While driving to our meeting at Welsh Tract Church on Sunday morning we passed a bill-board with the following message on it:
FRIENDS DON'T LET FRIENDS DIE UNSAVED.
TELL A FRIEND ABOUT JESUS.
This particular billboard has been a fruitful source of plenteous Arminian nonsense. It appears to us, however, that this latest message transcends Arminianism and takes a great leap forward into pure ignorance.
It is certainly commendable that anyone would desire the Lord's best for their friends or relatives. And it is fully in keeping with the instructions in the Word of God to "be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear (I Pet. 3.15)." The key here is that we give an answer when we are asked. This, nor any other text, directs us to buttonhole everyone we come in contact with to weasel a religious decision out of them. It is a blessed privilege to relate our sweet hope to all that may require it of us, but that is far removed from the odious "don't let them die unsaved" proposition disgracing our local highway.
"Salvation is of the Lord." So says the Word of God, and this is what all who are born of God believe is the truth of the matter. If it was even remotely possible that those in possession of eternal life could cause a friend to become saved before death, then they should at once expend all possible effort to accomplish the task. No time or expense dare be spared; no sacrifice would be too great, if a sinner's eternal state rests in our hands. In fact, if it were in our power to bring a friend into a saved condition, we would deserve to be swiftly and doubly damned ourselves if we didn't do so, at whatever cost it might be to ourselves.
Believer, could you sleep at night if your good neighbor might die before morning, and you lay there in bed with the ability to snatch them from the fires of hell?
Could you feast on fried chicken for supper, knowing the price of a rooster might be all that is needed to rescue a dying friend, and place him among heaven's favored citizens? Well might we then employ the words of Pharaoh and say, "Ye are idle, ye are idle." Up and be doing, before it is everlastingly too late! Yes, the souls of untold millions hang in the balance, according to this billboard sentiment.
"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God (Eph. 2.8):" Faith is plainly the gift of God, and one cannot be saved apart from it. So then, if a friend of ours is at the point of death; dying unsaved, as might be supposed, what does he need in order to escape this horrible departure? It would surely appear that he needs faith, "for whatsoever is not of faith is sin (Rom.14.23)." We ask then, in all seriousness, can you give your friend faith? No! and neither could you convince a friend of his need of saving faith either! Nothing but the grace of God can accomplish that. Unless God, in eternity, purposed the salvation of a sinner, he must surely perish, no matter how much our heart may be drawn out to him in his lost condition.
Is this hard doctrine? It is not to those who rest in God's unchanging love. Those that rest there know that they have not been called to do the work Jesus previously did in His life and death. See Him there call a Lazarus from the tomb. Neither Martha, Mary, nor their friends could prevent his sickness, or his demise. Much less could they call him back from the tomb. Lazarus must repose stinking until called effectually by free grace. Yet today's modern Arminian workmongers would have us believe we may prevent our loved ones from dying of a far more incurable disease than Lazarus had; the damning, and death-demanding disease of sin.
One by one, all men must pass from this life by death. Each one of them will leave this world either as a sheep, or as a goat. We know no other class of beings. The sheep have heard the voice of the Good Shepherd, and they will not follow the voice of strangers for they know them not. From them they flee. Nothing but the voice of the Good Shepherd will stir up the sheep to follow after eternal life. They have no need of well meaning friends to prevent their dying unsaved, for their Shepherd has already done that for them.
And what must be done for the goats? Well, once a goat, always a goat. Will they ever savingly believe? Jesus said, "But ye believe not, because ye are not my sheep, as I said unto you (John 10.27)." From this we must conclude that, billboard enthusiasm notwithstanding, all goats will die unsaved; friends or no friends.
The sheep need no friend other than Jesus, and all the friends in the world will do the goats no good, for Jesus is not their friend. Jesus is the friend of sinners, but not all sinners. "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends (John 15.13)." "As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep (John 10.15)."
"For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord's. For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and the living (Rom. 14.8,9)."
November - December 1992