Posted by: Bill Hornbeck | April 12, 2018

“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.”

Today’s devotion comes from Matthew 7:12-23.

“12 “In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

13 “Enter through the narrow gate;  for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it.  14 For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.

15 “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.  16 You will know them by their fruits.  Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they?  17 So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit.  18 A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit.  19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.  20 So then, you will know them by their fruits.

21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.  22 Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’  23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you;  DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’”  Matthew 7:12-23.

———————–

In this devotion, we will focus on verses 13-14.  “Enter through the narrow gate;  for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it.  For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.”

We find similar verses else where in Scripture.  “And someone said to Him, “Lord, are there just a few who are being saved?”  And He said to them, “Strive to enter through the narrow door;  for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.”  Luke 13:23-24.

“For many are called, but few are chosen.”  Matthew 22:14.

Scripture emphasizes the importance of truth.

Jesus said both in Matthew 15:9 and Mark 7:7:  ‘BUT IN VAIN DO THEY WORSHIP ME, TEACHING AS DOCTRINES THE PRECEPTS OF MEN.’”

Jesus also stated in John 16:13:  “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth;  …”

Jesus also stated in John 4:23-24:  “But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth;  for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers.  God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”

Not any kind of worship will suffice, but “worship in spirit and truth”.

“Brethren, my heart’s desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation.  For I testify about them that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge.  For not knowing about God’s righteousness and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God.  For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.”  Romans 11:1-4.

Not any kind of zeal will suffice, but zeal “in accordance with knowledge”, or in other words, in accordance with truth.

“But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth.”  2 Thessalonians 2:13.

Not any kind of faith will suffice, but “faith in the truth”.

There are those who “did not receive the love of truth so as to be saved”.  2 Thessalonians 2: 10-13.

Not any kind of love will suffice, but “the love of truth”.

The Broad Way of Most Doctrine Compared to the Narrow Way of Reformed Doctrine a/k/a Calvinism 

Most doctrine (including specifically Arminianism) is like a broad bridge open to everyone, but it only goes half-way across the river.  Such doctrine teaches that God loves everyone, Christ died for everyone, and God wants to save everyone, but it is up to man to contribute something worthy of salvation.  The only difference between the unsaved and saved is that the saved does works or maybe as little as uses his  alleged free-will to, so to speak, jump from the end of the bridge, across the river, to the shore of salvation.  Arminians believe that everyone has an equal opportunity to be saved, but that Christ’s death completely saved no one in particular.  Only those who do sufficient works or who take a sufficient “free will leap of faith” to the shore of salvation will be saved.  Thus, the bridge is wide, open to everyone, but it only goes halfway across the stream.  Accordingly, the saved have reason to boast for contributing to their own salvation and showing themselves worthy of salvation.

In sharp contrast to most doctrine (including specifically Arminianism), Reformed Doctrine a/k/a Calvinism is like a narrow bridge only open to God’s elect, but the narrow bridge goes all the way across the river to the shore of salvation.  Reformed Doctrine a/k/a Calvinism teaches that God only loves His elect and only wants to save them and that Christ died only for the elect.  In summary, God does everything necessary for the salvation of His elect.  Reformed Doctrine a/k/a Calvinism teaches that man is totally depraved (first point of Calvinism) that he is “dead” in sin, hostile to God, cannot please God, cannot understand the things of God, and is in bondage to sin and Satan, such that God must do everything for the elect, including making them alive (regenerating them), giving them faith, sanctifying them, and preserving them to salvation, so that all of God’s elect will be saved.  Accordingly, God’s elect have no reason to boast for God provided everything needed for their salvation.

Can people believe whatever they want and still be saved?  Or, in other words, will Arminians be saved?

I realize that even posing this question may seem arrogant to the reader, but even if this question is not expressed, many churches and leaders think that they are the keeper of the keys to heaven.  Each group tends to scoff at another group in front of them who they think are too liberal and let too many people think that they are in the kingdom, and yet they will criticize the group behind them as being too conservative and too strict and too narrow-minded and too not caring.  Each group on the spectrum thinks of themselves as moderate and true.  So, hopefully the reader will be patient with me.  Maybe, I am too conservative and too strict and too narrow-minded and too not caring, but reader, please remember that another group in front of you may be thinking the same thing about you as you try to warn them and bring them into the kingdom.

So then, will Arminians be saved?  As true Calvinists, our simple answer is “Yes, if they are God’s elect.”  But, Scripture says more, much more, and warns us of false prophets and misleading claims to be saved.  Scripture exhorts us to distinguish the good from the bad “by their fruits”.  See Matthew 7:15-23 above.

Because Scripture does not specifically include Arminian doctrine in any of its passages concerning doctrine, I can only give my opinion as to whether or not Arminians are saved.  Yet, I do think it is a good question to tackle.  Scripture warns us to not be complacent about our salvation, to “enter through the narrow gate”, so we will tackle this difficult question.

I certainly think some (or maybe even many) Arminians will be saved.  There are some “Arminians” who may be taught but do not believe enough of the Arminian doctrine.  They may be “tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine,” as stated in Ephesians 4: 14, but not “fall from the faith”.  I think I have been in this class in my travels between various Protestant churches where Arminianism was taught, and even today I struggle to avoid the subtle influences of Arminianism and stay true to Calvinism.  I struggle to avoid the temptation of seeking to be perfected by the flesh.  I struggle to hear with faith.  See Galatians 3:1-5.  Thus, I think that there are “Arminians” who believe or teach Arminianism from lack of understanding of Scripture but who will be refuted by knowledge of the truth and who will repent and come to the truth.

I think that there are some Arminians who who do not believe in the truth.  They stubbornly believe or teach Arminianism in “vain worship of God” and are not truly saved.  They cling to “free will” and their own feelings of justice above Scripture and stubbornly hold to their belief that their God would not unconditionally elect certain people to salvation.  They cling to their own image of God that fits their own sense of “free will” and justice.   To the God revealed in Scripture which is best summarized by the doctrine of Calvinism, they declare:  “That is not the God I serve!”

However, whether we are an Arminian or a Calvinist, Scripture does exhort us to not be complacent about salvation.

“AND IF IT IS WITH DIFFICULTY THAT THE RIGHTEOUS ARE SAVED, WHAT WILL BECOME OF THE GODLESS MAN AND THE SINNER?”  1 Peter 4:18.

For one example, for even us who claim to be a Calvinist and claim to be elect, we are told to add moral qualities to our lives so that we “make certain His calling and choosing you”.  2 Peter 1: 5-11.  This is consistent with verse 12 in today’s Scripture:  “In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”

We may claim that we love the Lord!  Will having a zeal for God be enough to be saved?  Paul states that for the Jews, zeal was not enough – “For I testify about them that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge.  For not knowing about God’s righteousness and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God.  Romans 10: 2-3.

And, Jesus said:  “Not everyone who says to Me, “Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven;  … Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord’ did we not prophecy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’  “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’”  See Matthew 7:21-23 above.

The point of the foregoing is to show that salvation is not easy.  We should not be complacent, certainly not as an Arminian, and not even as a Calvinist.  We should seek the truth and the soundest doctrine and follow all of Scripture with all of our mind, heart, and soul.

The Apostle Paul himself said:  “Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus.  Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet;  but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 3:12-14.

Scripture exhorts us to seek for wisdom as one would seek for silver or hidden treasure.  If we are to so seek for wisdom with all of our heart, how much more should we seek the true doctrine of salvation with all of our heart!!!  “If you seek her as silver And search for her as for hidden treasures;  Then you will discern the fear of the LORD And discover the knowledge of God.”  Proverbs 2:4-5.

Scripture does not tell us to be casual about our faith or doctrine.  Scripture does not use words like “moderation” or “tolerance” or “love and acceptance” for describing how we should handle doctrine.  Just the opposite, Scripture pounds the table repeatedly that we should seek God, love and serve Him, “with all of our mind, heart, and soul”.  Deuteronomy 4:29:  “But from there you will seek the LORD your God, and you will find Him if you search for Him with all your heart and all your soul.”

We should seek the soundest doctrine as we would seek hidden treasure.

Just because some Arminians are saved in spite of their doctrine does not mean that it is wise to follow Arminian doctrine.  Just because some students drop out of school and become successful does not mean that it is wise to drop out of school.  Just because Christ knocked Paul to the ground on his way to persecuting Christians does not mean that any of us should continue following false doctrine until Christ knocks us to the ground.  Just because we are given grace does not mean that we should continue in sin.  Romans 6:1-2.

There are very stern warnings in Scripture!!!

“Thus says the LORD, ‘Cursed is the man who trusts in mankind And makes flesh his strength, And whose heart turns away from the LORD.  For he will be like a bush in the desert And will not see when prosperity comes, But will live in stony wastes in the wilderness, A land of salt without inhabitant.  Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD And whose trust is the LORD.’”  Jeremiah 17: 5-7.

Arminians will deny being like this man who trusts in mankind, but the Arminian trusts in his “free will” to be the determining factor as to whether or not he will be saved.  He chooses Christ through his “free will”.  He keeps his faith through “his free will”.  He turns away from the LORD of Scripture who unconditionally elects and declares:  “That is not the God I serve!”

On the other hand, the Calvinist trusts in the LORD alone to handle all the points of salvation.  The Calvinist continually seeks the LORD and focuses on the LORD and His works.  Salvation is not a joint accomplishment between God and man to the Calvinist.  The Calvinist knows that if salvation was dependent even as little as 1% on himself, that he would not be saved.  He truly trusts in the LORD alone for his salvation and attributes his salvation to grace alone.

“For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain terrifying expectation of judgment, and THE FURY OF A FIRE WHICH WILL CONSUME THE ADVERSARIES.  Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses.  How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace?  For we know Him who said:  “VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY.”  And again, THE LORD WILL JUDGE HIS PEOPLE.”  It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”  Hebrews 10:26-31.

I think this Scripture applies to Arminians who steadfastly continue to hang on to Arminianism despite receiving knowledge of the truth of Calvinism.  They hang on to the false doctrine that Jesus died for everyone (“Universal Atonement” – The Third Point of Arminianism) and they love to speak about the power in Christ’s blood.  But, Arminians realize that their doctrine forces them to conclude that Christ’s blood (as they claim, shed for everyone) by itself did not save, “purchase”, or “redeem” anyone, because they admit that most people are not saved.  Arminians claim that it is up to man to generate his own faith through his own free will in order to make Christ’s blood effective to save.  They claim that the only difference between the saved and the unsaved is not Christ’s blood, because everyone gets the blood, but rather the only difference is whether or not a certain individual will generate his own faith through his own free will to make the blood effective.  According to this logic of these Arminians, man’s faith, not Christ’s blood, is the determining factor as to whether or not one will be saved.

Because Arminians talk about the blood all the time, it is true that in a sense they are trampling it, not in the sense of being hateful to it but in the sense of treating it as ineffective by itself, like the description in Matthew 5: 13:  “… if the salt has become tasteless, how will it be made salty again?  It is good for nothing anymore, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men.”

This Hebrews 10:26-31 Scripture does not apply to the person who steadfastly rejects Christ.  That person did not receive the knowledge of truth as stated in Hebrews 10:26.  That person is not sanctified, so to speak, as is stated in Hebrews 10:29.  That person does not talk about the blood of Christ.  Rather, this Hebrews 10:26-31 Scripture speaks about those received or were exposed to knowledge of the truth and were sanctified so to speak but nevertheless denied the power of the blood and insulted the Spirit of grace.  Rather, this Scripture applies to Arminians who love to talk about Christ’s blood all the time, but who really treat Christ’s blood as ineffective by itself, that it does not actually “save”, “purchase”, nor “redeem” anyone, because they teach that most people are not saved and that it is up to man to generate his own faith through his own free will in order to make Christ’s blood effective to save.

Likewise, the Arminian can be compared to the one who insults the Spirit of Grace as is mentioned above in Hebrews 10:29.  Think of a situation in which your father took you out to a very expensive dinner and even left the tip in addition.  However, you did not think that the tip was sufficient so you add your $5 to the tip.  Wouldn’t your father be insulted that you thought that what he did was not enough?  Likewise, Arminians insult God by their doctrine that believes that the blood of Christ is not enough, they feel that they must add their own tip of faith.  The Calvinist thinks of faith as a gift of God;  the Arminian thinks that faith is their own gift to God which is necessary to secure salvation.

Love of Truth

Other Arminians may not go as far as to cling to the doctrine of Arminianism, but they do not think that doctrine nor even truth is that important.  They may seem righteous by claiming and even acting as if only love is important and that they only need the Bible, but they really don’t have a love of the truth.  They don’t diligently continue in their search for God with all their heart and soul.  They rest on their image of God and show no or little desire to search the Scriptures to learn more about God and His works.  In summary, they have not received a love of the truth.  I also do not think that this other class of Arminians are saved.

2 Thessalonians 2:10-13 may describe these Arminians:  “and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved.  And for this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they might believe what is false, in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness”.

John 16:13 describes the work of the Holy Spirit in the saved:  “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth;  …”  If these certain Arminians steadfastly continue to refuse or ignore the truth, then they demonstrate by their fruit that they do not have the Spirit of truth in them and that they are not saved.

Spurgeon

Charles Spurgeon said:  “… I will go as far as Martin Luther, in that strong assertion of his, where he says, If any man doth ascribe of salvation, even the very least, to the free will of man, he knoweth nothing of grace, and he hath not learnt Jesus Christ aright.  It may seem a harsh sentiment;  but he who in his soul believes that man does of his own free will turn to God, cannot have been taught of God, for that is one of the first principles taught us when God begins with us, that we have neither will nor power, but that he gives both;  that he is `Alpha and Omega’ in the salvation of men.”  [Free Will – A Slave, A sermon delivered Sunday morning, December 2, 1855, at New Park Street Chapel, London, England.]

Conclusion

In conclusion, Scripture keeps coming back to the importance of truth.  We have seen that zeal is not enough.  Claiming Jesus as your Lord is not enough.  Doing miracles is not even enough.  There are those who worship God in vain who teach or believe in doctrines based on the ideas of man.  Those who worship God must worship in spirit and in truth.  The Spirit of truth guides the saved into all the truth.  On the other hand, there are those who “did not receive the love of truth so as to be saved”.


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