JUST A DOCTRINAL THING? (part 2)
For reasons of space we will assume that the reader is familiar with, and has a fundamental grasp of, the facts concerning the Savior such as His virgin birth, that He is the Son of God, that He died and rose again after three days and three nights and is now seated at the right hand of the Father, that He is God the Son the Second Person of the Trinity and is as much God as the Father and Holy Spirit are. None can be saved without believing these fundamental teachings about the Person of Christ and what happened to Him in His thirty-three years on the earth. We shall, in the ensuing pages, concentrate on Who Christ is, His identity, which will be made apparent by what this Christ has done. But firstly, it is important to note that a statement such as ‘Its all just a doctrinal thing’ is not the most intelligent or informed comment to come from the mind of man. It is strange that those who subscribe to such a notion are often the ones who separate themselves from those who understand the significance and ramifications of doctrine and who seek to gently and meekly share this understanding. They just don’t want to know anything different to what they believe, as they do not want their boat rocked by some ‘new’ wave of doctrine which they have not heard before and which no one they know believes. There are many things a man has never heard but this does not automatically mean that they are new or wrong. There are many things which multitudes do not believe but this doesn’t mean it could not possibly be the truth. Remember those who perished in the Flood? They may have had varying ideas about God but they were as one when it came to judging Noah to be a crackpot who could not possibly have the truth, for no one other than Noah and his family believed it! Simply because a person has held to the same beliefs for 50 years and knows of many others who hold the same convictions, is no evidence that what they have is the Truth. How many of us know people who believed nothing but rubbish all their lives and who died in such a state? Does their faithfulness to what they believed make what they believed true? Of course not. The true believers in God’s only Gospel are often accused of being in a cult, yet it is these very accusers who turn and run as soon as reasonable and civil discussion of what the Gospel is, and is not, is proposed. The turning of a blind eye to that which threatens ones belief system, is the action of one who is in a cult—not of those who are willing to sit down and discuss things in a reasonable and civil manner. These accusers, many of whom have been sitting in church pews for decades, either abuse, or turn and run from, those who know what they believe and why they believe it, and who genuinely seek a response. Just because you have been sitting in the same pew, in the same building, listening to the same preaching for years, does not guarantee you have the truth. Nor does it guarantee that YOU are not the one involved in a cult! Now one can understand someone not wanting to enter into any discussion with someone who is pugilistic in their attitude, arrogant and rude etc., but when all one shows is love and gentleness and a humble spirit and they still abuse or run, then one can see that that person has a severe problem. People, even family members, can turn very nasty indeed when the issue of Truth is brought up, and oh how offended they become when their precious lies and religious comfort zones are threatened by the invincible Truth of God.
As we have explained, doctrine is that which identifies who one is believing and trusting in. Doctrine differentiates, it distinguishes, it discriminates, it divides and separates. It singles out the particular person it is describing. Doctrine, which is the Word of God, is sharper than any two-edged sword: "For the Word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart" (Heb. 4:12). One can know who and what a person believes in their heart by the doctrine they speak. Doctrine draws the line between the true and the false, between the true God and all false gods. True doctrine will never reveal a false god and false doctrine will never, and has never, revealed the True God. What you say about God defines the god you believe in and if he is not the true God, then the doctrine you have is false doctrine and you are not saved. Doctrine, and not one’s alleged love for God, is that which gives us concrete evidence as to which god we are believing in. No one can differentiate between a Roman Catholic, a Mormon and a JW simply by looking at them or listening to their statements about their love for god or by tallying up the good deeds of such people or listening to how many ‘wonderful works’ their particular religious institutions are responsible for. The Roman Catholic Church has built many hospitals and orphanages and schools, etc., which benefits society but is this the kind of evidence by which we are to judge it to be telling of the true God? Sadly, for many it is. Freemasonry also has it’s hospitals and charitable outreaches as does the Salvation Army, which perhaps is unsurpassed in charitable deeds which clothe the poor and feed the hungry. Is this the type of evidence we should be looking for which will identify the True God and His true followers? Hardly! Why? Because anyone can be charitable and hospitable and kind and loving etc., but this is no evidence that they have the true God or that they have any god at all. Only true believers abiding in the true doctrine have the true God.
The only thing that will positively identify a Mormon is what he says about his god. Not even a person’s attendance at a Mormon temple is concrete proof that he is a Mormon, for he is not one if he denies the Mormon doctrine which tells only of the Mormon god. This is also true of the JW and Roman Catholic. No one who foolishly says that even though two people who differ over what Christ has done by His glorious death are nonetheless believing in the same Jesus, would ever say that though the Mormon says this and the JW says that and the Roman Catholic says something altogether different about god, they are believers in the same god! One never hears of anyone saying, ‘The Mormon believes the same god as the JW , who believes in the same god as the Roman Catholic’. Yet why do professing christians believe that one person can believe in the death of Christ for His people and another can believe in the death of Christ for every individual ever born, and yet contend that they are both believing in the same God and proclaiming the same Christ? Of course they know that both beliefs cannot be right but nevertheless, though one of these people is believing in a false doctrine about what Christ has actually done, what He came to this earth to do, they insist that one is just as saved as the other! Upon what can such a ridiculous premise be based? Certainly not on doctrine, the very doctrine that identifies and distinguishes the true Christ from the false. Some would try to brush all this off by saying, ‘Well, it really doesn’t matter who’s right and who’s wrong as long as we all believe that Christ died and that He died for sinners. The details aren’t important, it’s the big picture that counts’. The details, or particulars, of God’s Gospel Message, far from being insignificant or unnecessary, are what identifies it as HIS Message and distinguishes it from false gospels and are essential to knowing the true Christ and believing in what HE actually did. I am sure the reader will agree that a big picture is formed by the details which give it its individual identity and so forth. After all, details are our points of identification. If it were not for details and specifics, the Mona Lisa might look like Fred Flintstone! We recognize each other by the points of detail on our faces which are peculiar to ourselves. Sometimes even a person’s name is not enough information to verify that we are speaking about the same person and so further detail is required. Details are how we identify which movie a person has seen, or what type of shirt a person has bought or what type of dog a person owns etc. How silly would a person be if, when told by someone they have just finished viewing a movie, they respond by saying that they have also seen that movie without knowing any details about the movie. Some movies have the same titles or are remakes of older movies but with different actors etc. ‘I’ve just seen a movie.’ ‘Yes, I’ve seen that movie, too.’ ‘How can you say that when I haven’t told you any details about the movie I’ve seen?’ — ‘I’ve just bought a shirt.’ ‘Yes, I’ve bought the same shirt.’ ‘How can you say that when I haven’t given you any details about the shirt I’ve bought?’ — ‘I own a beautiful dog.’ ‘Yes, I’ve got the exact same dog.’ ‘How do you know that when I haven’t told you what breed my dog is, what he looks like and what his characteristics are?’ The foolishness involved is quite obvious. So too, how can anyone rightly claim they are believing in the same Christ by believing He did something which He did not? How can you be identifying—singling out—the true Christ by providing details which belong to another christ? How can anyone say they believe in the true Christ when the doctrinal details they hold to are not characteristic of Him? How can one routinely say that a person is a Christian when they do not know the details of what the person believes about Who Christ is and what He has done? One might just as well call a person a Christian who believes Christ did not die on any cross, but lived a long and full life till He was 97!! Could such a person be believing in the true Christ? Of course not. So too, the person who believes Christ died for all is believing in another jesus who is revealed in a gospel which does not come from God. Again, the apostle Paul warned the believers in Galatia that if anyone should come and preach to them any other gospel than the one he had preached to them, they were not to listen to that person, for anything other than the Gospel Paul preached was to be recognized as a perversion of the Gospel and the person proclaiming it as accursed. Imagine the flack Paul must have received from the religious majority of his day. What arrogance he must have been charged with to say such a thing. Yet Paul was not being arrogant in the least, he was merely upholding the Gospel of God as the ONLY Gospel a person can believe and be saved. Paul was protective of his brethren and told them, in no uncertain terms, to not believe anyone who came with doctrines that differed from what his Gospel proclaimed about Christ. Paul did not say they could identify false ministers by their dress, their kind and gentle manner, or lack of it, or by any other means of outward appearance—the right ones would do good and the wrong ones would do bad—he said exactly what this book has been saying, that it is the doctrine that a man espouses which will identify him to either be speaking God’s truth or not. It is the doctrinal detail that will, WITHOUT FAIL, show that they either preach a false god or the one and only True God of the Gospel.
Paul the apostle stated in 1 Corinthians 1:23 that he preached Christ. He clarified this by saying that He preached not only the Person of Christ but also the Work of Christ: Him crucified (see also 1 Cor. 1:17 & 1 Cor 2:2). You are not preaching and believing the true Christ unless you are preaching the true Person and the true work of Christ—that which God sent Him specifically to do—which God’s Word teaches. Many, when answering the question ‘What is the Gospel?’, quote 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 which tells of Christ’s having died for our sins, being buried, and rising again on the third day. But the vital element they fail to draw attention to is the fact that these things must be believed "according to the Scriptures" (1 Cor. 15:3,4), according to the definite and specific details about these matters which God has laid out in His Word, to be believed. God’s Gospel is not to be ignored. Nothing is to be taken away from it or added to it (see Prov. 30:5,6). It is not to be perverted. It is not to be ‘improved’ or modified as to make it more acceptable, or more palatable. It is to be preached and believed as HE has commanded it to be! False gods and false gospels, and those who promote them, are to be shunned and avoided and the True God and HIS Gospel believed if one is to truly serve the Lord. Those who teach contrary to the doctrine of Christ are to be avoided: "For they that are such SERVE NOT OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple" (Rom. 16:18). Such men are described as "...the ENEMIES OF THE CROSS of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things" (Phil. 3:18,19).
It is not enough to teach or to know about the Person of Christ and what happened to Him, but one must actually know Him—Who He is and what He has done: "...THIS is life eternal, that they might KNOW Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ..." (Jn. 17:3). Now, of course, how can one know without knowledge? Any false group can teach about Christ but as they do not teach the truth about what Christ has done and who He has done it for, one can never truly and savingly know Him by following such false teachers. Those who teach false gospels promote false christs. They attribute many truths about Christ to their christ, they state many facts about what happened to Him that are also true, but none of them teach the true Christ because they do not rightly teach His Person and His Work, which obviously has everything in the world to do with what knowing Him is all about. Many who teach false gospels such as Romanism, the Seventh-Day Adventist movement or the Charismatic movement, all know what happened to the true Christ but they do not know Him according to the Scriptures because they do not believe the truth about what Christ has done. Which is why, in all their preaching about ‘christ’, they never truly reveal THE Christ, for they do not know Him. And no one can know Him by listening to false gospels. The right preaching of the true Christ, and subsequently the believing of Who Christ is and what He has done, is vital if any are to be saved for to preach the cross of Christ is to preach the Gospel of Christ (1 Cor. 1:17,18). Without right saving knowledge of the Person and Work of Christ none can be saved, for ignorance of right saving knowledge is evidence that the true God has NOT revealed Himself! Scripture states clearly that "...if our Gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost" (2 Cor. 4:3). One can just as rightly say, ‘If the true God be hid, He is hid to them that are lost’. They are ignorant of Him for they have no saving knowledge of Him. The Gospel is not revealed to them. If the truth is hidden and not revealed, there can be no salvation. Zeal and eagerness for God is interpreted by most to be evidence that one truly is a child of God. But the Word of God tells us clearly that it is not enough to have a zeal for God, but that zeal MUST be according to right knowledge of God: Who He is and what He has done ie., how He saves. Paul the apostle shows this plainly in his following testimony concerning the Jews: "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 righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God" (Rom. 10:1-3). Why were these people lost? BECAUSE THEY DID NOT KNOW! They were ignorant of how God saves and therefore what has been done by His Son to save His people from their sins. Do you think that if they were not ignorant of how God saves, of what His Son has done to save, they would be referred to as ignorant and lost? If one’s zeal for God is not according to right saving knowledge of God, then one is lost. If one is ignorant of something, one cannot be submitted to it. So too, if one is ignorant of the Truth concerning Who Christ is and what Christ has done and therefore who He has done it for, one cannot possibly be submitted to the truth and therefore cannot be in a saved state. To be submitted to God’s way of salvation one must have knowledge, for without knowledge all that one has is ignorance, through which God has never saved anyone. Thought by many to be grounds for mercy, ignorance—when it comes to the matter of salvation—is the evidence of lostness. If the Gospel be hid, there can be no saving knowledge of the God of the Gospel. Zeal for God without knowledge, just as sincerity without truth, has never saved anyone. The reason why error, when it comes to God’s plan of salvation, is not just some simple mistake which does not deny the salvation of a person, is that the true God is known only by revelation and He is always, and only, revealed by His Holy Spirit of Truth. He can only be known by His Gospel for therein has He revealed Himself. Any error spoken about God cannot be identifying the true God and therefore cannot be of Him. It certainly did not come by the Holy Spirit, for He only brings the Truth of the Gospel. The Holy Spirit is called the Spirit of TRUTH because He guides all of God’s chosen into TRUTH: "Howbeit when He, the Spirit of Truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth..." (Jn. 16:13). The Holy Spirit is referred to three times in the Gospel of John as the Spirit of Truth (Jn. 14:17; 15:26; 16:13). The Holy Spirit does not guide people into error, He guides them into Truth. He guides them to the True Christ and never a false christ. He does not guide anyone down a path unless it is the narrow track of Truth. He guides God’s chosen to the True Gospel and not a false gospel, for God CALLS His people BY His Gospel and never through a false gospel. Heaven is for those who have had the TRUTH revealed to them and who have been given a love for it and the faith to believe it, not for those who remain ignorant of it. God calls His people by His Gospel, His Truth, and not a lie. The Work of the Holy Spirit of God is inseparably connected with belief of God’s Truth. One cannot have one without the other. One cannot have sanctification without truth and one cannot have truth without the Word of God: "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God" (Rom. 8:14). Writing to believers, Paul the apostle states: "...God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through SANCTIFICATION OF THE SPIRIT AND BELIEF OF THE TRUTH: Whereunto HE CALLED YOU BY OUR GOSPEL, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ" (2 Thess. 2:13,14; cf. Jn.17:17). Notice here that the chosen of God are said to be called by God’s Gospel. The Gospel is not some mystical, intangible thing but is made up of several specific doctrines, which are the teachings of God concerning His plan of salvation, which must be believed in. No other gospel could possibly fit in with this statement of Paul’s. However, it is said of those who perish, which includes professing christians—those who have a zeal of God but not according to knowledge—that they do so "...because they RECEIVED NOT THE LOVE OF THE TRUTH, that they might be saved...that they all might be DAMNED WHO BELIEVED NOT THE TRUTH..." (2 Thess. 2:10,12). Not damned principally because of any immorality but damned because THEY DID NOT BELIEVE, they HAD NOT THE LOVE FOR, the Gospel! Everyone believes they believe the truth or they would not believe it. But most who believe they have the truth, do not have the love of THE Truth which comes from God and have instead embraced a lie masquerading as truth: "There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death" (Prov. 16:25).
To follow false doctrine about God is to be guilty of mistaken identity! False doctrine can only take you on the broad road that leads to destruction. It is taught by blind guides and believed in by their equally blind followers and if both should continue on that path, they will fall into the ditch (Matt. 15:14). Many accuse us of being narrow-minded because we say that none are saved before hearing and believing the true Gospel of God. No doubt this, among other things, was what the detractors of Paul the apostle said of him when he warned that any who brought a gospel that differed from his was a sure sign those persons were in an accursed state and their gospels were not of God. The accusation of narrow-mindedness makes as much sense as saying that one is narrow-minded because one believes that 4 is the only answer to the equation 2 + 2! Narrow-mindedness is not the issue, the issue is: what is the truth! If a person cannot live with the fact that there is only one answer, only one Gospel that is the power of God unto salvation, then I am afraid the problem lies with them and not with the answer/Gospel or the one who believes that answer/Gospel. There cannot be a hundred different and conflicting truths about the Person and Work of Jesus Christ, yet whichever one of them is believed in, people are believing in the same and True Christ! How ridiculous would it be to say that simply because one answers 2 + 2 with a number, one has the correct answer but just requires a little more teaching on the matter!! How can one who has the wrong answer be right? How can one who has a false profession of Christ know the True Christ? "...narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life and few there be that find it" (Matt. 7:14) are the words of the Lord Jesus just before He warned, in the very next verse, of FALSE PROPHETS who came with false doctrines, and dressed in sheep’s clothing but inwardly were ravening wolves. The Gospel is what Jesus Christ says it is and it is to be preached to every creature. It is this very Gospel, the one and only Gospel, which God recognizes and testifies to as His Truth and puts His name to, and no other, which saves. Belief in any other gospel, which is identified by erroneous doctrine, will not, cannot, and never has, saved anybody. Scripture says that if this Gospel, the right and only Gospel of God, the Gospel whose doctrine alone reveals Who the true Christ is and what He did to save His people, is hid, that is, not revealed but concealed or covered up, it is hidden to those that are lost (see 2 Cor. 4:3). It is not hid to those that are saved, for they see it and believe it. God is saying here that a man destitute of this Gospel knowledge is destitute of eternal life, for the God of salvation has not revealed Himself to him. Where the truth is not revealed, how can it be submitted to? How can one believe in and entrust oneself to God if they are not submitted, in obedience, to Him? (see 1 Jn. 3:23). Some would say, ‘But isn’t God Love?’ Yes, indeed God is Love, but where is that Love? God’s love is only found in Christ His Son, Who is nowhere else revealed but in God’s Only Gospel! A person can either be an atheist or a professing christian, but without the saving knowledge God has revealed through His Gospel, both are equally lost. No, we are not saying that salvation is conditioned on knowledge, for the Gospel teaches that all of salvation, from beginning to final glory, is conditioned on Christ Jesus the Savior. Knowledge is not a condition but an evidence of salvation. It is not something which man attains to but that which is given by God. What we are saying is that if one is ignorant of what the Gospel teaches about Christ, His Person and His Work, there can be no salvation, for how could it be that God has revealed Himself to a person and yet that person remain in ignorance and darkness concerning His Son? The reason that knowledge plays such a huge and integral part in salvation is that God reveals Himself through doctrine and ignorance of that doctrine means the absence of the knowledge of God. Absence of the truth means the presence of error. An absence of salvation knowledge, which is revealed by God through His Gospel, means the presence of ignorance concerning His Truth. False gospels can only tell you some facts about Christ. God’s Gospel provides saving knowledge OF Christ. It is not the knowledge of error which saves, but salvation comes with a knowledge of the Truth. None are saved who are in ignorance about Jesus Christ. On the contrary, ignorance of the true Christ is what a person is called out of when they are called by the Gospel of God (see 1 Pet. 2:9 & Acts 26:18).
The heart, soul and purpose of the Gospel is to dispel ignorance by revealing Christ. Christ is the nucleus, the crux, of the Gospel message. If one is in ignorance or in error, which go hand in hand, about the Person of Christ and what He has done to gain the salvation of His people, then it is undeniable and incontrovertible evidence that one does not know the true Gospel, that the True God has not revealed Himself to that person. Without revelation from God, there can be no right knowledge of God (Gal. 1:11,12). And all those whom God reveals Himself to, love and believe the Truth about Him and His Son. It is God’s record of His Son to which they bear testament. It is Christ Who is the central Character in God’s plan of salvation and if God has not revealed His Son to us, we cannot say that we know Him, believe in Him or trust in Him. To believe what God has said of His Son is to truly believe in Him. And if one does not know the True Christ, one cannot believe that it is His Righteousness alone which saves and maintains a state of salvation, and not our own efforts at obedience. If one is ignorant of the Gospel then one is ignorant of, and cannot be submitted to, the Righteousness of Christ and is therefore, whether knowingly or not, seeking to establish a righteousness of their own (see Rom. 10:1-4). This is the antithesis of God’s plan of salvation. Seeking to establish a righteousness of one’s own is something a true believer can never be guilty of, for his faith and hope is solely in the Righteousness, the obedience and blood, of Christ (Col. 2:10) and he has abandoned any and all hope that he could ever recommend himself to God by his own personal obedience, or that he would even need to. So we see that only belief in God’s Gospel, His way to save, reveals a right knowledge of the Person and Work of Christ. Any and all false doctrine concerning Christ does not reveal God’s Way to eternal life. No one can properly and rightly lay claim to knowing God if they are ignorant of the Gospel, which alone reveals His Son as complete Savior (Col. 2:10). No one can be in agreement with God and walk with Him if they do not know His Son. God does not bind Himself to anyone who does not assent to what HE says about Who His Son is and what He has accomplished through His death upon the Tree, for what Christ accomplished on the Tree was exactly what God sent Him to the earth to do in order to save His chosen ones (see 1 Jn. 3:5). It was exactly and precisely, no more and no less, what had to be done in order to save, in order for God’s will to be perfectly fulfilled. A man is only fooling himself if he denies that this is exactly and precisely, no more and no less, what HAS TO BE BELIEVED in order for one to show evidence that God’s Gospel has been revealed and that they are saved. And for anyone to say that belief of the Doctrine of Christ—His Gospel—is not vital, that this is not essential to a saving knowledge of Him, reveals a current state of complete lostness. Either one is in agreement with God about what He says about His Son and so walks with Him, abiding in His doctrine, or one is in disagreement with what God says about His Son, and consequently cannot be walking with Him or be aligned with His Truth. Such a person cannot have eternal life, for they do not abide in the doctrine of Christ (see 2 Jn. 9). According to Jesus, it is He Who has been given "...power over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as Thou (the Father) hast given Him" (Jn. 17:2). In light of this, can you imagine Jesus granting eternal life to any who do not abide in HIS Doctrine?
The doctrine of atonement, of the redemptive work of Christ to save His people, will not be gone into in any great detail in this publication. If the reader would like to study further this most vital of doctrines, we refer them to the booklet entitled ‘Atonement for Whom?’ by this author and available for free. The Gospel of God will be explained in some detail at the end of this book. If you would like a more detailed definition ask for the book ‘God’s Only Gospel’. Suffice it to say, the Scriptures teach of only one true Savior and warns of many false christs which cannot save (see Matt. 24:24). These false christs may be identified by the doctrine that is taught about them. The one true Savior tells us that He and He alone is the only way to the Father and that none can come to the Father but by Him: "Jesus saith.., I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me" (Jn. 14:6) and "I am the Door: by ME if any man enter in, he shall be saved..." (Jn. 10:9). Therefore it is vital that we believe in the true Christ and not in one of the many false christs of man-made religions. The apostle Paul spoke of "...another jesus, whom we have not preached...another spirit...another gospel..." (2 Cor. 11:4). He said that these counterfeits would be preached by men who are "...false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ" (2 Cor. 11:13 see also vv.14,15). There is no other way apart from doctrine, or teaching, by which the true Christ may be recognized and distinguished from the false. The doctrine which comes from God, contained in His Gospel, will identify the true Christ, and the teachings which do not find their origin in God will only reveal false saviors which cannot, and never have, saved anybody. Note that these false saviors often go by the name ‘jesus’ and have had attributed to them many things which are only true about the real Jesus. This is a satanic ploy, serving the purpose of confusion, TO CONVINCE PEOPLE WHO HOLD TO DIFFERING DOCTRINES ABOUT JESUS, THAT THEY ARE BELIEVING IN THE SAME PERSON. But God is not the author of confusion and there will be no confusion if one believes what God has said and revealed in His Gospel about His Son. Surely it can be seen by all who read this book that God teaches only one truth concerning His Son and that He does not present a person with a multiple choice list of what they are permitted to believe about ‘jesus’ and still be believing in HIS Jesus. Yet, for the multitudes it is simply a matter of pick and choose the doctrines you are happy with, and are taught by a man you have confidence in, and which fit with your image of what God is like, and as long as you call your god ‘jesus’ all will be fine. But all will be far from fine for error just does not figure in God’s plan of salvation for His people. There is no contingency plan of salvation for those who believe error about His Son. There is no likelihood that any of God’s chosen will not believe God’s Gospel in its entirety. One pastor told this author that he does not know how much error God is willing to put up with in His people. The answer is, no error which contributes to the perversion of the Gospel of Christ thereby revealing another gospel which God has not declared and another christ which God does not claim to be HIS Son, will be tolerated. Error is the spoiler. Error is the leaven that leaveneth the whole lump. Error is that which changes truth into a lie and THE Gospel into another gospel. No one ever got saved by acknowledging error! Heaven is for lovers of the truth, not those who are enamoured with a lie. Those who believe a lie, ie. another gospel, far from being saved, are under strong delusion (see 2 Thess. 2:11). There are no allowances made in God’s plan of salvation for those who believe error, for the whole idea of that Great Plan is that it be believed in order that people can be saved. Knowledge of God’s Truth is the fulfilment of God’s Plan for the salvation of His people.
The very name ‘JESUS’ means "He will save his people from their sins" (Matt. 1:21). It does not mean ‘He hopes to save everybody from their sins’ or ‘He will attempt to save everybody from their sins’, or a combination of these three, but the very definite HE WILL SAVE HIS PEOPLE from THEIR sins. If you do not believe this and everything that conforms with this bottom line statement of what the Savior would do, you do not believe on His name. "This is His commandment, That we should believe ON THE NAME of His Son Jesus Christ..." (1 Jn. 3:23 cf. Jn. 1:12). To believe on the name of Jesus is to acknowledge Him to be the Savior Who would save His people from their sins, and not the potential savior who would attempt to save every individual from their sins. You cannot separate Who He is from what He has done, for His very name declares that He is the Savior Who would die for His people in order to save them from their sins. Paul wrote to Titus of the Savior "Who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people..." (Titus 2:14). Those who are redeemed and purified are those for whom He gave Himself. Christ came to secure the salvation of all His people, not merely make salvation possible for all without exception. God gave Him a people to die for and die for them He did and in doing so, saved them from their sins. Why the doctrine of Christ is so vital and essential to saving faith is that if one believes wrongly about who Christ has died for on the cross, one cannot be in agreement with what God says Christ has done to save those for whom He died. Therefore, one cannot be believing in the Person Whose death alone successfully atoned for the sins of, and accomplished the eternal redemption for, all those for whom He died. Surely there are none who believe that one can be saved regardless of the fact that they do not believe what God says about His Son. What God says identifies His Son. And what His Son has done identifies Him, AND HIM ALONE, as God’s one and only Son!! Who else but this ONE must a person believe in order to be saved? God says His Son died for His own elect. Men have said that He died for everyone. Who is right? GOD IS RIGHT! If you do not believe this, you do not believe Him. God said what His Son would do; Jesus His Son came and did exactly what the Father said He would do; and all those whom God saves believe exactly what He said His Son would do, for they believe in the Gospel of God. How can believing anything different get you saved? How can you be in opposition to what God has said and simultaneously be His ally? Who will be your advocate at the Great Judgement if you believe something different? Do you think Christ will defend you? Do you think He will be your advocate and defend what you have believed about Him? Do you mean to tell me that Christ did what God said He would do, but you were saved not believing that, or were saved before you believed that, and that you believe at least some are saved who do not believe God’s testimony? If you do not believe what God says about Jesus, then you do not believe in HIS Son. You might believe in a jesus, but not THE Jesus Whom God testifies to. If you do not believe what God’s Son has done, then you deny that what He has done was ordered by the only God and that it is essential to saving faith. Far from believing God’s Gospel, you oppose it. You neither have the Son or the Father.
All of Scripture would need to be changed if it makes no difference whether one believes Christ died for all or exclusively for the elect. Many say, ‘Whether Christ died for all or only for the elect is not what matters. All that matters is whether or not you believe that He died for you’. Such ‘reasoning’ is not consistent with what God’s Word teaches. Christ did something specific on that cross and if what you believe does not concur with, or bear record to, what He did, then you are not saved. Remember, what you believe about Christ must be what He says about Himself. Do you honestly believe that Christ Jesus the Lord would, in a court case designed to establish Who He is and what He has done, call a person as a witness to provide testimony to Who He is and what He has done, who did not believe rightly about His Person and His Work? Their testimony would deny Him and His work. How stupid would you be if you were to call someone who did not know you to give evidence on your behalf in a court of law, in order to establish your identity? God has specifically taught what it is that Christ accomplished on the cross and it is precisely that which we need to specifically believe. God is a God of detail, He is specific in what He says. So how less specific must a person be in believing unto salvation? This is the essence, the heart and soul, of what believing in Christ is all about. If it wasn’t, then why has God bothered to identify His Son by doctrine and distinguish Him from all others? Why would He have warned about false christs if it did not matter what we believed about the True Christ? What is it about false christs that is so dangerous and perilous to our spiritual state? Nothing but the doctrine taught about those christs, which denies the True Christ!
What Christ did on the cross can only be determined by whether He died for all or for the elect. One cannot separate who He died for, from what He did. If He died for all, then it cannot be said that His blood made atonement for all the sins of all for whom He died. Conversely, if Christ died for the elect, and only if He died for the elect, can it be said that His death alone accomplished eternal redemption for every single person He laid down His life for and that there was no element or degree of failure in it, or any need to depend upon anything or anyone outside of itself, and Himself, to secure that salvation. The Old Testament is filled with references and teaching concerning the Messiah and what He would do to ensure the salvation of all those for whom He would lay down His life. The Book of Isaiah for instance clearly talks of it being God’s people whom Christ would lay down His life for: "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all....FOR THE TRANSGRESSION OF MY PEOPLE was He stricken....He shall see of the travail of His soul, and shall be satisfied: by His knowledge shall My righteous Servant JUSTIFY many; FOR He SHALL bear THEIR iniquities" (Isa. 53:6,8,11 cf. Rom. 8:30). All who will be justified have had their sins borne by Christ, and all whose sins have been borne by Christ will be justified. The New Testament also states clearly who it is that Christ has died for, thus teaching exactly what it was that Christ did, nay, accomplished, by His death: "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also LOVED THE CHURCH, and GAVE HIMSELF FOR IT; that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the Word" (Eph. 5:25,26 cf. Acts 20:28); "I am the Good Shepherd: the Good Shepherd GIVETH HIS LIFE FOR THE SHEEP" (Jn. 10:11). Those who believe the Truth know that there is no co-existence possible, no dual occupancy conceivable, in God’s House, between the doctrine that teaches Christ died for all, and who the Bible teaches His death was for and what would accomplished by that death. The two doctrines are poles apart and as distinct as reality and imagination. Therefore, to believe in His death for all is to not believe according to the Scriptures. It is to believe a false doctrine which denies the reality, the truth, of His death and replaces it with a lie, the belief of which is an out and out denial of God’s truth concerning who His Son died for, what His Son did, and therefore Who His Son is—and evidences a state of lostness.
The Old Testament is where we learn about what the Messiah would do, the purpose of His death and what He would accomplish by that death. These things were foreshadowed in what are called the Old Testament types. "A type is something emblematic or symbolic, used to express, embody, represent or forecast, some person, truth or event. It is an image or similitude of something else, sustaining to doctrinal teaching some such relation as a picture does to a precept or promise, representing to the eye or imagination a concept addressed to the ear or understanding. It is one of the most frequent forms of figurative teaching in Scripture..." "The Old Testament types were a mode of instruction of the way in which God was to be approached..." You cannot approach Him believing in a savior who died for all. You cannot approach Him, and not be consumed, unless you are washed in the blood that cleansed all for whom it was shed (see Heb. 10:16-22). The blood of a counterfeit jesus has never cleansed anyone from their sin. A type is also a prophetic symbol. "God has graciously adapted a series of types, historical and ceremonial, to the illustration of His wondrous plan (of redemption as revealed in the Gospel), and especially to portray the various aspects of the office and work of Christ...By the typical system, God was not only educating His people for the ‘good things to come,’ but was also preparing human language to be a fit medium for the revelation of His grace in Christ. It is to the types we must turn if we would define aright the sacrificial terms of the New Testament...the doctrinal statements of the Epistles are frequently couched in the language of the types, and can only be rightly interpreted in the light which they furnish."
"The substitution of Christ in the sinner’s place was most distinctly shown in the types, particularly in the sin offering. Before the animal was slaughtered, the sacrificing priest laid his hand upon its head (Lev.4:3,4). That act represented THE TRANSFERRING OF SIN FROM THE TRANSGRESSOR TO THE VICTIM (Lev.16:21): it identified the one with the other. It showed the substitution of the victim for the offender, and declared by a visible sign that it bare his sins and endured his death-penalty." "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). There was a specific transgressor whose sins were transferred to a specific victim. The ‘us’ spoken of in the above Scripture can only be referring to those for whom Jesus has endured the death penalty, and in time are made the righteousness of God in Him. "In this way was the solemn yet blessed truth of imputation foreshadowed. It was because God transferred to Christ the guilt of His elect, constituting Him "sin for us", (sin-bearer) that the sword of Divine justice smote Him as He bare our sins in His own body on (or "to") the tree." By this we see clearly that Christ’s atoning death cannot be separated from His act of Substitution, nor can it be separated from the act of transferring to Him the sins of those for whom He was a Substitute, for whom He suffered God’s wrath, and transferring His perfect Righteousness to them. All this hinged, not on man’s acceptance, but on God accepting what Christ had done. What Christ has done is no mere trifle which awaits man’s consent in order for it to be ratified, given value and significance. It is His blood upon which the success of His salvation plan hinged and not man’s fictional ‘free will decision’ for Him: "And for this cause He is the Mediator of the New Testament, that BY MEANS OF DEATH, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, THEY WHICH ARE CALLED MIGHT RECEIVE the promise of eternal inheritance" (Heb. 9:15 cf. Rom. 8:30).
"We call attention to one other deeply important value of the types and the use to which they may be put: they furnish an infallible rule by which can be tested any man’s (our own included) interpretation of the New Testament Scriptures concerning the Atonement! He who denies the penal and vicarious nature of Christ’s death, repudiates the clear testimony of the types; he who sets aside the efficacy of His sacrifice by reducing it to a merely ‘making possible’ the salvation does likewise, FOR THE TYPES KNOW NOTHING OF AN INEFFECTUAL SACRIFICE." Teaching anything contrary to this is to pervert what the Old Testament teaches, through the sacrifices performed by the high priest, about what the coming great High Priest would do. The New Testament teaches that Jesus Christ is the great High Priest of His people (Heb. 4:14). Many say that the Old Testament sacrifices were for Israel but the sacrifice of Jesus was for all, despite the fact that this ‘for all’ sacrifice in no way resembles what the Old Testament high priest did. His sacrifice benefited all those for whom it was performed. This fictional sacrifice for every individual doesn’t do that! It is totally unrecognizable from the Old Testament sacrifice and therefore is not a true reflection or realisation of the Old Testament type.
The types are what pointed to and foretold what the Messiah Jesus would do. "So too in them we see plainly the limitation of God’s love to His elect people, for no lamb was provided for the Egyptians, nor did Aaron make any atonement for the sins of the Midianites and Ammonites!" Does that sound anything like the ‘sacrifice’ of universal atonement? Of course not. The Old Testament sacrifice, which foretold what Christ would do, was an exclusive sacrifice. There was nothing general about it! Christ’s substitutionary death was not on the behalf of the non-elect. It was not for those who were not among God’s chosen ones whom He had given to Christ to die for, but only and exclusively for those elected by God to be His sheep, His children and the sole benefactors of Christ’s work of salvation. After all, God saves only those whom He has called and predestinated to be justified by Christ’s death (see Rom. 8:30 & Isa. 53:11). The result of Christ’s sacrifice did not hinge on those who would choose Him but was a forgone conclusion, because it was made, it was performed, it was done, for the benefit of all those whom God pre-chose Christ should die for. As with the Old Testament sacrifice, so too, Christ’s sacrifice was not for any other people apart from God’s chosen people, which is the strongest evidence yet that there was a single specific purpose in His death and belief in any other purpose for His sacrifice amounts to not believing in HIS death according to the Scriptures and therefore not believing in HIM. The Sacrifice of Christ was for the purpose of benefiting all those for whom it was made and none other. The Pelagian, semi-Pelagian or Arminian doctrines of universal atonement are utterly indefensible, for they can never be matched or aligned with these clear and unmistakeable teachings and Messianic prophecies of the Old Testament.
When one says that Christ died for those whom God had chosen before the foundation of the world, one is saying 1) By His death, Christ has redeemed ALL those for whom He died; 2) His death was wholly triumphant, in that it fully accomplished what Christ set out to do and that was to save His people from their sins; and 3) Not one person for whom His precious blood was shed will fail to be saved and end up in the confines of Hell. The Arminian doctrines refute all this. The doctrine of universal atonement is a massive lie which denies the true Savior and replaces Him with an impotent counterfeit who can do nothing but watch powerlessly as the majority of people he died for fall hopelessly into Hell. His death accomplished nothing and the blood in this false savior’s veins was no more capable of saving a person than any sinful man’s blood is. Far from being ‘just a doctrinal thing’, ‘a matter of opinion’, ‘an issue of particular theological persuasion’, which has no bearing on a person’s spiritual state, such teachings are a corruption of God’s truth and those who adhere to such rot stand in denial of the Gospel, and are at this moment, in an accursed state. The Arminian doctrines insist that Christ’s death did not save everyone for whom He died but that many, if not most, would, despite allegedly having their sins atoned for on the cross, still end up in Hell. In other words, even what God the Son Himself has done under the direction of the Father, was not enough to secure the salvation of all, or in fact any, if they do not, of their own accord, of their own free will, choose Him and accept what He has done. Yes, that’s right! The Arminian doctrine of universal atonement teaches that Christ’s death for all was potentially completely in vain if no one accepted what had been done for them. Can you imagine such a scenario? Christ dying for the sins of man, this being the very centre point of history and the great centrepiece of God’s salvation plan, and then just sitting there hoping that someone would accept what He had done lest it all be done in vain! Please do not scoff at this, for this is precisely what the doctrine of universal atonement holds to have been a very real possibility, for it says that Christ has made atonement for all without exception but unless we accept it, the whole thing was done in vain. Can you imagine sinful man having the last word on whether or not Christ’s death would in any way be successful. The Word of God knows of only two ways Christ’s death could have been for nothing, in vain, and that is: "...if righteousness come by the Law, then Christ is dead in vain" (Gal. 2:21) and "...if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins" (1 Cor. 15:17). Why would the Father tell the Son to die for a people He did not give Him—a people who would not believe? Why would the Father send the Son to die for a people who would reap no benefit from what He did? Why would the Father send the Son to die for a people He did not predestinate to be called and justified through faith? What kind of a death would this be? It could not be an atoning death, for their sins remain unatoned for. It could not be a substitutionary death, for their sins have not been taken away and they have not been made righteous. His blood was shed in sacrifice, but their sins are not remitted. Nothing has been accomplished!! The following illustration shows clearly the nonsensical nature of the doctrine of universal atonement: if someone tells you that they have paid your electricity bill, then either they have paid it or they have not. They cannot say to you, ‘If you accept what I have done then I have paid your bill'. Either they have paid it, that is, handed over the money, made the transaction and the bill has been stamped PAID, or they are lying! This is in fact a perfect illustration, for the Bible says that the sins for which Christ has paid the penalty have all been NAILED to His Cross (Col. 2:14), alluding to the middle eastern tradition which is even used in many western countries, of driving a nail through an account thus signifying payment/satisfaction made and that no further payment is required or necessary. How many times must one pay an electricity bill in order for the electric company to be satisfied? What has your acceptance got to do with this transaction done on your behalf? Your acceptance is not that which validates (gives legal force to) the transaction, IT IS THE PAYMENT MADE WHICH CANCELS THE DEBT! Is it not the sole business of the one who has paid the debt and the one to whom the debt was owing? The one who has had his bill paid is merely the beneficiary of what was done on his behalf. How many times must God punish sin in order to be satisfied? Surely God’s wrath towards the sin of those Christ suffered punishment for was exhausted on the cross. Surely God’s method of dealing with sin was successful and absolutely fulfilled by Christ’s blood shed on the cross, for this was the method God designated to deal with sin. This was God’s perfect solution to mans’ sin problem.