WHAT IS THE GOSPEL? (part 5)
Again, pastor H’s article on the true Gospel and the false contained much truth which would easily lead a true believer into believing that the author of it would readily agree that all those who believe in another gospel are lost, including all arminians and tolerant calvinists (those who say that arminains are saved regardless of the fact that they do not abide in the doctrine of Christ’s Substitutionary Death for all His people). But all is not what it seems on the surface, as pastor H’s future emails would prove. His next email to me was merely one in which he asked for my booklet to be sent in another format as it was illegible in the format I had sent it:
Dear Mr. Dal Bello,
Thank you for your comments and for a little more information regarding yourself. I would be happy to read your booklet, but I was unable to download it as sent. Perhaps you could save it in "Rich Text Format," and re-send it? I use Word '97 as my word processor, but most word processors can read documents sent in "Rich Text Format" (.rtf). It's a pleasure to make your acquaintance.
In His grace, pastor H
My reply to this request follows:
Dear pastor H,
I'm glad to hear from you again. I do apologise but I thought I had sent the booklet in rtf format. I have attached it in that format now for you and I pray the booklet will be a blessing. I must mention that several things you said in your article on the Gospel I have said in my writings such as the arminian gospel and the true Gospel being diametrically opposed. How any can say that arminians are saved when they well know their gospel is a false one is beyond me. These peace speakers are as lost as the arminians are for they do away with the essentiality of the Person and Work of Jesus Christ for His people.
Thank you for your kindness.
Pastor H’s reply, quoted here in full, reveals what he really believes concerning saved and lost:
Dear Mr. Dal Bello,
I just received your booklet in .rtf format. Everything downloaded just fine. Thanks for resending it. I shall look forward to reading it soon. As for Arminians being saved or lost, I believe there are definite gradations of error within the Arminian camp and I don't know how much error God is willing to put up with in a person's understanding of the Gospel. That's why, rather than to state, categorically, that all Arminians are lost, I prefer to put the matter this way: we should not give Arminians any assurance that they're saved and we should not treat them as though they're saved brothers and sisters in Christ, based on the fact that they profess a certain amount of human cooperation with the Gospel rather than 100 percent God's working. This leaves the matter of their salvation in God's hands, but at the same time keeps us faithful to the proclamation of the Word. I certainly agree with you that we should not speak peace to them if they profess an Arminian understanding of the Gospel.
Joy to you in His grace, pastor H
Well, if there ever was a set of award-winning contradictory statements, this is it! Pastor H’s reply is riddled with inconsistencies.
My direct reply to pastor H follows, to which I shall then make some additional comments:
Dear pastor H,
I want to thank you for your response and I am glad that the booklet got through to you ok. I also would like to mention that my replies to you come from a gentle heart and not from an argumentative debate-driven spirit. I appreciate your time, sir, and look forward to future correspondence with you.
I believe your answer to the matter of the lostness of arminians really says it all. The fact that you will not and cannot speak peace to them and give them any assurance shows that you obviously believe they are lost because, based on your not speaking peace to them, you know they believe and promote another gospel wherein is no salvation.
Galatians 1, which you referred to in your article shows plainly that Paul was absolutely certain of the lost state of those who would come preaching another gospel which did not promote the work of salvation as being 100% of God. Therefore, I believe it is right and biblical to consider a person in a lost state at the time of their confessing a false gospel. We know that all arminians say that Christ died for everyone and that it is now up to us to receive what Christ has done. That is where the line between error and truth, saved and lost is drawn. Who one believes Christ died for shows what one believes He did on the Cross. If what one believes Christ did on the Cross coincides with God's Testimony then they are saved, but if it does not correspond precisely with what God says His Son did then we have another gospel for it is guaranteed they have either added to or taken away from Christ's atoning work.
I will always be interested in your comments.
Pastor H’s comments regarding arminians, those who believe in universal atonement and who condition salvation on the sinner, are highly contradictory. Firstly he admits that assurance of salvation should not be given to an arminian and that a true believer should not treat them as saved brothers and sisters in Christ. He bases this on the fact that they profess ‘a certain amount of human cooperation with the Gospel rather than 100 percent God’s working’. What pastor H has here described is the false gospel of works which leaves room for a man to boast and which cannot save. The Bible speaks of the Gospel as the Gospel of Grace and that it is by grace a man is saved through faith, and that even that faith is wholly of God and not of man (Eph.2:8,9). For if it were not so, the gospel would be of works and not of grace and man would have reason to boast. Paul taught that if salvation is by works, any works, then it is no longer of grace. Either salvation is wholly by the free grace of God or man is a debtor to do the whole law. Grace and works cannot be mixed. They are like oil and water (Rom.11:5,6). Paul stated "...if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain" (Gal. 2:21; see also 2 Tim.1:9). Paul even said that if a man was to add even the practice of circumcision to ensure salvation, or make one more fit for heaven, then Christ would not profit that man and that such a man would be a debtor to do the whole law (Gal.5:1-6). I fail to see how pastor H can say what he says and not go that one step further and say that all arminians, who he says true believers should not speak peace to or give any assurance of salvation, are lost. Who else would fit the description of one to whom a true believer should not speak peace to but a lost person? And how else can a person be described who believes in another gospel but LOST? (see Gal.1:8,9). Where is the sense in what he says? Any who profess an ‘arminian understanding’ of the Gospel should not be spoken peace to says pastor H, yet he will not say that every arminian, whilst professing an arminian gospel of works, is lost! The fact of the matter is that what pastor H refers to as an ‘arminian understanding of the Gospel’ is in reality nothing more than belief in a false gospel which cannot save. Many highly regarded Reformed ministers, including many ‘great’ teachers of the past with lofty reputations such as Charles Spurgeon, taught that after one’s initial conversion all christians end up taking one theological path or the other. Some choose to go down the arminian path and others the Calvinistic path, but these ministers, including Spurgeon, insist both these paths lead to the same God! This, in spite of the fact that Spurgeon readily recognized and labelled the arminian gospel as another gospel! If both ‘paths’ lead to the same God, then they must of necessity come from the same God but seeing that the two belief systems of Arminianism and Calvinism are so obviously and diametrically opposed, (something which pastor H admits in his article) this simply could not be. It must be said that spiritual blindness is a terrifying thing to behold. Perhaps the darkest form of spiritual blindness is not that which keeps a man from even believing there is a God, but that which prevents a man from understanding what he says he believes. Paul the apostle set the example when he did not merely discourage peace-speaking to those who brought with them a false gospel; he did not merely refuse to call believer’s in a false gospel ‘brother’ or ‘sister’, refusing to go so far as to call them all lost, but he, without hesitation, referred to every believer in a false gospel as accursed (Gal.1:8,9). False gospels were identified as those teachings which conditioned any part of salvation on man and not wholly on Christ (see Gal. 5).
It is important to note here that this author did not receive a reply to my email from pastor H during the subsequent three weeks, so I took it upon myself to write to him again. Here is my email to him:
Dear pastor H,
I have not heard from you for nearly 3 weeks now and was wondering if you have been able to make time to read my booklet 'God's only Gospel'. I am still very interested in your comments.
Also, I am still interested in your comments regarding my last email to you and have posted it at the end of this email in case you have misplaced the original.
Looking forward to hearing from you.
After sending this email to pastor H, I did receive a prompt reply. It is here quoted in full:
Dear Mr. Dal Bello,
I have just finished reading your document and have attached it to this e-mail with my comments at various intervals in "Revisions" format. I hope you can open and read it. I appreciate your kind spirit of interaction and agree with that same spirit. I hope you won't take offense to my putting it this way, but "Please do not put words in my mouth." My response to the above paragraph is fleshed out in my response to your paper. In essence, I do NOT "obviously believe they are lost." I believe they have a false profession, but I do not presume to know whether or not they are saved or lost since I do not know how much error God will allow in His people. Suffice it to say that the Scriptures give us the true Gospel and that I believe your summary of what those Scriptures teach is a correct summary of the true Gospel. Making judgments as to whether or not a person gives a true profession is an act committed to the officers of Christ's church. I agree with you that the 5 points of Calvinism are part of a required profession for membership in Christ's church. But making judgments as to whether or not a person is actually saved by God or lost is not for us to determine. To say that all those who profess any Arminian doctrine are lost goes beyond the scope of what God has revealed to His church, in my humble opinion. Yet I believe we certainly should not give men false hopes and make them think they're saved when they have serious error in their doctrine of salvation.
Yours in Christ,pastor H
I do not believe I have ever read anything so drenched with as much contradiction, double-talk and double-mindedness in all my life. What will now follow is my direct reply to pastor H and then some additional comments will be made:
Dear pastor H,
Thank you for taking the time to read my booklet and for commenting here on my last email to you.
I cannot understand how you can call anyone saved if by that same standard you are unwilling to call someone lost. Again, Paul the apostle before meeting those men he referred to in Gal. 1 said that they were in a lost state if they did not preach his Gospel. It is a biblical thing to call someone lost if the Gospel is hid from them. The Gospel is tangible and not some mystical thing and salvation is something which may be judged according to what gospel a man believes.
For the sake of simplifying things let us leave aside all the doctrines which make up the Gospel Message except the core ingredient: the death of Christ. You know that arminians believe that Christ died for everyone. You will also know that this changes everything about Who Christ the Person is and what Christ has done. You know that the Old Testament has nothing to say about an atonement which was conditioned on those for whom it was made. Atonement was always made for God's people. They were referred to as God's people not only after the atonement but before it as well. Any who say that Christ died for everyone denies the central message of the Gospel that Christ came to save His people from their sins. Christ accomplished redemption for His people on that cross and not merely made it possible.
I believe you know all this and would agree with it but I see that you will not go that one step further which is the only logical step one can take if one believes these things that all who do not believe Christ died for His people exclusively are those to whom the Gospel is hid and at the moment of their disbelief are in a lost state. This is not to say that they are eternally lost but that they are currently lost. This is not to deny anyone's sincerity in their religion or their zeal. Paul said that Israel the nation had great zeal but it was not according to knowledge. So it is today, if one's zeal and sincerity for God is not according to knowledge, the knowledge of His Gospel about His Son and what He has done for His people, one evidences a lost state.
Paul's calling some 'enemies of the cross' and 'accursed' was not because he could in some mystical way see into their hearts. He knew that it was not God Who had taught them simply by hearing what they taught and believed.
The bottom line is what is the Standard? What is the Gospel that must be believed? The Scriptures speak clearly as to what it is and Who Christ is. One cannot have salvation if one does not believe in HIS name and that name signifies that He would save His people from their sins. To deny this is to deny His very name. One cannot have salvation if one does not abide in the doctrine of Christ and the core doctrine of the Gospel is the preaching of the cross: Who was on that cross and what did He do. If one has this wrong then one is in a lost state.
No, it is not for us to determine whether one is eternally saved or lost. This is not what I am doing nor do I promote it in any way. But, in order to distinguish the false preachers from the true, the saved from the lost one must know the Gospel. I do not believe I am saved because of a changed life nor do I base my salvation on my sincerity or level of zeal but I base and ground my salvation on Who Christ is and what He has done and the glorious grace of God which has opened my eyes to see and believe the Gospel.
You say that we should not give men false hopes etc., that they are saved if they are in serious error. What would you call serious error. I would call the most serious of errors the fact that a man denies that Christ died for His people but that He died for everyone. Every arminian holds to the lie of universalism and it is on that ground I conclude that they are lost. They cannot be saved for they do not believe in the preaching of the cross.
Would I be correct in assuming that you would readily accept the fact that every Roman Catholic is in a lost state? And, that every Seventh-Day Adventist is currently lost along with every Mormon and JW. The reason they are lost is because they have not been taught and therefore do not believe in the one and only Gospel wherein is salvation. They have never been taught the true Christ and what He has done therefore how can they be saved believing in a counterfeit gospel and a counterfeit Christ. Ignorance is not a sign of salvation but one of lostness and darkness. The Gospel has come to bring us out of that darkness and into Light.
I do not say someone is lost, that is, I am not declaring their state of lostness I simply observe it. I am not pronouncing the lostness of anyone. I simply hear what they believe and, if it is not the Gospel of God that they confess Scripture declares they are lost and I simply agree. When I first heard the Gospel after 14 years of religion I had to come to terms with the fact that I was not saved through all those years based on the fact that I did not believe the Gospel because I had never heard it. To believe one was saved before hearing the Gospel shows that one is yet to understand and believe what the Gospel is.
Going back to some other things you mentioned: you said that 'I believe they have a false profession'. You also spoke of those who have a true profession. Going by this I can see that you have a standard upon which you discern whether or not a man's profession is a true one or a false one. If one has a true profession then one evidences a saved state and so based on this same reasoning if one has a false profession one must be in a lost state for how can one be saved whilst holding to a false profession. Every saved person 'God hath from the beginning chosen (you) to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and BELIEF OF THE TRUTH' (2 Thess. 2:13). No one is led of the Spirit to belief of a lie.
You also said that those 'who profess any arminian doctrine are lost goes beyond...' I was sticking to the core teaching of the Gospel, Christ's death, but I am glad you mentioned 'any arminian doctrine'. Let us look at what they believe. Now, not all believe everyone of the following lies but they do hold to most. Firstly, they say that man is not dead in sin and totally depraved but that man can come to God by his own free will. This flies in the face of God's declaration of man's state which is that he is dead in sin, there is none righteous and that none can come to Christ unless the Father draws them. Secondly, they say that salvation is not unconditional but conditional on a person's faith. They say that God did not elect a people based on His purpose and grace but on His foreseeing who would choose Him. They also say that a man can lose his salvation unless he continues in doing good and staying away from sin. The whole arminian doctrine bases things on man. It puts him at the centre and not God. This devilish theme is seen throughout the religions of the world. But THE Gospel of God bases it all on Him. Who He chose; Who His Son died for and to whom His Holy Spirit savingly applies this Truth.
I have written several other booklets which you may read at my friend's site: http://users.bigpond.com/mnscott/ The titles are: God's only Jesus; God loves doctrine; Atonement for whom?; who are the lost; I have recently written a sixth booklet 'Born of the Gospel' which will be on the site soon.
I have had the Gospel I preach confirmed by you and some others in reformed churches but many just cannot come to the point where they admit that one who does not believe it is lost. They cannot get over a person's morality and 'love of Jesus' and the number of years they have been church goers. None of these things is any evidence in and of themselves that one is saved. If one does not have the true Christ how can one say they love Christ? What do arminians say about the Jesus Who died for His people exclusively and not for everyone. I'll tell you what they say: they hate Him and they hate those who promote this Christ. They prefer Satan's counterfeit who died for everyone and accomplished nothing. Whoever heard of people for whom a sacrifice was made going to hell regardless?
To me it is clear: believe the Gospel and you are saved. Fail to believe it or deny even one of its doctrines and you call God a liar and evidence a lost state.
Thank your your time again.
Obviously pastor H took umbrage at my having ‘put words into his mouth’ by presuming, based on his own article, that he believed all arminians are lost. Instead, pastor H prefers to play with semantics and say that all arminians have a false profession but all are not lost! This author would like to know how anyone who has a false profession can at the same time hold to True Justifying Faith? I repeat the question which I asked pastor H: ‘How can one who has a false profession of what the Gospel is possibly be in a saved state, that is, in Christ and abiding in His doctrine?’ How can pastor H discourage peace-speaking to those who profess faith in a false gospel and yet not call all such persons lost? He says that ‘We should not give Arminians any assurance that they're saved and we should not treat them as though they're saved brothers and sisters in Christ, based on the fact that they profess a certain amount of human cooperation with the Gospel rather than 100 percent God's working.’ From this we see that pastor H bases his not calling arminians ‘brothers’, and his refusal to give them any assurance that they are saved, on the ground that they believe in a gospel which conditions salvation on ‘human cooperation'. This is absolutely biblical. However, by that same standard pastor H refuses to call such people lost! He refuses to say that a person is lost who professes faith in the arminian lie, yet he will not call them ‘brother’. Does he then believe that such people are in limbo? Are they ‘between’ saved and lost. He readily admits that they hold to a works gospel, which is why he does not give any such person assurance that they are saved, but will not agree with the Holy Spirit that they are lost! If he does not believe he can speak peace to them, in other words, say to them that they are saved, why can he not also say they are lost? Pastor H says ‘I believe they have a false profession, but I do not presume to know whether or not they are saved or lost since I do not know how much error God will allow in His people'. Pastor H’s double standard of judging is here clearly evidenced in his statement wherein he shows that he knows the amount of error a person may hold which would forbid pastor H from calling their profession a true one, but then says that he does not know how much error it would take for God to pronounce them lost! Lostness and a false profession go hand-in-hand. You cannot have one without the other. One cannot be lost and yet have a true profession, just as one cannot have a false profession and be saved. His reasoning is without any biblical foundation and I know not why he insists upon it. He also admits that he ‘does not know how much error God is willing to put up with in His people’. God is a patient God and very loving toward His people, but none show the principle evidence that they are His people—belief of His Gospel—if they profess a false gospel. The Bible says that all who believe not the Gospel will perish. False profession is not a result of the Light of the Gospel having been given a man, but is an evidence of darkness and ignorance of, or unwillingness to believe, the Truth. The Gospel has come to deliver us out of darkness and ignorance: "Whereunto He CALLED YOU BY OUR GOSPEL, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ" (2Thess.2:14). Here we are told that the believer is unmistakenly called of God by the Gospel. In the following verse we learn what the believer is called out from and what he is brought into. Peter said that the Christian is to "...shew forth the praises of Him Who hath CALLED YOU OUT OF DARKNESS INTO HIS MARVELLOUS LIGHT" (1Pet.2:9; see also Acts 26:18). When God calls out His chosen ones, He always calls them out by His Gospel from darkness to Light. They do not remain in darkness and ignorance but are free from its blinding effects (see 2Cor.4:4). Pastor H says that the Scriptures give us the true Gospel. Well, then, there is his answer as to how much error God is willing to put up with in ‘His people’. If any do not believe the true Gospel, they are lost and are not the children of God but of His Wrath. Pastor H has clearly stated that the Gospel I teach is the True Gospel. God’s people do err in many doctrines but they are non-salvation issues. Again, none can be called a child of God, born again of His Spirit, if they were not given birth to by the Gospel Seed (Jn.3:3,6; 1Pet.1:23-25). Pastor H says that it is not for us to determine whether a person is saved or lost, yet he readily counts himself and others who believe the gospel he believes, as saved. What pastor H, like so many others, is really saying is that it is not for us to determine who is lost. Therein lies the problem such people have. Paul the apostle determined some men lost whom he hadn’t even met! And the only determining factor Paul mentioned upon which he based what many today would brand an ‘unloving’ even ‘ungodly’ attitude, was if they came preaching another gospel. Such people were accursed of God and still under His wrath. The issue is doctrine! Do you believe and abide in the doctrine of Christ or do you sit in darkness believing in the doctrines of men?
What follows now are the comments made by pastor H regarding this author’s book ‘God’s Only Gospel’. Included with this will be the portion of the booklet upon which he is commenting. His comments are included here in full: (excerpts from my book are underlineds. Pastor H’s comments are in italics):
Those who preach false doctrines concerning Christ and His Gospel always have some truth mixed in. But when one mixes error with truth, one always ends up with a lie. A little error added to a big truth makes the whole thing one big lie, one big error (Gal. 5:9). [This is true, but we must also confess that none of us are without error in our understanding of the Scriptures and of the Gospel. This means that there must be some margin for error as far as orthodoxy is concerned, or none of us would be saved. We must all profess the true Gospel, but we're not minimalists – we confess the full Gospel of Christ which is revealed in the Scriptures of the OT & NT. But because none of us are perfect, we must also confess that and avoid the position that says every error in understanding of the Gospel makes it a false Gospel and unable to save us.]
Every true child of God will believe all of the above, for this is what the Faith of God leads every born again person to believe. ["All," meaning every word, exactly word for word as you have put it forth, or "all," meaning the essence of what you have put forth, that is, salvation is of God and not of man? I agree with your presentation of the Gospel here. My only question is whether God will allow no deviation, however small, from any of these doctrines you have set forth? You may know more than I know, but I personally don't know how much error God is willing to put up with in the doctrine and thinking of Christians. Surely I agree with you that we must teach the truth in as pure a fashion as we can. Surely I agree that we must not give men false hopes if their doctrine is in any serious error. Surely I agree that we must not treat as Christian brothers those whose doctrine is in serious error. But for us to categorically say that no man can be saved unless his doctrine is without any error is, in my opinion, nowhere warranted in the Scriptures.]
This is how we can recognize a true Christian from a false christian, for all true Christians believe the same Gospel; they have the same mind: the Mind of Christ. NO MAN IS SAVED WHO DOES NOT BELIEVE THIS GOSPEL, AND NO MAN IS SAVED WHO BELIEVES THAT ANYONE IS SAVED WHO BELIEVES IN ANY OTHER GOSPEL. [I agree. But again, how much error is allowed for it still to be "the same Gospel"? None whatsoever?]
Their "reasoning" shows that they do not believe that Christ's work ALONE makes the difference between heaven and hell but whether the sinner chooses Him or rejects Him. [We have the Lord's Supper every Lord's Day. In our bulletin we have a statement which says, "We normally have the Lord's supper each Lord's Day, using bread and wine as our Lord commanded. If you're a member of a church that teaches salvation by grace alone, through faith in Christ alone, which faith is a gift of God alone, we invite you to partake with us. If you're not a member of such a church yet, please just say 'no thanks' when the plate is passed. We hope you'll join Christ's true church soon so that you too can share in this important sign and seal of membership in Christ's body." By this statement, we declare that we do not recognize as fellow believers those who teach that man has any part in salvation. But that's not the same as saying we believe that all those who believe man has any part in salvation are definitely lost. Again, I believe that God is gracious in allowing for certain errors in the thinking of His children. To what extent and to what degree these errors may exist is His to know. Yes, He gives them faith and that faith is a true faith. But you and I can't see a man's heart to know whether his faith is true or not. We go by a man's profession and we don't accept as a member a man with a profession that salvation is in any way dependent on his response. I do not know for certain, however, whether some men are saved or lost at any given moment. I leave that up to God.]
"Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come ANY unto you, and bring not THIS doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God-speed: For he that biddeth him God-speed is partaker if his evil deeds" ( 2 Jn. 9-11). [If you think John is speaking absolutely here that we are not to receive any into our house who has even a slight error in their thinking about salvation, then I think you push this text beyond its intent. I have had men tell me that, even though I agree that the Bible teaches salvation by grace alone in all 5 points of Calvinism, and even though I preach these 5 points fervently, and even though I do not treat as brothers those who profess Arminian doctrine in any of the 5 points, that because I can't agree with them that every person who might have some Arminian doctrinal misunderstandings in their minds is lost, therefore, I, too, am lost. I have even been told that if I don't believe some good, Orthodox Presbyterian ministers and godly theologians of the past don't agree with their own narrow view of these things, then I'm lost. I have been told by them that the OPC is an apostate denomination on these same grounds.
I have not heard you say these things, but some of your statements concern me that you might be inclined to go in that same direction. Perhaps your clarifications will ease my mind in that respect. In His grace, pastor H
Again, in commenting on my book, pastor H continues with his contradictory stand that though he will not speak peace to any who profess a false gospel, he will not call any who do so ‘definitely lost’.
My reply to pastor H follows, to which I will add further comments:
Dear pastor H,
I have just read through your comments on my booklet and am glad to see that you have no problem with the doctrine of Christ as such.
Basically, what you do have concerns about is how serious does one's error have to be to evidence a lost state. I remember having asked the following question to a friend in my lost days and more recently to a Presbyterian pastor: 'How wrong does one have to be to show that they are in a lost state'. Neither man was able to answer me. Neither one, not even the pastor, mentioned the Gospel. He just said 'I don't know'. The Bible tells us clearly doesn't it? Believe the Gospel and you will be saved; Believe in Christ and you will be saved; Believe in His name and you will be saved; Believe in the preaching of the cross and you will be saved. If one does not believe then one is lost. What must one believe and what is it to believe?
Every religious person out there believes some truth. The Roman Catholic says he believes in salvation by grace, but is it the grace which is taught in Scripture? Obviously not. The Roman Catholic as well as every other religious person who does not abide in the doctrine of Christ believes that salvation in some way and to some degree is conditioned on man. The whole arminian teaching may be summed up by the fact that in some way and to some degree salvation is conditioned on man. No religion teaches that all of salvation from beginning to final glory is conditioned on Christ except the Gospel of Christ. False gospels teach that somewhere along the way man's salvation is conditioned on what he does.
May I share with you an excerpt from a book of mine 'Who are the Lost' in which I deal with the Pharisee and the publican:
The True Gospel is the ONLY Message which gives ALL the glory for salvation to Christ. NO GOSPEL OF MAN'S DOES THAT! Every false gospel leaves room for man to boast. They all teach that at least some part of salvation is conditioned on man. The best argument that believers in false gospels can come up with in defence that their beliefs do not take any glory away from God, let alone leave room for a man to boast, is, ‘though salvation is conditioned on man to some degree, it does not give man room to boast or glory and does not take away any glory from Christ, because anything man does to meet any of the conditions is attributed solely to Christ and His enabling a man to meet the criteria.' This sounds so reasonable but it is devilish to the core, and could only come from the depths of a man's depraved heart and his fleshly insistence that he play some part in his salvation. Listen to how Christ Jesus, in a few short verses, wipes out this type of thinking: "The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I THANK THEE, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I FAST twice in the week, I GIVE tithes of all that I possess.' And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, ‘God be merciful unto me a sinner.' I tell you THIS man went down to His house justified rather than the other: for everyone that EXALTETH HIMSELF shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted" (Lk.18:11-13). Notice here that the Pharisee thanked God that he was not like other men. He then proceeded to boast of what he did, obviously believing, in light of his attitude towards the publican, that his acts of obedience in some way contributed to his gaining God's favor, even though he evidently attributed all the good he did, not to himself, but to God. The publican, however, did not mention even one ‘good' deed that he had done. He brought none of his righteousnesses with him, but humbly asked for God's mercy, not seeking or expecting to be justified by any of his own works, whether he attributed them to God or not. He did not expect his works to make the difference between Heaven and Hell, but only God's Mercy. And Christ said this man, rather than the Pharisee, was justified. Notice also that Christ referred to the Pharisee, who attributed his good deeds to God, as one who exalted himself. Be not deceived. Those who claim that salvation is conditioned on man to some degree, yet say that they do not take any of the glory for salvation away from Christ because they attribute their meeting certain conditions to God's enabling power, are exalting themselves, according to Scripture. Their gospels teach a salvation by works, for they leave room for a man to boast even when he is attributing all his obedience to God. Such people are LOST. By this we see that boasting is not excluded by a gospel which teaches that salvation is conditioned on a man's works, but it is only excluded by THE Gospel Message which teaches that salvation is by grace through faith in the Person and Works of Christ Jesus the Lord (see Rom.3:24-28). Such a Gospel leaves a man no room in which to boast. Faith in this Gospel seeks not to exalt the believer but humbles the believer, excluding all boasting, for it conditions all of salvation on Christ. (See Rom.3:24-28).
How wrong does a man have to be. How serious would an error have to be to show that the one who believes it is lost? Any gospel which conditions salvation, the attaining or maintaining of it, on man is a false gospel. It gives glory to man and not wholly to God. Those who believe in such gospels do not go to their homes justified but abased. Only he who believes in THE Gospel which attributes all of salvation to God is justified. The gospel which leaves room for a man to boast is a false gospel for it is not based on grace as described in Ephesians 2. I believe you will find that every false gospel and every false religion out there gives the glory to man to some degree. This cannot be the Gospel that comes from God and in light of this they cannot be saved. I believe that maybe this is the answer to your question about how serious does error have to be etc.
I'll leave off for now thanking you sincerely for your time. I am so appreciative that you have not simply brushed me off as others have but have remained in discussion with me on this most serious of issues. I shall always look forward to hearing from you again.
As with pastor G, pastor H makes the observation that as none of us are without error, being imperfect and sinful creatures, even our basic understanding of the Gospel must be flawed. He speaks of ‘a margin of error’. But if this be the case, if not even a saved believer’s basic understanding of the Gospel is without error, how can we judge any of us saved if we cannot determine how serious the error would be to disqualify us from being truly saved people? Who is to say that the Mormon is not a saved man who only has some error in his understanding if we cannot know how serious an error would have to be to prove him lost? Who is to say that God puts up with even a Mormon’s error in understanding the Gospel? The reason we do not believe a Mormon is saved is because his gospel speaks of a christ who died for all and that one’s salvation is conditioned on the sinner and not solely and wholly on Christ the Savior: "Salvation in the kingdom of God is available because of the atoning blood of Christ. But it is received only on condition of faith, repentance, baptism, and enduring to the end in keeping the commandments of God" (‘What the Mormons Think of Christ', pp. 27-33). This is precisely the reason why an arminian is a lost man. The Arminian also believes that salvation is made available by Christ but is conditioned on man’s response. Again, the Gospel teaches that man is saved by the grace of God. Once a man is made alive by God he then believes, repents etc., but none of these things are conditions which must be met before the man can be saved but are the evidences that he has been saved. Any who knowingly say that a person is saved who believes in any gospel which conditions salvation on man, to any degree, is also lost, for they are saying that one can attain salvation by believing in a gospel which is dependant on a man’s works and not wholly conditioned on Christ’s Works. If one cannot see that any degree of works makes that message a false gospel and all who hold to it as lost unregenerate people, then such a person is lost themselves for they cannot differentiate between a gospel of works which deceives and the Gospel of Grace which alone saves. And if one cannot differentiate between a gospel of works and the Gospel of Grace one cannot know and savingly appreciate the value of what Christ has done for His people (Gal. 2:21; 5:2).
There are two gospels one can believe in: one a gospel of works, the other the Gospel of Grace. The Bible states emphatically that election is according to GRACE and not works "And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace..." (Rom.11:5,6; 2Tim.1:9). Any work which is attached to the Gospel of grace, does away with grace, and one is left with a gospel of works. Paul speaks of liberty in Christ in Galatians 5:1-5 and says that if one includes a seemingly minor act, such as circumcision of the flesh, as a necessary element to one’s salvation or in the maintaining of it, one would be nullifying the work of Christ, and Christ—His Person and Work —would not profit such a person: "...if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace" (Gal. 5:2-4). Later in this chapter, and in the context of what he has been speaking of—adding anything to the Person and Work of Christ—Paul states that "A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump" (5:9). This shows clearly that no true believer in God’s true Gospel has added anything to it which conditions any part of salvation on what they do or abstain from doing. THERE is your proof that a true believer holds to the pure Gospel and cannot hold to one which has errors in it which teach that a man has to ‘play his part’ in salvation. Such a gospel is not the Gospel of Grace but a gospel, a system, of works which cannot save. If you hold to a gospel which conditions any part of salvation on man CHRIST SHALL PROFIT YOU NOTHING. You cannot hold to the True Gospel which conditions all of salvation on the Grace of God and the Son of God. I am not speaking here, nor have I written pastor H of, the necessity to believe and understand and comprehend every minute detail of every doctrine which makes up the Gospel of salvation, nor have I taught this in any of my writings. I am simply trying to draw attention to the fact that most who name the name of Christ do not believe in even the basic tenets of the Gospel, the heart of which is Christ’s Atoning Substitutionary Death for His people which fully accomplished their redemption. It is the very heart and soul of the Gospel that most people reject. The issue is not that a few people are a little confused, or even ignorant of some finer points of the Gospel Message, the issue is that most who profess to be Christians do not believe that salvation is wholly conditioned from beginning to end on Jesus Christ ALONE! Despite their claim to believe in grace, most believe that man must meet certain conditions in order to be saved, and then must hold to various other conditions in order to stay ‘saved’. This author is not picking at minor insignificant errors but am shining the Light of God’s Word on the most serious and subtle deception ever perpetrated on man!
Pastor H admits that we must not treat as Christian brothers those whose doctrine is in serious error, but in the same breath adds that he does not know how serious one’s error has to be to show he is lost! Upon what then does pastor H base his stand in not calling someone a Christian brother, if he has admitted that he does not know how serious one’s error has to be to disqualify him as being saved? He asks ‘would there have to be no error at all?’ The answer from Scripture is clear. Paul the apostle told the Galatian people that if any preached not the same Gospel he had preached to them, this was a most sure and certain evidence that such people were lost, not eternally necessarily, but at the time of their false profession and promotion of a false gospel. PAUL JUDGED THEM LOST BY THEIR FALSE PROFESSION!!! Paul does not even hint that some Gospel error was permissible. Anything added to or taken from Paul’s Gospel made it another gospel, and the one who believed it lost. It all seems rather simple and clear to this author. Pastor H points out that he asks those who attend his Sunday services who do not believe in salvation by grace alone, through faith in Christ alone, to not partake of the Lord’s Supper. Obviously he must count such people lost, for if not, he would be going beyond the bounds of Scripture in prohibiting a saved person from partaking in the Lord’s Supper. He says to such people ‘We hope you'll join Christ's true church soon...’ By this he is stating that he does not believe they are part of Christ’s true church, yet he will not call such people lost!! Are any saved who are not part of Christ’s Church? If so, what need is there of Christ? He says by such a statement that he does not recognize such people, who teach that man has a part in his salvation (which every arminian holds to), as fellow believers. But he simultaneously insists that this is not the same as saying he believes they are all lost!!!!!!!! Christ says they are all lost! We have seen in the parable of the Pharisee and the publican Christ’s teaching that any who believe they have played a part in attaining their salvation, or think they can, or are to, contribute to maintaining their salvation, whether they attribute their efforts to God or not, are not justified at all but do exalt themselves, believing in a gospel which leaves room for a man to boast. No gospel which includes any work or effort by man has, or will, save anybody. For it cannot be God’s Gospel of Grace which is pure and free of any man’s works, which draws attention and exalts only those Works of the God-Man Jesus Christ the Righteous. Every man must appear before the Holy God either with Christ’s Righteousness or his own. It is either one or the other. Either you appear before the Holy God with the Perfect Righteousness of Christ, imputed, or your own imperfect righteousness. You cannot come to Him with both. If you come to Him with Christ’s Righteousness, you will not want anything to do with your own righteousness (Phil. 3:9) and if you appear before God on Judgement Day with your righteousness, you must stand alone and your eternal future will depend on your imperfect obedience to God’s perfect Law. You cannot appeal to Christ, if you look to anything outside of Christ and His Perfect Obedience, for all of salvation. If you trust in your efforts at obedience as forming any part of the ground of salvation, to any degree, you will be accursed forever (Gal. 2:16). If you depend on anything which you have done, will do, can do, don’t do or never have done etc., as forming any part of the ground of your salvation, you are a LOST person and your righteousness before the Holy God is as filthy rags (Isa.64:6). Anyone who comes to God thinking that they have got to do anything, but believe that Christ has done everything, is lost. If Righteousness before God is obtainable outside of His Gospel Message by an act of obedience on man’s part, in addition to what Christ has done, then the redemption of man did not require the death of the Son of God as Savior, Mediator and Representative of all whom God had given Him. If the gospel you hold to requires the work of Christ to be supplemented by an effort on your part, then it is a false gospel you have been taught and believe in and you are currently lost. You do not believe in God’s Savior but in an impotent, Satanic counterfeit, who needs your cooperation and your efforts to complete the work of ‘salvation’ which he started. Such a hellish teaching states that Christ and His Work is in some way deficient and that salvation was not secured for anyone solely by what Christ has done. Christ’s very Death was for the Redemption of the elect of God, the Precious Blood which He shed was for the remission of all of their sins (see Heb.9:15;10:18). If salvation comes by a work of obedience to God’s law on the part of sinful man, then it must be a perfect obedience to the WHOLE of God’s law (Gal. 5:3). The best a man can do is offer to God an imperfect obedience to some of His laws and complete disobedience to most. Such an offering is unacceptable. God’s Gospel is not one which demands man play his part in order to get saved or stay saved, for God’s Law and Justice, both demanding to be fully satisfied, have been FULLY and ETERNALLY satisfied by the Person and Work of Christ Jesus the Lord! The Gospel teaches that many are saved by the Perfect Obedience of ONE, not by the individual imperfect efforts of the many (Rom.5:19).
Pastor H adds that he does not know whether some men are saved or lost and that he leaves that up to God. How then can he judge himself saved? If a man believes the Gospel he is saved and if he does not believe it then he is lost. If we cannot judge others saved or lost, how can we presume to be saved ourselves? Upon what standard would we base such a judgement? This just sounds like a cop out. God’s Gospel is the Standard by which we measure saved and lost. If one refuses to judge anyone saved or lost, then he must not judge himself to be saved and must cease to preach what he thinks the Gospel is. For in preaching the true Gospel, one is proclaiming God’s Standard of saved and lost. In 2 John 9-11, the apostle John warns believers not to have spiritual fellowship with any who bring not, and abide not in, the doctrine or Gospel of Christ. If any hold to a gospel which leaves room for a man to boast, that is, conditions any part of salvation on the sinner, the believer is not to fellowship with such a person. He may invite the person into his house for the purposes of instruction, but he cannot pray with such a person or leave that person any room in his mind to think that they are considered brethren, for in doing so he would then be a partaker of the false professor’s evil deeds.
Finally, pastor H ends up showing that he, like most, is swayed by the reputations of men when he says that some say that even some of the ‘greats’ of the past were lost, for they spoke peace to those who came preaching another gospel. I believe I have already covered this subject in the booklet. Suffice it to say, Paul the apostle has clearly stated that it matters not if an angel from heaven comes to us or a person of great renown and widely respected as a preacher, if they bring another gospel they are lost. So sure was Paul that the Gospel he had taught the Galatians was THE only Gospel of God, that he even says that if he himself were to return at a later date and present them a different gospel to the one he had already preached to them, they were to consider him accursed. IF THEY DO NOT BRING PAUL’S GOSPEL, LET THEM BE ACCURSED!
Pastor H’s next email came several days after my last one to him:
Dear Mr. Dal Bello,
I'm not ignoring you. My son broke two bones in his hand and I've spent the last 3 days in hospitals, doctors' offices, and pharmacies... WAITING... WAITING... WAITING.
I hope to respond to your last two e-mails but need to catch up on some sermon work, etc. Thanks for your patience, brother.
My reply to this follows:
Dear pastor H,
I was sorry to hear of your son's injury. I hope he will be well again soon.
I appreciate your letting me know that you do intend to reply to my last 2 emails. I look forward to hearing from you again.
Notice that pastor H has judged me to be a brother in his last email. But how can he do this when he says that he does not know whether a man is saved or lost, because he does not know how much error God is willing to put up with in His people? It was appriximately three weeks before I next heard from pastor H. Durin this period it apeared as though pastor H had ceased writing to me, which is why, when his next email arrived this author was putting the finishing touches to this book. It would have been hghly inconvenient to go over his responses and include them in the book as it was all but ready for printing. (This book was written several years ago, and sadly, since then pastor H's response and my reply have been lost in cyber space. However, I can assure the reader that pastor H's response was no different to what he had previously written).
Not one of the men I contacted told me the true Gospel with its more significant particulars and implications. It is so sad that so many take the titles pastor, minister, reverend, teacher and yet have no light in them, for they say that men do not have to believe in the whole Gospel really, but in enough to show they ‘love Jesus’ and are sincere in their efforts at resisting sin in their lives and walking uprightly. That, my friend, is the religion of the world. A bit of doctrinal head-knowledge but, for the most part, saved and lost are judged not by what a man believes but by the level of perceived sincerity and how he lives his life. You will be hard-pressed to find very many so-called ministers who will not call a man saved who names the name of Christ. The Lord Jesus did. He will tell all those on Judgement Day who knew Him not and abided not in His doctrine "...I never knew you: depart from Me ye that work iniquity" (Matt. 7:23).
There are some matters which were mentioned in the correspondence I received from these men to which I did not respond in my emails, nor in the additional comments made in this book. The reason being that regarding the email correspondence, my aim was to keep our attention focused on the issue of the Gospel and not allow discussion to be lead into other areas of theology which really have no bearing on the salvation issue. No comment was made on these matters in this book either, because of limited space. But I can say that my previous 6 books do deal, in very fine detail and provide a vast array of Scriptures which adequately deal, with these matters and many others which are often raised by the enemies of the cross of Christ. There are many Scriptures in this book, too, but my other writings have a much greater assortment, both from the Old and New Testaments, which show clearly that the Gospel we teach is the only one wherein Christ’s Righteousness is revealed.
I believe the Message of the Gospel has been made loud and clear in this volume and that the objections raised by these men have been dealt with in a biblical manner and have been tested with God’s Word. To this day I have yet to hear from any who would even comment on the Cross of Christ and what I have said concerning it, that one must know what Christ has done on the cross to show that they do know the Savior Who came to save His people from their sins. I do not claim that everyone who names the name of Christ must know every minute detail of every doctrine which makes up the Gospel Message. All I am drawing the reader’s attention to is the fact that every false religion and false gospel conditions salvation in some way upon man and that every false religion and false christian embraces a gospel of this kind, rejecting the truth that what Christ did upon the cross for His people was sufficient to save each and every one for whom He died, and that eternally. I encourage you, the reader, to examine the gospel you have been taught and see whether you abide in the doctrine of Christ or in the doctrines of men. May the Lord bless all who read this booklet and may I encourage the reader to contact this author to discuss further the vital life and death issue of the Gospel, or simply to ask for further material which teaches and defends God’s only Gospel.
"Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world" (1 Jn. 4:1).