By God’s grace, He makes redemption possible through Jesus’ blood (Ephesians 1:7). God’s Son is the Lamb of God that came to take away the sin of the world (John 1:29) and His gospel is God’s power to salvation (Romans 1:16). All people that fully accept the Bible’s message believe these truths.
But what must a person do in order to be saved? From those that claim to believe in Jesus as the Son of God, we hear a variety of answers to that question. When it comes to religious messages, “Take heed what you hear” (Mark 4:24). Let us list some of the false and contradictory messages that denominational teach about how to be saved from past sins. All quotations below are authentic.
Just believe in Jesus/faith only – Under the heading “The Articles of Religion of the Methodist Church,” it is stated, “We are accounted righteous before God only for the merit of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, by faith, and not for our own works or deservings. Wherefore, that we are justified by faith only, is a most wholesome doctrine, and very full of comfort” [taken on 20 September 2011 from http://archives.umc.org]. A: Jesus said that the person who is saved is the one that believes and is baptized (Mark 16:16). What Jesus said is not the same as “faith only,” is it?
Just pray and ask for forgiveness – “Sinner friend, just bow your head right now. Ask Jesus to forgive you, a sinner, and ask Him to save you. He will” [tract: “Ye Must Be Born Again”]. “. . . the sinner is saved in answer to prayer, in response to a request for salvation” [Mr. Ben Bogard, Baptist preacher, Bogard-Warlick Debate, page 81]. A: Never in the Book of Acts do we read that people lost outside of Jesus were told to pray to be saved.
Just believe and pray – “You can receive Christ right now by faith through prayer (prayer is talking with God)” [tract: “Have You Heard of The Four Spiritual Laws”]. “If you are ready to accept this gift (salvation, rdc), pray this prayer: Jesus, I believe that you are the holy Son of God. I believe that you died on the cross for my sins and that you rose from the dead. You are my salvation. Please wash all my sins away and make me a child of God. I give my life to you today. Amen” [tract: “What Is Meant by Salvation”]. A: This is a standard sample of what is called “The Sinner’s Prayer.” Nowhere in the Book of Acts do we read such a notion! Sinners were told to repent and be baptized for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38).
Just believe and confess faith – This argument is often based on Romans 10:9,10, where we read of two salvation conditions: believe in Jesus and confess Him as Lord. A: These verses say nothing of repentance, which is also a condition of salvation (Acts 3:19). So, Romans 10:9,10 is not “all there is to it.”
Just repent – In the presence of two other men, I once asked a denominational preacher, “If someone asked you, ‘What must I do to be saved,’ how would you answer?” His response: “There is nothing that you have to do to be saved. The only thing you have to do is repent.” A: First, his answer is self-contradictory, as he states that there are zero things to do to be saved, then he changes and says there is one thing a person must do. Second, the Bible’s message of forgiveness is repent plus something, not repent only (Acts 2:38,3:19).
Just repent and believe – “When a man repents from his sins and believes in Jesus, his sins are forgiven (Rom. 10:9-10) . . . Baptism follows this part of salvation, that is, the forgiveness of sins. It is not baptism that brings the forgiveness of sins, but repentance and faith in Jesus” [taken on 29 Nov. 2011 from City Harvest Church web site; www.chc.org.sg/eng]. A: Biblically speaking, those who have a desire to repent are those that already believe, not vice versa. The purpose of baptism is, indeed, to wash away sins (Acts 22:16). That makes it a condition of salvation after faith and repentance.
Observe this. The six theories above contradict one another. Faith only is not the same as repent only, and neither of those is the same as pray only. Faith only is different from faith plus prayer, and repent only is different from repentance plus faith. What a confusing mess! Let us tell people the Bible truth that Jesus saves those that believe in Him and obey His gospel by being baptized into Him for the remission of their sins (Hebrews 5:9; Acts 2:38).
False teaching about salvation cannot save even one soul. Brothers and sisters, knowing the garbage, that is, the false teaching that comes from denominations about how to be saved, I never, ever plan to encourage a single person to attend a denominational church. Never. And, in view of their false doctrine, I have no intention of telling anyone that “every church is the same.” What about you?
— Roger D. Campbell
TRUTH is published monthly by the Klang church of Christ (http://klangchurchofchrist.org/) in order to help educate, edify, encourage, and equip the saints of God.