Only One Way, Article

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Three positions abound today on the question of whether Christ is the only way to salvation. All three can be detected by how each answers these two fundamental questions: First, is Jesus the only Savior? More fully: Is the sinless life of Christ and His atoning death and resurrection the only means by which the penalty of sin is paid and the power of sin defeated? Second, is faith in Christ necessary to be saved? More fully: Is conscious knowledge of Christ’s death and resurrection for sin and explicit faith in Christ necessary for anyone to become a recipient of the benefits of Christ’s atoning work and so be saved?

Pluralism answers both questions “no.” The pluralist, like John Hick, believes that there are many paths to God, Jesus being only one of them. Since salvation can come through other religions and religious leaders, it surely follows that people do not have to believe in Christ to be saved.

Inclusivism answers the first question “yes” and the second question “no.” To the inclusivist, like Clark Pinnock, although Jesus has accomplished the work necessary to bring us back to God, nonetheless, people can be saved by responding positively to God’s revelation in creation and perhaps in aspects of their own religions. So, even though Christ is the only Savior, people do not have to know about or believe in Christ to be saved.

Exclusivism answers both questions “yes.” The exclusivist, such as the late Ronald H. Nash, believes that Scripture affirms both truths; first, that Jesus alone has accomplished the atoning work necessary to save sinners, and second, that knowledge of and faith in Christ is necessary for anyone to be saved. The remainder of this article offers a brief summary of some of the main support for these two claims.

Jesus is the only Savior

Why think that Jesus is the only Savior? Of all the people who have lived and ever will live, Jesus alone qualifies, in His person and work, as the only one capable of accomplishing atonement for the sin of the world. Consider the following ways in which Jesus alone qualifies as the exclusive Savior:

First, Christ alone was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of a virgin (Isa. 7:14Matt. 1:18–25Luke 1:26–38); as such, He alone qualifies to be Savior. Why does this matter? Only as the Holy Spirit takes the place of the human father in Jesus’ conception can it be true that the one conceived is both fully God and fully man. Christ must be both God and man to atone for sin (see below), but for this to occur, He must be conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of a human virgin. No one else in the history of the world is conceived by the Spirit and born of a virgin mother. Therefore, Jesus alone qualifies to be Savior.

Second, Christ alone is God incarnate (John 1:1–18Heb. 1:1–32:14–18Phil. 2:5–111 Tim. 2:5–6); as such, He alone qualifies to be Savior. As Anselm argued in the eleventh century, our Savior must be fully man in order to take the place of men and die in their stead, and He must be fully God in order for the value of His sacrificial payment to satisfy the demands of our infinitely holy God. Man He must be, but a mere man simply could not make this infinite payment for sin. But no one else in the history of the world is both fully God and fully man. Therefore, Jesus alone qualifies to be Savior.

Third, Christ alone lived a sinless life (2 Cor. 5:21Heb. 4:157:23–289:13–141 Peter 2:21–24); as such, He alone qualifies to be Savior. As Leviticus makes clear, animals offered as sacrifices for sin must be without blemish. This prefigured the sacrifice of Christ who, as sinless, was able to die for the sins of others and not for Himself. But no one else in the history of the world has lived a totally sinless life. Therefore, Jesus alone qualifies to be Savior.

Fourth, Christ alone died a penal, substitutionary death (Isa. 53:4–6Rom. 3:21–262 Cor. 5:21Gal. 3:10–14); as such, He alone qualifies to be Savior. The wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23). And because Christ lived a sinless life, He did not deserve to die. Rather, the cause of His death was owing to the fact that the Father imputed to Him our sin. The death that He died was in our place. No one else in the history of the world has died because He bore the sin of others and not as the judgment for His own sin. Therefore, Jesus alone qualifies to be Savior.

Fifth, Christ alone rose from the dead triumphant over sin (Acts 2:22–24Rom. 4:251 Cor. 15:3–816–23). As such, He alone qualifies to be Savior. The Bible indicates that a few people, other than Christ, have been raised from the dead (1 Kings 17:17–24; John 11:38–44), but only Christ has been raised from the dead never to die again, having triumphed over sin. The wages of sin is death, and the greatest power of sin is death. So, Christ’s resurrection from the dead demonstrates that His atoning death for sin accomplished both the full payment of sin’s penalty and full victory over sin’s greatest power. No one else in the history of the world has been raised from the dead triumphant over sin. Therefore, Jesus alone qualifies to be Savior.

The conclusion is unquestionable: Christ alone qualifies as Savior, and Christ alone is Savior. Jesus’ own words could not be clearer: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). And the apostle Peter confirms: “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). These claims are true of no one else in the history of the world. Indeed, Jesus alone is Savior.

Faith in Christ is necessary to be saved

Why think that faith in Christ is necessary to be saved? The teaching of the apostles is clear, that the content of the Gospel now (since the coming of Christ) focuses directly upon the atoning death and resurrection of Christ and that by faith in Christ one is forgiven of his sin and granted eternal life. Consider the following passages that support the conviction that people are saved only as they know and trust in Christ as their Savior:

First, Jesus’ own teaching shows that the nations need to hear and repent to be saved (Luke 24:44–49). Jesus commands that “repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem” (Luke 24:47). The people Jesus here describes are currently both unrepentant and unforgiven. To be forgiven they must repent. But to repent they must hear the proclamation of Christ’s work in His name. And this is true for all the nations, including Jews who haven’t trusted Christ. Jesus does not envision the “nations” as already having saving revelation available to them. Rather, believers must proclaim the message of Christ to all the nations for people in those nations to be saved.

Second, Paul teaches that even pious Jews, and everyone else, must hear and believe in Christ to be saved (Rom. 10:1–413–15). His heart’s desire and prayer is for the salvation of his fellow Jews. Even though they have a zeal for God, they do not know that God’s righteousness comes only through faith in Christ. So these Jews, even though pious, are not saved. Whoever will call upon the name of Christ (see Rom. 10:913) will be saved. But this requires that someone tell them. And this requires that those are sent. Missions, then, is necessary, since people must hear the Gospel of Christ to be saved.

Third, Cornelius’s story demonstrates that even pious Gentiles must hear and believe in Christ to be saved (Acts 10:1–238–4311:13–1815:7–9). Far from being saved before Peter came to him, as some think, Cornelius was a pious (10:2) Gentile who needed to hear of Christ and believe in Christ to be saved. When Peter reports about the conversion of the Gentiles, he declares that only when he preached did Cornelius hear the message he needed to hear in order to “be saved” (Acts 11:14; see also 15:8–9). Despite his piety, Cornelius needed to hear the proclamation of the Gospel of Christ to be saved.

Again, the conclusion is clear: Jesus is the only Savior, and people must know and believe in Christ to be saved. May we honor Christ and the Gospel, and may we manifest our faithfulness to God’s Word by upholding these twin truths and living in a manner that demonstrates our commitment to them.

The Divine Foundation of Authority

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LIGONIER MINISTRIES

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You’re out!” “I’m safe!” “Out!” “Safe!” “Out!” “It’s my ball, and it’s my bat, and I say that I’m safe.” This is how we settled disputes over plays in our pickup baseball games played without the benefit of a referee or umpire. When a disputed play could not be resolved through reason or through yelling, the one who possessed the equipment usually determined the outcome. It was a child’s game in which might made right. It was the nascent expression of the cynical statement: “He who owns the gold, rules.”

These illustrations indicate that at some level ownership is involved in authority. The very word authority has within it the word author. An author is someone who creates and possesses a particular work. Insofar as God is the foundation of all authority, He exercises that foundation because He is the author and the owner of His creation. He is the foundation upon which all other authority stands or falls.

We use the term foundation with respect to the imagery of a building. Houses and commercial buildings are erected upon a foundation. As Jesus indicated in His parables, if the foundation is not solid, the structure will not stand. The house that is built upon the sand will crumble at the first sign of a windstorm. Instead, Jesus commended the building of the house upon a rock. The foundation has to be firm in order for the house to stand.

In the sixteenth century, the critical dispute that arose in the Protestant Reformation focused on two central issues. Historians speak of one as being the material cause, that is, the matter around which the dispute centered. That material cause was the doctrine of justification. The battle was fought over the issue of what is required for a person to be justified in the sight of God. The other issue, the formal one, lurked only slightly under the surface of the external debate about justification: the question of authority. When Luther defended his doctrine in his disputes with Cardinal Cajetan and with the theologian Johann Eck, the Roman Catholic experts called attention to the decrees of earlier church councils and of papal encyclicals to refute Luther’s arguments. Luther in response argued that the edicts of church councils and even the encyclicals of popes can err and often do err. The only final authority Luther would recognize, upon which the controversy could be resolved, was the authority of Scripture, because that authority carried the weight of God’s authority itself.

As a result, the Diet of Worms culminated with Luther’s expression: “Unless I am convinced by sacred Scripture or by evident reason, I cannot recant because my conscience is held captive by the Word of God, and to act against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand. God help me. I can do no other.” In that statement, Luther was affirming publicly his commitment to the principle of sola Scriptura, that the Bible alone is the only authority that can bind the conscience of a person absolutely because it is the only authority that carries with it the intrinsic authority of God Himself.

In the Scriptures we see that God creates the universe and owns the universe. It is His possession, and He governs it by His own authority. The authority by which God governs all things is His autonomous authority. To say that God’s authority is autonomous is to say that God is a law unto Himself. He is not bound by some abstract system of law that exists outside of Himself or independent from Him (ex lex). Nor is God under some external law (sub lego); rather, He is a law unto Himself. This does not mean that He acts or behaves in an arbitrary manner. Rather, God’s activity is directed by God’s own character. And His character is completely righteous. All that He does flows out of His own internal righteousness. His external authority comes from His internal righteousness. In this sense God’s authority is intrinsic. It is found within Himself. It is not borrowed, delegated, or assigned from any other source.

In the same manner, all lesser authorities on heaven and on earth are only as valid as they are delegated by God’s authority. Whatever authority we possess is extrinsic rather than intrinsic. It exists only by delegation. This was the issue in the garden of Eden. The primal sin of Adam and Eve could be described as the grasping for autonomy. They sought to take for themselves the authority that belonged only to God. To act on one’s own authority against the authority of God is the essence of disobedience and of sin. When we grasp authority ourselves and do what is right in our own minds, we are attacking the very foundation of life and of the welfare of human beings.

You’re out!” “I’m safe!” This question has to be determined by some foundation other than the possession of bats and balls. Justice must reign if we are to escape a life and a world without foundations. Any authority that rules without divine foundation is tyranny.

Technically, We Have NO CHOICE In What Life Brings Our Way. But We CAN Choose Just How We Will Respond To It! July 13, 2019. By Timothy Baugh (Visit at: hhtps://thesurrenderedone.wordpress.com/

“The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.” Proverbs 16:9 (English Standard Version).      Unlike animals who have no concept of what Life is, or what is ethical and moral; we Humans like to think that we KNOW why ANYTHING makes a difference altogether. We may even philosophically question, “Why do we need to be good anyway?” Yes, God , so we reason, may just REQUIRE OF US our absolute love and devotion to His ‘quality’ and ‘nature’; as we can ‘even grasp’ such. But, God, as THE SOURCE of “Life Itself” will leave HOW WE CHOOSE TO RESPOND TO ANYTHING up to our own Free Wills! God will bring all things “to be”, because ALL IS USEFUL. We can all act like “spoiled children” and whine and complain how much it all isn’t exactly as what WE WANT. Unfortunately, like the weather, we can do NOTHING about it! Is it really A BIG DEAL whether it IS right or wrong? good or bad? proper or improper? true or false? and whatever else. YES! ultimately, it does matter to us, because “getting it right” is what we feel will make EVERYTHING WORK OUT WELL. Animals don’t have such in mind.   At “the Beginning” of Creation; Mankind lived in totally harmony with the animals and all of Nature. Sin severed the relationship, not only of Man with God; but of Man WITH ALL CREATION! Man, once Sin entered the picture, became severed from EVERYTHING LITERALLY AND SPIRITUALLY. Thankfully, God viewed this “separation” as but a momentary blip on the radar screen, so to speak. God, Our True Parent, and SOURCE OF BEING ALIVE was not shocked when the scene flickered even for a split second! “The show must go on!” and all is for the very best. Choose Life, just as it comes, in Him and His Son Jesus Christ! Then leave the rest to God. Amen.