The purpose of the "Salvation vs." series is to provide comprehensive, if not exhaustive Biblical evidence against the false doctrines common to many nominal Christian sects and to show how they contradict the salvation message as recorded in the Scriptures.
Part 1: Salvation vs. False SalvationPeople often hold to ideas that they have grown accustomed to or are invested in. It can be comforting to seek to reinforce ideas we have become attached to and it is because of such things that we can end up deceiving ourselves or allowing others to deceive us. To be able to think freely we must be willing to slaughter our sacred cows instead of clinging to what is familiar or "safe". This does not mean to openly dissent of differing ideas or to go off and form a new religion, but to make your choice about which system to follow without relying upon what is familiar, but on what is truthful and factually reliant upon the Scriptures.
When discussing whether the Trinity, hellfire, the immortality of the soul, or any other significant doctrine is true or not, the most important question is “Why does it matter?” It matters on account of a fundamental difference in the salvation message. Could a map of fire exits help anyone escape if all the exits shown on the map are in the wrong place or blocked? (Matthew 23:13 [par|int]; see the main header How is it accomplished? in Part 4 of this Introduction.) Likewise, it is important that the map to salvation points us in the right direction in order to receive what it promises. If the map belongs to a completely different system altogether, there is no way it can save you. (Matthew 7:13, 14 [par|int]) Simply being "good" is not enough to achieve salvation. (Matthew 7:21-23 [par|int]; Luke 6:46 [par|int])
Of course, that is not to say that every doctrine affects salvation. However, what path you walk to achieve salvation will affect the system of doctrines surrounding it, so once you have determined that one is the most scriptural, you then are under obligation to accept the whole system of doctrines surrounding it even if you disagree with something. (1 Corinhians 1:10 [par|int]; 1 John 4:2-6 [par|int]) Otherwise, if you cannot trust the system of doctrines around it, which were achieved and understood by the same means, then it means you are not actually trusting in the salvation message provided by that system.
However, mistrust does not always mean that you are following the wrong system, but may simply be that your own logic may be flawed or that your faith has yet to be founded. Those who are the source of the accurate salvation message, and are humble enough to make corrections, can likely be wholly trusted in all other things, even if they are occasionally wrong about something. (Philippians 3:12-16 [par|int]) Being wrong about a non-salvation-related doctrine does not necessitate that they are wrong about all things. No human can have perfect knowledge. (1 Corinhians 8:1-3 [par|int])
On the other hand, those who are the source of a false salvation message, or who are disobedient to the truth, should not be trusted to provide a system of other doctrines, even if they're right about something. (Matthew 7:21-23 [par|int]; Luke 6:43-46 [par|int]; Titus 1:16 [par|int]) Being right about one salvation-related doctrine does not necessitate that they are right about all things. But certainly if they are wrong about a fundamental doctrine affecting salvation, then they cannot be trusted in anything else. (2 Timothy 2:18, 19 [par|int])
The truth is simple. That is why the wise men are not allowed to understand it because they keep trying to make it complicated. If you keep viewing things exestentially, metaphysically, and doxologically, you're going to miss out on the truth that is right in front of you. So forget all this existenial mumbo jumbo and treat it as if a child could understand it, because they can. (Matthew 11:25 [par|int]; 21:15, 16 [par|int]
The Courage to Accept TruthThe part that can be terrifying is that identifying which one is right is up to each one of us and to God who calls us. (Romans 3:11 [par|int]; Philippians 2:12 [par|int]) If God calls us, we will find the truth by searching with a prayerful, impartial analysis of the facts. (John 14:6 [par|int]; 16:13 [par|int]) That is, you cannot simply look for proof of a specific doctrine you already believe, but you must test it by both proving and disproving it. (1 John 4:1-6 [par|int]) If you are not sincerely interested in truth, no matter how much you want it to be the case, God will not call you. (Romans 1:18-32; 2:1-9 [par|int]; Revelation 21:8) When what you find has ample substantiated proof and cannot be disproved, then you have found the truth because you are a lover of truth. (2 Thessalonians 2:9-12 [par|int]) That does not mean just accepting anything that sounds viable or rejecting anything that causes questions to come up, but means getting to the point where you can find no more questions to ask about a specific doctrine affecting your salvation, and the ones you have asked have all been answered with a clear understanding of the Scriptures. Rely upon God in prayer, like Adam and Eve failed to do.
The best approach is to start with the doctrines that are the most common. The Trinity is always the best place to start because it is claimed to be the sole saving tenant of Trinitarian religions. (Compare John 17:3 [par|int]) If you find that it is false, then you have eliminated most of Christendom. Next, is to prove or disprove the immortality of the soul. (Compare John 3:16 [par|int]) If you eliminate that, then you get rid of another large chunk of what's left. Then you can eliminate many of the stragglers by investigating hellfire through careful analysis of the Scriptures. (Compare Revelation 20:14 [par|int]) By that time you will be left with only a small number of claimants to Christianity, with Jehovah's Witnesses among them. Next, eliminate any who do not obey the good news. (2 Thessalonians 1:7, 8 [par|int]) In particular, the preacing work (Matthew 28:18, 19 [par|int]; Luke 10:1-16 [par|int]) and desisting from practicing sin, such as fornication and idolatry.
But despite the ability to perform a careful analysis, the unfortunate fact is that people are better at deceiving themselves than others are at deceiving them. Thus they will still attempt to refute the irrefutable with explanations that defy logic simply because it is what they already believe and are so afraid to change it that they are unwilling to accept the truth when it is staring them in the face. (Matthew 15:14 [par|int])
Why? There are many reasons. This may include one or more of the following:
- They don't want to believe that all the time they spent reading translations of the Bible that support their false doctrines was wasted. (Jeremiah 29:23; Titus 1:14 [par|int])
- They trust their parents or Bible teachers without question, (2 Timothy 3:6 [par|int])
- They have become well-versed in their doctrines with a prideful arrogance. (Matthew 15:1-11 [par|int]; 2 Timothy 3:7 [par|int])
- They have already been through a couple of other religious systems and are too embarassed at the idea of going to yet another faith.
- They have an established ministry, (Jeremiah 23:31 [par|int]; 3 John 9 [par|int]) a position, reputation or power to protect (Jeremiah 23:32 [par|int]; Matthew 21:23-27 [par|int]) or financial investment. (Luke 16:14 [par|int]; 18:22-23 [par|int])
- They believe that God speaks to them through falling tree leaves and other random events so they could comfort themselves instead of listing to God's word. (Zechariah 10:2 [par|int])
- They believe that they are already good people and that is enough to be saved. (Hosea 6:6 [par|int]; Matthew 9:11-13 [par|int]; 1 Corinhians 6:9-14 [par|int])
- Pridefully refuse to accept that they can be wrong.
- Arrogance in simply believing they are better. (John 7:49 [par|int])
- Fear of change (Hebrews 10:39 [par|int])
- Fear of men. (Proverbs 29:25 [par|int])
- They are comfortable with their spiritual routine or enjoy the mystic rituals of their religion.
The Full Path of SalvationSalvation is not some simplistic need for faith alone. Christ and his disciples all explained that "faith" involves more than simply believing. (James 2:19, 20 [par|int], 26 [par|int]) It involves showing, actually demonstrating, practicing through our actions, love for God, Christ, brother, neighbor and enemy. (Matthew 5:43-45 [par|int]) To show that love, we must look out for the interests of others, (Philippians 2:2-4 [par|int]) seeking to bring salvation to all (Matthew 28:18, 19 [par|int]) and be obedient to God, Christ and those taking the lead among us. (John 14:23, 24 [par|int]; 15:10 [par|int]; Hebrews 13:17 [par|int]; 1 John 5:3 [par|int]) Here is every qualifier for salvation cohesively laid out by the apostle John:
"Beloved ones, do not believe every inspired statement, but test the inspired statements to see whether they originate with God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.
"This is how you know that the inspired statement is from God: Every inspired statement that acknowledges Jesus Christ as having come in the flesh originates with God. But every inspired statement that does not acknowledge Jesus does not originate with God. Furthermore, this is the antichrist’s inspired statement that you have heard was coming, and now it is already in the world. . . .
"Beloved ones, let us continue loving one another, because love is from God, and everyone who loves has been born from God and knows God. Whoever does not love has not come to know God, because God is love. By this the love of God was revealed in our case, that God sent his only-begotten Son into the world so that we might gain life through him. The love is in this respect, not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a propitiatory sacrifice for our sins. . . .
"By this we know that we are remaining in union with him and he in union with us, because he has given his spirit to us. In addition, we ourselves have seen and are bearing witness that the Father has sent his Son as Savior of the world. Whoever acknowledges that Jesus is God’s Son, God remains in union with such one and he in union with God. And we have come to know and believe the love that God has for us. . . .
"If anyone says, “I love God,” and yet is hating his brother, he is a liar. For the one who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And we have this commandment from him, that whoever loves God must also love his brother. . . .
"Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born from God, and everyone who loves the one who caused to be born loves him who has been born from that one. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and carry out his commandments. For this is what the love of God means, that we observe his commandments; and yet his commandments are not burdensome, because everyone who has been born from God conquers the world. And this is the conquest that has conquered the world, our faith.
"Who can conquer the world? Is it not the one who has faith that Jesus is the Son of God? . . . If we accept the witness of men, the witness of God is greater. Because this is the witness God gives, the witness that he has given about his Son. The person putting his faith in the Son of God has the witness within himself. The person not having faith in God has made him a liar, because he has not put his faith in the witness given by God concerning his Son. And this is the witness, that God gave us everlasting life, and this life is in his Son. The one who has the Son has this life; the one who does not have the Son of God does not have this life." (1 John 4:1-21 [par|int]; 5:1-12 [par|int])This does not say we have to believe "Jesus is God", but that he is "the Son of God". This does not say that we have to believe that God came in the flesh, but that Jesus Christ came in the flesh. In fact, John specifically states that the 1) tested statement that has faith in (as opposed to blind faith and works of Law) and 2) "acknowledges" by bearing witness (preaching) 3) by one's own free will that 4) "Jesus is the Christ", 5) "the only-begotten" "Son of God", 6) "having come in the flesh", 7) "sent by God" (rather than being God himself) 8) "whom [we have] not seen" (Rather than bowing to so-called images of God), 9) who "loved us" (mankind in general, instead of hating sinners,) 10) sending us Jesus Christ to be "Savior of the World" 11) as "a propitiatory sacrifice for our sins", (Valuing the blood of that sacrifice and memorializing it) 12) "so that we might gain [everlasting] life through him" (as opposed to temporary life and eternal death, not "hellfire"), 13) as long as each one of us "loves his brother" (rather than killing them in wars) and 14) "we Love God" and 15) "observe his commandments" in holy spirit by doing them.
False Salvation MessagesHowever, the statement that denies any of the things above "is the Antichrist's inspired statement", thus making anyone who states that faith is blind or that "Jesus is God", or that he saves us from "hellfire", or that all are predestined to be good or bad, or that all people receive salvation, or that the soul itself cannot die, or that we must fight in wars, or that we must join in politics instead of conquering the world, or that it is okay to bow down to idols, or that we do not need to desist from practicing sin or to obey anyone or to preach, or that state that Law is what saves us, or that God hates sinners, into a false prophet and an Antichrist. (Deuteronomy 13:1-5 [par|int]; 2 John 7 [par|int])
That is why this series focuses on all these subjects as being in opposition to salvation. Should this system continue that long, and God willing, all of these points will be covered in detail in this series.
Do you think it fair to not allow preconceived bias to color your understanding of scripture? If not, state your disagreement in a comment below.