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In a previous post, I talked about judgement. I explained that only God can judge, and man cannot. Today, I would like to look at a few Bible passages that delve into this topic even further.
How many times have you heard someone claim that only their religion is going to heaven? How many times have you heard someone say that an entire class of people are going to hell? I don’t know about you, but I’ve heard it quite a bit. There are many different religions/groups that actually believe that their way is the only way to heaven. But there are passages in the Bible that refute this line of thinking. Let’s look at a few:
“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.” John 10:14-16
Let’s look at that again:
“I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also.”
It should be clear from that statement that those who are saved ARE NOT only from one religion or any one specific group of people. Let’s look at another passage:
“He did not say this on his own, but as high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation, and not only for that nation but also for the scattered children of God, to bring them together and make them one.” John 11:51-52
As you can see in that verse, the children of God are “scattered”. It says in this passage that Jesus would die “not only for that nation”.
Do you need more proof? Here’s more:
“To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths, who choose what pleases me and hold fast to my covenant—to them I will give within my temple and its walls a memorial and a name better than sons and daughters…” Isaiah 56:4-5
“And foreigners who bind themselves to the Lord to minister to him, to love the name of the Lord, and to be his servants, all who keep the Sabbath without desecrating it and who hold fast to my covenant—these I will bring to my holy mountain and give them joy in my house of prayer.” Isaiah 56:6-7
“I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness. I will bring them out from the nations and gather them from the countries, and I will bring them into their own land.” Ezekiel 34:12-13
We have to remember that God is love. His love knows no bounds. He knows our hearts and souls, and no human being can claim to have that ability. No human being can possibly know even a tiny amount of what God knows. Anyone, including well-known preachers, cannot determine which human beings are going to heaven or hell. If a preacher does this, he/she is trying to play God, and that is sacrilege. This is why the statement “Do not judge lest ye be judged” is in the Bible. It is a stark reminder that only God knows all and ONLY HE can make the judgement as to whether or not someone is saved.
It’s not about race, denomination, or any other belief system….it’s about what is in your heart and soul, and your actions reflect what is truly in your heart. In short, any person in any race, religion or any other belief system has an opportunity to enter heaven. EVERYONE is a creation of God, and it’s up to each of us to choose. It’s up to us to listen to the good shepherd.
“The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.” John 10:3-5
This question is certainly a hot topic of debate. After writing my previous post on this same topic, I was contacted by a friend of mine who didn’t agree that our salvation can be lost. She talked with her pastor about this issue since my post made her think a little more about this subject. His explanation was good. He said that if someone turns against God after becoming a Christian, they were never Christian. There is truth to this statement. According to 1 John 2:19:
“They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.”
I am glad that my friend enlightened me in this way. That makes a little more sense to me. However, I was still troubled by a few things.
First of all, God gave us free will. If, once we are saved, we are always saved, then doesn’t that take away our free will? Also, the way that some preachers are passing on the message of “once saved, always saved” sounds to me like they are saying that sin isn’t a factor since our works have nothing to do with our salvation. I do know of people who truly believe that you don’t have to do anything except to say “Jesus is my Savior”. They truly believe that they can lie, steal, cheat, or do whatever they want, but as long as they say “Jesus is my Savior”, they are guaranteed salvation because salvation is a gift, and our works have nothing to do with it.
Don’t get me wrong – I fully believe that our salvation is a gift and that Jesus died on the cross to save us. There is no doubt in my mind. What I worry about is that people are getting an incomplete and twisted message. I believe the error occurs when one or two passages in the Bible are the main focus, and the rest of the Bible is ignored. Let me explain further.
There are many passages in the Bible that point to the fact that you can turn away from God and possibly lose your salvation. First and foremost is a passage that I referred to in my last post:
“If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning.” 2 Peter 2: 20
Peter also refers to Proverbs in making his point:
“Of them the proverbs are true: ‘A dog returns to its vomit’ and ‘A sow that is washed goes back to her wallowing in the mud.’ 2 Peter 2:22
As per the book of Hebrews:
“It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift….if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subecting him to public disgrace.” Hebrews 6:4-6
“We have come to share in Christ IF we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first.” Hebrews 3:14
“See that no one is…godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son. Afterward, as you know, when he wanted to inherit this blessing, he was rejected.” Hebrews 12:16-17
As per the book of Timothy:
“If we endure, we will also reign with him. If we disown him, he will also disown us.” 2 Timothy 2:12
From 1 John 2:
“See that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. IF IT DOES, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father.” 1 John 2:24
But the one that stands out most to me is from 2 John:
“Watch out that you do not lose what you have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully. Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.” 2 John 8-9.
As far as the teaching of current pastors regarding the fact that our actions (works) have nothing to do with our salvation, the most important passage comes from James:
“What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds?” James 2:14
“You see that a person is justified by what he does and not be faith alone.” James 2:24
“As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.” James 2:26
There are also many different places in the Bible where Jesus Himself states that if we love Him, we will obey His commands. One such verse can be found in the gospel of John:
“Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me.” John 14:21
Another one can be found in 1 John 3:
“Those who obey His command live in Him, and He in them.” 1 John 3:24
Now, regarding the idea that people can just say “Jesus is my Savior” and still lie, steal, cheat, etc., the Bible specifically warns against this behavior. In fact, the warning are stern:
“And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of His coming. The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.” 2 Thessolonians 2:8-10.
“Who is the liar? It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a man is the antichrist – he denies the Father and the Son.” 1 John 2:22
So, here is my opinion on this subject. Based on the above scripture, I believe that if you are a true Christian and endure to the end, staying true to God’s Word, you cannot lose your salvation. As it says in John 10:28, “no one can snatch them out of my hand.”
Is it possible to be a true Christian and then turn away from God? Yes, I believe it is possible based on the above scripture. If it wasn’t possible, why would there be so many warnings? Remember, Judas was once an apostle but then later betrayed Jesus. Is that because he was never a true Christian? Was it because he was Christian and then turned his back on God? We will never know as only God knows what is truly in someone’s heart and soul.
As far as being a true Christian, I believe that actions will show what it truly in someone’s heart. I do not believe that you can say the words “Jesus is my Savior” and you are guaranteed to enter heaven while continuing to live in sin. I believe that you have to truly give your life over to God, truly believe in your heart that Jesus died for us, and live by His commandments. I think that so many people want to believe that actions don’t matter because it’s easier that way. I also believe that people are being led astray by focusing on one, two or three verses in the Bible. If you truly want to learn the teachings of God, you must read and accept all of it, not just some of it. The Bible can easily be twisted into what you want it to say if you only focus on a few verses. I challenge all who read this post to open up a Bible and read it – not just the gospels, not just the New Testament. Read all of it. Only then will you have the true knowledge of what it takes to be a true Christian.
And that’s my opinion 🙂
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, Copyright©1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House, All rights reserved.
About 8 years ago, I was blessed to be part of a group in Texas who went out and fed the homeless. Over the months that I was involved with this church group, we helped many people who were on the streets – alcoholics, drug addicts, those with mental disorders, and those who were just plain down on their luck. Although we were sad about their living conditions, it was such a rewarding experience to know that we helped these people in our own small way. I remember looking at them and wondering what horrible thing happened in their life that put them in such a terrible position. I usually prayed for them on the way back to the church.
One day as we were handing out food, an older man came up to us carrying a bunch of palm branches. We asked him what he needed, and he said “Nothing. I just wanted to share something with you.” His tattered clothing and unshaven face made it clear that he was indeed homeless. He went on to say that he felt God had called him to take palm branches and twist them into crosses to give to others as a sign of hope. He then took his branches and twisted them into the shape of a cross – a beautiful one at that. He made a cross for each of us, and we thanked him for such a wonderful gift. He was a very sweet man, very quiet and polite. After he was done, he made sure to thank us for coming down and helping the homeless. He then turned and walked away without taking and food or drink from our truck. I kept that cross for several months until it dried out and started to crumble. I didn’t want to let it go because the whole experience had such a major impact on me.
About 3 years ago, my ex-husband and I went out to eat at a steakhouse in Washington, D.C. As we walked down the street in the city, a homeless man suddenly approached us and told us we looked like newlyweds. We thanked him and told him we had been married 20 years. He smiled and said “Well, you look like newlyweds. You are definitely meant for each other.” Again, this homeless man did not ask for a thing from us. We thanked him and continued on our way. Little did I know that would be the last meal that I would enjoy with my ex-husband. About a week later, I found out that he had been having an affair.
So, was that homeless man in Texas, who didn’t ask for any help from us, really an angel among us who was thanking us for helping out those who are less fortunate? Did he give us those crosses as a way to show us that God sees our good works? What about the man in Washington? Was that an angel who was trying to send a message to my ex-husband? Was this a divine way to let him know that what he was doing was wrong? I believe both of these were in fact angels among the homeless. I believe that things like this happen all the time, but we are too busy to notice. A lesson that I have learned from these two experiences are that we should never, ever judge others. We never know who and where we will experience divine intervention.
“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you.” Luke 6:37
“The Samaritan woman said to him, ‘You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?’ (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans). Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” John 4:9-10