“Why We Can’t Judge Whether or Not Someone Possesses Eternal Life”

by Jack Weaver

We at ExP are sometimes accused of condemning to hell people that don’t agree with our Biblical view of the gospel. We would like to state, unequivocally, that we cannot, and therefore do not, judge whether someone is or is not a believer.

We cannot condemn anyone, nor do we wish to see anyone condemned. The Bible is very clear on why anyone would be condemned, or not condemned:

John 3:18: He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

When we hear someone introduce works into the salvation equation, it would be negligent for us to ASSUME they were saved. If someone is not currently clear on God’s plan of salvation, it is at least possible that they were never clear on God’s plan of salvation.

What if someone currently claims to be an atheist? Can we know that such a person has never believed in Jesus as his Savior? No. According to scripture, someone who is believer can fall away:

Luke 8:13: They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away.

The Bible teaches that anyone who has ever believed in Jesus as Savior is eternally secure. So, even a professing atheist COULD be a heaven-bound believer, if he ever trusted in Jesus as his Savior. Having said that, would it be wise to assume that a professing atheist is a believer? We don’t think so. We think it would be best to tell such a person the gospel message.

What if someone is a professing Christian, is an active churchgoer, prays regularly, reads his Bible, tries to live a clean lifestyle, and does good works, but contradicts his profession of faith in Christ with statements that indicate that he thinks works are necessary in order for someone to get to heaven? His contradictory statements could include that one must “repent of sins” or “commit one’s life to Christ” in order to be saved, or that one must have a change in behavior and/or good works if he really is saved. He might even think that he could lose or forfeit his salvation. In such cases, would it be wise to assume he has ever trusted in Christ alone as Savior? Just like with the atheist, we think it would be be best to tell such a person the gospel message.

In the case of the professing atheist, his confession is “I don’t believe in God.” In the case of the professing Lordship “salvationist”, his confession will most likely be “I believe salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone”, but then he will contradict that statement by adding works to the equation. So, in reality, neither the atheist nor the Lordship “salvationist” is testifying to believing the gospel NOW.

We should approach each person with the assumption that he may not have heard or believed the gospel, unless he can clearly articulate why he is going to heaven, and it is based solely on the finished work of Jesus Christ. This is not because we want to be judgmental or condemning, but because God wants all men to be saved, and so should we.