Failing to see this difference leads to confusion over salvation, especially when the question is raised, “What must I do to be saved?” “I believe we are saved by the blood of Jesus; you believe we are saved by baptism,” some say. The truth is, our salvation is not an “either/or” when it comes to the above.
Defining “basis” and “conditions”
Concerning our salvation from past sins, there are two major components or sides. First, there is God’s side (the basis) of our salvation. Second, there is man’s side (meeting conditions God has set forth) of our salvation. Understanding this simplifies much confusion many have with some Scripture.
The basis of anything involves the bottom or foundation of something, its principle component, its first principle or cause. Insofar as our salvation from sins is concerned, the basis of it is with God. He is the first principle or cause. Even “before the foundation of the world,” God made provisions for our redemption from sins through Jesus’ coming into the world and shedding His blood (see I Peter 1:18-20).
Understanding this makes passages that emphasize God’s love and grace as parts of our salvation simple. They do not nullify conditions on man’s part; they simply emphasize God’s part – the basis of our salvation.
For example: “But God, being rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace have ye been saved)” (Eph. 2:4-5). And another, “But when the kindness of God our savior, and his love toward man appeared, not by works done in righteousness, which we did ourselves, but according to his mercy he saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit” (Tit. 3:4-5). These passages do not teach that man is to do nothing, but they rather emphasize what God has done to provide our salvation. Qualities of God’s character such as His mercy, love, grace, and kindness are emphasized and shown to be the basis, the first principle of our salvation. Without these wonderful attributes of God, we would have no hope.
Conditions are prerequisites, stipulations, or terms upon which the fulfillment of an agreement depends. Whenever God gives terms or conditions for our salvation, these do not nullify the basis of our salvation, they simply emphasize a different aspect of it.
Understanding this makes passages that emphasize man’s part in our salvation simple.
For example, when Jesus told the apostles to preach the gospel to every creature, and anyone who believes and is baptized shall be saved (Mk. 16:15-16), belief and baptism are then conditions the Lord set forth that allow us to enjoy salvation Jesus made possible. What is its basis? Jesus, the gospel, God’s love, etc. What are conditions? In this passage, faith and baptism. God provided the basis of our salvation; our meeting His conditions makes it possible in our individual cases.
When Jesus said, “except ye believe that I am he, ye shall die in your sins” (Jno. 8:24), He did not nullify God’s grace or what He Himself would do – shed His blood; He was simply emphasizing what people need to do. When Jesus and Peter told people to “repent” (Luke 13:3; Acts 2:38), they were not discounting God’s grace or love, but were rather emphasizing what people had to do to be saved – conditions of salvation.
Therefore, the basis of our salvation (God’s part – His love, grace, kindness, Christ’s blood, etc.) does not mean that we do nothing, that our salvation is wholly of grace. It simply means that God is the original cause, the foundation, the first principle of our salvation.
Yet God has set forth conditions we must meet (man’s part – our faith in and obedience to His gospel). If that is not the case, one must admit universal salvation, which Jesus Himself denied (Matt. 7:13-14).
This means that our salvation is not based only, solely, or wholly on any one thing. But some teach that it is. While many Baptists claim the Bible as their guide and do not follow a formal creed, their own historians state that “The New Hampshire Confession was prepared by a committee appointed by the New Hampshire Baptist Convention and was adopted by that body in 1833” (The Hiscox Standard Baptist Manual, p. 144). Furthermore, from their writings we read, “We believe that the salvation of sinners is wholly of grace” (Church Manual designed for the use of Baptist Churches, J. M. Pendleton, p. 47). This denies conditions, including faith! “Wholly” means “complete, to the exclusion of anything else” (Webster). The Bible teaches otherwise.
The city of Bessemer supplies water to the church building here on Flint Hill Road. At some point years ago, those in local government made provisions for city water in this area, even before the church building was built. They likely thought it was good for the area and would stimulate growth for housing and businesses. Therefore, our having water piped in was based on someone’s forethought, and how it would improve this area (the basis of our having water). However, in order to “tap” into the water supply and continue to enjoy it, certain legal actions at the beginning had to be followed (established address, perhaps a connection fee), and monthly bills have to be paid (all of which are conditions).
Most understand that both were and are necessary for city water to be enjoyed.
The simplicity of this is equally seen in our salvation. When the apostles preached the gospel (good news about what God had done to provide our salvation) throughout the book of Acts, they also gave conditions sinners had to meet to access that great salvation God made possible.
Let us give thanks for God’s part, His grace, all Jesus has done, and for all the elements of our salvation that only God could make possible – the basis of our salvation. And let us never forget our responsibilities – conditions He gave. — Phillip Owens