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Vol.  9  No. 7 July 2007  Page 4
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T. Pierce BrownQuestions and Answers

By T. Pierce Brown

    If we raise the wrong questions, we probably will get the wrong answer. We need to be discriminating in the questions we raise, and the answers we get or give. For example, the question, “Does God promise salvation to those who have failed to obey his will?” and the question, “Will God save any person who has failed to obey his will?” are two different questions, regardless of the fact that many may think they are the same.  Even those persons who think the questions are perfectly clear and the answers should be just as clear and dogmatic may want to proceed a little farther. Have you ever failed to obey his will? The Bible says that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23) and 1 John 1:10 says, “If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar.” So, regardless of how you answer the question, you have failed to obey his will. Most who read this would perhaps say, “We know that, but we still have to obey his will that relates to forgiveness of sins in order to be saved.” Many now teach that it does not really matter, for God’s grace will save everyone (or practically everyone) regardless of what he does. We feel sorry for that group, but are not specifically addressing their false doctrine today.

    We are now simply trying to make one point: God promises to grant remission of sins only to those who accept the promise on the terms offered. Whether he will choose to grant it in the final judgment in a case where it appears to us that one has not accepted the terms offered is a different question, and should receive a different answer. Let us illustrate that you may know that we are not trying to loose where God bound, but at the same time are saying that we must leave the final application of God’s rules to his judgment.

    God promised (in effect) that Naaman would be cured of his leprosy if he went and dipped seven times in the River Jordan. Suppose Naaman had, in faithful obedience, gone to the river, and dipped 6 times, and as he started to dip the seventh a water moccasin had bitten him and he had not gone completely under. Would God have cured him anyway? There are wise ones among us who can speak dogmatically about the answer. We cannot. We do not know. Our opinion is worthless, and even raising the question would probably fall under the category condemned by Paul in 2 Timothy 2:23, “Foolish and unlearned questions avoid knowing that they do gender strife.” Suppose God would have cured him, what does that have to do with our responsibility to teach and do what God says? Anyone who bases his theology or his practice on what he supposes God might or might not do in some hypothetical situation is already on dangerous ground.

    Suppose Naaman had started to do what God had commanded, and had felt so much better that he assumed he was already cured before he got to the river, but decided to go ahead and dip anyway, would God have cured him? That is very similar to the scoffing question that was raised some years ago about gopher wood in the ark. Suppose Noah had run out of gopher wood, or had a piece of wood he thought was gopher, which really was not, and had put one plank of oak or hickory in its place, would the ark have sunk? Whatever you may suppose about that not only will not change what God would have done, but has no practical bearing on what we are supposed to teach and do about God’s promise to us. If God goes beyond his promise, and grants a blessing as a result of some other factor, that is his business.

    Why anyone would even raise those questions who is interested in trying to get all men to accept the grace of God on the terms by which it is offered, instead of trying to find some way to give a person hope who rejected God’s way, we do not know. Instead of raising those hypothetical questions, giving your guess as an answer, then basing your teaching on your guess, why not simply raise and answer the question, “What does God want and promise as a result of obeying his commandments?”

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