Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Watson on the Few

An issue inevitably affected in the conditional time salvation paradigm is the determination as to whether many or few shall be saved.  The accepted way under this teaching to harmonize these passages which speak of the saved as a small remnant (e.g. Matthew 7:13-14) as compared to those which suggest they are many, especially Rev. 5:9, is to make them each refer to a different salvation for a different group of people.  In short, many shall be saved with an eternal salvation, yet only a few will be saved with a temporal salvation.

Elder John Watson, however, handled the matter another way.  It’s a testimony to the vast difference between today’s school of thought and what prevailed prior to the origin of conditional time salvation that the elder was not dubious on this point, but addressed this issue at the very beginning of his work The Old Baptist Test.  That he was not afflicted with the categorical way of assigning a text to temporal or eternal based on numbers is proven by simply reading through the very first chapter.

Here are a few valuable thoughts from our Old Baptist forefather followed by a brief note showing where he differs from the evolved view of today.

Watson wrote:

As these topics will be fully discussed, I will at once quote some explanatory texts of Scripture in regard to them : 'Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.'  'Wide is the gate, and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there be that go in thereat.' MATT.vii : 13, 14.

Will only a few be saved ? is still a question which often comes up painfully in the Christian's heart in view of the many great religious inconsistencies of our times. Did we have the privilege, as did the Apostle, of asking the Saviour, Lord are there few that be saved? The answer doubtless would be the same ; at least in words of similar import. The Christian entertains this question, not merely from curiosity, but also with a solemn restraint to answer it as did the Saviour; besides it excites in his heart another question of the most profound personal interest: Am I one of that few ? The popular religious inconsistencies of the times in which we live constrain its often to examine and prove ourselves by the divine standard ; by which only a few are found to be real Christians. 2 Cor. xiii : 5. “

NOTE: And thus in the very first paragraph of his book, the elder references a text which is almost universally dropped in the time salvation bucket by his supposed descendants.  Watson correctly used Matthew 7:13-14 within the context of eternal salvation.  He also did not feel that the apostles inquired the Lord as to how many would get a time salvation.

Watson wrote:

"The blessed doctrine of election generally exasperates the "carnally minded;" and still more indeed when the great truth is proclaimed in it, that only a few are chosen! Matt, xx : 16 ; xxii : 14. Neither our judgment nor feelings are to be relied on here, we must submit to the teaching of the Lord, and acknowledge the revealed truth, that few there be that find the narrow way!"

NOTE:  Election mentioned in the same breath with the few! It’s important to note that Watson dismisses reliance upon our feelings to deny this fact.  This is a very profound statement.  It is our opinion that sentiments play a huge role in upholding the teaching of time salvation. The minds of its proponents have been conditioned over the years to view the overwhelming majority of the human race as regenerate children of God, and to pine for the salvation of those who are never brought to meet its necessary requirements.  No scheme of salvation will be accepted as true which does not find God winning the numbers game by a vast margin.

Watson wrote:

"Church history, when read by those who have an eye to contradistinguish the " few chosen" from the "many" who are only called externally, teaches us also that there are few who are Christians inwardly, compared to the many who are Christians only outwardly. How many more alas pertain to another gospel than those who belong to the true one. How few were saved between Abel and Noah, between Noah and Abraham, between Abraham and Christ, between Christ and the full development of Anti-Christ, between the decline of Anti-Christ, through the reformation and the present time. During these periods multitudes of outward worshippers existed; and since the day of Christ and the Apostles, their history has been much more fully written than that of the Lord's few hidden ones. Their history would abound in names and acts of which we have no account."

NOTE:  Watson says that the eye to distinguish the few from the many sees the former as truly regenerated and the latter as mere pretenders.  What an indictment on the evolved view today which has no such eye, and rather sees the many as being those who are “regenerate but not converted” and the few as that very small remnant within God’s elect who do become converted!

Watson's work may be read here:

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