Fred E. Dennis
In Luke 16:19-31 Christ gives us an account of two men. One was rich, the other poor. One was righteous, the other wicked. One was saved, the other lost. The one who was saved was not saved because he was poor, but because he obeyed God. The one who was rich was not lost because he was rich, but because he refused to obey God. “The rich man also died, and was buried; and in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.”
The Bible meets all false doctrines which have ever been taught, are now being taught, or which will ever be taught. Christians should be able to refute false doctrines on every hand. This one passage of God’s Holy Word is enough to put to rout many present-day false teachers. Consider these:
According to this false doctrine, all men will be saved. Of course, not one could possibly be lost without showing this doctrine to be false. If only one person were lost, salvation would not be universal. Jesus Christ was not a Universalist. He said this rich man died, and “in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments.” He has this rich man in torments saying, “Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.”
If this man were not lost, what condition would one have to be in to be lost? My friends, the doctrine of universal salvation is false to the core. The inspired men who wrote the Bible were not Universalists. Had they been, there are many passages which would not have been written.
One of the outstanding tenets of this doctrine is that of a “second chance.” Jesus did not believe or teach this doctrine. He told of a man who died and lifted up his eyes “in torments.” That man begged for mercy, but none was extended to him after he died. How this lost soul would have welcomed the “second chance” doctrine!
Now is the day of salvation. “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Cor. 6:2). “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world” (Titus 2:11-12). When is this living “soberly, righteously and godly” to be done? Hear it: “In this present world.” No, the inspired writers were not Russellites. Had they been, many choice passages would not have been written.
Materialism says, “man is all matter. He is not a living soul. Death ends all. There is no future existence or recognition.” But Jesus Christ was not a materialist. The rich man and Lazarus did not cease to exist when they died. They were as much alive and conscious as ever. The spirit of man can live out of the body as well as in it. Paul said, “I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven” (2 Cor. 12:2). When the spirit leaves the body, the body is dead, but the spirit does not cease to exist. “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also” (Jas. 2:26). The inspired writers of the Bible were not Materialists.
One of the chief tenets of this belief is that departed spirits hold intercourse with mortals, especially through a “medium.” Jesus Christ was not a believer in this kind of spiritualism. This man in hades wanted to get a message back to earth to the boys at home. No doubt he knew they were headed for the same place. What a wonderful opportunity for him to have conveyed this message to them from the spirit world! Why did he not do this? What does Jesus say about this? Listen: “They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.”
Lazarus was saved by hearing the word of God and obeying it. Those brothers of this rich man had the same thing by which they could save their souls. The rich man evidently had no time for the word of God while he was alive on earth, and even when he was in hades he didn’t think it was sufficient to save his brothers! He was a good bit like some modern preachers!
But Jesus taught, “If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.” How true! Since Jesus thus taught, He died, was buried, raised from the dead, and ascended, and before His ascension He gave the plan of salvation. But most people today are still not persuaded by Him!
Direct Holy Spirit Influence
Here was a wonderful opportunity for the Holy Spirit to directly save someone, apart from his hearing and obeying the word of God! The Holy Spirit operates on the heart of the sinner in conversion, but He only does so through the word of God—not by direct influence. No Christians are made without being taught the truth of the Gospel. “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?” (Rom. 10:13-14). “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17). The inspired writers did not believe in the direct influence of the Holy Spirit in salvation.
John Calvin’s Doctrines
John Calvin said—and some denominations teach—that some people have been eternally elected to salvation, and others are of the non-elect, and there is nothing they can do about it. Did Jesus say that two of these boys had been “elected” from all eternity to eternal life and the others were “non-elect?” You know He did not thus teach. All of them could have been saved by obeying God. Who are the elect? The ones who choose to hear and obey God. “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mark 16:16). No, Jesus was not a Calvinist. Whosoever will may be saved (Rev. 22:17).