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Proving Time Salvation PDF Print E-mail
Written by David Montgomery   

Time Salvation - Defined.

Elder Afton Richards wrote a pamphlet in 1956 entitled, "Why I Am A Primitive Baptist". On page 21, he gives a definition of time salvation. Elder Richards says, "Primitive Baptists read the Scriptures with the desire of getting the harmony taught therein, and they enjoy much comfort that others do not get. When salvation refers to what God does for man without action on his part, and by the meritorious work of Christ, they know and realize that it refers to salvation in its highest order; preparing one to live with God in glory after death. When salvation is mentioned in connection with the acts of men; or man is to perform some action to bring about a better situation for himself, they know it is to be to the child of God (one freed from the guilt of sin), and refers to a timely deliverance, or something that is for man's benefit while he lives here in the world."

Elder Len Dalton is his book, "Searchlights from the Roman Letter", a very excellent thesis on the book of Romans, published in 1967  wrote, "we need to remember that the  gospel is the power of God unto salvation because that it (the Gospel), the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith. In other words, there is a Gospel salvation because there is a revelation of the righteousness of God in the Gospel that it becomes the power of God unto salvation."

The Black Rock Address of 1832 gives an excellent admonition: "Brethren, while we rejoice in the glorious truth that salvation is of the Lord, may it be manifested by our lives that we are under the influence of that grace which teacheth that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously and godly in this present world." This is what I would define as time salvation.

Part 1: Oral History

I was raised in a Primitive Baptist home; my Dad (Hugh Montgomery) is a minister in the Primitive Baptist church. My Grandfather (J.M. Fannin) and my Great Grandfather (J.T. Fannin) were also Primitive Baptist ministers. I have 2 brothers who are Primitive Baptist ministers: Mike and Tim, and my youngest brother Paul, is active in the church, and introduces services from time to time.

Being a Minister's child, I was carried to many church meetings and heard a lot of preaching. Old Baptist ministers would visit our home and I was blessed to hear bible discussions of them with my father. I can remember many of these discussions would go late in the night, and I would try to keep awake so not to miss any of them. I knew well the ministers of the church in my youth. I can remember hearing several of the older ministers preach; namely Elders O. Strickland, J.A. Rowell SR, Jimmy Bass, Jesse Bass, E.J. Norman, A.D. Wood, R.H. Williams, Ira Fry, Sam Nite, and others. As a child, we traveled to several states to attend Gospel meetings, i.e. Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Oregon, and of course: all across the big state of Texas. I can remember so many meetings, so many sermons and so many conversations.

I say all this to show that I am not a novice to what Primitive Baptists believe. I feel that I was blessed to see and hear what Primitive Baptists believed not just in my local area, but in a very broad sense.

In all those meetings, sermons, discussions, the subject of time salvation was brought up. These "pioneer" preachers mentioned earlier, many of them were over 80 and 90 years old when I was a child, did preach often on this subject. I recently asked several members if they remember this subject preached when they were young.  All responded, "yes". Several of these members grew up in other states such as Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, and New Jersey.

I once telephoned Elder J.P. Dale to ask him about this subject. Elder Dale was at that time 87 years old and had been ordained to the ministry for almost 70 years. He did not know Elder Sylvester Hassell personally, but he knew several who did know him. Elder Dale had read Hassell thoroughly and in his opinion, Brother Hassell did not subscribe to the doctrine that teaches that all the elect will hear and believe the Gospel. Elder Dale's earliest recollection of Primitive Baptist preaching was around the year 1908. He remembered hearing the subject of time salvation preached upon back then, even by elderly ministers whose ordinations would date back to the 1850's.  I also spoke to Deacon Morris Nowlin who is now 91 years old, and likewise said the same as Elder Dale; that in the early part of this century, the older ministers did indeed preach on time salvation.

This is what I call LIVING HISTORY, an oral testimony of the heritage of our people. These living witnesses speak of meetings held over 80 years ago. They well remember individuals whose experiences would pre-date the Civil War. Even if you do not subscribe to "Time Salvation", you should find this to be very interesting.  

Part 2: Written History

1. T.S. Dalton  "Justification by Faith",  sermon recorded in "A Voice From the Past" , compiled by Elder Ralph E. Harris. Originally preached on October 29, 1922.

2. S.A. Paine "On Campbelism - A Religious Deformity", article from "The Writings of Elder S.A. Paine”, article originally written circa 1900, PP 40-41.

3. R.A. Biggs "Born Again Before Faith and Regeneration", “Life and Death Set Before Them", articles from "The Writings of Elder R.A. Biggs", written circa 1890.

4. J.R. Wilson  "Good Works", article from "Primitive Baptist Principles", compiled by Elder Lee Hanks, article originally written circa 1898.

5. Lemuel Potter “Labors and Travels of Elder Lemuel Potter"  PP 270, 275. Originally written circa 1890.

6. C.H. Cayce "God the cause of Sin (refuting Absolutism)" article from "The Primitive Baptist", written April 5, 1934. Taken from "Editorial Writings from The Primitive Baptist 1928-1934".

7. Sylvester Hassell "Questions and Answers", compiled by R.H. Pittman, April 1935. PP 41-42.

8. C.H. Cayce, "Elder Cayce's First Reply"  PP 189-190,  from "Cayce-Strygly Discussion". Publishing date: unknown.

9. Gregg M. Thompson, "Abiding and Walking with Christ", sermon from the book, "The Primitive Preacher". PP 303-304. Originally published 1888.

10. S.N. Redford, "Two Salvations", P 36, from "As A Man Thinketh".

11. Fulton Confession of Faith of 1900, Various Elders.

12. Black Rock Address of 1832, Various Elders.

The Phrase "time salvation" was called "Gospel Salvation", by Elder Paine in his article noted above. He writes, "Then the Gospel is the power of God unto them (sinners). It  takes that saving and calling by grace to enable one to believe the Gospel and to be saved in a practical  way by it. Paul, in speaking of the gospel to the church (children of God at Corinth), says: 'By which also are ye saved if you keep in memory what I preached unto you unless you have believed in vain'. We should not become confused over the term "salvation" and mistake the gospel salvation of God's people for the salvation (regeneration) of the sinner."

Elder Biggs did use the expression "time salvation" in his writings. In the article "Life and Death Set Before Them”, he writes, "Israel of old did not obey the Law of Moses in order to be delivered, or saved from Egyptian bondage, but to enjoy the land of Canaan. Their happiness and time salvation depended upon their keeping the commands of God, and so it is under the Gospel dispensation. We are not required to obey the Gospel in order to get eternal life, but to enjoy the fruits of it, must obey. God gives us eternal life, and now by the Gospel, tells us how we should live."

Elder Potter wrote about the Gospel, viz., "It is a proclamation of salvation through Christ. One grand reason why men make so many mistakes as to the object of preaching the Gospel, is because they fail to arrive at a proper conclusion at what it is. The primary objective of the Gospel is to encourage and comfort the children of God: and they derive comfort from what it proclaims to them, not what it proposes to them on conditions".

Later on Elder Potter would write, "We are far from believing that God has wrapped Himself up in the Bible and minister, and has so limited his own operations that he can not and will not quicken sinners when and where and as He pleases; without the means of the Bible or preacher. He is limited in nothing. It is the Spirit that quickens the sinner into divine life, and to limit the work of the Spirit to the proclamation of the Gospel, as the Campbellites and Missionary Baptists do, together with all others who hold that the Gospel and Bible are essential to the conversion of sinners, is to deny the omnipresence of God" .

Elder Gregg M. Thompson in the sermon "Abiding and Walking in Christ" from "The Primitive Preacher” uses the expression, "the Christian peace"; he also says, "O Christian! Is it true that your conformity to Christ is your test of union with him? The nearer you live to him, and conform to the pattern he has given, the nearer you thus approach to perfection, and the clearer will be your evidences that you are a child of God, and a joint-heir with Christ. What manner of person then, should you be in all holy conversation? The evidences of our regeneration, justification, and interest in Christ are felt in our souls as we abide in Christ, and walk as he walked; full assurance of this is never attained and enjoyed by us in disobedience. 'As many walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and upon the Israel of God;’ Gal. vi, 16. If we grow careless, vain, and worldly, and live after the flesh, we shall die to our Christian peace and consolation; our consciences testify against us, and we walk in gross darkness. ‘For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world;’ 2 Cor.,1,12."
Elders Potter, Paine and Biggs ministered and preached in the same time period as Elder Sylvester Hassell. Elder Dalton was on the editorial staff of the "Advocate and Messenger” along with Elder Hassell and Elder Pittman. Elder Biggs was ordained in 1880. Elder Paine was ordained in 1897. Elder Potter was ordained in 1867. Elder Gregg Thompson was the son of Elder Wilson Thompson.

Elder Cayce, in his article "God the Cause of Sin", was writing in reply from one R.C. Bumb. Mr. Bumb had written an article in the "Sovereign Grace and Pilgrim" put out by Elder W.J. Berry. The article was replying against "time salvation" and also supporting the doctrine of Absolute Predestination. Elder Cayce wrote, "As he (Bumb) asks the editor to tell him if he is wrong, and we find no comment from the editor, we take it for granted that the editor endorses the sentiment expressed and contended for. On another page in the same paper we find this statement over the signature of W.J. Hocutt, of Berry Ala.: 'When I joined the Old Baptists over 50 years ago, this conditional salvation was not known among them, and it has caused much strife and division among them'. This refers to what is termed by some as conditional time salvation, though we seldom hear that expression used among our people today. 50 years ago would take us back to 1883. Time salvation is not a new term among the Primitive Baptists. In another column in this paper is an article copied from Zion's Advocate of May 15, 1858. It was written by M. Hodges of Fountain Head, Tenn., March 11, 1858. In that article he says, 'there is a time salvation to be enjoyed in obedience only. *** As before hinted, our own salvation here mentioned is a time salvation, and we must work it out or go without it'. This was written long before Brother Hocutt joined the church, and was generally believed and advocated by Primitive Baptists then. True, then as now, there were a few who did not believe it, and advocated the same things that the Absoluters advocate now".
Elder Sylvester Hassell in his "Questions and Answers" had 2 questions directed to him regarding time salvation. They are as follows.

Question #1: Do such scriptures as 1Cor 1:21; 9:22; Philippians 2:12; 1Tim 4:16; James 5:19-20; refer to a temporal salvation?

Answer:  A temporal salvation, a salvation here in time, which God works in us by his Holy Spirit (Isa 26:12; Eze 36:26-27; 1Cor 15:10 Eph 2:8-10, 18-22; Philippians 2:13, 4:13) and which we are to manifest in our outward lives, and we will be more comforted in obedience than in disobedience, and we will gladly and justly give all the power of both our temporal and eternal salvation to God alone. If the texts mentioned in the first sentence of the question mean our eternal salvation, then Arminianism is true and the Bible doctrine of salvation by grace is fundamentally wrong.

Question #2:  Does the Bible teach that there is a conditional time salvation?

Answer:  The Bible does not use this phrase, and, as its truth is controverted by some of our brethren, it would probably be best to avoid it. But it is certain that the Bible does teach that there is a salvation of deliverance here in time, which we ourselves are to work out (Philippians 2:12; Acts 2:40; 1Tim 4:16); yet we can only do this as God works in us by his grace (Philippians 2:12-13, 4:13, John 15:4-5; 1Cor 15:10). The cause of most controversies is the affirmative of one part and the denial of another part of the truth.

The Black Rock Address of 1832, speaking against "tract societies" says thusly, "If we were to admit that tracts have occasionally been made instrumental by the Holy Ghost for imparting instruction or comfort to inquiring minds, it would by no means imply that tracts are an instituted means of salvation, to speak after the manner of the popular religionists, nor that they should be placed on a footing with the Bible and the preached gospel, in respect to imparting the KNOWLEDGE (emphasis mine) of salvation.
Elder John M. Watson in his book, "The Old Baptist Test or, Bible Signs of the Lord's People"  (Pub. 1867), said many good and necessary things that would be pertinent to the church today, but to be honest, there are several passages from the book that I completely disagree with. Perhaps an examination of Elder Watson's book could become another item of discussion among us.  
Part 3:  What Time Salvation is NOT.

1. An excuse to sin - It could not be as it would violate Romans 6:1.

2. A convenient way to get our family and friends into heaven – Sappy nonsense.

3. Hyper-Calvinism - Theological twaddle.  Petting your dog is not an evidence of eternal life in a person. Affection toward the animal kingdom is NOT time salvation.

4. Hollow Logism - A ridiculous doctrinal tenant. I strongly believe that there is a change in the elect upon their second birth. Examples - Saul of Tarsus, the thief on the cross.

5. A new doctrine - It is as old as the Bible because it is taught in the Bible. Scriptural proof as follows:

• 1Cor 15:1-2  Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.
• Romans 8:24-25  For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?  But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.
• Ro 15:4  For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
• Ro 15:13  Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.
• Col 1:5  For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel;
• Col 1:23  If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;
• Heb 6:18-19  That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us: Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that within the veil;
• 1Pe 1:3  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 
• 1Pe 1:21  Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God. 
• Ephesians 1:13-14  In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the  word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye  believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.
• 2 Peter 3:21 The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also  NOW SAVE US (emphasis mine)...
• Those scriptures used by Elder Hassell in the "Questions and Answers" paragraph.

Part 4: Other Questions and Answers.
1. Can a person be "lost" in eternity but "found" in time? No. I have never heard this supported.
2. Can a person be "lost" in time but "found" in eternity?  I believe that all of the Elect will be "found" via Holy Spirit Regeneration. They WILL be found in time in that sense but, will they all believe in election, predestination, adoption, etc.????  I do not believe so. The Gospel tells us that we are eternally saved by the redemption of Jesus Christ. When we are given the grace to believe it as did Lydia in recorded n the book of Acts, that is time salvation to me.
3. Can only old-line Primitive Baptists be timely saved?  No, but if you read Dr. Watson's "The Old Baptist Test",  you might be led to believe that old-line (or 'old order' as he calls it) Primitive Baptists are the only ones that show fruit that they are eternally saved, and may very well constitute the vast majority of the whole body of the Elect. I will quote Elder Watson from page 63, "These (Arminians, Presbyterians, Methodists, and Campbellites) have made the way broader, and the gate wider, and have become very numerous. Their history has been pretty fully written, and they boast of their numbers as recorded by them. But after all there is a divine depth in the history of the chosen few, which no human research can reach. Their history begins most mysteriously profound in Christ before the world began; hence their number is known only to God; not the number which would be made Presbyterians, Methodists, or Campbellites, in time, but the number given to Christ by the Father before time; the number chosen in him before the foundation of the world. But charity constrains us to admit that there may be some of the Lord's "few" among all those denominations, who are Christians inwardly, but wrong externally".  I do not agree with this statement.

Part 5: Concluding Remarks.

I am sure that I could provide more proof that time salvation is a valid Bible doctrine had I more time. I hope that this study will at least show to the skeptics that time salvation is not an emotional reaction, but it is a belief that has been buoyed by a desire to "rightly divide the word of truth." I would agree with Elder Hassell that if the appellation "conditional time salvation" would stir controversy, perhaps a more suitable name be sought.  I have heard substitute names as "gospel salvation", "now salvation" and others. I submit this in love to all, and hope it will be received in kind.  May the Lord bless you all.

In His service,
Elder David Montgomery

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The Primitive or Old School Baptists cling to the doctrines and practices held by Baptist Churches throughout America at the close of the Revolutionary War. This site is dedicated to providing access to our rich heritage, with both historic and contemporary writings.