You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life…. For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote about Me. (John 5:39, 40, 46)
The religious leaders flipped out when they heard Jesus say this, and then they blew a gasket when Jesus told them He existed before Abraham (John 8:56). This challenges us to dig deeper into our faith. John R.W. Stott was an English Christian leader and was very influential in the worldwide evangelical movement. He said it is the uniqueness of Christ that we defend:
“So, because in no other person but Jesus of Nazareth did God first become human (in his birth), then bear our sins (in his death), then conquer death (in his resurrection) and then enter his people (by his Spirit), he is uniquely able to save sinners. Nobody else has his qualifications.”
Most Christians don’t have a problem with the above assertions or Scriptures, but some have a hard time with being saved by grace alone. A few religions overemphasize good works – doing as much as you can to be accepted by God or to get to heaven – which is not what the Bible teaches. In Ephesians 2:8, Paul writes that we are saved only through faith because of God’s grace. Grace is undeserved favor. Grace has nothing to do with our efforts.
However, it is also important to balance out our faith and good deeds because faith without actions is useless. We are to live what we believe in full expression and demonstration of our faith. The Bible also teaches faith works through love (Gal. 5:6). But please do not miss the point that there is absolutely nothing you or I can do to get God to love us more or accept us more. Nothing in all creation can separate us from the love of Christ (Rom. 8:38-39).
Then there are others who don’t think they need to put their trust in Jesus to go to heaven. They might say, “I am a good person. I have never murdered or raped anybody. I try to follow the Golden Rule. I love the planet and recycle, and I even volunteer.” I would ask them if they think Jesus was a good person.
As He was setting out on a journey, a man ran up to Him and knelt before Him, and asked Him,
“Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone (Mark 10:17-18).
No one is good enough on their own to approach a holy God. He also made the point that we are incapable of keeping the commandments, so how can anyone be saved by trying to be good through their own efforts?
Have you ever lied, stolen anything, coveted something someone else had, hated someone in your heart (murder), or lusted after another person (adultery)? Have you always honored your mother and father? Have you ever idolized a person or a thing over God? (Like a Hollywood actor, rock star, sports team, athlete, celebrity, bike, car, boat, house, etc.) Have you ever taken the Lord’s name in vain? Not one of us is good, and it’s impossible for us to keep the laws and commandments of God on our own.
That’s why the gospel truly is very good news. Those of us who confess Jesus is our Lord and Savior, believing in our hearts, are forgiven, saved, set free, redeemed, restored, sanctified, and blessed. We have a bright future and an eternal hope!
PRAY FOR THOSE WHO REFUSE TO BELIEVE
I recently had a good conversation with a very liberal guy who is not a Christian. Though he didn’t believe the Bible is God’s Word or that Christ alone is Lord, he listened to what I shared. Sadly, the conversation left his heart unchanged. He complimented me on being a person of conviction even though he disagreed with me.
But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised (1 Corinthians 2:14).
The natural man may be wise according to the world’s wisdom and intellect, but that won’t get him very far when it comes to discerning spiritual things. His pride, earthly success, degrees and worldly education prevent him from admitting he needs God. Though this person I talked with hasn’t read much of the Bible, he had formed strong beliefs and negative opinions about Christianity and religion in general. Not only that, but he also taught this worldview to his children, and they now take bits and pieces from many religions.
I call it cafeteria Christianity. They choose what they want, when they want it, and avoid what they don’t like in the Bible. It is being dangerously mired in the mucky middle. But if you have an unwavering faith in Jesus Christ built on the solid foundation of God’s Word, your beliefs will not be shaken. Your faith will withstand the debates, opinions, talking points, arguments, and attacks of opponents. We don’t have all the answers, so we don’t need to pretend we do.
I love the Lord because He changed my heart. I am convinced about the truth of Jesus Christ because of massive evidence – archeological, biblical, and historical – and years of personal research and study. This other person was just as convinced in his views by his upbringing, by liberal friends, and higher education. We both believe our convictions are right and true. So what is the lesson? Don’t get discouraged when you talk to someone who simply doesn’t want to believe. Pray for them. The results are in God’s hands.
The more I study the Bible, the more I realize I need to learn. Our responsibility is to always be ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence (1 Peter 3:15). Are you prepared to explain the reason for your faith in Christ? The Holy Spirit will instruct us and teach us. People may not know exactly what they’re looking for, but they are searching. Everyone has a void only Christ can fill. We are ambassadors for Christ commissioned to share the truth, so speak it with boldness.
Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved… For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved (Romans 10:9-10, 13 ).
[Excerpt from pages 23-25 in ERADICATE: Blotting Out God in America] by David Fiorazo