Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Biblical Salvation Beliefs On The Decline

Over the last several decades core religious beliefs in America have changed dramatically. And what many now believe may well shock you.  It is no secret to anyone paying even minor attention that the spiritual and religious tone of the nation has been in flux for a good while now. And it is not trending in a positive direction. Several decades ago there were at least some Biblical standards and norms.  But that has changed, and in some areas, quite significantly over time.

Today there seems to be an almost 'anything goes’ mentality as long as  one critical qualification is met. In other words, if we are at least really ‘sincere’ about what we say we believe, then all is well and God will ultimately accept us. Many feel that all will be just fine in the end and all will be forgiven when push comes to shove. And anyone who rejects that notion is now seen as being narrow-minded and judgmental.

I recently saw two articles that spoke to this and pointed out significant aspects of a growing spiritual problem in America. First, there was an article that appeared at The study sited there was from Lifeway Research and part of their 2018 State of Theology. The survey interviewed some 3,000 Americans about various Biblical beliefs. But on one supremely critical subject it revealed this. "God accepts the worship of all religions, including Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. " It was shown that 51 percent of respondents agreed with that premise.  That is without question shocking, at least to me.  I can’t imagine numbers like that had this same question been asked even 3-4 decades ago.

But as troubling as this all is, it does not represent an isolated trend.  Consider these findings from the same research.  "A majority, as in about 78%, of so-called evangelicals now believe that most people are basically good by nature and that Jesus was the first and greatest being 'created' by God the Father. So now it appears that a majority feel that man is by basically good and Jesus was not fully God from eternity past but rather a created being? And keep in mind that it was Evangelicals here who provided this data and those who should be at least familiar with basic Biblical truth.

And if this has not made you wonder what this has happened, and how it has happened so quickly, there was another article found along side of the one just mentioned.  The title this time used these alarming words. 'Why Jesus Is No Longer the Only Way for Many American Christians'.  And then add this. Just 10 years ago, a Pew Research Center Study found that more than half of all American Christians believe that at least some non-Christian faiths can lead to salvation. Again, that is simply stunning!

What we are basically seeing today is an overall erosion of the very foundation of the traditional Christian faith. And the question arises as to why and there are numerous reasons. But one prominent cause is something that has become sacred and almost a religion of its own in America today – namely tolerance. Tolerance is demanded in just about every area of culture today with one notable exception. And that exception is the acceptance of any consistent and unwavering conviction concerning sound Biblical doctrine and viewpoints.  Anything and everything else pretty much gets a pass.   But the reality is that the principles of God’s Word are indeed quite specific and exclusive when dealing with redemption and how one can be made fully justified with God.

When people come to the conclusion that there are many ways to heaven, and that Jesus is just one of them, that simply means that they do not hold to the ultimate source of God’s truth as revealed in Scripture.  That has always puzzled me, especially when I hear of surveys where people state that they believe the Bible to be God’s word, but then they pick and choose those things they want to accept or reject within its pages. Once we come to the conclusion and feel we have the right to exclude those things we’d rather not deal with, then where does that kind of thinking end?  How can we then believe anything fully that Scripture teaches without any doubts?

But for those who believe God’s word is His full and perfect revelation to humanity, what does it actually say along these same lines?  First,  we need to look at how it describes itself.  In 2 Tim 3:16 we read, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God."  That mean that the Bible is ‘God breathed’ and that it is fully His exact mind in print.  2 Peter 1:20-21 adds this. “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation,  for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.’" And Hebrews 4:12 speaks to the  power and ability of Scripture alone, “For the word of God is living and powerful , and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit.”

The Bible is not some human book filled with truths, half-truths, errors or  only a collection of polite and helpful suggestions. It is God’s full and flawless revelation to mankind - all of it!!

But once we believe that all Scripture is inspired and fully accurate, then it is not hard to see the serious problems with many current views of God accepting worship from other religions or Jesus not being the only way to be saved. Actually, the Bible is perhaps more clear on these issue than on anything else – and for good reason!  I don’t know where you stand on this subject today. But if you are confused or unaware, consider these verses just for starters.

In 1 John 5:11-12 we read,  “And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.  He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have lifeThen add to that these very exclusive words in Acts 4:11-12.  “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved."  And that name there is Jesus – period.. Or this one. John 14:6 Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

Yes, the Word of God leaves little doubt that the Creator does not accept other ways to be reconciled to Him. He devised, in eternity past, that His Son would be the lone sacrifice for human sin and the only way for man to be justified. His plan is perfect and it is exclusive. Our part is to simply accept what He has offered and not be searching for some alternative path that is easier or seems to better meet our personal preferences. And we pray today that you have trusted Christ as the only way, truth and life and that you have been born into God’s family through His specified mean – by faith alone in His Son!

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."  John 3:16

Bill Breckenridge

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