by Jerry Shugart

Ricky Kurth

Pastor Ricky Kurth is the editor of The Berean Searchlight, a monthly magazine published by the Berean Bible Society. In the December, 2012, edition of that publication Pastor Kurth wrote the following:

"The first reason was to convince all those who have believed on the name of the Son of God that they have eternal life, with indisputable proof that allowed them to know for sure that they had it. This proof included their inability to sin, which showed that they loved God with all their heart, as the Law demanded for salvation. This proof also included the sharing of their worldly goods with their neighbors at a time when there might not be enough food to feed themselves, which proved they loved their neighbors as themselves, the other thing the Law demanded for eternal life" [emphasis mine] (Ricky Kurth, "The Witness Within," The Berean Searchlight, December, 2012, 23).

According to Pastor Kurth the law demanded that the Hebrew believers "love their neighbors as themselves" and keeping this commandment was absolutely necessary for salvation. So how does Pastor Kurth reconcile his teaching about works being necessary with salvation with the following clear words of the Lord Jesus spoken to the Jews where the only requirement mentioned is believing?:

"Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life" (Jn.5:24).

Despite the fact that the Lord Jesus makes it plain that those who "believe" receive eternal life and will not come into condemnation Pastor Kurth uses Abraham as his proof that the Hebrew believers could not be saved apart from works:

"But Abraham was not only the prototype for Hebrew salvation, he was also the model for Hebrew security. Abraham was saved by simple faith in Genesis 15. But would his faith pass any test that God might give him? Only God could know, of course-and God did know! Abraham would still have to pass the test of offering up his son, but if God did not know in advance that he would pass this test, then it was presumptuous for Him to impute righteousness to Abraham in Genesis 15" (Ricky Kurth, "Secure or Not Secure? That is the Question!" The Berean Searchlight, March, 2004, 19).

According to Pastor Kurth the only reason why God could save the Hebrews by simple faith was because He knew in advance that in the future they would meet all the "work" requirements necessary for salvation. Now let us use the actions of Peter to decide whether or not Pastor Kurth's theory is true. Surely we can know that Peter was saved because He received the Holy Spirit and his heart was purified by faith (Acts 15:8-9).

If Pastor Kurth's theory is correct then we must assume that God knew in advance that Peter would keep all of the demands of the law required for salvation, including "loving his neighbor as himself." However, it is evident that Peter did not keep that commandment, as witnessed by Paul's words here:

"But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed. For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision. And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation. But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?" (Gal.2:11-14).

It is clear that Peter was not keeping the commandment to love his fellow Gentile believers as himself. Because of the vision he had received at the house of Simon earlier (Acts 10:9-15, 28) he felt free to eat with the Gentiles. But later the presence of certain Jews caused Peter to draw back and seperate himself from the Gentiles. By doing this Peter clearly demonstrated a disrespect toward the Gentile believers and it could not be said that Peter loved his fellow Gentile believers as himself.

If Pastor Kurth's theory is correct then God would never have given Peter the Holy Spirit and purified his heart unless he knew in advance that Peter would never break the commandment to love his neighbor as himself. The fact that Peter did receive these things despite the fact that he broke this commandment is proof that Pastor Kurth's theory cannot possibly be right!

Also, Pasor Kurth also says that a Jew's inabibility to sin is proof that that person loves God with all his heart, another commandment which must be kept in order for a Hebrew believer to receive salvation according to the demands of the law:

"The first reason was to convince all those who have believed on the name of the Son of God that they have eternal life, with indisputable proof that allowed them to know for sure that they had it. This proof included their inability to sin, which showed that they loved God with all their heart, as the Law demanded for salvation. This proof also included the sharing of their worldly goods with their neighbors at a time when there might not be enough food to feed themselves, which proved they loved their neighbors as themselves, the other thing the Law demanded for eternal life" [emphasis mine] (Ricky Kurth, "The Witness Within," The Berean Searchlight, December, 2012, 23).

If Pastor Kurth is right and the inability to sin proved that a Jew loved God with all his heart then any sin which a Jew committed would serve as proof that he does not love God with all his heart. Therefore, it is impossible that God knew in advance that Peter would pass every test necessay for salvation:

"But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed. For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation. But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?" (Gal.2:11-14).

Peter was clearly in the wrong and he did not act in line with the truth of the gospel. Peter was certainly not walking by "faith" and "whatsoever is not of faith is sin":

"And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin" (Ro.14:23).

The fact is clear that works did not play a part in the salvation of those who heard and believed, as witnessed by the words of the Lord Jesus:

"Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life" (Jn.5:24).

Unfortunately, Pastor Kurth is determined to cling to the idea that the Jews who actually heard and believed the Lord Jesus could not be saved apart from works.

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