Subtitle: Your Chances Of Getting To Heaven Are As Good With One As The Other!

It is amazing how many emails I get which state that there are many ways to heaven and we must not be so bigoted about our beliefs. Just recently a "Christian" youth admonished me severely and ended his tirade with the vulgar "F-Y" phrase, indicating his disdain for my teaching which contradicts his views. Some of his college friends are adherents of various Eastern religions and his position is that they have just as good a shot at heaven as Christians or any other religion. And, because he views Christianity as being a religion, he is absolutely right--their chances are every bit as good as his!

Christianity is not a religion in the same sense that the term applies to all other systems of belief. True Christianity is a revelation from God attesting to the fact that He has chosen certain individuals for salvation (His elect) and will, without fail, save each and every one of them. The  Christian view of salvation is from God's perspective--it is something He does for His people.

Religions, on the other hand, set forth man's widely varying views and are nothing more than hot air--having no valid basis. The main distinguishing characteristic of a religion is a belief system whereby man strives for eternal life by reaching out to deity. They teach "do this" or "don't do that" in order to gain favor with their god, in the sincere hope that their good works will outweigh the bad on judgement day--thereby gaining them entrance into their version of heaven.

But this is in direct conflict with what the Bible teaches. Genuine Christianity stands absolutely alone in the respect that we have the Bible, the very Word of God, as our teacher and guide--a supernatural wonder that has been attacked by some of the greatest intellects this world has ever seen, but has not suffered a scratch! And in this precious Book, God assures His people that Jesus Christ has provided the only way to heaven by redeeming them with His blood. Religions teach "do," but Christianity counters with "DONE"! On the cross, just as Jesus was "giving up His spirit, He uttered the words, "It is finished". Now, this is a very bad translation, because what Jesus really said, in the Greek business language of the day, was, "The debt is fully paid". When a person of that era paid off a debt, this Greek word was stamped on his copy of his loan. Jesus fully paid the debt of sin on the cross, paying the debt with His precious blood.

In John 14:6 we have the Lord's definitive and authoratative statement concerning salvation:

"Jesus saith unto him, 'I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me' " (KJV).

I keep mentioning genuine Christianity in my articles, because of the tragic fact that millions claim the name but do not possess the credentials. "Christendom" is the catch-all term generally used to denote the inclusion of all who profess Jesus Christ and the necessity of the term itself exposes the reality that there are multitudes who have deviated from the Bible standard and tried to make a religion of Christ. A "Christian" religionist seeks salvation, but the truth of the matter is that he does not seek God! The Bible tells us in Romans 3:11 that no one seeks after God. So for an individual to be saved, God must come to them and do for them what they cannot possibly do for themselves. We must constantly bear in mind that the glaring difference between religion and genuine Christianity concerns this direction of emphasis: the "religious man" (including, but not limited to, false Christians) strives for his version of eternal life through something he does, but the genuine Christian receives eternal life from God through divine grace (unmerited favor) and does absolutely nothing except repent and believe!

It is at this exact doctrinal position where the vast majority of professed believers in Christ today have been mis-led into religion and away from the Lord.

The prevalent belief among the pious masses is that one may, through his own volition, repent of his sins and "accept" Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, thereby gaining salvation and eternal life. However, most evangelicals will hasten to add the caveat from John 6:44, which states that no man can come to the Lord unless God the Father "draws" him. In other words, this is taken to mean that it is only during the time when an individual is "under conviction of the Holy Spirit" that they can actually exercise their volition and come to a saving knowledge of Christ. This sounds reasonable and Scriptural, but is in reality a very subtle denial of the Sovereignty of God and proposes that man--of his own free will--can choose to save himself! This is religion, pure and simple and must be repudiated in spite of its popularity.

I am constantly fascinated by the way in which the Holy Spirit inspired the very words of Scripture, circumventing the sinful limitations of those who actually penned them. These Bible words are God's Words, just as surely as if He wrote them Himself, but they still reflect the intellect, education (or lack thereof), and personalities of the human authors. But to me, even more intriguing is the indisputable fact that they can be (and most definitely are) interpreted in different ways. Surely some of this is due to the nature of language itself, which is why lawyers take great pains to word legal documents in a manner which hopefully cannot be twisted or misinterpreted. But I believe that most of it is due to the fact that God allows man to "wrongly divide the word of truth"! Of course 2 Timothy 2:15 exhorts us to "rightly divide" it, so this in itself proves that it is possible to misinterpret it. Could not God have written His Word in such a way as to preclude any possible "wresting" of it? (2 Peter 3:16). Absolutely! God can do anything He wants to do and it is obvious that He chose to leave it open to man's depraved viewpoint. If you doubt this in the least, please take note of the still-burgeoning proliferation of doctrines and denominations within Christendom today!  Factions continue to pop up within factions and everybody is convinced that their way is the only way. I am of the opinion that over the long run more "ink" has been devoted to disputes over doctrine than there has been to promoting the gospel message itself. Much of my email consists of those who take exception to my doctrinal positions and are determined to straighten me out. And I think it fair to say that this is the experience of all  who dare to take a stand on Scriptural issues.

Now having stated the obvious, let me ask you a serious and hopefully thought-provoking question. If salvation is to be found through the exercise of one's free will--even with the stipulation of the Holy Spirit's convicting power--exactly what must be done? How is one to know precisely and without doubt what is necessary to lay hold of God's wonderful salvation? Now I know that all of you good evangelicals have your own well-worn answer to this and are completely convinced that you are right, but surely you recognize that others are equally convinced that you are completely wrong! And they will give Scripture after Scripture to back up their claims. So what are we to make of this? Common sense dictates that all cannot be right. Some are adamant that baptism is an integral part of salvation, while others insist that salvation can be lost through some sin. Still others maintain that one is not saved unless they have experienced a "second work of grace" and are baptized in the Holy Ghost, etc., etc. Everybody has their own slant on what is required, yet few seem to recognize or even admit to themselves that the Bible does not spell it out in a "legal" manner which precludes dispute! Do you not find that odd, especially since a person is supposed to be able to weigh the evidence and then exercise his free will--either to accept or reject Christ? Does it not make sense that if a person's eternal destiny is at stake based upon his understanding of the principles involved, salvation as a concept should be couched in terms so clear as to be unmistakable? Well, I hate to pop your bubble, but if we take a completely objective look at the matter (and  this is a hard thing to do for many because of their long-held "set-in-concrete" views), we will have to admit that the wording of the Bible allows for multiple interpretations of "the plan of salvation." And many times in the past, as I tried to share the old "Romans Road to Salvation" with people, I was forced to explain away contradictory views that many held. In most cases this usually involved their wanting to add baptism or other works because of various verses that, when isolated from the whole of Scripture, appear to teach these concepts. You see, doing something to obtain salvation is a guaranteed response from a depraved nature! It is almost beyond our comprehension that salvation is totally free and given by God to those whom He has chosen and there is absolutely nothing we can do to aid the process. NOTHING! The Bible plainly tells us over and over that salvation is a gift and our works do not contribute to it. (Eph.2:8-9)

The gospel message itself is so simple that a child can understand it, but the "plan of salvation" as proposed by most evangelicals today is wide open to dispute--and believe me, disputes abound on every hand! When the Philippian jailer in Acts 16:30 said to Paul and Silas, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?", they did not refer him to a tract entitled "The Simple Plan of Salvation"--containing several steps necessary for compliance. No, they merely told him that he would have to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. And while I am on the subject, have you ever noticed the incongruity of this narrative as it is usually interpreted? We have here a pagan jailer who has just come within a hair's breadth of killing himself because he thought the prisoner's had escaped. (Under Roman law, he would probably have been put to death for allowing them to escape even though an earthquake was to blame). But incredibly, when Paul calls out to stop him from committing suicide--this pagan immediately gets a light, enters the prison, and asks them what he must do to inherit eternal life! (Or so it is usually interpreted). Please note that the jailer does not even hear the gospel message preached until after he asks the question (vs.32). Verse 25 tells us that the prisoners heard Paul and Silas praying and singing during the night, but the jailer was apparently outside the prison in his own dwelling because his entire family was present (also mentioned in verse 32). Was his initial question referring to spiritual salvation or perhaps how to save his hide from retribution by the authorities? When we look at the facts in a logical manner, the latter is  possible. Paul, in fact, may have used the man's question as a springboard to discuss an entirely different kind of salvation. But in any case, the jailer heard the gospel and both he and his family believed. The sovereignty of God placed Paul and Silas in just the right place at the right time to round up some of His elect sheep.

So what are we to make of all this? Surely we all have to agree it is an undeniable fact that various factions have derived different plans of salvation from the same Bible! Three people can read the exact same passage and arrive at four different positions, it seems. How then can one be assured which plan is the correct plan? The plain, unvarnished truth is that it all comes down to a matter of opinion and denominational position--the conclusions of men relative to what they believe God has said in His Word ..... and the arguments continue, much to the delight of Satan. But the one point consistently overlooked is that all of the various plans of salvation detail what man must do. Remember what Paul told the Philippians jailer when he was asked, "What must I do to be saved?" The answer was believe on the Lord Jesus Christ! But wait a minute--how can a man dead in trespasses and sins (Eph.2:1), incapable of understanding spiritual matters (1 Cor.2:14), a slave of Satan (Eph.2:2), and one that will not seek God (Rom.3:11), exercise his "free will" and believe? Then to complicate matters even further, how can he be sure of what to believe--whether he is following the correct plan of salvation or not? I'm not trying to be cute here, because these are legitimate questions. If he must weigh all of the evidence and make up his mind to "accept" Christ as His personal Lord and Savior, which of the various plans must he follow? If he chooses the wrong one and does something extra, or fails to complete a certain step (like baptism)--is he still lost? Multiplied numbers of people still harbor doubts about these things, wondering if they have done all that is necessary to be saved.

Are you beginning to see what I am driving at here? All of this "do" business smacks of religion, does it not? The simple command from God is believe and is never stated as "accept" or "decide" in the Bible--never! Acts 13:48(b) states it very clearly: "...and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed." Remember that salvation is something God does for man, which man cannot possibly do for himself. And after all is said and done, God's elect individual believes that which has been done for him. The belief did not secure salvation--it was the result of salvation.

Only when we view the subject of salvation from a heavenly perspective and realize that it is a gift from a Sovereign God, totally irrespective of merit on the part of the recipient, can we understand why the "plan of salvation" is of human origin. The word "plan" itself tells us that steps are involved and must be followed to achieve the goal or purpose the plan intends. And, as we have already discussed, these steps--these instructions to "do"--after nearly 2000 years of Church history, are still hotly contested and debated among the various factions. But praise the Lord, the Scriptural truth of the matter is that He took the steps and fulfilled God's plan of salvation for us! For reasons known only unto Him, God the Father chose His elect ones "in Christ from before the foundation of the world" (Eph.1:4), and according to Romans 8:30, "....called....justified...and glorified..." them. Justification is the doctrinal term for salvation and is the judicial act whereby God declares His elect to be "just" in His sight. The justification of the elect preceded creation in eternity past and that which takes place in time--spiritual regeneration plus repentance and faith (also gifts of God)--results in belief on the part of the elect individual. And because God did the choosing (electing), the whole process is irresistable. That is, sooner or later, the elect individual (even though possibly resisting for a time) will believe because it is God's will that he do so. He has been chosen and he will be saved.

And speaking of "will be saved," we must get back to the subject of language again and take note of those passages of Scripture in which salvation is usually interpreted as being contingent upon our response. In other words, we must "do" something in order to be saved. For instance, in Romans 10:9 it says:

"Because if you acknowledge and confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and in your heart believe (adhere to, trust in and rely on the truth) that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved" (Parallel Bible, KJV/Amplified Bible Commentary).

Of course, this is typically taken today to mean that if you do these things, you will be saved as a result of having done them. But since salvation has a past, present, and future aspect, this statement is actually a statement of fact! If you acknowledge, confess, and believe--it is proof that you were saved in the past and will ultimately be saved in the future. You would not, and indeed could not, do so otherwise. See what I mean about duality of interpretation? Is the glass half empty or half full? It all depends upon how you look at it!

Are you resting in the completed work of Jesus Christ--a work that was done for you--or are you looking back to something you did to secure salvation?

If you have received Jesus Christ as your personal Savior and been born again, but have been very lukewarm in your spiritual walk with Him, you need to immediately ask Him for forgiveness and for renewal. He will instantly forgive you, and fill your heart with the joy of the Holy Spirit. Then, you need to begin a daily walk of prayer and personal Bible Study.

If you have never placed your trust in Jesus Christ as your Savior, but have come to sense His reality and the approaching End of the Age, and want to receive His FREE Gift of Eternal Life, you can do so now, in the privacy of your home. Once you truly believe in Him as Lord and Savior, you are spiritually Born Again, and are as assured of Heaven as if you were already there. Then, you can rest assured that the Kingdom of Antichrist will not touch you spiritually. If you would like to become Born Again, turn to our Salvation Page now.

We hope you have been blessed by this ministry, which seeks to educate and warn people, so that they can see the coming New World Order—Kingdom of Antichrist—in their daily news.

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Cutting Edge Ministries, C/O Pastor Ron Riffe
P.O. Box 26
Gordo, AL 35466

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God bless you.