THE HEART OF THE CHRISTIAN ERROR
Copyright © 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
The heart of the Christian error is that we have developed a religious formula for salvation. We term the formula “accepting Christ,” or “making a decision for Christ.” The expressions “accept Christ” and “accepting Christ” and “make a decision for Christ” do not appear anywhere in the Scriptures. They should not be used because they convey an unscriptural idea.
We have made a religion out of what God intends to be a relationship with Himself and with other people. Several times in the New Testament we are exhorted to show ourselves worthy of Christ or of the Kingdom of God. We have substituted a religious formula in place of worthy behavior as the means whereby we please God and are saved into His Kingdom.
THE HEART OF THE CHRISTIAN ERROR
Yet you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes. They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy. (Revelation 3:4)
You know, Christians and non-Christians alike know intuitively how a man or woman of God ought to behave. We realize in the depths of our soul that there is such a thing as being worthy of God and of His Kingdom. But the current Christian religion blinds us to the obvious. We teach that being worthy is not important, it is “accepting Christ” that is important. Yet the New Testament teaches us that we must be worthy of Christ.
Religion tends to work with groups of people. God tends to work with individuals, teaching them how to relate to Himself and to other people. Religious forms and ceremonies do not benefit us unless God is working with us as an individual.
The Evangelicals are not alone in hindering the normal expectations of people concerning righteous behavior.
The Catholic Pope, according to a recent book, refused to speak out against the killing of the Jewish people during World War II. It is felt that he could have saved millions of Jews from torture and death. The Catholic and Protestant sacraments and liturgical practices are worthless apart from worthy behavior.
We see the conflict in the Balkans where “Christians” have murdered Muslims. Such “Christianity” is worthless.
We see the work of the Muslim terrorists. They bow before Allah and then shoot babies, as happened yesterday. Their religion is worthless.
We see the continuing conflict in Ireland, a country with a long history of Christian belief and observance.
We see the civil war in Africa where there have been great works of evangelism.
Religion is portrayed in the Bible as “Babylon the Great.” It is every bit as wicked as the Book of Revelation portrays. It is a destroyer of the better instincts in man.
Let me give you a recent example. A teacher in a Christian school advised her students that if a baby was not baptized it would go to Hell.
A boy in the class, whose mother had miscarried, asked the teacher if the fetus would go to Hell because it had not been baptized.
The teacher responded that it would go to Hell.
This event actually took place. I wonder how many Christian people believe babies go to Hell if they have not been baptized. The people that actually believe such a thing have had their better instincts destroyed by religion.
Another assault on God’s Character occurs in the teaching that if people have never heard of Christ they are cast into the Lake of Fire for not accepting Christ.
A small child stands before the Great White Throne:
God asks, “What is your name?”
The child responds, “Molly, sir”
God says, “The record shows that you never accepted Christ.”
Molly replies, “Who is Christ?”
God thunders: “There is no salvation in any other name. You have not accepted my Son. As the tree falls, there it shall lie. You shall soon learn that I am a righteous and loving God.”
“Angels, throw this child into the Lake of Fire. Let her be tormented forever. She has not taken the four steps of salvation.”
“And as for this baby, take it away and throw it in the fire. It has not accepted my Son for the remission of its sins.”
And all the angels cried, “Just and merciful are your judgments, O Most High.”
I read an account where a Nazi guard had been converted to Christianity. He addressed some Jews and told them he was going to Heaven but their rabbis would go to Hell if they had not accepted Christ.
As I remember, the Jews preferred to stay with their rabbis rather than go to any such heaven.
Their instincts were true. The Nazi had no concept of Jesus Christ. He had gone through the motions of the Christian religion and trusted that these beliefs and professions would bring him into favor with God.
It is a fact that a great deal of good has been accomplished by Christian missionaries, as pagans have been delivered from destructive practices. I understand this thoroughly as I contemplate the work of Mary Slessor of Calabar. But I think the truth is as I have stated: religion is one matter; the Divine salvation is another matter. It does us no good to belong to a religion unless that religion makes us a better person, in the ordinary use of the term. Christianity can do this better than any other religion because of the living Presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. He has the authority and the power to make each of us a better person, a person worthy of God and of the Kingdom of God.
But as for the “four steps of salvation,” they are worthless unless they bring us into a living relationship with the Lord Jesus. It is not enough to accept religion, we must actually receive Christ into our daily life. The only reliable proof we have actually received Christ into our daily life is that we are being transformed.
And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. (II Corinthians 3:18)
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! (II Corinthians 5:17)
We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. (Romans 6:4)
It is the transformation, the new creation, the new life, that constitutes salvation, redemption, the Kingdom of God. The profession of belief in Christ is worthless to the purposes of God unless it is accompanied by a transformed moral character.
We must behave in manner worthy of the Kingdom of God if we are to be part of that kingdom.
I am not saying for one moment that we can reject God’s means of salvation through Christ and remain without condemnation, or that by our behavior we can earn righteous standing while refusing to place our faith in the blood atonement when it has been presented to us. I am not saying this or implying this.
My thesis is that salvation consists of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
We do not adopt a formula, such as the famous “four steps of salvation,” and then rest in the fact that we now are authorized to enter Paradise when we die.
Rather we accept what the Father is offering when He draws us to Christ; (and no individual comes to Christ unless the Father draws him or her).
Well, you may object, you still are saying we must accept Christ. Yes, we must accept Christ, but not in the sense of repeating a formula. We must truly accept Christ in the sense that an apprentice places himself under the discipline of a master.
Do you see the difference? One is the repeating of a religious formula. The other is a lifelong experience of taking up our cross and subjecting ourselves to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
Multitudes of Christian believers have “accepted Christ” in the religious sense. But by no means have they placed themselves under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. They have never truly received Christ. They only have made a religious statement concerning Him. They have no intention whatever of accepting the pain of a personal cross.
The “born again” Christian has become a mockery in America. Why? Because of the behavior of the so-called “born again” Christians. The American people can perceive the hypocrisy in Christianity, and so the unsaved proceed with their abortions and perversions.
Religious statements can never save us. Only God through Jesus Christ can save us. It is entirely possible to “accept Christ” and yet not really accept Christ. Can you understand what we are saying?
Have you accepted Christ in the religious sense? Fine. But have you truly accepted Christ in the sense of an apprentice placing himself or herself under the authority of a master?
We say that if we “accept Christ” in the religious sense we are saved and will go to Heaven when we die. This is not the Christian salvation. The Christian salvation consists of a daily interaction with the living Jesus. As we interact with Jesus each day we are saved from the world, from Satan, from the lusts and passions of our flesh, and from our self-will.
There is no such thing as “accepting Christ” at some point in time and then claiming to be “saved.” This is not a scriptural position. It is true rather that at any given moment we either are walking with Christ and interacting with Him, or else we are not working out our salvation with fear and trembling. We are not proving ourselves worthy of the Kingdom of God.
The present Christian formula is not scriptural. It will not “save” anyone.
Check out the number of times the New Testament speaks of being worthy. It appears 54 times in 52 verses in the King James Version. Of these 54 times, “worthy” is applied to Christ just a few times, as I count the instances. In the remaining instances the reference is to people.
Of course Christ is worthy. But, according to the New Testament, we also must be worthy of Christ, of the Kingdom.
Do you see what I am stating? We are off base in our thinking. God’s insists we be worthy of His Kingdom. We cannot escape judgment by saying Christ is worthy and we are not worthy. This is not a scriptural position.
How do we become worthy? By “accepting” Christ in the traditional sense?
Never! This is not scriptural.
We are made worthy as we take up our cross and follow Christ. By the authority of His atoning blood and the power of His Spirit He creates a new person in us who acts and speaks in a manner that all people understand to be worthy. The new creation behaves in a righteous upright manner, loves mercy, and walks humbly with God. Such good works cause people to glorify God. The worthy individual is not ashamed when he faces Christ because Christ has made him honest, truthful, and faithful.
Anything that comes short of this is not God’s salvation through Christ.
But what about someone who “gets saved” on his or her deathbed. We must leave this with God, along with the thief on the cross. In any case, the thief was brought to Paradise, not into the Kingdom of God, not into the rule of God through Christ.
All I know from the Scripture is that we must behave in a manner worthy of the Kingdom of God. If we do not, the Lord will not accept us. We will be thrown out of the wedding because we are not dressed for the occasion.
But aren’t we dressed for the occasion by “accepting Christ”?
No. The white robe of the saint consists of his or her righteous deeds, the righteous deeds that have been produced as Christ’s Nature has been formed in him or her.
Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear. (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.) (Revelation 19:7,8)
Now let us take a look at a few of the verses in the New Testament that tell of the need to be worthy of Christ and His Kingdom.
Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; And anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. (Matthew 10:37,38)
Now, what would the Christian response be to the passage above? He or she might answer in one of the following ways:
We will be saved (meaning we will go to Heaven when we die) anyway by grace even though we do not love father or mother more than Christ; even though we do not take up our cross and follow Christ.
It does not matter if we are worthy of Christ just as long as we are saved.
This saying of Christ applies to Jews at that time.
This saying was spoken prior to Christ’s resurrection. None of His statements in the four Gospel accounts apply to us because now we are saved by grace. There are some who take this position, but then they select favorite passages from the Gospels as being relevant today. A good example of the selected passages is, “You must be born again.” Of course they corrupt even this statement by saying you must be born again to be saved and go to Heaven.
Actually, being born again has to do with the moral transformation that is necessary if we are to see or enter the Kingdom of God. The Apostles, according to the Book of Acts, did not preach being born again as the way to be saved and go to Heaven.
It appears that few Christian scholars would agree that being born again refers to moral transformation, because this would mean living in the Kingdom of God means living in righteous behavior. The Christian teachers would not accept such an interpretation because their stance is that our moral behavior cannot possibly affect the sovereign work of God in saving us.
In other words, Christian teachers insist that it is not critically necessary the Christian behave righteously. Such teaching has destroyed the spiritual strength of Christians in many nations, including the United States, and has provided the basis for such errors as the doctrine of the pre-tribulation rapture of all who make a profession of Christ. That we must be worthy to participate in the resurrection that will take place at the return of Christ is seldom or never mentioned. It is all by “faith alone.” In fact, it is not even by faith. It is by making the correct theological statement.
How long will this misunderstanding continue?
But those who are considered worthy of taking part in that age and in the resurrection from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage, (Luke 20:35)
How are we considered worthy unless it is by taking up our cross and following Christ, and by keeping all of the other commandments of Christ and His Apostles? We can keep the New Testament commandments if we will turn away from sin and keep going to God’s Throne for help in our time of need.
I ask you to receive her in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints and to give her any help she may need from you, for she has been a great help to many people, including me. (Romans 16:2)
We can tell from the above verse that there is conduct described as “worthy of the saints.” As I said previously, all of us have a basic understanding of behavior that is worthy of saints of God. We need to grab hold of our basic understanding before it is destroyed by religious formulas.
Unsaved people would understand what is meant by behavior that is worthy of saints of God!
Christian believers may be the only people in the world who are not clear as to what constitutes worthy behavior.
As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. (Ephesians 4:1)
What could Paul mean by “live a life worthy of the calling you have received”? First of all, what is that calling? The calling is to be a saint.
What is a saint? By definition, a saint is a “holy one.”
What is a holy one? A holy one is a person who has offered his or her body as a living sacrifice to God to be used for His purposes.
What would be the nature of a life not worthy of the calling we have received? It would be a life not befitting a saint, a life that ignores the commandments of Christ and His Apostles.
What would be the result of living a life not worthy of our calling as a saint? According to the words of Christ and Paul, the person would inherit corruption and be thrown into outer darkness when the Lord returns, for Christ is going to give to each one of us precisely as our work has been. This is what the Bible teaches.
As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. (Philippians 1:27)
A life worthy of our calling is one of patiently bearing our cross as Christ leads the way. If we expect to hear “Well done, good and faithful servant,” then we are going to have to be good and faithful. No amount of theological reasoning can change this fact, although numerous Christian theologians may attempt to do so. They may be unwilling to accept any demands that we live righteously. We are to “accept Christ” and that is the end of it.
And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, (Colossians 1:10)
But what if we don’t? What if we do not live a life worthy of the Lord Jesus? What if we do not please Him in every way? What if we do not bear fruit in every good work? What if we do not grow in the knowledge of God?
The answer to this is, we have received the grace of God in vain. We have not borne the fruit the Farmer is looking for. We shall be cut out of the Vine, out of Christ.
Can we be cut out of Christ and still be “saved”? I know there is a teaching today that we can be cut out of the Vine and still be “saved.”
But I don’t think so. At least, I am not going to bet my eternal destiny on it.
Encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory. (I Thessalonians 2:12)
Is it possible to live a life worthy of God?
Modern Christianity appears to say no. “Only Christ is worthy,” it is maintained.
If this were the case, why then does Paul urge us to do the impossible? It sounds to me as though Paul believed it is possible to live a life worthy of God.
Therefore, among God’s churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring. All this is evidence that God’s judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering. (II Thessalonians 1:4,5)
Why will the saints of Thessalonica be counted worthy of the Kingdom of God? Because they had “accepted Christ”?
No, because they had persevered and remained faithful in their persecutions and trials.
But what does it mean to be counted worthy of the Kingdom of God by suffering for the Kingdom of God? Does this fit our current thinking? Do we have to suffer in order to be counted worthy of the Kingdom of God? Is it necessary to be worthy of the Kingdom of God?
How would you interpret the above passage?
With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may count you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may fulfill every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith. (II Thessalonians 1:11)
The saints in Thessalonica were suffering for the Gospel’s sake. Now then, why would it be necessary for the Apostle Paul to pray for them that God would count them worthy of His calling?
Had they “accepted Christ”? Obviously.
Were they serving Christ faithfully? It appears so.
Why, then, was Paul praying for them that God would count them worthy of His calling? This certainly does not fit our current Christian teaching. In fact, it reveals it to be quite false and misleading. Apparently the standard of behavior that Christ accepts is much higher than we have realized.
Yet you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes. They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy. (Revelation 3:4)
It appears of all the believer in Sardis, only a few will walk with Christ in the white garments of the royal priesthood.
Why were these few counted worthy of walking with Christ? Because they did not soil their clothes.
How can a Christian soil his or her clothes? By not walking in continual repentance, not bringing to Christ every misdeed in order to gain forgiveness and cleansing.
Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God. (II Corinthians 7:1)
This is how we keep our spiritual clothes clean. We purify ourselves from all spiritual contamination, from lust, hatred, malice, covetousness, lying, and every other work of the sinful nature. We purify ourselves by confessing our sins and turning away from them, with the Lord’s help.
We have to keep on purifying ourselves, because our heart is deceitful and desperately wicked.
We are to perfect our own holiness, our separation to God so He may use us for His unique purposes.
In other words, we have to show ourselves worthy of the Kingdom to which we have been called.
We are heading toward the Day of Resurrection. In that day we will receive what we have done. We will be clothed with our own conduct.
As we, moment by moment, permit God to crucify us and then raise us up, a house is being constructed for us in the Presence of God in Heaven. It is an eternal weight of surpassing glory.
If we continue faithfully with God to the end of our life, we will be saved into a marvelous inheritance. Our resurrected flesh and bones will be clothed upon with the house that was constructed from our faithful obedience to Christ.
If, on the other hand, we have not been willing to carry our cross behind the Lord Jesus, not been willing to remain in the prisons where we have been placed from time to time, then no house has been constructed for us in the Presence of God.
In the Day of Resurrection our flesh and bones will be raised, but there will be no Divine glory to cover them. There we shall stand in the Presence of God, Christ, and the holy angels. Our destiny at this point depends on the judgment of Christ. Perhaps we will be thrown into the outer darkness because we have wasted our talent. Perhaps we will be permitted to enter the Kingdom of God as a naked spirit, all of our works having been burned away by the mercy of Christ.
The rewards go to the victorious saints, not to the losers.
We understand from the Scriptures, therefore, that we must be counted worthy of the Kingdom of God. It is not enough to “accept Christ” as a matter of religious form. We have to receive Christ into our life in totality, turn away from our pursuit of the world, take up our cross of self-denial, and set out each day to do the will of Christ.
Nothing short of this is worthy of the Kingdom of God. Nothing short of this will be permitted in the Kingdom of God.
Are we saved by grace? Certainly! The grace of God is Jesus Christ. If we will permit Him to do so He will create righteousness in us and we will begin to behave in a manner worthy of the Kingdom of God.
Being “saved by grace,” in the sense in which the expression is used in the New Testament by the Apostle Paul, means obtaining righteousness from God by receiving Christ rather than by observing the Law of Moses.
Being saved by grace does not mean we are saved apart from moral transformation, because it is the moral transformation that is the salvation.
But what about the thief on the cross?
We know nothing about his background. We know he made the right confession at the last moment of his life, and on the basis of that confession he was granted to be with his King in Paradise.
But this fact does not change what I have written. The thief did what was demanded of him at the time. All God asks is that we do what is required of us at any given time.
Had the thief lived on earth after that, and had turned away from God and lived a wicked life, a life unworthy of the Kingdom, you can be certain he would not continue to walk with Christ in Paradise. Sin is not permitted in the Kingdom of God.
We are in a period of apostasy in America. God’s elect have been deceived into ungodliness by false doctrine. Error has been heaped on error until the believers are convinced Christ is just about to whisk them away to Heaven so they will not suffer.
The burden of the Holy Spirit in America at the present hour is one of repentance. God’s people are to turn away from their sins and begin to keep the commandments of Christ and His Apostles. We are to behave in a manner worthy of the Kingdom of God.
If we do not repent, if we do not humble ourselves and turn away from our sins, you can be sure that God will come and bring America to account for the immorality that is so prevalent. The blood of the murdered fetuses is crying out to God for vengeance. The judgment will be terrible beyond belief, a holocaust of holocausts.
And there will be no deliverance through a “rapture.’
We can choose right now to live in a manner worthy of the Kingdom of God. If we do, people will see our good works and glorify God. We thus will overcome the accuser by the word of our testimony.
If we live in a manner worthy of the Kingdom of God, praying and meditating constantly in God’s Word, turning away from our sins and obeying the Lord in all things, we shall save ourselves and our loved ones in the coming age of moral horrors.
(“The Heart of the Christian Error”, 3916-1)