Salvation by Doctrine

I just replied to an email that I think touches on a subject that’s worth sharing.  It reads:

Greetings in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ, Pastor Jim.

Question: Is it possible for an elect (person) to die not KNOWING doctrines about the Grace of God?


I would say what I said yesterday morning:  I don’t have the jurisdiction to decide who is and isn’t going to Heaven.  But, I have a very hard time imagining that the GRACE of God also requires some pre-qualification like getting all of your theological ducks in a neat row.  That idea effectively erases the idea of grace.

Let’s say, for instance, that one of the people God chooses is a mentally infirm person who never understands Calvinism.  That would be merciful of God.  He gave unmerited grace to someone who is completely dependent on mercy.  God’s glory and mercy would be most evident in such a case.  So yes, in such an instance, the elect one would die without KNOWING the doctrines of grace.  But, God would be glorified … which is God’s ultimate end.

Someone could argue, “But, what about the mentally capable person?  Wouldn’t he HAVE to know the doctrine to be saved?”  Again, I can offer an example where that’s not the case.  What about the thief on the cross?  He knew virtually nothing except to look toward Jesus in his dying moments.  He made a very simple profession.  And He had a more sure word of salvation than I have ever received from the lips of Jesus.

The Bible certainly spells out “sound doctrine.”  And Paul argues adamantly against anything else.  But, the acid test for salvation is not the comprehension of the doctrine.  It’s love … of God, His Christ, and God’s people.

By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”  (John 13:35)

No such test of discipleship exists in the Bible where “knowing doctrines” is concerned.

Keep looking to Christ (and not to your own understanding).  He is a gracious and perfect Redeemer.  Our best effort and best understanding counts for nothing.  It’s all filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6).

And the insistence that people can only be saved if they have achieved a certain level of knowledge (an assertion I see bandied about on the Internet regularly) is essentially a denial of what the Word actually says.

Christ is either sufficient, or He isn’t.

I say He is.

Grace and peace,

Jim Mc.

6 thoughts on “Salvation by Doctrine

  1. Wally Carnes

    Great reason for avoiding man made theology and concentrating on God’s word alone. No man can offer an error free “guide to the scriptures” but with personal study and prayer the comforter (Holy Spirit) will lead us to an understanding. If you’re wrong it’s between you and God but I’m not relying on another man’s theology.
    I will never understand all the groups who identify as follewers of man made theology and critisizing others who do the same behind another man’s name. Why don’t we quit standing behind men and their opinions and stand behind God and His Word alone and His truth alone. That is salvation by grace not salvation according to (fill in the blank.) Do I agree with everything I hear preached in my congregation ? No and that is what our preacher preaches to study for ourselves and not to depend on him for our personal relationship with Jesus Christ

  2. Nathan Murton

    I think this is well stated, Jim.

    There is so much preaching out there that desire to put God’s boundless grace through Christ in a box. I fear that there is much preaching, even in Reformed circles, that is designed to focus on self – “What makes a good Christian?” – rather than exploring what are the unsearchable riches of Christ.

    Might I add to your position? I would argue that those of us with ‘proper mental faculties’ are just the same as those who are deemed without. Scripture doesn’t differentiate, and tells us so:

    Romans 3:10-12 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.

    So we are 100% completely at His mercy. Our only hope is the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, regardless of who we are.

    I praise the Lord for you, Jim, and your congregation. Precious is The Truth and the searching of Him.


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