As I watched Pirates of the Caribbean with my hubby for the umpteenth time, I heard Jack Sparrow utter the words that hearts have echoed thoughout the history of man.
“On the off chance that things do not fair well for me, I would like it noted, here and now, that I am fully prepared to believe in whatever I must. So that I may be welcomed into that place where all the goodie goodies get to go. Savvy?”
It’s the way many think. I know it’s exactly what I thought.
Good people go to heaven and bad people don’t. So if I somehow squeezed more good deeds into my days than bad deeds then perhaps my good deeds would tip the scale and God would let me in.
- But what does God say about salvation?
- What does He say it takes to go to heaven and spend eternity with Him?
- Do denominations sometimes infuse grace with works and cloud the simplicity of salvation?
- Do we just have to believe or are we required to do something to obtain and maintain salvation?
I’m not sure where you are or what you’re going through, but don’t you want to be sure about where you will spend eternity?
Out of all the Controversial Christianity topics we will discuss over the next few weeks, this one is absolutely THE MOST IMPORTANT! Our eternity depends upon it!
Today, as we deal with the most important question of our lives, we will expose extra-biblical beliefs as well as skewed views derived from not reading Scripture in context?
BELIEF: Many gods. Many ways. All make it if they just believe.
- “You shall have no other gods before Me.” Exodus 20:3
- “(for you shall worship no other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God)” Exodus 34:14
- “Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel, And his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts: ‘I am the First and I am the Last; Besides Me there is no God.'” Isaiah 44:6
- “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12
- “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” John 14:6
Summed up: In our society’s attempts to be tolerant of every person’s belief it has clouded the truth that there is only ONE GOD and ONE WAY to heaven. Others may choose to believe as they wish but God’s Word tells us that there are not many gods or many ways. Only through Jesus can we be saved.
Belief: If I’m a good person, my good deeds will outweigh my bad deeds and I’ll make the cut and be able to enter the Pearly Gates.
- “But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.” Isaiah 64:6
- “They have all turned aside, They have together become corrupt; There is none who doesgood, No, not one.” Psalm 14:3
- “Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.” Romans 3:20
- “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find.” Romans 7:18
- “knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.” Galatians 2:16
- “I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.” Galatians 2:21
Summed up: Heaven cannot be obtained by our own goodness. We can try to be good people, keep the golden rule… even keep the 10 Commandments, but because of the fall of man, we are sinners by nature and choice. It is our sin nature that keeps us from heaven. Even our best deed drips with pride and wreaks of self. So, there is no way that sinful man can ever be good enough to go to heaven.
If we could make to heaven, then the Bible says that Christ died in vain. Think about it. Why would Jesus have gone to the cross if we could be good enough?
BELIEF: To become a Christian you must do certain religious acts or deeds or once you become a Christian you have to work really hard to stay saved.
- “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.” Ephesians2:8-9
- “This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?3 Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?” Galatians 3:2-3
- “that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him.13 For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Romans 10:9-13
- “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” Romans 8:1
- “But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.” Romans 8:9
- “If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself.” 2 Timothy 2:13
- “I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.” Luke 13:3,5
Summed Up: Salvation does NOT come through any other means but through faith. That excludes everything short of faith and repentance (which are really 2 sides of the same coin because one necessitates the other). And the beautiful thing is that the faith that is necessary for salvation is given to us by God. To have faith means we surrender to, cling to and rely upon what Jesus did on the cross for us as complete payment for our sins. That sincere faith is demonstrated by turning from sin and self and turning to God through Christ for salvation.
Salvation. We can not earn it. We can not keep it. It is something we must receive by biblically defined faith in the finished work of Christ and when we do, He births us into His family (John 3:3), He also adopts us into His family (Romans 8:14-17) and He promises that He will never cast us out (John 6:37) and that nothing can separate us from His love (Romans 8:31-39) and that He will finish what He begins in us (Phil 1:6).
He came because He loves us.
He came to take the punishment that you and I deserve because of the sinners we are and the sins we’ve committed against a holy and a righteous God.
He came to redeem us and deliver us.
He came to set us free to serve Him in righteousness.
He came to save us.
Head belief doesn’t change our hearts, our lives or our eternal destinies. Many people think they are okay because they’ve ‘believed in God all their lives’ yet their lives don’t reflect the change that 2 Corinthians 5:17 says takes place when the Holy Spirit of God quickens the dead human spirit of all who are truly born again.
Today, sweet friend, I’m sharing this with you because I love you and I desperately want you to know that…
- Just believing in God is not enough
- Growing up in church is not enough
- Being a certain denomination is not enough
- Being baptized is not enough
- Going to church is not enough
- Being a good person is not enough
- Being tolerant of everyone else is not enough
- Reading your Bible and praying is not enough
- Giving time or money is not enough
- Taking the Lord’s Supper is not enough
Jack Sparrow asked the question that hearts have been asking from the dawn of man, but the Bible clearly states that all who go to heaven, must be born again.
There are no escape clauses. God does not show partiality. Jesus didn’t go to the cross because He thought it was a good idea. He suffered an excruciating death so we could live eternal life with Him.
It may be controversial to limit salvation’s door to only one way… but Jesus is truly the only way… and we must be born again.
God’s love for us is a relentless. He doesn’t leave us hopeless and helpless. He doesn’t require that we become good before we come to Him, He only requires that we trust His love for us and what He did through the cross of Christ and that we place our hearts and lives in His loving hands as He makes a new creation in Christ.
So, do good people go to heaven? Absolutely not. But those who realize they aren’t good enough and are willing to trust their eternity tp the only One who ever was…those are the ones who go to heaven.
So, are you a Christian? Really?
What have you been taught about salvation? Do you or have you ever thought that good people or religious people get to go to heaven because they’re good? Do you have any questions about what the Bible says about salvation or do you want to know more about how to become a Christian?