WHAT IS THE GOSPEL? (part 2)
The next gentleman’s responses to my question, ‘What is the Gospel?’, comes from pastor F of a Reformed Bible Church in U.S.A. His first reply is as follows:
I received your letter and wish to respond to your question about the gospel. Obviously you must be reading the Bible and what you search is found on it's pages. Romans 3 is a good place to start, note particularly Verse 23. Then Romans 6, particularly verse 23. Romans 10 beginning in Verse 9 and following and then Corinthians 15:1-11. You will find that salvation begins with repentance of sin. From Romans 3 you find that all men are born dead in sin (see also Ephesians 2). It is sin which separates us from God. Romans 6 shows you that there is nothing you can personally do in order to pay for your sins, it is impossible. Church membership does not count, being baptized as an infant, keeping the law, whatever you may try to do your sins are never paid for. But the good news is God has provided the means for sinners to be saved through the sacrificial death of His Son, God incarnate, Jesus Christ and His resurrection from the dead. If you repent of your sins and by faith alone embrace Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior the good news is you will be saved. May I suggest you also read Romans 5, Ephesians 1 and 2, Hebrews 9 as well as the entire Gospel of John? I sincerely hope that this helps you in your seeking for answers. I urge you to seek the Lord with all your heart and soul. You should find a good church to attend where you can ask questions and be personally guided in your search for salvation (Romans 10 affirms this to be a good thing to do).
God Bless you in your search.
All By Grace pastor F, Reformed Bible Church
In pastor F’s first email to me I was encouraged to finally see some seemingly genuine interest in my question and an attitude of care shown towards its author. Whilst these are valuable traits, they really are of no worth to the recipient if they are not accompanied by God’s true Gospel teaching. However nice and gentle and loving a person may act towards us, it is no guarantee that what the person believes and teaches is the Truth and the True and only way to salvation. We must not be swayed by a man’s appearance and genteel manner but we must pay strict attention to his message. If that message is not God’s Message then we are to avoid such a person, insofar as spiritual fellowship goes, and we are to give them the Gospel of God with all gentleness and patience (Rom.16:17; 2 Tim.2:24,25). Along with the others I have written to, pastor F has stated several truths in his email to me and the verses he quoted are, of course, most helpful to a person’s being rightly taught the Gospel. However, what has taught is not the Gospel. In saying that God has provided the means for sinners to be saved, are we to understand that this includes every individual sinner or those whom God has chosen unto salvation? We cannot tell from his response because he has not made it clear one way or the other. This is vitally important, for if one says that God has provided the means for all sinners to be saved then one must hold to the belief that Christ’s sacrifice was made for all. Seeing then that Christ has not, indeed could not, have failed in His sacrificial death for the redemption of all for whom it was made, we must conclude that all will be saved. Since this is patently not the case, such teaching as God having provided the means to salvation for every individual, is false and highly deceptive. also mentions that ‘salvation begins with repentance of sin’, but what sin must a man repent of in order to be saved? Does he speak only of repentance from an immoral lifestyle? What of those who have lived upright and moral lives and who have virtually no obvious sins, to their mind, to repent of. Is repentance an act done in order for a man to get saved? Or does repentance follow a man’s being regenerated by a loving God by means of His Holy Gospel and Holy Spirit? The word ‘repent’ means to change one’s mind. The repentance which Scripture speaks of is not merely repentance from one’s immorality but also from the sin of idolatry, from ever having believed and trusted in any person or religion other than Christ Jesus the Lord and His Righteousness imputed, for one’s salvation. This, too, is something has failed to make clear in his letter. ‘Belief’ of the Gospel which is not accompanied by a repentance of all past trusting in one’s ‘good works’ and idolatrous beliefs, is not the belief or faith which comes from God (see Phil. 3).
My reply to pastor F’s comments are as follows:
I do thank you very much for replying to my question on what the Gospel is. I apologise if I led you to believe that I am not a believer but one who is searching. I am a believer in the Gospel of Jesus Christ the One Who came to save His people from their sins.
What I am specifically wanting to know is what you believe the preaching of the cross is, and what it is that a man believes which shows he is lost, and what it is that he believes which gives evidence that he is saved, in light of Christ's words in Mark 16:16.
I assure you that my words come from a gentle spirit and not from an argumentative and debate-driven one.
If it would be easier for you to convey your beliefs I could send you a copy of my first booklet 'God's only Gospel' and you can then comment on what I have written.
Pastor F's reply is as follows and in full:
Thanks for your most recent letter, I praise God that you have been saved by His Sovereign Grace.
In answer to your questions. What is it that must be believed in order to be saved? First of all the unregenerate must believe that God exists, and that He is holy, perfect, just, righteous, etc. (Genesis 1, et.al) Second he must believe that man is born in sin, alienated from God, under the just wrath of God, dead in trespasses and sin (Romans 3, 8, Eph. 1 and 2, et.al) Third he must believe that the only hope of salvation which he has is through God's provision of His sinless, perfect Son, the Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 5, et.al.) Forth he must believe that Jesus is the Son of God, co-eternal and co-equal with God the Father, the perfect Lamb of God who was born of a Virgin, lived a sinless life and died as the substitutionary sacrifice for the sins of His people and rose again from the dead (See the gospels, etc.) Fifth he must repent of his sins (turn from them 1 Thess.1) and by faith alone embrace Jesus Christ as His Lord and Savior. What is not believed by those are condemned: They do not believe that salvation is by faith alone in the atoning death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. They do not believe the gospel, do not believe that God is who the Word of God says He is And the list could go on. What they do believe is that salvation is by their own "free-will" - an "act of their own works" - they "merit salvation because of their being good, belonging to a church or something similar to that"
I hope this answers your questions. Volumes could be written. Now, I would ask you a few questions. Why did you write to me? Where have you heard about my being equipped or able to explain the gospel? Are you involved with a certain group or organization? I ask these questions because from time to time I receive letters from other people who are not concerned about the truth but are seeking to promote their ideas and even go so far as to label others unregenerate because they do not agree with them. I would appreciate your answering these questions;
All By Grace pastor F
Pastor F’s response here isn’t a bad one at all but again, like the replies received from others, he fails to state things in a more specific way. He mentions only a few things which those who stand condemned do not believe but none of these involve the Cross of Christ and its proper biblical teaching. Several terms such as ‘salvation is by faith alone’ are not explained. There are many people who are in hell today who firmly believed that they were true believers in the doctrine that salvation is by faith alone. But what exactly does this term ‘faith alone’ mean? For many, it means that they believe Christ has saved them but they must now live an upright life, which they say is only possible by the grace of God, in order to maintain that salvation. They say that though one has faith alone in Christ for their salvation, they can at any time lose that salvation by not adhering to an upright life and committing certain sins. Faith which biblically believes in Christ alone for salvation is the faith which believes that ALL of salvation from beginning to final glory is conditioned on Christ and that nothing the sinner can do or fails to do will keep the sinner in a saved state or impede the sinner’s salvation. The Bible teaches that it is by the power of God that His people are kept unto salvation and not by what the sinner does or abstains from doing (1 Pet.1:3-5). All for whom Christ has died shall see heaven, for they have had their sins imputed to Him and have had His Righteousness imputed to them (Jn.10:27,28; Rom.4:8; 2 Cor.5:21). There is no such thing as ‘losing one’s salvation’, a doctrine which many who claim to believe in faith alone, cling to.
My response via email to pastor F is as follows:
I would like to thank you again for taking the time to write to me. I appreciate this very much.
The reason I have written to you and others as well is because I want to hear directly from various ones what they say the Gospel is. I believe I do hold to and have embraced THE Gospel and am now saved. I spent approximately 14 years in baptist, presbyterian and other 'sound' churches and never once did I ever hear the true Gospel preached. Only in 1990 did I first hear of the so-called 'five points'. I believed most of them, or so I thought, but hesitated on the point that Christ died exclusively for His elect and not everyone. As time went on and I continued my studies of the 5 points I came to the only conclusion possible from Scripture and that was that Christ did die for the elect and any teaching that contradicted this was part of a false gospel wherein is no salvation.
Then I began to hear that many so-called Calvinists whilst claiming to believe that Christ died for the elect insisted that those who did not believe this such as Arminians were just as saved as they were. What I see in Scriptures such as Galatians 1 is that Paul the apostle warned the Galatians that if any came and preached any other gospel than the one he preached it was not a sign that they were saved albeit ignorant of some doctrines, even the essentials, but that they were indeed lost people. It also dawned on me that any who knowingly spoke peace to and considered saved those who considered anyone who did not believe in Christ's death for the elect as saved people, lost as well for they were denying the absolute necessity of believing in the only death and atonement that God bears record to.
No one has yet to show me from Scripture that a man is saved if he is ignorant of any part of the Gospel, the preaching of the Cross, and how it can be that a man who calls saved what the Holy Spirit calls lost, is saved.
Your comments to all this are looked forward to very much. I simply seek to know God's Truth. I am not involved in any church here in Australia for I know of none who preach and defend the only Gospel that saves.
Pastor F’s response to the above email is as follows and in full:
Thanks for you letter, and answering my questions. May I make several comments? First - the gospel, what is essential for an individual to be saved is repentance of sin and faith alone in Jesus Christ as the crucified and risen Savior. This is seen clearly in the presentation of the gospel in the Book of Acts and throughout the epistles. On the day of Pentecost Peter preached the gospel of repentance and faith for the forgiveness of sins. Philip preached Christ from Isaiah 53 and the Ethiopian eunuch "believed that Jesus Christ is the Son of God". Now, my question to you is, did those who repented, believed and were baptized as a testimony of the sincerity of their faith believe the 5-points prior to their conversion? Are understanding and acceptance of the 5-points absolutely necessary prior to salvation for a person to be truly saved? If a person has truly repented of their sins and by faith alone embrace Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior and yet has never been taught or exposed to the 5-points unsaved? Now, I'm not talking about those who have heard the 5-points and then reject them, that is a whole different story. Another question, if an Arminian pastor preaches that men are sinners and that Christ came into the world to save sinners and calls men to repent of their sins and by faith believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, died on the cross for sinners and rose again - is he preaching a false gospel because he did not say Jesus died only for the elect? Is God incapable of using the gospel preached by an Arminian to save His elect? One last thing, do you think it is proper to judge the eternal souls of other men and declare them unregenerate? I would be interested to hear what you would say to someone who asked, as the Philippian jailor did the Apostle Paul, "What must I do to be saved?" What answer would you give?
Dear sir I am truly sorry that you are neglecting the gathering of the saints as directed in Hebrews 10:23-25. It may be true that you cannot find others who believe exactly as you do but I'm sure there are some Reformed Baptist churches in Australia. And please, be discerning in what you read and participate in on the internet. I'm pretty sure I know where your convictions have come from and you may be getting swept up "doctrinal regeneration" of which Scripture has nothing to say.
If you want to be a well-fed Christian please consider visiting the ________ website, I think you will be blessed.
All By Grace pastor F
Pastor F’s comments on what is essential to a person being saved would be readily embraced by any Roman Catholic. They, too, use the term ‘faith alone’ and claim to believe in ‘the crucified and risen Savior’ but their interpretation of ‘faith alone’ and who that Savior is does not concur with the teaching of the Word of God. So, to say that salvation is dependant on repentance and faith alone in Jesus Christ, really does not go far enough in defining what it is that a saving knowledge of Christ actually is. This is not an exercise in nit-picking but is in order to draw the reader’s attention to the dangers of such broad non-specific teaching on Christ and His Work. Such teaching leaves room for a person to hold to a false christ who cannot profit them. The saved believe in repentance of sins which includes that of idolatry and dead works, those deeds done before being born again, and their faith is in Jesus Christ alone as the Savior Who came to, and did, save His people from their sins. They believe that nothing the sinner can do either before salvation or after one is saved can in any way to any degree contribute to their attaining or maintaining salvation for they hold to the Truth that Christ has done it all. That gets the Gospel Message across rather than Mr. Diggins’ interpretation.
My reply to pastor F’s email is as follows:
Thank you again for your reply. My answers will follow your comments.
I agree that the Gospel is what must be believed in but my question is what is the Gospel. Everyone, from Roman Catholics to Seventh-Day Adventists say the Gospel must be believed in but they all have different gospels. They all say something different about Who Christ is and what Christ has done.
Firstly, I do not promote the five points as the Gospel in its entirety. I do not promote calvinism nor do I consider myself a calvinist. I am one who simply believes what the Scriptures say and if that happens to be what Calvin or anyone else taught and believed then so be it. Again, I reiterate the words of Christ when He said that only those who believe the Gospel, that is who abide in the doctrine of Christ, are saved and have God and those who do not believe in the specific Testimony of God as to Who His Son is and what His Son has done are all lost. It stands to biblical reason therefore that any who calls saved that which the Holy Spirit calls lost are lost themselves for they cannot be basing the lost person's 'salvation' on the Gospel but by some other standard which is not God's Standard. All who are saved and justified by the blood and Righteousness of Christ believe and abide in His Gospel for they are born of it.
What I believe is what Christ taught: those who believe the Gospel, the preaching of the cross, are saved and those who do not regardless of how moral they might be and how many sinful works they have turned their backs on, are lost. To 'believe' is to understand, trust in and accept so how can any person however religious they might be have God when they do not know and do not abide in His Doctrine? I am not defending the 5 points, but the Gospel itself. How can anyone be saved and truly believe in Christ and what He has done if they have never heard THAT Christ preached and therefore do not believe in Him. Many say they believe in Christ but it is what they believe and not simply their 'believing' that is important, for what they believe defines the one they believe in.
What an arminian preacher preaches is not the Gospel of Christ. It is not that God is incapable of using the gospel that an arminian preacher promotes but that God does not, has never and will never save a man by means of a false gospel. Are you saying that the arminian's gospel of Christ dying for every individual and the true Gospel that Christ died for the elect are one and the same? Is not the death and atonement of Christ the central element of true Gospel preaching and that to take away or add to what Christ has truly done for His people, as the arminian gospel does, is to teach and believe another gospel? The arminian preacher says that Christ's death was for everyman and that it is now up to the man to accept and receive what has been done in his behalf. This means that most for whom Christ died will go to hell regardless of His efforts. The Old Testament knows absolutely nothing of such an 'atonement'. The O.T. atonement which was a type of what Christ would do was made for a people, God's people just as Christ's atonement is made for a people that they would be saved. All for whom He died will be saved. That is the Gospel message. Anything else is a lie and not the gospel at all. The arminian gospel is a lie for it does not preach the true Christ and what He has done for His people. Christ was to be named 'Jesus' for He would come to save His people from their sins. The arminian jesus came to make salvation possible for all people. He is not the Savior but a wannabe saviour.
So many find it so wrong to say a person is lost when they name the name of Christ, call Him Lord etc. Paul the apostle in Galatians 1 told the Galatians that if any came to them with a different gospel they were lost. He did not say that they were in all likelihood saved yet ignorant of a few doctrines. He said they were lost. Any who believe or promote another gospel or who say that there is salvation in any other gospel other than Paul's are lost at that point in time. Paul was a minister of the Gospel who said of some he had not even met that they were lost based on the fact that they preached another gospel and not the one and only Gospel given to him of God.
I did not receive the Gospel I hold to from the internet or from any man. I received it from the Word of God. I have been involved with false gospels for many years, Romanism, Copeland, Charismatics, Baptists who never once told me of the Righteousness of Christ. I have examined this Gospel every way I can. I have talked with as many as I could and this Gospel I have has not even been dented once by what others say against it.
I did not write to you or the others I have asked what the Gospel is with a plan to debate and score points or any silly thing like that but to sincerely understand what people are saying who insist that a man can be saved before he hears, understands and believes the Gospel.
There may well be some who preach the Gospel here but I have yet to meet them. I hope to one day. Scripture says that if the Gospel be hid it is hid to those who are lost. It is not hid to those who are saved and merely ignorant of the Gospel, but to those who are lost. If a man does not hold to God's Gospel he is lost regardless of how religious he is and how many sins he has turned from. I am sure you know or know of many Roman Catholic people who live upright moral lives. Their character and conduct would even show up many true Christians. But, if they do not abide in the Doctrine of Christ they simply have not God.
To the Philippian jailor's question 'what must I do to be saved?' I would answer 'Believe the Gospel and you will be saved'. You and I know that this would not be an act from the free will of man but would be a gift from God. The charge that I may be of those who subscribe to the 'doctrinal regeneration' teaching is a false one for I say there is nothing a man can do to come to God. Believing in God's Gospel is not a condition one must meet to get saved but is the principal evidence that one is saved.
Please know that my answers come from a gentle heart that seeks not confusion and debate for debate's sake. I only seek to glorify God and His glorious Gospel and to defend it as the only means to salvation and that every other gospel out there is a false refuge which will not protect anyone.
I am happy to continue our correspondence as long as you are.
Further to my comments to pastor F, I would like to add that to ask whether those to whom Peter preached the Gospel on Pentecost, and the Ethiopian eunuch to whom Phillip preached, all believed in ‘the five points’ is really a nonsense question. The ‘five points’, for those who are not familiar with them, are: (1) Man is dead in sin and cannot come to God in and of himself; (2) God has chosen a people to become His children from before the foundation of the world, not based on their deeds but upon His grace and purpose; (3) Christ died for the elect of God exclusively accomplishing redemption for them all; (4) The Holy Spirit will bring each and every one whom God has chosen and for whom Christ died to a saving knowledge of the Gospel; (5) And none whom God has chosen, for whom Christ died and who have been called by the Holy Spirit and had the Gospel savingly revealed to them, will ever perish for they have been given eternal life. No person who has ever been saved, a true believer in God’s Gospel, has ever or will ever, after their salvation, reject any of these teachings for they form part of the doctrine of Christ that every saved person abides in. The Standard God has set for every man is repent and believe the Gospel or you will perish. Therefore, it is of a certainty that all who are saved, whether it be the Philippian jailor or the Ethiopian eunuch, believe the Gospel of Jesus Christ’s Substitutionary and Atoning Death for His people and that man in and of himself can do nothing to come to God, hence every saved man’s trust in Christ alone as the Savior, and looking to nothing he has done but has rather repented of, and forsaken all his own imperfect deeds of ‘obedience’ and religious efforts and fully embraced the Savior and all HE is and all HE has done for the sinner to attain and maintain his saved state for all eternity (see Phil 3:8-10). The ‘five points of Calvin’ are all Scriptural and did not begin with John Calvin or any other man. These points of doctrine are the basic principles of Gospel teaching and rejection of any one of them is a rejection of the whole and is a sure sign of lostness, for the rejection of any of these principles leaves one with a gospel which conditions some part of salvation on man and leaves room for him to boast, which is something the True Gospel, the Gospel of grace, does not do for everyone of its doctrines attributes ALL the glory of salvation to God alone.
The Ethiopian Eunuch believed that Jesus was the Son of God and it is of a certainty that he believed that THE Jesus, and not a counterfeit, was the Son of God. He believed that the Christ whom Phillip taught him from the Scriptures was the Son of God and not a counterfeit. Pastor F asks: ‘Is a person who has truly repented of their sins and by faith alone embraced Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior and yet has never been taught or exposed to the five points, unsaved?’ My point is, how can they have truly repented and believed in the True Messiah if they have not been taught the five points? How can a person truly, biblically repent of sins (which includes belief in a counterfeit christ and a false gospel) truly embrace God’s Son, if they have not been taught and believed in the True Jesus from God’s Word. How could the apostle Paul have had true Godly repentance BEFORE he knew and believed in the True Gospel which revealed that salvation was only possible based on Christ’s Righteousness and not that of Paul’s? (Phil. 3:9). Many say they believe in the Son of God, but which son of God? There are many ‘sons of God’ taught about today. Which one specifically is being referred to? Are they referring to the JW’s son of God? Or that of the Faith movement? Again, the terms, titles and phrases are all correct but what and whom is meant by such biblical language is the question, which when answered will reveal and identify who the person is really referring to—whether it be the True Christ or a counterfeit. Pastor F refers to the Son of God who died for sinners, but what does he mean by ‘died for sinners’? What does he mean by dying for sinners? Answers to these searching questions will reveal which ‘son of god’ is being spoken of.
No man can ever biblically repent of his sins and truly embrace the Christ of God if he has never heard the Gospel! It matters not whether a person believes that God is the Creator of all, that His Son is named Jesus and was born of a virgin, and scores of other Bible truths. IF ONE BELIEVES NOT THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST, THAT MAN IS LOST! Again, Romans says that "...HOW SHALL THEY BELIEVE IN HIM OF WHOM THEY HAVE NOT HEARD? And how shall they hear without a preacher?" (Rom.10:14). How shall they believe in the True Christ after hearing a false christ preached to them? And how can any man be saved who says that any who believe in a false gospel that promotes a false christ is saved? False gospels simply do not present the true Christ, but a counterfeit. This is why the Bible warns so often of believing and accepting a false gospel: THERE IS NO SALVATION IN IT! (Gal.1:9). Pastor F shows his ignorance of the heart of the Gospel Message: What Christ did on the cross and therefore Who Christ is, when he asks ‘is he (the arminian preacher) preaching a false gospel because he did not say Jesus died only for the elect?’ To say that Christ did not die for the elect exclusively but for all men, is to change the very heart of GOD’S Testimony concerning His Son. God says that HIS Son died for the Church and that He laid down His Life for HIS sheep (Eph. 5:25; Jn. 10:11,15). To say He died for all is to change what Christ did on the cross; it is to change the very essence of what the Gospel teaches about Christ Jesus the Lord and what it means to trust and believe in Him. It changes His Work from having accomplished redemption for His people, to making redemption only possible for all men, conditioned on whether they accept Him or not. This is NOT the preaching of the Gospel, but the preaching of another gospel which does not save. How can it, when it presents lies to the hearer about what Christ has done in His death and thereby denying His very name? Salvation is not conditioned on man’s acceptance of Christ, but on God’s accepting Him and His Sacrifice for all the people He sought to, and did, make atonement for. Man is not saved because he believes, but he believes because he has been saved by the grace of God. Since man is dead in sin and cannot come to the Father on his own, how can salvation be conditioned on man’s decision for Christ? (Jn. 6:44,65). The doctrine of universal redemption is what most who claim to be Christians have embraced and it is a false and satanic doctrine which brings with it a deluded and empty hope of salvation. If a man does not preach the Christ Who died for His people, whom God chose from before the foundation of the world, and that His blood shed for them failed not in the slightest degree to wash away their every sin, he blasphemes the God of the Bible and is preaching a false christ and a false gospel wherein is no salvation.
Pastor F states that it is wrong to judge the eternal souls of men and declare them unregenerate. Yet he, like so many others, never hesitates to judge a man in a positive light! They are always ready to call someone a brother who names the name of Christ, but they are not so ready to examine what that person believes about Christ to see whether or not they have been correctly presented with the only Gospel that saves and whether or not they are in fact abiding in the doctrine of Christ and not in a counterfeit. "Judge righteous judgement" is Christ’s command to His people, and not according to outward appearance (Jn.7:24). The Lord Jesus does not promote the abandonment of right judging for the sake of not offending a person. The Christian must not set out to judge in a negative way in order to lord it over people and bring them ‘under their wing’ as it were, but he is to judge carefully, analytically and above all else biblically, according to God’s Standard of saved and lost, to see whether a person rightly believes the true Gospel. This is not to be done with an elitist or superior attitude to others but should come from a loving and caring heart, in order to see if the person is truly saved. The righteous judgement which Jesus speaks of should be done with the care and concern a parent has for it’s child when it lovingly corrects him. The child is thrilled that he believes 2 + 2= 5. Would it be considered a loving act on the part of the parent to leave the child in his error? Is it enough that the child believes that the true answer is whatever number he feels comfortable with? Would it be considered a loving act to allow the child to remain in error because one did not want to hurt his feelings or risk offending him by interrupting his happiness with loving correction? The parent who truly loves the child does not leave him in his error but lovingly and gently corrects him and tells him what the true answer is. Can such an act be condemned? Of course not! True love cannot remain silent but corrects and instructs in order to bless and edify. If the person does believe in the True Gospel then we can have joyous fellowship with one another. If not, then we are to teach them the Gospel with all meekness, gentleness and patience, yet not for a moment compromising God’s Holy Word. This is how we separate ourselves from those who believe and teach false gospels and who will not be moved from those lies. We do not judge them eternally lost but we judge them lost at the time of their adhering to a false gospel and we pray for their salvation, just like Paul prayed for the salvation of the nation of Israel who had much zeal for God but were hopelessly lost, for their zeal was not according to knowledge, the knowledge of Christ’s Righteousness (Rom.10:1-4). Pastor F’s response to my Email is as follows and in full:
Received you letter, thanks for your replies especially this paragraph: To the Philippian jailor's question 'what must I do to be saved?' I would answer 'Believe the Gospel and you will be saved'. You and I know that this would not be an act from the free will of man but would be a gift from God. The charge that I may be of those who subscribe to the 'doctrinal regeneration' teaching is a false one for I say there is nothing a man can do to come to God. Believing in God's Gospel is not a condition one must meet to get saved but is the principal evidence that one is saved. I agree with your statement. Believing the Gospel is not an acceptance of the facts of Christ's death and resurrection, those at cross all saw Him and die and believed it. Those guarding the tomb knew He had rose again and had to be bribed to lie about it. An individual believes because God, by His Sovereign Grace gives them the new birth, what we call regeneration that precedes repentance of sin and faith alone in Christ's substitutionary death and resurrection. A person may truly believe and be saved and yet not fully understand that he was elect, irresistibly drawn by God or that Jesus died only for His church. That is my point. Now, after salvation that same individual will bear fruits that prove the sincerity of his profession of faith. Among those fruits will be an understanding of election, limited atonement, etc. Such knowledge brings about praise in their hearts for God's sovereign grace.
An arminian can and often does preach the gospel of repentance and faith. Yes, if we know the preacher personally and that he does not believe in limited atonement, election, etc. we would say through his ignorance the truth is proclaimed and God may be pleased to use his message to awaken one of His elect to salvation. Is that preacher unregenerate, well, I refuse to place myself in the position of judging another man's heart. I would point out his error to him and urge him to examine himself in the light of the scripture and pray that God does a work in his heart. My concern is that there are those who would label Spurgeon, Hodge, Machen and a host of other great theologians "unregenerate" because they hold out the possibility that an arminian can preach the gospel and others can be brought to Christ through their preaching. I refuse to be a part of such labelling.
Thanks again for writing. I sincerely hope you will find fellowship, perhaps you should consider planting a church where you are. Surely there must be others who share you conviction and let's face it, accountability is something which we all need. In the mean time be assured of my prayers.
All By Grace
My reply to pastor F’s comments is as follows:
Dear pastor F,
Again, I appreciate your taking the time to write to me.
You mention that a person may be saved and yet not understand that Christ died only for His Church. I have nothing against a person's learning and growing in the knowledge of God but for a person not to understand that Christ died for His people alone is to miss the core teaching of the Gospel, the preaching of the cross. If he does not know what he believes then he cannot be said to believe the Gospel and therefore be saved. If he does not understand that Christ died for the elect then he cannot understand and therefore believe in His atoning work upon the cross, he cannot hold to the Gospel truth that Christ accomplished redemption on the cross and not merely made it possible. Who one believes Christ died for shows what one believes Christ did on the cross. And, let's face it, if one has got what Christ did on the cross wrong then one cannot be said to believe in God's only Gospel.
You say that after salvation a person shows fruits etc. This is the type of judgement that Christ forbids. And, this is one of the reasons so many are in such a confused mess today and in history that arminians are saved for they do not judge them according to what they believe but allow a man's gospel to be riddled with error and yet insist the man is saved. They find 'support' for this by judging a man's reputation and/or appearance: his character and conduct. How many Mormons and Roman Catholics would be saved if this were the standard of judgement. They have much error in their beliefs but generally their character and conduct is above board. If this standard were God's standard who is to say that they are not saved simply because they fail to fully understand the Truth? You also mention sincerity in one's profession of faith. I have no doubt that the great majority of people who profess Christianity are very sincere but sincerity is not the key to heaven. Christ said that the TRUTH shall make a man free. A man can be sincere but be sincerely wrong. None will be rewarded for sincere beliefs in a false gospel.
My friend, how can you say that truth can be preached through ignorance? I think the starting point for any discussion about arminians is that they believe and teach that Christ died for all thereby changing the truth concerning what Christ did on the cross into the lie that He made salvation possible for all. You know there is nothing in the Old Testament types that speak of or foreshadowed a conditional atonement but that when blood was spilt it was spilt for a determinate number of people, God's people, and all for whom it was spilt received its blessing. Arminianism is an open attack on the person and work of Jesus Christ the Savior of His people and none who preach the arminian lie are saved nor can anyone be saved by hearing a false gospel. And, it must be said that there is nothing in Scripture to support the lie that a man is saved who claims one who does not believe the Gospel, who does not abide in Christ's Doctrine, is a saved person.
Judging another man's heart is something encouraged in the Scriptures. Christ said that His people are to judge righteous judgement not according to appearance but according to God's Word. John said that the person who did not abide in Christ's doctrine has not God. Paul 'labelled' lost and accursed those who came preaching (and therefore believing) another gospel. Character and conduct was not the primary identifying principal as far as Paul was concerned to a person's saved or lost state but it was what they preached that was a dead give away. Salvation is not something which is mystical. I find it fascinating how so many say they will not judge a man yet they do it every day so long as their judgement is a positive one and not a negative one.
That Spurgeon openly called Wesley's gospel 'another gospel' is testament enough that by also saying that Wesley was saved that Spurgeon was, at best, a confused man, and at worst a lost man. Let us not judge by reputation or by how many books a man has written etc., but let us judge by the Word of God. Christ says no one is saved who does not believe the Gospel. Spurgeon said that many were saved who believed in another gospel. I put it to you that you would not hesitate for a moment in thinking I was mad if I were to have written to you such a view!
I leave you with a question none have answered and I believe none ever can: where is the Scriptural ground that supports such a notion that a man who does not believe the Gospel is saved? And, how can a man be saved who calls saved that which the Holy Spirit of God deems lost?
Thank you again for your time and I look forward to hearing from you again.
Sadly, I did not hear from pastor F again. No reply to this email of mine. No answers to the statement I made or the points I covered or my comments on his statements and no answer to my final question. For whatever reason, or reasons, pastor F saw fit not to respond to my email, to continue our correspondence, not even to show me the slightest degree of respect and courtesy by saying he wished not to continue our correspondence and provide the reason why. Just a very loud silence is all I was left with. It is offensive and highly frustrating for this author to be ignored in such a manner. To see such men in positions of leadership and who are trusted by many just walk away and count themselves justified in what they believe and in not replying to me is quite irritating. Ironically, many such leaders refer to this author and other true Gospel believers as cultists. They believe we are in a cult and have been led astray from the proper biblical ground, that we are extremists and narrow-minded. But I must point out that it is they who are doing all the running away and hiding and not I!! I have not shied away from the Truth that must be believed or closed myself off to that which I may be ignorant of. I have gone to these men, who say they are ministers of God, and have asked them plainly and simply what the Gospel is etc. I fear not the truth and if what I believe is not the truth, I am fully prepared to change what I believe and embrace that which can be proven by Scripture to be the Truth. It is they who have run and hid themselves, perhaps behind their plush leather office chairs, and not I. And I guarantee the reader that if the roles were reversed, if it was they who sought me out and were concerned with what I was preaching and asked me to define the Gospel I believe in to them and I, after a few letters, decided to stop writing and run away and hide, they would shout it from the roof tops and ruthlessly publish it in their bulletins and magazines that I could not answer their questions, thus proving that I am a shady character who should not be trusted and must be leading, or at least part of, some new cult.
How concerned I am and fearful for the eternal souls of those who are under the teaching of men such as pastor F. True, they do know many truths, but they do not know THE Truth. Men such as pastor F hide behind well-practiced religious-speak and always present their lines with a smile and a ‘God bless you’. It might sound nice and they might appear gentle loving people, but ‘pastors’ such as pastor F are not to be trusted. The evidence is contained in the email correspondence which is before you. They do not want to be so ‘coarse’ and ‘unloving’ as to say anyone is lost except the very obvious ones who belong to wayout cults such as the Mormons and JW’s, but never will they judge one lost who belongs to a Reformed church and even some Arminian churches who names the name of Christ and calls Him ‘Lord’. Their motives vary but one must never lose sight of the fact that church ministers are men, sinful men like you and I, who usually have families and their only income is that which they are given by their denomination. Most are not trained for anything else and many would have difficulty in finding other employment. They are men like anyone of us and, just like the corporate executive, they must tow the company line, not straying from it and risk offending their people and increasing their numbers and, perish the thought, lose their jobs, respect and prestige among the religious community. My friend, trust in the Word of God and the Christ of God and don’t ever shy away from telling someone that they have been taught and have embraced a false gospel. Remember, true love does not remain silent but corrects and instructs in order to bless and edify.
Do not allow any religious leader to intimidate you by his stature or reputation or position of authority etc., but always remember that they are just sinful men who are all subject to error. Simply because a man has a title, before his name or letters after his name does not guarantee that what the man teaches is God’s Truth. Christ spoke in a most powerful and clear manner to the religious leaders of his day in whom all trusted and looked to for spiritual guidance. He told the most religious people of His day, the Pharisees, spiritual leaders of a nation, that they knew not the Father and were of their father the Devil: "If God were your Father, ye would love me...Ye are of your father the Devil...because I tell you the truth, ye believe Me not...He that is of God heareth God’s Words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God" (Jn.8:42,44,45,47). This, to a people who daily read and meditated upon the Old Testament Scriptures! Christ also told them: "ye believe not, because ye are not of My sheep..." (Jn.10:26). I do not advocate that any child of God should go around pronouncing the eternal lostness of any person whilst they are alive, for no one knows that except God. BUT, we do know that a person is at present lost if they abide not in the Gospel of God. The reason being, there is no salvation in any other gospel other than God’s Gospel for IT ALONE is the Power of God unto salvation. It may be said that false gospels are the power of Satan unto damnation.
We now come to the final two gentlemen with whom I corresponded. Their emails contain much longer replies than those thus far quoted. The first of these two gentlemen who responded to my question ‘What is the Gospel?’, is pastor G, a Baptist pastor in the state of Colorado, U.S.A. His first reply to my initial email follows in full:
Dear Moreno, do I know you? How did you get my email address?
It seems pastor G was at first more interested in finding out how I obtained his email address than answering my questions.
My reply is as follows:
No, you do not know me. I am from Australia and was sent your email address from a friend.
I look forward to your answer to my question ‘What is the Gospel’ and the others I asked. Thank you.
Pastor G’s reply follows in full:
What friend of mine gave out my email address?
If you are one of those who believe that all Arminians are unsaved, and also any Calvinist who says that an Arminian is saved is not saved either, and you’re looking for someone to argue with, I’m not interested.
Rather an abrupt and presumptive reply I would have thought. Pastor G has immediately gone on the defensive after presuming I am one who is merely after an argument. Hardly the manner in which a pastor should speak and hardly the example a pastor should set.
My response follows in full:
Dear pastor G,
I am not looking for an argument at all with you or anyone else.
Also, it is not important who gave me your email address. I did not say he was a friend of yours but a friend of mine who gave me your address and those of others.
All I am simply asking you is to tell me what the Gospel is. What is it that must be believed in order for a man to be saved, in light of Mark 16:16, and what is it that if a man does not believe it he gives evidence that he is lost. I am seeking this answer because I want to know for certain that the Gospel I believe in is THE Gospel and not a counterfeit. In light of Scripture any who do not believe the Gospel are lost and only those who do believe it are saved. This is made quite plain in God's Word.
So, I hope to hear from you again but if you really would prefer not to write to me then please feel free to ignore this email and you will not hear from me again.
I must point out that I erred when telling pastor G that what I said was that a friend of mine gave me his email address, when in fact what I actually said was that a friend had passed his address on. Pastor G finally did decide to deal with my questions and his lengthy reply is included here in full:
I am writing to you a personal, private letter to answer your question. Therefore I trust you'll respect my privacy and not make my letter public by posting it on the web, or forwarding it. And please don't put my name on any email lists. If Scott Price gave you my email address, please ask him not to do that any more. For some reason, I can't help thinking that your question was meant to bait people into a debate. But against my better judgment (I've given up on discussing this issue with certain folks over a year ago), maybe there are a few things for you here to think about.
Concerning your question about Mark 16, you're probably aware that in many of the most ancient manuscripts of Mark, that passage is not even in the manuscript, and that some good Christians think that it is a later addition. So you may not want to build any theology upon it.
But there are other passages in the New Testament which say basically the same thing as the Mark passage. Acts "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved," Romans 10:, "Whoever confesses with his mouth that Jesus is Lord and believes in his heart that God raised him from the dead shall be saved." And even I think early in Mark's Gospel, Jesus said, "Repent and believe the Gospel."
The problem we face is this: If you say one has to believe too many things with all their details, it gets so exclusive that
the "Church" which Christ said would turn into a big tree, turns into a cult, where only the fifteen people who believe very much like you do, are saved.
We have groups like that in America who go by the name "Reformed" and pronounce most evangelical Christians and Reformed Christians as "outside the camp." My experience with them is that they are fleshly (continual strife and argumentativeness is a deed of the flesh-see Gal 5). They also are abusive and are filled with evil speaking. Somehow they've confused the work of spreading the Gospel, with their attempt to do the work that Christ said only angels will do at the end of the world, that is, the work of plucking up all the tares and everything that offends out of the kingdom. When one tries to reason with them, they get irrational, jump to conclusions, starting calling brothers in Christ all sorts of horrid names. Maybe you've run into them, but I hope not. They not only say that people who are Arminian in their theology are not saved, they say that if any Calvinist thinks that an Arminian is saved, he's also not saved as evidenced by the fact that the Calvinist spoke "peace" to the Arminian.