Gospel Gazette Online
Vol. 16 No. 2 February 2014
Page 3

Editorial

Louis RushmoreRoad Map to Heaven
or Detour to Hell

Louis Rushmore

Text: Matt. 7:21-23

Thesis: To contrast the biblical plan of salvation for the Christian Age with humanly devised plans of salvation, urging then, that souls opt for the true, biblical plan of salvation that will take them to heaven—instead of to hell.

Songs: “Heaven Holds All to Me,” “An Empty Mansion,” “Heaven Will Surely Be Worth I All,” “Above the Bright Blue,” “Lead Me Gently Home, Father,” “Home Over There,” “Sweet By and By”

Introduction:

  1. There are a few conflicting plans of salvation in the religious world.
    1. It should be obvious that contradictory plans of salvation cannot all be right.
    2. Further, every plan of salvation that is not divine in origin cannot be trusted.
  2. Most, but not all, plans of salvation purportedly claim to guide their followers to a blissful eternity in heaven.
    1. A road map in this life can be used to arrive at an intended destination.
    2. However, improper use of a road map, or disregarding a map, can detour one from ever arriving at his desired endpoint.
  3. It is eternally important to identify and practice the true plan of salvation, which will take precious souls to heaven.
    1. Only one plan of salvation will allow one to pass from the Judgment Seat of Christ through the gates of heaven to dwell therein forever.
    2. Therefore, we need to be aware of the difference between false, manmade plans of salvation and the divinely given plan of salvation for all people now living.

Body:

  1. Some religionists claim that there is no plan of salvation.
    1. Strangely, there are some people who claim to be religious, yet they teach that there is no death, heaven, hell or final judgment.
    2. The Christian Science religion, for instance, does not believe that man is in need of any salvation.
      1. However, the New Testament amply teaches that everyone (who has the capacity to “obey”) has committed sins (Rom. 3:10, 23).
      2. The consequence of sin is spiritual death (Rom. 6:23).
  2. Some religious people teach that everyone will be saved.
    1. The concept here is that God is so good, so great and so loving that in the end He will save everyone regardless of how they lived or what they believed (or didn’t believe).
    2. Universalist churches teach the ultimate reconciliation of all souls to God.
      1. In the process, they deny the existence of hell or that any souls will be annihilated.
      2. The New Testament is full of Scriptures that teach that there will be a separation in eternity between righteous and unrighteous souls (Matt. 7:13-14; 2 Thess. 1:9).
      3. Jesus Himself clearly taught the existence of both heaven and hell (Matt. 5:22; 23:33).
  3. Most religious denominations today teach some form of faith only.
    1. Nearly everyone who claims to participate in Christianity teaches and practices some form of faith only for salvation.
      1. The Church of England (also known as the Anglican or Episcopal Church) adopted “faith only”: “we are justified by faith only is a most wholesome doctrine, and very full of comfort” (Eleventh Article in the Articles of Religion of the Church of England).
      2. Consequently, the Methodist Church, an American spiritual offspring of the Episcopal Church, adopted the exact same expression (Methodist Discipline: Article IX, “Of the Justification of Man”)
    2. Faith only usually amounts to what some refer to as “the sinner’s prayer.”
      1. Admit that you are a sinner.
      2. Be willing to turn from sin (repent).
      3. Believe that Jesus Christ died for you, was buried and rose from the dead.
      4. Through prayer, invite Jesus into your life to become your personal Savior.
    3. The names of the religious groups that believe in faith only are well recognized.
      1. Their denominational presence appears in nearly every city in the western world and in many other places throughout the balance of the earth.
      2. These would include, but they are not limited to: Lutherans, Methodists, Anglican, Baptist and Seventh-Day Adventists.
    4. Faith only, however, is not promoted but taught against in the New Testament.
      1. Four times in James 2, the inspired writer plainly wrote that a person is not saved by faith only (17, 20, 24, 26).
      2. The “works” of which James wrote equate to “obedience” (Rom. 1:5; 16:26; Heb. 5:8-9; 2 Thess. 1:8), rather than to works of merit.
  4. Only the one, true plan of salvation, about which we can read in the New Testament, will enable one to spend eternity in heaven.
    1. Jesus Christ summarized the plan of salvation for the Christian Age (Mark 16:16).
      1. Our Lord concisely represented salvation as the result of belief (faith) and baptism.
      2. In addition, Jesus specified a sequence of activities resulting in salvation: faith + baptism = salvation.
      3. That is no more difficult than the rudimentary math equation of 1 + 2 = 3!
    2. The inspired apostle Peter, also one of those to whom Jesus spoke in Mark 16:16, preached the first recorded Gospel sermon in Acts 2.
      1. He spoke to believing Jews that Peter had just accused of murdering the Son of God (Acts 2:36-37).
      2. Peter told those believers to repent and be baptized for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38).
      3. Here, we have indicated faith + repentance + baptism (in that order) = salvation.
    3. From additional passages, one discerns that hearing God’s Word (Rom. 10:17) and confessing belief in Jesus Christ (Rom. 10:9-10) also precede salvation.
      1. Hearing the Word of God comes before faith, and therefore, before other activities leading to baptism, at which time one is saved or his sins are removed (Acts 22:16; 1 Pet. 3:21).
      2. Confessing Christ is “unto” or in the direction of salvation (Acts 8:37-38).

Conclusion:

  1. At the end of time, each soul will appear personally before the Judgment Seat of Jesus Christ to hear his or her eternal outcome (Rom. 14:10; 2 Cor. 5:10).
  2. Manmade, alternative plans of salvation will prove useless at the Judgment Seat of Christ (Matt. 7:21-23).
  3. No one wants to wait until that moment to find out whether he or she has been following a road map to heaven or a detour to hell.

Invitation:

  1. The road map to heaven is found in the Bible, and for everyone living in the Gospel Age, the road map is the New Testament.
  2. Have you relied solely on the Gospel to produce your faith (Rom. 10:17)?
    1. Do you believe that Jesus is the Son of God (John 8:24)?
    2. Are you willing to repent of sins (Luke 13:3)?
    3. Are you willing to acknowledge Jesus as the Son of God (Rom. 10:9-10; Acts 8:37)?
    4. Are you willing to be immersed in water for the remission of sins in imitation of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ (Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3-5; Col. 2:12)?
  3. If you are a wayward child of God, are you willing to repent and pray for forgiveness (Acts 8:22; 1 John 1:9)?

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