Question: Dear Pastor Younce, I read some material the other day that bothered me a lot. The writer stated that if you just believe that Jesus can give you eternal life, He will give you eternal life. I didn’t see anything about Christ's Resurrection or His Death on the Cross. Can you give me your assessment of this writer’s statement.
Answer: I am aware of this new pseudo-teaching, “Faith Alone in Christ Alone” that has recently surfaced. That sounds very good; but here is their underlying message, "Just believe in Jesus and you will have eternal life.” Am I saved by simply believing this? Positively, No! No one obtains eternal life by just believing that Jesus Christ has the power and right to give eternal life. This message projects a pseudo-gospel without a Cross; or, as some have termed it, the Cross-less Gospel.
The above is very deceiving, in that the reader may assume that the above statement includes believing in the Death, Burial and Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ; because you are already a believer; but, it does not! The proponents of this false teaching say, "Just believe in Jesus, and you will have eternal life." "Well," you say, "What's wrong with that?"
The proponents of the Cross-less Gospel forget that many of the texts they quote about simply believing in Christ for Salvation, are part of a larger context, which clearly sets out the Death, Burial, and Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. For example: Romans 4:4,5 is part of the context of Romans 4:24,25; John 3:16-18 is part of a larger context including John 3:14; Ephesians 2:8,9 is part of the context of Ephesians 1:7; the context of John 6:35-40 contains John 6:51, etc. These are just a few of the references given in the Newsletter, referenced in the next paragraph.
This false doctrine has been put forth by Grace in Focus, and as Bob Wilkin states in his March/April Newsletter, he is the "Founder and Head." I have quoted just one statement from this Newsletter, entitled, "Five Current Confusions Concerning the Gospel" By Bob Wilkin. I quote:
"Nowhere in the entire Bible are we told that the person who believes the gospel has everlasting life, is saved, is justified, will never die spiritually, or anything of the kind."
And, of course, that is in direct opposition to God's Word in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4. One will notice, their battle-cry, “Faith Alone in Christ Alone,” stands out in bold type at the bottom of the Newsletter.
Since we are dealing with the Salvation of souls, we must give the Gospel with great clarity. We must give the right information. There must be two things that must occur before anyone can receive eternal life.
- The Giver: Jesus Christ is the only One who is qualified to give eternal life; since, as the sinless Son of God, He paid for the sins of mankind by His Death and Resurrection, as recorded in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4,
"Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; (1) By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. (2) For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; (3) And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:"
Thus, the Lord Jesus Christ is qualified by His Death (His payment for sin on the Cross), and Resurrection (showing God's acceptance of the payment), to give eternal life to all those who by faith will receive it. To be able to receive eternal life, you must know about, so you can believe in, the Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ; or there is no justification to the lost. Notice Romans 4:24,25...
“But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead: Who was delivered (death on the Cross) for our offenses, and was raised again for our justification.”
Therefore, making a statement such as “Faith Alone in Christ alone.” or “One receives eternal life by just believing that Christ gives eternal life,” does not result in salvation. This belief is empty and void of the Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ and does not give eternal life. It is a "gospel" without a Cross. It is a good example of "believing in vain." (1 Corinthians 15:2b). Why? You have not heard the true Gospel and have believed a wrong message.
- The Receiver: Anyone can receive eternal life; if, they hear the right message. An unsaved person may ask, “I understand that good works, or any works of the flesh will not give me eternal life; so, what must I believe to receive eternal life?” The answer is always found in God's Word. We must believe Christ died on the Cross as the payment for our sin, and rose again, showing God accepted His payment. This is substantiated by Romans 4:25,
"(Christ) Who was delivered for our offenses (the Cross) and was raised again (Resurrection) for our justification.”
This is the Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ in payment for the sins of every human being. When I believe that Christ died and was resurrected for me, personally, paying for my sins; I am given eternal life immediately upon my faith in Him. Romans 5:1 makes this perfectly clear,
“Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
As does John 3:16,
"For God so loved the world, that he gave (on the Cross) his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him (His death on the cross) should not perish, but have everlasting life."
And should anyone doubt that John 3:16 is talking about Christ's Death on the Cross, I quote John 3:14,
"And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:"
The Gospel is the sacrificial Death and Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. This is what the Bible says we must know about and understand to make a decision to accept or reject Christ. May I recapitulate to 1 Corinthians 15. In Verse 1 we are told,
“Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you.”
Then, we are told what the Gospel is in Verses 3b, and 4.
“...How that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures: And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures;”
This Gospel is what the Corinthians received (i.e. believed) for eternal life. The last part of Verse 1 verifies this, “...which also ye have received and wherein ye stand.”
To make a statement such as: “I have received eternal life because I believe that Jesus gives eternal life,” is NOT salvation. I see nothing in the preceding statement about the Cross or Resurrection of Christ. The Word of God addresses this in 1 Corinthians 15:14, notice carefully.
“And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.”
There is no Salvation without believing in Christ’s Resurrection. 1 Corinthians 15:17 makes this very clear.
“And if Christ be not raised, your faith is in vain; ye are yet in your sins.”
One should acknowledge that there have been many in past centuries, and up to and including our present time, who have promised eternal life to their followers. A few in our time have even claimed to be Christ. Many today think of Jesus Christ merely as good man of History who died a martyr's death. During Jesus’ ministry, there were others with the same name. What separated the sinless Son of God from others bearing the same name was His Death and Resurrection.
Therefore, this new teaching which has recently surfaced, stating that, “You receive eternal life by simply believing that Jesus and/or Christ has the power to give you eternal life," is empty and void of eternal life. This could apply to any person named “Jesus” or any human being claiming to be “Christ.”
To have eternal life, a person must understand that Jesus Christ went to the Cross, being crucified, and was resurrected as payment for their sin. When one places their faith in Jesus Christ as the one who did this for them, personally, they are then saved; that means, saved from paying for their own sin in Hell, the Lake of Fire. (Matthew 25:41). This is the Gospel with the Cross included!
Notice how the Cross is referred to in these statements about the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Romans 5:9,10b, “...being now justified by his (Christ’s) blood (Cross);we shall be saved by his life (Resurrection).”
“In whom we have redemption through his (Christ’s) blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;”
“...Unto him (Christ) that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood.” (the Cross).
“And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.”
“...for thou (Christ) wast slain (Cross), and hast redeemed us to God; by thy blood of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation.”
1 Peter 1:18,19, tells us that we were
“...redeemed, with the precious blood (Cross) of Christ, as of a lamb, without blemish and without spot.”
This false teaching we have just covered may seem like “splitting hairs;” and that is exactly what Satan wants you to believe. But, in reality, it is the difference between Heaven and Hell! Satan hates the Resurrection. You must know about Christ's Death on the Cross and His Resurrection to accept or reject His offer of eternal life. That is what the Bible teaches that the Gospel is. Without the Cross, you have no payment for sin. Without the Resurrection, you have no finished Salvation.
Personally, I am not trusting my eternal life to come from just someone named “Jesus,” or a human being called “Christ,” but, rather, to come from the Lord Jesus Christ; God manifested in the flesh, bearing the authentic credentials of His Crucifixion and His Resurrection. This is truly the Son of God, not an imposter bearing His name.
Remember, a "Cross-less" gospel saves no one! We would do well to remember the words of this precious old hymn, given below.
THE OLD RUGGED CROSS
On a hill far away, stood an old rugged Cross,
The emblem of suff'ring and shame;
And I love that old Cross where the dearest and best
For a world of lost sinners was slain.
Oh, that old rugged Cross so despised by the world
Has a wondrous attraction for me;
For the dear Lamb of God left his glory above,
To bear it to dark Calvary.
In the old rugged Cross, stained with blood so divine,
A wondrous beauty I see;
For 'twas on that old Cross Jesus suffered and died,
To pardon and sanctify me.
To the old rugged Cross I will ever be true,
Its shame and reproach gladly bear;
Then he'll call me some day to my home far away,
Where his glory forever I'll share.
So I'll cherish the rugged Cross,
Till my trophies at last I lay down'
I will cling to the old rugged Cross,
And exchange it some day for a crown.
Composer: George Bennard, taken from HYMNS OF FAITH & INSPIRATION, Ideals Publications Incorporated, Nashville, Tennessee, 1990, pgs 88-91.