A Sister recently wrote me –
“Brother Mike, I know of a large family of nineteen. They are all Arminian Baptists who are all actively involved in evangelistic outreach. They go to youth centers or prisons they tell the listeners that God loves them and has a wonderful plan for their lives and they need to accept him etc. They have many examples of answered prayers and God’s guidance: But my reformed understanding is they are not saved and they are not offering a gospel to others that will save. So should I assume that the bottom line is that they are deceived?”

Dear Sister K,
My personal experience in this regard has taught me that our judgment whether someone really knows the Lord or not is usually right! And THAT is because all of God’s elect have an unction from the Holy one (1Jn 2:20) and have been regenerated with the ‘selfsame Spirit’ (1Cor 12:11) and they can spot it in someone else who has it. The apostles were pretty ‘cocksure’ as to WHO was chosen amongst them and who wasn’t!

Let me pause here to say that not all Arminians are necessarily ‘lost’ dear Sister, for there be some who have not yet been exposed to the teachings of Sovereign Grace and others for whom the right time to receive this truth may not yet have come. Augustus Toplady author of “Rock of ages” initially fought the doctrines of grace vehemently before the time came for God to graciously open his eyes to the truth. But such cases are rare exceptions! As a general rule the Doctrines of Grace divide between the sheep and the goats!

Now concerning this Christian missionary family or any such similar family where all are saved and are zealous for Christ; please know that people can be very zealously turned on for Christ and yet be preaching a false Christ! Let alone Arminian Baptists, but I know of sincere loving families who have embraced the “Word Faith Heresy” who all have a “testimony” of sorts and are very zealously involved in ‘personal soul winning’. Yes, these will visit hospitals, prisons and rehabs and sincerely preach ‘Christ’ with a motive to win the ‘lost’, and yet they themselves are for the most part strangers to the Sovereign discriminating God of the scriptures! And there are times when even God’s true Elect immediately following their salvation may be involved in such ministries, but if they are saved at all God WILL bring them out of it sooner or later! God’s Elect can never remain deceived for long, for the promise is that when He – “the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into ALL TRUTH and the “path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect Day!” [John 16:13; Prov 4:18]

Sister K, in my thirty two years as a preacher the Lord has patiently taught me that there IS such a thing as a ‘fake salvation experience’! A.W. Pink once said, “IT IS EXCEEDINGLY SOLEMN TO DISCOVER THAT THERE IS A “BELIEVING” IN CHRIST BY THE NATURAL MAN, WHICH IS NOT A BELIEVING UNTO SALVATION. Just as the Buddists believe in Budda, so in Christendom there are multitudes who believe in Christ. And this “believing” is something more than an intellectual one. OFTEN THERE IS MUCH FEELING CONNECTED WITH IT – THE EMOTIONS MAY BE DEEPLY STIRRED. Christ taught in the Parable of the Sower that there is a class of people who hear the Word and with joy receive it, yet have they no root in themselves (Matthew 13:20, 21). This is fearfully solemn, for IT IS STILL OCCURRING DAILY.”

One of the sure marks of a truly regenerated soul is not the glorious testimony of HOW they ‘accepted Christ’ as their ‘personal saviour’ or other miraculous testimonies of God’s providence in their lives (for even the heathen have many such ‘testimonies’) but their grief and everyday battle with indwelling sin! THIS is where the truly born-again child of God and Reformed experimental preaching in general differs from the rest!

How often do you hear of these so called ‘born-again’ believers speaking of their Total depravity and their oft struggles with indwelling sin?! David wrote much about his being plagued with sin and we hear the apostle lament in Romans 7 of his inability to do good and John the beloved speaking to believers said that if we say that we have no sin we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us! [1Jn 1:8]

A.W. Pink once said – “The very fact that you are conscious of these sins and are so much concerned over your failure to overcome them, is a HEALTHY SIGN. It is the blind who cannot see; it is the dead who feel not – true alike naturally and spiritually. Only they who have been quickened into newness of life are capable OF REAL SORROW FOR SIN. “ And Brother J.C. Philpot wrote – “It is one thing to read of disease in books and another to be sick oneself, one thing to walk through the wards of a hospital and another to lie there a dying patient; so it is one thing TO KNOW THE FALL BY THEORY AND ANOTHER TO FEEL IT BY EXPERIENCE! This miserable state, brought upon us and into us by the fall, ALL THE PEOPLE OF GOD MUST IN SOME MEASURE FEEL! It is of no use mincing the matter and saying that a person can be saved by the grace of God and the blood of Christ, without knowing anything of the depth of misery and wretchedness into which he is sunk as the fallen child of a fallen sire.”

If a man be sick or is tormented by a pain whether a toothache or a stomach-ache he can’t help but complain about it, even so those who are grieved by the plague of sin will cry out against it every once in a while whether they be preachers or those who occupy the pew!

And is there not a large class of PROFESSORS, who are as DEAD IN FORMALITY as the others in transgression, though they may have a name to live? But what is the grand distinguishing mark of both? Is it not that they are “WHOLE?” (And the whole need no Physician only those that are sick!) They have never felt any inward sickness or running sore; they have never been wounded by the arrows of God shot into their conscience; they have never had the ill-conditioned ulcers and deep abscesses of human nature laid open by the keen dissecting knife of the great Anatomist; nor have they ever been brought down to sigh and groan under a body of sin and death. “Their strength is firm.” Their “face is covered with fatness, and the bundles of fat are on their flanks;” their “breasts are full of milk, and their bones are moistened with marrow.” (Psalm 73:4; Job 15:27; Job 21:24) In a word they have “not known the plague of their own heart!” [1Kings 8:38]

A whole family of nineteen all saved and involved in ‘missionary and outreach’ should immediately tell you (i.e. if you are acquainted with the scriptures) which Jesus it is they believe in what ‘gospel’ it is they are preaching!

The Gospel of Jesus Christ divides families! No honest Christian or student of the Bible will deny this. One of the very first acts of God recorded in the Scriptures is – “And God DIVIDED the light from the darkness”! [Gen 1:4]. The Master Himself affirmed on many occasions, “Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather DIVISION”! [Lk 12:51]. Again, “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I CAME NOT TO SEND PEACE, but a SWORD”!

And WHERE does Jesus word bring division? The very next verse tells us “For from henceforth there shall be five in ONE HOUSE divided, three against two, and two against three. The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against the father; the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother; the mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law [Lk 12:51-53]. Note the words ‘FROM HENCEFORTH’ which means from the time the Lord began His ministry even until He comes again, the preaching of the truth WILL continue to divide families!

The Lord said emphatically that this was one of the reasons why He came. When He sent out His twelve apostles to preach, He cautioned them beforehand saying the same words: “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I CAME not to send peace, but a sword. For I AM COME TO set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me” [Mt. 10:34-37].

“The gospel of Satan is not a system of revolutionary principles, nor yet a program of anarchy. It does not promote strife and war, but aims at peace and unity. It seeks not to set the mother against her daughter nor the father against his son, but fosters the fraternal spirit whereby the human race is regarded as one great ‘brotherhood’ “[A.W. Pink].

The Lord said, He came to seek and to save His lost sheep, and His sheep are scattered in ‘families’ both Christian and non-Christian. So when the Lord calls out His sheep out of these families the division is INEVITABLE. Remember? “A man’s foes shall be they of his own household” [Matt. 10:36]. The ‘MAN’ in this passage is the LORD’S SHEEP whom He has chosen to save as opposed to the rest of his family whom he hath chosen not to save. He says “five in one house shall be divided, three against two, and two against three.” At times the Lord may choose to save two or even three in a family of five, but nowhere in the Scripture does the Lord promise to save the whole family!

Was it not so from the beginning? Adam had two sons – Cain and Abel. God loved Abel, but Cain was of the wicked one [1John 3:12]. Noah found grace in God’s eyes and was therefore saved. But were all of Noah’s family ‘children of God’? No! Ham the younger son of Noah proved to be wicked! [Gen 9:22-24]. The same with the sons of Issac, one was loved of God the other was hated. “Was not Esau Jacob’s brother? saith the LORD: yet I loved Jacob, and I hated Esau’! [Mal 1:2,3]

The point being this: God has no grandchildren! Only Children! Preachers who Baptize their children assuming that they too are chosen to be saved have not fully understood and grasped the Sovereignty of God in Salvation! Flesh and blood do not inherit the Kingdom of God! A.W. Pink rightly affirms –“the taking place of the new birth is “not of blood,” that is to say, it is not a MATTER OF HEREDITY, for REGENERATION DOES NOT RUN IN THE VEINS”!

But in your Christian walk you will run into many such families where they have dutifully catechized or ‘Sunday-schooled’ their kids from the cradle and in due time ‘led them to the Lord’ by a sinner’s prayer and count them ‘saved’! And many such ‘Christianized’ kids will have a couple of emotional testimonies of the miraculous to share with you. But the Day will declare how many of them truly knew the Lord or were known of Him! [Gal 4:9]

Let me close now by a word from Philpot’s biography penned by his own son . . . “There was nothing my father mistrusted more than ‘childhood piety.’ He insisted that children should never be taught or allowed to use the language of ‘personal possession’ in reference to God. To sing, for instance, “Rock of Ages, cleft for ME” or, “MY Jesus.” Herein he was most logical. For by early influence and example you can train up a child to be a little patriot—a little Catholic—a little Calvinist—or a little Bolshevist.

BUT NO POWER ON EARTH CAN MAKE HIM A CHILD OF GOD. He took great care that we, his children, attended the means of grace, and never missed chapel or family prayers. But he never expected us to be anything but little heathen. We had, it is true, to be well behaved little heathen. If not, we got “the stick,” or its equivalent.”

About all we can say concerning such missionary families and Arminian evangelism is what the Apostle himself said –
“Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will . . . What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice!” [Phil 1:15-18] Amen

Michael Jeshurun

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