A view we will look at here is whether or not there is a test for determining if a person is saved. A test could either show that a person is saved or they are not saved. It may not be limited to one issue but could be a composite test of issues.
I know a person, I can't really say a friend because he doesn't behave toward me as a friend would be expected to, and I won't call him an acquaintance either because we have spent enough time talking and hanging out to be only acquainted with each other. But he was very angry that I did not believe in the idea of an eternal hell and he tried very hard to get me to change my mind. I told him I didn't want to talk about it. For one, I'm not interested in having my mind changed, he isn't either, and this conversation at this time was only pursued out of his hope of me changing my mind, and like I said, that wasn't going to happen. It's a discussion that was rife with potential for an argument, and I'm acquainted well enough with churchfolks to know it gets a lot of people riled up this issue, and I know because I've had the conversation before. Sometimes you only lead a horse to water though and he insisted on talking about it. He left that night with his feelings hurt, or if he's too masculine to admit to that, I'll just say he stomped off on home pouting about it. This could be a particular issue, among others, that may cause him to question my salvation which for one isn't for him to decide, but at least if he does try to decide it, then there is a system to do that. I want to share what is the system and what is not the system.
I want to start off with one of my great objections to Calvinism. Calvinism is an idea that comprises a range of thought flowing from humans having very little choice and mostly being a product of predestination to having no choice at all and essentially just being puppets with God, angels, and demons, tugging away making us do whatever they want. If we're lucky, God pulls our strings and we go to Heaven. If God just hates our stinking guts, for no reason at all (just because He can!!) He gives us to the devil to be tormented and tortured (for no reason at all but just because He felt like it!!). So no one gives their life to Christ, no one chooses to sin or not sin. It's only what God wants. If God wants Hitler in Heaven, he gets to go. If he wants someone like Mother Teresa burning and being tortured in Hell, then he gets to do that too. God is supersovereign in their view. It would even be pointless to ask someone you just met if they are Christians. In its most basic sense, no one gets to decide if they're Christians or not, only some cosmic lottery decides who's of the elect.
But God is not supersovereign. Only an insecure little man desperately trying to retain his hold on power would try to micromanage his government on that level. You would only hold that tight a grip fearing if you let up ever so slightly you would lose all control over it. The Calvinists see a vulnerable and reactionary God who willy-nilly chooses to send people to hell for little more than a momentary inclination to do so. Jefferson rightly called this bigot a demon who has no relationship at all to the God of the Bible. The demon Calvin worshipped makes Hitler look like an Eagle Scout.
Supersovereignty is dangerous because it leads to a question that is not the purview of man to even consider. Men are reduced to physical effects of supernatural causes. A person does not choose to get saved. God chooses that for him. A Calvinist does not so much consider whether you are a Christian, or initially whether you identify as one. His question is if the preordinate actions of God the Father predestined you as one of the elect, whether in His supersovereignty He saw fit to choose you.
So the thing on the Calvinist's mind is not to ask you if you are a Christian because he esteems your opinion as valid. His job is to divine from the cosmic lottery if you are a Christian or not. It is his job to see if he may esteem you as a Christian, not if it is something you truly believe in or identify as.
If you ask if a person is a Christian, you should be content with receiving a yes or no answer. We should generally suspect the inherent honesty of all persons, unless and until it can be demonstrated that they are lying snakes. So if a person identifies as a Christian and you suspect that is not the case, there has to be a substantial indication that they are not living as Christians would be expected to live, or some bar/disqualifier to their integrity that supercedes any other criterion.
And it happens that one of the things people consider as a valid indicator of a person's authentic orientation is a doctrinal test. This has all the problems of the Calvinist supersovereignty view. It distorts the question to start off with. We start with an idea that 'no man can judge another's salvation. Then we go and extend it to say, 'Many believed themselves to be Christians and it was proven that they really were not but they were deceived". And then absurdly we arrive at, "So therefore it is my place to judge if he is a Christian or not". In some sort of logic, we see how the progression is carried but it's logically profane to go from 'we should not judge' to 'we should judge'. So the question is not a 'let your yes be yes and your nay be nay' [Matthew 5:37] 'are you a Christian?'. When it comes to a doctrinal test, it's the question of 'do you subscribe to my brand of orthodoxy or not?'
Christians are not called to be proficient as mathematicians, geologists, botanists, welders, or underwater basket weavers. How did anyone decide (and from what verse did they gather) that all Christians are to be gifted and educated theologians. If your test for whether a person has genuine faith is whether they can explain correctly the Trinity, hypostatic union, the eternal nature of Hell, the pure and unadulterated view of Calvinism, along with conformity totraditional orthodox views and church teaching... I have to tell you, you have no biblical support for that anywhere and it's presumptuous to think you have the knowledge to construct such a test, a sort of test the Bible doesn't offer.
One clear fact presented in every such test is the answers always conform to the prejudices of the test taker.
Paul Crouch used a term, 'heresy head hunters' and he probably borrowed it from someone else but let me roughly borrow it from him. Those who are zealous to hunt for heresies... I advise against that, lest in your zeal you take out proponents for many true beliefs as well as those who promote false beliefs. This happened on occasion and Gamaliel warns of this in Acts, saying if the message is not of God, it will die. But don't fight against it, because if it is of God, you will be fighting against God in doing so (Acts 5).
One forum had made many policies against "false teachings". One of them was not to teach against the pre-tribulation Rapture or you would be banned. Others were just as laughable... I'll quote some of it.
"hyper Dispensationalism, Arminianism, hyper-Calvinism, adding good works of Lordship Salvation, Ecumenical Interfaith, KJV Onlyism, nor other ideologies of religious legalism. Do not play 'devil's advocate' for the sake of argument."
"Do not promote insurrection propaganda or fear based threads on FEMA camps and other government conspiracies false prophets, heretical movements, paganism, ritualism, Two House, Ten Lost Tribes, Old Earth, Third Wave Latter Rain, Words of Faith (WOF), Words of Knowledge (WOK), extra biblical teachings from tele-preachers, John Wimber's Vineyard teachings, Dominion theology, Soul Sleep, Signs & Wonders, Gospel to the Stars, the Mazzaroth, Toronto Blessings, Mike Bickle's I.H.O.Prayer, 7th Day (Sabbath) keeping, liturgy of works and practices for obtaining and maintaining salvation, Eucharist, Lordship Salvation, Annihilationism, Universalism, Calvinism, Arminianism, predestination, catechisms (RCC and their offshoots), Ecumenism, baptismal regeneration, prayers for the dead, false scriptures such as the Pseudepigrapha , Apocrypha, Book of Mormon, Bible codes, Ufology, Inccubi, Succubi, Angelic procreation and cloning, demon seeds, or any other extra biblical preoccupations with demonic and extrasensory beliefs.Do not post from tele-teachers entangled in any of the above such as TBN, Perry Stone, Jesse Duplantis, Alex Jones, Todd Bentley, J. R. Church, Rick Warren, Don Piper - "90 Minutes in Heaven", FiveDoves, Coo Thomas, Sid Roth, etc..."
Woo! And trust me, that's not all... There's probably another 75 to 100 or more to go, and that might be a low ball estimate. It could be closer to 200.
The interesting part is when they say to not talk about legalism, which is just another way for saying we don't have to obey God's law (in their mindset obeying God is legalistic) but nevertheless here's only about 450 rules of ours that we expect you to obey............???? I wish I had a smiley face to show jaw dropping disbelief at it. To even have an entire site dedicated to an event in some Christians' eschatological forecast THAT WILL NEVER EVEN HAPPEN. And if you even ask a question about it, you're banned.
You may not be as extreme as these complete nutjobs at www.raptureforums.com but if you are advocating some sort of doctrinal test, resting on the idea that all truly saved people automatically become gifted theologians at conversion, by nature you are deranged while in degree you're just not as deranged as the people at Rapture Forums.
Do you have good intentions in banning what you see as inadmissible? Don't do it. This is an example, you ban too much and then somewhere along the lines, say Jesus showed up at your site and I can guarantee you you would be banning Him.
And keep in mind larger ideas, such as inerrancy. My problem with this David was he couldn't determine how someone believing the Bible as an infallible document could come to the conclusion that hell is not eternal. But it's too black and white to say if someone doesn't fit a theological mold that they are now opposing the inerrant Word of God. 'The person denies plain teaching, it could only be an attack against the integrity of the Bible,' it could be reasoned. The question should be, within an inerrant system, how does the person defend an idea that so seemingly contradicts the plain language). For the system to fit into the mainstream of Christian thought, one idea saying we can take the Bible at its word, it has to rise to the challenge of showing how the current understanding is predicated on a fault of interpretation, incompetency in understanding the culture of the time... in other words, it has to preserve the Bible as the Word of God.
Finally, if right doctrine does not a saved person make, and a cosmic lottery doesn't either, then what is a 'test' for considering a person's salvation? Incidentally, I can only refer to what the Bible says is a valid test.
God's true people are described throughout the entire book.
They are said to be honest, they are people of faith, they love their neighbors, they help people, they go out on limbs and are usually laughed at for it but they do it because of their faith despite the consequences, they speak the truth even when it hurts or jeopardizes themselves, and they will lay their lives down for their friends.
They will sit in cisterns (Jeremiah), lion's dens (Daniel), prisons (Peter), fiery furnaces (Shadrach, et al.), old wooden ships in the midst of total deluge (Noah), marooned on an island (John), or awaiting their execution (John the Baptist) all for the sake of the gospel. They quietly reflect in the wilderness or in a garden, they revere life and they are gracious and thankful for their blessings, if not troubled at injustice in the world.
Paul made several comments about these people, and I shortly quote him here.
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law." [Galatians 5:22,23]
John 10, Jesus speaks a lot about the true sheep, saying, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice." [John 10:1-4]
John said in his first epistle, "Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world." [1 John 4:2,3]
But there are also the faults they suffer from in their weakness. FOr some it's smoking or drugs, others pornography, cussing, bad business practices and many other things as well. But these go with the territory. They are fallen because our great-great-great-...ad nauseam-granddaddy Adam made a poor choice one day in the garden. But they are on a path of seeking God and coming closer to God. As God gives them greater awareness of the harms they cause, they make adjustments and improve upon their former ways. They receive more and better information and God speaks to them through. His word. He chastens them and corrects them, and they listen and obey.
This is biblically what can be determined about God's people. None of it anywhere advocates a theological test for a Trinity, Hell, speaking in tongues, five fold ministry, premilliennialism, or any other system. He isn't searching for theological professors but men and women who like David, are after God's own heart, willing to give up families and properties and every possession for the gospel. That is what makes a Christian. Not some man made test. Some of you I can already hear are starting to say this is all sentimental. I wish it was. Not only would it be easier for you to write me off as a whackjob, it'd be easier for me to write myself off. I could stop taking anything seriously and let myself go altogether. But that is not really the truth.
As to the sin of David
David in his anti-Catholic ministry has had the stirrings for some time now as a false minister. If he continues to work from a man-made system such as doctrinal-test, or some other way that reduces men to Calvinistic robots and sees them as products of circumstance or supersovereignty, that is, a politic of division, of trying to divide people out of the camp, I can speak from my own personal observations and my conviction in the faith that you will only succeed in driving yourself out. You will expose yourself as a false prophet. Let me be clear: If your ministry involves sifting the wheat and separating out the chaff, which you're not qualified to do and is not your calling to decide which is chaff or if it is wheat, you will only sift out yourself. It is that way because it is not for man to divide men out of the camp.
Let us all be clear as to what the sin is:
To rebuke someone as not being a Christian, who are believed to identify themselves falsely, under a condition which is not a biblical position, is the work of the adversary.
If I say to this man here, that he does not conform to my opinion of the Trinity, and is therefore unsaved, that is my opinion, and a judgment on something I am not qualified to be judging.
If I say he does not conform to my prejudice of hell and is therefore unsaved, I have no support for that either.
That is a doctrinal test. One thing about bias: if someone were to design a test to measure a person's understanding on certain facts, the answers being sought out would only be answers that conform to the prejudice of the test writer. That is why little of that our faith teaches is salvific.
When a man like David, who holds to a superior and haughty view of right and wrong and true doctrine, supposing that he has the benefit of having many correct answers on many quesions,such that he finds it necessary for him to become a detractor from anyone who disagrees with his theological views, (in other words he cannot accept that others are entitled to their beliefs as well within the context of a healthy Christian life) then he is a wolf, and if he gives in fully to this false system of division, a false prophet.
You do not get to put forth a doctrinal test for the same reason the Jehovah's Witnesses don't, the Baptists, the Church of Christ, or anyone else. Christians should be accepted if that is what they are. In any dispute, fight the idea, not the person. If you choose to fight the person, then know that you are operating under the spirit of those who killed Christ, you are a false prophet, and guilty of murder (Matthew 23:35, Revelation 18:24).