You're listening to Search the Scriptures Daily, a radio ministry of The Berean Call.
Now, our next segment, “Understanding, the Scriptures.” We continue our exploration of the doctrine of salvation, with our attention specifically focused on the topic of faith. Here again, with Dave Hunt, is Tom McMahon.
Tom: We're picking up where we left off last week, discussing faith as the means of salvation. The scriptures claim over and over that faith, or simply believing in Jesus, is the only possible means for mankind to be saved. Let me give some examples. John:1:7: “This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the light, that all through Him might believe.” And, of course, there’s a whole series in John. We’ll pick up some more: John:3:15,16,18,36—I'll just read them. Verse 15: “For whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.” Verse 16: "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” Verse 18: “He who believes in Him is not condemned, but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. Verse 36: "He who believes in the Son has everlasting life, and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”
Now. Dave, this is just from the book of John, but we could go through verse after verse after verse. And what we're pointing out here is that believing in Jesus is the means of salvation. It's not works, it's not any other rituals, sacraments, any other… anything else.
Dave: It can't possibly be works for a number of reasons.
Number one, it's a matter of justice. We have broken God's law, and you can't make up for breaking the law in the past (as we've gone over that a number of times) by keeping the law in the future, nor by doing good works. Number two it's a gift.
“The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life.” You can't work for gift, you can't earn a gift or merit a gift, so it can't possibly be by works. Furthermore, if it were by works, where does the Bible tell us what kind of works? How many? And lay it out. I mean, if it were by works, then there would be certain works that we would have to do in order to qualify for salvation. Never does the Bible lay that out. In fact, it gives us the opposite: Romans:4:5: “Now to him that worketh not, but believeth on Him who justifies the ungodly….” So his faith is counted for righteousness, so it can't possibly be by works, because never does the Bible say what kind of words you would have to do. Furthermore, this is another reason—I mean, there’s a lot of them it, but I'll stop with this one—one more. If it were by works, then I would be able to boast before God—not only if works saved me, but if good works kept my salvation.
And that's another question. People believe they can lose their salvation. Now, if I somehow have to live a good enough life to keep my salvation, then I can boast before God. I can walk the golden streets up there and say, “It's wonderful. Your grace, your mercy, Christ. You died for my sins, you gave me salvation as a free gift, but I kept it! I lived a good enough life, I did enough good works—whatever it takes. I kept my salvation, and somehow I have a part in my salvation. I at least merited somewhere along the line.” And I could boast before God—and that is not possible! It is only by His grace, and that is unmerited.
Tom: Dave, you talk about works, but as a former Catholic I used to believe that I can do some things to pay for my sins.
Dave: That's what you taught.
Tom: That’s what I was taught. But what's amazing to me is I think back on it, what could I really do…? I understand that the wages of sin is death; that if I sinned, that I'm separated, I'm cut off from God. Now, what could I do, in reality, to reconcile myself to God? What is there I could pay for, and what could I pay?
If…if the wages of sin is death, and I'm separated from Him forever, there's nothing that I can do except pay that penalty.
Dave: Well, furthermore, you would have to be purged in purgatory in the flames…
Tom: But even that…!
Dave: Flames don’t purge you.
Tom: No, right. You see, I’m…I'm not reconciled to God.
Dave: What does God want from you? Does He want some penance? No, it's a matter of the heart. And you know, Tom, I can't even recognize all of my sins, because the Bible tells me, and I know, ”The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked.” Pride is one of the worst sins! I can remember being on my knees in prayer, praying for humility. I thought I got it, and the next thing I knew, I was proud I'd become so humble! You know, our hearts are so deceitful, so I don't even recognize all the sins. God is holy! His standards are so far above mine, unless He can forgive me, unless the penalty has been paid, there's no possible hope!
But we have people who are under such burdens, trying somehow to appease God. Now, you know, this is the Jubilee Year, that began December 25, 1999, and the pope has declared this a special year. They're expecting 26 million pilgrims to Rome.
The pope has opened a “holy door.” I don't think doors are holy, but he opened a so-called “holy door.” People will come by the thousands, perhaps by the hundreds of thousands, from all over the world to walk through that door, believing that that somehow… this pilgrimage, and walking through this door, which is only open once a century, that that is somehow going to purge them of their sins and that's going to deliver them.
No! The Bible says Christ made purgation—that's the word in the Greek. He purged us from our sins by His own blood. That's the only way anyone can be purged of sin is because Christ paid the penalty that His justice demanded. Now, all I'm asked to do, and all I can do, is believe that.
And when I believe in Him, then I receive from Him as a gift that I can't merit—I receive eternal life. And, Tom, this is such good news! It's biblical, it's logical, and it's wonderful, and yet the human heart is proud. We don't want to accept a gift from God. I don't want be obligated. I want to somehow merit and earn this.
Furthermore, religion—you know, religion is in the business of keeping people in bondage. If our listeners out there want to turn, in your leisure, to Matthew 23— listen to what Jesus said to the rabbis in His day—and let me just put it in modern language, I'm paraphrasing: He said, “You scoundrels! Not only don't you enter it to heaven, but you prevent those who would by setting up a system of religion that is so complicated, it would take a Philadelphia lawyer to unravel this thing! These people are dependent upon you! They can't get to God except through you and except through obedience to this religious system that you've set up!
And, unfortunately, this is what religion is. It keeps people in bondage. And if everyone would believe the gospel of Jesus Christ, they would be set free from this.
And that’s our desire. We're not trying to push our ideas on someone. We're trying to be biblical, Tom. That's why we keep referring people to the Bible. That's why we call this program Search the Scriptures Daily. Let's go back to the Word of God. This is our standard, this is our guide, this is what God has said.
I was on a program recently, and they were sort of boasting in the fact that this was a secular show, and “this is a one hour or two hours a week when we can talk about God.”
One of the things, they’ve got a lot of experts there, talking about God. One of the things I asked was, “What does God have to say about it? I mean, we're talking about God—what does God say about it? What does He say?”
Let's go to His Word, find out what He has said. That's all that we're trying to get people to do, and He has said something really wonderful: “By grace are you saved, through faith, not of yourselves. It's a gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast.”
Tom: In John:11:25-26—this has to do with when Lazarus died, and his sisters, Mary and Martha…Jesus is saying this to Martha—Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives, and believes in me, shall never die.” And then He asked, "Do you believe this?” So belief is what God has given us to obtain eternal life.
Dave: Amen! We just hope people will believe God’s Word.