the class and asked this question. "Couldn't God have taken thousands and thousands of years to create the world?"

My reply was, "Yes, He could have. He also could have created it in six seconds. The question however is not what God COULD do, but what God SAID HE DID!"

The issue here is the same brother. The issue is not what God COULD do, but what God said He WOULD do!

In the same response to Ira, Bro. Maxey declines the proposition with the following statement, "I will be unable to debate Ira on this for one simple reason: He and I are in agreement on the two propositions, as stated. I fully believe baptism is a necessary part of God's requirement for salvation." He also says, "I don't deny at all the need for baptism or the obligation we all have to preach it and require immediate compliance to it."

He then in his first affirmative spends the first two paragraphs after his defining of terms explaining how "I firmly believe baptism is a biblically required response . . ." He states, ". . . it would be foolish of me to deny the place of baptism in God's expectations of those who desire to come to Him for spiritual cleansing and eternal salvation."

However Al, by his own definition not mine, IS being foolish, and Al IS denying the place of baptism in God's expectations. He does NOT believe that baptism is necessary!

Please note:

  1. Either Al does believe baptism is necessary for salvation to be obtained, or Al does not believe baptism is necessary for salvation to be obtained.

  2. Al is affirming a proposition which describes one obtaining salvation without baptism being necessary.

  3. Therefore Al does not believe baptism is necessary for salvation.

You cannot have it both ways Al. Either you do not believe that baptism is necessary for salvation, in which case the burden of proof is upon you in this debate to show the scriptural foundation for such a position, or you do believe that it is necessary in which case you need to concede the debate, stop this foolishness, and repent of teaching a doctrine that is another gospel.

However, I really do not expect that so I do have some questions that I would like Al to answer in his next affirmative.

  1. If God's grace saves one that has not been baptized then is not the following true?

    • He saves one whose sin has NOT been washed away (Acts 22:16).
    • He saves one who has NOT put on Christ (Gal. 3:27).
    • He saves one who has NOT been born again (John 3:3-5).
    • He saves one who has NOT become a new Creature (Rom. 6:3-5).
    • He saves one who has NOT been buried with Christ (Rom. 6:3-5).

      • (I probably could list more, but will save them for my Affirmative article)

  2. If all of the above is true, then at what point does that individual obtain salvation?

    • Is it when he first believes?
    • Is it when he first repents?
    • Is it when he first confesses?
    • Is it just before he dies?
    • Is it when in the process of dying?
    • Is it after he dies?

Al, please respond to these questions with the scriptural support for your answers.

Al then spends another three paragraphs discussing the place of grace citing such passages as Rom. 3:24, Eph. 2:8-9 and Rom. 5:1-2. He states, "If salvation . . . must be procured by human effort . . . , NONE will find salvation."

The ellipses have not changed the meaning of what Al has said here. He tells us that if salvation must be procured by human effort that none will find salvation. His supposed support for this is the above-mentioned verses, yet I don't find where these verses teach this doctrine at all.

They do teach that by grace we are saved through faith and that this grace is a gift of God not a result of our doing something to cause the grace (Eph. 2:8-9). The very fact though that this passage says that we are saved through faith tells us that there is something we did to be saved!

James tells us that faith without works is dead, James 2:17; 20, that a man is justified by works and not by faith only, James 2:24, that works makes faith perfect, James 2:22.

In fact my friends, speaking of James 2:22, guess who James was referring to? Yes, Abraham! The very man that Bro. Maxey says God justified Abraham in spite of what he did not do. In fact he claimed that Abraham did not keep a command of God, yet despite that God justified him.

Brethren, friends, take careful note what an inspired writer said about the matter! (James 2:21-22 KJV) "Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?"

James says that Abraham was justified because of WHAT HE DID, not in spite of what he DID NOT DO as brother Maxey claims.

Brother Maxey, is it not perhaps also foolish to claim that if salvation must be procured by human effort none will find salvation?

If that is true, then what about repentance, is that something we do? What about confession, is that something that we do? In fact brother Maxey, belief is something that we do. Are you ready to chuck all of that as useless? If the above is true, you must!

What about your claim that baptism is essential for salvation? Is that not something that we do? Of course we have already established that you do not really believe what you claim or you would not be upholding this "foolishness."

I believe James deals with brother Al's use of Abraham as his justification quite sufficiently. However, there is at least one other point, perhaps two, that I would like to make that shows that Abraham's offering of Isaac is not a support of Al's proposition.

First let's look at Hebrews 11:17-19, "By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son. Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called: Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure."

Now Al says, "did Abraham actually obey that command? No, he did not." What was Abraham told to do? (Gen 22:2 KJV) "And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of."

What did the Hebrew writer (inspired) say Abraham did? (Heb 11:17 KJV) "By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son." Now, which one are we to accept. Al says Abraham did not obey God, i.e., he did not offer his son. The Hebrew writer says that he "offered up Isaac," i.e., he obeyed God.

Secondly let's look at why Abraham when offering. His son did not have to carry through with the sacrifice. Plain and simple GOD TOLD HIM NOT TO! Al does not like this solution. He says that Abraham was "providentially hindered." No, he was not. Read the following, (Gen. 22:11-12 KJV) "And the angel of the LORD called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I. And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me."

Al says, "Some will seek to get around this issue by suggesting it was GOD who stopped Abraham from completing the action. That is true. But, a command of God not obeyed is still a command of God not obeyed." There is a problem with this however. God negated the command to sacrifice Isaac when he told Abraham "lay not thy hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him." With the former command negated by God the current command was the only command Abraham needed to obey.

Now my friends this is why Abraham and his son Isaac, a very special, once only in the history of man case, does NOT work to prove Al's proposition. God has NEVER NEGATED THE COMMAND TO BE BAPTIZED FOR ANYONE! Mt. 16:16 is still the command. John 3:3-5 is still the command. Mt 28:19 is still the command. Acts 2:38 is still the command. Acts 22:16 is still the command. Al, nowhere -- and I mean nowhere -- is there a direct command, an example, or even a necessary inference that God has negated the command to be baptized since it was given nearly two thousand years ago.

You have not yet proved your proposition. You have two more tries. I look forward to your second affirmative.

To the readers I would issue a request. Never in my knowledge, nor in the knowledge of anyone that I know has a person to my knowledge passed away on the way to or in the process of being baptized. If anyone knows of a verifiable case in which this has happened please e-mail me with the verifiable info. Congregation, preacher, town, person's involved, contact numbers, etc. I thank you.