Unbelievers look around at all the various “Christian” denominations and groups and shake their heads in bewilderment. There’s Roman rite and Eastern rite Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, thousands of mainline Protestants and evangelical groups, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and many more smaller groups. They all claim to teach the truth about God and spiritual matters. But they can’t all be right. How can a person sort through this tangled mess? The answer is easier than you might think.
Evangelical Christians are unique in a couple of important ways. Evangelicals believe the Bible is God’s authoritative Holy Word and that it teaches everything necessary regarding spiritual matters. The other groups either do not genuinely accept the Bible as God’s Word (most mainline Protestantism these days) or they attempt to add to God’s Word with their own traditions or with additional “scripture.”
Evangelicals also believe, as God’s Word proclaims, that salvation is only by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. The other groups all teach salvation depends upon following their religious protocols, beginning with baptism into their specific group followed by participation in various sacraments and then obedience to religious laws along with acts of charity towards others. Evangelicals believe we are justified by faith in Christ alone and then sanctified by the Holy Spirit to walk more closely with Jesus, our Lord and Savior. The other groups teach the reverse; that sanctification (impossibly trying to live a “holy” life) is rewarded with salvation.
Every group uses the Bible so why do evangelicals read the Bible differently than the other groups? Great question!
“Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.” – John 5:28-29
There are many verses and passages in the Bible, like the one above, that seem to indicate those who are “good” and “righteous” will merit Heaven. But passages in the Bible must be understood in context. Scripture clarifies Scripture. A few verses before the above passage we read:
“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes (“pisteuo” Greek: to believe, put one’s faith in, trust) him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.” – John 5:24
Those who trust in Jesus Christ as their Savior pass from death unto life.
The theme of the entire Bible – Old and New Testament – is Jesus Christ. We are all sinners and we all deserve eternal judgement. We could never become good enough to meet God’s holy standard. But God loves us so much he sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to pay the penalty for our sins on the cross. Jesus conquered sin and death when He rose from the grave and now offers the free gift of eternal life and fellowship with God to all those who repent of their sins and accept Him as their Savior. The Lord imputes His perfect righteousness to us when we accept Him. We have no righteousness of our own.
All counterfeit forms of (c)hristianity insist you must join their group and follow their rules so that you may “possibly” merit Heaven. That’s very, very bad news because no one can earn Heaven. Genuine Christianity says you can’t merit Heaven because you disobey God every single day, but Jesus Christ died for your sins and offers you forgiveness for all your sins, eternal life, and fellowship with God. That’s VERY good news. In Bible-based evangelical Christianity, it’s ALL about Jesus Christ. But wait, you say. Why are there so many different evangelical churches? Evangelicals may differ on minor secondary issues but we are united in our belief in the Good News! of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. But aren’t Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy much older than evangelical Protestantism? The early church gradually became institutionalized and fell into compromise and apostasy but there have always been those who upheld the Gospel of grace. The Holy Spirit used the Reformation to return the church to the Gospel of grace proclaimed by the New Testament church.
No, not all “Christian” groups are the same. Most say “our way” but genuine Christianity proclaims faith in Jesus Christ alone is the ONLY way.
Pray to Jesus today and ask Him to be your Savior and Lord. Then ask the Lord to lead you to an evangelical church in your area that proclaims the Gospel without compromise. What are you waiting for?