Belief in God, going to church, belonging to a certain church or denomination, being baptized, keeping sacraments, doing good works, making a commitment, going though catechism, or praying does not make you a Christian. Believing in Jesus Christ or even that he is the Saviour of the World, or that He died for your sins does not make you a Christian. Being a Christian boils down to two words. "IN and ON"
This lesson involves several sub-topics that most liberal "Christians" don't want to discuss or are completely ignorant of.
1. Bible Versions - This is a huge study all in itself. I suggest using only the King James Version.
2. Private Interpretation - Some people love to use the phrase "Well, that is your interpretation..."
This violates 2nd Peter 1:20 KJV
3. Studying and rightly dividing God's Word. - This is commanded in 2nd Timothy 2:15 KJV
Before we get into the difference between believing IN something and believing ON something. Let us first take a look at the word Christian. The word Christian basically means "little christ" or "like christ". This label was first given to the disciples who were in Antioch. See Acts Chapter 11. Ask yourself this question, "Would someone tell me that I remind them of Jesus Christ?" Would they see Jesus Christ watching who you are, reading what you are reading, wearing what you are wearing, listening to what you are listening to, or going to the places you go to?
Jesus is NOT your big buddy in the sky. He is a Holy, Perfect, Loving, Just, Righteous, Gracious, Merciful, Jealous, Logical, and the All-Powerful God who demands obedience from his children. Obedience is the number one thing God want s from us. From Genesis to Revelation the theme is clear - OBEDIENCE.
People have a mistaken idea that God is all about love and nothing more. All throughout Scripture God is giving His creation, commandments. People seem to get hung up on the "Big Ten" but God has given nearly 1800 commandments. Some people will also say that we live under grace and the law doesn't apply anymore. They are correct in that we do live in the age of grace but the only commandments that are not in effect are the ceremonial laws. The moral and civil laws are still supposed to be followed. So with that being said, we need to see that God does have rules of conduct for our lives. Living in the Age of Grace doesn’t mean that we have the liberty to do whatever we want. It simply means that God has given us something (salvation) that we do not deserve and cannot earn.(Ephesians 2:8-9 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.)
Salvation and being a Christian are two of the most misunderstood concepts in the "church" today. What is salvation? Being a jail Chaplain has given me a great opportunity to preach to, teach, and counsel, with hundreds of men and women. They come from all walks of life, ages from 12 to 78, many different religions and denominations, rich families, poor families, black, white, Mexican, Asian, college-educated and high school dropouts. The one thing that all of them have in common is that they all have their own idea of what salvation is.
Very few of them have any idea of what the Bible actually says about how to get saved. Of the hundreds of times I have asked the question, "How does a person get to heaven", I have never had one time where someone gave me what the Bible actually says. Some of the responses I get are as follows:
*Keep the 10 commandments
*Believe in God and do good
*Go to church
*Join the church
*Keep the Sabbath
*Believe in Jesus Christ
*Do all the sacraments
*Follow the Watchtower
*Nothing - we are all God's children
*Read the Bible
*Listen to the Pope
*Become a Mormon
* My Dad/Mom/Grandpa/Aunt etc. is a "preacher" so I am ok.
*Make a commitment to the church. **NOTE** Salvation is NEVER any kind of formal ceremony. It is personal between you and God and that is it!
*Being slain in the spirit
*Speaking in tongues
PLUS A WHOLE LOT MORE.
After I get each one of these answers, I always ask them, "What is the basis for your answer?" Most all share a common answer and that is, "That is what I was told". For those that claim to be Christian, I ask them to show me their answer in the Bible. None can ever do it.
For those who claim not to be Christian, I deal with them a completely different way but the purpose of this lesson is dealing with people who call themselves "Christians".
I simply ask them, "Do you want to know exactly what the Bible says about how to get saved?" This is where it is very important to use only a King James Bible. What seem like minor changes in the text of so-called modern versions are huge in regards to doctrine.
In Acts chapter 16 starting in verse 25 we have the story of Paul and Silas in jail. In the middle of the night, as they were singing praises to God, the jail was stuck with an earthquake and all the prisoner doors swung open. When the jailer saw the open doors he assumed that the prisoners had escaped and that meant that he would be brutally tortured to death for allowing it to happen. Not wanting to face that kind of death he was about to commit suicide. Paul, being a Roman citizen knew what would happen to the jailer and knew what he was about to do and called out to him to not harm himself. The jailer came into their cell and fell on his knees in fear. At this point, he asks a VERY SPECIFIC question. "SIRS, WHAT MUST I DO TO BE SAVED?"
You can’t get any more specific than that! Now notice what they said to him. It was NOT believe in God, get baptized, join a church, keep the 10 commandments or anything else that was listed earlier. The answer was just as specific as the question. They told him, "Believe ON the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved, and thy house."
Notice that they did NOT tell him to believe IN Jesus Christ. The Bible is a book of exactness and specificity and that is why every little word in very important and why we should not mess with trying to "update" it. That is why Jesus said that even the tiniest part of a word should not be messed with. Matthew 5:18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.
Just believing in Jesus is NOT enough. A person must believe ON Him. The Bible says in James 2:19 that the devils believe in God and tremble at His presence, but they are not getting back into Heaven. Their belief is not going to help them one bit.
The difference in believing IN something and ON something is explained by the following example. Let's say that you are on a cruise ship and you are leaning over the side enjoying the beautiful view. Suddenly you slip and fall over the side and you can't swim. You are drowning and someone throws you one of those round life preservers and yells. “There is a life preserver, it can save you!" You look up at them a yell back, "I know it is a life preserver, I believe with all my heart that it can save me!" But if you never reach out and grab hold of the life preserver, what will happen to you? - You will drown and die. Your "belief" and your "faith" did nothing for you.
Now, let’s change the picture a bit. You are on the ship; you slip and fall overboard, and are drowning. Again someone throws you a life preserver and yells, “There is a life preserver, it can save you!" and you yell back at them, "I know it is a life preserver, I believe it can save me!" but this time you reach out, grab hold of it and bring it to your chest and "lean" on it. Are you going to drown now? No, you will not. You have been saved by making the life preserver part of yourself.
So, it is the same with Jesus Christ. Unless you have done what the Bible says in regards to salvation, YOU ARE NOT SAVED!
Salvation, true salvation has always been simple and free but a person needs to recognize that churches and religions have added to or taken from this simple concept.
True salvation does require a couple of "steps".
- You need to realize that in God's sight you are a filthy rotten sinner who deserves and eternity in Hell. Isaiah 64:6 But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.
And once you realize and believe that, you must be sorry enough to ask for forgiveness. Repentance generally comes from one of two places; fear or a broken heart.
2. Asking for salvation.
-In prayer, you are admitting to God that you NEED Him to save you from eternal punishment and you are accepting Him ONLY as your personal Saviour. Romans 10:9-10 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
That's it! Nothing more. If any church or group or person has told you that salvation is different than that, then they are not getting their information from the Bible and basically calling God a liar.
If you are unsure of your salvation I would be happy to discuss it with you and show you how you can be 100% sure that if you died right now you would go to Heaven.
The following verse should help.
Ro 5:8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
Ro 5:12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:
Ro 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
Ro 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Ro 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
Ro 10:9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
Ro 10:13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
Ro 10:10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation