Christianity 201

August 16, 2017

Can People Be Saved via Other Religions?

Filed under: Christianity - Devotions — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:33 pm
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Today we’re paying a return visit to the website BibleKnowledge.com and an article on a subject sometimes called universalism. Note that the end there are links to other articles in a series on this topic, including one pertaining to the eternal destiny of those who have never heard; who have never been evangelized. You may land the plane differently on these issues, but the view presented is the one which has served Evangelical Christianity well for nearly all of its history. Click the title below to read at source:

What is Inclusivism?

Inclusivism is a view that includes all religions in God’s plan of salvation. Inclusivism is “inclusive” (hence the name) of all religions in salvation and says that a person can be saved regardless of his or her faith and/or religious practice.

Both a Buddhist and Hindu can be saved in this view — regardless of the fact that they believe in different things and hold to different views about man and the world.

Inclusivism is a view that is in contrast to exclusivism. If inclusivism means to include religions, then exclusivism is a doctrine that excludes religions or faiths. Christians who hold to exclusivism believe that one must assent to the teachings of Christ and believe that He is God and the way to eternal life if they hope to be saved.

Christians who hold to this view also disagree with all other religions and argue that a Buddhist and a Mormon, for instance, cannot be saved as adherents of their faiths; rather, the Mormon and Buddhist must turn to Christianity and Jesus in order to find salvation.

As usual, Christians want to know: Is there biblical evidence for inclusivism?

  1. That is, can people be saved by way of religions other than Christianity?
  2. Can an individual be saved through his or her belief in Buddha, Brigham Young, or some other god (Confucius, etc.)?

The Bible states unequivocally that one can only experience God’s salvation through faith in Christ, as can be demonstrated by the following passages:

  1. “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name” (John 1:12, NASB).
  2. “For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ” (John 1:17).
  3. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (Jn. 3:16).
  4. “He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (Jn. 3:18).
  5. “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life” (Jn. 5:24).
  6. “For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote about Me” (Jn. 5:46).
  7. “Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you, for on Him the Father, God, has set His seal” (Jn. 6:27).
  8. “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent” (Jn. 6: 29).
  9. “For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day” (Jn. 6:40).
  10. “I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture” (Jn. 10:9).
  11. “If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor Him” (Jn. 12:26).
  12. “You call Me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am” (Jn. 13:13).
  13. “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me” (Jn. 14:6).
  14. “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (Jn. 17:3).
  15. In all these verses, it is Jesus who is to be believed in, whose name humans are to believe in so that they can experience God’s salvation. John 3:18 says that judgment awaits the one who does not believe on the name of Jesus, God’s “one and only begotten Son.” In other words, there is only one whose name we must believe in to be saved — that is, the name of Jesus. This is the same message Peter proclaims while preaching publicly:
  16. “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

First, notice that salvation comes through “no one else,” that “there is no other name under heaven” that can save humanity.

Peter’s words seem to exclude the possibility that God’s salvation can come through the names of Buddha, Confucius, Mohammed, or some other human that mankind has elevated throughout world history. Peter’s statement does not so much as entertain the idea that mankind can be saved through the names of others who are not Jesus Christ.

Although inclusivism seems to be an intellectually acceptable position, it does not have biblical support. If one can only be saved by confessing the name of Jesus and following His teachings (Christianity, cf. Luke 14:26-27), then one cannot be labeled a follower of Jesus while practicing Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Mormonism, Hinduism, or the Muslim faiths.

If inclusivism lacks biblical support, the next question is as follows: Can Someone Turn Receptive to Christ by Way of General Revelation? Inclusivists also hold to general revelation as a source of conversion, but as will be shown in the article, General Revelation is Inadequate for Salvation.

October 1, 2015

Our Message Isn’t “Church” or Simply “God;” It’s “Jesus”

Filed under: Christianity - Devotions — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:33 pm
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I often tell people if you have company over and it’s getting late and you want your guests to go home, start talking about Jesus. Unless it’s church people, your friends will get fidgety and start looking at the time on their wristwatches or phones.

In the Christian bookstore where I spend a couple of days per week, I differentiate between using “the G-word” and using “the J-word” and often include the E. Stanley Jones quotation we’ve used here a few times:

When we begin with God we begin with our idea of God and our idea of God is not God. Rather, we should begin with God’s idea of God and God’s idea of God is seen in Christ.

People like Jesus (for the most part) but he has a way of making people uncomfortable. Yet the message of hope we bring to people is:

I Cor 1:23 …but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness…

and again Paul repeats

II Cor 4:5 For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake.

Yesterday at Daily Encouragement, Brooksyne Webber posted this:

Yesterday morning I walked with my neighbor as we try to do once a week. We often talk about the things of the Lord though our Christian backgrounds are very different. She, being a very conservative Mennonite, is quite reserved in speaking to others outside her church about the Lord. In the course of our conversation she said, “Brooksyne, I thought of you the other day when I was talking to the father of a boy that’s in my daughter’s class. He has lots of problems and I told him that if he would start going to church it would help him with his problems.” In hindsight she chuckled as she said, “You would probably tell me that I should have witnessed to him about finding God, rather than finding a church.” She said this because she later found that he was already in a church yet not living according to God’s teachings.

It led to further discussion about being bold in our witness. I shared with her about a turning point in my public witness to others. About 30 years ago a woman named Sally, who had many difficulties and overcomings in her Christian life, would regularly stand up in church and with a huge smile say, “I love Jesus”. Jesus was always at the center of her conversation and witness. She told me one day, “When I talk to my clients about God they nod their heads and pretty much act as though they’re going along with me. But when I speak about Jesus many of them grow uncomfortable and want to end the discussion.”

Like my neighbor who was comfortable talking about “church” but it would have stretched her even more to talk about Jesus, I was comfortable talking about God as I witnessed to others but I rarely talked about Jesus. It changed my witness approach and made me more bold to declare the name of Jesus who came to die for us, rose again from the dead and evermore lives making intercession for us.

Perhaps you can’t relate to this, but if you do, speak about Jesus more openly until it becomes a regular part of your conversation to outsiders, especially those who need to be saved.

Reading this reminded me of something we started in a church we were serving in many years ago, a Sunday morning featured called “The Witness Stand” where people in the congregation whose voices were rarely heard could tell their salvation story. When I began, I automatically chose people who I knew would do a good job with their presentation, but eventually I worked my way down the list and noticed we started getting people talking more about how much “this church” meant to them, and not how much Jesus meant to them.

Were we converting people to Christ or converting people to our church? I immediately dropped the feature after about three weeks of this.

Many years later, in another church, we did something similar only more spontaneous and with a broader focus. This one I modeled on the verse

I Cor. 14:26 What is the outcome then, brethren? When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification.

I’ve seen this verse applied in both conservative Plymouth Brethren-type churches and also independent Charismatic circles. Initially, people stood up with a verse of scripture or a testimony they wanted to share. But then people started talking about things that were rather random, and after the one woman went on about her dog, I knew it was time to shut that one down for a season.

One blogger writes,

One of the greatest marks of the unhealthiness of the Church is that rather than manifesting the glory of Jesus and the offensiveness and foolishness of His cross, the culture-exegetes of today attempt to show the world how much alike we are. In so doing, professing Christians present themselves to the world, and, purposefully or not, implicitly ask unbelievers to receive them long before calling them to receive Christ.

Peter reminds his readers in his second epistle:

II Peter 3:18 …but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ…

not Bible knowledge, not how to be a better person, not moralism, not the history of our church and denomination, not how our local church governance works; but the grace and knowledge of Jesus.

…The song we’re ending with today has both dated music and a few obsolete lyrics, but I hope that a few hours from now, when you’ve forgotten the verses and the instrumentation, you’ll remember the line from the chorus, “It’s Jesus That They Need.”

August 8, 2011

All The World Will Praise Your Great Name

Filed under: Uncategorized — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:41 pm
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I recently noticed that the song Your Great Name by Krissy Nordhoff appeared on a couple of worship song set lists and decided to check it out.

Phil 2:9 (NIV) Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
   and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
   in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
   to the glory of God the Father.

August 11, 2010

Revelation Song

Holy, Holy, Holy isn’t just a repeated lyric.   It represents a special poetic significance that occurs in scripture when something is deserving of special emphasis.

I can’t believe that anybody reading this right now doesn’t already know this song, but if you haven’t prepare for a 7-minute worship experience.  Besides, I wanted it to be part of the worship collection on this blog.   Everyone else:  You already know what awaits you…

Worthy is the Lamb
Who was slain
Holy holy is He
Sing a new song
To Him Who sits on
Heaven’s mercy seat

Holy holy holy
Is the Lord God Almighty
Who was and is
And is to come
With all creation I sing
Praise to the King of kings
You are my everything
And I will adore You

Clothed in rainbows of living color
Flashes of lightning, rolls of thunder
Blessing and honor
Strength and glory
And power be to You
The only wise King

Filled with wonder
Awestruck wonder
At the mention of Your name
Jesus Your name is power
Breath and living water
Such a marvelous mystery yeah

by Jennie Lee Riddle
© 2004 Gateway Create Publishing (Admin. by Integrity’s Praise! Music)