write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God
so that you may know that you have eternal life. (1 John 5:13)
Here's what God's word says:
This is what I heard from a priest on the TV:
“Because of him (Jesus), I have a chance of not going to hell and a chance to get to heaven.” (Mitch Pacwa, priest and Jesuit Bible scholar, EWTN Threshold of Hope - 9-9-08)
Mitch Pacwa is a very learned man, yet he does not seem to know that talking about Jesus giving him “a chance” was actually a way of refusing to give Jesus full credit for what he accomplished on the cross. If Mitch truly believes in Jesus, he will believe Jesus' promises to him--promises of eternal life for all who believe.
Jesus won believers much more than a chance
For those who believe in Jesus, his death certainly accomplished much more than a mere "chance" at heaven. Jesus did nothing less than win heaven itself for us--yes, he actually saved us from our sin and the spiritual death of an eternity in Hell. Jesus plainly tells what his work on the cross means to believers:
Even as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up: That whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life (John 3:14-15)
Yes, Jesus himself repeatedly
tells us that believers will receive everlasting life with him in heaven.
They will be saved from the fires of hell.
He who believes in me has everlasting life. (John 6:47)
In addition, as we read in the ancient Christian statement of faith--the Nicene Creed: "For us men and for our salvation, he came down from heaven." The "men" in this sentence stands for all of mankind who believe. So the early church certainly confirms that Jesus came for our salvation and God's word tells us, Jesus deserves nothing less than full credit for that.
Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness; by whose stripes ye were healed. For ye were as sheep going astray; but are no returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls. (1 Peter 2:24-25)
That is why we should never believe that our good works also deserve some credit for getting us to heaven. They don’t. As the Bible clearly tells us, those good works, are like faith itself--gifts from God.
"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them." (Ephesians 2:8-10)
And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace. (Romans 11:5-6)
Believers are God's work
Jesus himself was specifically asked about our earthly works and he put our works in proper perspective very quickly:
What works must we do to do the works God requires? Jesus answered: “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent. (John 6:29)
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. (Matthew 5:16)
So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do you should say, We are but unworthy servants; we have only done our duty. (Luke 17:10)
On the cross, he also told us “It is finished.” (John 19:30) When Jesus said “it is finished” he wasn’t telling us his life was over. He was telling us he had finished the work he had come to do. He had won the eternal life he had promised for those who would believe in him. Remember “He who believes in me has eternal life.”
Philippians 3:9 …and being found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.
Jesus speaks of his elect
So who are those who believe in him? Jesus calls them “the elect” or “the chosen.” They are those who believe that Jesus truly is who he says he is—God in the flesh, our Lord and Savior who died to win for us eternal life. They believe in the person and the saving work of Jesus and he repeatedly spoke of his role in choosing them:
John 6:44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.
John 15:16 It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you…
All the Father gives me shall come to me; and him that comes to me I shall in no wise cast out. (John 6:37)
John 6:64 No one can come to me unless it has been granted to him by my Father.
Luke 10:22 ...no one knows who the Father is except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.
John 14:6 I am the way, the truth and the
life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
John 10:28-29 And I give them eternal life; and they shall never perish,
neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave
them to me, is greater than all and no man is able to pluck them out of my
Father’s hand. I and my Father are one.
This is the Gospel of Jesus, the good news that he has indeed saved all those who believe in him as Lord and Savior, God in the flesh.
Warnings for those who preach another gospel
Condemned means that if they do not turn away from preaching or teaching a false gospel, they will go to hell for all eternity—forever.
A warning to those in such churches
In addition God has a warning for those who refuse to leave those churches where these false gospels are preached:
Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. (Revelation 18:4)
This tells us that God warns all who stay in false churches that they will be considered partakers or participants in the sins of the false church and that they will receive the same punishment or plagues that she does.
How can you know if you are in such a church? Ask the same question that the jailer asked Paul and Silas, “What must I do to be saved?” They answered “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and though shalt be saved, and thy house.” (Acts 16:30-31)
False church messages
Is that the message you hear preached at your church on Sunday or is it one of these false messages….
Christ died on the cross to offer the “chance” (or possibility) of salvation for everyone (they teach this but rarely in a direct manner).
Each individual has the free will to either accept or reject Jesus.
Faith plus cooperation with the Holy Spirit in good works is equated to salvation by grace alone. (See contrary verse Romans 11:5-6)
Because you cannot trust your ability to fight sin, you could lose your salvation at any moment.
You can do good works in cooperation with the Holy Spirit to help get you to heaven.
Those are some of the lies you might hear at a church that preaches a false gospel and here are some more…
More lies from false churches
God looks down the tunnel of time to see whether a person does good works or not and then bases his decision for your salvation on whether you did those works.
They will tell you that God died for everyone but that you can lose your salvation by sin.
They will say that they do not believe in “works righteousness” but that you can still lose the gift of faith you have been given.
They will tell you to make an “altar call” or publicly profess your faith in Christ to be saved.
They will tell you to just repeat this prayer with them and you’ll be saved.
Some will try to make you believe that you can attain holiness in this lifetime and that will be your only way to attain heaven in the hearafter.
They will insist that it is your obedience to God's commandments in this life that allow you to attain heaven in the hearafter. that tell you that obedience to all God’s commands is essential to your salvation but they will not tell you that you are unable to be totally obedient in your lifetime and that's why Christ's forgiveness and his righteousness are so very necessary.
Some will claim that baptism saves you.
Some will claim that an expression of faith in Christ will save you.
They will tell you that perseverance is required, yet not tell you that you cannot persevere (continue in the faith) without the gift of faith that only God can give.
They will tell you that Christ’s death was sufficient for all but effective for a few and yet be totally unable to explain, biblically, how this is so.
Gifts from first to last
But what few of them will tell you is that “it is all a gift” from first to last! From your justification (being made right with God) to your sanctification (assistance in living a holier life) to your salvation to your glorification in heaven with Christ. It was and is all the work of One—the Christ—the Son of the Living God, even Jesus.
As Paul tells us it is all about Christ and the gift of faith he has won for us…
For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith. (Romans 1:17)
As he told us in Ephesians 2:8-9 the faith to believe is a gift that only God can give.
We come to him with nothing but our empty hands—and even those empty hands—He gave us. You see, it is not about us—it is about Him. It is about what He has done for us—all those who believe in what they cannot see.
The root of most of these errors lies in the lack of faith that is often accompanied by a lack of recognition of the total sovereignty of God. Without the acknowledgement that God is truly almighty and in control of all things, many find it unimaginable that he is able to keep all of the promises found in his word. But it is precisely because of his total control over all that He can be fully trusted to keep each and every promise!
So what is for those who believe? Watch, pray, love one another and receive Christ’s body and blood at Holy Communion. Remember what Jesus has won for you means that you always have something wonderful to look forward to “life everlasting with him.” That is reason enough to enjoy him now and express your love and gratitude to him by seeking to glorify Jesus in all you say and do.