Raising the Bar on Salvation

We live in a day when a morbid charity induces many to exaggerate God’s mercy, at the expense of His justice, and when false teachers are daring to talk of a ‘love of God, lower even than hell.’ Let us resist such teaching with a holy jealousy, and abide by the doctrine of Holy Scripture. (J.C. Ryle’s commentary on Matthew).

I remember my church history professor, John Hannah, telling us about the early church and the practices they had for joining a church. If I recall correctly, a person that wanted to join the fellowship had to go through several years of instruction while the leaders of the congregation got to know the new acolyte. Then, after supporting a credible profession of faith, the new convert would be baptized and allowed into the congregation.

The early church had good reasons for scrutinizing converts. There were too many people who wanted to have Christians put to death, so there was a real lack of trust upon the part of the church leadership. They were trying their best to protect the rest of the flock from wolves in sheep’s clothing.

I think it’s high time we returned to such practices. For far too long, the church has given a wink and a nod to anyone saying anything the least bit religious as actually being a true believer and this has done nothing but weaken the church.

For instance, just recently there have several prominent Baptists who have jumped on board with those who are Roman Catholics in the latest election cycle. I’m not saying we cannot support Roman Catholics in politics. This is perfectly fine. However, the embracing of Marco Rubio seems to me more than just one of political interest. Russell Moore, a prominent Southern Baptist leader, has proclaimed “Both of us are of the Christian faith.” Never mind the Reformation  that took place a few hundred years ago and the apostasy of the Roman Catholic Church. Shortly thereafter, other Baptists jumped on board.

Many other Southern Baptists and evangelicals, including Denny Burk, Wayne Grudem, and Eric Teetsel have followed suit. Teetsel was the first “evangelical” to go to work for Rubio. He serves as the head honcho for Rubio’s faith and outreach campaign program.

Recently, author and theologian, Wayne Grudem, and Professor of History at Baylor University, Thomas Kidd, teamed up with the ecumenical henchman, Rick Warren, as well as the NAR harlequin, Samuel Rodriguez, to serve as Rubio’s religious advisors.

You would think that if these evanjellyfish had any real commitment to biblical truth, they’d “advise” Marco Rubio to repent of his idolatrous religion, and turn to Christ.

Read more here. All of this is really disappointing. I have a great deal of respect for some of these men, but even they need to be reminded that we are at odds with Rome and anyone who claims Christ in another way than by saving grace. (This includes Mormons as well because, they do not acknowledge the Triune God as One.)

The point is that the bar for who is a Christian has been dropped so low, that you have major Christians going around pronouncing as brothers those who are of another gospel all together. They have bought into the common sentiment of, “can’t we all just get along?” This really is the spirit of the age and many in Christianity are prepared and ready to accept it.

Yet, we need to be more careful about ascribing genuine saving faith to those who do not really have genuine saving faith. Remember what our LORD said on this matter: “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it” (Matthew 7:13).

So many of these evangelical leaders are buying into the broad theory of redemption even though our LORD said otherwise. I know many want to jump on board when a Catholic sounds like a Christian. Or a Trump sounds like he once thought about God. But the bar is much higher to be a true Christian. One must be actually born again. This isn’t something that we can bring about in our own strength or with our own wills. It is an act of God’s mercy and grace. So the likelihood that so many who claim Christianity are actually Christians is rather slim.

Before we buy into someone’s claim, maybe we should check and see if they have a credible testimony at all. When someone says they are a Christian, perhaps we need to dig a little before just blindly accepting it.

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20 thoughts on “Raising the Bar on Salvation

  1. Jeanette

    I was disappointed to see Wayne Grudem’s name in this post in a negative light. I was just given as a gift his book on Systematic Theology. The giver pointed out a couple differences in his views that are different from our Reformed Presbyterians’ views, but she, otherwise, recommended this book for my biblical edification. I am reading from it almost daily, along with the bible. It sounds like Grudem wants to help Rubio get evangelicals to vote for him.

    Do you think that the US would ever accept as a presidential candidate anyone who is a REAL Christian? I don’t think so. If any candidate is a TRUE Christian, I don’t think he stands a chance at living in the White House. So many people look on REAL Christians with suspicion and/or hatred. Maybe one of the candidates is closer to being a REAL Christian than the others, but I hope no Christian votes for someone with the belief that he’s a TRUE Christian. I could certainly be very wrong, but I cannot imagine a REAL Christian successfully making it to the White House. If he did, I think he would be shot down (literally or figuratively) from all sides.

    What are your thoughts?

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  2. Timothy, I’m curious about where you stand on this.

    1) Do you believe that folks like Russell Moore, Denny Burke, Wayne Grudem, and Al Mohler (mentioned in the same piece) are actually affirming that the gate is wide, that there is more than one way to heaven? Do you actually hold that these guys buy into a “broad theory of redemption”?

    2) Do you believe that it is not possible to be in the Roman Catholic Church and be a genuine Christian? (I’m not asking about salvation by strict Roman Catholic tenets. I’m asking about being an actual Christian while being in that organization.)

    On another note — without endorsing him, his politics, or his religious views — I’m having a hard time pinning down Rubio’s faith. He is listed with the Catholics, the Mormons, and the Southern Baptists. All indications are that he has been attending a Southern Baptist church for the past decade or so. But, as I said, it’s unclear. Would any of that matter?

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    1. Hi Stan, I’m not sure what their theology is, but it seems to me they are affirming people on the broad way. This is kind of what I’m trying to target, raising the bar so as to not affirm the least bit of profession without some fruit. It’s far to easy for too many to sit and nod at the least bit of profession and affirm, agree, and give false assurance to those who have not truly believed.

      I think Rubio’s transient nature in these three religions, shows a real lack of conviction. For that, I won’t vote for him.

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  3. Timothy,

    It’s a comfort to read your posts. Here’s one reason why. In regard to Wayne Grudem, a pastor friend said to me, “he’s not right on everything, but he’s the one I go to”.

    A little leaven and all that…

    Alec

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    1. Yes, Grudem has done a lot of good work, and should be commended. I’m not saying we should throw these brothers under the bus, but should not listen to them in their affirmation of Rubio, other Catholics and the pope.

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    2. Timothy,

      I was rather agreeing with your point – the downplaying of the importance of clear doctrine. We all err in many ways, however, we are warned about the danger of apostasy so many times. If it were not important, our Lord would not have taken such care to tell us.

      If someone is off on important doctrine as Grudem is, it’s not alright to give him a blanket pass as my friend did.

      Alec

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Timothy, you’re standing on shaky ground here. We, as believers, should not, no, rather, we can not, criticize, nor judge, other’s convictions. And why? Because we have no right to do so. The Father has committed all judgment unto the Son (John 5:22), not us. Paul in Romans 14 makes this very clear. We welcome those whose faith is weak, or those who, according to our own conviction, may seem weak in faith, but not with the idea of arguing over their scruples, or political persuasions. One may believe that they can eat anything, another, without this strong conviction, is a vegetarian. The meat-eater should not despise the vegetarian, nor should the vegetarian condemn the meat-eater—they should reflect that God has accepted them both. One could change “meat” to Republican, and “vegetarian” to Democrat, I suppose, and come to the same conclusion. After all, who are you, or anyone for that matter, to criticize the servant of somebody else, especially when that somebody else is God? It is to their own master they give, or fail to give, satisfactory service.
    “Many seek the ruler’s favor, but every man’s judgment comes from the Lord” (Proverbs 29:26).

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    1. Doesn’t Jesus say, “By their fruits you will know them”? Doesn’t Scripture warn us to be on guard against false teachers? How do we watch for false teachers while avoiding discerning the convictions of others?

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    2. Hi Dr. Jay, Yes, I agree we should not quibble over trifling issues. But that is not what I’m doing. I’m talking about apostates who claim faith being affirmed as those who have faith. I am talking about those who say they have faith, but there is no evidence of it in their lives. I’m talking about those who utter a few religious words and the evangelical world latches onto them as if they just gave a credible testimony to the gospel. I’m saying we should be far more skeptical of accepting people who say they are brothers when there is no real evidence in their lives.

      By giving them the “quick” hand of fellowship, we too often affirm them in their lostness when a few challenging questions might help them spiritually in the long run.

      Part of this is driven by the fact that there are those in the great Evangelical Industrial Complex who are seeking to affirm Marco Rubio as an Evangelical Christian. I don’t expect Rubio to do so, but if he wants that tag, then perhaps he should be asked some serious questions and he should renounce Roman Catholicism.

      This is also a reference to my earlier post about The Donald and his mentioning of gawd. To many evangelicals are ready to dub him a brother in the LORD when no such allegiance should be given because he lacks any credibility at all with the profession he has made.

      I believe that the Baptist brethren, mentioned in this post, have a tendency to be too quick in affirming one in the faith because they have such a broad view of the gospel. They place evangelism above and beyond all else. Well, that is going too far, but it seems like that happens a lot in evangelical circles. Given that, I’m asking that we raise the bar. Jesus did. He turned away more than He encouraged to follow. I do agree that He is God and knew what He was doing perfectly, whereas we see through a Coke bottle dimly. But this doesn’t mean we don’t question people of their faith. Christ has told us to make “righteous judgments” (John 7:24). Yes, He is the final judge, but we are given the freedom to test the spirits and question people about their faith. Giving blanket passes the way so many do… is what I’m writing against.

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  5. I have known Catholics who are Christian in spite of the Romanist doctrines; they are few, but they are real.

    As for Mormons, the issue about them not believing in the Trinity is, in the whole scheme of things, very minor. Their god is just an exalted man living on another planet. With that beginning, a belief in the Trinity would be worthless.

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    1. Yes, I know you are right about the Catholics. But I wouldn’t be quick to confirm them and would do my best to move them away from the RCC.

      Mormons… I haven’t the time nor patience. Glad there are people who do.

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      1. Those Catholics I’ve known who were Christian continued at their church so as to be with family, and almost all of them would be trying to reach their family members with the truth.

        It is difficult to work with Mormons unless you are well-versed in their history and doctrine (they treat their history virtually as doctrine). I am an ex-Mormon, and after becoming a real believer (42 years ago) I began seeking ways to reach the Mormons with the truth. This was actually the origin of my interest in Christian apologetics.

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      2. Wow. That is excellent. I’m an ex-Christian Scientist and tell the joke that I didn’t exist until I was 29 years old. But ex-CS are usually the only ones who get that. Reaching those who have converted to CS is virtually impossible. Those raised in CS is another matter all together. We grew up seeing the inconsistencies.

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      3. Christian Scientist!!! WOW! I’ve had quite a few go-arounds with some of those.

        As I got more and more into apologetics, I ended up teaching high-school and adult Sunday School classes on the cults, and CS was always included. I wrote an introductory apologetics course for homeschool high schoolers and the section I wrote on CS is on my blog (along with the sections on all other cults I covered), and I’ve posted lots of citations from MBE also.

        Have you ever read Mark Twain’s book, “Christian Science”? I picked up a copy in 2002 while touring Hannibal, MO. He cut them no slack!

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    1. Apart from the “tone” of the piece which implies that what is happening is accidental rather than planned, many of the details are correct. Especially this:

      Francis is convinced that the Reformation is already over. He believes it ended in 1999, the year the Catholic Church and the Lutheran World Federation issued a joint declaration on justification, the doctrine at the heart of Luther’s protest.

      As the next generation moves into control of the formerly “evangelical” denominations, the success of the counter-reformation will be even more apparent.

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