Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
I recently was reading the most recent issue of The Doctrines of Grace Bulletin, and in it, Art Neuenschwander quoted a question from W.E. Best that said, "If particular redemption is denied, on what ground do believers die in their sins?" Neuenschwander then commented: "Those who answer that last question by saying 'Lack of faith', are making faith redemptive, are they not? Such obviously do not believe in total depravity, for they believe the natural man has the ability to 'Believe unto salvation.'"
I thought to myself (and many of you are probably thinking to yourself), "Neuenschwander must surely believe that those who believe in universal atonement are lost." But, having learned not to take these kinds of quotes at face value, I e-mailed this message to him:
<<Thank you for your latest newsletter. I'm glad you said that those who answer W.E. Best's question with "lack of faith" are making faith redemptive. Does this mean that you judge all who believe in universal atonement to be lost?>>
And, believe it or not, here is what Neuenschwander wrote back:
<<Your inquiry about my opinion as to the salvation of those who hold to the universal atonement position. Since I am of the understanding that both regeneration and new birth must precede the individual coming to repentance and faith, I can assume that some may be saved but not yet taught by the Holy Spirit as to the truth of particular redemption. I would have to say that such was my own case. I trusted Christ in 1938, but did not come to understand particular redemption [even imperfectly] until in the 1950's. I have no question concerning my own salvation as of 1938.>>
This should teach us all to be VERY, VERY WARY!!! Here is a man who says that those who believe universal atonement are making faith redemptive and do not believe in total depravity, yet he ALSO says that a saved person can believe universal atonement!! My friends, DO NOT take statements like the one Neuenschwander made in his newsletter at face value! Just because someone says that universal atonement advocates don't believe in total depravity and are making faith redemptive DOES NOT mean that he believes that all universal atonement advocates are lost! Just because someone says that Arminianism is a false gospel DOES NOT mean that he believes all Arminians are lost! Just because someone says that all Arminians believe something that strikes at the heart of God's redemptive glory DOES NOT mean that he believes all Arminians are lost! BEWARE, my friends!
Another anecdote that should make us more wary:
I recently wrote to an e-mail correspondent the following thing:
<<Since you say you're a Christian, does that mean that you believe that salvation is based on the atoning blood and imputed righteousness of Christ alone?>>
The man responded:
<<Amen, yes I do!>>
I then asked:
<<Do you believe that Christ's blood and righteousness secured the salvation of all whom He represented?>>
The man replied:
<<The Scripture says that God so loved the WORLD, that He gave His only begotten son, so whosoever believes on Him should not perish but have everlasting life. This to me infers that the Holy Spirit comes to everyone to give them a chance. This tell me that Jesus died for the whole world and if you believe then you are saved.>>
The man went on to state very clearly his belief in universal atonement. Do you see what's going on here? Here's a man who said "AMEN" to "salvation is based on the atoning blood and imputed righteousness alone," and yet he then went on to advocate universal atonement!
BE VERY, VERY WARY MY FRIENDS! Do not assume that someone is saved until you ASK A LOT OF QUESTIONS! And MAKE SURE that one of the questions is, "Are all who believe that Christ died for everyone without exception lost?"
I've been having an e-mail conversation with a man who said,
<<I think Arminianism is the worst doctine to hit the Church, and that the problems in todays Evangelical movement can be traced back to Charles Finney. ... I believe that I am saved by the innocent sacrifice of a Christ who came into the world for a specific reason...to receive the wrath of an angry God who demands perfection from His creation. He is the only one capable of being a sacrifice because He is the only perfect One. And I can now stand before the Judge without a blemish because of the imputed righteousness of my LORD and Saviour, Jesus. I hate the doctines of the false church and after I've exhausted every argument with one of its members I discard fellowship with them as quickly as I would an oak log into a roaring fire.>>
So far so good?
BUT NOW TAKE A LOOK AT WHAT ELSE HE SAID:
<<I believe that I was regenerated when as a fourth grader in a Catholic Church on Good Friday, I knealt at the alter and saw Christ dying for me, a no good rotten sinner. ... I realized that there was something wrong with them all [all the churches he attended --mdc], but couldn't figure what it was. I thought it was the people, but after a six month sabatical I learned that it was the doctrine that was their problem. A friend had given me Pinks The Sovereignty of God. I didn't get it the first two times I read it but the third time my mind was opened to see Gods total Sovereignty even in my own salvation. I always wondered what my choice had to do with the atonement and work of the sacrificial life, death, and resurection of God Himself. I just could't find anyone in the Christian church movement who knew the answer.>>
Incredible? Well ... nothing surprises us any more, does it?
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