“But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:” (John 1:12)
What does it mean to believe on His name? On the name of Jesus.
There are some believers who use this verse to trim the gospel. Saying that one doesn’t need to know any doctrine to be saved.
That one only needs to believe in Jesus Christ, and that person will be saved. And that those who make the gospel more complicated than that are being legalistic. And making it harder for people to believe.
But is that really true? Is that all that is involved in the gospel? Is that all that is involved in the forgiveness of ones sins and the obtaining of eternal life?
There are many in Christianity today that would grind the biblical gospel down to some bare-bones idea.
Making “wide” the way to God. They call this a “wideness in God’s mercy”.
That is a phrase loved by many who call themselves, “Evangelical”. But who are far from having true saving faith.
The “Wideness” Gospel
Robert Schuller comes to mind as a glaring example of someone who professed to be an Evangelical. But whose faith was anything but biblical.
In a famous conversation he had with Billy Graham, Mr. Schuller was excited that Billy supported this “wideness” idea. Billy was very fuzzy about those in other religions, who worshipped other gods, who still may have “believed in Jesus”.
Billy was consistently fuzzy about such things. Because, even in his early days as an evangelist, he refused to practice biblical separation from error. A principle which the New Testament clearly teaches. And, because of his example, the entire Evangelical movement now accepts Billy’s compromise as standard operating procedure in ministry and life.
However, Robert Schuller was clearly a horse of a different color.
In reality, he was a Universalist. He believed people could come to God by many different routes. A Bible-based message, with Jesus as the ONLY WAY, was not part of his theology. In fact, Mr. Schuller didn’t even believe in Sin as the Bible teaches it.
He believed that sin is when a person does not have self esteem! Think of that. Not having self-esteem was what sin meant to him.
In his own words, he really wanted to be an existential psychologist. Not a preacher of the gospel.
So, he loved Billy’s wishy-washy statements. (As so many false teachers that Billy associated and joined with did.) And he latched on to the idea that the way to Jesus was this wide and broad way.
Despite his very obvious unbelief, many foolish and naive Evangelicals still quote Robert Schuller’s books to this day. And still look to him as a great Christian leader because his message was so Positive. Because he had such a world-wide influence. Because he built a huge Crystal Cathedral and television audience. And because he embraced all kinds of religious leaders who followed other gods.
The Gospel is Deep, Not Wide
The gospel message is open to anyone who will believe it. In that sense, it IS wide. Universally wide.
But it is not a message of inclusion. Instead, it is a very exclusive message. It is limited to belief in, obedience to, and worship of Only One Person. Only One.
So, what does the gospel demand of those who believe in Jesus Christ?
“He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son.” (I John 5:8-14)
Here are a few critical points that are foundational to the written Record of the Lord Jesus Christ:
- Jesus is God along with the Father and the Holy Spirit
- He has revealed Himself in His word
- His word is perfectly inspired and preserved. It is perfectly accurate in every word.
- He is the Creator of all things
- Man is separated from God by sin. The origin of all Death is sin. Physical and spiritual death came upon man from sin.
- Jesus Christ is perfect, holy, infinite, eternal
- He was born of a virgin, but did not take on man’s sin nature
- He is the Holy Lamb of God. He is the Holy One of Israel. He lived a life without sin.
- That perfect life qualified Him to offer Himself as the perfect sacrifice for all sins forever.
- His suffering, His death, and His blood have purchased salvation for all who trust in Him specifically
- He offers that salvation freely, without works, to everyone who will trust in Him
- Salvation is through Him alone, by faith alone, according to the word of God alone. The Record of God’s Son.
- He gives eternal life to all who will trust Him
- He is coming again to take men to heaven or hell
- He is going to judge the world
- He is making a new heaven and a new earth where those who know Him can enjoy His fellowship forever.
When a person denies or doubts any of the above points, he is directly questioning the nature, the character, and the work of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Gospel IS the Record
These are the basics. And everyone who comes to Jesus needs to understand these things. Because, if they don’t, there is a chance they are believing in a different Jesus than the scriptures reveal. There are so many Jesus counterfeits in the world. And, although some of these are not physical people claiming to be Jesus, there are many false religious teachings about Jesus that are used to create false gospels.
So, can someone believe in Jesus’ name while rejecting His words? Or while refusing to believe that some aspects of His word are not perfect and complete? Accepting one miracle while rejecting another? Accepting one part of the historical record of God’s Creation, while rejecting another?
Can one pick and choose what they will and will not believe from the Record of God’s Son?
“I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name.” (Psalm 138: 2)
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