The Lord Will Judge His People

by Greg Tidwell

I apologize for being so long away from our discussion. Picking up at Jay’s post “Not a Man-made List But a Scriptural Rationale,”  let’s attempt to move forward.

With a lawyer’s dexterity, Jay begins by providing a catalogue of conservative preachers whom he vilifies as composers of checklists. He proceeds to link me with this noble company and claims that I have produced a checklist to determine when a Christian falls into divine judgment.

While Jay’s assertions are rhetorically nimble, they suffer from a lack of accuracy. I take exception to his claims on two fronts.

First, I challenge Jay to produce the checklists he asserts have been composed by the men he names. I cannot say that none of these men ever composed such a list, but I have never seen a list of this nature among our people.

Second, I believe Jay has mischaracterized me as a composer of a checklist which determines when a Christian has lost his or her salvation. I cannot recall ever producing such a list, and if I have left the impression that such a list exists, let me apologize and set the record straight. There is one judge of all the earth, and I am not that judge.

What Jay has excerpted from my writings, and certainly can produce from the writings of others, are warnings concerning error which may well lead to the loss of one’s salvation. To issue such warnings is a far cry from sorting out the exact point when God disowns a Christian because of his or her error.

Consider two of the biblical examples of the process of apostasy.

First, in the opening sections of Revelation, the Lord issues warnings to Christians in various congregations concerning moral and doctrinal errors that would lead to their destruction. In each case, God’s judgment is characterized as something which will come, but which had not yet come.

Note the warning to the church in Ephesus: “Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.” (Revelation 2:5)

Who removes the lampstand? It is the Lord who draws the line and determines when those who were once God’s people are God’s people no more.

The same point can be seen in the apostle Paul’s warning to the church in Corinth regarding the Lord’s Supper.

“Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died.” (1 Corinthians 11:27-30)

I believe Paul is using the metaphor of physical illness, leading to physical death to describe the spiritual process of apostasy, ending in spiritual death. If you or I were in Corinth, we would not know exactly who was and who was not appropriate in their keeping of the Lord’s Supper. We certainly could not set up a checklist noting the exact point spiritual weakness transitioned into spiritual death.

Consider an analogous situation we have all seen played out among our congregations. A young man grows up in a Christian home and is baptized as a teenager. Initially, he is a model of faithful service. Going away to college, however, he begins to slip. He misses a few Sundays along, eventually no longer worshiping at all. He begins to embrace the lifestyle of a nonbeliever, moving ever further from the faith and the faithfulness of his youth. He is clearly going down a path which could end in his destruction. But will it? If he lost his soul, when did he lose it? Did the first missed worship, or did the second year away cross the line? God only knows.

Our lack of certitude as to the backslider’s eternal destiny, however, does not preclude us from warning against the danger of apostasy. “Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.” (1 Corinthians 10:12)

Two of the doctrinal divergences Jay introduced into our discussion pose a special threat to the souls of Christians who are deceived by them. I believe Christians who are deceived regarding the Inspiration and Authority of the Scriptures and those who are deceived regarding God’s Way of Salvation, both have entered a path which leads to destruction.

I am not saying that Jay, or any other of my Progressive friends, are no longer Christians. To say such a thing would be presumptuous and legalistic. What I am saying is that when one no longer believes in the complete truthfulness of God’s Word, or when one no longer believes in God’s Way of Salvation, then one stands in danger of divine judgment.
I will outline my views concerning these two doctrines, in turn, with subsequent posts.

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7 Comments on “The Lord Will Judge His People”


  1. Gregory,
    Thanks for your post. I realize that workers in the kingdom are always busy. Thanks for your service. I can’t speak for all, but, I would appreciate a straight answer to the things posted by Jay. We have been waiting for almost a week and even though you have posted we still do not know if you stand behind the things you have written. If you no longer hold these views please state that you don’t. If this discussion is to be of value we must admit to or deny our views. May God bless you in your work for the Lord.

  2. Alan Says:

    With a lawyer’s dexterity…

    The conversation would be more constructive if all parties would refrain from ad hominem commentary.

    I am not saying that Jay, or any other of my Progressive friends, are no longer Christians.

    If this is true, then you have made a profoundly important statement in the current conversation. Can you make that statement about a congregation that has a different belief and practice from you on, for example, divorce and remarriage? Qualifications for elders? Term limits for elders? The role of women? Instrumental music? If not, why not?

    If you can make that same statement about each of those questions, then what are the implications of that for fellowship?

  3. Brad Palmore Says:

    First, I challenge Jay to produce the checklists he asserts have been composed by the men he names. I cannot say that none of these men ever composed such a list, but I have never seen a list of this nature among our people.

    I’ve only been watching the posts from afar without a real dog in the hunt, but I think the lists are pretty obvious. Just because they aren’t written in an ordered list with a title that includes the word “list” doesn’t mean the lists don’t exist. Some are obvious in pattern language that has been passed around from as far back as the five-finger-exercise. Others are more like social mores: you only know you’ve violated the list when you’ve done it because social consequences are delivered.

  4. Alan Scott Says:

    Greg, In this post you state that our brother in Christ, Jay, “begins by providing a catalogue of conservative preachers whom he vilifies as composers of checklists.”

    Here is Jay’s actual post: “Really? You see, the thing is: I already have lists and lines of salvation aplenty. My bookshelves sag under the weight of checklists written by Daniel Sommer, David Lipscomb, H. Leo Boles, Thomas Warren, Bert Thompson, Goebel Music, etc., etc., etc. My conservative brothers have never been reluctant to draw salvation lines or offer checklists. They don’t agree with each other on just which doctrinal errors result in apostasy or why, but they do seem to agree on the drawing of lines and making of lists.”

    Would please point out to us non-lawyers which of the above words is a villification?

    However I notice you have used descriptions such, “lawyer’s dexterity,” “rhetorically nimble,” “lack of accuracy,” “has mischaracterized,” and “doctrinal divergences.” Would you say that any of these terms are terms that villify?

    God bless,
    Alan Scott

  5. Weldon Says:

    Just because they aren’t written in an ordered list with a title that includes the word “list” doesn’t mean the lists don’t exist.

    This is important, and it reminds me of our creed. We’ve traditionally held to the notion that “we have no creed but Christ [meaning the New Testament scriptures]” When in actuality, we do follow hermeneutic constructs that lead us to what could be deemed as an unwritten creed. Of course, since it is not written out formally, we pretend that it doesn’t exist.

  6. Glenn Dowling Says:

    Brothers in Christ: I truly believe some Church of Christ members are on the “edge” of preaching another gospel mentioned in Galatians. Consider “parachurch organizations” – Campus Crusade for Christ, Navigators, Gideons, etc. Salvation “by grace through faith”? OR by doing or not doing all the CofC “require”?

    The Gideons placed over 72 million Bibles throughout the world (188 countries(. You call that “draining resourses”? Get your “self-righteous “heads out” guys! The world is drowning in man’s word and starving for the word of God.

    Next – the music issue is the silliest one of all. Consider God-inspired Psalm 150:3 “Praise him with the sounding of trumpet, praise him with harp and lyre.”

    References below:

    • Worship with an instrument, or
    • Allow women to lead in worship, or
    • Support parachurch organizations that engage in
    false teaching, or
    • Allow parachurch organizations to drain resources
    from the congregation

  7. Alan Scott Says:

    Weldon,

    It is written all the time: Spiritual Sword, Gospek Advocate, Firm Foundation, STOP, etc.

    God bless,
    Alan Scott


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