Different Types of Christians

The True Gospel

What are the requirements to go to heaven? There is only one requirement. That is that your sins must be forgiven. The only thing that separates us from God is that we are guilty of sin.So why doesn't He just forgive eveyone's sins. For one thing, unlike some other religions like Islam, the God of the Bible demands that sin be payed for. He demands this to satisfy his requirement of Justice. He will not forgive sin without it being payed for. But God Himself payed the penalty for sin by sending His only Son Jesus Christ into the world in order to be tortured to death and in this way pay the penalty for the sins of the world.

This is the essential message of the Bible which up to this point I would hope most of us Christians agree on. However, there is more to it. For this payment which Christ accomplished is not automatically credited to everyone's account. Having payed the penalty for sin, God could have automatically forgiven everyone. He doesn't do that. So what must you do to have this payment of sin, which accomplished on the cross, credited to your account?

Very seldom when I've heard the gospel preached is this point clarified. Yet this is the most important question of your life. I have found many Christians even many baptized, church-going Christians who do not know the correct answer to this question. Why? So I hope to clarify some misconceptions about this question as to what you must do to have eternal life. And the Bible is very clear about what a person must do to have eternal life. John 3:14-16.

"Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."
The only requirement to receive eternal life is to believe in Jesus. What does it mean to believe? In this passage itself, Jesus gives an illustration to clarify what it means to believe.

He uses an illustration from the Old Testament, from Numbers chapter 21. This is a summary: The people of Israel were complaining against God and God sent poisonous snakes among them to kill them. But then they confessed their sins and prayed to be saved from the snakes. So God had Moses erect a snake made of bronze and put it on a pole. (This is the symbol that you see on the back of ambulances). And His promise was that whoever had been bitten by the snakes but then looked on the bronze snake, they would live.

Jesus was saying I am that bronze snake on the cross. He was saying that if people recognize that they are bitten by sin and subject to eternal death but they look to Christ on the cross believing that he atoned for their sins, they will not die, but have eternal life. John 5:24. And there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ (Rom 8:1) And it is a permanent thing, as I've spoken on before. It cannot be taken away. Furthermore, for you who believe this, you have become children of God. You were children of the devil. Having believed, you are now children of God. And you have been given the Holy Spirit to dwell in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him (Rom 8:9)

Why does God do it this way? Because it requires those who want to have a right relationship with God to accept His character. You cannot be reconciled to God unless you agree with him about your sin. If you don't think that you are a sinful person who must be saved from your sinfulness, God doesn't want to have anything to do with you. If you don't think that your sin should be punished, that you are not worthy of going to hell for your sin, then God may very well put you there. Or if you don't accept God's gracious love in that he offers eternal life freely by faith, but that you make up your own requirements for salvation, then you insult God by rejecting his grace.

Alternate Views

The Group of the Baptism

There are those who say that in order to be forgiven of sin, you must be baptized and follow the commandments of Christ. In the book of Galatians, Paul writes of a group of people he calls the group of the circumcision. These were those who taught the you must believe in Christ to be saved, but you must also be circumcised and follow the Law of Moses. Paul's attitude Gal 1:6-8.
"I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel-- which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned!"
What was Paul so upset about? He was upset that they added on to God's requirements for salvation. They added on the person's performance. Gal 3:2
"I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard?"
What is the Law? Jesus said that the law can be summarized as to love God and love your neighbor. But that's basically Jesus commandments. There are those who think that the requirements to receive the forgiveness of sins were simply changed from circumcision to Baptism and from obeying the law of Moses to obeying Christ's commands.

But the righteousness of faith is a much different thing.

Gal 3:21,22 "Is the law, therefore, opposed to the promises of God? Absolutely not! For if a law had been given (like Christ's commandments) that could impart life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law. But the Scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe."

Eph 2:8,9 "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-- and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-- not by works, so that no one can boast."

Rom 4:4,5 "Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation. However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness."

If your faith is that you must be baptized to be saved, or you must obey Christ's commandments to be saved, or you must change your behavior to be saved. You are still an unbeliever. As it says in
Gal 5:4 "You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace."
By grace, God freely gives eternal life to those who freely accept it.

Catholicism

But then there are also those who believe that only the sins that you confess are forgiven. They believe that every time you sin, you lose your salvation. And you can only gain it back by confessing your sin and asking for forgiveness. Once again, these are people who find the need to add on to the requirements for salvation. They just can't accept God's gracious gift by faith alone. If you lose your salvation every time you sin, then it seems that such a person would lose his salvation many times a day. Or they may believe that Christ died for the sins you had before you became a Christian, but not for the sins afterwards. These are those who reject God's graciousness in forgiving all of their sins - past, present & future - at the point in time that they put their faith in Christ. God knows that Christians are going to sin. When one becomes a child of God, all is forgiven. And there is nothing that can separate you from the love of God. Your destiny to heaven is secure. As believers, God wants us to call sin for what it is. But you don't need to constantly ask forgiveness of your sins. Don't you believe your sins have already been forgiven?

Faith in Faith

But then there are also those who agree, "yes, faith alone saves". But then rather than have Christ's atoning work on the cross as the object of their faith, they put their faith in their own faith. They speak highly of faith as if faith itself was an object. They may say that you have to believe hard enough to be saved. But then are very obscure about what it is you're suppose to believe. How can you "believe hard enough" if you don't know what it is you're supposed to believe?

Such people have not yet believed the gospel either. Those who put their faith in their own faith are not putting their faith in Christ. Their confidence is in themselves rather than their confidence being in Christ. These people must make Christ's atoning work on the cross the object of their faith. Or else they too will perish.

Antinomianism

Then there are those who say they believe, but then don't apply their faith. They say they believe Christ died for their sins, but then refuse to recognize sin in their own lives. They are comfortable with living a lifestyle of sin. They refuse to obey Christ's commands. They refuse to change their behavior. Does such faith save? For though they say they believe, they don't. For if they believed, then they would have considered the implications and applications of their faith. The quality of faith that saves is simply real faith. If you are believing the right thing, then I simply ask you do you really believe it? For faith without applications is not saving faith. It is true that as believers we don't put our faith in the applications of our faith to save us, such as obedience to Christ's commands, but rather we treat Christ as our Lord because it is appropriate to do so. Since we reckon we who have believed are children of God, therefore we try to behave that way, not in order to have our sins forgiven, for by faith we already consider our sins as having been forgiven. But rather we try to behave properly because we know who we are and what our destiny is.

Why so Vague?

If we're going to go out and tell others about the promise of eternal life, let's not be unclear about it. By being vague and unclear it is true that we avoid conflict among ourselves. For there are many in the Christian community who do not believe the gospel (1Cor 15:34). By making the gospel vague and unclear, we allow everyone to have their own gospel. Each person can fit in their own ideas into it. And by offending less people, we can get more people into the church. I say to hell with that idea. For what is man's opinion compared to God's Word. And much of our work would simply be in vain. And many will end up going to hell. Would you chose a pastor and not care what he believes about the gospel? Or to chose one who speaks so vaguely you have no idea what's he's talking about? Just to avoid conflicts over truth? So let us put to death artificial, politically correct, feel good Christianity and let us conform our definition of the Christian life to the Bible.


The Berean Christian Bible Study Resources


Jul 29,2015