Website owner: James Miller
On the “just believe in Jesus” message
There is a huge body of scripture that says that the immoral and wicked will go to hell and that only those that obey God by living clean, good, upright lives will go to heaven. For example:
Gal 5:19-21 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
1 Cor 6:9-10 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.
Matthew 7:21 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. (Words of Jesus)
Matthew 12:50 For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother. (Words of Jesus)
Matthew 19:17 “if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments” (Words of Jesus)
John 8: 31- 32 Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
John 8:51 Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death. (Words of Jesus)
John 10:27-29 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand. (Words of Jesus)
John 12:26 If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour. (Words of Jesus)
John 14:21 He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. (Words of Jesus)
John 14:23-24 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's which sent me.
James 1:22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.
James 2:14-17 What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.
I John 2:3-6 And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him. He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.
II John1:9: Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.
Rev 22:14-15 Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.
We thus see that a necessary condition for salvation is obedience to God, and more specifically, obedience to the teachings of Jesus. However, in many instances, Jesus is quoted in the gospels as saying that the criterion for going to heaven is “believing in him”. For example:
John 3:16-18 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
John 6:40 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 6:47 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.
John 11:25-26 Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?
Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
Just what did Jesus mean when he spoke of “believing on him” or “in him”? What did the apostles mean when they spoke of “believing in Jesus”? This is an important question because many evangelical churches today speak of “believing in Jesus” as the condition for salvation. Their exact meaning is not always clear and their usage may be ambiguous. However, most also have as a basic dogma the tenet that salvation is by faith only, and not by works, thus marginalizing the role of works (i.e. obedience to God) in regard to salvation. As a consequence, their meaning can easily be taken as a type of belief that does not include obedience. So what does the term mean as used in the Bible? If we assume as a given that obedience to God (or Jesus) is a necessary condition for salvation, then we are forced to conclude that the term denotes an honest and genuine faith that includes obedience to God (and, equivalently to the teachings of Jesus). It excludes the kind of belief where one believes in God but doesn’t obey him (we know that even the demons believe — and tremble). Because the word “believe” is usually used in this later sense, it is cause for confusion and misunderstanding. I note that throughout the Old Testament the criterion for salvation is “obedience to God”. That is what being true to God is all about — obeying him, obeying his commandments. That is what God demands. Christianity is not a sham religion. True Christianity must be based on obedience to God. The God of the Old Testament is the same God as of the New Testament. The way to heaven is obedience to God. Jesus was God. Thus obedience to God means obedience to Jesus. Obedience to Jesus is obedience to God. Through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, our sins are forgiven and we have eternal life if we follow Jesus, if we live by his teachings.
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