The Book of Matthew

Tuesday: Not All to be Saved

Matthew 7:6 In this week’s lessons, we learn that we are to show discrimination in our Gospel witness, making a distinction between those who are mere unbelievers and in need of our message, versus those unbelievers who scorn the Gospel and make a mockery of Christ.
Theme
Not All to Be Saved

In yesterday’s devotional, we concluded by saying that the Bible teaches that not everyone will be saved. Moreover, among those who will not be saved are some who are so opposed to God’s truth that the Christian should have no dealings with them.

Let me give some texts. In Matthew 15:14 Jesus said of the Pharisees, “Let them alone; they are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.” In other words, the disciples were to make no attempt to convert them. The apostle John, who is noted for his great emphasis on love, nevertheless said that if a person who does not believe in Christ’s humanity should come preaching a Gospel that is therefore not the Christian Gospel, the Christian should not even welcome him into his house. He writes, “If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds” (2 John 10-11). Jude wrote, “And of some have compassion, making a difference” (v. 22). That is discrimination. And Paul added, “As we have said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than ye have received, let him be accursed” (Gal. 1:9). He did not say, “Let him be converted.”

In the light of these texts it is obvious that Christ’s call for discernment is not so out of place as it seems. In fact, it reminds us of a whole area of teaching that is quite easily forgotten and recalls us to the stern duties of discipline and understanding in the task of advancing God’s claims through the Gospel.

What does this statement mean practically: “Give not that which is holy unto the dogs”? What does it have to do with you, with me, and with the Church of Jesus Christ generally?

The first thing it means, and also the easiest to understand, is that not all of the truth of the Bible is for the unbeliever. In fact, the only truth that is for him is the truth of his own sinfulness coupled with the offer of salvation through the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. I know that some will answer, “Do you mean to tell me that the ethics of Christianity are not for unbelievers, that we are not to preach love, sacrifice, mercy, and other things to everybody?” I reply that this is exactly what I mean. We saw at the beginning of these studies that it was for the poor in spirit (not the proud), those who mourn for their sin (not the carefree), the ones whom God has made meek (not the boastful) to whom these teachings are given. You must have the Spirit of Christ within before you can take up His ethics.

Someone else will say, “But what about prayer? Can’t you teach the non-Christian about prayer?” Again, the answer is “No.” There is not a line in the Bible to support the idea of the value of prayer for any unbeliever. In fact, the Bible explicitly states that God will not hear the prayer of unbelievers. “When ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you; yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear” (Isaiah 1:15). The only prayer that God will ever hear from an unbeliever is the prayer that asks for salvation on the basis of the death of the Lord Jesus Christ. And this doctrine is the only one that we have authority to preach to anyone who has not already become a child of God by believing it.

Study Questions
  1. Where else in the Bible do we see distinctions being made regarding how certain unbelievers are treated? What do we learn about them as the reason for why they are ignored by Christians?
  2. What evidence do we have from the Sermon on the Mount that not all the truths of the Bible are for unbelievers?
Application

Application: Who do you know who is not a Christian, but who needs to hear the message of salvation? Will you attempt to talk to them this week?

Key Point: The only prayer that God will ever hear from an unbeliever is the prayer that asks for salvation on the basis of the death of the Lord Jesus Christ. And this doctrine is the only one that we have authority to preach to anyone who has not already become a child of God by believing it.

For Further Study: Download and listen for free to Donald Barnhouse’s message, “Spiritual Discernment.” (Discount will be applied at checkout.)

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