SALVATION and THE PUBLIC INVITATION
By Dr. Max D. Younce, Pastor
HERITAGE BAPTIST BIBLE CHURCH
We must keep in mind that men may propose several methods concerning eternal life but God states there is only one way to Heaven. The bridge between earth and Heaven is the Lord Jesus Christ who is God's payment for the sins of the world. "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." -John 3:16
In I Timothy 2:5 we are told, "...there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus." God did not leave salvation to the discretion of man in making an offer to God for his sins. He, instead, offered His Son who, "...was wounded for our transgressions; he (Christ) was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him (Christ); and with his stripes we are healed" (Isaiah 53:5). Could it be any clearer than found in John 14:6, "Jesus saith unto him (Thomas), I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me (Christ)." "And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, even in his Son, Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life." 1st John 5:20
I would like to discuss three ways to Heaven. Two are proposed by man and one by God. Let us examine each according to the Bible and find out which way is the guarantee of eternal life.
Here are the three possibilities:
- Works alone, known as Legalism
- Faith and Works, a form of Galatianism
- Faith alone, God's Plan of Salvation
- WORKS ALONE, KNOWN AS LEGALISM
This group claims that salvation is by our good works alone without faith in Christ. That is, we just follow Christ's example and pattern our lives after Him. This is held to be the modern day liberals and modernists. When we say, "without faith in Christ" we do not mean they do not believe in Jesus Christ. They believe in Him as a good man and may even call him "Saviour" and "Redeemer," but they do not trust Him as God's complete payment for their sin. These will often quote James 2:19 to substantiate their position. We will quote this verse later with its explanation. Now let us see what the Bible says about going to Heaven on our own good works.
- What about the law? In Romans 3:19, 20 we are told, "Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin."
The law was given to shut the mouth of every person who claims to be justified by it, because no one has ever kept it in its entirety. James 2:10 makes that perfectly clear, "For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all."
- What about boasting? In Romans 3:28 we are told, "Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law." Romans 3:27 explains that one would only brag and boast of their own good works. "Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith."
- What about Abraham? Romans 4:1-5. In verse one we read, "What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found?" Pertaining to the flesh means, what had Abraham found concerning doing good works of the flesh. In Verse two we read, "For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God." This answers Verse one, that if Abraham wants to offer his good works to God to be justified, then go ahead, but do not give God the glory. Why? Because this excludes God as having any part in your justification as you have tried to justify yourself. If you have offered your good works to God for your justification, then go ahead and glory, but do not glory before God for you have excluded Him as having any part in
the salvation you think you have.
Now let us see what God has to say in Verse three concerning Abraham, or anyone, who seeks to justify themselves. "For what saith the Scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness." God gave him the righteousness he needed for eternal life because of his belief. What did he believe? Galatians 3:8 tells us, "And the scripture foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying in thee shall all nations be blessed." The Gospel according to I Corinthians 15:1-4 is the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. "... Moreover, Brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I have preached unto you ... how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures: and that he (Christ) was buried, and that he arose again the third day according to the scriptures."
In Genesis 15:5, 6, God promised Abraham he would have a child and his seed would multiply even to the number of the stars in heaven. Remember, this would have to be a supernatural birth because both Sarah and Abraham were past the years of fertility and sexually impotent to have a child naturally. Abraham believed God's promise of a supernatural birth concerning his son. Isaac was born when Abraham was 100 and Sarah was 90 (Hebrews 11:11 and Genesis 21:5). After Isaac was born, the boy grew and God tested Abraham by asking him to offer Isaac, by death, as a burnt offering (Genesis 22). Abraham obeyed God, believing He would raise him from the dead. Isaac was a figure of Christ by his supernatural birth and resurrection. Isaac was considered dead and resurrected in the eyes and mind of Abraham. This is the gospel Abraham believed, the supernatural birth and resurrection of Isaac, a figure pointing to the future death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. Hebrews 11:17-19 says, "By faith Abraham, when he was tired, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son. Of whom it is said, that in Isaac shall thy seed be called: Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure (of Christ)." Again, Romans 4:3, "For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God and it was counted unto him for righteousness."
In Verse 4 we read, "Now to him (Abraham or anyone) that worketh is the reward (God's righteousness and eternal life) not reckoned of grace, but of debt." In other words, if God would grant us eternal life for our good works, it would be because of a debt he owed us, and not because of His grace and mercy. God owes us nothing, but rather, we owe Him everything. He will not accept any works on our part until we first accept the gift of His righteousness, eternal life by simple faith in Christ.
In verse 5 we read, "But to him that worketh not but believeth on Him (Christ) that justifieth the ungodly (you and I), his faith is counted for righteousness."
- What about the Devil? In James 2:19 we read, "Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils (demons) also believe, and tremble." The word "devils" should be translated demons, for there is only one devil but many demons. The reasoning of the legalist is simple: if the demons believe the same as we do, then they should be saved also. In support of a works salvation, it is also pointed out that the word "believe" in James 2:19 comes from the same Greek word as "believe" in John 3:16 which states, "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him, should not perish but have everlasting life." Now, if the demons believe and tremble, we must have to do more than just believe for they believe, but all their thoughts and works are bad. We must have good works to be saved is the claim of the modernists and liberals.
How does a child of God answer such a claim?
There is no question that the demons also believe that Jesus died for the sin of the world exactly as we do. The question...WHEN DID THEY BELIEVE? A boy in school may think he can whip another boy smaller than he. Finally, they get into a fight and the bigger boy gets beaten up. If you were to ask the bigger boy now if he believes the smaller boy can whip him, he will tell you, "Yes." The point is, he didn't believe it before the fight, but he sure does now. He is a believer now, but only after he lost the fight.
The demons are those angels that followed Lucifer when he said in his heart, "I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God, I will sit also upon the mount of congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds: I will be like the most high" (Isaiah 14:13, 14). Now in verse 15 God says, "Yet thou shalt be brought down to Hell, to the sides of the pit." In Matthew 25:41 we are told that God created the everlasting fire for the devil and his angels (now demons). "Then shall he say unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels." Their sentence is already passed, do they believe it? Absolutely! Remember, some of the most wicked demons are chained in place called "Tartarus" awaiting their final destiny in everlasting fire ( 2nd Peter 2:4 and Jude 6). The demons that are not chained know this and believe. They also believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God (Mark 5)...but they believed too late. They should have joined the angels that believed and followed God instead of following the Devil. You see, they believe now because they have seen God's judgment but now it is too late.
A good example of this is given in Luke 16, where a rich man who was an unbeliever died. Upon entering torment, he changed his mind and began believing. Let's read the record in Luke 16:22-24, "...the rich man also died, and was buried; And in Hell (Hades), he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off...And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue, for I am tormented in this flame." Now notice in Verses 27 and 28, "Then he (rich man) said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father's house: for I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment."
The rich man who was lost, believed, but he believed too late. His destiny was already begun. The demons believe but they have believed too late, their judgment has already been pronounced.
Do not wait until it is too late (death). Here is God's warning in 2nd Corinthians 6:12, "Behold now is the accepted time; behold now is the day of salvation," because tomorrow may never come. One will not be in torment one second until they believe, but they will have believed too late. Yes, the demons also believe, and no wonder they tremble, looking only to the sure judgment of everlasting fire, because they believed too late. "...Now is the accepted time..."
- What about becoming a child of God? The following is a bit confusing but, nevertheless, held to by most legalists and modernists. They claim the Fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man. That is, that God is the Father of everyone and everyone is a brother to everyone else. This is one of the most damnable doctrines set forth and one of the most confusing for it is contradictory to itself. It is said that one has to have good works to go to Heaven...then how can God be your Father unless you have good works? On the other hand, if He is already the Father of everyone, why have good works? or faith? Because we are all going to Heaven anyway. This is the social gospel, a deadly snare to all who have put their confidence in man's theology instead of the teaching of God's Word. (Psalm 118:8)
Let us turn to the Word of God where this philosophy is exposed as the wisdom of the world (1st Corinthians 1:18, 21; Proverb 14:12). "For the preaching of the cross (Christ died for our sins) is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God ... For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe." "There is way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death."
The natural man's reasoning in saying God is the Father of all denies God's judgment and exalts one's own righteousness. Instead of being a child of God, the Bible says we "were the children of wrath." In Ephesians 2:3 we read "...we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh and of the mind, and were by nature the children of wrath." If we were at some time the children of wrath, it is clear we have not always been the children of God.
John 1:12 clearly reveals how we become a child of God. "But as many as received him (Christ), to them gave he (God) power to become the children of God, even to them that believe on his name." If everyone is already a child of God, then who is left to "become the children of God?"
As a child is physically born into a family, so is the child of God spiritually born into God's family when he, or she, receives Christ as their personal Saviour. This is what John 3:3 is speaking about. "Except a man be born again (literally "from above") he cannot see the kingdom of God." He must be born of the water and of the Spirit. The word "water" here is not referring to water baptism but the Word of God. When all believers are spoken of collectively as His church, the Word of God is referred to as cleansing water. Notice in Ephesians 4:25, 26, "...as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word." When God speaks of believers individually, He uses the same terminology applying to cleansing and washing as that accomplished by His Word. In John 15:3 we are told, "Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken to you."
Upon acceptance of Christ as our sin-bearer, we are cleansed (or..."clean through the Word") eternally from making that payment ourselves in Hell. Simultaneously upon belief in Christ, God indwells each believer with the Holy Spirit as His down payment or assurance of our inheritance in Heaven. It could be no clearer than set forth in Ephesians 1:13, 14, "...in whom after that ye believed, Ye were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise. Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory." We are born into God's family as a child by believing His Word concerning Christ, therefore, being clean through the Word.
- What about Cornelius? Cornelius was a Gentile who would be acclaimed by the liberals and modernists today as a true Christian, accepted of God. Acts 10:1,2 describes him. "There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band, A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway." Here was a man who was very sincere and prayed to God always, but was still lost and on his way to Hell. He did not know that the Messiah had been here and risen again and only faith in Him would save. One thing about Cornelius...he would accept the truth of God's word in lieu of his own ideas of reaching God. God, knowing this, arranged for Cornelius to hear the truth so he would be saved. God instructed him to send to Joppa for a man named Simon Peter, which he did. When Peter arrived in Caesarea, Cornelius told him "Now therefore are we all here present before God, to hear all things that are commanded thee of God" (33b). Peter then told him about Jesus Christ, the cross and His resurrection. In Verse 43 we read, "To him (Christ) gave all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins." As soon as Cornelius heard the truth that trusting in Christ granted remission of sins, he believed and was indwelt with the Holy Spirit, the evidence of his eternal life. The record is in Verse 44, "While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Spirit fell on all them which heard the word." Those with Cornelius also believed and were saved.
Notice that Cornelius did not try to justify himself by telling Peter of all the good works he had done, or of the money he had given, or the prayers he had prayed. He did not try to argue or twist the words. He had heard the truth so he believed. How unlike the modernists today who try to exterminate God's grace and exalt their own righteousness to justify themselves.
There are many today just like Cornelius. They are religious, they pray, give money to the poor, are of good character, but are still lost. Maybe you are one like Cornelius. You try to live the best that you can, you are honest, you would not hurt anyone purposely...and these things are good. In fact, the world would be a better place to live if these characteristics were prominent in more people. But these qualities in a person will never keep him from eternal damnation. The wages of one single, solitary sin...not sins...but sin, singular, qualifies us for eternal condemnation. Romans 6:23 concludes that "The wages of sin (singular, just one) is death..." That is the reason no one has ever been able to qualify himself for eternal life. Since no one could ever qualify...the only way anyone could have eternal life would be if it were offered as a free gift. This is exactly what God says, "For the wages of sin is death, BUT the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."
When Peter returned to Jerusalem, the Jews questioned him about associating with the Gentiles (Cornelius and his friends) at Caesarea. Peter reiterated what had taken place. Peter tells them what Cornelius told him upon entering his house. The record in Acts 11:13,14 is, "And he (Cornelius) showed us how he had seen an angel in his house, which stood and said unto him, Send men to Joppa and call for Simon, whose surname is Peter, who shall tell thee words whereby thou and all thy house shall be saves."
God made sure Cornelius heard the truth by sending Peter with His Word. Maybe God has sent His Word via this article for you.. and like Cornelius, you can see truth and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ that thou might be saved. Cornelius believed immediately when he heard God's Word. "Behold now is the accepted time, behold now is the day of salvation." Why? Tomorrow you may not be here. Will you right now trust Jesus Christ as your Saviour before it is too late?
- What about you and I? Are you trusting a man-made religion with its poisonous ingredients of a false philosophy, social acceptance, a distorted God, a deleted Bible, and corrupt theology. This all encompasses a works righteousness by self-reformation. You and I have a choice to make. Will we believe man's theories and ideologies or God's infallible Word which liveth and abideth forever?
Following are a few contrasts between man's religion and God's Word...
In Proverbs 14:12 and 16:25 the Word of God lets us know that "There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death." If we say we believe the Bible, then let us simply listen to God and trust what He said concerning eternal life. Then, and only then, can we have full assurance of our eternal destiny.
Let me illustrate: If you went out to buy a home and paid the owner his asking price, you would then have a right to possess that home. On the other hand, you have looked at a home that you wanted to buy, but found that it was not for sale. Then you inquired and were told by the owner that under no circumstances or for any amount of money could the home be purchased. The owner advised you he was going to give the home, free and without charge, to his children simply because he loved them. In Heaven (God's house), there are many mansions but none are for sale. God owns Heaven and He has a right to do with it as He sees fit. You cannot buy your right to go and live there with money or good works. By receiving God's payment for our sins, the Lord Jesus Christ, He then freely gives us our home in Heaven. When we receive Christ as Saviour we become His children (John 1:12). God will not sell his children a home in Heaven but He will give it to them absolutely free, simply because He loves us that much.
The fact we cannot redeem ourselves, our relatives, or friends with money paid to a priest, church, or any religious organization is clearly stated in Psalms 49:6,7 "They that trust in their riches; none of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him."
When we get to haven, it will only be by God's grace. Ephesians 2:8,9 states "For by grace are ye saved (from Hell) through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, least any man should boast."
In John 10:1 we are told "Verily, verily I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door (Christ), into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief or a robber." Why would one be a thief or a robber? Because eternal life is not for sale with money or good works. It is an obtainment, a free gift through faith in Jesus Christ, and never an attainment by good works of our own.
Next | Table of Contents
Dr. Max D. Younce, Pastor
HERITAGE BAPTIST BIBLE CHURCH
P.O. Box 573
Walnut Grove, MN 56180
Telephone (507) 859-2519
Am I Going to Heaven?
Books by Dr. Max D. Younce
100 Bible Questions and Answers