By Joe R. Price
May we examine a person's personal belief about their salvation without "judging" them? More specifically, is it possible to identify an unbiblical view a person has about their salvation? Can we use the Scriptures to explain to a lost person he or she is lost? Or, are we judging that person by doing so?
Recently, a pastor of a megachurch told me I was judging another person's salvation. (I wasn't trying to condemn anyone. After all, sin condemns us.) My sin? I told him people who believe they were saved but have not yet been baptized into Christ are still lost (Galatians 3:27; I Peter 3:21). To him, that made me guilty of judging their salvation. (When he tells a sinner he is lost, is he guilty of judging that person?) How could anyone ever teach the sinner he is lost under this definition of judging (Mark 16:15-16; Acts 2:38)? Yes, we can teach people who think they are saved that the Scriptures say they are lost without being guilty "judging" them.
The apostles told people on Pentecost who thought they were saved that they were lost. Many Jews confidently trusted in being sons of Abraham (they were God's chosen people). Yet, they had murdered Jesus, the Son of God. Were the apostles guilty of "judging" these people? No, God's word rendered the judgment, and they spoke God's judgment to the people (Acts 2:22-36). About 3,000 souls were saved that day (Acts 2:37, 40-41).
Jesus and Ananias told a man who thought he was saved that he was lost. Saul of Tarsus boldly persecuted Christians, thinking he was serving God (Acts 22:20; 26:9-11). Would we accuse Jesus of unrighteously judging Saul? After Saul had prayed and fasted in blindness for three days, Ananias told him to "arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord" (Acts 22:16). Saul was still a sinner in need of cleansing from his sins by the blood of Jesus (Romans 6:3). Shall we charge Ananias with "judging" Saul's salvation for telling him so?
Peter told a Christian he was lost because of his present sin. Simon had been saved by the gospel, but became caught up in sin (Acts 8:13, 18-24). Should we charge Peter with unrighteously "judging" Simon's salvation for rebuking his sin?
The truth is, we are not "judging" people when we let God's word speak, then make the application to their lives so they can see their sin and do God's will to be saved. We are sharing God's judgments, revealed to persuade sinners to believe and obey the truth of the gospel for the salvation of their souls (Hebrews 5:8-9; Luke 6:46).
David said of God's word, "The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether" (Psalms 19:9). Jesus said, "He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him-the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day" (John 12:48). We do not sin when we speak God's judgments (from the Scriptures) to sinners to warn them. We are trying to warn them and bring them to salvation.
The charge of "judging" a person's salvation may be an attempt to evade the force of truth. God knows. Regardless, false charges against truth-tellers have certainly been used in the past to escape the strength of truth (Acts 6:9-11; 16:19-24; 17:5-9).
Let us always speak the truth in love and humility (Ephesians 4:15; II Timothy 2:24-26). By doing so, we draw attention to God's judgments so the lost can believe, repent, and be saved.