DISCOVER THE BIBLE
The BIBLE reveals that Jesus Christ spent a lot of time with His disciples. They would travel from town to town preaching the Gospel and healing the sick, while Jesus taught them about the things of God. They had much to learn and only three years to learn it. Eventually their responsibility would be to spread the Gospel throughout the world (Matthew 28:19). No doubt during their training they asked many questions. And while not all their questions are recorded in the BIBLE, God did choose to record the ones he knew people would be asking again and again for generations to come. For example, one day Jesus and His disciples were traveling through Jerusalem and one of them asked:
No doubt this question has been asked many times throughout
the years. Perhaps like most people today, the disciple was expecting
an encouraging answer. Maybe he thought that Jesus was going to say,
However, this is not what Jesus answered at all. Instead He replied:
will seek to enter in, and shall not be able." LUKE 13:24
The answer is YES! In another Gospel account, Jesus made it even more clear by comparison:
that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:
Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life,
and few there be that find it." MATTHEW 7:13- 14
This sobering passage goes contrary to what many people believe. Jesus is saying that, by a large margin, more people are on the road to Hell than are on the road to Heaven. A primary reason for this is because of what Jesus said in the following verse:
but inwardly they are ravening wolves." MATTHEW 7:15
One reason why so many people are going to Hell is because there are many false prophets in the world teaching lies about salvation. Consequently many people end up trusting in the wrong things to get them to Heaven. To further accent this truth, Jesus stated what is perhaps the most horrible prediction recorded in the BIBLE:
but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name?
and in thy name have cast out devils?
and in thy name done many wonderful works?
And then will I profess unto them,
I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity." MATTHEW 7:21-23
Now, a person would assume that preaching, casting out devils, and doing many wonderful works, all in the name of Jesus, would surely earn them entrance into Heaven. As it turned out, they were trusting in the wrong things.
THAT ANY OF THOSE THINGS WOULD GIVE THEM ETERNAL LIFE IN HEAVEN.
APPARENTLY SOMEONE ELSE DID.
We are now living at a time when false prophets are
everywhere. With each false prophet comes a false doctrine that results
in someone trusting the wrong thing for salvation.
AS WE CONTINUE OUR JOURNEY THROUGH THE BIBLE
THE WORLD HAS ALWAYS HAD ITS SHARE OF
FALSE PROPHETS. Many throughout the years have come claiming the
authority to act as mediator between God and man. Sometimes they were
simply individuals with a gift for persuading the unsuspecting. Other
times it would be a group of people organizing themselves into a religion, as
in the case of the scribes and the Pharisees. These were the self-
proclaimed religious leaders of Jesus' day, who took it upon themselves to
look after the spiritual well-being of the Jews. They were self-
righteous, pious, and constantly boasting of having a good working knowledge
of the Scriptures; making themselves out to be teachers of the BIBLE.
Well, consider this. With over 300 prophecies in the Old Testament pertaining to the coming Messiah (Lesson 2), one would expect the scribes and Pharisees to be among the first to recognize Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah. Yet in spite of their self-proclaimed authority, they totally "missed the boat". Jesus Christ had to tell them to:
and they are they which testify of me." JOHN 5:39
In reality, the Pharisees were not teaching the Jews the Scriptures but instead were teaching them man-made doctrines and Jewish traditions that they had started. They were notorious for adding these man-made doctrines to God's Word, and had done it to such an extent that their traditions were overriding the Word of God. This was so obvious to Jesus that He had to ask them:
The sad truth was that many of the Jews were trusting in these traditions to help get them into Heaven. This made the scribes and the Pharisees false prophets, misleading the people. Jesus rebuked them for it by saying:
as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. ...
Full well ye reject the commandment of God,
that ye may keep your own tradition." MARK 7:8- 9
Jesus was able to discern between the commandments of God and their traditions, but those unfamiliar with the Scriptures could not. Consequently they were easily misled.
With Heaven and Hell at stake, it is vitally important to separate tradition and man-made doctrines from God's truth. The BIBLE tells us to examine any doctrine that we encounter and. . .
it is because there is no light in them." ISAIAH 8:20
In fact, one of the reasons God has provided us with the BIBLE is to correct false teachings:
for correction, for instruction in righteousness:" II TIMOTHY 3:16
God's Word should be used like a level -- the standard by which all other teachings are compared against, and. . .
Some may wonder if a person is being too judgmental by exposing false doctrine. But how else can people avoid trusting in the wrong things to get them to Heaven. The BIBLE says:
of men, after the rudiments [principles] of the world, and not after Christ." COLOSSIANS 2:8
Most people would have to agree that it is better to look into God's Word and hear what He has to say now, than to hear Him say later:
Throughout the rest of this lesson, we will examine some of the more common false doctrines and traditions that exist today and compare them with the Word of God.
What is meant by the term "works"? Strongs Greek Dictionary of the New Testament defines "works" as being a toil, an effort. By implication; an act, deed, doing, labor, basically anything a person does to earn entrance into Heaven. For example: keeping the Ten Commandments, baptism, church sacraments, good deeds, church membership, doing our best, giving to charity, etc. Many teach that a person must earn their way to Heaven through these works. However, SEVERAL QUESTIONS come up when a person compares salvation by works with what the BIBLE says:
[Q] If God expects us to earn our salvation then why does the BIBLE say the exact opposite?
The BIBLE clearly teaches that a person cannot earn their way into Heaven by their works. No effort or deed, no matter how impressive and self-sacrificing, can pay for sins or persuade God into allowing a person into Heaven. The BIBLE says:
Not of works, lest any man should boast." EPHESIANS 2:8- 9
By examining this passage further we can learn the following:
"For by grace are ye saved" - Grace means an unmerited, unearned favor. In other words, grace is displayed toward a person when they receive something they don't deserve. WE AS SINNERS DO NOT DESERVE HEAVEN nor can we be good enough to earn its entrance. Yet God offers it for free!
"through faith" - Faith is simply believing God (taking Him at His Word) when He says salvation is a free gift, and TRUSTING in the fact that Jesus Christ paid for ALL of our sins.
"not of yourselves" - Man could not save himself if his life depended on it (and it does).
"it is the gift of God" - Salvation is a free gift offered by God to the repentant sinner who will accept it by faith. Does one pay for a gift? Of course not, it would no longer be a gift if the recipient pays for it.
"...the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." ROMANS 6:23
"Not of works" - Salvation comes not through our efforts, nor fulfilling church sacraments, nor by church membership. We can't earn our way to Heaven. It is impossible!
"lest any man should boast" - No one will brag about having made it into Heaven. Nobody, once there, will say "I got here because I kept the Ten Commandments, gave to charity, helped sick friends, complied with all of my church's sacraments, did my best, got baptized, etc." Instead those in Heaven will praise Jesus Christ, the one who had to "bail them out" and save them:
But God commendeth [demonstrated] his love toward us,
in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." ROMANS 5:6-8
[Q] If our salvation depends on
our total lifetime efforts, then why does the BIBLE teach
Most people don't realize that the BIBLE teaches that A PERSON CAN KNOW FOR SURE THEY WILL GO TO HEAVEN when they die. God never meant for anyone to go through life wondering and worrying if they will make it there; that would be cruel on His part. The BIBLE says:
that ye may know that ye have eternal life,
and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God." I JOHN 5:13
Christ was offered on the cross to purchase our salvation with His blood (Lesson 5). Now God can offer it as a free gift that we can accept RIGHT NOW and therefore KNOW that we are saved. This is demonstrated by the illustration found on the next page.
In the previous illustration the man trying to buy the "certain thing" represents many people who are trying to earn their way into Heaven. The rich man represents Jesus Christ who has bought the way for us. It's amazing how many people are always looking for "something for nothing", yet when it comes to the salvation of their souls they will try to work for it, rather than accepting the free gift bought by Jesus Christ on the cross.
[Q] If our salvation depends on
our good works outweighing our bad deeds, then why
Many people assume (and are taught) that on judgment day God will weigh their good works against their sin. Yet the BIBLE teaches that no matter how many good deeds a person has done, it only takes ONE SIN to tip the scale against them!
"For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all." JAMES 2:10
God's holy standard requires "all or nothing" when it comes to obeying His laws. Since no one is sinless, it is hopeless to trust in our acts of righteousness no matter how many we have done. God says:
not be remembered; but for his iniquity that he hath committed, he shall die for it." EZEKIEL 33:13
[Q] If our salvation is obtained
by following the Ten Commandments then why does the
Many people believe that salvation can be earned by doing the best they can at keeping the Ten Commandments. However this is a misconception that comes from not fully understanding why God gave them to mankind in the first place. So let's learn, from the BIBLE, the three real purposes of the Ten Commandments (otherwise known as The Law).
1) God gave us the Law to teach us what sin is.
Fortunately, God gave mankind His Law to define sin.
for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet." ROMANS 7:7
With God's Law as the standard, sin is no longer defined by someone's personal opinion but by God's, which is the only "opinion" that counts!
2) God gave us the Law to teach us that we are sinners.
for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be." ROMANS 8:7
that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God." ROMANS 3:19
3) God gave us the Law to teach us that we need a Saviour.
that we might be justified by faith." GALATIANS 3:24
Due to our sin nature we are unable to save ourselves through the Law and therefore need a Saviour.
Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:" ROMANS 8:3
[Q] If our salvation is obtained
through our own efforts,
In Lesson 5 we looked at the events surrounding and including His death. Would God have put His Son through all that, if there was any other way to save mankind? Obviously not. Christ's death is the only payment God will accept for sins. The BIBLE says:
having obtained eternal redemption for us." HEBREWS 9:12
Yet many are substituting God's requirement of Christ's death with their own acts of righteousness. The Apostle Paul said to do this is to make Christ's death worthless:
from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses." ACTS 13:39
If someone could save himself by keeping the Law, he would
have something of which to be proud.
but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus..." II TIMOTHY 1:9
but according to his mercy he saved us,
by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;" TITUS 3:5
It's sad to think of all the people who are trusting in their good works to pay for sins. Their endless efforts are not reducing their sin debt one bit. In fact, if they would stop and think, they would have to admit that with all their efforts they have no peace, rest or complete assurance of whether they are going to Heaven when they die. The BIBLE describes the saved person as being able to rest from trying to work their way to Heaven:
a rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest,
he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his." HEBREWS 4:3,9-10
The word baptism means immersion or submersion. Therefore to baptize means to dip, to immerse, to submerge, to bury under, which is what baptism represents. When a SAVED PERSON is baptized he is PICTURING the burial of the old sinful life and is PICTURING the resurrection of the new life in Christ:
from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death,
we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:" ROMANS 6:4-5
The burial represented by baptism is performed as a public
testimony of a person's new life in Christ.
1. We find two incidents where the person was BAPTIZED YET
DID NOT REALLY GET SAVED.
2. We find various people who were SAVED YET WERE NEVER
3. We find some who were NOT ALLOWED TO BE BAPTIZED BECAUSE
THEY WERE NOT SAVED.
4. We find many who were BAPTIZED AFTER THEY GOT SAVED.
which have received the Holy Ghost..." ACTS 10:47
Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved..." ACTS 16:30-31
It was his trust in Christ that saved him, NOT BAPTISM (Ephesians 2:8- 10).
And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest." ACTS 8:36-37
5. We even find one who DIDN'T NEED TO BE SAVED YET WAS
Some teach that infant baptism makes a person a child of God. However, all other arguments aside, the bottom line is this:
THEN THAT PERSON SHOULD THINK AND BEHAVE LIKE ONE.
Salvation is a supernatural event. No one who has truly been saved remains the same after salvation:
old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." II CORINTHIANS 5:17
A supernatural transformation takes place when a person becomes a true child of God. They tend to act and live like one. The Father and child relationship that God provides is real, noticeable and life changing. The BIBLE has much to say about what a true child of God is really like.
1) A TRUE CHILD OF GOD HAS HIS FATHER'S SPIRIT
DWELLING INSIDE OF HIM. "And because ye
are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your
hearts" GALATIANS 4:6
2) A TRUE CHILD CAN FULLY UNDERSTAND AND
APPLY THE TEACHINGS OF HIS FATHER. "Now
we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of
God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of
God." I CORINTHIANS 2:12
3) A TRUE CHILD HEARS WHAT HIS FATHER SAYS.
"...Why do ye not understand my speech? even because
ye cannot hear my word. ... He that is of God heareth God's
words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of
God." JOHN 8:42-43,47
4) A TRUE CHILD OF GOD WILL BE LED BY HIS
FATHER. "For as many as are led by the
Spirit of God, they are the sons of God." ROMANS
5) A TRUE CHILD DOES NOT FIND HIS FATHER'S
COMMANDMENTS HARD TO FOLLOW. "For this is
the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are
not grievous [burdensome]."
I JOHN 5:3
6) A TRUE CHILD OF GOD HAS BEEN MADE FREE FROM SIN BY
HIS FATHER. "For sin shall not have
dominion over you..." ROMANS 6:14
7) A TRUE CHILD OF GOD DOES NOT WILLFULLY PRACTICE
SIN. "Whosoever abideth in him
sinneth [practices sin] not: whosoever sinneth
hath not seen him, neither known him." I JOHN 3:6
8) A TRUE CHILD OF GOD IS CONSTANTLY GROWING
SPIRITUALLY BECAUSE OF HIS FATHER'S INTERVENTION IN HIS LIFE.
"For whom he [God] did
foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed [changed]
to the image of his Son [Christ]," ROMANS 8:29
9) A TRUE CHILD OF GOD HAS A REPENTANT ATTITUDE TOWARD
HIS FATHER. "Testifying both to the Jews,
and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our
Lord Jesus Christ." ACTS 20:21
10) A TRUE CHILD OF GOD IS DISCIPLINED BY HIS FATHER
WHEN HE SINS. "...My son, despise not
thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked
of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every
son whom he receiveth." HEBREWS 12:5
1. rebuked - to convict, to expose
The true child of God cannot sin without God dealing with it,
be it through simple conviction or a calamity occurring in their life as a
result of their sin. This discipline comes with the full knowledge that
God is behind it. "If ye endure chastening, God
dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth
not?" HEBREWS 12:7
Once again the bottom line is this:
A true child of God has a real relationship with God. Through God's indwelling Spirit they are continuously aware of God's presence in their life. Their thoughts, desires, decisions and actions revolve around the will of their Father. Yet millions have been told that baptism has made them a child of God and are running their lives as if God doesn't exist. They only acknowledge He exists one day a week, and even then they do it more out of duty than genuine desire. In fact, considering all the millions upon millions who have been baptized, one would expect the world to be a much less sinful place with all these "children of God" running around doing their Father's will. But reality shows that is not the case. If those millions were honest with themselves, they would have to admit that THEIR BAPTISM DID NOT MAKE THEM A CHILD OF GOD; instead it only satisfied an inherent aspect of man's fallen state - the desire to be religious!
Through baptism many are assuming they know God, but the real question is, does He know them?
What is "easy believe-ism"? It is a phrase that has been used to describe a version of the gospel in which repentance is not emphasized. This "simply believe without repenting" gospel has managed to creep its way into many churches. It is best described by comparing the following two personal testimonies with what the BIBLE says. (Both examples are based on true stories)
heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit," MATTHEW 13:23
John heard enough of God's Word to understand that his need was to repent and trust Christ.
Bob however made his decision prematurely. Did he truly see himself as lost? Did he understand his need to repent and trust Christ? Unfortunately the church he attended did not sit down with him and clearly show him from the BIBLE how a person is saved. Millions like Bob, have been led through a simple "sinner's prayer" that does not emphasize repentance nor prepares the heart. The result has been many who are assuming they are saved but are tragically still lost, as in Bob's case. Sadly, without having repented and trusted Christ, poor Bob believed in vain. The Apostle Paul, questioning the salvation of some of the members at the church at Corinth said:
* Strongs Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible by James Strong,
«««««««««« A Sneak Preview ««««««««««««
In our next and final lesson we will learn that the most important reason
why God gave us the BIBLE
* What happens after salvation?
THROUGH THE BIBLE
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