Can We Judge Someone to Be Unsaved?
EVIDENCE OF SALVATION
Yes, that kind of judgment has to be made. It does. A pastor must have “faithful children” (Ti 1:6), which means judging faithfulness is occurring. Mt 18:17 is written for this purpose. We can judge whether someone is a false believer or false teacher (Mt 7:15; 2 Pet 2:1-3; Ju 1:3-4). At what point do you start considering someone to be unsaved? Were the Reformers saved? Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Wesley? Luther and Calvin have been previously exposed as unsaved apologists for a false gospel but what about Wesley?
For one, Wesley didn’t believe in eternal security of salvation. He believed someone could lose their salvation. For example: “I believe a saint may fall away; that one who is holy or righteous in the judgment of God himself may nevertheless so fall from God as to perish everlastingly.” (Wesley, pg. 81,Works, vol. 6). There is only one kind of salvation in the Bible and that is eternal salvation. If you can lose your salvation, then who is doing the saving? We are saved to eternal life, at the moment of our regeneration and justification, it is inseparable from salvation. Works and grace are mutually exclusive (Rom 11:6) and Scripture is rough on someone who adds works to grace.
People deceptively think the losing salvation teaching isn’t so bad, that it’s even justified from Scripture or mere baggage retained from past religion. Far from it. Losing salvation is “another gospel” which is “not another …but a pervert[ed] …gospel” (Gal 1:6-9). Adding even one work to grace, nullifies grace (Gal 5), and to such, “let them be accursed.” It’s a “damnable heresy” that does not and cannot save. This false gospel condemns many Christian groups as heretical, including among the Mennonites. This heresy turns God into a liar, denies the Witness of God and His record of eternal life through His Son (1 Jn 5:9-13). This point alone casts doubt upon Wesley, but there’s more.
Two, Wesley rejected the imputation of Christ's righteousness in justification, which condemns him as an unsaved heretic, since no person has ever been saved without Christ’s imputed righteousness (Rom 4:1-8; Jam 2:23; 2 Cor 5:21). Three, Wesley believed in the damnable heresy of baptismal regeneration, which, again, proves him to be an unsaved heretic. Four, Wesley held erroneous views on the assurance of salvation, believed in the continuation of the sign gifts, preparing the way for Pentecostalism, loved medieval Roman Catholic mysticism (and developed his doctrine of perfectionism in connection with it)—all of which are plain heresy. His speech bewrayeth him.
People want to know if they are saved on this side of eternity. You don’t want to find it out when you are standing before God, a picture we read in Matt 7 with Jesus in His sermon there, but a practice sadly so very common amongst Mennonites. Someone, who thinks he’s a Christian, will stand before the Lord, and the Lord will say to him, depart from me, I never knew you (v. 23). These are people who thought they were true Christians but they weren’t. Many times death bed confessions of repentance are pursued, to ensure their place in the kingdom of God. But that is not how salvation is detailed in Scripture (e.g. Pr 1:20-31; 2 Cor 6:2). Today is the day of salvation (2 Cor 6:2).
I have seen the entertainment of so-called Christian conferences (G3, Break Forth, YC Edmonton, Spring Blast, etc) and its not of God. At the 2019 G3 Conference a casually dressed rock band sang A Mighty Fortress with a kind of falsetto effeminate voice, singing into the microphone ice cream cone style, with a standard rock guitar jamming look and typical rock trap set too. Grimaces, bending backwards some. It was impossible to tell if one of them playing guitar was a man or a woman. He or she had long hair and was wearing pants, but looked androgynous. Though these receive total acceptance of their “worship,” the Bible portrays them as unsaved people (Jam 4:4; 1 Eph 5:5-11).
Immediately after that, on came Steven Lawson, looking very formal with a suit and tie, complete contrary to what just happened, preaching on his assigned theme, “justification by faith.” He used Luther as his example, treating him as the greatest example ever of justification by faith. Carl Trueman & Phil Johnson have tweeted, “I’ve always regarded Martin Luther as the Jimi Hendrix of the Reformation.” That sentence fits with what transpired at G3. The clear truth is that Luther was unsaved. He believed and taught works salvation through baptism and Communion his entire life, as you’ll read in Lutheran theology: Small and Large Catechisms, and Luther's Baptismal Booklet.
Gen 1 tells us God made the earth at the same time He created the first man. Rom 5:12 tells us “death by sin.” With old earth creationism, the kind of theistic evolution that C.H. Spurgeon believed in, death precedes sin. Lots of dying apparently occurred before we got to the first man, who then sinned, in their formulation. Are old earth creationists saved? It’s a good question. That thought comes to mind when we read Scripture. Theistic evolution was only one of many heresies embraced by Spurgeon; others things incl faith in allegoricalism, i.e. spiritualizing of Scripture, which isn’t of God either (Pr 8:8-9; 22:20-21; 1 Jn 2:20-21, 27).
When erroring on the side of caution, testing by Scripture, we are instructed to regard people as unsaved. It's like this. Genuine conversion comes with evidence. We don't know someone is saved just because he professes to be saved. That is clear from James and 1 John. Jude says that they creep in unawares (Ju 1:4), which is why we must “earnestly contend for the faith” (Ju 1:3). Creeping in unawares means that we don't know it. Churches have unsaved people in them, and todays evangelical and reformed and even most baptist churches are loaded with them, so we're not even sure if anyone in many churches are actually saved. The Scripture exhort us to examine ourselves (2 Cor 13:5; 2 Pet 1:10) and others (Mt 7:6, 15-20; 2 Pet 2:1-22; Ju 1:3-16), to try the spirits (1 Tim 4:1), to prove all things (1 Th 5:21), to test someones doctrine and beliefs whether they are of God (Ac 17:11; Is 8:20).
The Bible warns of a “faith” that does not save. “Now when [Jesus] was in Jerusalem at the passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did. But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men, And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man." (Jn 2:23-25). "Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone." (Jam 2:17).
Saved people are to judge absolutely everything (1 Cor 2:15) which is judging by scripture, righteous judgment (Jn 7:24), and that certainly includes someone’s spiritual condition. Mal 3:18 makes that very clear: “Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not." “It is joy to the just to do judgment: but destruction shall be to the workers of iniquity.” (Pr 21:15).
Just because someone professes faith doesn’t mean they are saved. We do not judge whether someone has faith by his profession, but by his doctrine and lifestyle (that's how he even judges his own faith). "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven." (Mt 7:21). Disobedience is a mark of being unsaved. “They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.” (Ti 1:16). They “Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.” (2 Tim 3:5). Thats just a small sample of this sort of teaching.
The parable of the sower causes us to judge between different souls receiving the seed, and only one is saved (Mt 13; Mk 4). “Ye shall know them by their fruits” (Mt 7:15-20) and only the good soil has good fruit (Mt 13:23). We judge a man by his obedience to God’s will, just like Jesus said we could judge Him by His obedience to His Father’s will (Jn 7:16-18). If we couldn’t judge a man’s spiritual condition, how would we ever know whether he is a wolf or a sheep (Mt 7:15-20; Ac 20:29-31)? How would we know who to fellowship with and who to reject? (Heb 6:12; Phil 3:17-19; 2 Jn 1:9-11; 3 Jn 1:9-11). It’s hypocrisy and also a convenient excuse to reject separation.
1 Jn 2:19 warns of unsaved professors: “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us." Here it's a matter of what "were not of us" means. If a person was "of us," he no doubt would be with us. "Of us" is expressing salvation, especially as you look at the context (1 Jn 2:3-4; 2:15-17). He's not with us. He's in the world. He loves the world more than us. Like Demas (2 Tim 4). The love of the Father is not in him. If the love of the Father is not in you, then you aren't saved. God is love. No love, no God.
By my own assessment, I think there is too much inclusion among the professing saved today. Scripture excludes where we include. This is unhelpful and dangerous. Part of the reason many want to know is so that they can find the salvation bar and get themselves just above it. If we are going to tend toward anything, I think we should tend toward giving people the judgment that they might not be saved. “I wouldn’t risk it,” is what I say. Why do we want to give credit to people on this side of eternity? If there is a question, then we should keep it a question. That’s how I read scripture. Scripture isn’t attempting to give the benefit of the doubt but the very opposite.
Many many more people are unsaved today, I believe, than what people believe. They say, “Saved,” but likely, “Unsaved.” The gospel has been dumbed down. People are disobedient and yet still given credit as saved (Obedience is major mark of the saved, and those who don’t obey are treated as unsaved in Scripture: Lk 6:43-49; Jn 14:15-24; 1 Jn 2:3-5). One reason for the credit of considered saved is because churches are not careful with discernment and membership. Churches have a wide range of belief and practice that is allowed in their membership. Unbelief and disobedience is accepted and you’re still saved. It’s a rush to the most lenient position but it isn’t helpful but very dangerous.
Paul did not hesitate to judge people as saved (1 Th 1:3-4, 9-10; Col 1:4-6; 1 Cor 1:4-9) or unsaved if they didn’t continue in obedience to Gods Word (1 Cor 15:2; Gal 2:4-5; 5:1-12). Philip baptized the Ethiopian Eunuch because he judged him to be a true convert (Ac 8:26-38). Immersion of professing believers must be based upon fruits of saving repentance (Mt 3; Lk 3). Peter judged people to be unsaved (Ac 8:18-23; 2 Pet 2:1-22). Paul had judged the Corinthians and in many “the testimony of Christ was confirmed” (1 Cor 1:6) but in his epistles he would also judge some of them to be unsaved (1 Cor 2:14; 3:1-4; 6:6-11; 10:1-12; 15:12, 33; 2 Cor 2:9; 4:3-4; 6:14-18; 12:20-21; 13:5).
Testimony by words isn't enough; it has to be confirmed (1 Cor 1:6; Is 8:20). Paul said it is the wise that judges, and that is the saved person (1 Cor 6:1-5; 10:15; Ac 17:11). John the Apostle judged pastor Diotrephes to be an evil and unsaved man (3 Jn 1:9-11). John the Baptist judged the Pharisees as unsaved and under the wrath of God (Mt 3:7). God the Son did the same (Mt 23; Jn 8:31-59). John also judged king Herod and lost his head because of it (Mk 6). The list goes. Literally, the pages of Holy Writ are loaded with the subject. So yes, we can judge people to be unsaved and we must. It’s required for fellowship (2 Cor 6:14-18) and peoples souls depend on it (Pr 24:11-12; Ezk 33).