Monday, January 23, 2017

So Do You Think He Was Saved? Saul, Wesley, Luther, Etc.

1 John 2:19 reads:
They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.
"They were not of us."  They weren't saved.  I don't know if this specific judgment is made anywhere else in scripture, but it is a common question.  Do you think those men in Acts 19 were saved?  Was King Saul saved?  Was Wesley saved?  Was Luther saved?

Today in class it was, are old earth creationists saved?  I haven't minded being asked the question.  I answered it.  However, it got me wondering how much I really like the question and what it is really all about.

At some point in time, we are sent the direction of judging whether someone else is saved or not, sometimes biblical or historical characters too.  Our church has disciplined out members, what some might call excommunicated or disfellowshiped, and then someone will ask, "Do you think he was saved?  I've been asked that type of question enough, that I have a pat answer in my head that comes straight from Matthew 18.

In Matthew 18:17, Jesus Himself gives the instruction, "let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican."  I would give a disclaimer to N. T. Wright, but he writes, "if they won’t listen to the assembly, you should treat such a person like you would a Gentile or a tax-collector."  The NET Bible says, "If he refuses to listen to the church, treat him like a Gentile or a tax collector."  I don't endorse any of these, but the Easy to Read Version (there is such a thing) says, "if they refuse to listen to the church, treat them as you would treat someone who does not know God or who is a tax collector."  All I'm saying is that these, either translations or paraphrases, say the same thing I would say, and they would probably consider themselves, I think, to be lighter weights in discipline.  I say, "regard them as an unbeliever."  That is a "heathen man."

You can consider someone to be an unbeliever.  That kind of judgment has to be made.  It does.  A pastor must have "faithful children" (Titus 1:6), which means someone is judging someone to be faithful or not.  At what point do you start considering someone to be an unbeliever?

As this regards Wesley, I have a hard time saying that John Wesley was saved.  Why?  He didn't believe in eternal security.  I believe there is one kind of salvation in the Bible and that is eternal salvation. Wesley believed someone could lose his salvation.  I often ask, "If you can lose your salvation, then who is doing the saving?"

Scripture is rough on someone who adds works to grace.  Paul said in Romans 11:6 that if it was works, it wasn't grace, and if it was grace, it wasn't works.  They are mutually exclusive, which is why in Galatians 5, he argues that someone that adds even one work to grace, it nullifies grace.  Since that's what the Judaizers were doing in Galatia, Paul says concerning these, "let them be accursed."

People want to know if they are saved on this side of eternity.  You don't want to find it out when you are standing before God, a picture we read in Matthew 7 with Jesus in His sermon there.  Someone, who thinks he's saved, will stand before the Lord, and the Lord will say to him, depart from me, I never knew you.  These are people, who it seems, thought they were saved.

I turned on the G3 Conference livestream to, first thing I see, a casually dressed rock band (jeans and t-shirts) and someone singing, A Mighty Fortress, with a kind of falsetto effeminate voice, right into the microphone, ice cream cone style.  The camera kept panning to the electric guitars, where they were jamming with a standard rock guitar jamming look.  Grimaces, bending backwards some. They had the now typical rock trap set too.  One of them, I could not tell, and I'm very serious, if he or she was a man or a woman, playing one of the guitars.  He or she had long hair and was wearing pants, but looked  androgynous.  I know I "get in trouble" when I write like this, because people are sensitive to this kind of assessment, as I have witnessed in the past.  They must receive total acceptance of their "worship," far more important than any criticism.

Then came on Steven Lawson, looking very formal with a suit and tie, preaching on his assigned theme, "justification by faith."  He used Martin Luther as his example, treating Luther as the greatest example ever of justification by faith.  I get asked if Martin Luther was saved?  What do you think? Lawson among many evangelicals use him for an example of justification by faith, and yet Luther believed in baptismal regeneration as you will continue to read in Lutheran theology.  Is this confusing on salvation?

I went to college and graduate school in the same town as a Lutheran college and seminary.  I played basketball, football, baseball, and ran track against multiple Lutheran schools from 7th grade to my senior year in college.  The football team ran off the field after a game so we couldn't evangelize them. This was the most conservative Missouri Synod branch.  My next door neighbor here in California is of that ilk right now, a very nice man, and he is depending on salvation by works.

In Bible class, I'm teaching through Romans, and I came to Romans 5:12, which says "death by sin." With old earth creationism, death precedes sin.  Lots of dying occurred before we got to the first man, who then sinned, in their formulation. A young lady asked, "Do I think old earth creationists are saved?"  I didn't bring up the subject.  She did.  That thought came to her mind when she heard what that teaching did to Romans 5:12.

By my own assessment, I think there is too much inclusion among the saved today.  Scripture excludes where we include.  This is unhelpful.  Part of the reason many want to know is so that they can find the salvation bar and get themselves just above it.  If we are going to tend toward anything, I think we should tend toward giving people the judgment that they might not be saved.  "I wouldn't risk it," is what I say.  Why do we want to give credit to people on this side of eternity?  If there is a question, then we should keep it a question.  That's how I read scripture.  Scripture isn't attempting to give the benefit of the doubt.

Many more people are unsaved today, I believe, than what people are saying.  They say, "Saved," but likely, "Unsaved."  The gospel has been dumbed down.  People are very disobedient and yet still given credit as saved.

One reason so many people are given credit as saved is because even the most conservative churches, let alone the ones not conservative, are giving people that same type of credit, not being careful with their membership.  I want to be careful about this myself.  I want to examine myself on this.  We owe this to our people as pastors.  Churches have a wide range of belief and practice that is allowed in their membership.  You don't have to believe this or this or this or this and you're still saved, and you don't have to do this or do this or do this and you're still saved.   It's a rush to the most lenient position.  It isn't helpful.


Bill Hardecker said...

Luther's Baptismal Booklet, 1523: " I call to You for this CHILD, Your servant, who prays for the gift of Your baptism and desires Your eternal grace through spiritual regeneration:" ... "The almighty God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has given birth to you a second time through water and the Holy Spirit and has forgiven you all Your sin,..."

Luther's Small Catechism: What does Baptism give or profit? It works forgiveness of sins, delivers from death and the devil, and gives eternal salvation to all who believe this,"..."How can water do such great things? It is not the water indeed that does them, but the word of God which is in and with the water, and faith, which trusts such word of God in the water. For without the word of God the water is simple water But with the word of God it is a baptism, that is, a gracious water of life and a washing of regeneration in the Holy Ghost,..."

Luther's Larger Catechism: "Therefore state it most simply thus, that the power, work, profit, fruit, and end of Baptism is this, namely,to save."..."Therefore every Christian has enough in Baptism to learn and to practice all his life; for he has always enough to do to believe firmly what it promises and brings: victory over death and the devil, forgiveness of sin, the grace of God, the entire Christ, and the Holy Ghost with His gifts."

I am not convinced that Luther is saved. A lot of this "Luther 500" junk is messed up. I am glad I am a Baptist. Here I stand, I can do no other...well, I stand with the old Anabaptists that Luther and his followers persecuted. So much for Jn. 13:35.

We do wrong by including a mere profession of faith as a sign of genuine conversion. We have the Scriptures exhorting us to examine ourselves, to try the spirits, to prove all things. I have learned that is beneficial to challenge people's profession of faith. Where there is no heart for God, it is because there is no new heart given by God. I look for them to name the name of Jesus Christ. I look for their testimony and theology to line up with the Bible, and if it doesn't, then you just have to ask does the Holy Spirit living inside of me live inside of them? Lots of good thoughts here, Pastor Brandenburg. Thank you.

Lance Ketchum said...

Soteriological reductionism dominates fundamental and evangelical Christianity from coast to coast. This is the primary corruption of true Christianity.

Every new generation of mankind seems to invent its own perversions of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Some of those perversions, like much of what the Biblical Epistles deal with, added requirements for salvation to the finished work of the incarnate Son of God in His sinless life and penal substitutionary death to propitiate God’s wrath and justify believing sinners. God has given enormous amounts of detail in numerous texts to correct these perversions of the gospel. We must conclude that correcting these perversions is extremely important to maintaining the objective facts of the gospel in order to maintain the purity of objective faith. In other words, there were absolutely certain beliefs that would “pervert the gospel” and lead people into a false faith and a false hope. If someone is misled to believe in any perversion of the gospel, the resulting perverted gospel was leavened generating a leavened faith.

“2 Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. 3 For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. 4 Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace. 5 For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. 6 For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love. 7 Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth? 8 This persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you. 9 A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump” (Galatians 5:2-9).

Obviously, the physical act of being circumcised does not affect a person in any way spiritually. Why then does Paul make such a big deal of this issue? Paul made a big deal of this issue, because he knew by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit that there were Jews who had made a profession of faith in Jesus as the Messiah who were requiring Gentile believers to be circumcised in order to complete their salvation. For these Jews, faith was merely the beginning of salvation. Law keeping was also necessary. In Paul’s epistle to the Colossians, he spoke specifically and definitively to this particular perversion of the Gospel (Colossians 2:4-15).

Adding requirements to the Gospel was a perversion of the Gospel by expansion. When individuals trusted in this expansionist gospel, this resulted in misplaced faith and a false hope in a false salvation. This misplaced faith is what Paul is confronting in the Epistle to the Galatians. Jews, who had made a profession of faith in Jesus as their Messiah, were adding to the Gospel of salvation “by grace through faith” by making the conditions of the Mosaic Covenant necessary to salvation. Paul, by the inspiration and direction of the Holy Spirit of God, puts a strangled hold on this heresy and seeks to choke it to death.

Uniquely, one of the reasons why this perversion of the Gospel got a foothold at Galatia and other places was due to Peter and Barnabas. Rather than stir up trouble among these Jews, who were professing faith in Jesus as their Messiah but requiring Law keeping to complete salvation, Peter and Barnabas allowed (tolerated) this teaching to keep peace (false unity). Paul had to confront Peter and Paul for allowing this perversion to go on without putting a stop to it.

Tyler Robbins said...

Bro. Ketchum - your comments were excellent, and I don't think it could be said any better.

Regarding Lutherans, I have a always had a serious problem with their views on baptismal regeneration. I've read excerpts from Luther's catechism (quoted above), and there are very clear. He believed baptism saved. What I have not done is read more from Luther to better understand his view of baptism, or read modern conservative Lutheran systematic theology texts to see what they say today about this issue.

Regardless, in Luther's catechism I see clear echoes of Roman Catholic baptismal theology. I don't think he, or Calvin, ever quite got clear of Rome in that regard.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Hello Three Commenters Above,

Thanks for the comments. I appreciate them.

Kent Brandenburg said...


I like the word "reductionism," as it seems that the salvation doctrine is getting smaller, so that you could fit it into a thimble, to keep more on the "saved" side and less on the "unsaved" side, in certain cases a perversion of the love of God or the mercy of God, seeing God's mercy like a giant river that sweeps in Buddhists into salvation too.

I do think also on the flip side that people have reduced the identity of Jesus Christ too, so that He isn't the Messiah, He isn't the King. These are people that aren't interested in the Kingdom. They are likely interested in he lamb laying down with the lion and a transformed world topography, but they aren't interested in the authority of Jesus Christ, which is why man fell in the first place. God commanded and man rebelled. Rebels still entering into the kingdom, never repentant. This isn't adding to grace. Grace attaches to the knowledge of Jesus Christ our Lord.

You also have the lascivious Jesus of evangelicalism, the goodymeister Jesus, that thinks that God accepts rock music. They have transformed Jesus into their Cosmic Buddy or their Divine Therapist. I decided to embed that Phil Johnson tweet quoting Carl Truman affirmatively about Martin Luther and Jimi Hendrix to represent the confusion today.

Lance Ketchum said...

“In the second place, since we know now what Baptism is, and how it is to be regarded, we must also learn why and for what purpose it is instituted; that is, what it profits, gives and works. And this also we cannot discern better than from the words of Christ above quoted: He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved. Therefore state it most simply thus, that the power, work, profit, fruit, and end of Baptism is this, namely, to save. For no one is baptized in order that he may become a prince, but, as the words declare, that he be saved. But to be saved. we know. is nothing else than to be delivered from sin, death, and the devil, and to enter into the kingdom of Christ, and to live with Him forever.
Here you see again how highly and precious we should esteem Baptism, because in it we obtain such an unspeakable treasure, which also indicates sufficiently that it cannot be ordinary mere water. For mere water could not do such a thing, but the Word does it, and (as said above) the fact that the name of God is comprehended therein. But where the name of God is, there must be also life and salvation, that it may indeed be called a divine, blessed, fruitful, and gracious water; for by the Word such power is imparted to Baptism that it is a laver of regeneration, as St. Paul also calls it, Titus 3, 5.
But as our would-be wise, new spirits assert that faith alone saves, and that works and external things avail nothing, we answer: It is true, indeed, that nothing in us is of any avail but faith, as we shall hear still further. But these blind guides are unwilling to see this, namely, that faith must have something which it believes, that is, of which it takes hold, and upon which it stands and rests. Thus faith clings to the water, and believes that it is Baptism, in which there is pure salvation and life; not through the water (as we have sufficiently stated), but through the fact that it is embodied in the Word and institution of God, and the name of God inheres in it. Now, if I believe this, what else is it than believing in God as in Him who has given and planted His Word into this ordinance, and proposes to us this external thing wherein we may apprehend such a treasure?” (Underlining added)

Luther, Martin. The Large Catechism XIII Part Fourth of Baptism-Translated by F. Bente and W.H.T. Dau, Published in: Triglot Concordia: The Symbolical Books of the Ev. Lutheran Church. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921.

Lance Ketchum said...

“How are we to explain this attribution of saving grace to the performance of an outward act like baptism? One answer would take us back to primitive religion. Bultmann evidently so understands the position. Explaining the New Testament view he writes: ‘the concept ‘sacrament’ rests upon the assumption that under certain conditions supranatural powers can be bound to natural objects of the world and to spoken words as their vehicles and mediators. If the conditions are fulfilled (if, for instance, the prescribed formula is correctly spoken and the material is thereby ‘consecrated’ – i.e. laden with supranatural power), and if the act is consummated according to the prescribed rite, then the supranatural powers go into effect, and the act, which apart from these conditions would be only a purely worldly, natural one like a bath or a meal, is itself a supranatural ceremony which works a miracle.’ This reduces the baptism of the New Testament to the level of magic: by the correct recitation of the formula the water is laden with supranatural power, the pronouncement of the name brings the god on the scene and the miracle is performed.”

Beasley-Murray, G.R. Baptism in the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 264

Anonymous said...

I am at unusual juncture. I don't believe in any other version other than the KJV, although I am perplexed why the KJV says we are saved by hope in Romans 8:24. I am tempted to believe that other versions have interpreted this verse better, but that goes against all my core beliefs about not trusting anything than the KJV. Thoughts?

Kent Brandenburg said...


The other versions say that we are "saved in hope," so I don't know how that would make the KJV seem inferior to you. The Greek text isn't different at that point. It is a word that could be translated "in" or "by," because it is a noun case usage decision.

The word hope is the word no matter what. Hope and faith are closely related in scripture. Hoping and believing aren't so different in the Bible than they are in culture. Hoping means certainty. If you hope, that means you believe.

Hopefully that helps.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, KB. Speaking of who is saved and who is not, this is a serious topic and not one to make light of. Along those lines, why does the intro to the various books of the KJV call some people saints, such as "The Gospel According to ST. Matthew, "The Gospel According to SAINT Mark," etc. But then the intro to the book of James does not call him a saint and just says, "The General Epistle of James"? Are those who are called saints somehow any better a Christian than those who are not?

Craig Kuha said...

Pastor Kent, Lance , Tyler, Bill,
Very helpful history and Bible comments about Luther. We homeschooling and alot of material praises the reformers. Very sobering, especially when you have family and friends that are Lutherians. Its sad to see there's still an attack on the truth and Gods holy Word.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Brandenburg,

Is there any Scripture to support the notion that a believer /disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ may be wrong about the mode of baptism?

Thank you,


Anonymous said...


You have criticized various views of the preservation of scripture as having no historical precedent; you have also defended your local-church only view as found in the early church (I forget which father you have referred to, perhaps Cyprian?). Clearly, you value the role of church history (though I recognize you would say it is only secondary to biblical authority). So I wonder how you would answer this (not a "gotcha" question but to test the consistency of your views): Where is eternal security prior to the Reformation? And if you cannot find it anywhere before, say Calvin, does that mean you are subscribing to a modern view? [I've been challenged on this myself so I anticipate your response]

Rev Thom

Anonymous said...

Mr. Brandenburg,

In addition to my baptism question above, how did you answer the young lady that asked you, "Do you think Old Earth Creationists are saved?"

Thank you,


Kent Brandenburg said...


I'm going to your question three comments up, and then I'm going to work my way down, so your last question will follow the one from Thom.

The question you are asking is in essence, how much false doctrine and practice can someone hold before we start thinking this is an unbeliever? I wouldn't fellowship with someone who believes in infant sprinkling. It's possible that they are saved if they are not depending on the baptism, but Christ alone by grace alone. If they add baptism to that, infant sprinkling, then no.

Kent Brandenburg said...


Certain views of scripture are not scriptural or historical. It's true. The scriptural view of the nature of the church, local only, is found in history. I see it in Clement of Rome. Then I see it in the Schleitheim Confession, among other places. Regarding eternal security, to start, it's scriptural. If you don't have very good history, then you better have very good scriptural basis, and there is for eternal security. Scripture doesn't work, doesn't fit, it contradicts, without eternal security. I don't trust the patristics. I still refer to them, because they can show that someone believed what they wrote in that day. They have historic value. They are not an authority. I see them as proto-Catholic, which is why they still exist. Roman Catholicism loved them for the most part.

However, Clement of Rome again: "Whereas it is the will of God, that all whom he loves should partake of repentance, and so not perish with the unbelieving and impenitent, he has established it by his almighty will.’ But if any of those whom God wills should partake of the grace of repentance, should afterwards perish, where is his almighty will? And how is this matter settled and established by such a will of his?" (Ep. 1, ad Cor. p. 20) Also first century, Baranabas: "He that hopes in Christ, the firm and solid rock, shall live for ever." (Bernal. Ep. par. 1, c. 5, p. 220.). Tertullian: "for what is of God is not so extinguished, as it is overshadowed; for it may be overshadowed,, because it is not God;. it cannot be extinguished, because it is of God" (de Anima, c. 4,1, p. 342.). Hilarius: "This is the constitution of invariable truth, in the beginning of the words of God is truth, that the new man, regenerated in Christ, may henceforth live eternal, according to the image of the eternal God, that is of the heavenly Adam" (In Psalm 119. Res, p. 519, 520.). As well: "We do not depend on uncertain and idle hopes, as mariners, who, sometimes sailing rather, by wishes than in confidence, the wandering and unstable either drive or leave; but we have the insuperable spirit of faith, through the gift of the only begotten of God,’ abiding, and leading us by an unalterable course to the quiet haven" (De Trinitate 1. 12, p. 182.). Ambrosius: "Perseverance, is neither of man that willeth or runneth; for it is not in the power of man,’ but it is of God that showeth mercy, that thou canst fulfill what thou hast begun" (In Psalm 119. Jod, p. 963.).

Kent Brandenburg said...


I would give a similar answer to old earth creationists as infant sprinklers. I look at them similarly. Old earth undermines Romans 5:12. I don't want my testimony to be that I believe Romans 5:12, but it contradicts Genesis, and my salvation is based upon those words, contradictory to what we know. I don't fellowship with old earth creationists. I don't want to be in their situation, whether they are saved or not.

Anonymous said...

What is meant by "old earth" believers? Isn't that too broad of a term? Some old-earthers actually believe in theistic creation, which in my opinion is an absurd belief. Other old earthers believer in creation, but with a gap somewhere in the timeline. In my opinion, "old earth" is too vague of a description and needs further descriptives to discuss better.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Old earth is the technical term for all the groups that think the earth is old, contradicting the biblical account. They need the time for evolution to occur, which contradicts Romans 5:12.

horace said...

I don't intend this to be a "gotcha" but I assume you are aware Charles Spurgeon was an Old Earther?

(I'm deliberately linking to AIG, a Young Earth Creationist site to avoid any potential accusations of misinterpretation/bias)