Considering religions – Part 4 – Christless forgiveness

INTRODUCTION. This is another post (4th) in a series of articles about “religions.” I am still planning to write a future “religion” article about the threats posed to the true church by pagan religions and by “Christian” religions, and also about the biblical warnings against these two false systems, but I have decided to defer those once again and, instead, to give an example of what I mean by “Christian” religion.

OUR DEFINITION OF RELIGION. We have been considering the subject of religions in the last few posts. Remember that we are defining “religions” functionally, knowing that these systems of thought do not innocently spring up as someone’s helpful ideas, but are Satanically conceived and designed to prevent the adherents from hearing about Jesus Christ and thus being saved. Paul wrote to the Corinthians that “the god of this world (Satan) has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Cor. 4:4).

Thus, I am defining a “religion” as “any worldview, philosophy, ideology, or system of thought which exists for the purpose of intentionally obscuring the gospel of Jesus Christ so that people remain trapped away from salvation in a Christless, hopeless religious system.”

AN EXAMPLE

The example I am choosing to illustrate what I mean by a “Christian” religion is from Roman Catholicism. A religion like Roman Catholicism is structured to offer its adherents ideas that sound “Christian” and “holy” but which are, in fact, hellish, because they present useless counterfeits in place of the saving gospel of Jesus Christ. Here I will be considering Catholic forgiveness of sins.

GENUINE FORGIVENESS

To understand a counterfeit, it is necessary to know the genuine article. What is genuine forgiveness? In the Bible, all human beings are born under the condemnation of sin. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23), and “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). Since all are born under sin and are thus condemned, God must provide a means of forgiveness of sins if any are to be saved from this condemnation. The gospel of Jesus Christ declares that God has provided that means of forgiveness. Jesus Christ has died an atoning death on the cross to pay the penalty for sin and to offer forgiveness to anyone who will put their faith in Him. In Ephesians, Paul teaches, “In Him (Christ), we (believers) have redemption through His blood, THE FORGIVENESS OF OUR TRESPASSES” (Eph. 1:7). On the day of Pentecost, Peter told the people, “Repent and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ FOR THE FORGIVENESS OF YOUR SINS” (Acts 2:38). From the teaching of the New Testament, forgiveness of sins is given only to the person who has placed their faith in Jesus Christ. Any other teaching about forgiveness is counterfeit and useless.

FORGIVENESS AND PURGATORY

The point I am making is this: For the Catholic, Christ’s death on the cross is irrelevant to forgiveness, because the Catholic merits his own forgiveness of sins by his own efforts. To support this statement, I offer three proofs.

First, the Catholic’s only available means of forgiveness is the sacrament of confession. In this ritual, the Catholic goes to the priest, confesses their sins to the priest, and then performs whatever penance (“works”) the priest prescribes. This Catholic forgiveness ritual is completely Christless, being performed without any reference to or mention of Jesus Christ. Instead, the Catholic merits forgiveness by their own works of penance. Instead of the cross of Christ providing atonement for sin, the Catholic obscures the cross with the counterfeit of penance. The cross is unnecessary. If there was no cross, there would still be penance.

But second, Catholic doctrine teaches that at death good Catholics go to purgatory, that fictional place where the Catholic’s remaining sins are somehow purged away. Now, the fact that Catholics need a place to get rid of remaining sin after death loudly broadcasts their belief that Jesus’ death on the cross did not forgive all their sins. Their belief in purgatory declares that Catholics do not regard Jesus’ death on the cross as sufficient to pay for their sins. Thus, if there was no cross of Christ, there would still be purgatory.

The third point also has to do with purgatory, but instead of considering the entrance, we will now be thinking about the exit from purgatory. As you may suspect, I am not now nor have I ever been a Catholic, so I may have some of these details a little confused, but as I understand it, you rely upon the efforts of other Catholics to get you out of purgatory. The idea is that when a Catholic dies, he has remaining sins which keep him out of heaven, and which necessitate purging. It becomes the responsibility of living Catholics to perform works on his behalf that will result in his sins being removed so that he can eventually go to heaven.

For now, I am going to ignore the unlikelihood that such an arrangement would succeed and instead will just focus on the method of removing the sins. Notice that the entire process relies upon man’s works. During the Catholic’s lifetime, he performed his prescribed works but was nevertheless deemed unworthy of heaven. Now in purgatory, other Catholics perform their works, but what is glaringly absent is any reference to the finished work of Jesus Christ on Calvary’s cross. Like getting into purgatory, getting out of purgatory does not need a crucified Savior, it just requires some friends who are willing to work hard to get you to heaven.

SUMMARY

These three examples were presented to illustrate the way that “Christian” religions typically operate. These false systems present unbiblical rituals and works as “holy” counterfeits to obscure the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ and ensnare the religious adherents in useless works that leave the religionist under God’s wrath and condemnation.

SDG                 rmb                 3/7/2022                     #499

“They will come to Me” – (John 6:37 – Part 3)

INTRODUCTION: This is part of a series of blog posts studying John 6:37, a verse in which Jesus teaches us about the sovereignty of God in salvation. In this series, we will examine not only what Jesus explicitly teaches in this verse, but also its implications based on other passages of Scripture and plain reasoning.

“All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.” – John 6:37 (NASB)

In our second study in this series, we considered the next phrase in the verse, “will come to Me.” (See post #468 on 12/10/2021.) In that post, we focused on answering the question, “Who will come to Jesus?” This led to a detailed study of the nature of the elect and election, and how this displays God’s sovereignty in salvation.

But now, in this post we seek to answer the extremely important question, “What does it mean for the sinner to ‘come to Jesus’?” Since it is only those who “come to the Son” who are saved from eternal condemnation, we should strive to know what “will come to Me” means.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO ‘COME TO JESUS’?

The expression “come to Me” appears twice in this verse. Jesus says they “will come to Me” and He says, “the one who comes to Me.” To “come to Jesus” is one the most important themes of the entire Bible. Jesus Christ, God the Son, was sent from heaven to earth on a rescue mission, “to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10) as He “gave His life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). The only way that anyone receives salvation is by coming to Jesus. The Bible teaches that God has divinely chosen those people whom He will bring to salvation, but this doctrine of God’s election is given to us so that we may know the power of God’s sovereignty in salvation, not so that we may be confused about how to be saved.

Jesus said, “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me.” For the human sinner, the most important part of Jesus’ statement is, “will come to Me.” If you want to be saved, there is something that you need to do. If you want to be saved, you must actively come to Jesus.

“What does it mean to ‘come to Jesus’?” First, you must believe in Jesus. In John 1:12 says that to those who believed in Jesus’ name become children of God. In John 20:31, the Bible says that those who believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, have eternal life in His name. This believing can be understood as an unshakeable trust in Jesus, that He is who He said He was and that He is my Savior and my Lord.

Second, this inward faith and trust in Jesus manifests itself in an outward profession. “If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9). Faith in Jesus cannot remain an inner, silent thing, but must be expressed outwardly in a verbal profession. When you come to Jesus, others should know that Jesus has become your Lord and Savior.

Also, to come to Jesus means to repent of your sin and to begin to “hunger and thirst for righteousness” (Matt. 5:6). John the Baptist cried out, “Bring forth fruit in keeping with repentance” (Luke 3:8). At Pentecost, the people asked, “What are we to do (to be saved)?” Peter replied, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ” (Acts 2:38). The Philippian jailer asked Paul, “What must I do to be saved?” Paul answered, “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved” (Acts 16:30-31).

Finally, to come to Jesus, the Son of God, means obeying Him. In John 14:15, Jesus said, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” If you have come to saving faith in Jesus, you will have a desire to obey His commands and to walk in holiness and righteousness. You will forsake the wicked ways of your past. Paul says that, if you have come to Jesus, “you laid aside the old self with its evil practices” (Colossians 3:9). Jesus says, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word” (John 14:23).

As we conclude this post, we should notice two things. First, all those who come to Jesus will be saved. This should be an encouragement to anyone who desires to be saved from the coming judgment. But second, only those who come to Jesus will be saved. This should instill a sense of urgency. Those who were thinking about coming to Jesus but never did, and those who never expressly rejected Jesus, but who also never came to Him in repentance and faith alike will perish forever. All second chances are forever blown away at the final heartbeat. At that moment, eternity opens wide, and the lake of fire receives another unrepentant sinner. I urge you to come to Jesus.

In our next post in this series, we will examine the truth that the one who comes to Jesus He will certainly not cast out.

SDG                 rmb                 12/11/2021                 #469