"Mark 16:15 preach the gospel to every creature. Matthew 28:20 Teaching them to observe (do) all things whatsoever I (Jesus Christ) have commanded: Revelation 22:13 I am Alpha and Omega .. 14 Blessed are they that do his commandments, .. they .. have right to the tree of life, and .. enter .. the city."
I am a retired pastor of
the Church of God (Tennessee).
My name is Isaac Livingston. I am from Neyyoor India.
Most Christians believe that they are saved since they utter the name of Jesus; they are absolutely certain they will go to heaven. This is big relief to them, since it provides a safe, stress-free alternative to an otherwise scary, uncertain future of eternity. Preachers teach that if we believe on Jesus Christ we are saved; but, are we saved? it all sounds straightforward and non-intrusive. But, in truth, we all believe in Jesus Christ anyway, donít we? We also believe that he is the Son of God, that he performed miracles, that he preached the gospel, that he died for us on the cross, that he was raised from death, that he is with God the Father in heaven, and that he will take us to heaven when we die, donít we? These beliefs, we say, prove that we are Ďstrongly religious Christiansí. But, are we saved? Preachers say we are saved because we believe these things about Jesus Christ. But these same preachers will not probe too deeply to see what kind of lives we live, whether we practice our favorite secret sins, etc. So, is their message, a message of salvation or is it a message of deceit? Preachers quote Ďselectedí scriptures as they preach, in order to validate their preaching. Is it possible to misquote and misapply specific scriptures/verses to support incorrect conclusions? Letís look at a few examples.
Acts 16 says: "30) Sirs, what must I do to be saved? 31) They said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house." These verses are taught to Christians as the complete, self-contained, all-inclusive package of requirements that must be satisfied for salvation. Itís an appealing offer; these requirements are fairly easy to satisfy since every Christian believes in Jesus Christ. As a result (according to the way this verse is preached), all Christians are saved and will go to heaven. Note, interestingly, that preachers somehow exclude 'and thy house' from their message of salvation; they play it safe and avoid the questions this raises. Let us look at this verse and study it in its context.
In Acts 16:16-18, Paul cast out a divination spirit from a damsel. In verses 19-22, people took Paul and Silas to the court with false accusations, and the magistrate ordered them to be beaten. In verses 23-24, they beat them; and put them in prison, with their feet locked fast in the stocks. "25) And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them. 26) And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one's bands were loosed. 27) And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled. 28) But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here. 29) Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, 30) And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" These soldiers were brutal Roman soldiers of the first century. They knew nothing about the Bible, its laws, its commandments, or its prophecies; neither did they know of the Messiah, sin, grace, heaven, hell, or inheritance in the kingdom of God. They knew NOTHING of God! That being the case, what did they mean when they asked: "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?"
They had just experienced a severe earthquake that shook only the prison, opened all the prison doors, and broke all the chains as well as the stocks on the prisoners hands and feet. All this, yet no one was hurt. It was an unique and strange earthquake. They were scared to death by it. The guardís immediate response was suicide, but they were spared this fate by the shocking intervention of their prisoners. In this context the terrified guards spontaneously asked these unshackled prisoners: "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" Their question certainly did not convey the subtle hidden meaning: 'how can we inherit the kingdom of God?' (they knew nothing of this kingdom). A more realistic interpretation would be: 'How can I escape such freak earthquake, or disaster, or even from some angry prisoners, or something similar?' But, it never could be, "how can I be saved from hell?" Preachers hide the truth when they take this verse out of its context, and exploit Christians by intentionally misinterpreting it. They tell Christians to believe in Jesus Christ (every Christian believes in Jesus Christ anyway) then to proclaim they are already saved. They say that salvation is a 'done deal'. But it is not true. We have to do what Jesus Christ us to do to be saved.
Looking again at scripture, in verse 31 Paul and Silas said: "... Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house." This is the very first introductory message to the Gentiles about the Lord Jesus Christ, yet preachers teach this verse to Christians as the total and complete message of salvation. Further, these preachers instruct their congregations to simply believe and do nothing more, because anything other than simple belief will be Ďworksí, and we will not saved by works. So anything more than simple faith will jeopardize their salvation.
Letís look at this message of salvation in the context of the exact words of Paul and Silas. Acts 16 says: "31) And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. 32) And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house. 33) And he took them the same hour of the night, ... and was baptized, he and all his, straightway. 34) ... and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house." It is similar to Matthew 28: "18) And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. 19) Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20) Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world." They taught the commandments of Jesus Christ for everyone of them to obey, they all have believed and accepted the preaching of the commandments to obey and were baptized. It is not just "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house", but it is just the heading of the salvation message. But, it is not the complete message. Preachers trick their audience/congregation by telling partial sentence as the complete message and deceive them. Then, the verse says that they shall be saved. 'Shall' denotes salvation in the future. They have believed and took the baptism already. If they continue to obey the preaching of Paul and Silas, that is the commandments of Jesus Christ, they will be saved. It is the message of the passage in its context.
Acts 16:12 says: "And from thence to Philippi,..." The jailor, who asked Paul and Silas: "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" was from Philippi, so it is likely he would have become a member in the body of Christ at Philippi. So, let me take the liberty to quote a few verses from the letter to Philippians, just to see what kind of follow-up instructions this jailor received from Paul. Philippians 2:12 says: "Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling." Paulís letter confirms the necessity to work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. It does not say that they were saved already because their belief in Jesus is real; rather, it tells the church to work out their salvation by obeying until the end, as they "have always obeyed."
Philippians 3 says: "17) Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample. 18) (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: 19) Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things. 20) For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: 21) Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself." Obey Jesus Christ and follow Paul in the same manner that he follows Jesus, but do not follow or listen to the preachers, (18) that are the enemies of the cross of Christ: These are the enemies: (19) whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things. These workers are servants of the devil according to scripture. They mind earthly things instead of heavenly things, God says it is shame. Minding earthly things are religion, but following heavenly things are following the Lord Jesus Christ.
I will reply promptly.Thanks.