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What Did Jesus Christ Teach about
How to Be Saved to Eternal Life?

 
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Many Believe In Jesus:
But Few Really Believe Him

by Matt Moody, Ph.D.  

Many Christians believe in Jesus: they believe that He is their Savior. But some of these same Christians don't really believe Him! In other words, the actual practice of their Christianity is, ironically, not centered upon the teaching of Jesus but are based more upon the teachings of the Apostle Paul.

Beyond quoting John 3:16 as the foundation of their belief, some Christians thereafter emphasize Romans 10:9 and Ephesians 2:8 as the primary basis for being saved. But remember, the souls who followed Jesus from 31 to 34 A.D., before Paul was even converted, didn't have the whole Bible as we do today — they didn't have access to the teachings of Paul. Thus they had to solely rely upon the teachings of Jesus in order to be saved.

The Savior taught a gospel where believers were admonished to live "by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God" (Matt. 4:4), and not just live by favorite words, or the easiest words.

After studying all passages in the Four Gospels that mention: Saved, Salvation, Life, Eternal Life, Everlasting Life, Heaven, Kingdom of Heaven, and Kingdom of God — I organized a comprehensive summary of every teaching wherein the Savior expressed necessary prerequisites to receiving the gift of eternal life and salvation.

By this list of prerequisites, we better understand why Christian Apologist, G.K. Chesterton concluded: "The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried." Jesus taught that following Him would not be popular, or easy:

"Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it" (Matt. 7:13-14).

Here are true principles taught by the Savior Himself — principles that we must honor and obey to receive the precious Gift of Eternal Life and Salvation:

#1) Believe in Christ — "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. ... but he that believeth not is condemned already, ... he that believeth not the Son shall not see life" (John 3:15-18, 36). "And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day" (John 6:40). "I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved ... I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep" (John 10:9-11).

#2) Be Born Again — "Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. ... Ye must be born again" (John 3:5, 7).

#3) Become Converted — "Except ye be converted ... ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven" (Matt. 18:3). Christ clarified the meaning of conversion in the example of Peter, who believed that Jesus was the Christ (Matt. 16:16), but was not yet "converted" (Luke 22:32-34).

#4) Be Humble and Childlike — "Except ye ... become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven" (Matt. 18:3-4). "Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein" (Luke 18:17).

#5) Believe in the Father — "He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life" (John 5:24).

#6) Do the Will of the Father — "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven" (Matt. 7:21). "I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me" (John 5:30). "For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me" (John 6:38).

#7) Hear and Follow Christ — "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life" (John 10:27-28). "He that heareth my word ... hath everlasting life" (John 5:24). "Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? ... Jesus said unto him, ... come and follow me" (Matt. 19:16, 21).

#8) Be Baptized — "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned" (Mark 16:16). "He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also ... If ye love me, keep my commandments" (John 14:12, 15). "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost" (Matt. 28:19). "Grant that these my two sons may sit ... in thy kingdom. But Jesus answered and said, ... Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?" (Matt. 20:21-22).

#9) Eat of the Bread of Life — "I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world" (John 6:51).

#10) Drink of Living Water — "But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst ... a well of water springing up into everlasting life" (John 4:10-14).

#11) Partake of His Flesh and Blood — "Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. ... He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him" (John 6:53-56). "I am the true vine ... Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing" (John 15:1-5).

#12) Love God and Neighbor — "Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? ... Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself. ... this do, and thou shalt live" (Luke 10:25-28). "And he turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head. ... Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little. And he said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven. ... Thy faith hath saved thee" (Luke 7:44, 47-50). The woman's expression of love, and her faith are as two sides of one coin; thus, Obeying the Great Commandments & Believing in Christ are inseparable.

#13) Show Charity — "Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world ... Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire ... Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal" (Matt. 25:34, 40-41, 45-46).

#14) Love your Enemies — "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven" (Matt. 5:44-45).

#15) Endure to the End — "And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved" (Mark 13:13). "For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. ... Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted ... and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake. ... But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved" (Matt. 24:7-13). "Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (Matt. 5:10).

#16) Done Good — "Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation" (John 5:28-29). "Jesus saith unto him, ... I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works... Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also" (John 14:9-12). "And Jesus answered and said unto them, My mother and my brethren are these which hear the word of God, and do it" (Luke 6:21).

Burning Questions: Is it possible for disciples of Christ in contemporary times to be saved unto eternal life, by following kist the teachings of Jesus? Can Christians be saved solely by living true principles that the Savior taught during His mortal ministry?

Are the teachings of Jesus alone, sufficient to supply all that is necessary to enter the Kingdom of Heaven? Certainly we are blessed to have the teachings of the Apostle Paul, but can we possibly be saved unto eternal life by faithfully following the teachings of Jesus only?

Obvious Answer: Of course Christ's teaching during His mortal ministry were sufficient to lead followers to Salvation. And because that's true, why do some contemporary Christians contrive a different way to Salvation, compared to the one that Jesus taught?

Easy and Instance Salvation

Here's an example of a different way to Salvation other than the Way Jesus taught:
The A B C's of Being Saved, and note, every step comes from the preachings of Paul — and none of the three easy steps to Salvation come from the teachings of the Son of God:

In an attempt to sell an easier, more popular way of getting to Heaven, some Christian Preachers conveniently simplify a way to be Saved; they cherry-pick the teachings of Paul to suit their preference, while ignoring what the Son of God taught about Salvation.

Also from Romans 10:9 comes the false teaching of Instance Salvation, or Once Saved Always Saved -- where Believers need only "confess ... that Jesus is Lord," and in that very moment, they are saved.

But the alleged "doctrine" of Instance Salvation grinds against what the Savior taught:

"But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved" (Mark 13:13; Matt. 24:13). The true doctrine of "Enduring to the End" directly clashes with the idea of Instance Salvation.

The Apostle Paul taught: "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling" (Philip. 2:12). So contrary to the false teaching of Instant Salvation (by merely saying that we are sinners, and confessing that Jesus is Lord), the Apostle Paul spoke of his own personal journey of "enduring to the end" using these words: "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith" (2 Tim. 4:7).

Of course, keeping the faith throughout one's mortal life is what Jesus requires of believers who will exercise faith to be saved. Christ's described the journey of faith as: denying oneself, taking up "his cross" and following Him (Matt. 16:24). And Jesus directly declared: "But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved" (Matt. 24:7-13; Mark 13:13).

Saved by Grace

Ephesians 2:8 includes an essential element that is often omitted:
"For by grace are ye saved through faith ..."

Note the Meme below has removed the words, "through faith." When these words are omitted, a false idea is created: that Salvation requires nothing from the person being saved. Hence comes the over-simplified distortions of the Lord's Gospel: by God's Grace everyone gets a Free Ticket to Heaven.

The words "through faith" affirm what Jesus taught in John 3:16 — we must have faith in Christ to be saved by God's Grace.

Paul explained: "Being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom we have access by faith into this grace" (Romans 5:1-2).

More on Eph. 2:8 — "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and not of yourselves: it is the gift of God"

Jesus said: "I am the true vine ... As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine ... He that abides in me, and I in him, the same brings forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing" (John 15:1-5). We "access" God's Grace thru faith. We also "abide in the vine" thru faith.

Salvation and Eternal Life is a Gift because unless we abide in the True Vine, we "can do nothing" (John 15:5) -- we completely rely upon the True Vine to do anything that we may choose to do! God graciously gives us the breath of life, and the choice to choose good or evil.

We must do all that Christ directly admonished to receive Salvation and Eternal Life; we must exercise of pure faith (John 3:16; Eph. 2:8) that gains "access" His Grace (Rom. 5:2).

The English word "Grace" is derived from a Greek word that means: "Loving-Kindness." God has graciously given to all humanity the opportunity to be saved by making a Covenant with Him. In the Bible, God mentions the word "covenant" 279 times. And the two grand divisions of the Bible, are essentially: The Old Covenant and the New Covenant (Hebrews 12:24; 13:21).

Thus, the Lord saves us Graciously as we love and serve Him Faithfully -- these are the terms of the Covenant that God has declared. In contrast, the false doctrine of a "Free Ticket to Heaven" captures what Dietrich Bonhoeffer calls "cheap grace." Here's the way Bonhoeffer explains Cheap Grace versus Costly Grace:

"Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, communion without confession... Cheap grace is grace without discipleship... Grace without price; grace without cost! The essence of grace, we wrongly suppose, is that the account has been paid in advance and because it has been paid, everything can be had for nothing."

"Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which we must knock. Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow ... It is costly because it costs a man his life. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son: 'ye were bought at a price' and what has cost God so much, cannot be cheap for us."
~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Matt Moody, Ph.D.
Social Psychologist
ChangingYourStripes.com



Related Articles:      
Covenant Context of Salvation
Faith in Christ: Our Side of the Saving Covenant
Faithfulness in Following the Savior Opens Access to God's Grace

Solving Bible Conundrum created by Misinterpretation of the Epistles of Paul

 

The Journey

For this is the Journey that mortals make:
To find themselves. If they fail in this, it matters little
whatever else they may achieve: Money, Fame, Revenge, Pleasure.
When they end the Journey, they can put them all into
a bin marked "ashes." They mean nothing.
But if one has found that she has within her
a divine soul, if she has discovered the principles
upon which the fulfillment of that soul is based, and
if she implements those principles, then she has a mansion
within which she can live with dignity
and joy each day of her life.

* * * * * * *

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The Greatest Prize
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(Changing Your Stripes, 2nd Edition, page 274)
 

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