What must I do to inherit eternal life?
Many months back I received a request to complete a Presbyterian Church USA survey. Not being a person who likes doing surveys, I ignored it. But as I was hounded to complete the survey, I finally gave in and completed it. You can find the results of the survey here.
The results of one question is quite revealing, especially given the severe decline in the denomination.
The question asked if you strongly agree, agree, disagree or strongly disagree with the statement that “only followers of Jesus Christ can be saved”.
39% of members either agreed or strongly agreed.
45% of elders either agreed or strongly agreed.
35% of clergy agreed or strongly agreed.
22% of specialized clergy (clergy not working in a church) either strongly agreed or agreed.
Yet, in response to the severe decline, no one has connected these two statistics? Why? I would speculate that those who are in leadership on these issues are either in agreement with the majority or do not want to face the fact that most of the denomination has abandoned clear biblical revelation on this issue.
Slightly above one third of clergy agreed or strongly agreed (they do not make available a detailed breakdown on this statistic) that only followers of Jesus can be saved and less than one fourth of specialized clergy (who often have the strongest voice in national leadership) strongly agreed or agreed. Considering the strong possibility that those who only agree and did not strongly agree still hold out at least a strong possibility for salvation outside of Jesus Christ or hold a soft inclusivist position, this should be held up as the strongest evidence for severe decline. For what is the impetus for evangelism when you believe that salvation is available outside of Jesus Christ? For clergy and specialized clergy the strongest incentive for “church growth or maintenance of numbers” is job security. My hunch is that once you have discarded eternal destination, the incentive for conversion shifts to self-preservation.
Augustine once wrote that,”…God provides the means and arranges circumstances that will lead the elect to convert to Christ.” Conversion is an absolute foundational aspect of a basic Christian faith. Since we are born with a sinful nature and deserve eternal judgment we must receive a new spiritual nature (we must be born again) and be united with Christ to receive eternal life. We must be born again, repenting and receiving by faith, the grace of God in Jesus Christ, trusting in his saving work on the cross and in the historical reality of the physical resurrection. Paul clearly and firmly proclaims to the church at Rome, that our justification (being proclaimed righteous in God’s eyes) is only possible if we have an inner belief in Christ’s resurrection (Rom 10:9-10; 3:23-25). This basic understanding of the scriptures has been severely undermined by the entrance of pluralism and inclusivism, which have no scriptural basis whatsoever. Without a recovery of the gospel of salvation, whatever “growth” occurs will in reality be no growth at all.
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