Maxey - Hughes Debate

Second Rebuttal
to the First Proposition
by Michael Hughes

Thursday, October 3, 2002

First let me extend my apologies to Al, to the list and to the list moderators for the extreme delays in this response. I believe Jeri already let the list know that I have had computer problems. Finally had to get a professional fix both of them for me. Not exactly in the budget, however I should be back in shape. I apologize to all for the delay that has been created as a result.

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.

In Al's second affirmative he spends the first four to five paragraphs negating my affirmative. This is supposedly a defense of his position that God WILL save a person who has not yet been baptized.

First, I am not yet in the affirmative, so with all due respect please reserve your arguments against my affirmative until I make one. There is one statement at the conclusion of these negative arguments that I do wish to address however.

"The fact that this penitent believer missed getting into the water, perhaps just by seconds, will cost that person eternal life ... according to Michael's theology. Thus, God seemingly puts more significance on a wet body than a willing heart." This is an appeal to the emotionally absurd quite honestly. It would seem that a willing heart is perfectly acceptable doesn't it? It would be sufficient for me. It would be sufficient for any one of you reading this discussion. It certainly seems reasonable that it would be acceptable to God.

There are several things wrong with such an appeal. First and foremost we must remember that GOD'S WAY ARE NOT OUR WAYS! "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts." (Isa 55:9 KJV). "There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death." (Pro 14:12 KJV). "There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death." (Pro 16:25 KJV). "For the LORD knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish." (Psa 1:6 KJV).

Simply because a way seems right or good does NOT mean that it is acceptable to God. This will be dealt with more as I move into the affirmative.

Al says that he finds "my theology a mockery of God's grace and frankly, an affront to the revealed nature of my God, who is a God of love, mercy, and compassion." My God is all of those things as well Al, so why is my theology such an affront to you? Is it simply because the God that has revealed His will to me through the word of His Son (Heb 1:1-2 KJV) "God who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;"

In that revealing He has shown how that he has expressed His Love (John 3:16), He has expressed His compassion (2 Pet. 3:9), and He has told us how to obtain His mercy (Acts 22:16). Is Al offended by my theology only because I express the revealed will of the Father?

He states, "I KNOW MY GOD!!! The God I serve is not the Ultimate Legalist, but rather the Ultimate Lover. He's not sitting on His throne with a stop watch, awaiting that magic moment the nose breaks the surface of the water, but rather is examining the intent of the man's heart." The only way brother that you can know God is through the revealed Word, (Rom 10:17 KJV) "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." That revealed will says "If you love me, keep my commandments." (John 14:15)

He further says, "If indeed our God would torture in Hell one who came one second short of immersion, even though in his heart he had already committed to and completed the act, then to be very, very blunt, Michael, that is not a God I care to serve!" He says that such is not the kind of God that he reads about in the inspired scriptures. First of all I would say that a person that usually comes to baptism having had ample previous time to have obeyed the gospel. In such a case, it is not God that is to be blamed, rather it is the individual that has remained hard-hearted for such a long period of time. Even if that were not the case however, Al says that he does not care to serve a God that does what He says He will do. (Mark 16:16) "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned." My suggestion to Al is that he be very very careful about saying what kind of God he will serve. It seems to me that Al is trying to mold God after his image rather than allowing himself to be conformed to the image of God.

Al says that he cannot prove with scientific accuracy that God will save such a person. (He also tries to address my affirmative ahead of time by saying what I cannot prove). Al, when I am in the affimative I will not be attempting to prove spiritual truths with scientific formulas. I will however state what the scriptures say. That is also what I expect you to do in order to prove your affirmative. You say God will save a person based upon the intent of their heart. Where is the scriptural evidence to support this teaching? As of yet you have not provided a scripture one that tells us that God will save the unbaptized individual regardless of the reason that they are unbaptized. You have not yet shown a scripture that provides an exception to the scripture requirement to "be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord." Until you do so you will not be able to prove your affirmation with neither scriptural nor scientific certainty!

Al says further that he cannot prove there is a God. That is another debate entirely, but I disagree one hundred per cent. I believe that there is an ABUNDANCE of prove of the existence of God. The evidence surrounds us constantly, but, as I say, that is yet a different debate topic.

He continues, "I cannot PROVE He will save me, but I KNOW I am saved . . ." All of this is supposed to support the statement that he cannot prove with scientific accuracy the proposition that he signed. When he signed the proposition he in essence said I affirm to prove the preceding statement as true and valid. Al, is scripture NOT sufficient proof? I believe that the scriptures are the Word of God, are inspired of God, are profitable to us for doctrine, reproof, correction, INSTRUCTION IN RIGHTEOUSNESS, able to make us complete and thoroughly furnish us for every good work. (2 Tim 3:16-17)

I believe that the word of God is True, (John 17:17), I believe that Jesus Christ is the faithful and true witness, (Rev. 3:14). Therefore when that word says "be thou faithful unto death and I will give thee a crown of life." (Rev. 2:10). I believe that it is sufficient prove that my God will save me. When I read of a home that is being prepared for me that my Lord is readying in that great house of many mansions, (John 14:1-3) I believe it. It is prove enough for me. Isn't it for you Al? If it is, then scriptural proof ought to be sufficient as well to prove your affirmation, but at the risk of being redundant, let me point out once again that you have not offered scriptural evidence that would prove that God saves without the benefit of baptism.

He says that I would say that his position is highly subjective and agrees that it is. He then once again tries to debate my affirmative. I will let him see how subjective (not) my affirmative will be when I present it. Until then Al please stay in the affirmative and save your negative arguments for later.

He then cites three "examples" that I suppose are intended to support his argument, yet have absolutely nothing to do with it whatsoever. He cites Jesus dealing with the woman taking in adultery, (John 8:3-11) in which case that the woman only, (not the man) was brought before Jesus in an effort to put him into a condemning situation. If he condemned her to death, then he could be in trouble with the Romans. If he declared her unworthy of death, then he would be in trouble with the population.

Let us notice something. Jesus did NOT "not condemn" her. He recognized her guilt. He also recognized the motive behind the false hypocrites who had brought her without the man before Him. Those who had probably not enforced this law in years. So what he did is simply tell them that he that was without sin should cast the first stone. We all know what happened. Was this contrary to Jesus mission? Not at all! (John 3:17) "For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved." (Luke 19:10) "For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost."

Does this have anything to do with whether one is saved without baptism? Was the command to be baptized for the remission of sins in the name of Jesus Christ in effect at the time? The answer is no to both. Jesus told her to go and sin no more. Had baptism been required at the time he would have likely told her what she needed to do.

The other two examples, the shewbread, and "cups of wine" have nothing more to do with the issue of being saved without the benefit of baptism that does the adulterous woman. In both cases of Jesus citing these He is doing so in order to point out the hypocracy of those that clearly believed that what was done by David (and the priests) was ok, while trying to condemn the Lord's disciples for the same minor thing. This issues were not dealing with ordinances of God concerning the salvation of men. Perhaps Al, you are trying to argue that human need or circumstances justify the setting aside of spiritual law?

Actually I suspect that the answer to the above question is yes. Al says, "Most laws, both human and divine, can, and indeed have been on occasion, set aside if in so doing a greater good is obtained." He continues, "Our God has even set aside the laws of nature itself for specific purposes and to extend His grace to those in need." Set aside for the moment the fact that what God has IN THE PAST done miraculously is totally immaterial to the issue of being saved without being baptized. Assume that the statement is correct that "most laws human and divine" can be set aside (it isn't, but let's assume for the moment just for the sake of argument). Then show me where Al. Just exactly where do we find any evidence whatsoever of God setting aside baptism being absolutely necessary for the salvation of one's soul? Please, in all kindness, do not give subjective viewpoints, tell me what you feel, what you think, what you know without any evidence. Give me strong scriptural evidence that would allow me to teach that God has said one can be saved under certain circumstances without being baptized.

Al then asks about one of the two for instances that he closed his first affirmative with. He asks about the one who had been plunged beneath the water, but whose nose had not yet broken the surface of the water. He is devastated because another brother said that he would contend that such a one be eternally lost. He also asks about one that died before being lowered into the water. In both cases this is nothing more than a base appeal to the emotions. Any person with feelings would want to hesitate at least then perhaps say "Well sure. God would of course save them." I would remind you once again. Our ways are NOT God's way. (Isa. 55:9). He asks if I would extend grace to one and not the other or to neither? He states that he sincerely wants a response and is looking forward to it. He states that this would tell "us" something about my view of the Father. Well, brother Maxey my response is this. Grace is not mine to either extend or to withhold. My responsibility is not to extend or withhold grace, rather it is to preach the word of God without adulteration. I am not to add to nor to take away from the word, the will of God, that has been revealed to us. My view of the Father is that (2 Pet 1:3) "According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:" and I am to uphold that and to preach that with all longsuffering and doctrine. I have not seen anywhere in that revealed will that will allow me to say the God saves the unbaptized. Until or unless somebody shows me such authority I will not take it upon myself to say that God's grace will extend or not extend anywhere, but I certainly will not take it upon myself to bestow God's grace where he does not say it will go!

Brother Maxey then returns to Abraham which he truly believes to be his "honeypot" in his endeavor to support his proposition. He doesn't like that James says that Abraham offered Isaac. I am simply not going to get into a quibble about this. James said he was offered. Al says that because he wasn't actually sacrifice then he was not offered. James is inspired. Who do you think we should believe.

In all fairness though I suppose that it should be recognized that Al's point is that normally an offering involved a cutting of the throat of that which was offered. Abraham did not do that. He was prevented by God from doing so. Al said in his first affirmative that "a command of God not obeyed is still a command from God not obeyed." Al did not deal with my response concerning the negation of commands. I would like to hear a response to that. Al did not respond to my argument that God has never negated the command to be baptized.

I would like to now add one more point in regards to Abraham. He still does not help Al. In fact, please note this, the only thing that Abraham proves is that if God spoke to a person being baptized and said, "Michael, Michael." "Enter not thy body into the water, nor plungeth thy body into its depths: for now I know that thou fearest God seeing that you have immediately sought water in order to not withhold from me your obedience." Then, and only then, would there be a parallel to Abraham. Until then? Baptism is still the means by which man is saved.

Some things to consider. If Al's proposition is correct. Then why were Nadab and Abihu (Numbers 3:4) whose intent was surely good struck down? What about Uzzah who with good intent reached out to steady the ark of the covenant? (2 Sam 6:6-7). What about Uzziah who only wanted to burn incense before God? (2 Chron. 26:14-23). All of these were individuals who had good intentions, were wanting to please God, yet everyone of them died. Why? Jesus answered that question in Mt. 7:21-23, "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity."

Finally, one more question. I have a son in law who is Baptist. Several years ago I had the opportunity to discuss the Gospel plan of salvation. He came to an understanding of what the scriptures taught, then asked well isn't that just exactly what I did? I then explained the difference between Baptist (denominational) baptism and Biblical baptism. He then asked, "Well I can't be faulted for having been taught wrong. I intended to please God and that is why I did it. Isn't that good enough? I had to tell him that it was not satisfactory to God and he is still not a Christian today, but there is hope that he might be.

Had it been Al that he was talking to since Al believes what he is affirming here about intent he would have to have told him yes. Then we would have one that thinks he is right before God that is just as lost as the worst infidel and very little chance of convincing him of his danger.

Thank-you for your attendance. I apologize once again for the dreadful delays. I pray that the Lord be with you as you endeavor for His cause.