John 5:24: Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.
According to Merriam-Webster online dictionary, one of the definitions of “poll” is as follows:
a: a questioning or canvassing of persons selected at random or by quota to obtain information or opinions to be analyzed
b: a record of the information so obtained
Joshua Harris, well-known author and former pastor, recently announced that he was leaving his wife and that he was no longer a Christian.
Let me start out by saying that I have no idea whether Joshua Harris ever believed the gospel, or even heard the gospel presented faithfully. I have conspicuously avoided delving into Harris’ beliefs, because that isn’t the point of this article.
What I would like to focus on is the reactions of some well-known “Christian leaders.” Almost all of the reactions I have read are condemning of Harris, either suggesting, or expressly stating, that Harris does not have eternal life, and never believed in Jesus in the first place. Following is a sample:
Franklin Graham (from “Hallells” article entitled “Franklin Graham Comments on Joshua Harris & Hillsong’s Marty Sampson Walking Away from the Faith”)
They weren’t real Christians. They were young. Their faith wasn’t very strong. They might have been atheists. They hate God. And they just wanted publicity.
Michael Farris (Op-Ed Contributor to “The Christian Post,” in an article entitled “A letter to Josh Harris”)
We knew each other very well for many years. And I loved you like a younger brother. And still do…
Jesus says about people like you that in the last judgment, He will say, “Depart from me, I never knew you.”
You know that this means you never actually knew Him.
Dr.R. Albert Mohler, Jr. (president of “The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary”, from his blog albertmohler.com)
Can believers lose their faith? Can one ultimately fall away if one was genuinely regenerated? The answer is no…
There may be even some who sin by repudiating Christianity, but if they ever were genuinely Christian, they will return by repentance at some point, and that is a gospel promise. If persons do continue in their repudiation of Christianity, then we have to remember the text in 1 John 2:19, where they were told that, “They went out from us, because they were not of us,” which is to say they were never truly Christians. They were pretend believers.
Jesus also speaks of this in Matthew 13 in the parable of the four soils. There are those who show signs of life, but they eventually go away. Jesus makes very clear they were never true Christians.
John Piper (from article in “The Christian Post” entitled “John Piper on Joshua Harris: ‘I could commit apostasy this afternoon and go to hell’ if not for God”)
“It shouldn’t call into question the doctrine of eternal security to say, ‘yes, I could commit apostasy this afternoon and go to hell.’ I wonder if that’s a jarring juxtaposition for you.
“Nothing you do originates the decisive act or impulse that saves you,” he continued. “Nothing you feel, nothing you think, nothing you will, nothing you do, originates the act of the soul or the act of the body that causes God to elect you, predestine you, call you, keep you, or glorify you. All of it is a free gift. So, nobody should have the mindset, ‘I can keep this from happening.’ I can’t. No, you can’t, God can.”
“You are secure in Christ, but your security is totally in the hands of God,” he continued. “If God is faithful to you, you will make it. If you don’t make it, He didn’t cause you to make it. So, that’s foundational to what I believe and think.”…
Piper added, “The evidence that that has happened is, ‘are you pressing on?’”
The Bible promises that anyone who believed in Jesus as Savior has eternal life that can never be lost or forfeited. The Bible does not promise that our assurance can’t be undermined, or that all Christians will have enduring faith.
Of the men quoted above, we have written articles that document that at least three of them (Graham, Mohler, and Piper) preach false gospels of Calvinism/Lordship “salvation.” However, we can’t know whether any of them has ever believed in Christ alone as Savior. We do know that the false gospels that they teach keep people lost and serve to undermine the assurance of those who do possess eternal life.
When we, or anyone else, put ourselves in the place of determining who does, or who does not have eternal life, we are playing god.
We featured a great article a few years back on this topic. Please see link here: Why We Can’t Judge Whether or Not Someone Possesses Eternal Life
If you are a Christian, please pray for Joshua Harris, and also for his human judges.
And, if you would like to know how to have eternal life, click here: The Gospel
Holly, for those who want a condensed version, we have Tom’s booklet linked here: https://expreacherman.files.wordpress.com/2012/08/cucuzza-the-permanence-of-salvation.pdf
JohnWI, Johninnc, Hobbs
Eternal life is His promise. Praise God it is by His promise and not our perseverance.
It’s why I so appreciated Tom Cucuzza’s book all those years ago. I always believed in eternal security, but the verses and answers were real helpful to answer all out there who will try to bewitch others into thinking they can finish in the flesh, or worse, preach a conditional free gift.
Amen, Amen & Amen, Brothers & Sister!
Hobbs, you are right. Anyone who has ever believed the gospel has eternal life that can never be lost or forfeited.
It is very comforting to know that our eternal security is in His hands, and not our feeble hands.
Because of Jesus we’ve got eternal life.
If you believe it, you’ve got it.
Holly, eternal security is a necessary conclusion of grace.
If it is impossible for someone who is really saved to walk away, then no one could ever have any real assurance of eternal life.
There was a woman who got very upset with me for saying Eternal Security was part of the gospel. I explained that we see it not only in the many verses that show it, i.e. Jn 3:14-17, John 6:37-40, 47; John 10:27-28 , but that the Resurrection is part of the gospel. We believed and we died with Him (were buried) and rose again a new creation. Our bodies will rise again as 1 Cor 15 shows from corruptible to incorruptible. She said although she believes in eternal security (not the feeling of assurance but the promise of Life everlasting) that she doesn’t believe it belongs in the gospel. She also stated that those who walk away were never saved (so that is how she proves Perseverance of the saints).
Anyways, sometimes reading through these comments, I reflect on so many past people I’ve known and how they seem to insist on these things. And judging by their behavior and speech they don’t seem to realize by their doctrine, they’re at peril since they’re not perfect.
Holly, yeah, Franklin Graham seems to have a lot of internal inconsistency in his beliefs. And, who knows whether he actually ever believed the gospel without its man-made add ons.
All of the people I quoted seemed to reject outright the possibility that someone could quit believing in Christ.
From the article, regarding Franklin Graham’s comments.
They weren’t real Christians.
They were young.
Their faith wasn’t very strong.
They might have been atheists.
They hate God.
And they just wanted publicity.
One thing I’m certain of, is all I can know about these men is the doctrine they present. Which still doesn’t mean that they didn’t at one time have a sound doctrine and later were made shipwreck. Only God truly knows that for He is the only one who can look on the heart. Man looks on the outward appearance.
I’m wondering how Franklin can know their motives of ‘wanting publicity’ or ‘hating God’ if they haven’t said this. They may actually hate the false religion or even load-ship that they may have been surrounded with.
Mostly I found it interesting that he talked about their faith not being very strong. So in other words, it didn’t have faith so it must have been a James 2 spurious kind of faith (as they would falsely interpret that chapter). I wonder if these men ever read back their own words?
Sandra, many were called ‘Jesus’. Even Joshua from the OT was referenced as Jesus in Hebrews, it would have been better to translate the one as Joshua. But the one in Col 4 is Jesus CALLED Justus. Jesus had already ascended into heaven and would not be coming back again until Israel says ‘blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord’ (which is after the 7 years left on Daniel’s prophecy).
No,”Sandra.” It’s not God. It is a man named Jesus. He is called Justus so that no one confuses him with the Lord Jesus Christ.
Sandra, it was another person named Jesus. Notice the context.
“And Jesus, which is called Justus, who are of the circumcision. These only are my fellowworkers unto the kingdom of God, which have been a comfort unto me.”
Colossians 4:11 KJV
why was Jesus called Justus here?
oh ok, sorry didnt know
Sandra, the last post that I received from you was at 3:29 a.m. Eastern daylight savings time. It is posted below.
hey did my last post go through? or did i forget to click post. if u didnt get anything then dont worry im not great at computers
Thanks holly. yes i agree with you completely! we need to always ask questions otherwise we’d never learn!
am i allowed to quickly correct a small thing i read in alice’s post?
Lot did get drunk thats his fault true but the passage doesnt say he chose to engage in having sex with them. it says something like “he didn’t perceive when they lay down with him and when they rose up” for both the daughters.
still not a stellar performance on Lot’s part, but he was passed out from drunk so the daughters were at fault there.
Sandra – I agree, glad you’re here. It is helpful to us all. Makes us delve into the Scriptures and into the context and ask questions.
Johninnc – I think these ‘leaders’ are hoping they are better than the rest, so that they will squeak in to heaven. It’s why so many (like Piper) have no certainty that they will make it. They are relying on their own works (Matt 7:21-23; Ps 94:4).
It’s so sad, so by beating down on the publican and being thankful for not being as sinful as him, they are just like the Pharisee in Luke 18 thanking God they aren’t sinful like ‘them’. The publican knows he needs God’s mercy. These Pharisees think they are better, and justify themselves by their own works.
Sandra, thanks for commenting.
We agree. Salvation is a free gift end of story!
i figure i should thank you people for what you do here. it has been sooooo helpful to read the articles and sometimes even the comments become articles too! salvation is a free gift end of story!
God bless, Sandra.
Alice, yeah – I have heard the same things regarding Saul and Solomon.
And, works “salvationists” will point to just about anything, scriptural or otherwise, to bolster their lame arguments.
In a similar way, the “Christian leaders” whose comments I included in this article, pronounce judgement on anyone who doesn’t persevere in the faith.
Thanks Johninnc and Holly for your responses.
Sorry, I didn’t mean to distract from the main discussion about judging salvation of people based on performance/ perseverance in faith and obedience.
If it were not for the fact that the NT talks about LOT as a righteous man who was ‘vexed in his spirit’ when he was in Sodom, we would have concluded that based upon his performance, (getting drunk and having sex with his daughters) that he was not saved because he didn’t persevere in obedience.
And there are many other examples in the Bible.
Most LS-ers would conclude that OT people like King Saul and King Solomon and so on ‘started well but didn’t finish well’ therefore not saved.
I can’t think the number of times it was drummed into me in LS churches that it is not how we ‘started’ but how we ‘finished’ is what matters for entry into heaven, all the while claiming salvation is by grace and not by works.
Sorry John, your comment was not there when I began writing mine.
Ninasrebuttal – Yes, I agree, all up to Him, and all of Him! Made me chuckle with the self-made fig leaves, what a picturesque analogy 🙂
Duane – I just have to say, great comment, I feel the same. Man judges the outward, it’s God who looks on the heart. If I ‘think’ someone may not have believed, the answer is to preach the gospel. If they say they have believed and are clear and aren’t growing, then by all means, feed His sheep or wash the feet of the saints (John 21:15-17; John 13).
Alice – here are my thoughts.
The assessment on Kings would have been for their position, and a general look at how they did their job. I think on Elihu, Bildad and Zophar as an example in Job, they didn’t speak what was right, or do right by Job, but I don’t imagine it means they didn’t believe in Him.
Hab 2:4 says the Just have always lived by faith. Gal 216 says no one was ever justified by works the law and of course we realize that means doing good works.
Kings had a specific responsibility over Israel. So I believe that is what you are seeing, whether they ‘did’ what they were supposed to do in their position.
Think on Moses not entering the promised land (along with Aaron), or think on Eli the prophet, falling backwards and breaking his neck, or Solomon and all his concubines apostatizing, or King Saul consulting a medium and God not choosing him but the people wanting him. Yet Samuel says he will be with him when he dies.
On the NT and the ‘believing dead’, I The OT believers were there in Paradise — Abraham – Lk 18, so were the rest obviously. But those who die later I think it’s addressed in Daniel 12:2 which we know in Rev 20:4-5 I believe, it addresses the rest of the believing dead. Is that what you were asking?
Alice, I don’t think we can tell which ones have eternal life based on what they did. And, I think your understanding of the fate of the Old Testament saints vs. others is fairly consistent with mine.
I think this is an interesting topic. However, it is so far afield from the point of this article that I do not want to entertain a discussion of it here.
So interesting (in a good way) to come in here, read your article and hear just so much confirmation over the past few days.
One friend had a terrible (similar) quote from John Piper that I know. Yet another friend had one from Spurgeon yesterday along the same vein. Another over the last couple of days, questioning John 2:23-24 whether those believers who believed in His name, were just pretend or fake somehow, using Matt 7 (speaking to the false prophets) – the ‘Lord Lord’ comment’ and also citing 1 John 2:19 (as I see in your article).
I gave my opinion, but didn’t want to get into a drawn out argument about it either once you share some other Scriptures. I appreciate seeing this now, this is great, thanks John.
Regarding the general discussion about not judging people’s salvation status, I have some thoughts that I would like to share, if I may.
In the Old Testament books of Kings and Chronicles where the Bible gives a general assessment of each king of Israel or Judah at the end of their lives stating that such and such king ‘did what was right in the sight of the Lord’ or ‘he did what was evil in the sight of the Lord’, are we to assume that those kings who did right in the sight of the Lord are ‘saved’ and the others not saved?
Also the Bible doesn’t seem to assess their ‘faith/belief’ in God but what they ‘did’ in the sight of the Lord, whether good or bad.
I am thinking with my ‘Grace’ cap rather than the ‘Lordship salvation’ cap.
Perhaps the Lord doesn’t want us to guess their eternal destinies or to judge their salvation status.
There were a few ‘good’ kings in the southern kingdom of Judah but none in the northern kingdom of Israel.
It is difficult to know which kings made it to heaven and which didn’t based on God’s assessment at the end of their lives, but the Bible simply states that they ‘ were buried with their fathers’ which means their earthly bodies are buried in the ground but no mention of where their immortal souls have gone.
We know from the N.T that the believing- dead in the OT went to the Paradise section of the ‘place of the dead’ in Hades immediately after physical death until the Lord Jesus was resurrected from the dead and ‘led captivity captive’ Eph 4 : 8 and took them to heaven.
I presume Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joshua and King David would be in that group.
The unbelieving- dead of the OT will be judged at the Great White Throne Judgement at the end of the Millenial reign of Christ and then be cast into the Lake of Fire depending on the ‘works’.
Am I on the right track? I am not judging their salvation, just guessing??
The people who make these comments base their assurance of eternal life in part or in whole on their perseverance in the faith, however they understand it. Thus, they are quick to pounce on anyone whom they think does not live up to the same standard, so the root is insecurity.
Jason, I think fear is behind the judgmental comments. If a person thinks that someone who loses his faith was either a deceived non-believer or a believer who loses “eternal life,” then they fear they have no guarantee of eternal life. That is why these guys eat their own.
The same goes for those who think only non—Christians are capable of suicide.
I once saw a post on Adeola’s page about a couple that committed suicide. I saw plenty of judgemental comments. I thought they had been abused by the fake pastors. I used this as an opportunity to share the gospel. The remarkable thing is that the couple believed that they were going to heaven. They may have remembered a time when missionaries presented the right gospel. Many churches are falling for the prosperity gospel and lordship salvation.
Duane, thanks for your comment. I agree completely that we approach those whose testimony indicates unbelief with the gospel message.
johninnc, not only can we not reliably judge whether a person is saved; the Bible actually forbids attempting to judge a person’s eternal state except on the basis of their testimony (e.g. not on the basis of backsliding or apparently unreported sin), lest we uproot the wheat along with the tares (precisely what you are talking about, in terms of undermining the faith of the believer). In the case of a person who has professed and renounced the Gospel, we can only approach them as we would any other person whose testimony indicates unbelief; for the simple reason that we cannot know their innermost thoughts.
ninasrebuttal, thanks for your comment.
I hope these men have trusted on Christ as Savior. I categorically reject their ability to be able to tell who has, and who does not have eternal life. I hope they will realize how inappropriate their comments are.
It’s all up to God.This is why Jesus had to die.He is perfect and nobody walking the planet will ever come close.These men need to humble themselves and take off their self made fig leaves.