Saturday, June 28, 2008

Does it really matter?

I saw this comment on another blog
“those who push an exclusive brand of religion (meaning one way of salvation) do not speak for a majority of American Christians.”

I saw that and thought, Does it really matter what the majority of ANYONE thinks? If what Jesus said about salvation is true, then the only thing that matters is what He taught about salvation to His followers.

One of the biggest differences between what Jesus Christ taught, and what other religious leaders have taught, is that Jesus made it perfectly clear that there is nothing we can DO to merit salvation. John 6:28,29 - Then they asked Him, what must we do, to do the works God requires? Jesus answered, “The work of God is this, to believe in the one He has sent.”

All other religions, and even some cults that call themselves Christian, have at least some form of “Good Works” as a base for one’s entrance into paradise. Contrast that with the following teaching of Jesus the Christ:

Mark 16:16 - Jesus said, “Those who believe in Me and are baptized will be saved but those who refuse to believe in Me will be condemned.” (You would think, wouldn't you, that believing in Jesus would entail believing what He taught?)

John 1:12,13 - Jesus said, “Unless you are born again, you can never get into the kingdom of heaven.” There is no eternal doom awaiting those who trust Him save them. But those who don’t trust Him have already been tried and condemned for not believing in the only Son of God.

John 3:3 - “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.”

John 3:16-18 - “God loves so much that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe in him stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”

John 5:24 - Jesus said, “I say emphatically that anyone who listens to My message and believes in God who sent me has eternal life and will NEVER be damned for his sins. He has crossed from death into life.”

John 6:40 - “For my Father’s will is that every one who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.”

John 8:24 - Jesus said, “For unless you believe that I am the Son of God, the Messiah, you will die in your sins.”

John 14:6 - “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Acts 13:38,39 - In this man Jesus there is forgiveness for your sins. Everyone who trusts in Him is freed from all guilt and declared righteous.

Romans 3:27,28 - Our acquittal is not based on our good deeds, it is based on what Christ has done and our faith in Him. So it is we are saved, by faith in Christ and not by the good things we do.

Romans 9:32 - Because they were trying to be saved by keeping the law and being good instead of by depending on faith, they have stumbled over that great stumbling stone, Jesus.

Galatians 2:19 - It was through reading the Bible that I came to realize that I could never find God’s favour by trying and failing to obey the law. I came to realize that acceptance with God comes by believing in Christ.

1st Thessalonians 1:8,9 - The Lord Jesus will bring judgement on those who do not wish to know God and those who reject His plan to save them through our Lord Jesus Christ (the majority of American christians). They will be punished in everlasting hell, forever separated from the Lord, never to see the glory of His power.

That verse is saying that the fate of atheists and apatheists ("those who do not wish to know God) as well as those who reject Jesus' plan of salvation will be identical. One group is no better off than the other. Both are guilty of thumbing their noses at the One who came to earth in an attempt to provide a means for their salvation. And He prophesied, "I and My teaching will be the great stumbling stone." These groups of people are fulfilling that prophecy.

You might be asking at this point, “How could something so negative as this last verse come from a loving God?” The fact is, God is completely Holy. Nothing less than complete Holiness can come into His presence. But we are separated from His Holiness by our sinful nature, and neither good works, nor religion, nor a moral life can fix that. Only the atoning work of God’s Son, who is also Holy, can do what we can not.

Think of it this way. A surgeon, will discard a scalpel that has a single, tiny blemish on it just as readily as she would discard a scalpel that is completely dirty. Or think of it this way. How many of the chef’s pubic hairs do you need to see on your order of food before you wouldn’t eat the meal?

You see, the size of or the amount of dirt is not the issue. The issue is the presence of dirt.

The question then IS NOT ‘why does God condemn some people’? The question is, ‘Why doesn’t He condemn all of us?’ Jesus warns us that all of us start out this life deserving of eternal separation from God? John 3:18 Yet because a survey suggests that "a majority of American christians" say that Jesus didn't know what He was talking about the rest of us should follow their lead? How stupid is that?

There are not many ways of resolving our sin problem. There is only one way. The Son of God was murdered - by you and by me. Washing your hands and praying a certain number of times per day will not serve as true justice for that horrendous act of violence. Placing food or fake money in front of an idol will not be a punishment that fits the crime. Promising to be as good as you can will not make things alright. Bathing in a certain river or pretending that Jesus doesn’t exist will not right this wrong. We all deserve condemnation, but He who was without sin became sin for our sake, for our salvation, and saying "So what?" or "His sacrificial death was meaningless" probably won’t help your situation any.


SteveJones said...

One of the biggest differences between what Jesus Christ taught, and what other religious leaders have taught, is that Jesus made it perfectly clear that there is nothing we can DO to merit salvation.

Perfectly clear. I don't think so. What about the following:

"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles? Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'" (Matt. 7:21-23)

Makarios said...

Yes, and?