Now, Contending for the Faith. In this regular feature, Dave and Tom respond to questions from listeners and readers of The Berean Call. Here is this week’s question: “Dear Dave and TA, One of the things that bothers me about evangelicals is that they come on as though salvation is a matter of believing a certain teaching, and if someone doesn’t buy into their certain teaching, then that person won’t get into heaven. This is akin to having to pass a doctrinal test before God will accept you. If you guys made up such a test, I doubt most Christians would get a good enough grade to be saved. I don’t see God as issuing a theological test as a requirement to get into heaven.”
Tom: Dave, this isn’t the first time I have heard that, you know, especially those who have an affinity for the contemplative approach to Christianity, the more experiential, and so on. They say, Oh, you guys are hung up on doctrine. But there is a point here. What must I have to believe to be saved?
Dave: Tom, two things stand out to me from that questioner. “You say…” “You guys say…” “If you made up the test…” and so forth, but “I don’t think…” Wait a minute! It’s not you and I, Tom, and it’s not this person, whoever that was that wrote in. What does God have to say?
Now, doctrinal rules—well, there must be some rules, as we have said it probably twenty times on this program. You can’t even play a game without rules. And you can imagine the NFL linebacker who smashes some guy and then stomps on him after the referee has blown the whistle, and then the referee throws his flag and cites him and he says: “You narrow-minded, dogmatic, fundamentalist, come on! Give me a little leeway here!”
No, okay, so doesn’t God make rules? Of course He does. I’m thankful that there are rules. There are rules—the laws of chemistry, the laws of physics, the laws of thermodynamics. If that were not the case, the universe would be chaos—I mean, not just in human affairs but total chaos. You would never know whether when you jump you are going to stick to the ceiling or whether you will come back down! The law of gravity works sometimes, sometimes it doesn’t? Without laws, nothing works.
Okay, so God says that you must believe the gospel. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, the life, no man comes to the Father but by me.” Now is Jesus who He claimed to be? Is he God who became a man? Does He know what He is talking about? Or is it up to you and me to decide? Or someone else? Tom, I’m sorry, that question just kind of makes me lose my patience with people.
Tom: Yeah, but Dave, it can be a little bit difficult. Let me give you another angle on this—not that I’m taking this person’s side, but I talked to a friend recently who had a relative and the relative, the sister actually, who was a believer, and she married a young man who was part of the United Pentecostal Church. Now the United Pentecostal Church, a teaching unique to them, and well, there are others, but is that Jesus not only is God—He’s it. There’s no Trinity. Now, my friend’s concern was, here his sister is a believer, but now she comes to attend the United Pentecostal Church and now she has a teaching which she buys into. So what have we got there? Do we have—certainly a different Jesus, a Jesus that is not the Jesus of the Bible? So, are we getting into issues that now make—doctrinal issues now which could alter or affect somebody’s salvation because it doesn’t line up with the Word of God?
Dave: It sounds like Robert Schuller, who, again we have quoted him before but it bears repeating, said, “If I came back in a hundred years and found out that all of my descendants were Muslims, it wouldn’t bother me.” Oh, Billy Graham—I’m sorry—said that, “Well, we’re closer to Islam than you think we are because Muhammad honored Jesus as a great prophet second only to himself.”
So we are turning Jesus into a prophet, second to Muhammad but—“Oh, that’s close!”
That isn’t even close, and Robert Schuller ought to know that Islam teaches—and we’ve said it before—is Jesus is not God, he’s not the Son of God, he didn’t die on the cross, he didn’t die for our sins in our place, someone died in his place, he was taken alive to heaven…on and on it goes. Jesus himself said in John 8: “If you believe not that I am (and “he” is in italics),” in other words, I Am, that is, the name of God, I Am that I Am—“if you don’t believe that I am God, you will die in your sins, and where I go you cannot come.”
And a person may say, “Oh, I believe in Jesus! I think he’s just a wonderful, inspiring leader; I believe he was a historical character,” and so forth. You don’t believe He’s God? You don’t believe that He paid the penalty for your sins on the cross? You are lost! You have rejected God’s Word, and there is no other way. Jesus himself pleaded with the Father: “If there is any other way, don’t make me go through this.” And the Father said, “You’ve got to die for the sins of the world.”
Then you reject that, but God is going to let you into heaven anyway? That’s just like trying to deny the law of gravity.
Tom: Dave, just to finish off with the United Pentecostal example—we have an individual who now has a different view of Jesus than, probably, when she first believed; that there are not three persons within the Godhead. Now who makes that decision as to whether she has stepped over the line and believed a false gospel? Is this something that the Lord has to search the heart?
Dave: Well, John says in his second epistle: “Many deceivers are entered into the world,” and he goes on and he says, “Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God.” Now that’s who Christ really is. “He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.” United Pentecostals claim that, well, “Father is just a title,” or “Son is just a title, it’s only Jesus, Jesus only.”
“If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine…” that is, the doctrine of the Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, “…receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed.” Now, that’s pretty serious. In other words, the scripture says if you don’t have the Father, you don’t have the Son; if you don’t have the Son, you don’t have the Father. Father and Son—He is called the only begotten Son of God. “The Father sent the Son,” 1 John:4:14, “The Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world.” Now, is he sending himself, is the title some office sending Jesus? No, it doesn’t work.” And, well, you can have a different Jesus, and Paul warns the Corinthians, some will come preaching a different gospel, and they’ve got a different Jesus. We have to go with what God says. We can’t make it up ourselves.