“But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved in the same manner as they.” (
How can we know that we have eternal life? If there is a God (and all creation testifies to that), and if we must one day give an account to Him (and our conscience testifies to that), then there is no more crucial question. Every religion tries to provide an answer to how to be accepted by whatever deity—or deities—into whatever destiny they portray heaven to be. Though there is this similarity in all: you must do something to earn the god or gods approval, there is also so much different in them all that they cannot all be just different roads to the same end. That can’t be—they exclude one another because of their religious systems—and you don’t end up with the same god or the same afterlife in them. One faith stands out unique from all the rest. It teaches that we cannot get to God, so He has come to us. This Way isn’t in keeping precepts and earning the right into a happy eternity, but is in knowing a Person who gives you the right into Heaven’s bliss! That Way, of course, is the One who did not merely show a way, but said, “I am the Way;” who did not just teach the truth, but said, “I am the Truth;” who did not only offer eternal life, but claimed, “I am the Life”—and that is Jesus Christ (
There are—and have always been—those who would distort and dilute that message, by adding additional requirements to faith in Christ. Early on, the proponents of Judaism wanted to make Christianity into a Jewish sect. Their teaching might be summarized this way, “Sure, you must believe in Jesus, but you must also follow Moses.” They wanted to merge the Old Covenant with the New, instead of seeing that the Old was fulfilled in the New Covenant. It was an issue that had to be met head on—and the early church did in the first Church Council recorded in
15. Gentiles had been
converted by faith in Christ alone—and now there were those demanding that
Jewish institutions be accepted before Gentile inclusion was approved for these
former pagans. The church could promote legalism or liberty—but not both.
The Jesus plus crowd is still with us. They say:
- believe in Jesus, plus Mary;
- believe in Jesus, plus keep the Sabbath on Saturday;
- believe in Jesus, plus be baptized;
- believe in Jesus, plus work like a beaver to keep yourself saved.
When Jesus said, “It is finished!” on
meant that! All that was required was to
look to Him in faith—and we will be saved.
Some say, that’s too easy—you are giving people a license to sin. No!
isn’t license. The church also warned
the new converts that the New Covenant made us a new creation and this would
lead not only to Heaven, but to holiness ( Liberty Acts 15:19-21). Idolatry and immorality that marked paganism
would be set aside—not as a requirement of salvation, but as a result of
it! The decision produced great celebration
(v.22-31) and an open door to world evangelization (v.32-41). Amazing grace—how sweet the sound—that still
saves wretches like us!