By Steve Wolfgang
In a prior article, I wrote the. following paragraph:
We are told, for instance, by some well-intentioned individuals, that “Christ plus nothing” will save a man; in other words, that a man’s own actions or beliefs have absolutely nothing to do with the salvation of his soul. Were this assertion true, it would by implication follow either that all men would be saved, or that God (making Himself a respecter of persons) arbitrarily (:hose some to be saved without regard to their beliefs or conduct, good or had and likewise ordained (equally as arbitrarily) that some should be doomed to damnation eternally. Since some preachers have taught this for years (and continue to teach it yet) many people believe it.
A friendly reader has called to my attention the fact that some may have misunderstood that paragraph, thinking that it accused those who teach that “Christ plus nothing” saves a person of believing that all men will be saved. That, of course, is not true, and it is not what I meant to say in that paragraph. Upon rereading what I wrote, I do not believe that is what I did say, but perhaps some clarification is in order.
When one considers salvation from a purely logical standpoint, the possibilities are as follows: (1) all persons will be saved; (2) no persons will be saved, or (3) some persons will be saved and others will not. I know of no one who believes or teaches the second alternative (though, the world being as it is, there may be someone somewhere who accepts that rather odd proposition). There are some individuals who would accept the universalism expressed in the first alternative listed above. It is not our purpose here to dispute or review that position, except to point out that it is a clearly unbiblical concept; for though the Bible teaches that God would like for all men to be saved (it is His will that none should perish but that all should come to repentance – 2 Peter 3:9, cf. 1 John 2:2), not all men will do that. We certainly were – not accusing our Calvinist friends of accepting the universalist position.
What we are left with, however, is the question of how, or upon what basis, is the decision made regarding those who will or will not be saved? If there are conditions which a man must accept, believe and obey in order to reach the state of salvation, then man’s response must be included, in addition to the very great sacrifice of Christ, in order to work together unto the salvation of souls. This is what we believe and teach, because we understand the Bible to teach it. There are some, however, who evidently accept (for they certainly preach it) that “Christ plus nothing saves.” That excludes a person’s faith, his obedience or anything else. It also necessitates some arbitrary standard which God must impose to decide who will be lost or who saved, for it is .clear as a sunbeam that if a person has nothing whatsoever to do with his own salvation, depending on “Christ plus nothing” then there must be some arbitrary standard which separates the lost from the saved. Either that, or we are back to the universalist position (all will be saved). If a human being is made righteous without any effort on his own, then why are not all righteous? It must be (1) because God is an arbitrary respecter of persons (which the Bible clearly denies) or (2) it must be that while Christ died for the sins of all the world, the response of each person in the world to either accept or reject God’s conditions determines one’s salvation. This we believe and teach, because the Bible so teaches.
“Stay tuned” for more installments on the above topics. We welcome constructive criticism, comments, inquiry, etc. in these matters or other items in this column. Study and investigate for yourself!
Guardian of Truth XXV: 24, p. 370
June 11, 1981