Truth Mail Bag

Gordon J. Pennock
Brookfield, Ill.

R. E. S., Wisconsin: "Dear Brother Pennock: I have just finished reading "A Resporise" and "A Response to 'A Response' " in the October issue of TRUTH ... My question is:

Do you believe that an adult of normal intelligence may face God in the judgment "unbaptized and be saved?"

This question has been directed to me as a result of an article which appeared in the October issue pages 6 and 7, in which I was reported as having admitted in private conversation, that God is not "powerless to extend mercy where He will," and that therefore, when I teach that baptism is "essential to salvation," that I do not mean "that God cannot save any unbaptized man of normal intelligence."

It is always important to keep records straight; and also necessary to interpret statements in their context. Although the statements attributed to me are not verbal quotations, they report in part, a conversation which I had with brother Key about a year ago.

In our discussion upon that occasion I was insisting, as I now insist, that there is no hope of salvation revealed in the New Testament for those who fail, either wilfully or ignorantly, to render obedience to the gospel - to be immersed "in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit." I believe that Paul spoke truly when he said, that when Jesus is revealed from heaven, He will render "vengeance to them that know not God, and to them that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus." (2 Thess. 1:7, 8).

But as so often has been the case, brother Key confused the issue by trespassing upon the sacred silence of God's word, and introduced questions involving the can or ability of God to exercise grace and mercy beyond His law, or to extend clemency in the day of judgment.

I did not then, nor do I now, feel disposed to limit God's power or will in such matters. While I know of no Scripture which extends either promise or hope of such mercy or clemency, neither do I recall any which would compel me to deny it. I am satisfied to leave such matters in the hands of "The Judge of all the earth." If such mercy or clemency is granted, then it will be an exercised prerogative of God, as the judge of men, and will be done over, above and outside of His revealed will or law. If by such means many are saved in that day, then surely all who have partaken of "the divine nature" will rejoice.

But let us keep our task before us. Our business is to proclaim only that which God has revealed. To preach or promise to men salvation, based on mercy or clemency upon the judgment day is presumption of the deepest dye, and a reckless toying with their eternal souls.

When Jesus said, "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to the whole creation. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that disbelieveth shall be condemned" (Mk. 16: 15, 16), He laid a solemn responsibility upon both His disciples and the world. The church must preach the gospel; the world must believe the gospel.

If we neglect to take the gospel to the world, then the world will perish in its sin, and God will hold us responsible. But if we faithfully proclaim it, and the world rejects it, then it will perish, but we will have delivered our souls. This principle is clearly set forth in the book of Ezekiel, chapter 33, verses 7 through 9.

Brethren, let's "preach the word," without addition, subtraction or modification. Let us press and contend for the truths and principles which have been clearly revealed in God's word and leave the disposition of the unrevealed to the Great Jehovah. As we faithfully and energetically perform our task, let us do so hoping and praying that the world will receive t~e message. Eternity will then be a time of rejoicing for all of us.

F. D., Iowa: "I am proud of TRUTH and its strong, solid teaching on current issues, without the too much wrangling and meddling, characteristic of others. I hope to encourage others to subscribe, and want to help the paper all I can."

N. V. C., Illinois: "I want to say that you and the staff are doing a very fine job, and, in my judgment, Truth magazine is coming to be one of the best in the brotherhood. It is refreshing to read articles that are largely free of bitterness and written in the Christian spirit. Keep up the good work."

EDITOR'S NOTE: We are humbly grateful that our efforts are being widely appreciated. We are especially anxious that they be approved in the sight of God. Thanks for your encouragement.

Truth Magazine II:4, pp. 17
January 1958