A reader of our website has a problem with our stand that salvation from eternal condemnation is by faith alone, apart from works. She wrote:
I enjoyed reading your article on Acts 13:48 since I’m aware of Calvinism and did consider this verse very strong for their support. As is life in Jesus, we read prayerfully daily in hopes to gain His wisdom to walk in His ways. Ever growing we are.
On salvation, what do you think of Jesus’ teachings in John 14 and 15? It seems to me He’s teaching that if we love Him, we will follow His commandments. And Matt 7:21 would seem to indicate many think they are saved because they do good works in Jesus’ name, but Jesus never knew them, so they aren’t saved.
My point is that Jesus clearly teaches there is a narrow way, His way. Many may say “Lord, Lord,” but aren’t willing to die to self.
Matthew 10 teaches if we put a family member or anything above Jesus, we aren’t worthy of Him.
If we don’t deny ourselves and pick up His cross, we aren’t His.
Your website doesn’t seem balanced in Jesus’ teachings and could lead potential believers astray.
It’s possible I misunderstood you, but it seems you are saying you can just say you believe. Satan believes and he isn’t saved. The believers referred to in Matthew 10 won’t go to heaven…though they clearly believed in Jesus.
With men, salvation is impossible, but with God all things are possible.
We don’t know our heart’s condition, but God does.
If we would just repent, He would forgive. Jesus died so that we could repent and be forgiven. The free gift is salvation for those desiring to deny their life (repent) and pick up His cross and walk with Him.
Read John 14 and 15 a few times. Then pray and re-read the entire book of John a couple of times. Repentance is clear. Jesus died that we would die to this flesh and walk in His ways. That’s the free gift of salvation. We humble ourselves like children or we cannot enter into the Kingdom. He said many will try another way, and it won’t work.
If we just read God’s word every day for 30 minutes for the rest of our lives, we would develop a real relationship with Jesus. We would know the true Jesus and not the various teachings causing divided denominations. No –isms are helping anyone; they are Satan’s greatest tools.
Paul warned against lifting up any teacher since that teacher did not die for our sins.
Stay away from all men’s teachings and read the Word prayerfully. The Bible is the best commentary of itself. The Holy Spirit opens our eyes to His Truth.
No other book comes close. No one has greater clarity of the Word than Jesus and the Holy Spirit.
Walk in faith that He will reveal all things to all seeking Him diligently.
God bless you and keep you safe and make His light shine on you for His good will.
Her arguments boil down to four:
- A balanced understanding of Jesus’ teachings is that in order to be born again we must deny ourselves, turn from our sins, take up our crosses, and follow Christ for the rest of our lives.
- The Bible, not men’s teachings, is the source of truth. The Bible teaches salvation by self-denial, repentance, cross bearing, and lifelong following of Christ.
- We can’t get into heaven unless our works are good enough. The problem with the people who will cry out “Lord, Lord” (Matt 7:21-23) will not be that they look to their works for salvation, but that their works are not good enough.
- Faith in Christ is insufficient to save. This is proved by the fact that the demons believe (Jas 2:19).
As our regular readers know, I frequently address these questions. Here I will simply give four brief replies to those four points.
- The Lord Jesus is quoted extensively in the four Gospels and in the Book of Revelation. There are also quotes of his teachings in Acts and the epistles. A balanced understanding of His teachings is that in order to be born again, one must believe in Him for the everlasting life He promises and that in order to have an abundant life now and forever, we must deny ourselves, take up our crosses, and follow Christ for the rest of our lives. A failure to see that the Lord teaches a different message for discipleship than for salvation is fatal. John’s Gospel, which never mentions repentance (contra the reader’s contention), shows that the Lord Jesus taught regeneration by faith alone, apart from works (John 3:16; 5:24, 39-40; 6:28-29; 11:25-27; 20:31).
- The Bible is our source of truth. The teachings of men are only valuable if they accurately reflect God’s Word. The Bible teaches justification by faith alone, apart from works. It also teaches discipleship by faith working through love. Discipleship is not by faith alone. Salvation is.
- We can’t get into heaven apart from faith in Christ. If we think we will get in because of our works, then we are not believing in Jesus for the life He promises the believer. Works salvation does not work. The point of Matt 7:21-23 is that anyone who looks to his works for his salvation is misguided. Only by looking to Christ for our salvation (= the will of the Father; see John 6:40) will anyone have everlasting life.
- Faith in Christ is the only way to be saved. The reason why faith in Christ always results in everlasting life is because He took away the sin of the world when He shed His blood for everyone at the cross (John 1:29; 1 John 2:2). His shed blood allows Him to fulfill the promise of everlasting life to everyone who believes in Him for it (John 3:14-16; 1 Tim 1:16). While demons believe in monotheism (Jas 2:19) and even that Jesus is the Son of God (Matt 8:29, “And suddenly they cried out, saying, ‘What have we to do with You, Jesus, You Son of God? Have You come here to torment us before the time?’”), they are not saved. Demons are not living human beings. Jesus died for the children of Adam and Eve, and He only offers everlasting life to humans when they are living (John 11:26). His promise of everlasting life to all who believe in Him does not apply to demons or to Satan. Nor will it apply to people in the lake of fire if they eventually figure out that all who believed in Jesus in their lifetimes have everlasting life and are with Him in the kingdom. Believing the saving message after death is too late.
Did I mention that repentance doesn’t even occur in John’s Gospel?
While loving and obeying God are found in the Fourth Gospel, they are never said to be the condition of everlasting life. The sole condition of everlasting life in John, and the whole Bible, is faith in Christ.
I too like to recommend that those unsure of everlasting life read John’s Gospel prayerfully, asking God to show them what they must do to have everlasting life. But they will find salvation by faith alone, not by works (cf. John 3:16; 5:39-40; 6:28-29).
God indeed rewards those who diligently seek Him (Heb 11:6). I hope the person who wrote this question does just that. That is a major aim of this ministry (along with calling believers to walk with Christ and lay up eternal rewards).