Time For Truth

A place to grow in the Grace & Knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ

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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August 21, 2009 - Posted by | Mainline Heresy, Theology

8 Comments »

  1. Adel,

    This is a GREAT follow-up to your previous post on tolerance. There are many people in this day and age that believe that mankind can float on the edge of depravity, somewhat believing in the saving grace of Jesus Christ, yet thinking that it is within themselves to overcome evil. In order to be saved, we MUST succumb to Christ’s saving grace; grace cannot be taken or claimed – it can only be granted. If we do not surrender to God’s grace, we are claimed by evil.

    Thanks for the post

    Rob

    Comment by Rob Sayler | August 22, 2009

  2. As a member of CPM in Florida Presbytery, I recently asked an individual moving toward candidacy “is there any other name than Jesus Christ by which we might be saved?” His response was that there are many ways to God, for the Christian it is Jesus. He said that he had learned this at Columbia Seminary. If that is in fact what Columbia is teaching,I hope it is not, then it is easy to see why the denomination is in free-fall.

    Comment by Jerry Blacklaw | August 24, 2009

  3. Jerry,
    Thank you for your observation and welcome to my blog. That is an excellently worded question and gets right to the heart of the matter. Not having taken any courses at Columbia, I cannot make any statements based on firsthand observations. But I do know that there have been several studies that have indicated that the vast majority of instructors at mainline denomination associated seminaries are pluralist/universalist. Was the inquirer passed?

    Comment by Adel | August 24, 2009

  4. I have gone to most GAs since 1989. While attending these Assemblies I often walk up to the persons sitting at the information table and ask this question, “Hi..Can you tell me how I can get from here to heaven?” I wait for their reponse. Rarely does someone tell me the Biblical answer which is…”You get to heaven through faith and trust in the finished work of Jesus Christ.” Most of these GA do-gooders answer my question by saying something like…”Well, you get to heaven by doing your best or by trying hard to be a good person.” The reason why we lost 70,000 members last year is because the majority of those in leadership of our local churches don’t know the salvation message. Many pastors who preach from our pulpits are universalists and many in our pews are going to hell because they have never responded to the eternal life giving message of our Lord Jesus Christ.

    Comment by Jeff Winter | August 25, 2009

  5. Jeff,

    Thank you…and well put.

    Comment by Adel | August 25, 2009

  6. Rob,

    Thank you for your gracious and thoughtful comments.

    It seems to me that the main issue with pluralism and inclusivism is whether or not there is a need for conversion. Pluralists and inclusivists speak often of grace and even of repentance, but not the need for conversion for salvation.

    As an aside, even when those who hold a liberal theology speak of salvation, they usually mean something drastically different than historic orthodox Christianity.

    Comment by Adel | August 25, 2009

  7. Jeff,

    It seems to me that the PCUSA, especially the ordained leaders (and most mainline leaders for that matter) are those that are in the greatest need for conversion. You are absolutely right…they are on the wide road that leads to destruction.

    Comment by Adel | August 25, 2009

  8. Thanks Adel – I completely agree with your comments. As the bible says, we are saved by grace through FAITH. One can not have true faith without conversion and surrender. Unfortunately, liberal thought is almost always at odds with orthodox Christianity.

    Comment by Rob Sayler | August 26, 2009


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