4.04.2006

No Other Name By Which We Must Be Saved

Lately I have been speaking with a few people who lean toward the idea that anyone can go to Heaven as long as they are sincere in their beliefs and follow their religion with perseverance. If you are a "good Muslim" or a "good Hindu" or a "good Mormon", you might make it as long as you accept that Jesus was a Prophet. So, we should never tell people that their belief system is wrong or that they are going to Hell, but at the most we can tell them "Jesus loves you!" Today I compiled a list of Scriptures that speak directly on this issue and so I decided to post them here. Generally God's Word can speak for Itself:
Ephesians 4:14-15 “Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.” Matthew 7:20-21 “Therefore by their fruits you will know them. Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-22 “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not put out the Spirit's fire; do not treat prophecies with contempt. Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil.” Matthew 7:15 “Do not judge or you too will be judged. . . . Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but an evil tree bears evil fruit. 1 Timothy 4:1,2 The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. 1 John 2:22 “Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son.” Isaiah 9:6 “[Christ’s] name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Revelation 21:8 “But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur.” Psalm 32:1 “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man to whom the LORD shall not impute sin.” Hebrews 9:22 “Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sin.” 1 Peter 3:18 “For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.” Hebrews 9:11-15 “When Christ came as high priest of the good things that are already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not man-made, that is to say, not a part of this creation. He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption. The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God! Hebrews 10:19-22 “Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience.” John 3:3,14,15 “Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.’ … As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life."

Which side are you on?

In Him, David S. MacMillan III

10 comments:

David Ketter said...

AMEN!

Jendi said...

Funny that the first word I notice in you're new blog is Mormon...yeah Don't attend BYU unless you have a lot of strength...that's what I've learned.

P.S David...email me, there is so much for us to catch up on

winter_elf2004@yahoo.com

Amy said...

Your assumption that Mormons think Jesus was only a prophet is incorrect. Mormons believe that Jesus was the Savior of the world, and that by believing in Him, we may be saved.

I know, because my family is Mormon, and though I have several doctrinal disputes with my church, Jesus is not one of them. Mormons are Christians.

I'm sure you've been told this before, and that you just don't believe it, but I still felt the need to correct you.

Amy

David S. MacMillan III said...

Amy:

I am aware of most of the Mormon beliefs. I know that Mormons believe Christ was a god; I was just making a general statement about what these people believe.

God's Word says to test every spirit to see if it be of God, and it says for Christians to judge the truth or falsity of other teachings. So, I have a question for you about what your gospel teaches at the most fundamental level:

Let us say that I have a knife in my back. My blood is draining out and I have 5 minutes to live. 1 John says that I can know that I have eternal life. You tell me: How can I be sure that I will go to heaven in, let's see, 4 minutes and 48 seconds?

In Him,

David S. MacMillan III

Amy said...

Hmm, interesting question.

You can know you're going to heaven if you have faith in the power of Christ to save you, and have acted according to that faith.

Or, as my church states it:

"We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel."

This does not, however, mean that my church believes that only Mormons can go to heaven, as many people believe. We believe that this life is not the last chance to come to Christ. This is why we don't necessarily believe that people of other faiths or people who do not believe in God will not go to heaven: because this life is not the last step in the process.

I understand that this concept is very different from your concept of this life, but it does not change the Mormons' fundamental belief that salvation comes through Christ.

As a note, however: I am arguing on behalf of the religion I have grown up with because I want to clear up misconceptions about it, but I do not consider myself Mormon anymore. Right now I would consider myself "undecided".

Amy

David S. MacMillan III said...

Amy:

First, I would like to make it clear that my intention is not to win an argument. Rather, I want to follow God's commandments in seeing whether there is a disconnect between what LDS teaches and what God's Word says. With that point made, I will progress onward:

"We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel."

Whoa! Here we find a bit of a problem: ". . . by obedience to the law. . . ."

I am sorry to contradict you and your beliefs, but understand that it is not me; it is God. In Galatians 2, it says this:

"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."

Paul expressly tells us that the Law is not involved in the justification of sinners. We should strive to follow Christ's example; 1 Peter 1 and Leviticus 11 tell us to "be holy even as [God] is holy." But it is Christ alone that saves us, as evidenced by Ephesians 2:

"For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast."

Being saved happens through faith, a gift from God. What a person does has nothing to do with it.

It may seem like I am making a mountain out of a molehill. But Galatians says:

"But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed."

A gospel that says faith and works get us into heaven is undoubtedly a different gospel.

I have to go to bed now, but I will post more later. Thank you for being willing to dialogue!

In Him,

David S. MacMillan III

Amy said...

David:

Yes, I understand why you make that argument. But works and faith are intricately tied together:

James 2 says:

"What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, and one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?

Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.

Yea, a man may say, Thou has fait, and I have works; shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew they my faith by my works."

As we see, faith without works is empty. We can't just live separately from our faith. Believing isn't enough- we must believe enough to live by our beliefs.

This is actually not much different from your definition of faith and works. From what I understand, you believe that without works, a person never had the faith to begin with. My church believes this as well- and in addition, we believe that by doing the right things, we can develop the faith we need.

I think C.S. Lewis said something like that in one of his books:

"Poetry replaces grammar, Gospel replaces law, longing transforms obedience, as gradually as the tide lifts a grounded ship."

Faith without works is dead. Works can help us to develop faith. They are intertwined, but ultimately, faith is what saves us. We are not under the false impression that we can get to heaven just by being "good" people. Christ saves us.

At church, it is often explained this way: You need do all you can, but you will still be imperfect. If you have faith in Christ, He will make up the difference. That is how we reach heaven. It is impossible without Christ.

I'm sorry this is such a long comment. I wanted to be as clear in my answers as possible.

Amy

David S. MacMillan III said...

Amy,

"What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? . . . what doth it profit?

Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.

Yea, a man may say, Thou has faith, and I have works; shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew they my faith by my works."


As we see, faith without works is empty. We can't just live separately from our faith. Believing isn't enough- we must believe enough to live by our beliefs.


A few verses later, James explains further what he means:

Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. And the scripture was fulfilled that says, "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness," and he was called God's friend.

Abraham showed that he did believe God by his deed. But it was not his deed that gave him righteousness; it was the belief that he demonstrated.

Isaiah 64 is extremely clear on the subject of our "good works".

All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags ... Yet, O LORD, you are our Father.

It is not just non-Christians whose righteous acts are like filthy rags before God. Even His children's attempts to atone for their sin is filthy before God. "There is no one who seeks after God." -Romans 3:11

This is actually not much different from your definition of faith and works. From what I understand, you believe that without works, a person never had the faith to begin with.

In order to place your faith in the atoning power of Jesus Christ, you must surrender your life to the control of the Holy Spirit and allow Him to work through you. James tells us that if someone professes to be a Christian but does not have the fruit of the Holy Spirit, they are not of God.

But it is a terrible fallacy to declare that our works constitute our repentance and faith in Christ. Hebrews 6:1 commands us to lay aside the doctrine of repentance through works.

My church believes this as well-and in addition, we believe that by doing the right things, we can develop the faith we need.

Faith without works is dead. Works can help us to develop faith. They are intertwined, but ultimately, faith is what saves us. We are not under the false impression that we can get to heaven just by being "good" people. Christ saves us.

At church, it is often explained this way: You need do all you can, but you will still be imperfect. If you have faith in Christ, He will make up the difference. That is how we reach heaven. It is impossible without Christ.


I see your explanation. However, as I pointed out all our righteous acts are like filthy rags before God. Romans 7 says that "For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I [cannot do]."

Later in the same chapter Paul says:

I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.

Even though Paul was saved, he still said that his flesh could not do a single thing that was good. It was only the Holy Spirit working through him that could cause him to perform truly righteous deeds.

I will close with a section from Galations 2 and 3:

"If, while we seek to be justified in Christ, it becomes evident that we ourselves are sinners, does that mean that Christ promotes sin? Absolutely not! If I rebuild what I destroyed, I prove that I am a lawbreaker. For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!" Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard?"

Thank you for taking the time to read these scriptures, Amy. I want you to know the true way of salvation. God will not hold a person guiltless unless they rely fully on His grace through Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of their sins. "Without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin. . . .", so unless you have died and shed your blood for your sins, then your acts have no bearing on your position before God.

In Him,

David

Anonymous said...

David:

I know that you see a fundamental difference in the way we see faith and works, and I recognize that I have absolutely no way to convince you otherwise, because your mind is made up. All I can do is assure you that the concepts are indeed the same: they may be expressed differently, but it is the same Christianity.

We can argue wordings all day, but that doesn't change the fact that all of the Mormons I know, all of these people that you claim aren't Christians: my mother, my father, my grandparents, my friends and church leaders, have no way to Heaven without Christ, and they know it. We need Christ. That is what Christianity is about.

Amy

David S. MacMillan III said...

Hey Amy,

I am really enjoying this dialogue, but I want you to understand that my purpose is not to argue or to win an argument. I really am genuinely concerned for your soul and the souls of your loved ones.

I know that you see a fundamental difference in the way we see faith and works, and I recognize that I have absolutely no way to convince you otherwise, because your mind is made up. All I can do is assure you that the concepts are indeed the same: they may be expressed differently, but it is the same Christianity.

You said this:

You need do all you can, but you will still be imperfect. If you have faith in Christ, He will make up the difference. That is how we reach heaven. It is impossible without Christ.

But the Bible says this:

Christ, [who upholds] all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high. (Hebrews 1:3)

How can these two things agree? This is extremely important. The verses I listed in my post make it very clear that unless a particular teaching is in line with God's Word, it is a deception straight from the Devil. I don't want you to be deceived!

We can argue wordings all day,

It isn't about wordings. It's about Christ's sacrifice once and for all (1 Peter 3:18). It's like this:

Imagine that you were in a bank that was being held up by a terrorist. The terrorist hands you a gun with one round in the chamber and tells you that he will let everyone go free if you will shoot your only child in the head right then and there. If not, he will kill everyone there. You agonize over it, but you finally decide to shoot your child. As your only child slumps dead in your arms, the terrorist tells everyone "You are free to go." But instead of thanking you, the people walk out without looking back. One shrugs his shoulders and says "Thanks. You kinda helped. I probably could have gotten out myself anyway, but you did make it easier for me."

The Bible clearly indicates that if we have this attitude towards Christ's sacrifice, God sees us like you would see that man.

So I return to my original question to decide whether what you are saying really is the true gospel. I have 5 minutes to live. Let's say that I have been a murderer and a rapist all my life and have never done a single good thing. Is Christ's sacrifice sufficient to cover my sins and usher me into Heaven?