*This was originally written in early 2009 and I updated it and finished it on October 20th, 2009. Keep in mind that I wrote this for a class at Biola University and was forced to read certain textbooks for class and cite sources from academic journals. I do not agree with every theological view that some of these authors hold (views not mentioned in this paper but on other topics) most noteably Dr. Arthur Glasser and possibly views held by some of the authors of academic journal articles. But the words I do cite I do agree with and used them as sources only because of the requirements that my professor at Biola University gave my class.
Jesus Christ is the Only Way to Salvation
In this current age there are many new ideas and thoughts emerging about theology. Much of this regards the issue of salvation, and what constitutes as the “church,” and who is truly saved. The question arises, “Is Jesus the only way to salvation or are there other ways as well?” Unfortunately this confounds the minds of many self-proclaiming evangelicals. It has become a popular topic of discussion among missiological circles as the debate grows as to how far contextualization of the gospel can go from (contextualization) levels C1-C6. This is being written about in all types of Christian anthropological and intercultural studies books and journals. If one searches the Bible and not their own intuition they will find the true answers to the question because the Scriptures themselves are sufficient for teaching and explaining everything pertaining to life for salvation (2 Timothy 3:15-17). This paper argues that Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation for the lost and can only be understood through the Scriptures. The Bible is the absolute truth.
A popular misconception
It is a popular misconception that since God is love, He will not reject people who are genuinely what the world considers “good people” of other religions and other gods. This contradicts God’s claim in the Old Testament of being a jealous God Who will not and cannot tolerate spiritual adultery with other gods and religions. He severely punished at times, without mercy those nations and people groups that did so. The problem is that society, especially in America, understands humanity to be basically good inside, with some people falling away from goodness. It is popular to believe in an idea such as the one that if people have not heard the Gospel then somehow, if they are good people from within their own religion, they will be given salvation. This is to say that God will give them forgiveness even though they do not know Christ. This popular belief is creating a tolerance for religious pluralism. The Bible clearly states that humanity is depraved and that all people are evil. Adam sinned and brought a curse on mankind (Rom. 5:12-15). In Romans 3:10-12 it says that “There is no one righteous, not even one, there is no one who understands, there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away; together they have become useless; there is no one who does good, there is not even one” (Holman Christian Standard Bible). All men are totally depraved because they are corrupted by sin which causes them to be separated from God. Romans 6:23 says that the “wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Jesus Christ is the only mediator between God and man Who can cleanse humanity from such corruption. This corruption keeps men from God in their spiritually dead state. Paul said to Timothy, “For there is one God and one mediator between God and man, [the] man, Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. 2:5). It is clear that without Jesus Christ the lost remain in their sins. The Bible could not be more explicit and sadly this orthodox doctrine has been neglected in the modern church and has been replaced by subjective ideas of what the Bible does not say rather than what it does say.
Jesus Christ is the only way
Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation and the only way to God. There is no other God, religion, ritual, good work, or anything else that can bring a person to salvation, which comes from God, but by that name alone. God’s elect do not exist apart from faith in Christ alone. Acts 4:12 explicitly states, “There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to people by which we must be saved.” Jesus Christ Himself even stated, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:12). Ephesians 4:5 states that there is “one Lord, one faith, [and] one baptism.” These are very exclusive statements made by Christ and His Apostles which contradict the inclusive philosophy of current, popular worldly belief. Jesus Christ and His Apostles all preached that He was the only way to salvation which means that Christ is the only way to God. Jesus Christ is God (Titus 2:13, 2 Peter 1:1) and He claimed to be God (John 8:58, 10:30, 14:7). Titus 2:13 states, that “[Christians] wait for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ” (italics mine). McIlroy (2008) argues that “Jesus is the lamb provided by God. He was God himself, God of God, the Son of God who agreed with God the Father in the unity of God the Holy Spirit that for the salvation of the world he would endure the cross” (p. 27).
Jesus said in John 8:24, “Therefore I told you that you will die in your sins. For if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.” The Apostle Peter in Acts 3:22-23 quotes Moses prophesying about Christ: “The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from among your brothers. You must listen to Him in everything He will say to you. And it will be that everyone who will not listen to that Prophet will be completely cut off from the people.” Since Jesus is God, rejecting Jesus means that a person is rejecting God Himself. Whoever does not listen to what Christ said will be rejected by God and given eternal damnation, not eternal life. You cannot have God without the Son. 1 John 2:23 even states that, “No one who denies the Son can have the Father; he who confesses the Son has the Father as well.” There is no God without Jesus, therefore there is no salvation without Jesus for it is God alone who saves and not man. You cannot have half of God by believing in the Father, but not Christ.
Christ did not die in vain
If other religions are true and there is salvation apart from Christ, then Christ died in vain. Why would Christ need to suffer so much if there was another way for salvation? He would not! Christ died on the cross because there was no other way to bring salvation to the lost. He was a sacrifice for our sins. Punishment and judgment of sin had to take place in order to display God’s justice as well as His mercy. Yungen (2006) states effectively that “If a belief system does not teach the preaching of the Cross, then it is not ‘the power of God’ (I Corinthians 1:18). If other ways are correct, ‘then Christ died in vain,’ rendering His shed blood unnecessary and immaterial (Galatians 2:21)” (p. 26). Hell would also not need to exist and sin would be tolerated and unpunished.
If God did not punish sin, He would not be the perfect and just God that He is. If He tolerated sin and gave salvation to humans who remained in their sins, then it would mean God would be able to dwell in sin. In fact God might also sin as well. God would be impure, but since He is pure and does not sin, the fact that He would mix in with sin would make Him become impure. This is impossible for a holy God; and since God is holy and pure, He fiercely hates sin. The only way to bring salvation to the lost was through the cross and His Son dying on it. This was in order to defeat sin through the resurrection of Christ. Death has been swallowed up in Victory (1 Corinthians 15:54-55). Jacobs (2009) states that it is “Orthodox Christianity that depicts the Cross atop a skull, which is clearly meant to say that death is conquered by the Cross…Christ rose again and now dwells with the Father in Heaven” (p. 13).
Other truths would make missions unimportant
Moreover, if certain other religions were true, or men could gain salvation by remaining in their false religion because somehow God would be nice and let them go to Heaven without hearing about Him, missions would be pointless and a waste of time! Would it not be more ethical to let people remain in ignorant bliss as they live their lives on earth, without knowledge of Christ, and then to enter Heaven? Why subject them to the persecution and hardships that befall so many Christians if they can go to heaven by default of ignorance of the Gospel? Why have so many people throughout history become martyrs for Christ, and so many missionaries toiled for years in foreign lands away from family and loved ones? Did they all waste their lives? Certainly not! Missions were and are extremely important because it’s the only way people are going to hear about the Good News of God’s salvation through faith in Jesus Christ alone. Since Jesus Christ is the only way, missions must take place.
Grudem (2000) recalls that “When Paul was told that God had many elect people in Corinth, he stayed a long time and preached, in order that those elect people might be saved! Paul is quite clear about the fact that unless people preach the gospel others will not be saved” (p. 675). Paul realized that the elect need to believe in Jesus Christ in order to be incorporated into the Church. Romans 10:14 and 17 backs up Grudem’s claim as it states,
“But how can they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how can they believe without hearing about Him? And how can they hear without a preacher? So Faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the message about Christ.”
No one can become saved without hearing the Gospel about Jesus Christ first; even the elect. No one who is elect lives their life without hearing about Jesus Christ first before salvation. If they have not heard of Him they currently remain under God’s wrath because they are dead in their sins. There is no forgiveness given at this point until after faith in Christ.
Missionary work is not simply going into another culture and telling them how they can live a nice, happy life on earth to make their society better. Missions is convicting them of sin in order to give them the eternal security in Christ Jesus as well as physically showing them how to live their lives like Christ did. If missionary work was simply just a social thing we would not even need to send Christians. We could send people of any religion to help other less fortunate societies live better lives. Missionary work would only be humanitarian aid. This is not the case as Jesus Christ said before He ascended to Heaven in Acts 1:8, “and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” It is clearly evident that Jesus Christ wants to be recognized and accepted by the entire world. God’s desire throughout the entire Bible including the “long forgotten” Old Testament has been to be known, feared, worshipped, served, and obeyed by all people everywhere. For this to happen, “repentance for the forgiveness of sins [has to] be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning at Jerusalem” (Luke 24:47).
Kennedy (1974) exclaims, “Faith is trusting in Jesus Christ ALONE for our salvation” (p. 26). What Jesus said Himself in the Bible, that He is the only Way, is true. Christ is supreme and rules all, as all creation was made through Him, is sustained by Him, and exists for Him as what Colossians 1:15-20 claims. Stott (1986) makes the point about that passage that,
“. . . It is a sublime statement of the absolute supremacy of Jesus Christ in creation and redemption, in the universe and the church. All things, the cosmos, the principalities and powers, all things are ‘in’ and ‘through’ and ‘for’ Christ (v.16). He is ‘before’ all things in time and rank, and ‘in’ Him all things are sustained and integrated (v.17). Since all things exist in, through, for and under Christ, He is the supreme Lord by right” (p. 195).
Since He is the supreme Lord by right, man is obligated to worship Him alone. No other gods exist. Christians are witnesses of these things (Luke 24:48).
Salvation must be solely based on Scripture
In the book of 1 John, John talks about how one can know they are saved and what makes a true believer. In chapter 4 verses 2-3 it says that the way to know if someone has the Spirit of God is that they confess that Jesus has come in the flesh. Then it says that everyone who does not confess that Jesus is from God has the spirit of the Antichrist. This spirit of the Antichrist is said to be in the world now. This spirit is out to deceive people with what Colossians says is empty man-made philosophies. In Colossians 2:8 it warns Christians: “Be careful that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit based on human tradition, based on the elemental forces of the world, and not based on Christ.” If a belief is not based on Christ who is the Word (John 1:14-18), then it is a false belief and a doctrine of demons (influenced by the spirit of the Antichrist) just as 1 Timothy 4:1-2 says.
Christians use the Reformation term Sola scriptura for a good reason as the Bible itself is the ultimate authority. It was the intention of the authors of Scripture to communicate their Holy Spirit inspired message through its biblical context that points to truth. Sadly, many times people in this postmodern age believe that even in the Bible truth is not certain and it is ambiguous. So, they act on emotional impulses and twist Scripture to meet their selfish desires. Authority at this point comes from within their own hearts. Unfortunately the only “truth” they will find is going to be corrupt in sinful deception. The Prophet Jeremiah proclaimed, “The heart is more deceitful than anything else and desperately sick— who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). The human heart is deceptive so creating new doctrines on feelings from within are lies. MacArthur (1998) states, “In many cases individual feelings and personal experience have replaced sound biblical interpretation. The question ‘What does the Bible mean to me?’ has become more important than ‘What does the Bible mean?” (p. 32). The Bible cannot be interpreted by one’s own impulse just as it says in 2 Peter 1:20-21, “First of all, you should know this: no prophecy of Scripture comes from one’s own interpretation, because no prophecy ever came by the will of man; instead, moved by the Holy Spirit, men spoke from God.” Now through the Bible God speaks to men today.
The Bible is the only objective truth that can be counted on to be real. There is no reason to go with any other opinion than what Scripture states. Grudem (2000) believes that “theology should be explicitly based on the teachings of Scripture” (p. 15). Scriptures tell people everything they need to know to obey God; they are His instructions for how humanity should live and what they need to honor Him. The New Testament tells about Jesus Christ dying on the cross to save mankind, but today people want to think of the Bible as merely suggestions and examples instead of commands from God which should be obeyed. Christ died for a reason: to bring salvation to the elect. His death is not simply an example to follow of sacrificial love, and following Him is not a mere suggestion. Moore (2006) explains,
“First, reconciliation would not have been accomplished unless Christ had suffered death on the cross for us; his suffering was a necessary condition of our salvation. Second, without the suffering and dying (and resurrection) of Jesus Christ there would be no theology of Christ’s death, and, since some such theology is presumed throughout, there would have been no reason to compose those documents which became the New Testament” (p. 73).
Moore is correct; there would be no need for the Bible if Jesus did not have to die for mans’ sins. There would be no need for the Gospel message as God would instead communicate a pluralistic message to humanity explaining that all gods and religious practices can reach Him. Since He did not do this Glasser (2003) states that, “[W]e cannot believe that [Jesus] would endorse the postmodern openness to toleration of religious pluralism, nor would he have encouraged his followers to regard all religious systems as relative or to make as their priority the deepening of mutual understanding between them” (p. 350). Jesus’s response to religious pluralism was to make disciples of all the nations so that they will worship Him and Him alone.
Neoorthodoxy: a popular heresy
A current belief called neoorthodoxy that is common today is a popular heresy in this postmodern age. MacArthur (1992) defines neoorthodoxy,
“Neoorthodoxy theology claims that Scripture is not the objective Word of God, but has the potential of speaking to people’s hearts in a moment of meaning as they open themselves to it. According to neoorthodoxy, God never really did speak propositionally in the Word; rather, he speaks personally in private revelation when we encounter him” (p. 92).
The problem with this belief is that it invalidates scripture as being the sole authority and revelation of God. This deception cons people into thinking that there is a “wider model” of salvation, called Latitudinarianism (theological liberalism), because God has personally and subjectively revealed it to them. With this heretical stance that Scripture is not objective truth, there are no bounds to really know what truth is unless you believe subjective claims by other people, or by one’s own emotional experiences.
Jesus Christ is the Word which became flesh and dwelt among men. How do we know what God’s word says? The answer is the BIBLE. It, as already mentioned, is the absolute, objective truth of God! Jeremiah 23:29 says, “’Is not My word like fire’—the Lord’s declaration—‘and like a sledgehammer that pulverizes rock?’” Yungen (2006) says,
“Christians must not be led purely by their emotions or a particular experience; there must be ground rules. A popular saying is: ‘You can’t put God in a box. That is correct in some ways, but it’s not true if that box is the Bible. God will not work outside of what He has laid down in His message to humanity” (p. 132).
Belief that people can be saved without Christ is a direct denial of Jesus Christ’s sufficiency for salvation for the world. This will cause one to be hell bound as Matthew 10:33 clearly indicates, “But whoever denies [Jesus Christ] before men, [He] will also deny him before [His] Father in heaven.” Mark 8:38 emphasizes this point further: “For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of Him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.” Scripture speaks very loudly on this issue.
Subjective feelings corrupt objective truth
An example of the corruption of neoorthodoxy on the theology of salvation is what can happen when the postmodern mindset is placed on Hebrews 9:27 which claims, that humans are appointed to die only once, “and after this, judgment.” Currently, some self-proclaiming evangelicals have such a mindset to believe that if people from other religions are good enough and have not heard about Christ, that God would be nice enough to give them a second chance at obtaining salvation after death; or at death. This is to say that between “die” and “judgment” in Hebrews 9:27 this possibility exists. They use faulty hermeneutical principles to make the extra biblical claim that after death there is the possibility of post-mortem evangelism, or a second chance evangelism at death. Yohannan (2004), when mentioning this verse stresses that “many Christians hold within their hearts the idea that, somehow or other, ways of redemption are available to those who have not heard. The Bible does not give us a shred of hope for such a belief” (pp. 132-133). Today people want to base their theology on what the Bible does not say (Eisegesis) rather than what it does say (Exegesis), and reading between the lines in Hebrews 9:27 about what the Bible does not say will never point anyone toward truth. Christian faith is not based on human assumptions, but on the Word of God. It is pure arrogance to assume possibilities that are not written in Scripture. If it is not written in Scripture then there is no reason to believe it. People want to fill in space between the lines of Scripture which is exactly why this belief in a wideness in God’s mercy is so popular today. If one looks up Matthew 7:13 they will find that it says, “Enter through the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the road is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who go through it. How narrow is the gate and difficult the road that leads to life, and few find it.” This passage says the exact opposite.
Basing theology outside of Scripture or adding one’s own ideas to a passage like Hebrews 9:27 becomes “fill in the blank” theology and such heresy will only create confusion. Grudem (2000) expresses, “A student who comes out of a course in theology filled only with doctrinal uncertainty and a thousand unanswered questions is hardly ‘able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to confute those who contradict it’ (Titus 1:9)” (pp. 15-16). This is because neoorthodoxy treats the Bible as relative where truth changes from person to person. Christians must not go through their life of faith confused and afraid to point out obvious truths found in Scripture. All doctrines need to be proclaimed with boldness and conviction with authority to lost souls (1 Thess. 2:2), because otherwise a person would have an intent to deceive others (1 Thess. 2:3) into believing that they are “all right” with God and will enter heaven. Confusion leaves men uncertain in their spiritual darkness and binds them for eternal hellfire.
Persecution should be expected
Part of the reason people believe that in certain circumstances people do not need to know Christ (or be a Christian), in order to receive salvation, and can remain within their own religion, is the fear that persecution will be too overwhelming for converts; and that fear will cause them to choose not to follow Christ. This belief says that people can become Muslim followers of Jesus, Buddhist followers of Jesus, or any other false god and a follower of Jesus. This is wrong as persecution is a given when following Christ as the Bible talks about persecution constantly. In fact, in the New Testament when persecution was at a high level, the church flourished even more (Acts 11:19-26). Persecution also strengthens the individual Christian’s faith just as Yohannan (2004) believes,
“[T]he trying of our faith works patience and hope into the fabric of our Christian lives. No one, I am convinced, will follow Jesus very long without tribulation [because] it is His way of demonstrating His presence. Sufferings and trails— like persecution— are a normal part of the Christian walk. We must learn to accept them joyfully if we are to grow through them” (p. 69).
If a person sincerely understands a deep need that is not being met inside them and that only God can fill it, Christ is the answer and perseverance that comes from Christ will give them salvation. Rejecting Christ because persecution seems to be unbearable would mean that that person was never sincere in their faith in Christ. 2 Timothy 2:12 claims that “if we endure, we will also reign with Him; if we deny Him, He will also deny us.” Christians have the ability to endure persecution because God gives it to them. James 1:2 explains that Christians should consider it a great joy to experience trials because it tests their faith and produces endurance. This should be taken very seriously because Jesus Christ speaks through His Word which is the Bible; again, a subjective feeling or experience, idea or revelation, is not authoritative truth. Luke 14:27 talks about the cost of following Christ which is to bear one’s own cross. Jesus said, “Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after Me cannot be my disciple.” This means that they are damned. The picture of bearing one’s own cross is a person carrying the very execution device on their back that will kill them. Christian’s are to follow Christ to their deaths!
Only one way to receive eternal life
If one wants to receive eternal life then they must do what John 17:3 claims as eternal life: “This is eternal life: that they may know You, the only true God, and the One You have sent Jesus Christ.” Knowing God gives a person eternal life. People who have not heard about Jesus Christ do not know Him; therefore there is no eternal life for them unless a Christian tells them about Christ. They must then “confess with [their] mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in [their] heart that God has raised Him from the dead, [and they] will be saved” (Romans 10:9-10). Their own religion is not good enough to save them as no religion can compare to God or be equal to God.
There is no distinction between God’s righteousness and faith in Jesus Christ just as it is claimed in Romans 3:21-24. God does not impute righteousness on a person apart from that person having faith in Jesus Christ. As well, one cannot believe in both Muhammad and Jesus, Buddha and Jesus, Krishna and Jesus, or any other false prophet, god, goddess, or gods, and be in the Kingdom of God. The popular belief of what is called contextualization does not fit scripture.
Contextualization masks false-conversion
Many Christian anthropologists attest that the many tribal peoples of the world believe in a high god which could constitute as being the Father, and that all they need to do is to add a “Jesus figure” to their equation. According to these “evangelical” anthropologists, this action would make the people living members of the kingdom of God. This is a farce! That somehow people who have never heard of the God of the Bible somehow already believe in the true God, all though in an ignorant form, is absurd! Contextualizing the gospel to fit a people’s false religion and culture is a grossly arrogant form of faulty interpretation of the Bible in order to fit one’s own subjective opinion above God’s words. This demeans His absolute truth with very loose measures and partial commitments given to follow Jesus. It is popular in the high level of C5 contextualization to believe that Jesus will enter through another person’s false religion in order to save them. If that were so, and Christ would enter through a person’s false religion then why would Christ not also reveal to them that He is the only way in order to make them turn from their false religion unto real faith in Himself? But He would! Therefore, C5 contextualization only produces pluralistic idolatry. One must deny himself, deny this world and follow Christ alone. God will not tolerate “half” Christians. Evangelism cannot be satisfied with a fraction of the heart. Evangelism must have the full heart for when one becomes saved the indwelling of the Holy Spirit takes place and God will not dwell in the midst of impurity. Salvation must be true 100% in a person because at conversion 100% of God enters in that person and this can only happen with full commitment to Christ. Only then are sins blotted out and a heart made pure. James 1:8 says that “An indecisive man is unstable in all his ways.” Unstable “[*insert man made religion here*] followers of Jesus” should not be the fruit of Christian missions work.
God’s desire is to be fully known and worshiped
God has revealed His existence to all people and desires to be known. Sire (2004) expresses, “God wants us to know him, and he takes the initiative in this transfer of knowledge” (p. 35). In Romans 1:19 Paul wrote “what can be known about God is evident among [humanity], because God has shown it to them.” He goes on to say in verse 20 that all of “His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen. Being understood through what He has made. As a result all men are without excuse [(general revelation)]” (italics mine). Therefore, all people who die without knowing God (the only way to know God is through Christ), remain dead in their sins. Sire thus expresses, “For each person death is either the gate to life with God and his people or the gate to eternal separation from the only thing that will ultimately fulfill human aspirations” (p. 40). Unbelief causes God’s wrathful judgment to be given out on a person.
God’s attitude towards unbelief
To take a deeper look into the character of Jesus Christ who is God, and His attitude towards unbelief one only has to look at passages such as 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10,
“[I]t is righteous for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to reward with the rest of you who are afflicted, along with us. This will take place at the revelation of the Lord Jesus from Heaven with His powerful angels, taking vengeance with flaming fire on those who don’t obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. These will pay the penalty of everlasting destruction, away from the Lord’s presence and from His glorious strength, in that day when He comes to be glorified by His saints and to be admired by all those who have believed, because our testimony among you was believed” (italics mine).
This is a pretty explicit verse that shows that God will severely judge those who do not believe because of their sins and rejection of Christ. Revelation 19:11-16 explains more of the exclusive nature of God,
“Then I saw heaven opened, and there was a white horse! Its rider is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were like a fiery flame, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knows except Himself. He wore a robe stained with blood, and His name is called the Word of God. The armies that were in heaven followed Him on white horses, wearing pure white linen. From His mouth came a sharp sword, so that with it He might strike the nations. He will shepherd them with an iron scepter. He will also trample the winepress of the fierce anger of God, the Almighty. And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS” (italics mine).
It is very clear that Jesus Christ will not tolerate unbelief and will not spare the nations (which includes the people in them) who do not believe.
Finally, Revelation 20:9-15 tells of an interesting event just after fire from Heaven consumed the enemies of God on the earth (Gog and Magog) and He had the Devil thrown into the lake of fire,
“Then I saw a great white throne and One seated on it. Earth and heaven fled from His presence, and no place was found for them. I also saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life, and the dead were judged according to their works by what was written in the books. Then the sea gave up its dead, and Death and Hades gave up their dead; all were judged according to their works. Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And anyone not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire” (italics mine).
Human pride creates false doctrines
Scripture is properly used to refute any claims against the possibility of another way to salvation apart from Jesus Christ. Yungen (2006) expresses,
“Scripture…tackles the issue of pride [and] sharply distinguishes all of man’s religions from Christianity. Religion persuades us that man is innately good and, therefore, can earn his way to heaven through human perfectibility or, better yet, through the realization of his own divinity. Christianity emphatically states the opposite view that man needs to humbly recognize his own sinfulness and fallibility, and consequently needs salvation through grace” (pp. 24-25).
This pride is what causes people to think up ideas to fit what they want to call justice because they believe that this exclusive nature of God is unfair and unloving. So they believe that people without a “proper chance to hear the gospel” will go to heaven. But this is not the truth of the gospel and what gives a person true faith. Oakland (2008) argues that, “When doctrines of men replace the doctrine of scripture, many are led astray. It has happened in the past, and it is happening now. Following doctrine not based on the Word of God always results in the undoing of faith” (p. 80). He further expresses, “[I]f we are going to link hands with those who believe in another gospel or no gospel at all for the sake of establishing an earthly, unified kingdom, we will not be building the kingdom of God” (p. 151). Dr. McMahan, a professor at Biola University even states in his Theology of Mission class that “Man-made unity retards God’s purpose” (class lecture, February 02, 2009).
So many professing “evangelicals” today believe missionary work is supposed to promote world peace and unify man. They believe that it is not supposed to create problems, so they promote a contextualized “bible” religion dubbed as “following Jesus.” Contrary to such heresy, Luke 12 quotes Jesus saying that He came to divide humanity and not to bring peace. It is a common mistake to think that Christianity is supposed to bring world peace. In Luke 12:49-52 Jesus says,
“I came to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already set ablaze! But I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how it consumes Me until it is finished! Do you think that I came here to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division!”
In verse 52 and 53 He goes on to say how many people are going to be divided from one another including family members. God’s goal here is to separate the elect from the lost. Again another example is in Luke 10 where Jesus sends out 70 of His disciples ahead of Him to the towns that He was about to go into. In verses 10-12 He commands them that if anyone does not accept Him in a city then they should publicly wipe the dust of the city streets off of their feet as a symbol of rejection. In verse 12 Jesus states, “I tell you, on that day it will be more tolerable for Sodom than for that town.” The goal of missions is to present Christ plainly without hiding the message. The full gospel must be preached, not only a part of it. Partial truths still contain full lies. Too much contextualization is not going to create true believers, but a syncretized hybrid religion. Christ clearly rejects anyone who will not follow Him. A missionary can contextualize the gospel as much as they want, but such stubborn people will not budge. It is futile. One cannot come up with enough symbolic ideas within a culture and claim they are now somehow part of the body of Christ. It is not for a person to decide who is saved; the Scriptures alone express what constitutes a true believer from a false-convert, or non-believer. Hebrews 4:12 states that the Word of God is “living and effective and sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating as far as to divide soul, spirit, joints, and marrow; it is a judge of the ideas and thoughts of the heart.”
Is God really not fair?
Non-Christian people use arguments that claim God is unfair in His grace to say that Christianity is bigoted and Christians are narrow-minded. Many “evangelicals” have bought into such criticism. They are coming up with new doctrines that promote a wider mercy salvation in order to make God fair according to their human standards. One simply has to go back to what Romans says about the total depravity of man to find out that this belief is false. What is truly unjust when examined with human ideas of fairness is the fact that God has even allowed a way for the salvation of man. If God was to be fair according to human philosophical standards He would kill everyone and send every person whoever existed, and will exist to Hell for their sins, because all people have sinned and all of them will sin (Romans 3:23). This is what true fairness demands. This is why the elect are in constant thankfulness for God’s mercy and grace given to them through His Son Jesus Christ. It is a good thing that God’s standards of fairness are beyond humanities interpretations.
Scripture itself is proof that God’s salvation is exclusive to only those who believe. It is not right to add in one’s own opinion of Scripture or fill in the blanks with something not even mentioned in Scripture. The truth of Scripture says that Jesus Christ is the only way for salvation and all men must believe in Christ and repent of their sins and confess that He is Lord in order to be saved. This is a work of the Holy Spirit. No other religion on earth can compare to Christianity and all other religions are false; they keep a person dead in their sins which makes them bound for hell. The only way to know Jesus is to read or be told about Him through Scriptures by evangelization. It is perfectly just that God punishes sin with death because that is what evil deserves. Human reasoning and emotional feelings are not self authoritative, especially because the heart is exceedingly wicked; only Scripture is authoritative. God’s standards are beyond our own. Contextualizing the gospel to fit a people’s false religion and culture gives heed to heresy and strengthens the spirit of the Antichrist in the world. If other religions were acceptable by God than Christ would have died in vain and missionary work would be a waste of time. Thanks be to God that there has been a way out of death and punishment in hell presented to the elect, and salvation has been given to us through the Bible which is the Word; Who is Christ Jesus our Lord. He is the One true and only Savior of mankind. Jesus Christ is God, and without Him a person cannot know God. It is by the grace of Jesus Christ alone that we are saved. Christ died for the ungodly. Romans 5:8 says, “[W]hile we were yet sinners Christ died for us!” We must consciously worship Him in all awareness.
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