People tell me all the time, their main goal in life is to go to heaven when they die. In fact, I’m quite certain I’ve said the exact same thing before. I’ve always thought that was the very best goal a person could have, but I’ve changed my mind. The more I think about that phrase, and especially the context in which it is usually stated, the more I think it often reveals a misunderstanding deep in our hearts. Here are a few thoughts on having heaven as a our main goal in life.Continue Reading...
Archives For salvation
I grew up being taught in Bible classes, “There are five ‘steps’ of salvation: Hear, Believe, Repent, Confess, and Be Baptized.” This was often illustrated with a staircase, each step representing one of the steps of salvation. It isn’t that I disagree with any of these five points, but I’ve grown very uncomfortable with presenting the gospel in this manner. Here is why I’m not fond of the phrase, “the 5 Steps of Salvation.”Continue Reading...
It seems there are a lot of people who wonder, “Am I good enough to go to heaven?” They wonder if they’ve done enough good, if they’ve helped enough people, if they attended worship services enough times, if they have taught enough people about Jesus. And then, on the other hand, they wonder if they’ve been too bad to go to heaven. I want to attempt to answer some of these questions.Continue Reading...
Lately, many of the commenters on this blog have boldly asserted that a Christian cannot lose his salvation. In fact, many well-meaning religious folks have built an entire theology around the assumption that it is impossible for a Christian to fall away and lose his salvation. But what if that assumption is false?Continue Reading...
Something very important is missing from many people’s theology today. They’ve sanitized their lessons and sermons so much, you can barely tell it was ever there.Continue Reading...
Let me ask you a multiple choice question and allow you to find the answer on your own. If you’ll be honest, it might change the way you think about salvation.Continue Reading...
1 Peter 3:21 says, “Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (ESV). But, does that mean what it seems to mean? Does baptism really “save you”? I hope this video will help you to have a little bit better understanding about baptism.
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I love you and God loves,
No doubt John Calvin did many good things in his life; and I am sure there are many points in his teachings and writings, which were biblically accurate. However, I completely and totally reject Calvinistic theology. Here are some of the reasons why I am not a Calvinist.
7 Reasons Why I’m Not a Calvinist
1. I Am a Christian – The first reason I’m not a Calvinist is that John Calvin was a man. I myself am a man, and know all too well, the sins and short-comings of mankind. That is why I do not now, nor will I ever, follow a man. Paul admonished the church in Corinth for following men, when they were saying, “I follow Paul” or, “I follow Apollos” (1 Corinthians 1:12; 3:4). Even if I agreed with Calvin on every theological point, which I do not, I still could not describe myself as a “Calvinist” because I want to follow Christ, and Him alone.
Similar to what Paul asked the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 1:13), I would ask those who are Calvinists, “Was [Calvin] crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of [Calvin]?
2. Man is Not Totally Depraved – Calvin’s theology begins with the doctrine of “Total Depravity,” the idea that man is born so totally and completely sinful, he is incapable of making a right choice. This idea of “original sin” is foreign to Scripture. Instead, Scripture teaches that sin is the result of willful disobedience to God (Hebrews 10:26; 1 John 3:4).
Calvinism allows man to say, “Sin is not my fault. It is my ‘sinful nature.'” However, Scripture teaches that sin is our fault. Scripture teaches that man has freewill and is able to choose whom he will serve (Joshua 24:15).
3. The Church Was Predestined – The Calvinistic idea of predestination is that every individual has been predestined for salvation or condemnation. Man has nothing to do with receiving salvation; it is completely up to God whether an individual spends eternity in heaven or hell. In the first chapter of Ephesians and the eighth chapter of Romans, Paul speaks of the idea of being “predestined.” Thus, the idea of predestination is a biblical concept. However, Calvin has confused the issue. Paul wrote that God chose “before the foundation of the world” (Ephesians 1:4) to save a group of people (the church). Nowhere in Scripture do we read the Calvinistic idea that individuals were predestined for salvation or condemnation. Paul wrote, “he predestined us” (1:5) and, “we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined” (1:11). Concerning predestination, Paul always speaks in the plural (a group), not singular (an individual).
Allow me to illustrate: Suppose I told you today that in 30 years I was going to give every member of a certain Boy Scout troop $1,000. Thirty years from now, when those boys received the money, they could say as a group, “Wes predestined ‘us’ to receive this money.” However, an individual Scout could not say, “Wes predestined ‘me’ to receive this money.” It would not have been the individual who I chose, but the group. Just as God chose the group, Israel, to bless under the Old Testament, He has chosen the church to bless with salvation under the New Testament. In fact, Ephesians 1 ends this way, “And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all” (vs. 22-23).
Paul wrote that God, “desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4). And Peter wrote, “he Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). Salvation is available to anyone who will enter the Kingdom (the church) by being born again by water and the Spirit (John 3:1-7; Acts 2:38; 1 Peter 3:21)
4. Jesus Died for Everyone – For me, the hardest part of Calvinism to understand is the doctrine of “Limited Atonement.” Calvin and his followers teach that Christ only died for the “elect.” In other words, Christ did not die for those who are predestined for condemnation, but only for those who are predestined for salvation.
I cannot possibly believe that this idea could be reached by simply reading Scripture. It could only have been reached by the necessity of needing to support other man-made doctrines. Here is what Scripture says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should notperish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). And, “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God…” (1 Peter 3:18). And, “He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2).
5. Grace is Resistible – The Calvinist teaches that grace is irresistible. They insist that if God predestines an individual, then God will save him; there is nothing that individual can do to resist God’s grace. However, numerous passages refute this doctrine. First, is it easy enough to see that people like King Agrippa resisted the grace of God. Even though he believed the Scriptures, he would not allow himself to be convinced to receive God’s grace and put on Christ (Acts 26:27-29).
Second, if grace were “irresistible” it would making evangelism unnecessary. Why would missionaries need to go into all the world and preach the gospel (Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:15-16), if it was God who irresistibly and miraculously converted men? Why would Paul say, “I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some” (1 Corinthians 9:22). If Paul’s preaching and example had nothing to do with the conversion of souls, someone ought to have told Paul that!
6. Christians Can Fall From Grace – The Calvinists teach the doctrine of “Once Saved Always Saved.” The idea that if someone truly becomes a Christian, it is impossible for him to fall from grace. If you were to ask as Calvinist, “Can a person fall from grace?” Surely, the Calvinist would answer with a resounding, “No! There is no way a person can fall from grace.” Which baffles me, in light of Galatians 5:4, “You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace.” Surely that answers this question for all time, doesn’t it?!
Jesus Himself taught that one could fall from grace, “If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned” (John 15:6). If you need more convincing on this point, you can read my previous post on “Once Saved Always Saved.”
7. The Bible is My Standard – I believe in a simple gospel (2 Corinthians 11:3 NASB). I believe that God has revealed everything to us, through Scripture, that we need to know to be saved (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Salvation is not a great mystery, that only great theologians can decipher. Salvation is simple, easy to understand, and available to all through Jesus Christ.
This is what Jesus told the apostles, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:-15-16). The words of Jesus, and the words of the rest of the New Testament, could not be any further from Calvinism. Therefore, I want nothing to do with it!
I love you and the God, who wants all men to be saved, loves you,
The greatest truth is this, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15). The Son of God wrapped Himself in human flesh, suffered, bled, and died that man might be reconciled to the Father through Him. He conquered death through His resurrection, and gave man the hope of eternal life. It is truly Good News!
But how does one receive the salvation that is offered in Christ Jesus? There is too much confusion over this all important subject. So, try and forget all you’ve ever heard about how to be saved, and just listen to the Word of God:
1. Sin is the Reason Salvation is Needed – We have all committed sin (Romans 3:23). Sin is literally “missing the mark” that God has set for us. We weren’t born with sins (Ezekiel 18:20), we chose to sin. And the sin we chose to do separated us from God (Isaiah 59:2). The consequences of sin is death (Romans 6:23); it is what each of us deserves. We deserve to die and spend eternity in hell, separated from God. That’s the bad news.
2. Man is Saved by Grace – Man is incapable of saving himself. Since man’s problem is sin, he must be saved from his sin problem. He must be forgiven of his sins. The bottom line is this, you cannot do anything to deserve the forgiveness of sins. You cannot merit your salvation. Ephesians 2:8-9 says that good works don’t earn salvation. You could do a million good things for others and for God, and those good works would never wash away sin. Only the blood of Jesus can wash away sins (Hebrews 9:22). That’s why salvation is by grace. Salvation is something you are given in spite of what you deserve.
3. Man is Saved through Faith – Ephesians 2:8-9 says that man is saved “by grace through faith.” We are told in Hebrews 11:6 that “without faith it is impossible to please [God].” God is spiritual, invisible, and unseen (John 4:24; Colossians 1:15). Therefore, since you cannot see God, faith is defined as being sure and convicted of things you cannot see (Hebrews 11:1). God, and the salvation He offers, is unseen. You must have faith that He is real and salvation is real. Receiving the salvation of God is not a matter of seeing, hearing, smelling, or feeling something. It is received “through faith.”
4. Faith Includes Belief – At the core of faith is a belief that God is who He says He is (Hebrews 11:6). Real faith believes that God is all-powerful, all-knowing, and is present everywhere, because that is what Scripture says about Him. Real faith believes that Jesus is God’s Son, because that is what Scripture says about Him (Acts 8:37). Real faith believes Jesus died, was buried, and was resurrected (1 Corinthians 15:1-4), because that is what Scripture says about Him.
5. Faith Includes Trust – Belief is not the full extent of faith. After all, even the demons believe God is who He says He is (James 2:19). Faith also includes a profound trust in God. In order to receive salvation man must trust that God will do what He says He will do. In the eleventh chapter of Hebrews, multiple examples are given of men and women who were saved from peril when they trusted in God to keep His promises. Man cannot be saved from his sins if he does not trust God to forgive him.
6. Faith Includes Obedience – This is where some misunderstand “faith” and “grace.” Receiving grace through faith does not mean that obedience isn’t necessary. In fact, James says that without obedience, there really is no faith (James 2). As you read through the examples of faith in Hebrews 11, you will find they all obeyed whatever God told them to do in order to be saved. “By faith Noah…in reverent fear constructed an ark” (Hebrews 11:7). Therefore, if man is to receive God’s gift of salvation by faith, he must do whatever he is told to do to receive it.
Here is what God tells man to do to receive salvation:
- Hear the Gospel – Since man is saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9) and faith comes from hearing God’s word (Romans 10:17), the first thing man must do is really listen to the Good News about Jesus Christ!
- Believe – Believing God, as already discussed is a part of having faith. In fact, it is called a “work” by Jesus (John 6:29). Man must be obedient to God by believing Him.
- Repent – Sin was the problem that God man into the situation where he need saving. In order to receive grace, man must die to sin (Romans 6:1-7). Repentance is about changing your mind, your heart, and your life from sin and turning fully toward God.
- Confess – Scripture says that man’s faith in Him must be so great that he is willing to confess that faith, even if it were to cost him his life (Matthew 10:32-33; Acts 8:37; Romans 10:9-10).
- Be Baptized – Baptism is not something that a Christian does in order to be obedient. Baptism is something a sinner does to become a Christian. We are told that it’s at the moment of baptism a person’s sins are washed away by the blood of Jesus (Romans 6:1-7; Acts 22:16), his sins are forgiven (Acts 2:38), he is clothed with Christ (Galatians 3:26-28), he is saved (1 Peter 3:21), he receives the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38), and he is added to the church (Acts 2:47).
Do not think that if you believe, trust, and obey what God has told you to do that you have some how earned your salvation and forgiveness. Again, man does not earn salvation, he receives it when he trusts and submits to God. Please, I beg you, take the time to search Scripture and see if these things are true (Acts 17:11). I want to leave you with one last verse:
“And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name” (Acts 22:16).
I love you and the God who gives salvation loves you,
What wonderful and awesome things God has done for us! But how often we fail to proclaim how good He has been to us! The Psalmist begins Psalm 107 saying, “Give thanks to the Lord.” Then he says, “Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom he has redeemed from trouble.” In other words, if God has saved you from trouble-then say so!
1) Let those who were hungry and thirsty thank the Lord (Psalm 107:4-9). Before you came to Christ you were starving; you were hungry and you were thirsty. Now, if you are in Christ, you have been filled. By His grace, you are feasting at His banquet table. Peter writes, “Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation—if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good” (1 Peter 2:3-4). So if you have “tasted the goodness of the word of God” (Hebrews 6:5), then let your thanksgiving be heard; and by all means, keep hungering and thirsting for righteousness (Matthew 5:6)! “For He satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things” (Psalm 107:9).
2) Let those who were in bondage thank the Lord (Psalm 107:10-16). Before you came to Christ you were a slave, in bondage to sin (Romans 6). Now, if you are in Christ, you have been set free from the chains which held you! Paul wrote, “But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness” (Romans 6:17-18). Let all those who have been set free from sin rejoice, “For He shatters the doors of bronze and cuts in two the bars of iron” (Psalm 107:16).
3) Let those who were perishing thank the Lord (Psalm 107:17-22). Before you came to Christ you were dead (Ephesians 2:1-3). Now, if you are in Christ, you have been made alive through the love, mercy, and grace of God (Ephesians 1:4-5). If you have been redeemed from death, then “continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name” (Hebrews 13:15); or as the Psalmist said, “Let them offer sacrifices of thanksgiving, and tell of his deeds in songs of joy” (Psalm 107:22)!
4) Let those who were tossed in the stormy seas thank the Lord (Psalm 107:23-32). Before you came to Christ you were tossed to and fro by all the storms of life. Now, if you are in Christ, you have an anchor in the storms! If Christ has calmed the storms of your life, then praise Him! “Let them extol Him in the congregation of the people, and praise Him in the assembly of the elders” (Psalm 107:32).
Are you washed in His blood? If so, then are you praising Him and thanking Him for His awesome salvation? Do those around you constantly hear how grateful you are for the love, mercy, and grace of God? Let this thought be on our mind today (and everyday), “Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom he has redeemed from trouble” (Psalm 107:2).
I love you and God loves you!