(originally posted 9/9/2015 at littlegirlriseup.blogspot.com)
Questions 7 & 8: Is one who is very moral and charitable, but who has never repented, saved? Is one who is very moral and charitable, but who does not believe in God’s Son saved? (Part of a series entitled “Biblical Contradictions?”)
Repentance and belief in Jesus Christ are required for salvation. As stated in my answer to “Question 4” , genuine belief in Jesus Christ as the propitiation for the sins of mankind brings a person to repentance. And belief in Jesus Christ is an absolute necessity for salvation, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12).
We cannot earn our way to heaven, if we could, then Jesus’ death on the cross would be rendered pointless. Jesus had to die because it was impossible for us to save ourselves. Because the sin of one man (Adam) caused the fall of all mankind, only a Man Who had no sin (Jesus Christ) could make atonement for all of mankind. (2 Cor 5:21; Isaiah 53:12; Rom 5:17-19; Rom 4:25; Matt 26:28; Luke 22:20; Mark 14:24; Heb 9:14,15,28)
Therefore no matter how “moral and charitable” a person is, unless they have surrendered to Christ, they are not saved. “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Eph 2: 8,9)
As far as morality, for a person that doesn’t believe in the Bible or hold God as the ultimate standard of measure, morality is relative. Meaning, what they define as “moral” may not be according to what God defines as moral, and His definition is the only one that matters.
My initial answer to this question was short and sweet. However, God kept bringing me back to it, agitating my spirit to where I really didn’t feel like I had given an adequate answer. I slept on it and prayed about it, then felt that God was leading me to confront each and every scripture that was being used in an attempt to prove a contradiction on this point. I felt very strongly that this was something that God wanted specifically addressed–something that was important to Him to get across to people. So I prayed about it for several days, asking God to guide me in understanding and to lead me with His words over my own. That is why my answer to this question is particularly long, because I have taken the time to explain each scripture reference in detail. It is my heartfelt prayer that everyone who takes the time to read it, despite its length, will be blessed and edified. To God be the glory.
The alleged “contradictory” scriptures the “Biblical Contradictions?” page uses as argument are as follows:
- (Matt 19:16-17) *see here for entire scripture passage
–This scripture is grossly taken out of context. The context of this scripture is the account of a rich young man who sought to debate Jesus about good works. In verse 17, Jesus even corrects the young man’s understanding of God’s standard of “good” versus our human understanding of “good” when He says, “Why are you asking Me about what is good? There is only One Who is good…” Then Jesus concedes to enter the debate with the young man, with the sole intent to teach him truth. He begins by telling him to keep the commandments, knowing that is what the young man expects Jesus to say. But Jesus’ intent is to lead the conversation to where He can make His point to the young man and show him his error. Which we are shown at verse 20 when the young man says, “..what am I still lacking?” Jesus answers, “If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” So we see Jesus’ actual response to the young man’s question in verse 16, “..what good thing shall I do that I may obtain eternal life?” isn’t until verse 21 when He says, “come follow Me.” Jesus implies complete surrender by telling the young man to forsake all of his possessions and follow Him. Following Jesus requires belief in Him and repentance.
- (Matt 25:34-40,46) *see here for entire scripture passage
–This scripture is the parable of the sheep and the goats and is taken out of context. The setting of this event is after the tribulation when Jesus returns to set up His millennial kingdom. When put in the proper context with the Gospel message as a whole, it is understood that the good works mentioned in the parable are not the cause of salvation, but the effect of salvation (Phil 2:13). When understood in the context of the Gospel message as a whole, we know that the good works of the sheep result from their relationship to the Shepherd. The basic message of the Parable of the Sheep and Goats is that the true followers of Jesus will serve others as if they were serving Jesus Himself. Serving Jesus requires belief in Him and repentance.
- (Mk 10:17-21) *see here for entire scripture passage
–This is a parallel account of Matthew 19:16-17. In an effort to make it seem like there are more contradictions in the Bible, the “Biblical Contradictions?” page references multiple accounts of the same single event. See my comments for number 1, above.
- (Luke 10:25-37) *see here for entire scripture passage
–This is the Parable of the Good Samaritan and is taken out of context. At verse 25 the first thing we are told is that the person who is speaking to Jesus was seeking to put Him to the test, “And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested Him, saying…”
This account is very much like the rich young man who sought to debate Jesus about good works we previously discussed above (Matt 19:16-17).
However, in this account, a man asks Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life. Jesus replies, “..love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” (v. 27) What Jesus is actually telling the lawyer is that when you truly love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength and mind, your greatest desire is to obey Him. Obedience to Jesus requires belief in Him and repentance.
- (Luke 18:18-22) *see here for entire scripture passage
–This is another parallel account of the rich young man from Matthew 19:16-17. See my comments at number 1 above.
- (John 5:28,29) *see here for entire scripture passage
–These verses are taken out of context from an account of Jesus explaining His equality with God to a group of unbelieving Jews who sought to kill Him, the context of which actually beginning at verse 24.
Jesus explains to them at verse 24 exactly what is required for eternal life, “he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.” At verse 28 and 29 Jesus repeats this same point, but now it is in the context of the resurrection of the dead, “..an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear [the voice of the Son of God] and come out– those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.” Look again at this verse when He says, “those who have done good to the resurrection of life..” Then look again at verse 24, in which He defines “good” and what must be done to gain the resurrection of life, “he who hears my word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life”. Eternal life through Jesus requires belief in Him and repentance.
- (John 8:51) *see here for entire scripture passage
–This one is pretty self-explanatory and shows just how spiritually blind the person is who made the list of these supposed “Biblical Contradictions.”
At John 8:51 Jesus says, “Truly, truly I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he will never see death.” So the question we must answer is, what is Jesus’ word? Over and over throughout the entire Gospel account Jesus says, “Believe in Me.” The whole point of the Gospel message is about repentance and belief in Jesus Christ. Believe in Me, believe in Me, He says it over and over and over. There is no possibility whatsoever that anyone who has actually read even just one of the Gospel accounts, wouldn’t understand this. Jesus says, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die..” (John 11:25,26). Keeping Jesus’ word requires belief in Him and repentance. What does it mean to believe in Jesus Christ? See my answer to “Question 4”.
- (Rom 2:5-7,10) *see here for entire scripture passage
–This scripture is about God rendering judgment according to each person’s deeds and is taken out of context.
Paul is not contradicting the emphasis throughout the entirety of his recorded writings which attest that salvation is by faith in Christ, not according to a person’s deeds. You cannot read the entirety of Paul’s writings and not understand that, because that is one of his most thoroughly explained subjects.
The context of this particular passage is Paul explaining to certain Jews (who put their faith in their good works, rather than Christ) the principles of God’s judgment. In this passage he is laying the groundwork to make his point that without Christ, they are hypocrites in their good deeds. Further down at verse 16, Paul explains to them that all deeds, whether good or bad, will be judged “through Christ Jesus.” The context of this passage is with the intent to show the Jews that without faith in Jesus Christ, they were condemned by the Law. At verse 5 Paul tells them they are, “storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God.” How does God judge? “…through Christ Jesus.” (verse 16).
At verse 7 Paul says that those who persevere in “doing good”, seek eternal life. And because Paul was an Apostle, inspired by the Holy Spirit, he was not referring to the human standard of “doing good”, he was referring to God’s standard of “doing good” in the context of eternal life. According to the Law, what is God’s standard of “good” in the context of eternal life? See my answer at number 6 above, “..’what shall I do to inherit eternal life?’ And [Jesus] said to him, ‘What is written in the Law?’ And he answered, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.’ Jesus said, ‘You have answered correctly, Do this and you will live.'” (Luke 10:25-28). Loving God with all your heart, soul, strength and mind requires belief in Jesus and repentance.
- (James 2:24) *see here for entire scripture passage
This scripture is in regard to faith without works, and is taken out of context.
James 2:24 says, “You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.” The context of this passage is in regard to what is referred to or considered “dead faith.” A few verses before at verse 17 it says, “Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.” Dead faith is the intellectual acceptance of certain truths about Christ, without actual trust in Christ as Savior. In essence, what this verse is addressing is genuine faith on the basis of surrender to Christ as Lord of a person’s life, versus superficial faith which produces no internal change in the heart, spirit and mind of a person. True faith in Christ, produces a genuine conversion of the individual. Meaning, genuine faith in Christ will evidence itself through the change that begins to take place in a person, which will eventually begin to manifest itself through their actions (works). “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” (2 Cor 5:17) In essence, what James 2:24 is trying to explain is that our faith is justified by our “works”. Meaning, our genuine faith is declared authentic when we begin to act like it. Genuine faith in Jesus requires belief in Jesus and repentance, and that genuine faith will manifest itself through our actions.