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Proposition I

The Scriptures teach that all for whom Christ died will be saved, or receive remission of sins, without the preached or written word, or any condition on their part.”

Affirmative: J. D. Holder                                               Negative: Gus Nichols



Brethren Moderators, Mr. Nichols, Ladies and Gentlemen:

I am delighted to have this great opportunity. It is a great privilege to come into your midst, and meet together as friends and neighbors, under the great principles of liberty that we have always enjoyed and which we should not abuse, to discuss certain issues existing between the two respective churches, which discussion we now begin, as we have agreed.

And I wish to renew your minds to the reading of the proposition we are to discuss this evening: “The Scriptures teach that all for whom Christ died will be saved, or receive remission of sins, without the preached or written word, or any condition on their part.” I am to affirm that, and Mr. Nichols is to deny it.

One of the rules by which we have agreed to be governed demands that we define the proposition: “The proposition shall be so clearly defined that there can be no misunderstanding respecting it.” By “The Scriptures,” I mean the sixty-six books which go to make up the Old and New Testaments, the one great Book we call our “Bible.” I mean by “teach,” that in the Old and New Testaments it is clearly expressed or implied, so as to teach the things that enter into the proposition I purpose to prove. I mean that the nature and design of the shedding of the blood of Christ in his act of obedience to the law of God has virtue in it, has merit in it. And he is so pure in his life, it will save, as it is applied unto the hearts of alien sinners. It will save from the guilt of sins. And I mean by “remission,” to pay a sufficient price to deliver from the guilt of sin. Now, in the salvation of an alien sinner there shall be (and I shall make, from time to time) a distinction between obedience by Christ and his work—saving the sinner from guilt, and then our obedience to him. (I want Mr. Nichols to get this.) There is a distinction in being saved from guilt, and then obeying certain commands and abstaining from the wrong, and walking in the right, and therefore being saved from this over here that is wrong. In the path of obedience, often conditional commands are given. I want that clearly understood. My position is, that Christ, and Christ only, saves from the guilt of sins. There is nothing which takes the place, or can take the place, of the shed blood, the merit that is in the obedience and righteousness of Christ in the shedding of his blood, to save from the guilt of sin. By “remission,” I mean the nature of the price paid by Christ for the sinner’s guilt. And that word (as I understand it) has reference to payment, paying the sin-debt, remitting, or the offering of it to God and to his law, and remitting, satisfying the law in its demands. In salvation here, Jesus meets the conditions, or is the means that reaches the end. Then, I do not believe preaching the gospel, preaching the Bible, is the procuring end; that is, it is not a condition or a means to this end. It has conditions and it holds out means to certain ends, that is true; but it is not a means to save from the guilt of sins. It is designed to publish how this is done. It is designed to publish the good news of how it is done, and to give knowledge and enlightenment as to how it is done. “And not on the sinner’s part:” my position is, salvation is through Christ, but it is not conditional on the part of the sinner. The conditions are met in Jesus Christ. Now let us go on.

Here is an issue, and I mean to keep it clearly before our listeners. I want you to understand just what we mean, and understand our views, as we present them. There is no issue in the fact that something must be done to save the sinner. The sinner is lost, he is an alien, and lost. And something must he done; but my position is that ‘Christ does that work. The Holy Spirit does that work. Then that work puts the individual in a new relation to God, and a new relation to the law of God. Then there are conditions from there on for him to meet as a child of God in obedience. So, the issue is: does the sinner work and secure salvation by so doing? Elder Nichols, as I understand his position, would say, “Yes,” and I would say, “No.” Is the sinner saved from the guilt of sin through Christ, or by the work of God? I would say, “Yes.” My friend, Mr. Nichols, would say, “Well, it takes something in addition to that. That will not quite reach the end.”

Is salvation from the guilt of sins conditional? Is it conditioned upon the work of God, through Christ, his righteousness, and his obedience to the demands of the law, and then the application of it, in the work of salvation, giving the sinner the benefit of it, in making him a child of God.

Now, I wish to discuss the first part of this proposition. It is much better, I think, to do so, because it holds in it two great subjects. One, the nature of the atonement of Christ, the nature of his death, his sufferings, and the sacrifice made for the guilt of sins. And I present for my opponent’s consideration, as my first argument, St. John—the tenth chapter and the fourteenth and fifteenth verses: “I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, arid am known of mine. As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep.” Then quoting from the 26th through the 29th verses, “But ye believe not, because ye are not my sheep, as I said unto you. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life: and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.”

Now we have here, “I am the good shepherd” and “the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.” “I lay down my life for the sheep,” as is stated in another place in this same lesson. Now let us notice Matt. 25:31-34. “When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory; and before him shall be gathered all nations; and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats; and shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left; then, shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”

Now, we have here a: lesson. After while down through the scene of time (we must yet wait for its unfolding), the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ is an event that prophecy must fulfill, and we believe it will. When the Son of man shall come the second time—Now Brother Nichols, by reading the Bible, we find there is going to be a separation of the righteous from the wicked. I have some questions here for him, and pertinent to the whole discussion. He can answer tonight, or tomorrow night, just so he answers during the debate.

1. Does the term ‘sheep’ and ‘goats,’ as in Matt. 25:33, embrace all the race of Adam?

2. Does the term ‘sheep’ embrace all that will inherit the kingdom at the second coming of Christ?

3. Does the term ‘sheep’ embrace only those who obey the gospel?

4. Is prayer heard of God when not offered by faith?

(Passes the questions to Mr. Nichols.)

Now then, my argument is that Jesus said: “I lay down my life for the sheep.” At his second coming he is going to divide the righteous from the wicked as the shepherd divides the sheep from the goats, and he will place the ‘sheep’ on his right hand, so says our Saviour, but the ‘goats’ on the left. And he will say unto them on his right hand, “Come ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” Now, the personal pronoun “you” here takes the noun “sheep” for its antecedent. The noun “sheep” is equal to the number for whom the Saviour laid down his life. The number for whom he laid down his life is equal to the number who shall be on his right hand at his second coming. Therefore all for whom Christ died will be saved. That argument will not be answered. Just put it down; I have said it and I am man enough to take it back when it is answered.

All right; my next argument shall be based upon the fact that Christ in his offering for sins to redeem, to reconcile God, to propitiate for sins and his work in this relation, was to stand in the place of those for whom he died as a substitute offering. All right, to “redeem” simply means to pay the price sufficient to release, or to set at liberty, or let go. I call your attention to Isa. 51:11, “Therefore the redeemed of the Lord shall return and come to Zion with singing and with everlasting joy, and everlasting joy shall be upon their heads and they shall obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and mourning shall flee away.” Now notice this: the redeemed of the Lord shall come to a place, not here, unless Mr. Nichols can give us an example where a man is rejoicing all the time, while he lives. And that still is not long enough. He is going to rejoice everlastingly. Now, if you take the position that “the redeemed” here means both the saved and the lost, you have the damned in hell with “everlasting rejoicing.” There it is! We are told here that the redeemed of the Lord, the ones whom he redeemed are going to come to this heavenly Zion, with everlasting joy upon their heads, and sorrow and mourning shall flee away.

But how many did he redeem? That is the question. The gentlemen may come along and say, he redeems when a man meets certain conditions. All right, I will offset that here with the word of God. “Neither by the blood of goats and calves but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.” (Heb. 9:12.) Now that is not eternal redemption which is reversed. That is not something which reverses, the word “eternal,” there. It is everlasting redemption for those whom he redeemed. Did he just redeem the Lord’s people? I ‘11 shake hands with him on that. Did he redeem also those who will go to hell? Now, I have always thought that place is a place of punishment, instead of a place of rejoicing. Let us notice that: it is to be taken seriously. It is the burning words of God’s eternal truth, and not my words.

Let us notice a little further. “This man after he had offered one sacrifice,” and the word “one” is set over against the many that were made under the law: just one sacrifice here. “By one offering”—this man after he had offered “one sacrifice for sins forever sat down on the right hand of God.” (Heb. 10, and I am quoting on through verses 12, 13, 14, and then 18, skipping down in my last quotation to verse 18.) “From henceforth expecting till his enemies . . . .“BE SAVED?” No. But until his enemies “be made his footstool.” Now here are “enemies,” set over against the ones for whom he made this sacrifice. And there is going to be a time when all the things which are enemies to Christ and to the work of Christ, and to the mission of Christ, God’s enemies are going to be subdued and brought in subjection, or put under his feet. “For by one offering he has perfected”—all of Adam‘s race forever? No, mind you it does not read that way. “For by one offering he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified.” And my Brother has it in cold print, the ink is cold (and I agree) that the word “sanctify” means “set apart.” Here is someone set apart to obtain something, and Jesus Christ made the offering for those who were set apart. Set apart to the obtaining of it. Now, “Where remission of these is—where the remission of the sins of those who are set apart to obtain salvation is—that is exactly what it means: “Where the remission of these is, there is no more offering for sins.” If the gentleman will come up here and say that Christ did not remit sins, I shall take this text and make it prove (in the very language of it) that there is need of another offering for sins.

All right, I call your attention to another argument, and my citation is in the 5th chapter of Romans, verses 8 through 10. “God commended his love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then” —more than this—watch the certainty of the application now: “much more then being now justified” legally, “by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more being reconciled we shall be saved by his life.” I call the gentleman‘s attention here to some language; this is strong language, yet it is simple language. Every beginner in the English language in this audience can understand what I mean. Notice here these personal pronouns. Watch the personal pronouns, Christ died for “US.” “WE” were sinners. “WE” were enemies to God. “WE” shall be saved from wrath through him.

WE” shall be saved by his life. There is not a man in this world who can answer the argument, unless you can show one or those “WE‘s” —personal pronouns embraces more people thou the other. And I challenge you to the task. And if this is true, that “we shall be saved” is just as strong as “he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved,” and I believe both texts. “Shall be saved”—saved through faith, repentance, confession and baptism? “No.” “We shall be saved from wrath through HIM.” I am astonished that a man would get behind the sacred desk and deny this; we will see whether he will or not.

All right; Christ, in dying for our sins, “was made to be sin for us” as a substitute offering, and took the place of the sinner. “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” (2 Cor. 5:21.) Again, he died for those who will be saved, and his design is to bring to God those whom he died for. By divine appointment they are to obtain salvation—through faith, repentance, confession and baptism? No, Sir, to obtain salvation through Jesus Christ. All right. “God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with God.” I see a man preaching a funeral. He talks about the people who will be alive at the second coming of Christ. Now perhaps he will say that means people back yonder, that it does not mean people now, it means people back there, talking personally to somebody. But this is brought right on up to the second coming of Christ. He died for his people, whether they are alive when he comes the second time, or whether they are sleeping in death. “That they should live together with God.” There is the language, and there is not enough scholarship in all the educational institutions in this world to overthrow it. I am talking about the power of language—the power of speech, Bible language. All right.

Now again. (This is in 1 Thess. 5:9-10.) This righteousness, salvation by the obedience of one, and by the righteousness above mentioned, his righteousness, this righteousness which saves, is by “the obedience of one” and is declared to be his righteousness. I call your attention to Romans 5:19. “By the disobedience of one, many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one, shall many be made righteous”—“many” be made righteous. I am not saying how many. But the “many” who are made righteous, here in this text, are made righteous “by the obedience of one.” “By the obedience of one.” Made righteous by one. Certainly we can agree that it takes righteousness to save. Let us go to some expressions here to prove that. “Brethren, my heart‘s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they might be saved. For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own”—look out now, Friend Nichols, you might try to establish some righteousness of your own here directly. “Going about to establish their own righteousness and have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. “(Rom. 10:1-4.) It is the righteousness of “one” that saves. “And have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.” “For Christ is the end of the law—.” Incidentally that little word “the,” that definite article “the” is not in the original; and it can read this way, and stand correct, “Christ is the end of law for righteousness to every one that believeth.” The end of law. Made righteous by one, the one who died to save, the one who paid the redemptive price, the one mediator between God and men. I call your attention to I Tim. 2:5, “There is one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus.” This man, before this debate is over, will have the sinner mediating by what he does, and then that will go all the way to heaven and account for his salvation in the presence of God. Now, I know “one” does not mean “two.” “One” mediator. And, listen: that word “mediator” simply means this—Christ Is the condition of salvation. Christ is the medium or means of salvation. Christ and his obedience is that which saves. This is my position.

His precious blood was shed to remit sins. (Matt. 26:28.) “This is my blood of the New Testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” He shed his blood nearly 2,000 years ago. If that did not pay the sin debt, if that did not pay the price for the guilt of sins, then I want my friend to come along and tell us what else does. Look out now, I will make your faith take an object right here before this intelligent audience when you do it! Then sir, he gave himself a ransom for many. That ransom price was the redemptive price of his sacrifice and shed blood. (Matt. 26:28.)

He either did, or he did not, redeem those for whom he died. Heb. 9:12, “He entered in once into the holy place having obtained eternal redemption for us.” He either did, or he did not, remit sins. Rom. 3:24-25, “Justified by faith through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus, whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood.” There is righteousness to “declare his righteousness for the remission of sins which are past through the forbearance of God.” My friends, that is the only text in the New Testament that tells what remits past sins.

All right. Again, “Once into the holy place,” “One sacrifice for sins,” “By one offering for sins” he perfected forever those who are set apart to it. I am not trying to tell you how many are set apart to it, but I can tell you this: it will be all who will be housed in heaven, and live with God. It will be every one in this great audience who loves God, or ever has, or ever will love God. It will be every one who in spirit has rejoiced in a Saviour’s love. There are no state lines, denominational lines, nor sectarian lines, the blood of Jesus Christ covers the sins of all the family of God. That is what the great word “atonement” means. All right. The sacrifice—the one sacrifice he made, is set over against the many made under the law. The sacrifices made under the law were typical and only embraced the Israelites, or national Israel. National Israel was the type of the family of God. There is not, in the Old Testament (now if he can find one he will, he will use it to refute what I say here)—there is not a lesson in the Old Testament of a universal sacrifice for sins. Not one. I will make it a little stronger: there is not one given us in the New Testament. Let us see if he will throw that away! Now; I placed myself out on a limb there, did I not?

“If ye were of the world the world would love its own; but ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world; therefore the world hateth you.” (St. John 15:19.) Now here are some set here in contra-distinction to the “world,” they are not of the “world.” The very next thing I am going to hear when Brother Nichols gets up here is something about how broad the word “world” is. And I am going to tell you now, I will not have to hand him Webster’s unabridged dictionary. I have it defined, and it is written down here, and I am going to read it on him when he does. Mark my words.

“Keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one even as we are one.” (St. John 17:11.) “Father I will that they also whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am, and that they may behold my glory.” (St. John 17:34.) When Jesus stood at the grave of Lazarus, in his prayer to the Father, our Lord said this: “And Jesus lifted his eyes to heaven and said, Father, I thank thee, that thou hast heard me.” Now listen, “I know that thou hearest me always.” Is not that a wonderful thing! I may pray: my prayers may not go higher than my head. But here is the interceder’s prayer, always heard. (St. John 11:42,43,44.)

Moderator: Rapped for time.

Holder:    Thank you, ladies and gentlemen.

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