Salvation Without the Gospel


Elder Mark Green

“If his proposition be true, the heathen do not need the gospel for their salvation. It is no matter what they hear, believe, or do, they are going to be saved by grace. There is no need in this world, so far as the question of salvation is concerned, to send them the gospel; for if saved, it will be independent of, and without, the gospel.” [I. N. Penick, from his debate with Elder C. H. Cayce in 1907]

At least Mr. Penick understood where the Primitive Baptists stand. He did not agree with us, but he knew what we believed on this point, that the eternal salvation of God’s elect people is apart from any works that they may or may not do.

The heathen (by which we suppose he means those who have not heard the gospel) do not need the gospel for their salvation because “the wind bloweth where it listeth,” by which the Savior meant that in the new birth the Spirit of God acts where, when and upon whom He pleases. If God desired to save a person, but was not able to save the individual because some slothful or rebellious man had not gone where he ought to have gone and preached where he ought to have preached, then the Spirit would not have been able to act where He desired to act.

We are saved by grace, not by works. If a man is saved, it is apart from “what they hear, believe, or do.” If he is not yet saved, then he cannot hear the gospel. “Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word.” If they cannot be saved except by hearing the gospel, and they cannot hear the gospel until they are saved, then they are going to have a hard time being saved by the gospel and certainly to not need the gospel in order to be saved. If faith is a fruit of the Spirit, then it is a result of the Spirit and not a cause of the Spirit. Thus the Spirit must come first – before belief – and thus there is indeed no need of the gospel in order to be saved if we cannot believe it until after we are saved. If we are saved by what we do, then we are saved by our works; but it is “not by works of righteousness which we have done.” “There is no need in this world, so far as the question of salvation is concerned, to send them the gospel.” We agree with this statement, even if Mr. Penick did not.


God did not command the apostles to send, but to “go.” There is a difference between sending and going. God did the sending; the apostles did the going. If men had stuck to going when they were sent, instead of trying to send when they had not been commanded to send, then the modern Mission movement never would have happened.