Salvation and Eternal Life Series:
Part 1: SALVATION IS GOD'S WILL UNTO MANKIND
This work of Making Disciples believes and preaches on God's salvation and His promised eternal life that He desires for all man to attain. However, we are not aligned with any of Christianity's teachings that all those who will be saved from God's judgment will automatically be rewarded with eternal life in the Kingdom of Heaven. We believe that although all who will call upon the Name of The Lord will be saved, only those from among them who observe The Lord's conditions and guarantees for eternal life will receive it.
GOD'S TEACHING ON SALVATION
(ISAIAH 49:6 NKJV unless otherwise noted)
6 Indeed He says,
‘It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant
To raise up the tribes of Jacob,
And to restore the preserved ones of Israel;
I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles,
That You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth.’”
In the prophetic words of the Prophet Isaiah, there is One whom God gave to become His salvation for the entire world. How can God’s salvation through His Servant cover the entire world? It is due to the fact that although His primary work is to restore the preserved ones of Israel He was also given as a light to the Gentiles, and as we know it, the Gentiles are the majority of the world.
Who could be this prophesied Servant of God? And how could the Gentiles also be saved through Him as their light also?
16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe. 8 He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. 9 That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. 11 He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. 12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name…
(JOHN 8:12 COMPLETE JEWISH BIBLE)
12 Yeshua spoke to them again: “I am the light of the world; whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light which gives life.”
The Apostle John testified that the One given to the world is none other than God’s only Begotten Son whose earthly name was Yeshua. He was the true light who gives the right to become children of God to those who believe in His name (Jn. 3:16 / 1:12), and gives the light of life to those who follow Him (Jn. 8:12).
THE NEED FOR SALVATION
Why do all men need salvation? From what do they need to be saved?
(ZEPHANIAH 1:2-3, 18)
2 “I will utterly consume everything
From the face of the land,”
Says the Lord;
3 “I will consume man and beast;
I will consume the birds of the heavens,
The fish of the sea,
And the stumbling blocks along with the wicked.
I will cut off man from the face of the land,”
Says the Lord…
18 Neither their silver nor their gold
Shall be able to deliver them
In the day of the Lord’s wrath;
But the whole land shall be devoured
By the fire of His jealousy,
For He will make speedy riddance
Of all those who dwell in the land.
The Almighty God already decreed an end to the world on the day of His wrath, otherwise known as the Day of Judgment (Mat. 12:36 / 2 Pet. 3:7). How did Apostle Peter summarize the events that would take place on the Day of Judgment?
(2 PETER 3:7, 10-12)
7 But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men…
10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. 11 Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, 12 looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat?
The fact that God sent His Son in order for man to have a chance to escape from the world’s judgment truly reflects His pure love and mercy unto mankind.
FALLACIES ON SALVATION
From the many variants of the Christian faith comes a wide variety of teachings concerning salvation. The most notable doctrines whose adherents, when added together, make up the majority of the almost 2 billion Christians are the four conflicting doctrines that we will first study below. It is important for us to study these teachings not to condemn anyone of their understanding but to give every believer a chance to align his understanding only on the precepts of The Savior when it comes to God’s mercy of salvation through Him.
I. PREDESTINATION DOCTRINE IN CALVINISM
What is the doctrine of Predestination?
Predestination is the doctrine that God alone chooses (elects) who is saved. He makes His choice independent of any quality or condition in sinful man. He does not look into a person and recognize something good nor does He look into the future to see who would choose Him. He elects people to salvation purely on the basis of His good pleasure. Those not elected are not saved. He does this because He is sovereign; that is, He has the absolute authority, right, and ability to do with His creation as He pleases. He has the right to elect some to salvation and let all the rest go their natural way: to hell. This is predestination.
The doctrine of Predestination, which started with John Calvin during the Reformation in the 16th Century, teaches that salvation is done solely by God’s personal discretion, and that man has nothing to do with it. That supposedly, this process does not credit any of man’s actions or lack thereof, that only those whom God personally chooses will be saved no matter how holy or wicked an individual could be. This doctrine could demotivate someone from doing what is good and honorable in the sight of God since doing such offers no meaning.
This teaching aim to discredit the purpose of God in sending His Son to become the Savior of the world (Isa. 49:6 / Jn. 3:16), if He is the only One involved in deciding who and how many or few He will save. Surely, He knows who and how many will be saved only because He knows everything even in the future as He is Omnipotent - not because of His sole decision to choose who will be saved.
To insist on the Predestination teaching surely goes against the mercy of The Savior reflected in His statement that whoever comes to Him will He surely receive and not cast out:
37 All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.
9 I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.
The Savior opened up His salvation unto everyone. Those who come and enter by Him will be saved and will not be cast out. This non-prejudicial outlook of The Christ Yeshua simply presents God's great desire to save as many as possible, while it exposes the falsity in Calvinism that salvation could only be had by specific people who were predetermined by God for salvation.
II. JUSTIFICATION BY FAITH ALONE (SOLA FIDE) AMONG PROTESTANTS
What is the doctrine known as Justification by Faith Alone?
Sola fide (Latin: by faith alone), also known as justification by faith alone, is a Christian theological doctrine commonly held to distinguish many Protestant churches from the Catholic Church, as well as the Eastern Orthodox Churches and Oriental Orthodox Churches.
This teaching is very close to the light of The Savior’s Gospel on salvation. However, there is just a need for us to correct a slight error in their understanding of ‘works’ in regards to one’s quest for salvation.
28 Then they said to Him, “What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?”
29 Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.”
According to The Savior, believing in Him as the One whom God sent (Isa. 49:6 / Jn. 3:16) is already working the work of God! For the adherents of SOLA FIDE or the doctrine on Justification by Faith Alone, they have to make a slight adjustment to their belief and acknowledge that believing in The Savior Yeshua is already an act or work which is necessary for one’s salvation.
What else needs to be understood by all who believe in this doctrinal discipline regarding salvation? The other works or acts required by The Savior in order for one to benefit from His salvation:
37 “Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 38 Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”
Here are a couple of other acts, deeds or works also required by The Savior and have a direct correlation with one’s salvation:
To not judge or condemn – Since man is judgmental by nature and culture, one actually needs to exert much effort to not fall into being judgmental. This has everything to do with one’s salvation simply because failing to guard one’s mind and heart could qualify one for God's judgement/condemnation.
To forgive – It is just as important as being non-judgmental in such that this is one guaranteed way for one to be forgiven of his/her sins. Failing to forgive means falling into being unforgiven, a status that prevents one from receiving God’s grace of salvation.
While having faith unto God's Son is critical for salvation (already counted as work of God), so is possessing a non-judgmental and forgiving outlook as these three are relevant 'works' that pose an adverse effect if not performed and whose absence could well render one's faith dead (Js. 2:14, 17, 20).
III. SALVATION BY MERIT BY CATHOLICS AND OTHER CULTS
The first two teachings on salvation are from two contrasting Protestant schools of thought. On the extreme opposite is the teaching of Catholicism which gives a good amount of emphasis on merit based on one’s work. It is for this same reason that being saintly or holy, as well as sainthood, is given a great importance as they are to be reflected by anyone in his quest for salvation. Further proof of Catholicism's belief on salvation by merit is their reliance on the different sacraments particularly that of Penance (which also includes confession to a priest), Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist, as well as their supposed ability to reduce the temporal punishment for sin after death through their systematic process called Indulgence. These sacraments and rites could very well qualify as the man-made teachings rendered worthless by The Savior (Mat. 15:9).
In this discussion, let us skip the Catholics’ sacraments and practice on indulgences as these topics would necessitate an entire article. Let us also understand that some of the legalistic Protestant churches and denominations share the same outlook on merit-based salvation.
What is Catholicism’s general view on salvation that also reflects the view of many other Christian (legalistic Protestant) groups:
"Are you saved?" asks the Fundamentalist. The Catholic should reply: "As the Bible says, I am already saved (Rom. 8:24, Eph. 2:5–8), but I’m also being saved (1 Cor. 1:18, 2 Cor. 2:15, Phil. 2:12), and I have the hope that I will be saved (Rom. 5:9–10, 1 Cor. 3:12–15). Like the apostle Paul I am working out my salvation in fear and trembling (Phil. 2:12), with hopeful confidence in the promises of Christ (Rom. 5:2, 2 Tim. 2:11–13)."
The main basis for the teaching that salvation is by merit or works that is shared both by the Catholic Churches as well as with many other Protestant denominations are the writings of Paul (the self-proclaimed apostle) that they cited above. However, how would this teaching fare when compared with the Gospel of The Savior?
36 And he who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit for eternal life, that both he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together. 37 For in this the saying is true: ‘One sows and another reaps.’ 38 I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored, and you have entered into their labors.”
This statement of The Savior rebukes the fallacy of the merit-based salvation doctrine of Catholicism as well as many other legalistic church groups. The works of holiness for salvation, that they base from the writings of Paul, does not hold water when compared with the Gospel of The Christ Yeshua. How can salvation and eternal life be based on merit when The Savior gave it for free without expecting any return? However, which is this work that is not required by The Savior? The works or actions from a legalistic viewpoint which is based on the old paradigm of obedience unto the many commandments. On the other hand, which is the works or actions that have great relevance toward salvation? The works of love that makes one non-judgmental, fair or righteous, and forgiving.
How else did The Christ Yeshua present this truth?
13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”
While many church groups promote the need to do pious and devotional acts that require one to sacrifice himself and his resources, The Savior’s teaching leans on the contrary. What should we learn from The Lord’s perspective? That all of man’s efforts and sacrifices amount to nothing as they are not desired by The Lord. On the other hand, what are the acts of mercy that He so desires? Once again, those are the acts of being forgiving, fair and non-judgmental as these deeds are manifestations of His love that is pure, the same love that He wants us to possess (Jn. 15:9-10).
IV. THROUGH CHURCH MEMBERSHIP BY CULTIST GROUPS
The last but certainly not the least in our most acknowledged fallacies about salvation is that which have been the cause of many divisions and strife among different church groups who are competing to grow their membership. This is the teaching that salvation can only be attained by becoming baptized members in their respective organization as theirs is supposedly the specific church that will be saved by The Savior. Some of the big church organizations that promote this cultist doctrine are the Catholic Church, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Iglesia ni Cristo (1914) and many other cults from around the world.
Common teachings among the churches that emphasize on the importance of church membership are the following:
The church or congregation of The Savior is an organized institution.
Their claim of having direct connection with The Savior either through a direct ascension of authority or being the restored church, as the case may be.
The supremacy of a God-appointed human leader who has the authority to enact and enforce regulations and to interpret the Scriptures.
Is the exclusivist teaching that points to one’s church as the sole way for people to attain salvation and eternal life in line with The Savior’s teachings? Of course, not. In fact, their claim to be the exclusive organization where one needs to belong is in direct contrast with the teaching of The Savior. How so?
5 Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
The Savior likened the true children of God - those who are truly born again as they are now born of the Spirit - to the wind. If so, then they are not an organization with human teachers as The Savior is their only teacher (Mat. 23:8-10). How did all the churches evolved into earthly organizations? They were made to believe and follow the erroneous teaching of Paul advocating the church to be a structured organization that sprouted from his faulty understanding of The Lord’s congregation to be His body on earth (Col. 1:18 / Rom. 12:4-5 / 1 Cor. 12:27 / Eph. 4:4).
The truth is, this exclusivist teaching run against God’s divine purpose in sending His Son to be the world’s Savior. What makes them fall into an erroneous understanding that people’s salvation and chance for eternal life is contingent on their membership of their particular church or organization? Their faulty understanding of the statement of The Christ concerning the Ekklesia that He promised to build in Matthew 16v18. Their understanding on this specific passage is based on Paul’s perspective. They should base their understanding of Matthew 16v18 on Apostle Peter’s testimony since he was the one present with The Savior in that scene – in fact, he was the one given the keys or understanding about it (Mat. 16:19). Base on Peter’s testimony, the Ekklesia that He promised to build is the Spiritual House (1 Pet. 2:5), the same Holy City or New Jerusalem that was seen by Apostle John in his vision (Rev. 21:2). This is, after all, the incorruptible and undefiled inheritance in heaven that is kept by God’s power (1 Pet 1:4-5), so that the gates of Hades (or simply the world’s darkness and corruption) will not prevail over it (Mat. 16:18).
How about their doctrine that it is through their church or organization that God put a direct line of authority through their leadership (e.g. Pope, Apostles, Executive Minister, etc), and that through this authority man can have a connection with God and His Son? To answer that we have to ask this question: How many intercessor does man need to be connected with God? Isn’t The Christ Yeshua not yet enough?
To be fair, let us find out from The Savior. Does anyone need anybody to connect him to God and His Son?
37 All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.
For one to be received by The Savior all he has to do is to come to him. He needs no one else’s help or approval in order to be received by Him. On the contrary, how deceitful is it as a teaching that specific human entities possess the authority of The Savior to bring people unto God?
42 But Jesus called them to Himself and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 43 Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant.
The sad truth is that The Savior forbade even the apostles to exercise authority over any other disciple. How could the movement of The Messiah become an organization when to simply exert authority is forbidden by Him?
We have just presented to you the most common doctrines that are prevalent in the Christian world. And as we have just proven, not one of them – may it be the predestination or faith alone or by merit of any work of holiness or by church membership – hold water when compared with the Gospel of salvation of The Savior Yeshua-Christos.