Elder Ben Winslet in "Off the High Horse" (see here), an article endorsed by TETH in an article titled "Judging Others" (see here), wrote (emphasis mine):
"Please don't take this the wrong way. I really don't understand the obsession so many believers have with judging the eternal salvation of others. I see it among both Arminian and Calvinist believers, but probably worse among Calvinists."
"I do not understand this either. In my experience, a great many modern Calvinists are particularly fascinated, yea obsessed with the notion of the false convert, often to such a degree that they seem to delight in the prospect of having discovered one. I believe that all Christians who believe in election (Ephesians 1:4-6), who affirm that eternal salvation is the result of an everlasting covenant that is ordered in all things and sure (II Samuel 23:5), and who believe that Jesus Christ shall give eternal life to as many as the Father has given him (John 17:2), should likewise embrace the unavoidable logical consequence of those essential doctrinal facts, namely that there is not anything that anyone can do, either in ministry to God or the devil himself, that will either augment or diminish the number who will be eternally saved. That includes “discovering” through relentless investigation of another’s life that they are a false convert."
In this posting I will demonstrate just how wrong are these brethren in what they have affirmed in these words, and what they reveal about their theological state of mind. What these Hardshell brethren are advocating is the presumed error of judging whether someone is lost and in need of salvation. To them, it is wrong and displays a bad spirit to so judge another person. What can we say about this far fetched idea? Well, it shows how little they know of the Bible and how they "resist the truth" (II Tim. 3:8), "wrest" or twist "the scriptures" (II Peter 3:16), "corrupt the word of God" (II Cor. 2:17), and "handle the word of God deceitfully" (II Cor. 4:2).
The Bible, as we will see, particularly from the NT, is full of examples that show their assertion to be a blatant falsehood. But, before I do this, and before I look more closely at the few arguments they make in defense of their false idea, I want to point out their hypocrisy and contradiction, or at how they "oppose themselves." (Acts 13: 45 & II Tim. 2: 25)
The contradiction lies in the fact that these brethren seem to have no problem judging that a person is saved but do have a problem judging or deciding whether one is unsaved. But, as anyone knows, if one can judge in the one case then he can in the other. If they are consistent, they will have to say that they cannot judge or decide whether anyone is saved. But, do they not do this when they accept people into church membership?
These brethren think it is a mark of their superior "spirit" to be unable to know who is saved or who is lost. They are "holier than thou," and of a superior spirit, because they judge of no one's saved or condemned state! Further, they condemn all other Christians who seek to discover the saved or lost state of anyone. I suppose this includes attempting to discover their own state?
Further, these brethren are obviously misstating and misjudging things relative to those, Calvinists or Arminians, who do not agree with them, and who think that it is important to make judgments about the lost or saved state of others. I doubt than any of such people take "delight" in discovering that a sinner is lost and in need of salvation! And, I don't think that such people are "obsessed" with discovering such as these Hardshells "judge" them!
It is apparent that the position of these Hardshells is quasi Universalism, and represents the thinking of a large number of their brethren. These people assume that 99% of the people they meet are saved people, or of the elect, and so make judgments of others on that basis.
These brethren think that no one can know, in this life, who is saved and elect, and this represents another error on their part.
"The Apostle Peter wouldn't pass such a judgment on Simon Magus when he encountered him in Acts 8. He called on him to repent, and used words such as "perhaps" and "perceive" when describing his state. He simply did not know who was or was not elect."
But, this is blatantly false and misleading. Let us read the entire passage.
"But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money. Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God. Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee. For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity." (Acts 8:20-23)
First, let us consider whether the apostle Peter made a judgment on the saved or lost state of Simon Magus. These Hardshells say that Peter did not, but clearly they are seeing what they want to see, for the text is clear that Peter makes the kind of judgment that they say he did not! Peter says "thy money perish with thee," and that is a statement that affirms that Simon, in the condition he was in, would perish, unless his condition were to change. He also says to Simon - "you have neither part nor lot in this matter." Is that not a judgment of his lost condition? When he says to Simon - "your heart is not right in the sight of God," is that not a judgment of his lost state? When he says he is "in the gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity," is that not judging him to be in a lost state?
So does the use of the words "perceive" and "perhaps" nullify the above affirmations? What kind of exegesis is it to make these words to contradict the above words? Peter "perceives," and the Greek word horaō simply means to see, to know, and which of course involves making judgment! And, Peter's use of the word "perhaps" is in regard to whether God will accept his repentance and save him! It has nothing to do with Peter's judgment about his need of salvation! Awful hermeneutics is this!
Now let me respond to the statement that Peter "simply did not know who was or was not elect." Are you kidding me? These brethren think that not only Peter, but nobody, except Jesus, can know that someone is "elect." Have they forgotten such verses as this:
"Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God." (I Thess. 1:4)
And how did Paul know that the Thessalonians were of the elect? Notice the next verse:
"For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake."
It is thus clear that Paul taught differently than our two Hardshell elders! Also, notice that Peter not only knew of the lost state of Simon Magus, but also believed like Paul that one could know whether they themselves, or others, were of the elect. He said:
"Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure." (II Peter 1:10)
These brethren next write:
"Of course, Jesus would indeed tell men they were of their father the devil. He would also tell men they were not of His sheep. But you and I aren't Jesus. We have no certainty as to who will or will not be in Heaven."
These brethren say that Jesus did what no one else could do. They say Jesus' judging of the saved or lost state of sinners did not manifest a bad "spirit" but for anyone else to make such judgments does manifest a bad "spirit." But, as we will see, Jesus was not in fact the only one who did such. And, one is bewildered at how these brethren could make such a statement in light of these other examples that we will introduce. But, before doing this, let me add the observation that we are called to imitate Jesus, to do as he did, to follow his example. Also, before getting into these examples, let me cite these words from TETH. (emphasis mine)
"I often hear the false-convert-hunters quote, “Ye will know them by their fruits!” to biblically justify the fiat proclamations of unregeneracy they enjoy pressing upon others. In practice, they believe this passage teaches that a regenerate man has the capacity to tell if someone else is unregenerate; though they would be loath to admit that characterization. Indeed if this is NOT what this passage is teaching, then it does not support their proclamation based on fruit inspection, which renders their reference to it irrelevant. I would point out that the phrase “Ye will know them by their fruits” is made in reference to false prophets, not to one’s state of grace. It is speaking of the fruit of their ministry and teaching as a means of determining the soundness of their doctrine. It is not teaching that one can definitively determine the locus of unregenerate, false-professors of Christ by the external evidences they exhibit."
The passage under discussion is found in Matthew 7:16-20. Can anyone who knows the passage really believe that this passage is "irrelevant" to the point under discussion? Jesus says that one can know or judge of the saved or lost state of another by observing the fruit! Jesus says that you can know the kind of tree, metaphorically speaking, a person is, by looking at the fruit or "external evidences," and these Hardshell brethren say just the opposite! Also, these brethren say that the fruit only reveals whether a person is a false prophet, and not whether he is lost or saved! As if false prophets can be either! Really, that is quasi Universalism! If they can get false prophets into heaven, then they truly are Universalists! No wonder that Hardshell history is filled with brethren imbibing this heresy!
Further, reading the passage teaches that the fruit reveals whether one is a "good tree" or a "corrupt tree," and this has to do with the nature of the tree, with the condition of the heart! Further, all the first Hardshells believed that this fruit revealed who was regenerate and who was not, and so these brethren are teaching a new doctrine that not even their founders would accept!
"Indeed, if one believes one’s own preaching instrumentally imparts eternal life unto men as literally the voice of Son of God in fulfillment of John 5:25, is it such a stretch to imagine that one’s thoughts regarding another’s state of grace might be just as accurate as the Lord’s?"
But, the scriptures clearly teach that the preaching of the gospel is instrumental in imparting eternal life unto men. Further, these brethren cannot find any Baptist who denied this prior to the rise of the Hardshells in the 19th century! Further, not even the first Hardshells in the early 19th century denied this! I will cite one passage, out of many, that prove the point.
"But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me." (Acts 26: 16-18)
Consider also that all our Baptist forefathers, and even the first Hardshells in the first half of the 19th century, all believed that the "voice" of the Son of God was heard in the preaching of the gospel and so these brethren are teaching a new doctrine.
Elder Winslet attempted to use the parable of the "Wheat and Tares" in Matthew 13 as a proof text to uphold their idea that it is an error and an impossibility to judge or decide if a person is saved or lost, is elect or not. Wrote Winslet:
"How does this apply to us? The wheat represents God's people; the tares represent the wicked. This parable serves to tell us that 1) it isn't our business and 2) God knows what He's doing."
How does the parable teach us that "it isn't our business" to discern who is lost and who is saved? How did he get that out of the parable? Further, if it did teach that, it would contradict what Christ taught about knowing the kind of tree by the kind of fruit, and other similar passages! Is it not the business of church members to judge whether a person is regenerate before they take him in as a member of the church?
"Amen, brother Ben. Having been a member of a Lordship Salvation affirming assembly, I have seen first hand the damage that this theology does among the flock. It breeds a toxic atmosphere of judgmentalism and paranoia that is incredibly unprofitable. It’s pretty ugly stuff when you see how it touches people."
Well, it is sad that TETH fell away from the truth in rejecting what he once believed about "Lordship Salvation." His comments about the fruit of this doctrine are personal opinions and are no proof. I suppose his doctrine of making false prophets to be regenerate souls is prettier!
Wrote TETH (emphasis mine):
"It’s true that there are times when, after much longsuffering and intervention, the church must exercise discipline upon those who willfully persist in sin. But this must be done in love and never done with the presumptuous proclamation that such a person is unregenerate. We do not know that, neither should we misuse Matthew 7:15-20 as a half-baked justification such. While Jesus does teach that one who is excluded should be regarded as a heathen and a publican, I do not believe that this designs unregeneracy, given that there were heathens (Hebrews 11:31) and publicans (Luke 18:13) who were evidently born of God but who stood in need of conversion to gospel truth and practice. We should regard such as standing in need of conversion to the truth with respect to their error (James 5:19-20) and do so knowing full-well that we’re just as capable of being caught up in sin which doth so easily beset us (I Corinthians 10:12, Hebrews 12:1)."
"Were evidently born of God," these "heathen"? Has he not done what he said he could not do? Judged that someone was saved by looking at the evidences? Further, there is no scripture that regards "heathen" as "regenerate"! That is not what the London Confession states! That is not what John Gill and the old Baptists of the 17th, 18th, and early 19th century taught! A heathen is one who does not believe in the one true God, nor in Jesus Christ. Again, these brethren are practical Universalists!
"Lord help us to judge righteous judgment, not according to mere appearance (John 7:24)."
Judge righteous judgment? Is it not a case rather than these brethren are condemning any and all judgment? Is not judging the tree by its fruit judging righteously? Of course we don't judge by mere appearance, as did the Pharisees! But, we do judge by the works!
Now let us look at examples of preachers doing exactly what Jesus did, who judge certain ones to be lost because of their lack of faith, repentance, and righteous fruit.
John The Baptist
"But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?" (Matt. 3:7)
It seems clear from this passage that the Baptist did exactly what Jesus did! Did these brethren not consider this when they said that only Jesus could judge people as being lost?
Other Gospel Preachers
"And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear you, when ye depart thence, shake off the dust under your feet for a testimony against them. Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city." (Mark 6:11)
Clearly Jesus was telling gospel preachers that those who reject their message would be lost!
"Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye." (Acts 7:51)
Did not Stephen identify these as unregenerate? Isn't being uncircumcised in heart and ears proof of such a state? Only a person who is stubborn and obstinate would deny such and still cling to his false idea!
Paul and Barnabas
"Behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish: for I work a work in your days, a work which ye shall in no wise believe, though a man declare it unto you...Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles." (Acts 13:41, 46)
Here these gospel preachers judged that these gospel and Christ rejectors were lost!
The Fate Of False Prophets and False Christians
"For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ...these filthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities...these speak evil of those things which they know not: but what they know naturally, as brute beasts, in those things they corrupt themselves. Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core. These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots; Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever." (Jude 1:4, 8, 10-13)
Notice that Jude, like Peter in II Peter chapter two, points to specific men, to "certain men," and says that they were "of old ordained to this condemnation," who were "denying the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ," and who were "ungodly men," "natural brute beasts," "twice dead," etc., and "to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever." Does all this not overthrow the false proposition of these two Hardshell false teachers? They are welcome to come here and respond to this polemic.
"Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not." (Malachi 3:18)
Here it is viewed by God as a good thing to be able to discern or "discover" who is righteous and who is wicked, who is lost and who is saved!