Will God Save Those Who are Honestly Mistaken?

By Franklin Burns

We are hearing much these days about how someone could be honestly mistaken and still be acceptable in God’s sight. It is sad indeed to think of those that are morally good people and those who appear to be so sincere in their practice of religious error as being eternally lost. However, we must remember that all we can know about the matter is what God has revealed in His word. Beyond this we dare not go, no matter how great the pull of sympathy and sentiment may be (1 Cor. 4:6). No man has the right to presume upon God’s mercy.

The Plan of Salvation

The plan of salvation is so plain and simple, and yet so many are honestly mistaken on it. The plan is plainly revealed in the word of God. The books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John clearly set forth what Jesus did to effect salvation for man. All recognize that the blood of Jesus is essential to salvation because this is so clearly revealed in the New Testament. It is just as clearly stated that, in order to receive the benefit of the blood of Jesus, there are certain commandments that must be obeyed. The great commission of our Lord as was recorded by Matthew, Mark and Luke sets forth faith, repentance and baptism as terms of pardon. Confirming this, we have a number of cases of conversion or record in the book of Acts which serve as examples to us that God’s terms of pardon must be met by man before he can enjoy the hope of life eternal through Jesus Christ.

Instrumental Music

Some of my brethren say that one can worship with the instrument and be honestly mistaken in it and still be justified in God’s sight. Again we say we have no authority but that revealed in God’s word.

The New Testament teaches one to sing; but it does not teach by command, example, or inference that one should play on an instrument in worship. “And when they sang a hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives” (Matt. 26:30, Mark 14:26). “And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God and the prisoners heard them” (Acts 16:25). “For this cause I will confess to thee among the Gentiles, and sing unto thy name” (Rom. 15:9). “What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also” (1 Cor. 14:15). “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord” (Col. 3:16). “Saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee” (Heb. 2:12). “By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of thee” (Heb. 2:12). “By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God Continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name” (Heb. 13:15).

It is difficult to see how these scriptures can be misunderstood by responsible beings who are entirely free JI prejudice. To seek to give those who worship with the instrument hope is to confirm them in their error and to question the wisdom of God.

Where Does It End???

The Modernists say we can be honestly mistaken about the inspiration of the scriptures (1 Cor. 2:13, 2 Tim. 3:16). They also claim we can be honestly mistaken on the virgin birth (Isa. 7:14, Matt. 1:18-25). Going another step, they also say that we can honestly differ on the resurrection (Matt. 28:1-7). This line of thought completely overthrows the New Testament concept of Christ and the Church.

If honesty in religion is all that is necessary to salvation, why was the gospel of Christ revealed? Why did Jesus set forth positive terms and give positive commandments? Why is man restricted to one system of doctrine, if anything will do (Gal. 1:8)? Let us abide in that which is written (Rev. 22: 18-19).

Truth Magazine XX: 30, p. 477
July 29, 1976