“Faith Only Salvation”–a Devil’s Lie

Jesus said to those who rejected him and his word and instead held to their own prejudice and what they had always believed, You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44).

One of the devil’s most persistent lies is that justification comes through faith only. This false doctrine has been believed and taught by Martin Luther and by most evangelicals since his day. Luther felt so strongly about it that he added the word “only” after the word “faith” in his “translation” of Romans 3:28. As you can imagine, the book of James caused Luther much consternation, so to deal with it he declared it to be “a right strawy epistle” and wrote, “I will not have it in my Bible in the number of the proper chief books, but do not intend thereby to forbid anyone to place and exalt it as he pleases, for there is many a good saying in it.” When I read that the voice of Dana Carvey as the church lady rang in my ears, “Well, isn’t that special?!” He won’t have it in his Bible but he won’t forbid you having it in yours! This would be comical were it not so deadly. Who knows how many people have been lulled into believing that the only thing they have to do is believe?! They go to eternity with a false sense of security that, as long as they believe, nothing else matters! That nonsense ought to frighten us and anger us.

There are people who really do believe that the Bible teaches that you’re saved by faith alone. Yet here is the one place in God’s Holy Word where those two words are side by side:

You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. (James 2:24)

One might be tempted to think that if the devil were going to try to pull the wool over peoples’ eyes in the arena of false doctrine, he would at least word that false doctrine in a way where it is not clearly and diametrically opposed by a statement of Scripture. Yet people have bought it lock, stock and barrel.

Does the Bible teach elsewhere that there is something more than faith that is necessary to be saved? You tell me.

Mark 16:16 16Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.

 Luke 6:46 46“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?

 James 1:22 22But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.

 Romans 8:12–13 12So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

 Acts 10:34–35 34So Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, 35but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.

 Revelation 20:12 12And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done.

Brad

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Published in: on December 16, 2015 at 3:20 pm  Leave a Comment  
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A Simple Message for a Simple Salvation

First Things, First The apostle Paul wrote to the church in Corinth, “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,” (1 Corinthians 15:3,4). The Bible is a marvelous book which answers many of the questions that people have asked for centuries. But every other question and every other concern pales in comparison to “What must I do to be saved?” In the passage of scripture we just read Paul said of “first importance” was that Christ died for our sins. The Bible makes clear that God holds all people accountable for the lives they live and the choices they make (2 Corinthians 5:10; Romans 2:5-11). When we do the things which displease God we sin, literally “miss the mark”. Everyone has sinned (Romans 3:23). If we are going to be right with God we have to be first saved from our sins. That’s why Jesus died on the cross, to save you and me from our sins. God, since He is holy and just, demands that the ultimate price be paid for our sins. But it is also true that God, since He is loving and merciful, has provided the payment for our sins. Both of these truths are found in one verse. Romans 6:23 states, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” When Jesus was crucified He paid the price for my sin and yours. Please take a few minutes now and read the Bible’s account of Jesus’ death in Matthew 27:33-54. On that cross and in His death He bore all the sins of all people for all time. He paid the price so that we could be right with God (2 Corinthians 5:21). After Jesus died His body was taken down from the cross and placed in a tomb belonging to a man named Joseph (Matthew 27:59,60). If the story stopped there it would be another sad ending like so many others. But what happened next was God’s crowning achievement. At the point when Jesus’ followers felt their deepest despair, when they thought they had seen all of their Lord’s work and words slammed shut behind a slab of stone, when Satan surely must have thought he’d won–God did something amazing. He raised Jesus from the dead. Not “spiritually” or “symbolically” or “in a sense”. He raised Him. His silent heart started beating. His blood that had stopped cold started running warm. His lungs filled with air, His eyes opened and He rose! He rose to show us that death is not the end. His resurrection is a promise to you and to me that what God did for His Son, He will do for you and me. He rose to show us the power of God. If God can raise the dead (He can, He has and He will again) what problem or crisis do you and I have that He cannot handle? More than anything else, God wants you to be saved (1 Timothy 2:4). He gave His Son, Jesus, so that would be possible. There is no other way (John 14:6). Your Part, And You Do Have A Part God has taken the initiative to save us from our sins. The message of Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection, otherwise know in the New Testament as the gospel, is the “power of God for salvation,” (Romans 1:16). But is there anything that we have to do in order to receive the gift of salvation? First of all let’s look at two passages in the Bible. One gives us Jesus’ words just before he left this earth to be with His Father. There He answers the simple, yet all-important question, “What must I do to be saved.” And He gives it a simple, yet all-important answer. In Mark 16:15 Jesus commands His apostles to go and preach the good news to the entire world. Then in verse 16 He tells His apostles what our response must be to that gospel. He states simply “He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but He who has disbelieved shall be condemned.” When we do what He tells us to (believe and be baptized) He does what He said He would (save us from our sins). It is no more complicated than that. To believe in Jesus and the facts of His gospel is to trust Him completely. It is to leave behind the days when you thought you could get to heaven by being “good enough”. You can’t. Salvation is a gift from God (Ephesians 2:8-10). It’s not something you earn or deserve by compiling a certain number of points. But believing in Jesus is also leaving behind living your life your way. When we come to God through faith in Christ we surrender our will to God’s will. That, too, is a matter of grace. Because we’ve all made a mess of our lives doing things our way or the world’s way. One thing God saves us from is ourselves. Then in Acts 2 we have the record of Jesus’ gospel first being preached. The apostle Peter is preaching the message given to him from God when those who heard him were convicted of their sin and anxiously ask, “What shall we do?” Peter’s answer is simply this “Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38). To repent is to turn away from our old life of sin and turn to serving God. This new life is what God wants for you. And He has made it free to you if you will trust Him and obey Him. What About Baptism? What is the truth about baptism? Is it, as some say, unnecessary for salvation? Is baptism a work of merit that earns us anything before God? Is it merely a symbol that points to what has already taken place? To find the answer, the correct answer, we need to go to the Bible. Let’s see what Jesus and His apostles taught and what the first century church believed. Jesus said that before one can enter the kingdom of God he must be “born of water and the Spirit” (John 3:5). Then, in a passage we’ve already looked at He said, “He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned” (Mark 16:16). Much of the religious teaching today changes up the order of Jesus’ words. Some believe “He who believes shall be saved and then he is baptized.” Who shall we take for our authority, man or God? The rest of the New Testament, where it addresses the purpose of baptism, makes clear its significance. Please take your Bible and read these passages for yourself: Acts 2:38; Acts 22:16; Romans 6:1-7; Galatians 3:26,27; Colossians 2:11,12. In the book of Acts when someone believed the gospel they were baptized then (Acts 2:41; 8:12; 8:36-38; 16:14,15; 16:33) not at a baptismal ceremony a few weeks later. Let’s look at some of the things that are said by sincere people about baptism and see if Scripture supports them. 1. Some say that baptism is “an outward sign of an inward grace”, that it merely symbolizes what has already taken place. Wouldn’t you think that if that were true, that such a description could be found somewhere in the New Testament? But it cannot. Baptism does not symbolize what has already happened, it portrays what is happening. When we are baptized we are dying to our old self, contacting Jesus’ death, and being united with Him in His resurrection (Romans 6:1-7). The Bible tells us that when we are baptized we are clothed with Christ (Galatians 3:27). The Bible tells us that “Baptism now saves you– not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience– through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 3:21). We earn nothing when we are baptized. It is God’s work that saves us at the point of baptism, not our own. Most people who teach that baptism is not necessary for salvation teach that to be saved you need to “pray the sinners prayer and ask Jesus to come into your heart.” Again, if such were the case, don’t you think we would be able to find a Bible passage that teaches that? Yet none exists. The verse that is usually used is Revelation 3:20 where Jesus says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him, and will dine with him, and he with Me.” But when you read the context of verses 14-22 you see that Jesus isn’t talking to people who have never been saved but to a sinful church that has shut Him out. 2. Some say that having water sprinkled or poured on an infant is baptism. While the desire of parents to dedicate their child to the Lord is admirable, this act is of men and not of God. Biblical baptism is for people who are aware that they are sinners, who believe in the gospel of Jesus and who can make a decision of their own to serve God (Mark 16:16; Acts 22:16). It is also important to note here that the English word “baptize” is derived from the Greek word “baptizo” which means “to dip, plunge or immerse”. Sprinkling or pouring simply isn’t biblical baptism. Only immersion of those who believe the gospel is biblical baptism. God Wants You To Be Saved God’s message about salvation is really simple. It is the teachings of men through the ages that have made it complicated. Do you believe that Jesus died for your sins and that He was buried and raised to give you an eternal hope? Are you ready now to make Him the Lord of your life and be clothed with Him in baptism? May God bless you as you think about the most important decision of your life. Brad Fry

Published in: on October 22, 2015 at 2:07 pm  Leave a Comment  
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That They May Be Saved

Any Christian who shares the heart of God to see all people saved has special concern for friends and family members. We all have people we care about who either have never obeyed the gospel or, if they have, are now not living in fellowship with Christ and his church. Many times such people have a hard time appreciating the concern of one who wants more than anything to see them right with God. While most anyone would be grateful to one who kept them from stepping into the path of an oncoming truck, some often fail to make the transfer from physical danger to spiritual danger. They may meet any expression of concern for their soul with irritation, indifference or even anger. How do we deal with such people? Do we keep right on telling them what they need to do as if we will not take no for an answer? Do we decide we’ll have nothing more to do with them? Do we maintain a polite relationship, being careful to avoid talking about the Bible or Christ and his church? These approaches are neither right nor effective. But don’t throw in the towel. Instead we should focus our attention and efforts on the following three keys that will help bring people or bring people back to Christ.

              First, we need to set the right example. In 1 Peter 3:1-2 the apostle tells the wives who have husbands that “do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct.” The principle applies to more than the husband and wife relationship. Those lost loved ones that we want to reach need to see Christ in our lives. Jesus is appealing all by himself. We need to make sure that others can see him through us as through a window. This happens when we maintain a positive and happy disposition. This happens when we don’t allow troubles to turn our world upside down. Such a life paves the road to Jesus. It gives credibility to the gospel. It allows people to see that this faith we want to share is not just for the hereafter but for the here and now. Jesus said, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven,” (Matthew 5:16). So be a window through which they can see Jesus not a brick wall that obscures him.

              We also need to offer appropriate encouragement. Peter’s instruction above that the lost “may be won without a word” must not be misunderstood. He is advising against nagging and depending only on words. But the wise Christian will be alert for opportunities to encourage others to consider the things of God and come to Christ. We can do this with an invitation to come to church or with the gift of good Christian books. If we’ve set the proper example there will probably be times when these folks we love will seek us out for some guidance or a shoulder to cry on. Such times should be used to direct them to God and his Word. A word of caution is needed here. While it would be ineffective to turn every conversation into a religious one, don’t let that make you mute. Do not apologize for having a concern for that person’s soul and expressing that concern. God has given words by which people must be saved (Acts 11:14). Sooner or later folks have to hear them.

              We then need to sustain our endurance. If we believe that a right relationship with God is the most important thing in the world; if we believe that God and Satan, heaven and hell are real and that all these folks we love so much will have an eternal destiny of one or the other, then we will endure. We will bring their names regularly before God because “the prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working” (James 5:16). We will keep our attitudes kind and Christ-like and sincerely apologize when we fail. We will be content to leave all judgment to the righteous mind of God. And we will keep on ‘till Christ calls us home.

 Brad Fry

Published in: on March 8, 2011 at 11:35 am  Leave a Comment  
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Getting Out of the Pit

G. Campbell Morgan was once approached by a miner who said he would give anything to believe that God would forgive sins, “but I cannot believe he will forgive me if I just turn to him. It is too cheap.” Dr. Morgan said to him: “You were working in the mine today. How did you get out of the pit?” He answered, “The way I usually do; I got into the cage and was pulled to the top.” “How much did you pay to come out of the pit?” “I didn’t pay anything.” “Weren’t you afraid to trust yourself to that cage? Was it not too cheap?” The man replied, “Oh, no! It was cheap for me, but it cost the company a lot of money to sink that shaft.” Jesus pays the price for our salvation. You and I contribute nothing to the cost. We simply have a required response.

         There are many people today who are not saved because they refuse to believe God can forgive them so easily. But as the above story illustrates, God doesn’t forgive easily. But he does forgive willingly. Salvation comes cheaply to no one. The sinless Son of God essentially offers a trade of his sinlessness for your sinfulness (2 Corinthians 5:21) because of what he did on the cross. Cheap? I don’t think so.

         But the story also illustrates another important point. If the miner doesn’t get into the cage, he stays in the pit. Just today miners in Chile are being rescued from a pit that has been their would-be tomb for 69 days. Rescuers are pulling them up in a cage which has been lowered into the pit. If they don’t get into that cage, they stay put in the pit. The point is simple—if you don’t step into the place of deliverance, you perish. All the faith in the world that the miner has in the crew above will not save him until he gets into the cage. To get out of the pit of sin Jesus declares that we must believe and be baptized and that when we do so we will be saved (Mark 16:16).

         That biblical truth about baptism should be able to be presented with no further need for persuasion. Unfortunately there is much misinformation and misunderstanding about the subject. Look at it this way. We will hear nothing about any debate among the miners as to whether it’s necessary to get into the cage. They just do it. Baptism is “stepping into the cage” so to speak. No one would think that those miners saved themselves by stepping into the cage. It was clearly the work of “those above” who saved them. The same thing is true when one submits to God in baptism. It is the work of God that effects salvation (Colossians 2:12; 1 Peter 3:21; Galatians 3:26,27; Romans 6:3-7). But he requires that we respond.

         God wants you out of the pit. He has made your rescue possible. Whether you respond is up to you.

Brad Fry

Published in: on October 13, 2010 at 11:08 am  Comments (5)  
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