IS IT POSSIBLE TO BE SAVED THROUGH CHRIST WITHOUT BELIEVING IN CHRIST?

October 16, 2008 (David Cloud, Fundamental Baptist Information Service, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061, 866-295-4143, fbns@wayoflife.org; for instructions about subscribing and unsubscribing or changing addresses, see the information paragraph at the end of the article) -

A popular doctrine among evangelicals, emergents, and contemplatives today is the idea that a sinner can be saved through Christ without actually believing in him.

In January 2007 Tony Campolo told the
Edmonton Journal (Alberta, Canada) that he is not sure who will go to heaven. Asked by the paper, “Do you believe non-Christians can go to heaven?” Campolo replied:

“That’s a good question to ask because the way we stand is we contend that trusting in Jesus is the way to heaven. However, we do not know who Jesus will bring into the kingdom and who He will not. We are very, very careful about pronouncing judgment on anybody. We leave judgment in the hands of God and we are saying Jesus is the way. We preach Jesus, but we have no way of knowing to whom the grace of God is extended” (“Canada’s Different Evangelicals,” Edmonton Journal, Jan. 27, 2007).

This is contradictory emerging church gobbly-gook! If we believe that “trusting Jesus is the way to heaven,” then we most definitely DO know who Jesus will bring into the kingdom. He will bring those that trust Him and He will not bring those that do not trust Him. As for pronouncing judgment on people, it is not our judgment; it is God’s.

Brian McLaren says, “I don’t think it’s our business to prognosticate the eternal destinies of anyone else” (
A New Kind of Christian, p. 92) and offers a quote from a C.S. Lewis novel as his authority. In this novel Lewis’s character was a soldier who served a false god named Tash all his life, but he was accepted nonetheless by Aslan, who represents Christ.

“Alas, Lord, I am no son of Thine but the servant of Tash. He answered, Child, all the service thou has done to Tash, I account as service done to me. ... Therefore if any man swear by Tash and keep his oath for the oath’s sake, it is by me that he has truly sworn, though he know it not, and it is I who reward him.”

According to C.S. Lewis, who is deeply loved by all branches of the emerging church, an individual might be saved even if he follows a false religion in this life and makes no personal profession of faith in Jesus Christ.

Karen Ward says:

“I affirm no other Savior than Jesus Christ, yet at the same time, I feel no need to know with certainty the final destination of those of other faiths who either have no knowledge of Christ or who do not accept the Christian claims of the atonement” (Listening to the Beliefs of Emerging Churches, p. 46).

This is typical emerging church gibberish. Ward thinks she can hold these contradictions in perfect harmony, but it is impossible. If Jesus Christ is the only Saviour, then we CAN know with certainty the final destination of those who do not receive Him, and that destination is Hell! This is not our judgment; it is Almighty God’s as revealed plainly to us in Scripture!

Leonard Sweet says:

“One can be a faithful disciple of Jesus Christ without denying the flickers of the sacred in followers of Yahweh, or Kali, or Krishna” (Quantum Spirituality, p. 130).

What does this mean? Have those “flickers of the sacred” put their adherents into saving relationship with Almighty God and take them to heaven?

Henri Nouwen, whose writings are constantly referenced by the emerging church and the contemplative movement, said:

“Today I personally believe that while Jesus came to open the door to God’s house, ALL HUMAN BEINGS CAN WALK THROUGH THAT DOOR, WHETHER THEY KNOW ABOUT JESUS OR NOT. Today I see it as my call to help every person claim his or her own way to God” (Sabbatical Journey, New York: Crossroad, 1998, p. 51).

Dallas Willard also holds this heresy. In an interview he was presented with the following question:

“I still struggle with how I should view those who have other beliefs. I’m not sure I am ready to condemn them as wrong. I know some very good Buddhists. What is their destiny?”

To this he replied:

“I am not going to stand in the way of anyone whom God wants to save. I am not going to say he can’t save them. I am happy for God to save anyone he wants in any way he can. IT IS POSSIBLE FOR SOMEONE WHO DOES NOT KNOW JESUS TO BE SAVED. But anyone who is going to be saved is going to be saved by Jesus” (“Apologetics in Action,” Cutting Edge magazine, winter 2001, vol. 5 no. 1, Vineyard USA, http://www.dwillard.org/articles/artview.asp?artID=14).

REFUTATION OF THIS HERESY

The idea that someone might be saved who doesn’t know Jesus might sound wise and compassionate, but it is plainly refuted by Scripture and is therefore a fool’s dream.

Jesus said, “
Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). The new birth is a very real spiritual event, and it happens only when a sinner consciously puts his faith in Christ. In the same passage Jesus explained how to be born again. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). He plainly stated, “He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:18).

Therefore, if a person does not consciously believe in Jesus Christ he is condemned. Jesus concluded that sermon by saying, “
He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him” (John 3:36). Words could not be clearer.

Jesus said further:

“I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture” (John 10:9).

A man can enter in through Christ and find acceptance with God, but any other door leads to destruction. And to say that an individual could enter into salvation through Christ and not know it is as ridiculous as it is unscriptural.

John said:

“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. And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life” (1 John 5:10-12).

The person that “hath the Son” is the person who believes on him, and the person that “hath not the son” is the one that does not believe. There is no such thing as “unconscious saving faith.”

There is simply no other way of salvation than to put one’s faith in Jesus Christ and to receive Him in such a manner that one is born anew.

Beware of those who refuse to accept the plain teaching of God’s Word. They are heretics, regardless of how cleverly they cloak their unbelief.