By Mike Willis
Inasmuch as some have become disenchanted with our “narrow-minded, exclusive sect which thinks that they constitute the only saved people in the world,” I think it might be good for us to remember or reconsider, whichever might be the case, how we became so narrow-minded.
The entire basis on which we have stood in the past has been that truth demanded it. We have also noted that truth is exclusive in nature when we have preached in the past. To illustrate exactly what that means, let us consider these facts. Heb. 11:6 states, “And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.” If this statement means anything, it means that those who are atheists are lost. Let the circle below represent all of the world. The shaded area represents those of atheistic persuasion of the world, including the millions in the communistic countries, who are lost.
Another truth is added. “I said therefore to you, that you shall die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am He, you shall die in your sins” (Jn. 8:24). “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me” (Jn. 14:6). This truth excludes an even larger number of humans from salvation. The billions of people worshiping a god through any one of the world religions is pronounced lost by this verse. Our circle now looks like this, with even fewer people possessing the hope of salvation.
Another truth is added. “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (Jn. 3:5). This truth reveals that even among the theists who also believe in Jesus, not all will be saved-only those who have been born again. The circle of the saved becomes even smaller.
Other truths can be added which are equally exclusive. The ones not worshipping in truth or in spirit (Jn. 4:24), the hypocrites (Mt. 7), the ones who have lost their first love (Rev. 2:4,5), the ones preaching and/ or upholding a false doctrine (Rev. 2:20; 1 Cor. 15:33-see the context; 14:37, 38-NASB; 2 Jn. 9-11), etc. are lost further narrowing the circle of the saved, leaving only a small handful in hope of salvation.
Rather than believing what Jesus said–“For the gate is small, and the way is narrow that leads to life, and few are those who find it” (Mt. 7:14)-some begin to seek ways of enlarging the circle of the saved. Those who believe that the above illustrated picture is true are called “legalistic,” “narrow-minded” and “sectarian” by men such as Carl Ketcherside. Like Paul said in Acts 24:14-“But this I admit to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect I do serve the God of our fathers . . .,” I also admit that I serve God in this Way which is called a “sect” by men such as Ketcherside as well as denominationalists of every hue.
Those following Ketcherside have broadened the circle of the saved in several ways. They included in their concept of the saved those who have perverted the worship and the work of the church as well as those who have perverted the purpose and action of baptism. Still they are legalistic.’ They legalistically believe in something which they call baptism, excluding from their concept of salvation and fellowship those who do not receive it. (It is not Bible baptism since they have asserted that a person does not need to know the purpose of his baptism to make it valid.) They legalistically exclude from the saved all atheists and Jews. How such men can criticize others for legalism when they legalistically hold these beliefs and can consider themselves consistent while doing it is beyond my comprehension.
I suggest that before anyone adopts the belief that we have been “narrow-minded, exclusive and sectarian,” becomes enamored with the Ketcherside unity position, and begins preaching it, he seriously consider the exclusive nature of truth. Somewhere down the line every man will become legalistic or else he is logically to accept the doctrine of universalism.
Truth Magazine, XVIII:4, p. 9-10
November 22, 1973