On Tuesday I was privileged to speak at the funeral of a very special member of my family. My uncle, born a down-syndrome baby, passed away at 58 years of age. I was blessed to conduct it along with my close friend and elder within the Primitive Baptists. I can easily say that he is one of the finest men that I know. Unfortunately, due to recent trouble here in the southeast, he is one of a handful of local elders who have been blackballed in the past month for either supporting missionary work or fellowshipping those who do. How sad.
After the internment I was able to visit with an elderly couple who, along with many others, were victims of this devastating split in which an association declared non-fellowship against five churches, two of which were not even part of it! The couple chose to remove their letter from their home church, one of the perpetrators of this declaration, and place it within one of the excluded churches. I told them that they made the right decision. If forced to choose between the two, their spiritual health will fair much better among those who are somewhat active, as opposed to those who take their talent and promptly bury it in the ground.
I was pleased to know that they were interested in learning more about my own exclusion not long ago. This of course necessarily involved relating to them what I had come to see taught both in scripture and Baptist history. Knowing quite well how far some have gone in their misapplication of unconditional salvation, I first had to acquire what was their position with respect to a very basic Bible question:
“Do you believe that God’s children will in fact know the one true God of the Bible, and believe in His Son Jesus Christ?”
The average Christian is probably shocked that such a question as this must even be asked.
The husband responded:
“There will be many people in heaven who do not know God or have heard the gospel preached.”
I was not shocked at all by the answer, for I know what they’ve been taught, probably the whole of their life. I cited some verses to the Brother which teach the very simple lesson that God’s people will know and believe in the Lord.
He remained silent.
It was not yet time to get into the matter of how the elect ordinarily come to possess this said knowledge and belief. I wanted to go very slow and teach the basic concept that salvation involves knowledge and faith, without getting into the matter of gospel influence.
His wife was listening closely and spoke up that she believed that God would reveal himself to a person if they were one of His elect. I was glad to get this response, although I wish I would have had time to explain just how it is that the elect come to know their Lord.
Regardless of the doctrinal difference between myself and this couple, they and many others like them just had their church lives drastically altered by this terrible declaration of non-fellowship by their blind leaders, all because they were members of a church which had some connection, directly or indirectly, to those who were lifting a finger in advancing the cause of Christ and His kingdom.