Two lawyers and a preacher have another interesting discussion of the way eternal security folks dispose of Ananias and Sapphira, Judas Iscariot and other noted apostates.
Several weeks had elapsed since the last visit of young Attorney Sinceer to the Nazarene pastor’s study. The morning that this chapter opens, the good doctor was busy preparing a sermon for his next Sunday’s congregation, when his telephone rang. Clapping the receiver to his ear, the pastor said:
“Hello, this is Rev. Arminius talking.”
“Yes, Doctor,” was the answer, “this is your lawyer friend, James Sinceer, I surely . have another eternal security `nut’ for you to crack. Did you hear Dr. Calvin’s broadcast this morning?”
“No,” answered the pastor, “I am sorry I missed that. What did he say that was new this time?”
“Well, he certainly did present a new departure — new, at least, to me. He declared with emphasis that old King Saul, who visited a witch and then committed suicide, was not lost. He said he expected to meet him in heaven. He also mentioned Ananias and Sapphira, who lied against the Holy Ghost and were stricken dead. They are, he said, safe in glory, and walking the blissful streets of gold. Also, to my utter amazement, he stated that Judas Iscariot, the betrayer of our Lord, who committed suicide, was happily reposing on cushions of glory, a saved soul. He declared that all of these, and thousands of other apostates, just so they had once known the Lord, had thus received the gift of eternal life, and possessed a `positional salvation’ in Christ all the time, despite their sins and apostasy. He emphasized the fact that once received, this ‘positional salvation’ could never be lost, no matter what one did. It was, of course, something of a repetition of ‘once a son, always a son.’
“How are you situated for time, this morning, Doctor? If I came up to your study, could you give me the ‘once over’ on this Judas Iscariot matter? I am sure you can answer Dr. Calvin’s statement, but I am eager to hear you do it. And, listen, would you object if I brought my law partner with me? He’s a gruff old chap, but quite a theologian. He was reared a Calvinist and thinks he knows all about it. I have been repeating your arguments to him, but he doesn’t seem to be as convinced as I think he ought to be. We are both at leisure today, and he is willing to come. Shall I bring him with me?”
“Certainly,” heartily replied the doctor, “bring him along. The more the merrier! If our position cannot stand the most scrutinizing questioning and inquiry, then there is something wrong with it. I will look for you at once.”
The two lawyers stepped into the study. They handed their hats to the courteous pastor, and took seats. The partner, whom James Sinceer had brought with him, was a middle-aged man, with gray in his hair. He was shrewd-featured and keen-eyed, with a deep furrowed frown that brought his heavy eye-brows together in the middle.
“This is my partner, Doctor Arminius, William Hardhead,” genially spoke the young attorney. “He was born in Missouri, he tells me, and says that he has to be `shown’ before he can part with any convictions that he has held.” Lawyer Hardhead rose to his feet and he and Doctor Arminius warmly shook hands.
“Well, gentlemen,” said the pastor, “just where do you want to begin? I understand from my talk with Mr. Sinceer over the phone that the question of the fate of King Saul, Ananias and Sapphira, and Judas Iscariot was being discussed in a broadcast this morning by Dr. Calvin. Do you want my views and convictions on these cases?”
The men nodded their heads. “That will give us something to start on,” declared Lawyer Hardhead, in a deep, rumbling voice.
“Suppose,” said the doctor, “that for the sake of argument, we admit the truth of Dr. Calvin’s contention. Mind you, we do not believe it to be true, and are fully convinced that we can disprove it; but sometimes the best disproof can be demonstrated by imagining, for the sake of the argument, that the statement is true.
“We will imagine then, that King Saul, because he once was accepted of God, and accorded salvation through faith in the Messiah to come, was granted a ‘positional salvation’ that was non-forfeitable, regardless of his subsequent lapse into sin. Please note, now, what that sin consisted of.”
The doctor paused, reached for his Bible, and then turned toward his visitors. “Brother Hardhead,” he inquired of the elderly lawyer, “will you not turn to the Book of i Samuel, and read us some of the statements there?”
The lawyer demurred, saying that he was not as familiar with the Bible as his partner, Sinceer, was. “Anyhow,” he grumbled in his gruff tones, “it will sound better if you read it yourself.”
The pastor turned to the place indicated, and then continued.
“The king’s offenses were numerous, and the account of them is scattered through several chapters. Consequently, it may be better if I sum them up, without reading the references. First, there was hatred and envy toward young David. Then there was a plain disobedience to a frank command of God in connection with the destruction of the Amalekites. True, he seemed to exhibit a species of repentance soon after this, but it was more because he was caught than because he was sincerely seeking forgiveness. There is no record in the Book that he received any forgiveness from God. Then he was guilty of murderous thoughts and efforts toward David, and, after a while, of actual murder of the priests of Nob. Then his decline was rapid. He lost all communication with God, became deeply sullen and hateful. When the Philistines’ army came against him, he was in despair. He consulted a witch which was another violation of the law of God, and finally on the morrow as the battle turned against him, with his last remaining effort he murdered himself.
“Now, according to the non-forfeitable ‘positional salvation’ of the eternal security folks, King Saul is ushered into heaven, to live forever with a holy God, and to partake forever of holy songs, hallowed ceremonies, and sacred services, in the presence and under the eye of the eternally glorious God, with his own soul all befouled and black with hatred, envy, deliberate disobedience, murder, and suicide.”
“But, my dear Doctor,” grumbled Lawyer Hardhead, “would his soul not be changed in the twinkling of an eye as he entered eternity, and thus be fitted for the sanctities of heaven?”
The pastor smiled into the frowning countenance of the grizzled attorney. “Can you find any scripture to warrant such a transformation?” he answered. “The clear, plain teaching of Holy Writ is that death ends our probation here below. After death there is only an acceleration of the soul in the same moral and spiritual direction in which it was going when it left earth’s scenes. There is no change that reverses character after death, so the Bible teaches. Even the Roman Catholics had to invent a purgatory in order to accomplish the very thing for which you are contending. And for the existence of purgatory there is not a shred of reliable Scripture. ‘As death leaves us,’ so the old religious adage runs, `so shall the judgment find us.’ ‘As a tree falleth so it shall lie.’
Lawyer Hardhead’s shrewd features were working almost spasmodically as the doctor continued his line of discussion. Finally he broke in:
“But are we not to understand that sin is in the flesh, and that however much we commit offenses against God, they do not affect the soul? In other words, are not my many sins lodged wholly in this body, but my soul retains the eternal life which Christ bestowed upon me when I was born again? When, therefore, I die, does not my freed, purified soul step out of this polluted, sinful body, and enter heaven?”
The lawyer’s face flushed, and his listeners could see that he was tremendously stirred by the discussion.
The doctor slowly shook his head while he thoughtfully leafed his Bible. At length he smiled at his deeply interested listener, and said:
“My dear brother, there is no moral content to the physical body. It cannot think, it cannot will, it cannot plan. It has no conscious being. It is not a moral agent. The body, taken by itself, is utterly impersonal. True, it can be used as an instrument of righteousness or of sin, but in and of itself, it cannot be either sinful or righteous, It is the human spirit that thinks, plans, wills, and determines. It is the spirit, or as we usually term it the soul, which is the real human being. It is the free moral agent. Your soul can sin, but your body cannot. When therefore one dies, he, that is, his conscious soul goes straight to the judgment, and if he has been a sinner, it carries its sins, crimes, and offenses with it.
“Paul settles that in Rom. 6:16: ‘Know ye not that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey, whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness.’
“Here the human spirit, or soul is clearly set forth as the conscious, moral agent, choosing either to serve sin, or to serve righteousness. ”
“Now,” urged the pastor, “I submit to you, who are accustomed to handling presumptive and probable evidence, is there anything in the whole Bible through that would warrant us claiming that God would approve of the presence in heaven, before His very eyes, in the circles of the sanctified, of sin, of hatred, of malice, of disobedience, of murder? If these are permitted there, heaven itself will be spoiled. Indeed, their presence will turn it into a species of hell. Was not the Archangel Lucifer evicted when sin was found in him? The truly saved and cleansed people on earth will not be at home in heaven, if they find there souls that are as hateful, as reeking with sin’s slime, as murderous as the many they left behind on earth. God could not endure such a situation, and the genuine saints could not endure such a situation, and consequently it is contrary to the eternal fitness of divine and holy things and therefore cannot be true. It is false. It is a trick of the adversary to propagate such an untruth as that a man living in sin and dying in sin can have a `positional salvation’ that entitles him to heaven. No salvation position in Christ can be possessed by a free moral agent unless that agent constantly fulfills the conditions that obtained such a position. The Scripture clearly delineates those conditions — it says — ‘If we walk in the light.’ To be comfortable in heaven, to be at home there, one must be as much like God as redeemed and cleansed men and women can be.
“Why, my dear sir, you can yourself see that if an apostate like King Saul could possess a ‘positional salvation’ that took him to heaven despite his total unfitness for that holy place, then Satan himself could possess such a non-forfeitable ‘positional’ relation with God as to possess heaven, instead of being flung, as the Scriptures declare, bound in chains, into the fire that shall torment him forever. For Satan is no worse than King Saul, except that he is a greater character and has been for a longer time a wicked offender and hater of God. He was once an angel of light, and consequently had a salvation relation to God. Did he retain that when he sinned? The Bible distinctly says he did not! Will he be taken to heaven when the final collapse of his kingdom takes place? We are frankly informed to the contrary. Let us read it.”
He turned to Revelation 20:10, and asked Lawyer Hardhead to read. The attorney with much shuffling about, took out his glasses, perched them on his nose, and then read in a deep, grumbling voice:
“‘And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night forever and ever.'”
“There,” exclaimed the pastor, with a shade of thrill in his voice, “is the fate of the first and greatest apostate. And all other apostates and sinners, who have retained their free moral responsibility, will share a similar fate.”
“But,” gruffly cried Lawyer Hardhead, “I have been given to understand that angels and devils are a different order of being from humans, and that they are not eligible for salvation. The atonement of Jesus Christ was not planned for them, nor are they included in any of its benefits. Is this not true?”
“Possibly it is, and probably it isn’t,” answered Dr. Arminius. “At all events, we have no Scripture to prove that the atonement does not include the angels. They are required to worship him, for in Hebrews it states:
“‘When he bringeth in the first begotten into the world, he saith, and let all the angels of God worship him.’
“If He demands their worship, who knows that the salvation of those who ‘kept not their first estate,’ is not also included in His atonement. In the last analysis, whether angels and devils are under the atonement or not, if God is just and equitable, then He is bound to save Satan in heaven despite his awful apostasy, if He takes the apostate Saul in, with his soul all weltering in sin.”
“Well,” doggedly grumbled Lawyer Hardhead, “King Saul was under the old dispensation, and so perhaps was not under the atonement of Christ, what have you to say of the New Testament offenders?”
“God is God,” declared the doctor, “whether in the Old Testament or in the New. His conditions for salvation are always the same. The ancients were saved by faith in a Messiah to come. His atonement was represented by the sacrifices every pious Hebrew was required to offer. We are saved through the Messiah who has come. His offering of Himself on the cross took the place of the ancient sacrifices, and is our atonement. The apostate from the Old Testament requirements `died without mercy, under two or three witnesses, Of how much sorer punishment suppose ye shall he be thought worthy who hath trampled under foot the Son of God and counted the blood of the covenant wherewith he was sanctified an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?’ Here we see that apostates in both Old and New were lost.
“Take the historical case of Judas Iscariot, the betrayer of our Lord, He was guilty of avarice, theft, hatred, treason against his Lord, which amounted to murder, and he also committed murder upon his own body. He literally hurled his own soul, reeking with sin, into the face of an offended God. If the ‘positional salvation’ of the eternal security people be true, then there he is, in the presence of God, forever, but still reeking with avarice, still unforgiven of his theft, still up-cleansed of hatred, still guilty of his Lord’s death, and still polluted with the murder of his own body. There is no hint in all Scripture that there is a hope of any change after death for him. He is forever a wicked, devilish — for it says that ‘Satan entered him,’ — hate-filled murderer in a holy heaven. This is simply unthinkable. It is absurd, not to say blasphemous.
“There is also a passage in Acts that at least infers that Judas did not go to heaven, despite the ‘positional salvation’ claims for him of the eternal security people. Brother Sinceer, turn to Acts 1:25, and read for us.”
The young man quickly found the reference. He read in his effective way: “‘That he might take part of this ministry, and apostleship, from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place.'”
“Note that expression,” said the doctor, “‘that he might go to his own place.’ Where is Judas’ place? It certainly is unthinkable that it should be a holy heaven in the presence of a holy God, living forever in companionship with the Lord he hated, betrayed and murdered. Such a teaching is a pet theological view gone mad.
“Turn again to John 17:12. Permit your partner, Brother Hardhead, to read this passage.”
Lawyer Hardhead again adjusted his spectacles, and gruffly read: “‘While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name; those that thou gavest me, I have kept, and none of them is lost but the son of perdition.'”
“Note that,” exclaimed the doctor, “our Lord distinctly states that Judas was a ‘son of perdition,’ and that he was lost. That ought to settle it.”
“Possibly,” grumbled Lawyer Hardhead, “Judas was not saved at all, and in that event he did not have any ‘positional salvation’ to forfeit.”
“If that be so,” replied the pastor, “the expression, ‘was lost,’ would be senseless. But there is other evidence that he was soundly converted, and regenerated. Read Luke 9:1, 2 and 6.”
The younger lawyer found the place for his partner, and placed the Bible in his hands, with his finger indicating the place. Clearing his throat, the older man grumbled the passage forth.
“‘Then he called his twelve disciples together –”
“You notice,” interrupted the pastor, “that they were all twelve present, which includes Judas. Please read on.”
The lawyer continued, “‘and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases. And he sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick. . . . Anal they departed and went through the towns, preaching and healing everywhere.'”
“Here we have Judas,” declared the doctor, “chosen as a disciple, endued with power and authority over all devils, and diseases, and also commissioned to preach the gospel of the kingdom. He was not only chosen, endued and commissioned, but it states that he went and did all these things. There can be no manner of doubt in the face of this scripture, that Judas was saved,” cried the aroused pastor, in a ringing voice. And then, dropping his voice almost to a whisper, he sadly added, “Nor that he was lost and damned in hell. No sonship, no ‘positional salvation,’ no election, no place in grace, no secure place in the hand of God, could save him in the day that he deliberately sinned. His seeming repentance in Matthew 27:3, was not genuine enough to bring forgiveness, and he was hurled into eternity by his own hand, a hopeless apostate! For any religious teacher to deny that he was saved is to reflect upon the veracity and the wisdom of the Cord Jesus Christ, and the statements of the New Testament. For any religious teacher to say that despite his sin and apostasy, he was taken to heaven because of his `positional salvation’ is merely to publish his own theological insanity!
“The arguments in the case of Judas, are paralleled in the instance of Ananias and Sapphira. These people, the New Testament clearly infers, were saved and numbered with the believers. Then it also clearly states that they ‘lied to God.’ Peter frankly charged them both with ‘lying to the Holy Ghost.’ So offensive was this to God, that He, himself smote them. To teach, then, that these offensively sinful souls still weltering in their falsehoods went straight to the God to whom they had lied, and who had Himself smitten them for their sins, and were given a place there with Him forever — eternal liars living with the God of eternal truth — eternal liars living with the Holy Ghost, against whom they had lied — eternal liars dwelling with Jesus the glorified Christ, is little short of madness. To this absurd, preposterous, blasphemous extreme are the eternal security folks forced to go, in order to maintain their contentions.”
The doctor ceased speaking. The young attorney was nodding his head with vigorous approval, even saying “Yes, yes,” quite out loud. Not so with Lawyer Hardhead. He sprang to his feet, gruffly grumbling, and began looking for his hat. “I never admit a point in law,” he growled, “and I shall not give up the good old teachings of my fathers in religion, just because the evidence seems to be against me. I’m not Bible student enough to answer you, but I refuse to be argued out of my position.”
He was on his way to the door, and had his hand on the knob, when young Sinceer called and said, “Wait, Hardhead, the doctor and I always have a word of prayer when we have finished a discussion of these things. You are a church member, stay and lead us in prayer.”
With a snort Lawyer Hardhead jerked the door open and sprang down the steps. In a moment he was out of sight. The other two men looked meaningfully into one another’s eyes, smiled a moment, and then laughed outright.
“We can pray without him,” the young man said. Together they knelt, and after a hearty prayer by the pastor, the young attorney thanked God for the illumination that had been poured upon his path. He offered praise to God that He had faithful ministers who knew the truth and who could express it.
With a warm handclasp, and with many expressions of gratitude on the part of the young man to the older one, they separated.