Universalism appears to be thriving among the Limited Predestinarians. That may be seen in the portions we have culled from the following article, which, after some preliminary observations, we shall review. If the Lord blesses, we shall also offer a few reasons why Universalism thrives, not only among the Limited Predestinarian Primitive Baptists, but in other Arminian camps as well. Additional rotten fruit to which this avenue of thinking leads shall be examined.
What if some do not believe? (Romans 3.3)
(Note: Having been repeatedly asked to comment on whether or not the Jews would be saved in heaven since they do not believe in Christ as Christians do, I have written the following.) Elder S. T. Tolley; The Christian Baptist, Volume 31, March 1997, Number 3.
Elder Tolley, to whom we shall hereafter refer to simply as Elder T., starts off in a seemingly innocuous fashion with his introductory note. It is all down hill from there.
What disturbs us as much as anything Elder T. writes in the body of his article is his reason for the introductory note. He claims he has been repeatedly asked if unbelieving Jews shall be saved in heaven. (There is a clue to Elder T.'s doctrine here when he refers to "saved in heaven." He knows better than to say Jews are "saved in time.") How anyone familiar with a Bible could ask such a question is startling to us, especially in view of the Bible record relative to unbelieving Jews and other non-believers. Why would Elder T. waste time and space in his paper on such a fully documented issue? A simple NO! from him each time the question was asked should have sufficed. Well, Elder T. cannot answer, NO! He mistakenly thinks heaven may be obtained apart from Jesus, the Son of God. A more insulting mistake toward the Son of God has never been made.
It is not our province to tell Elder T. how he should waste his time and printing space. However, he has widely published his views on Jewish salvation apart from Jesus, and since those views are so at variance with what the Old School Baptists believe and have promulgated for centuries, and since his views are today passed off as the doctrine of Primitive Baptists, we therefore publish our strong dissent.
A doctrine not sustained by the New Testament cannot be primitive. Elder T. will utterly fail to produce Scripture supporting Jews going to heaven apart from our blessed Savior, Jesus. His contrivances, claiming heaven for unbelieving Jews that somehow believe in God the Father but not Jesus His Son, simply cannot be primitive; they are just garden-variety error at best.
Elder T.'s more glaring bits of confusion and wilder propositions contained in his Universalist article shall be briefly reviewed. Compared to sound doctrine, they are little more than pure absurdities. Following our brief examination, as the Lords enables, we shall probe in detail the collateral subjects of conditional time salvation and belief as revealed in the Scriptures, and as they relate to Universalism.
A brief quote from Elder T. will vividly establish some of what he proposed that compels us to enter our dissent. All of Elder T.'s doctrinal deviations warrant serious investigation, but we confine ourselves to those parts associated with Universalism.
"Dear Readers, God will not damn all the unbelieving Jews (or anyone else) in hell just because they have not been able to believe that Christ is the true Messiah. Those who truly believe in God from the heart are born again, and Christ has said they will NOT come into condemnation. We can believe that and rejoice it in [sic]." Elder T.
Sufficient is found in this unscriptural, garbled statement to give the reader an idea of what we sternly oppose. There is no doubt what Elder T. is touting, and it is certainly not in harmony with the sacred Scriptures. Further examination of this quotation will come in proper order.
Elder T. has had a lengthy tenure as a champion of Universalism. During this time had he even casually examined the names and titles of the Son of God he might have avoided this present confusion. We shall show, therefore, what these words manifestly and unmistakably mean, so that we may then give appropriate treatment to this subject.
NAMES AND TITLES OF GOD'S SON
Jesus: Blessed, blessed name! Saints and angels alike bow in wonder at the mention of the name, Jesus. Countless numbers among the redeemed family have rejoiced to sing,
"How sweet the name of Jesus sounds in a believer's ear!
It soothes his sorrows, heals his wounds,
And drives away his fear." - Newton
"His name yields the richest perfume;
And sweeter than music his voice." - Newton
Taken alone, Jesus is the name of the Son of God, not His title. There is no room for error here. Elder T., as a long standing minister among the Primitive Baptists, should have known this. Then he might have averted using the name, Jesus, and the office/title, Christ, interchangeably. What he has produced by this error is a flawed assessment of the Jews and their final end. This is the kindest remark we can offer.
We are fully aware that on some occasions in the New Testament the appellation, Jesus Christ, is used to signify the name of the Son of God, but properly His name is Jesus, without any appendages.
Do the Scriptures distinctly support our contention that Jesus is the name of the Son of God rather than Lord and Christ? They certainly do! "Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ (Acts 2.36)." Words cannot be more unmistakable. He Who was named Jesus was, by God His Father, made both Lord and Christ. Jesus is the fleshly, earthly name of the Son of God, not Christ or Lord. A simple example is, for instance, "Elder Gilbert Beebe, Minister and Editor." We leave it for you to determine which was his name, and what words were titles or descriptions of his functions. You will not need to resort to the ancient languages or the works of scholars to figure out the simple distinctions.
It is not our purpose to give a detailed study of the name, Jesus. It should, nevertheless, be useful to cover several important items. There should then be no danger of confusing the words, Jesus, Lord, Messiah, and Christ, as Elder T. does.
The name, Jesus, appears 983 times in the New Testament. Many of those times the name appears alone, as in, "Jesus wept (John 11.35)." The emphasis here focuses on the humanity of Jesus, not His offices, titles or functions. Many other times the name Jesus and His title Christ appear together. Other times Lord appears either before or after Jesus. All three words are joined together in other instances. Examples are, the Lord Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ the Lord, as well as other combinations. Hopefully, we shall have eternity to contemplate the glorious distinctions.
Of those 983 times the name Jesus is used it appears in the book of John 256 times; far more than any other book. The books of James and II John use the name only twice each. In every occasion throughout the New Testament, except possibly one, the name Jesus means Savior.
Jesus is the name of the Son of God. This is established by numerous Bible witnesses.
Witness No.1: the angel of the Lord. "And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins (Matthew 1.21)."
Witness No. 2: Joseph, the husband of Mary. "And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS (Matthew 1.25)."
Witness No. 3: The angel Gabriel. "And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS (Luke 1.31)."
Witness No. 4: the mutual concurrence at the circumcision of Jesus. "And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb (Luke 2.21)."
Witness No. 5: Pilate. "And Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross. And the writing was, JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS (John 19.19)." See also Matthew 27.37; Mark 15.26; and Luke 23.38.
There are additional witnesses but it is unnecessary to give more. Had Elder T. been aware of these witnesses he might have seen the folly in using the name Jesus with the title Christ, or combining Christ and Jesus so improperly in his laudatory document on Universalism. His lusting to fill the eternal heaven with unbelieving Jews appears ridiculous in the face of the above witnesses. From his article it shows he does not know that unbelieving Jews see Jesus and Christ as two persons, and not one. This shall be made clear shortly.
Christ: "He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven (Matthew 16.15-17)."
Peter well knew who was speaking to him; it was his friend and master, Jesus. But when asked by Jesus who He was, Peter called Him, The Christ. This was not the intellectual voice of Peter that spoke; it was his heart. Why, then, did Peter's heart so speak? Why did he call Jesus the Christ at this particular time? Because God blessed Peter to recognize and confess Jesus as the Christ, and for no other reason. Fact: it requires the blessing of God to see and call Jesus the Christ. Matthew 16 makes this is evident. Otherwise, Peter would have logically answered the Lord's interrogation somewhat as follows: "You are Jesus. Everybody knows that. Why do you ask me such a question?"
When Jesus previously asked whom others thought He was, the disciples suggested the populace thought Jesus was possibly John the Baptist, Elias, Jeremiah, or one of the other prophets. King Herod believed Jesus was perhaps John, returned from the dead (Mark 6.14-16). From this we conclude that Jesus was teaching His disciples something new respecting Himself. He, Jesus, was the Christ the multitudes of Israel had been looking for through the centuries. The Christ they awaited was also the Messiah their fathers had anticipated. The Messiah of the Old Testament and the Christ of the New Testament were the same. He was the anointed of God. Jesus was that Christ, the Messiah, the anointed of God. To deny that Jesus was the Christ was to deny God's anointing of His dear Son. We repeat: Jesus is the Christ. Deny Jesus, and you deny the Christ. This the unbelieving Jews do. Confess Christ and you must confess Jesus. This the unbelieving Jews cannot do.
The word, Christ, appears 555 times in the 27 books of the New Testament. In every instance the word means anointed. Properly used, the word Christ is for identification purposes rather than being a name. Jesus was identified as the Christ when He was anointed. When one is blessed to know that Jesus is the Christ, as in the case when God revealed such to Peter, he sees Jesus as the anointed of God.
For a brief reference to the anointing of Jesus, we cite several texts. First, we ask - when was Jesus anointed as the Christ? Answer: at His baptism.
"Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him. But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and cometh thou to me? And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness. Then he suffered him. And Jesus when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased (Matthew 3.13-17)."
Immediately after baptism, and following His temptation by Satan in the wilderness, Jesus went into the synagogue at Nazareth. He read to those assembled from the book of the prophet Isaiah. "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord (Luke 4.18,19)." Jesus then claimed this prophecy for Himself: "And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears (Luke 4.21)." This is incontrovertible testimony. Jesus had been anointed by the Spirit of His Father.
The following links these several verses together unmistakably. None but fools presume to deny it: "The word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (he is Lord of all:) That word, I say, ye know, which was published throughout all Judaea, and began from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached; How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him (Acts 10.36-38)." All elements of Matthew 3.13-17 and Luke 4.18, 19, 21, are evident in Acts 10.36-38. There can be no sensible opposition. The Messiah of the Old Testament, the Christ of the New Testament, is the anointed Jesus of Nazareth. For a Jew to deny Jesus as the Son of God he must deny the Christ of God. How then can Elder T. claim that Jews believe in God the Father? They do not believe His testimony of, or about, His Son. Moreover, how does a belief in the existence of God signify that a Jew was born again, as Elder T. advocates?
By now someone probably wonders what all the fuss is about. It is not a fuss. We are contesting cornerstone principles. We stand firm on this eternal truth: you cannot separate Jesus, the Son of God, from His official capacity as the Christ and Messiah. You cannot plea for the salvation of Jews, or anyone else, simply because they claim belief in God (apart from Jesus) or because they believe in a Christ to come but not Jesus Christ. This shall all become vividly clear when, if the Lord wills, we examine further Elder T.'s article wherein he pronounces such lavish benedictions on Jewry in particular, and invokes for unbelievers generally, all the riches God promised to His children. Children saved by Jesus (Matthew 1.21).
Messiah: The word Messiah is found only twice in the Old Testament (Daniel 9.25, 26). We are informed the Hebrew word "Mashiyech" occurs 39 times in the Old Testament; it is translated as "anointed" 37 times and twice in Daniel 9 as "Messiah." But in this great prophecy alone did the Holy Spirit inspire the use of the word Messiah. Messiah means anointed, exactly as does Christ the 555 times it is found in the New Testament. Though the word, Messiah, is used only twice, the Anointed One to come from the Father was still a constant source of contemplation to the spiritual Israelite. Multitudes of prophecies pointed to One to come that would deliver His people. That One was the Messiah, the anointed of God. "God anointed Jesus of Nazareth."
Jesus is the Messiah. Jesus is the Christ. Jesus is the anointed. When blessed to understand the similarities as well as the distinctions of these words, there will be little danger of the errors Elder T. embraces. Elder T. believes Jews, and others, that profess a belief in God, while at the same time denying that Jesus is God's anointed Son, are as sure of heaven as Peter, Paul, and John. This despite their vociferous denial that Jesus is the Messiah, the Christ, the anointed of God the Father.
Elder T. and others may feel virtuous by proclaiming universal charity, but who has required this rot from them? Who has authorized any person on earth the right to promote wholesale that heaven will be populated with unbelievers of all persuasions? As God is our help, we challenge this deceit. Let Elder T. set forth even one text in the Word of God to sustain his little Universalist hobby. In due time, fuller attention shall be given to the few texts Elder T. feebly cobbled together as props for his unbelieving Jewish friends.
This is certain: God looks with no favor upon doctrines that absolutely ignore and dismiss Jesus, His Son, especially when the promoters of such doctrines embrace the unbelieving Jesus-haters. Hear the Father speak: "And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased (Matthew 3.17)." The Father fully illustrated His favor toward Jesus, Who was identified by name in verses 13, 15, and 16 just previous.
Having examined the several words (Jesus, Christ, and Messiah) necessary to expose Elder T.'s Universalism, we briefly mention several statements where he misuses these words with obviously little understanding of their individual or collective meanings.
We here illustrate Elder T.'s use of the words, Jesus, Christ, and Messiah and how that use leads him to the Universalist notion that Jews will go to heaven apart from Jesus. In no case where we give a citation from Elder T. will he be quoted out of context. He has done himself sufficient damage without our assistance.
From Elder T.'s article
"Many persons believe (including the Orthodox Jews) in the historical Manhood of Jesus Christ - that He lived and was a good teacher - but they deny that He was the Messiah that was prophesied to come.
Correction: Orthodox Jews do not believe in the historical Manhood of Jesus Christ. They may believe in the manhood of Jesus, but not in Jesus Christ. According to the Orthodox Jew, Christ has not yet come. This is a typical example of how Elder T. fails to distinguish between Jesus, as the Son of God, and Jesus Christ the anointed of the Father. Orthodox Jews know the difference if Elder T. doesn't, and they deny that Jesus was the Christ. Neither would they acknowledge He was the Messiah. Elder T. must think our Holy God will not be offended by those that despise His Son, Jesus.
Ask a Jewish person if they expect to obtain heaven by what Jesus of Nazareth did two thousand years ago. Then you may ask yourself if the Father of Jesus will honor the Jew's expectations of heaven without benefit of, or belief in, His Son.
"During the time of a funeral service which I conducted for a non-Jewish friend, but who was related to a Jewish family by marriage, it was my privilege to visit with a considerable number of Jewish persons both before and after the funeral service. It was a delightful experience. One was a well-known lawyer, another a doctor. One told me that he believed in Jesus Christ (but his concept was different from mine). The lawyer told me that he believed as I did about Jesus Christ, but then he said, 'But I will always be a Jew.' It is not likely that the lawyer fully believed as I did about Christ but more so than the doctor did."
Correction: More confusion. If the one that told Elder T. that he believed in Jesus Christ was telling the truth, then he was not properly a Jew. Possibly he was as ignorant of the distinctions between Jesus and Christ as Elder T. is, but not likely. The lawyer's confession was about what you might expect from most lawyers. Be that as it may, if Elder T. has even the slightest understanding ("concept," he calls it) of Jesus then he and the lawyer cannot both be telling the truth. The lawyer was more likely telling the truth when he said he would always be a Jew. Unless God is pleased to reveal His Son Jesus in him (Galatians 1.15, 16) he will indeed remain a Jew.
"Dear Readers, God will not damn all the unbelieving Jews (or anyone else) in hell just because they have not been able to believe that Christ is the true Messiah. Those who truly believe in God from the heart are born again, and Christ has said they will NOT come into condemnation."
Correction: The Jews have no problem believing "that Christ is the true Messiah." Elder T. is the one that has a problem. The Jews correctly understand that the Messiah and the Christ are one and the same. The Jews do have a major problem with Jesus Christ being the true Messiah. They do not believe Jesus is the Christ or the Messiah. Elder T. does not know the difference.
If God is not going to damn unbelievers in hell, as Elder T. says He won't, just where will He damn them? If God does not damn unbelievers, what will He do with them at the last? Will these unbelievers wake up in heaven some sweet day and stand bewildered before the throne? Will they stand wondering at who occupies the seat of majesty before which they have been summoned, unbelief and all? We expect to offer more, much more, on this later, the Lord willing.
Elder T. mentions "those who truly believe in God from the heart." Is there another acceptable belief except a true one? We confess we know not any. (The subject of believing devils shall be reviewed later.) But Elder T. goes babbling on. He says that those true believers in God are born again. This is a new and startling assumption to us. And it is an extremely dangerous and disturbing view. Is Elder T. saying, belief in God only, apart from belief in Jesus, is credentials enough for heaven? Yes, he is! He is, nevertheless, as wholly wrong as those maddened Jews in the following text: "Ye do the deeds of your father. Then said they to him, We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God. Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me (John 8.41,42)." It is beyond dispute: those Jews were not born of the Father for they did not love Jesus. But Elder T. says Jews that truly believe in God are born again, even though their supposed belief fails to produce a love to the only Son of God, Whom God loves. Who do you suppose, then, is right: Jesus in John 8, or Elder T.? Both cannot be right as Elder T. himself has admitted in his article:
"It is an indisputable fact that ALL believers can NOT be right in all that they believe! How can two or more individuals believe differently about the same issue and ALL be right? It is impossible." Elder S. T. Tolley, Editor; introductory paragraph, "WHAT IF SOME DO NOT BELIEVE?"
If doctrine more daring and presumptuous than obtaining heaven without Jesus the Son of God exists, what must it be? If Elder T. is correct, practically every child of God that has ever breathed a sigh for heaven, or longed for the presence of Jesus has wasted their time. We hold no personal malice toward Elder T., but this onslaught against the very name of the blessed Son of God cannot go unnoticed.
If spared and given strength, we shall continue in the next issue. To be carefully examined are some of the many texts that relate directly to this subject. We will, as well, scrutinize additional quotes from Elder T.'s article.
J. F. Poole
Volume 11, No. 5