God has a simplified plan of salvation for us. And yet, the world partners with many complex formulas and ideologies. Together, let’s look at what God says.
A. Christ Died For Our Sins
This belief is what differentiates us from the world. The Bible teaches that Christ’s act on the cross was sufficient to wash away our sins and appease God for the wrongs we committed.
“For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,”
1 Corinthians 15:3, NKJV
Through forty-two generations, God was born of a virgin so that He could live on this earth. Ultimately, He died a sinner’s death on the crossso that we could be redeemed of our sins.
B.Jesus Gives Us the Power to Become a Child of God
Jesus authorized our right to become a child of God!
“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”
John 1:12-13, NKJV
When you put your trust and confidence in the sufficiency of what Jesus did for you, Hegenerously gives you eternal life.
A Chosen People
When God first created mankind, He designated one race, the Israelites, as his chosen people. God walked with them, communicated with them, and gave them revelation, yet they rejected Jesus when He came to earth.
“He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him.”
John 1:11, NKJV
Jesus, a Jew, was born into the clan of this chosen people. However, it was all a part of the plan of God that they would reject Him so that through mercy and grace, God could offer eternal life for all people.
And now, we are His chosen people, too.
C.We Are Redeemed and Forgiven Through the Blood of Christ
“In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.”
Ephesians 1:7, NKJV
The redemption this verse talks about refers to the purchase His blood made to buy us from the grip of the enemy. The devil had control over us and the power to influence, defeat, and frustrate us, but God, through His Son Jesus, made a way for restoration back to Him.
He not only redeemed us, but He forgave us of our sins according to the riches of His grace! And that is what is remarkable and powerful about this transaction; God made it possible for us to be forgiven.
The True Message of Forgiveness
While traveling to preach at other churches, I discovered the Gospel message to be construed. Many churches are pounding people over the head, pointing out their wrongs and telling people they are going to hell to draw people to Christ. That is not the message!
The simple truth is that God has made it possible for us to be forgiven. It doesn’t matter what we have done, how awful our choices have been, or how frequently we have engaged with our sins; God has made a way for us to be redeemed.
Unfortunately, people will always find fault, shame you, and remind you of your past. However, God’s forgiveness is unconditional, complete, and whole.
“For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.”
Hebrews 8:12, NKJV
God isn’t forgetful; the reason He doesn’t remember our sinful acts is that they are entirely covered by the blood of Jesus Christ. That is a promise of God worthy of us shouting and celebrating all He has done!
D.We Are Saved by Grace Through Faith
God uses grace by way of us putting our faith in Jesus, which ushers us into salvation. It has nothing to do with any act we could perform; it is a gift!
“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”
Ephesians 2:8-9, NKJV
If our salvation relied on our works, it would lead to prideful boasting.So God offered His saving grace based on everything Jesus did (and if you’re going to boast about anything, let it be what Jesus did on the cross!)
While there is nothing we can do to grant ourselves salvation, we walk in the living proof of having an encounter with Christ.
There should be signs that you’ve turned your life around because when Jesus comes to dwell in your heart through the Holy Spirit, some things will change!
You won’t continue to walk the same walk or live a life of blatant sin. Your interests and priorities will change when Jesus is the Lord of your life. You will have a newfound hunger for the word of God and will experience conviction over the things you desire that are not of God. You will begin to yearn for the will of God in your life.
Brothers and sisters, I encourage you to evaluate your heart and desires.
E.Christ’s Death on the Cross Empowers Us to Live Righteously
His death on the cross gives you the power to live right before God.
“Who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; who himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness – by whose stripes you were healed.”
1 Peter 2:23-24, NKJV
Before Jesus came, we could not live holy, righteous lives, but now that Christ lives in us, we can!
When you sin now, it is because you choose to. However, God gives us the power to make the right choices and live the right kind of life.
II.Jehovah’s Witnesses: Watchtower Bible and Tract Society
A. Jesus Was a Divine Spirit Creature
Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t believe Christ was physically raised from the dead, but rather that He exchanged His human existence for a spiritual one.
Furthermore, this organization claims that by Jesus becoming a spiritual being, “he secured man an opportunity to live in the paradise that will be located on earth.”
What distinguishes Jesus from any other so-called savior is that He was crucified and physically raised from the grave! We can believe this to be true because, in John 20, Jesus revealed His resurrected self to Thomas. At this moment, Jesus invited Doubting Thomas to feel the wounds on his sides, hands, and feet, showing that Christ was a physical being.
B.Salvation Is a Goal to Be Attained
They believe that salvation is a goal to be attained by those who faithfully carry out their dedication to do God’s will.
In other words, they say you can earn salvation. This is a prime example of salvation by works, which is the opposite of what God’s word teaches.
C.Conditions to Get to Heaven
Jehovah’s Witnesses claim that for the 144,000 to go to heaven, they must:
- Exercise faith in God’s provision
- Be baptized
So who are the 144,000? They say they know who the 144,000 are, while most acknowledge that they are not included.
III.The Mormons: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
A. No Salvation Outside the Mormon Church
The Mormons believe there is no salvation outside of the Mormon Church.
“Salvation belongs to the LORD. Your blessing is upon Your people. Selah.”
Psalms 3:8, NKJV
Salvation belongs to God, not Mormons exclusively.
“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.’”
John 14:6, NKJV
There is only one means of salvation: Jesus Christ.
Joseph Smith Provided a Means of Salvation
They believe that had it not been for Joseph Smith, the Mormon’s founder and leader; there would be no salvation.
“Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
Acts 4:12, NKJV
The only name by which you can be saved is through the name of Jesus.
“For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him.”
1 Thessalonians 5:9-10, NKJV
The Bible is clear; you gain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, not Joseph Smith.
B.Mankind Can Be Saved Through Obedience
The Mormons claim that all mankind may be saved by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel.
There are things that God wants us to obey and do, but not for the purpose of salvation. We don’t obey the scriptures to be saved but rather to honor the Lord out of our love for Him. God created these laws and guidelines so that we may walk within the boundaries of His care to have lasting, fruitful lives while on earth.
The Ordinances and means of salvation through the Church of Latter-Day Saints are:
- Faith in Christ
- Water baptism
- Laying on of hands
They claim that in order to achieve salvation, you must have faith in Christ. To be clear, the Bible teaches us that we must have faith in Christ and only in Him alone.
Furthermore, repentance is the fruit of a faithful life, but the Mormons believe you must stop doing certain things to get saved. You and I cannot change in our own strength, but only through the power of Jesus. Repentance is evidence that we have had an encounter with Christ.
Water baptism is not a means for salvation but an expression showing that we are saved!
Lastly, the Mormons require a laying on of hands to receive salvation, and while this is a practice of some churches, it is not necessary for salvation but rather an expression of spiritual gifts that come from God alone.
C.Two Aspects of Salvation
The Mormons believe there are two aspects of salvation:
- General Salvationis assured for all. Physical resurrection is guaranteed to all living things.
However, we know that salvation is not guaranteed for all, but only when we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior.
- Individual Salvation pertains to the eternal progression of the individual soul based on obedience and works.
They believe you can progress from a human to a god.
IV.The Moonies: The Unification Church
A.Original Sin Remains With All Men
The Moonies believe that man’s original sin remains with them.
However, we believe that when you accept Jesus, the power of sin is broken, and your sinful nature no longer controls you.
They also believe that if Christ had not been crucified, He would have accomplished physical and spiritual salvation for all.
The Moonies claim that because Christ was murdered, He did not fulfill what He was on earth to do. As Christians, we believe that when Jesus said, “It is finished,” He did everything God required.
C.Restoration With God
The Mormons teach that man can be restored by man’s joint action with God.
In other words, salvation comes through the works of man in addition to what God has done.
D.Getting Into Heaven
This organization believes that entrance into heaven on earth is accomplished by believing and serving the Lord of the Second Coming, which they claim to be Sun Myung Moon, the founder of the Unification Church.
V.The Roman Catholic Church
A.Means of Salvation
This religious group believes that faith plus good works through the Roman Catholic Church gives salvation.
In other words, you become saved through faith in Jesus, but also, you must adhere to serving and doing good works through the Catholic church.
Let me say this again, we are saved by grace alone, not by works! (Ephesians 2:8-9)
B.Have I Done Enough?
Unfortunately, the Catholics claim this question is not answerable because a person can never really know if they have done enough to satisfy God and go to Heaven.
“But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him.”
1 John 2:5, NKJV
When God comes into you, He gives you the desire to want to know and honor His word. Because of this, we can know that we are connected with God.
“We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death.”
1 John 3:14, NKJV
We can be assured that we belong to God through the capacity He gives us to love other people.
“These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.”
1 John 5:13, NKJV
We can have absolute confidence, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that we are sons of God and are going to heaven!
C. Purification to Get Into Heaven
The Catholic church believes that while you are in purgatory, you receive temporal punishment to purify you enough to get into Heaven.
Purgatory, created by man, is halfway between heaven and hell. It is the place where you receive punishment by way of purification so that you can enter heaven. And it is important to note that the wordpurgatory is not found anywhere in the Bible.
“And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment.”
Hebrews 9:27, NKJV
God’s word is clear; there is no in-between place.
The Catholic church includes Mariology, the study of Mary, within their belief system.
- Mary can intercede for sin.
- Mary is as much God as Jesus. (In fact, they believe the Holy Spirit also conceived Mary.)
- Mary remained a virgin after Jesus’ birth.
- Mary lived a sinless life.
- Mary was taken up body and soul into heaven at the end of her life.
E.Remedy for Sin
How does the Catholic Church remedy sin?
They require a person to:
- Confess to a priest.
- Show penitence or repentance.
- Perform meritorious works.
Sacraments of the Catholic Church
The sacraments of the Roman Catholic Church are:
- Holy Eucharist, or Communion (They believe that when a person takes communion, they are literally consuming the body and blood of Christ.)
- Extreme Unction/Last Rites
- Holy Orders (This is comprised of three ranks: bishops, priests, and deacons.)
- Matrimony, or marriage
Unfortunately, these organizations are heavy with conditions and requirements in order for a person to get into heaven. However, our loving and merciful God is not a God of works.
Praise Him that through His Son’s complete and perfect sacrifice, we can commune with God for eternity, no strings attached.