In this part of this study, I’ll continue to look at the four common deceptions being preached in the church today. In the first part, we looked at the deception that “all it takes to get saved is to pray the “sinner’s prayer,” and that “Jesus’ life and teachings are not required for Christians.” But in this part, we will examine these last two deceptions:
(3) To be saved, we can accept Jesus as our Savior without accepting Him as “Lord”; and
(4) Salvation is an event, NOT a life-long process.
(3) THAT TO BE SAVED, WE JUST HAVE TO ACCEPT JESUS AS SAVIOR
WITHOUT MAKING HIM OUR LORD.
This third error taught by these NTO preachers and teachers is that to be saved, we can accept Jesus as our Savior, but we do not have to make Him our Lord since accepting Jesus as Lord is an additional step beyond salvation. Why? Because Jesus has standards that people have to meet to be a disciple of His, and from their perspective, to teach that one must meet these standards to be saved would be adding to “grace” and, therefore, to them, it’s unacceptable.
Many of these NTO pastors and teachers do not really biblically understand “grace,” because they’ve been taught to view it through the perspective of a religion, instead of a Kingdom. You see, in a Kingdom, the King owns everything: the land, the grass, tress, plants, water, buildings, resources, and even the people. And not just their bodies, but their dreams, plans, desires, jobs, and all that they produce. So obviously, there’s NOTHING that one can do to “EARN” anything to give to the King, because he already owns it all. Therefore, if the King decides to do anything for you or me, then it is “unearned” or “unmerited favor,” that is, “grace.”
You see, in the Roman empire, one could pay for one’s citizenship; however, God is the ultimate King of all Kings, and He owns it all, so there’s nothing we can offer Him that He doesn’t already own. And we can’t buy our citizenship, like in the Roman empire, so that His gift of “salvation” – making us citizens of His Kingdom – comes to us by “grace” [His unmerited favor towards us] through faith [our continuing trust in what Jesus did for us, as well as our continuing trust in God and Jesus as the dynasty of our Kingdom to lead us, care for us, and provide for us.] Not at all a hard concept when you understand it within the context of Kingdom.
But once we understand “grace” from a Kingdom perspective, we can also understand “works” to be about gaining our citizenship [salvation], not about how we live as citizens. For example, a person from France can come to the United States and obey all of our laws, but this does not make him a “citizen” of the U.S. Instead, to become a citizen, he must go through the “naturalization process.” The same is true of God’s Kingdom. Obeying all of His laws will not make us citizens of His Kingdom; instead, we must go through His “naturalization process” of believing that Jesus is Lord and that He died for our sins on the cross, that He rose again, and then being baptized in water as part of our repentance for sin. But once we are saved, God, like the U.S., expects His citizens to keep His laws.
In fact, did you know that nowhere in the Bible does God ever give the right to people to decide what’s required for people to go to heaven? Nowhere at all. The very fact that any religious leader thinks that he or she has the right to tell people what they need to be saved at all, based on what they think is right, only proves that they are viewing God and His Word in the context of religion and not in the context of Kingdom. It is the KING (God) who sets down the requirements one must fulfill to gain entry into His own Kingdom – not anyone else, regardless of who they are.
And God has said in His word that part of the naturalization process to gain citizenship in His Kingdom is that you must “confess” (make a public stand swearing your allegiance and loyalty) that “Jesus is Lord.” The word “Lord” means “master” or “owner,” and its another term for King. Jesus is our King, and as our King, He is our Master and Owner. We BELONG to Him because HE PURCHASED US (OR BOUGHT US) WITH HIS BLOOD, so as His people, He expects our continual love, allegiance and loyalty throughout our lives.
And since He is the KING and LORD, then His opinion, which He has given in His Word, is the ONLY opinion that matters. He either owns you or He doesn’t. Jesus doesn’t play this game where you belong to Him when it is convenient for you, but when it isn’t convenient because you want to do something you know He doesn’t approve of, then you are your own boss: “It’s my life, I’ll do what I want to do with it.” Tell me, where’s Jesus’ ownership of your life in this statement?
(4) SALVATION IS A LIFE-LONG PROCESS, NOT AN EVENT
The Bible is clear that you cannot be saved simply by saying the “sinner’s prayer.” Why? Because salvation is a covenantal relationship between a person and God; therefore, as a covenant, it is not a one-time experience, but a life-long journey that BEGINS the moment we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, and then continues on UNTIL we come into the presence of the Lord, either at death or His return.
Salvation happens in three interactive stages:
(1) REGENERATION (or “the New Birth”; “Born Again”; or Justification): That initial stage when we are forgiven, given a new heart and a new spirit, and we are saved from the penalty of sin;
(2) SANCTIFICATION: The longest stage when we are “being saved” from the control and power of sin in our day-to-day life; and
(3) GLORIFICATION: The final stage when we come into the Presence of God and Jesus Christ and receive our new bodies, either at death or at His return.
Notice that salvation in this journey incorporates all three of these stages. It does not all happen in the first initial stage. This is where it begins! Just think about the Exodus. If God told Israel, “I am giving you the Promised Land,” but they chose to remain in their homes where they celebrated Passover, never leaving Egypt, would they’ve ever entered the land and been able to enjoy what God had for them there? No, because in order to actually acquire the land, they had to leave Egypt (our old lives of sin) and make their journey to the Promised Land. We must do so, likewise, but our Promised Land is God’s Kingdom.
And what is the ASSURANCE or EVIDENCE that we are on this journey with Christ? It is a “transformed life” and a lifestyle that is continually improving in living in obedience to God and to His commandments, not just going up front and saying “the sinner’s prayer.” Nor is it just two commandments that we are to follow, but all of them that apply from Genesis to Revelation.
The two great commandments that Jesus quoted was a SUMMARY of the Ten Commandments, which in themselves, are a SUMMARY of the commandments found from Genesis to Deuteronomy. A SUMMARY does not take the place of what it is summarizing; instead, it just gives a glimpse of how we are to view the material. The two commandments given by Jesus reveals that Jesus viewed the commandments as expressions of love – NOT “legalism” or “bondage” or “the ministry of death” that you hear from pastors or ministers today. The law that Paul called “the ministry of death” was NOT God’s law but “the law of sin” seen and manifested through the Oral tradition, a tradition that Jews to this day trace back to Mt. Sinai. The first use of God’s law is not traced back to Sinai – but to Abraham (see Genesis 26:5).
Therefore, if we claim that we were “saved,” but we are not any different today than we were before we started 6 months ago, a year ago, two years ago, or even three years ago, then we need to question whether or not we were actually saved. For example, in 2 Corinthians 13, Paul writes, “Test yourselves to see IF YOU ARE IN THE FAITH; examine yourselves!” (13:5) Now why do we have to TEST or EXAMINE ourselves on whether or not we are actually IN THE FAITH if all it takes to be saved is a simple prayer?
In John 8, Jesus is speaking to Jews who have put their faith and trust in Him (John 8:31). By the standards of NTO preachers and teachers, these Jews should be considered “saved,” and Jesus should be congratulating them for doing all that they needed to do to be saved and go to heaven. But is this what Jesus did? No, it isn’t. Instead, Jesus tells them,
IF YOU CONTINUE IN MY WORD [TEACHINGS], THEN ARE YOU TRULY MY DISCIPLES INDEED, and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you FREE” (John 8:31-32; Emphasis Mine).
Notice, these are “Jews which believed on Him,” yet Jesus is clearly telling them that believing on Him ONCE doesn’t make them His disciples, but only if they CONTINUE in His teachings, and only by CONTINUING in His teachings will they come to know the truth that will make FREE. In fact, by the time Jesus continues speaking with them, these “new Jewish believers” are ready to stone Him! And if this had been Gentile [non-Jewish] believers, they would have done the same! They would have acted no differently.
So the question you need to ask yourself is NOT whether you went up to the altar and said the “sinner’s prayer,” that’s step #1, but “ARE YOU CONTINUING IN HIS TEACHINGS?” Where are you today in comparison to where you began? But throughout this article, what I’ve been trying to show you is the problem these NTO preachers and teachers have created through their doctrine:
- If Jesus’ life and teachings are NOT for Christians today, as many NTO preachers and teachers are saying, then how can we “CONTINUE” in them?
- Therefore, the very basis of what makes us Jesus’ “disciples,” according to Jesus, is NOT for Christians.
- Consequently, based on their NTO logic, a Christian can not become one of Jesus’ disciples since His teachings are not for them.
I hope you can see the fallacies of these men’s teachings since like the Pharisees in Jesus’ time, they have invalidated the word of God for the sake of their tradition.
Also, in Paul’s second epistle to the church at Corinth, Paul is sarcastic, while yet seeking to correct them, for falling for those who are preaching to them “another Jesus” and “another gospel”:
But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled [deceived] Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that comes preaching ANOTHER JESUS, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive ANOTHER SPIRIT, which ye have not received, or ANOTHER GOSPEL, which you have not accepted, you might well bear with him. (2 Corinthians 11:3-4; Emphasis Mine)
And just like at Corinth, the American Church has fallen for those who are preaching “ANOTHER JESUS” and “ANOTHER GOSPEL.” And what is sad is that the majority of people who are calling themselves “Christians” have fallen for these four deceptive errors I’ve discussed.
But if we are going to ignore the damage these NTO deceptions are doing to the Body of Christ, then hey, (sarcastically) let’s just open the doors wide for anyone who has anything to say about Jesus: the Mormons, the Jehovah Witnesses, the Hindus (who teach Jesus is the reincarnation of Lord Krishna) and the Buddhists (who teach Jesus was a reincarnation of the Buddha, who lived 500 years before Jesus), and anyone else we can include. Because Christianity isn’t about truth but “love” and making people feel good, right?
Hopefully, you know I’m being sarcastic. Such a move would not, in any way, be wise. I mean, just because someone says that they believe in JESUS CHRIST does NOT make them “saved.” Jesus again taught this:
Not every one that says to Me, “Lord, Lord,” shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that does the will of My Father which is in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, “Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name? And in Your name have cast out devils? And in Your name done many wonderful works [or miracles]? And then I will profess unto them, I NEVER KNEW YOU: depart from Me, you that work [or perform or practice] iniquity. (Matthew 7:21-23)
Jesus makes it quite clear here that calling Him “Lord” is not enough to get into heaven. There’s going to be MANY in that day of judgment who will do this, and they will even claim to have done things for Him by the power of the Holy Spirit. But in spite of this, He will tell them to DEPART from Him. Why? Because they continued to live in “iniquity” or “lawlessness.” This is the English translation of the Greek word ANOMIA (Strong’s #458). ANOMIA means the following:
- Transgression of the law (used this way in I John 3:4; and
- Not having, knowing or acknowledging the law.
Therefore, for people to live their lives either directly transgressing God’s law or simply by not having, knowing or acknowledging the law in their life is ANOMIA, or INIQUITY or LAWLESSNESS. And these are the people Jesus is going to say, “Depart from Me.” These are people who lived their lives ignoring God’s commandments, or not doing “the will of the Father” [i.e., not obeying His commandments from the heart], and as a result, Jesus will let them know that He never truly knew them. So what we can infer from this statement by Him is that Jesus knows those who live in obedience to His commandments, including the Old Testament commandments, by the power of His Spirit, but not those who claim to be His but continue to live their lives in sin.
In fact, right before this, Jesus gave this important teaching:
A good tree bears good fruit; but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree CANNOT produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does NOT bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits. (Matthew 7:17-20, Emphasis Mine)
Jesus says here that “A GOOD TREE [a “saved person”] CANNOT produce bad fruit [continue in sin].” So I can see why these NTO preachers and teachers want to eliminate the teachings of Christ from the life of Christians because His teachings contradict their views and ideas of “free grace.” Therefore, they are willing to sacrifice anything to maintain their pet doctrine, even Jesus Himself. In understanding this, I wonder in what way, they are any different from the Scribes and Pharisees of Jesus’ day?
Jesus says here that “obedience to God” is, in fact, a part of salvation. Notice, He says here that “Every tree [person] that does NOT bear good fruit is cut down and THROWN INTO THE FIRE.” Obviously, then, salvation involves more than just the “sinner’s prayer.” So am I saying that Paul was wrong? No, I am saying that our interpretation of Paul is wrong. Although Paul continually taught that our obedience to God’s law does not JUSTIFY us (Stage 1 of salvation), there is no where in Paul’s writings where he teaches argues against the use of the law in our SANCTIFICATION (Stage 2 of our salvation). In fact, the law’s presence in these teachings is strongly implied or alluded to. In fact, Paul believed that we and the law has a combined role to play in our own sanctification process. For example, consider what Paul teaches in 2 Corinthians:
And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God; as God has said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. (2 Corinthians 16:16)
In this verse, Paul is quoting from Exodus 29:45 and Leviticus 26:12, incorporating God’s law into his teaching here in this passage. What would be the point of this if the law is no longer valid for the Christian experience? He then goes on to say,
Wherefore come out from among them, and be you separate, says the Lord, and touch NOT the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the LORD ALMIGHTY. (2 Corinthians 6: 17-18)
In this case, Paul is quoting from Isaiah 52:11 and Jeremiah 31:1. So again, if the Old Testament is NOT for Christians as the NTO pastors and teachers say, then what’s the point of quoting something that’s allegedly no longer valid? Also, notice here that Paul is saying that in order for the Lord to receive us, we must “come out from among them [the world and its ways], and be separate,” to NOT engage in sinful behaviors and actions, by “touch[ing[ NOT the unclean thing” [which are those things God told us throughout the Scriptures NOT to get involved in], and God says, “and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and you shall be My sons and daughters.” Just saying a prayer at the altar is NOT enough. Again, the sinner’s prayer is where salvation BEGINS, Step #1, it is not ALL there is to it.
After quoting these references, Paul then says,
Having therefore THESE PROMISES, dearly beloved, LET US CLEANSE OURSELVES from ALL FILTHINESS of the FLESH AND SPIRIT, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. (2 Corinthians 7:1; Emphasis Mine)
Notice that Paul clearly says that we are to “CLEANS OURSELVES FROM ALL FILTHINESS OF THE FLESH AND SPIRIT.” Why would any of this be necessary for us to do if ONLY believing in Jesus’ death and resurrection was all there was for us to do? Obviously, there’s more to this SALVATION JOURNEY than what many NTO preachers and teachers are saying. And so let’s ask the question: Why is this process of “SANCTIFICATION” necessary? Because in Hebrews 12:14, the Scriptures teach us that “without holiness, NO MAN [OR WOMAN] shall see the Lord.” Explain to me how you plan to be in heaven and NOT SEE God? You living a sinful life will keep you out of heaven; thus, the need for justification AND sanctification.
It’s funny how these NTO preachers and teachers, who don’t believe that ALL of the Bible for today and for everyone, choose those verses which support their doctrines while ignoring other passages like the one here in 2 Corinthians 16:16-17:1. Paul makes it quite clear that we have a role to play in our own sanctification. Yes, God does have a role to play, but so do we. And although these NTO preachers and teachers talk about God’s role, they claim that if we do anything to assist in that work, then it becomes “works,” and it’s no longer “grace.” But clearly since Paul is telling us that we are to “CLEANSE OURSELVES from ALL FILTHINESS of the FLESH AND SPIRIT,” then it’s not “works” at all, but part of the salvation process.
Let me add one more point. These NTO preachers and teachers say that our obedience to the commandments is “works” and not “grace.” Then, if that is true, then believing in Jesus is also a form of “works” and not “grace,” for John writes in His epistle,
And this is His commandment, That we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as He gave us commandment. (I John 3:23)
Obviously, if obedience to any of God’s commandments is a form of “works righteousness,” as these NTO preachers and teachers say, then according to the Apostle John our believing in Jesus is also one of God’s commandments; therefore, according to the NTO preachers and teachers, it constitutes “works” and not “grace.” Obviously, then, there’s a major problem in what these NTO preachers and teachers define as “works.”