Our thinking in this article is going to return to an issue that we raised in another one. (228) This issue is the turning of faith into unbelief while retaining the right words. The saving Gospel of Jesus Christ is found in the words "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved", which are found in Acts 16:31. Today, after almost 2,000 years of accretions of various kinds, those words seldom mean what Paul meant when he said them.
Let me explain. Accretions to the Gospel are like unholy barnacles that have attached themselves to the hull of a ship that does not allow it to slip through the water as it was designed. The Gospel was designed by God to slip through all of the defenses of man and enter into his heart so that he could find forgiveness of sin and be granted the gift of eternal life. But today, after centuries of incremental accretions, the Gospel is so encumbered that men's defenses no longer have any trouble at all blocking its progress into their hearts. And all the while they are resisting its progress into their hearts, they are saying I believe in Jesus. The words are right, but salvation isn't happening. As long as 78% of Americans claim to be on the road to Heaven and the level of support for the Gospel at the pocketbook level is less than 3% of income, we know that people are using the right words but salvation hasn't happened to them.
So, for the sake of clarity, let me name some of the accretions (the unholy barnacles). The most widely used is water baptism. In spite of the plain claim of Scripture that water baptism does not save (1 Peter 3:21), priests, pastors, Bible teachers, and seminary professors are adamantly declaring that it does. The second most widely used is church loyalty. In spite of the fact that the Bible clearly reveals that no church is immune to the accretions of false doctrine (most of the New Testament was written to churches that had gotten off on the wrong track), people are continually taking refuge in the claim that their church membership, attendance, activities, and traditions will usher them into Heaven. The third most widely used accretion is the claim that religion is a personal matter that focuses upon a person's own conscience. The Bible is more than plain that people's consciences are not to be their guide (the Bible is) and that a person's relationship with God is to be proclaimed from the rooftops. Nonetheless people sit smugly ensconced in their private and ill-informed consciences and think they are on their way to Heaven.
There will be an innumerable host of baptized, active church members, whose private consciences were their guides in the Lake of Fire after the judgment of the Great White Throne (Revelation 20:11-15). The Gospel of faith in Jesus Christ is just that: a message that salvation is totally dependent upon what Jesus did when He died on Calvary. Biblical belief is an unreserved confidence that Jesus did it all. He said, "It is finished!"
So I ask, do you believe in Him alone, in His work alone?