Just Two Paths to Salvation

Scripture is clear, there are just two paths to salvation, and one will FAIL each and every time it is attempted. The two paths are to be saved by the law which FAILS and the other is to be saved by Jesus Christ by the power of the Gospel. The path by the law being failed, will show you that the path through Jesus Christ is the only real viable path.

Some will see the headline to this article, and say “NO! There is just one path”. I agree there is just one VIABLE path but there is actually two paths of which we read of in Scripture. God shows us that if we could be saved by being perfect to the law, that path would be viable, but since we are sinners, it will never be a path that one can be saved. Thus a Savior is absolutely necessary and that path through Him is the only real viable path to salvation.

Jesus denotes these two paths as the “wide road to destruction” and the “narrow way leading to life”. (ref Matthew 7). He teaches us that many are on that wide road which will be those attempting to save themselves by the law, few will be on the narrow way who will place their faith alone in Him.

Every world religion, Roman Catholicism comes to mind, puts their follower’s FAILED path on the wide road to destruction because they are attempting to be saved by the law. To be saved by the law, one can never break any of God’s laws in their entire lifetime. You must be absolutely perfect. We see this with Adam and Eve, as they were kicked out of the Garden of Eden based on merely a simple disobedience.

For some reason, world religions seem to think that God changed. That somehow His holiness is no longer a standard He commands. By this teaching they portray Jesus was some sort of weak and feeble Shepherd, and would need to bypass or eliminate Matthew 23 and the whole passion and crucifixion of Jesus for example from the New Testament. They basically see God as two Gods. The Old Testament commandment keeping God who was mean and stern, and a New Testament God who looks the other way when it comes to sin.

They really want to believe that God would not let Adam and Eve skate and slide from their sin, but somehow He would with them to do so, they see the “good college try” as how God now is supposedly operating. They want to believe Jesus died in vain or for some other reason than to redeem sinners from their sins, because it was not really necessary.

In Mark 10, Matthew 19, and Luke 18, we see this play out. A rich young ruler asked Jesus what he could do to be saved. Knowing the mind and intent of this man, Jesus told him of the one path he was clinging to, and that was to be saved by the law. The young ruler replied that he was basically perfect from birth, a lie. So Jesus exposed him, He then commanded the ruler to go and sell all his possessions and follow Him. The ruler immediately fell away, showing everyone that he was a liar, because if he had been perfect, the command Jesus gave him would have been easy to obey. That attempt to be saved by the law failed in a split second!

I have had blind Roman Catholics and a priest actually try to say “see, one can be saved by the law”, by that account of the young ruler. They can’t see that the ruler lied, but let’s say he didn’t? Well the ruler sinned by disobeying Jesus right then and there and all that supposed perfect commandment keeping was dead in the water. Put it this way, if anyone could be saved by the law, then Jesus would NEVER had to leave His eternal throne and die on a lonely Cross. So why then the law?

The law was put forth by God to show us, to demonstrate to us, that we absolutely NEED a Savior, Jesus Christ. Each time a self righteous person such as that ruler or the Pharisees would try to tell Jesus they were “keeping the law”, Jesus would raise the bar. This would show everyone that they were not keeping the law, which must be perfect. One little slip up, and you are deemed a law breaker just like Adam and Eve.

And once you REALIZE you are a law breaker, there is just ONE path left to salvation, it is going to be by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone. The rich young rulers so to speak, self righteous to the core, absolutely hate that notion. That the path now is solely by faith alone in Jesus Christ. So they attempt to believe in both paths, law keeping and also a side faith in Jesus. The attempt is to add their law keeping to Jesus Christ’s righteousness, AGAIN, eliminating that salvation path through Jesus.

There are just TWO paths, which one are you on? Are you trying to save yourself by law keeping of which you already FAILED miserably? Or have you placed your faith alone in Jesus Christ’s perfection by which His righteousness has been imputed/credited to you. And that third path of a blend between the both does NOT exist because any addition to Jesus Christ eliminates the need for Him just as law keeping, just as the rich ruler tried.

Being the Best Christian

With the Olympics just closing, I thought I’d write on something hardly ever exhorted with some Christian pastors, and is non-existent in some. That is in the goal equipping a flock should be the constant exhortation on how to become the very best Christian God made you to be.

An Olympic athlete practices, they train constantly for one moment. Each and every day there is strength training, film study, agility training, mental training, etc. Their goal is to be the very best athlete in the world in their particular sport. Each day the grind begins and those who end up on the podium with medals are invariably those who did the most work in their training. All the athletes in the competition were graced with talent, but it were those who by disciplining themselves, became the very best. They didn’t take days, weeks, months off. They sacrificed the pleasantries of life and trained. They knew on the day of competition that there was absolutely nothing that could surprise them. Their family and friends most likely couldn’t relate, and possibly were frustrated at the devotion in the training process, but in the end realized what happened, they were deemed the best.

1 Corinthians 9:24 Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. 25 And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown.

The Apostle Paul uses the Olympic analogy to exhort the Corinthians in the Gospel. He was exhorting discipline all throughout the Chapter and the Olympic athlete mindset needed as a Christian representing the name of Jesus Christ.

You can only be the best by training, and this training comes from the reading and studying of Scripture. Like the Olympian, you will need to put everything else away and focus on your training. Can you do so? Or better yet, do you desire to do so? Because if the desire is not present, you are deceiving yourself in taking the name of a Christian. Because that desire should be constant, it is pointing you to become the very best Christian you can be in the name of Jesus Christ who is the best, the focal point.

Are you caught in the laziness of listening to your pastor once a week, and the rest of the week in the gluttonous of the world? If so, I can guarantee you, you will never be the best. There are many disciplines, just like athletic sport, in the Christian church. God will place His flock into these disciplines such as pastors, teachers, exhorters, missionaries, but every Christian is a Gospel sharer. You can only be the BEST Gospel sharer by studying how to be one by Scripture and listening to the “trainers” who are pastors and teachers, and then disciplining yourself each day by the guidance of the Holy Spirit to be the best.

If you are of the mindset that you are unwilling to learn anything more, unwilling to be corrected, you will never grow and be the best. Because this thing called the Gospel, is called the power of God unto salvation. And God is setting a day where He will put you to the task with one specific person to share that Gospel with months from now or years from now. Are you absolutely sure you can handle each and every objection from the competition? This is where training each day comes in. If you took time off from Scripture, from fellowship, there is a very good chance you will fail in your task from God. And the one opportunity is lost. It doesn’t mean God will not use another then, it means you as an individual failed Him.

The recently passed away Bobby Bowden, the former Florida State football coach, explained this as well in his testimony. In 1986, a player of his was shot and killed. He brought the whole team in and shared the Gospel. An assistant coach came at him with many objections, and this was his moment. Bowden was tasked to share the Gospel and also handle these objections of which he could only do so, by staying diligent in his fellowship and study. The assistant coach turned to God and became a great Christian. Bowden explained it as “God used me by the ability He gave me, and He saved the coach by this.”

Every Christian is graced with the ability to share the Gospel. How are you using this ability? Are you growing? Are you willing to be corrected? Is your desire constant and your training enveloping as your first fruit? Don’t waste that ability! Be prepared to give an account, and those challenges are going to come. Stay in Scripture. Study each word, the context, re-study, re-learn. Don’t allow yourself to be unprepared. Be the BEST by discipline and the total dependence on the Holy Spirit who doesn’t sleep, He is ready to train you day or night.

The World’s Standard Objection

We are born with this idea that God must conform to our ways. It is ingrained in us. We see subjective worldly goodness and apply this standard to God. So when the question of salvation comes up, an objection always surfaces when it is shown by the Gospel that God’s ways are not our ways.

That objection from a fallen nature in effect tells God who He must save and who He must send to hell. If He doesn’t comply to this demand, He is unfair and unjust. He is not a God who is worth believing in if He doesn’t comply and meet that demand.

To give an example and it might also question where you are when it comes to God and His salvation is let’s say we have two individuals. The first one is morally righteous, helps out in their community, is an honor roll student of everything they do. They have a great career, a great family, and is regarded as generally a very nice and kind person. This person also attends church religiously every Sunday.

The second individual lived a life of crime, has done many immoral acts, has spent time in jail. They attended church as a youth but then stopped going. They lived a life of open sin, and profaned God’s name in many ways. They were fired many times from various jobs, and has a disbanded family. They would be looked at by society as a loser having accomplished almost nothing worth while.

Now along comes God. Which person do you believe He should save? If being honest, your natural tendency is to say the first person, right? And the person He should send to hell should be the second person, correct?

If you answered “yes” to my questions, you are most likely objecting to God’s salvation because His justice does not work to our subjective views on it. The answer is, He could very well save both, He could very well send both to hell, He could save the criminal and send the morally righteous person to hell, and vice versa. You see? Justice and mercy are always of God’s counsel, never to our subjective world view. He chooses who to have mercy and we should NEVER object because His ways are always perfect. It is a purely a miracle that He chose to save either if He did, in the example I gave.

1 Corinthians 1:21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.

To UNDERSTAND this further, you must realize that on Judgment Day, God is NOT going to be comparing you to the worst criminals and murderers and rapists the world has seen, He will be comparing YOU to HIMSELF. So by this understanding, you should realize you are imperfect, God is absolutely perfect and holy. Just one little white lie has tarnished the absolute perfection needed to enter His Kingdom.

So then who can be saved? Salvation is by grace alone, meaning an unconditional gift God bestows on a sinner. The answer is the one who can be saved is the one God chose to be saved. He places that sinner now in His Son Jesus Christ who paid for the sinner’s complete sin debt. Now pardoned, the sinner can enter His eternal Kingdom, this is the Good News. That saved sinner graced with faith, now places their entire being and faith in one person, Jesus Christ.

In the examples I gave above, again God could give both or none or either/or the grace to be saved. He can take the most wicked sinner who ever lived and save them. Would you object? Would you go to hell in protest? God could not have chosen those in your family who saw as “good”, would you go to hell with them in protest of this justice?

We don’t deserve grace, we deserve justice. Those saved are granted grace, those not saved are given justice. Those who end up in hell will be eternally protesting or objecting to both God’s grace and His mercy just as they did in this lifetime. And they did it their entire lifetime, so it won’t be something new to them. Simply put, God never met their subjective fallen worldly demands on sin and imperfection so living with Him eternally will be unfathomable.