Eternal or Timely/Position or Condition

When I was a boy listening to preaching from Sunday to Sunday or at big meetings, I would hear preachers use words like “eternal,” “timely,” “position,” and “condition.”  Most of the time, they were highlighting what a specific verse’s frame of reference was.  They would call it an eternal or timely text and discuss whether the thought pertained to our condition or position.  For a long time, I didn’t realize how unique and precious those preaching points were.  There is – to my best observation and study – no thought or discussion point that separates us from everyone else quite like this one.

To put it simply, some portions of Scripture deal with our eternal position in Christ, while others discuss our obligations in time and conditions that we should strive to meet.  Other orders of people believe in concepts as we do.  You can find people that believe in election, predestination, a Capella singing, unleavened bread and wine at communion, and many other things in common with us.  However, I know of no other group of people that distinguish between the eternal position and timely conditions like we do.  When we come across texts such as being elected and predestinated before time began (Ephesians 1:4-5), we understand that to be eternal position as we didn’t have an existence at that point.  But, when we read about good works that we should walk in (Ephesians 2:10), we understand from the context that such conditions to be met are predicated upon a rich position that we had nothing to do with. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

Invariably, the question will arise, “How do you Old Baptists know that every time conditions are laid out, they don’t have eternal consequences?”  In other words, how do we know the declaration of the gospel, our response to it, baptism, confession, belief, etc. are not of eternal consequence.  The simple answer is the context lays it down for us.  Another equally reasonable explanation is that such texts must be in a different frame of reference else they would fly in the face of texts that talk of our inability to do those things without the grace of God being first bestowed upon us. (John 6:37-44) Since no verses of the Bible contradict one another, conditions to be met by us must be in a different vein than those positional texts that describe the work as wholly of God Himself.

How does this translate to us today?  Or more importantly, how should it translate to us today?  One of the chief and choicest ways that it lands it that of rest and comfort.  We can lay down at night supremely thankful for the Lord’s tender grace to pity us when none other could or would.  The rest we find is that which declares that when all around us may go astray, this stands intact: the foundation of the Lord standeth sure, the Lord knoweth them that are His. (II Timothy 2:19) The response and timely condition to be met is inescapable: let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity. 

Another precious way this rubber meets the road today in our life is that this rest we find also has a labour that we engage in knowing that the outcome of the war is not determined by our success.  It should be easy to fight with the knowledge that the Captain of our salvation has already won the war.  Yet, we still find ways to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in our daily struggles.  On the other hand, our foe knows he’s lost the war (Revelation 12), but he still fights every day trying to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.  Ironic isn’t it that one acts like they might lose knowing they’ve won (us), while he acts like he might win knowing that he’s lost (Satan).  

Beloved, our warfare is accomplished, our iniquity is pardoned, and the Lord has rendered double to us for all of our iniquities.  What a position!  What’s the output?  A labour of rest.  What are the conditions to meet?  Departing from iniquity.  Because God has worked in us to create a perfect position of holiness and righteousness, we need to work this salvation out in our lives to create good timely situations and conditions of purity and verity.  I’m thankful that He has given the grace to place us in His hand never to be removed, but I’m also thankful that in this life and time world, He comforts His people on the path of righteousness so that labour is sweet, rest is precious, and righteousness contains a majesty the world knows nothing of.  Praise be to Him for His marvelous ways and doings with His beloved.

In Hope,

Bro Philip

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