What did the early Church do with converts?
Is there salvation in other religions?
Who is saved today?
As we approach the modern age, Christians were becoming exposed to folk of other denominations, who held most things in common with them, but not everything. Others, who would have once been condemned or even killed as heretics, were living freely and debating their positions. Still others had left behind any semblance of Christian belief but were living virtuous lives, either as followers of some humanistic creed or just as good, honest, up-standing citizens. Then there were those who followed other gods, the Mohammedans, Hindus and Buddhists. And those pesky Jews were still around!
Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6)
Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved. (Acts 4:12)
And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. (1 John 5:11-12)
It was easy to believe in this if you only knew like-minded Christians, who believed as you did. What about the others? Yes there were those unrepentant non-believers who didn't deserve salvation - the liars, cheats, murderers, adulterers, blasphemers, drunks and vagabonds - but what of the others?
According to a survey of American Christians in 2008 (Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life) 52% of them believed that non-Christian faiths had the power to save individuals. Of these people, around a quarter of them even felt that atheists could get to Heaven!
This is a serious statistic. This is declaring that salvation could be achieved through other gods or even through no god at all. Where do these ideas come from? Is it from Scripture or is it from the World?
Can it be from Scripture? It is always possible to find Scriptures to support any position you would want to take if you look hard enough. I mentioned this in an earlier article, it is called eisegesis. People have been doing this since near the beginning of the Church Age and have used God's Word to justify anything from what to eat to who to kill! But God does not look kindly on those who mangle His words; that's not why He put them there. God's words are there to illuminate minds and convict hearts. For instance, Charles Manson, the mass-murderer, saw himself as the fifth angel of Revelation 9:1, plainly a distortion brought forth from a disturbed mind.
Now people are always going to find verses in the Bible that seem to indicate salvation other than through faith in Jesus Christ.
... that we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, and especially of those who believe. (1 Timothy 4:10)
For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. (1 Corinthians 15:22)
... and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. (Colossians 1:20)
Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men. (Romans 5:18)
Each of these have been used by universalists (yes, they are still around) to assert that all human beings will be saved and enjoy everlasting life with Jesus Christ. Yet each of these verses in the hand of a proper theologian can be explained away to mean something entirely different.
We live in confusing times!
(This is an abridged extract from Steve's book How the Church Lost the Truth: And How it Can Find it Again)
A Lib Dem candidate who was due to stand in the upcoming election...