Thursday, September 20, 2012

"Might Have Been" Redemption Examined



Over the years, I have noticed how we tend to build a great deal of unprofitable mythos around our Christian heros. There have undoubtedly been those who greatly loved the Lord who have endured great suffering and gone to incredible lengths to serve the God of the bible. I can even admit that I have, at times, found inspiration in their examples of dedication. That said we should all be well aware of the dangers that attend the establishment of men as evangelical heros. A zeal of God is not the same as a right knowledge of the manner in which God saves his people, and we should not confound the two. Stated plainly - just because a man endured great afflictions and displayed great convictions does not establish that man as a faithful guide concerning the truths of the word of God. Let God be true and every man be a liar. That includes men of evident zeal and commitment to God. One such man was Adoniram Judson. I came across this quote from the much ballyhooed Judson and found it quite an eye-opener with respect to his soteriology:



"Surely you can hold out no longer! Thanks be to God, I see you taking off your necklaces and your earrings, tearing away your ribbons and ruffles and superfluities of headdress, and I hear you exclaim, What shall we do next?  An important question deserving serious consideration. The ornaments you are renouncing, though useless, and worse than useless, in their present state can be so disposed of as to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, relieve the sick, enlighten the dark-minded, disseminate the Holy Scriptures, spread the glorious gospel throughout the world. Little do the inhabitants of a free Christian country know the want and distress endured by the greater part of the inhabitants of the earth. Still less idea can they form of the awful darkness which rests upon the great mass of mankind in regard to spiritual things. During the years that you have been wearing these useless ornaments, how many poor creatures have been pining in want?  How many have languished and groaned on beds of abject wretchedness; how many children have been bred up in the blackest ignorance, hardened in all manner of iniquity?" (Quote from Adoniram Judson, Church History, CB and S Hassell, p. 773)
So far so good. I might question what he means by "enlighten the darkened mind" given Paul's statements in I Corinthians 2:11-14, but, giving him the benefit of the doubt, I read on...
"How many immortal souls have gone down to hell with a lie in their right hand, having never heard of the true God and of the only Savior!  Some of these miseries might have been mitigated; some poor wretch have felt his pain relieved; some widows heart to have been made to sing for joy; some helpless orphans have been rescued from hardened depravity, and trained up for a happy life, here and hereafter;" (Hassel's History, p.773)
Is Judson suggesting a tie between financial contribution to missions and the eternal destiny of men's souls? Surely not...
"some, yea many precious souls might have been redeemed from the precious fires of hell, where now they must lie and suffer to all eternity" (
Hassel's History, p.773)
The bible teaches that redemption is a past accomplishment of the Lord Jesus Christ, "Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, HAVING OBTAINED ETERNAL REDEMPTION for us." (Heb 9:12) This redemption was purchased by his own blood, not by the necklaces and earrings of the women of a church congregation. Moreover, the Lord said that he gives his sheep eternal life and they shall never perish (John 10:28) and that of all those that the father gave him that he "should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day." (John 6:39) Judson's suggestion that something that a man does or does not do in this life could thwart the work of the Lord Jesus Christ on behalf of his people is so devoid of spiritual understanding as to be comical were it not that so many of God's children are deceived thereby. The apostle Paul excludes the things of "life" from being able to trump the impeccable intercession of the Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 8:38). Judson's understanding of the intercessory work of Christ and the purpose of the gospel is at variance with the apostle Paul. It is therefore wrong.
"had you not been afraid of being thought unfashionable, and not like other folks! Had you not preferred adorning your persons and cherishing the most seductive feelings of vanity and pride!" (Hassel's History, p.773)
Judson here solidifies his blasphemous assertion that the eternal destinies of men are hinging upon the fickle preferences of those in the church. What stark contrast is this to the faith once delivered to the saints - a faith which David referred to as "an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and sure." (II Samuel 23:5) By his own admission, Judson's "salvation" is unsure, for it finds its efficacy not in the cross work of Christ, but in the contributions of man. Could a more blasphemous assertion be put forth than to suggest that the Lord's work on behalf of his people is rendered impotent unless men improve upon it with money? Lest this observation lose its jarring effect - how does your church's doctrine and practice with regard to "missions" line up in this respect?
"O Christian sisters, believers in God, in Christ, in an eternal hell! can you hesitate and ask what you shall do? Bedew these ornaments with the tears of contrition; consecrate them to the cause of charity; hang them on the cross of your dying Lord."
Ironically Judson's impassioned plea strikes at the heart of his error. It asserts that the cross of Christ simply was NOT enough and that it will only find its efficacy if it is adorned with the silver and gold of our vain conversation. Consider the contrast between Judson and Peter:
JUDSON: Many precious souls might have been redeemed had you but hung your ornaments of silver and gold on the cross of Christ! 
PETER: Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation. (I Peter 1:18)
Judson's doctrine is one of Might-Have-Been-Redemption - not the Having-Obtained-Redemption of Hebrews 9:12. Judson's teaching is not the gospel of blood redemption by Christ, but the gospel of vain conversational redemption by man. God's people are saved by what Christ did, and the corruptible things such as silver and gold from our vain conversation have precisely nothing to do with that. While I admire Judson's zeal, I must conclude that it was, in many respects, not according to knowledge.  


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