You’ve heard the gospel, but have you heard all of it? Maybe not. In fact, many people have never heard the whole truth about Jesus. Time has certainly taken its toll on the truth. Not that the truth can be changed, but it can be forgotten. This article explores some of the most important facts about the Christian faith that are often overlooked or ignored.
1. JESUS CHRIST IS THE ONLY SAVIOR – John 14:6: “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.’” It all begins with this one tremendous truth. Where will you find salvation? You won’t find it in Judaism, not in Islam, not in Buddhism, not in Hinduism, not anywhere in any religion except in Jesus Christ. That may not be a popular idea, but if we believe the Bible we have to also believe that the only road that ends in heaven is the one that begins with Jesus. Talking about Jesus, the Apostle Peter said in Acts 4:11-12, “This is the ‘stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.’ Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” Another Apostle, Paul, remarked, “For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5). Let’s be honest, does the world like hearing such statements about salvation in Christ? Not at all. Believing that Jesus is the only Savior and that Christianity is the only meaningful religion is becoming less popular all the time. Still, though, this is the teaching of the Bible. We can either take it or leave it. The Christian life really is the path less traveled by. Choosing Christ as the singular savior of the world and the only access to heaven is the first step in a series of transformations that will change your life. Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord.”
2. SALVATION REQUIRES WORK – James 2:26: “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” Really? Does the Bible actually say that? Yes, it really does. Much of the Christian world incorrectly teaches that we are saved by faith only, but this passage and many others show this to be far from accurate. God wants our faith – no doubt about that – but faith by itself is useless to God. Faith alone is not enough! God says so again in James 2:24: “You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.” Once we accept that Jesus is our Savior, we also have to accept his teachings and live for him. This is why the Apostle Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:10, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” What we DO matters just as much as what we BELIEVE. Works are required for our salvation, not because we could earn salvation, but because by our works we prove to God how much faith we have in him.
3. NOT EVERYONE WHO BELIEVES IN JESUS GOES TO HEAVEN – Matthew 7:21: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.” Contrary to popular opinion, not everyone who considers themselves to be a Christian will live in eternity with Christ. Faith in Christ must be accompanied by faithfulness to his teachings. No number of good works can cover our disobedience or misunderstandings about God. Jesus goes on to explain, “Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’”
4. WE MUST BE BAPTIZED TO BE SAVED – Acts 2:38: “Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Accepting Christ as the only Savior is critical, but like you’ve already read, there is more. The process through which we access the saving power of Christ begins with belief but it ends at baptism. The Bible explains that through baptism in water in the name of Jesus Christ our sins are washed away and we receive the Holy Spirit. This truth is sometimes a little alarming for people who believed that they that has already received Jesus through a prayer, but don’t let that stop you from obeying the command of God. Can we be saved before baptism? The Bible says no. Even the Apostle Paul was not saved through faith and prayer. Ananias commanded him in Acts 22:16, “And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” Just like the waters of the flood separated Noah and his family from the sinful world, God uses the waters of baptism to separate us from our sins. The Apostle Peter explains, “…eight souls [Noah’s family] were saved through water. There is also an antitype which now saves us—baptism…” (1 Peter 3:21) For more Scriptures on baptism in the name of Jesus Christ see Galatians 3:21, Romans 6:1-6, and Colossians 2:11-12.
5. THERE IS ONLY ONE TRUE CHURCH – The body is the Church (Ephesians 1:22-23) and according to the Bible there is only one. Romans 12:5: “so we, being many, are one body in Christ…” 1 Corinthians 10:17: “For we, though many, are one bread and one body…” 1 Corinthians 12:12: “For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ.” Is this the way it is in the religious world? Not at all. The world is full of churches, full of denominations and all varieties of religious factions, all claiming to be or be part of the one true Church. Can every church be the church? Not according the Bible. Remember the words of Paul in 1 Corinthians 1: “Now I say this, that each of you says, ‘I am of Paul,’ or ‘I am of Apollos,’ or ‘I am of Cephas,’ or ‘I am of Christ.’ 13 Is Christ divided?” The answer, of course, is no. The body of Christ does not have divisions. Just are surely as there is one God, one Redeemer, and one Spirit, the Lord has only one people and one body. There can only be one Church. So which Church is the right Church? In the same place that the Paul teaches that there is but one body (Ephesians 4) he also describes some of the common characteristics that members of this body will share. Among these “ones” he mentions that the one body has one faith. What is this faith? The Bible explains. The one faith is not one belief, but many beliefs that make up the whole doctrine of Christ’s Church. What are these beliefs? How do we know what the church should look like and what it should do? According to the Bible, the faith of the one true Church is discovered in the teachings of the Apostles found throughout the New Testament. Before Jesus left the Earth he gave his Twelve Apostles a Special responsibility that he gave to no one else. Speaking the Apostles, he says in Matthew 16: 19: “And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Later, just moment before he ascended into heaven, Jesus gave the Apostles this commission in Matthew 28:19-20: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you…” When the Church had been established in Acts 2:42 its said that the early disciple “continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine…”
The one true Church is not built on any faith or any doctrine; it’s described in the Bible as being faithful to the teaching of the Apostles that came from Christ himself. In the beginning there was one body, when the Church had one common faith, and made a mutual effort to follow carefully after the Apostles doctrine. One body became many bodies when that one faith was abandoned. If a church doesn’t look like the Church in the Bible, if it’s not carefully following the design laid down by Christ and his Apostles, there’s a good chance that church isn’t the Church. Once you’ve found Christ make certain to also find the one true Church.
I am a member of the Riverside Road Church of Christ in Ozark, MO, where I share the responsibility of teaching and preaching with several other men. In my secular work, I am a professor at Cox College in Springfield, MO, in the department of radiologic sciences and imaging.