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“Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God.”

1 John 5:1

 

The Lord our God was pleased to reveal his Son in me just before I turned 17. I knew little then. Soon, I began to think I knew much. Today, after preaching the gospel for fifty years, I am fully convinced that I know very little. Yet, I have never imagined that anyone is born of God who depends in any way or to any degree upon something he does or has done or might yet do for acceptance with God. While I hope I have grace and wisdom sufficient to know that Don Fortner, above all mortals, has neither the right nor the ability to know tares from wheat, goats from sheep, or reprobate from elect, and neither the right nor the ability to discern another’s spiritual condition, I am certain that no one is saved believing a false gospel (Galatians 1:6-9). I do not suggest that one’s salvation depends upon how much he knows or how clearly he understands the gospel. I know that it does not. Salvation depends entirely upon the One we know — who we trust.

      I know of no one who would say that a person is saved who denies the virgin birth, though the denier says he believes in Jesus. The denial of the virgin birth is an obvious denial of Christ’s eternal godhead. I know few believers who would say that papists are saved. Though the papist professes that he believes in Jesus, he trusts his works. “Mother” Theresa was (I presume) a woman of exemplary godliness in the eyes of those who knew her. But the Christ she trusted, clearly, is not the Christ. I know of no one who believes the gospel of God who would embrace a Mormon as a believer, though I know Mormons who are both devoted in their religious zeal and live what men might call “godly lives,” praying regularly and outperforming most in doing “good works.” And they say they believe in Jesus. Yet, all I know who believe the gospel will, without hesitation, say, “The Mormon is lost. The Christ he trusts is a false Christ,” and rightly so.

      Yet, men who assert, and assert with boldness and fury, that Christ was a failure, that he died to redeem sinners who at last perish under the wrath of God, we are expected to embrace as believers. We are scorned if we refuse to do so as hard, divisive, and mean-spirited. Is not the denial of Christ’s effectual atonement as much a denial that he is God (Isaiah 42:4) as the denial of the virgin birth? Is this not a denial that he is the Christ, a denial that he accomplished all that the prophets said the Christ would accomplish (Daniel 9:24)? Is this not antichrist (1 John 2:18-23; 4:1-3)?

            I am not saying that a person must be a Calvinist to be saved. I am saying that a person must trust the right God, the right Christ, the God and Christ revealed in Holy Scripture to be saved. He who is “the Christ of God” is not a failure (Isaiah 42:4). He who is “the Christ” fully accomplished, by his obedience unto death, everything the Scriptures of the Old Testament said he would accomplish (Daniel 9:24). Every denial of the effectual accomplished redemption of God’s elect by the death of Christ is antichrist. Universal atonement is useless atonement, trampling underfoot the blood of Christ (Hebrews 10:29).

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don Fortner

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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