Please continue to send in the Bible-based questions that you may have to Pastor Luke or Pastor Josh.

 

Q: What are the essential beliefs that a person must have to be a true believer and part of the elect body of Christ? Answered by Pastor Luke.

A: This is an excellent question and such an important one that everyone must understand. Each person’s eternity rests upon a rightful understanding of what it means to be a true believer. In order for you to be a true believer there are certain things that you need to understand and a response that you must make. Allow me to begin with what you need to understand.

You must understand that God is the Authority. The opening words of the Bible is that “God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). The history of the universe did not begin with a big bang or on accident but by the intentional act of God Himself. Everything has its beginning with God, and this is a foundational truth that shapes everything that we believe. In coming to the understanding that we are not here by accident, but that each us is the result of an idea, a plan, and an action of God brings both meaning and responsibility to human life (Genesis 1:26-27).

In light of that fact, God has the right to tell us how to live. I know that there is a lot of talk about rights and liberty, especially here in the United States. But we are not as free as we would like to think. We are created. We are made. And therefore, we are owned. God is the ultimate authority on every aspect of life. We do not get to determine what is truth and what is not truth, rather we are to turn to the source of all things, by going to God’s Word, to discover what He has revealed as the truth. Other verses to consider – Isaiah 45:18; 2 Timothy 3:16.

You must also understand that Mankind is Sinful. A serpent questioned God’s authority back in the Garden of Eden, and deceived Eve (Genesis 3:1-6). Then Adam ate the fruit (Genesis 3:6), despite what God had told him (Genesis 2;17). When Adam and Eve did that, they were’t just breaking an arbitrary command but were rejecting God’s authority over them and declaring their independence from Him. In all the universe, there was only one thing that God did not place under Adam’s feet –God Himself.

Yet Adam decided that was not good enough, so he rebelled. Adam ignored God’s authority by doing what God told him not to do. Consequently, a curse came upon the whole world where it has been corrupted by sin (Romans 5:12-14)

The word sin literally means “missing the mark” but biblically, the significance is much deeper. For Adam wasn’t just slightly off on his aim but was shooting in a different direction. The nature of the sin within us has goals and dreams that are absolutely opposed to what God desires. And the Bible tells us that it is not just Adam and Eve who are guilty of sin. Everyone is born into this world a sinner by nature and by choice (Ephesians 2:1-3). For God’s standard is perfection, and we fall severely short of that, “missing the mark” repeatedly. Look at what Scripture has to say,        

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” ~ Romans 3:23

“You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” ~ Matthew 5:48

“For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it.” ~ James 2:10

The bar is set extraordinarily high… you must be perfect. You cannot have one slip up along the way. And you don’t have the capability of setting up the standard of what is right and wrong… That comes from God Himself for He alone has the authority to set the standard.

Due to your sin, you are guilty, and deserve nothing less than the wrath of God! You must recognize this truth. But praise be to God, He didn’t abandon us in our sin. Rather, He sent His Son to “to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10).

You must understand that Jesus Christ is the only One who saves us from the wrath of God. There are not multiple ways to God. There are not enough good works to be done to outweigh your misdeeds. Church attendance or giving to the poor will do you no good, if that’s what you’re clinging to for salvation. No human effort will give us eternal life or grant a relationship with a Righteous and Holy God or keep you out of hell. There is only one true salvation and that is through Jesus Christ.

The bad news of human sin and God’s judgment is not the end of the story. Because God is rich in mercy, and has a great love, “even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ” (Ephesians 2:5). Jesus clearly said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

But how does Jesus save us? Was He just an ordinary man? No! John the Baptist, the biblical prophet calls Jesus the “Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). Jesus was far from ordinary.The Bible tells us that Jesus is both completely human and completely God (John 1:1,14). This is significant.

If Jesus were just another man – like us in every way – he would no more be able to save us than one dead man can save another. But because He is the perfect Son of God, without sin and equal in every divine perfection to God the Father, He is able to defeat death and save us from sin. In the same way, it is also critical that Jesus be truly one of us –that is, fully human –so that He can rightly represent us before God the Father. As Hebrews 4:15 says, Jesus is able “to sympathize with our weaknesses” because He “in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.”

Ultimately what satisfies the wrath of God was the perfect sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. Jesus explains that our salvation comes through His death on the cross as the perfect and sufficient sacrifice for our sin (John 3:14-15). Sin deserves death, and there is no forgiveness without the shedding of blood (Romans 6:23; Hebrews 9:22). But at the right time, Jesus Christ died for the ungodly (Romans 5:6).

You must respond through faith and repentance. This is where you must respond. Do you understand and believe in the authority of God, the sinfulness of mankind, and that Jesus Christ is the perfect substitute? It is a question that every person must answer. Do you believe that Jesus died on the cross to free you from the guilt and judgment of sin? Do you believe that He rose from the grave, breaking the power of death and making a way for you to have eternal life in heaven?

If you answered yes, and if you have confessed “with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead” (Romans 10:9), you are a true believer and part of the elect body of Christ!

This is the gospel! There are plenty other things within Christianity that we can have discussions about and look at from different perspectives. Trusting in the gospel of Jesus Christ is what is essential for salvation. For a sinner is only justified by grace alone through faith alone for the sake of Christ alone, a truth revealed to us in Scripture alone. We have nothing else to boast in other than the cross of Jesus (Galatians 6:14). I pray that you would seriously consider these truths if you have not done so already.

If you have further questions or would like to talk with me concerning salvation I would be more than happy to do so.