Several years ago I asked a friend, a practicing Catholic at the time, how he knew he was going to Heaven. With his nose ever so slightly lifted in confidence (or perhaps it was arrogance), he responded, “Because I believe in God.”
He was a bit taken aback when I coolly replied, “So what? Even the demons have that much. What makes you different from them?” I went on to read him James 2:19:
“You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder!”
Demons know fully well that there is but one God. Of course they do! They are, after all, occupied constantly with their hatred of God as they seek to oppose Him for all that He is. But they at least tremble in the face of the certain judgment they know is coming their way—which is really the proper response for anyone not standing in righteousness before God.
Lots of people say they believe in God. For many, it is as if they are assenting to some fact that is readily accepted by all: “Yeah, yeah. I believe in God. Now let’s move along to something really important.” But their actions prove that there is no faith behind their proclamation at all. If they really believed in God and had any sense of the judgment to come, wouldn’t they at least tremble at the thought? Even a demon has sense enough to do that!
My friend and I went on to discuss this truth that a Christian is not someone with just a knowledge, or even fear, of God. Of course a Christian will have fear of God because he has recognized who He is and that he has sinned against Him. But the believer does not tremble in fear of judgment because he is no longer the enemy of God and worthy of death, but rather is bathed in God’s love by virtue of acceptance in Christ.
The Sure Source of Salvation
The simple truth is that there is no salvation found in the belief that there is one God. Salvation is found in the person of Jesus Christ and trust in His finished work on the cross.
The Christian understands this certainty, has found the real remedy through faith in Christ, and must stand up for this truth in the face of all opposition. A believer in Jesus Christ will boldly assent to the truths of Romans 5 and proudly extol:
“For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Rom. 5:6-8).”
The absence of faith in Jesus Christ as foremost in my friend’s doctrine of salvation was troubling. He was clearly looking somewhere else for his assurance of sins forgiven and entry into Heaven. I pleaded the simplicity of the gospel with him, which was a seemingly foreign thought to his Catholic mind. I stressed that for the believer in Jesus Christ, when asked the question previously posed to him, the ready answer should be, “Because I have trusted in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who gave Himself for my sins.”
To me, insisting on this truth is a defining mark for one taking the title of Christian. We cannot equivocate on the truth. Either Christ is the way or He is not. If He is not, we are the most miserable among all mankind because we believe in a lie.
If He is the only way, we cannot idly allow the Christian name to be adulterated by inclusion of those who would, by their very beliefs and actions, push this fundamental truth to the back of the doctrinal bus.
Why do you think this fundamental truth is so poorly understood by many calling themselves Christians?