While I was recuperating from surgery in August and September, by chance I ended up watching Christ Fellowship’s program one Sunday. I had never seen this “show” previously, but I have seen similar ones. While pondering what I saw and heard, I remembered some of the plain fundamentals that are vitally important to anyone’s salvation. Some people would call this the gospel plan of salvation. That is okay by me as the scriptures state that it is the plan God laid down and it is about our salvation.
- Those who choose Christ are not saved by a corporate affiliation – no group, church or assembly can save you – for salvation is in Christ alone. Attendance somewhere by itself will not get it done. You must be in Christ and serving God. “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.” (Romans 1:16).
- No one can accept the conditions for you by proxy. Being baptized for someone either dead or alive won’t do a thing for them or for you. “He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey him.” (Hebrews 5:9).
- Having someone pray for you or with you won’t do a thing. Crying out in the night won’t help; and it follows that praying what someone tells you to pray will not accomplish anything. Your prayers likely won’t do any good at all. “When you spread out your hands, I will hide my eyes from you; Even though you make many prayers, I will not hear. Your hands are full of blood.” (Isaiah 1:15).
- We become Christians when we respond to the instructions of the Lord and become obedient to the things he has given us to do. “If you love me, keep my commandments.” (John 14:15).
- No one but Jesus has offered the conditions for eternal life. He is the only source of information and is the only intermediary, “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.” (1 Timothy 2:4, 5). Listening for the Holy Spirit, a pope, prophet, a doctor of theology or a faith healer won’t do much for you. Believing that you have seen visions and working yourself into a sweat while getting emotional won’t work either.
- You must believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of the Living God; and it has to be based on what you learn from the scriptures – from the Word of God. How you gather that information and its accuracy means everything. It cannot be a condensed or haphazard pursuit; and accepting what may appeal to your senses or intellect, as in many other endeavors, will prove utterly useless. You have to get to the source. It is a life or death proposition. “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:17).
- You must accept that you are without God’s help and listen to what is taught in the Scriptures and what you can pull out of your own studies or with sound instruction. “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:6).
- You must repent of your sins – where you failed to do things right and missed the mark that has been set by your Lord. “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9).
- You must be immersed in water for the remission of your sins to complete that part of obedience and to accept Jesus as both your Lord and Savior. What was told to the then soon-to-be apostle Paul should cause us to carefully consider the Lord’s commandment: “And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” (Acts 22:16).
Then comes the hard part: you must set yourself on a new path with new objectives and pursue it diligently and be obedient until death. It requires care, study and rational decisions based on the scriptures. Only you can follow these steps and you must “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” (Philippians 2:12). Again, it is not accidental; and you cannot set your own terms, for no one can stand in for you. And nobody said it would be easy even though the path is clear; but the rewards are great and sure.
Christianity is a matter of “doing.” As has been stated in previous installments, we are saved when we have followed the prescriptions given by God and then and only then does God add our name, “…to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven.” (Hebrews 12:23). When done, we still have collective duties on the Lord’s Day which are intended to memorialize the death of our Savior, and everyday obligations and work to do — simple things to help knit ourselves together and prepare us to be able to aid and sustain one another while we live and work here. Once you understand, and you start working this direction and do these things, then you should also want to lead others to the truth and thereby help them. The understanding is not complex and doing it is not hard.
Now to close: like a lot of other teachers, the folks at Christ Fellowship state that all you need do is to say a simple prayer to Jesus and ask him to show you how to “live and love.” With that you are then “saved.” What nonsense! This is just another “Come to Jesus” fad. Unfortunately it is also false. They are little more than a babysitting service for adults and they won’t mind taking whatever money you may offer them to maintain their palaces here. Jesus and his disciples never had an office, a permanent home or a palace. The promise they pose is that God wants you to be a success here and now; and that is not God’s concern for you at all. He wants you to turn yourself around from worldliness and serve him, and for that he offers eternal life when you die. You may be a miserable failure among men (the prophet Jeremiah comes to mind right away); but in Christ there is life – and how could you possibly beat that?
Christ Fellowship is about “the here and now.” It has nothing at all to do with serving God. But there are about twenty thousand persons coming through their doors each week. Still there is no safety in numbers. It is extremely unlikely that any of them is a Christian at all; and no one who attends to these things will ever make it safely out of this life.
The truth is still out there and it has not been changed by so much as a single sentence in the two thousand years since its final introduction. And there is simply nothing that compares to the story of Christ and his ministry anywhere else on earth. Also there is nothing that compares to the oldest book on the planet and the story of salvation. Never proven inaccurate, no other religion on the earth and its documentation even comes close – no other story is its equal, whether fact or fiction. Unfortunately there are lots of folks around, both then and now, who have believed some variation or some corruption. And the sad part is that some of those being duped may be members of our own families or are our neighbors. Whether total strangers, or our parents or children, it ought to bring us to tears.
Christ Fellowship is just one of many organizations that are filling the world with nonsense. “But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction.” (2 Peter 2: 1). The real deal is full of hope and is breathtakingly simple and completely singular in its recounting of the death and resurrection of Christ. Once again, there is nothing that even comes close: not here, not anywhere.
To call on Jesus you must follow his instructions. He does not come to you; you must come to him. Nothing else will do for eternity’s sake.
Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you, searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. To them it was revealed that, not to themselves, but to us they were ministering the things which now have been reported to you through those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things which angels desire to look into.
Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”
(1 Peter 1: 10 – 16)
Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord!’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.
(Matthew 7: 21 HCSB)