Website owner:  James Miller

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    TESTAMENT CRITERION?          3/85

   The pre-Christian, Old Testament message in regard to salvation 
   seems to be that preached by John the Baptist:  "Repent of your 
   sins, forsake evil, turn to God.  He will then forgive you of 
   your sins and save you."  This message seems to be the main 
   thrust of the Old Testament.  We hear it there again and again.  
   Now I ask a question:  Did Jesus, when he came, change this 
   recipe for salvation?  Did the criterion for being saved change 
   with the arrival of Jesus?  What exactly is the "gospel" (i.e. 
   the "good news") that the New Testament represents?  Did Jesus 
   add anything to this Old Testament recipe for salvation?  If so 
   what?  Jesus was God.  Does it make sense that God, at some 
   point in human history, would change the recipe for the 
   salvation of the human soul?  Jesus made a number of statements 
   in reference to salvation.  Many of his statements seem to 
   say that the recipe for salvation is believing or trusting in 
   him (those which imply that the criterion is believing in him 
   are somewhat intellectually troublesome because we know that 
   even the devils believe and tremble).  At other places Jesus 
   makes statements which emphasize the importance of following 
   his teachings and commandments and "living in him" as critical 
   to being a true disciple of his.  And, in addition, to these 
   statements that Jesus made in regard to salvation we know that 
   Jesus also endorsed John the Baptist and his message.  So from 
   all the statements that Jesus made in regard to the subject of 
   the salvation of the human soul did he attempt to present any 
   new criterion for salvation, one any different from that 
   presented by John the Baptist and the Old Testament?  If so, 
   what was it and how was it different?  The modern day 
   evangelicals have a couple of phrases which they use as a 
   recipe or formula for salvation:  "accepting Christ as your 
   personal Savior" and "giving your heart to Christ".  What 
   exactly and precisely do they mean by these phrases?  Exactly 
   what do they entail?  Do they represent a different criterion 
   for salvation from that presented by John the Baptist?  If so, 
   how is that criterion different?  Are they suggesting that you 
   can be saved through a ritualistic, one-time act that will 
   guarantee your salvation regardless of what you may do, or what 
   spiritual turns your heart may take, subsequent to that act? 

   There is a problem for the Christian in the John the 
   Baptist / Old Testament recipe for salvation.  The recipe makes 
   no mention of Christ.  Yet most of the teachings of Christ can 
   also found in the Old Testament.  He added little, if anything, 
   to what is taught in the Old Testament and he endorsed the Old 
   Testament and its teachings.  Since Christ claimed to be God is 
   perhaps belief in God, trusting in God, revering and serving 
   God equivalent to belief in Christ, trusting in Christ, 
   revering and serving Christ?  Christ came down to earth for a 
   very specific and theologically important purpose:  to pay for 
   the sins of mankind by dying on the cross;  to be that 
   sacrificial lamb whose blood would atone for man's sins in 
   order that sinful man could be saved.  But did he actually 
   change the criterion for salvation? 

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