When we get into conversations with non-believers, one of the first things that draws them to learn more is the conviction of their sin. This is a work of the Holy Spirit not us. Understanding that they have sinned, and understanding that they have sinned against God that has authority over them makes sense to a lot of people. Once they come to that understanding, they next step is to understand a need for forgiveness of that sin- what we call salvation.
“Salvation” is a funny thing. Because in spite of the fact that its Christian meaning is virtually universal in its definition, how we come to receive salvation is where people get tripped up.
To the evangelical Christian, Salvation can only be had one way. Through the biblical Jesus, and belief in Him as your openly means to salvation by faith, through the grace of God. Why do we believe this? Because this is what scripture clearly teaches. Today we are seeing a wide variety of ways to salvation being perpetrated against the Christians in America by an equally wide variety of media faces.
John Travolta and Tom Cruise have their scientological views on salvation. Oprah and Eckhart Tolle have their views on the subject. The Dali Lama has been all over TV as of late. Now, we are dealing with the Mormon theology being shoved in the faces of Americans and being sold as orthodox Christianity. This is a real danger to Christians in America. Why? Because our foundation on the truth of biblical Christianity has been eroded to the point where not only has the foundation been exposed, it has been washed away.
In a recent discussion of this topic with some friends and fellow pastors, one man had this wisdom to offer:
“It occurred to me… that very few people today are familiar with Walter Martin’s ministry. Walter in his book “Kingdom of the Cults” and his radio programs, inculcated into a lot of us who were around at that time a framework with which to judge what is a cult and what is not, what is orthodox Christianity and what heresy.”
One of the things that he taught so clearly by Dr. Martin was that every one of those groups that we should consider heretical and a cult, had a misconception about the nature of God. Heresy follows a misconception about the nature of God. Here we are today having a debate about who Jesus is. I wonder why?
The Jehovah Witnesses believe that Jesus is “Michael the arc angle” (and thus he could not have paid the price for mankind’s sins not being our kinsman redeemer), the Mormons believe that Jesus Christ is a created being and the spirit brother of Lucifer (and thus he could not have paid for our sins either because he is not our kinsman redeemer), etc., etc. Walter for a very long time refused to consider Roman Catholicism a cult because it held a proper view of the nature of God, although it is steeped in works salvation, but he reconsidered this later on including them in the discussion, but without the brand of “Cult”.
Who you believe Jesus Christ is determines his ability to save; in other words, the source of your salvation. Believing in another Jesus is to believe in another gospel, and the first chapter of Galatians tells us that if anyone comes to us delivering us another gospel than the one Paul and the disciples had taught, and that they (the Galatians) and we have received, that we are to consider him “anathema” (headed for hell).
Because Walter Martin and his ministry have faded so far to the background, I think that a lot of people today are not concerned if someone believes in any old Jesus (however you want to define him) for salvation. Our current media darlings are often perpetrating a hoax on us; sometimes deliberately, and sometimes from the behind the blinded eyes of one fooled by the enemy. We must show grace, and we must have compassion, but we must not be blind ourselves to the results of those misleadings either way – in the lives of those precious children of God we call our friends and family.
Otherwise, Scientologists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons and whoever else comes along teaching or believing in a different Jesus, is going to get a foothold in people’s lives. In our commission of making disciples, we are tasked with pointing out heresy. Unfortunately, those who fight to defend truth are often branded as evil because to point to heresy, we must also point fingers at those teaching it. Funny thing is, Jesus did exactly that. Ask the Pharisees.