“Evidently some people are troubling you and trying to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be under a divine curse! As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you embraced, let him be under a divine curse!”
– Galatians 1:7-9
Billy Graham teaches that anyone who simply knows and loves Christ will be saved. Even if they are not Christians by faith. Graham’s wider mercy message is heresy.
“They went out from us, but they did not belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us. But their departure made it clear that none of them belonged to us.” – 1 John 2:19
Salvation by grace alone,
through faith alone,
in Christ alone.
“For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.” – Ephesians 2:8
God saves us by His grace. We receive His grace when we put our faith in Christ as the One who died for our sins and rose from the dead on our behalf. We cannot work for our salvation nor earn it through any human merit. We receive salvation as a gift from God. God gets the credit and we receive the gift of eternal life in Christ.
The whole work of salvation—by grace through faith and all the other elements that enter into salvation—is a work of God.
Jonah 2:9 states, “Salvation comes from the LORD.”
A similar thought is provided in Revelation 7:10 where the multitude of the saved in heaven cry out with the song, “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.”
Once a person is saved and has recognized the deity of Christ, then, as his Christian life unfolds, he is confronted with the task of living as a Christian ought to live. This, of course, is exactly what the Bible indicates. As stated in Ephesians 2:8-10, salvation is not by works, but salvation produces works; and when the individual is a new creature in Christ, he then is able to do things that are well pleasing to God in time and eternity.
Therefore, one should not minimize the necessity for real faith as compared to mere mental assent; salvation requires real faith. Nor should one require works as a condition for salvation or as a requirement for faith before faith is exercised. Rather, once a person is saved, or born again, he then has the capacity to serve the Lord and, as stated in Romans 12:1-2, he is urged to present his body as a living sacrifice to fulfill the perfect will of God.
Grace and works cannot co-exist. Are you living today by grace or by your works? Have you received Jesus Christ by faith and the salvation that He brings? Grace empowers us, so ask God to give you His grace today. Ask God to strengthen you with His grace and to make His salvation real in your life by grace. Who in your world needs grace? Take some time to ask God to show you anyone in your sphere of influence who needs the grace of God today. Take the initiative to share God’s gracious salvation with others!
You can only believe and follow the real Jesus once he has saved you.
“As for you, you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you used to walk when you conformed to the ways of this world and of the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit who is now at work in the sons of disobedience. We all lived among them at one time in the cravings of our flesh, indulging its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature children of wrath.
But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ, even when we were dead in our trespasses. It is by grace you have been saved! And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages He might display the surpassing riches of His grace, demonstrated by His kindness to us in Christ Jesus.
For it is by grace you have been saved through faith, and this not from yourselves; it is the gift of God, not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance as our way of life.” – Ephesians 2:1-8
“Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”
– Luke 13:3, 5
The first demand of Jesus’ public ministry was, “Repent.” He spoke this command indiscriminately to all who would listen. It was a call for radical inward change toward God and man.
Two things show us that repentance is an internal change of mind and heart rather than mere sorrow for sin or mere improvement of behavior. First, the meaning of the Greek word behind the English “repent” (metanoeo) points in this direction. It has two parts: meta and noeo. The second part (noeo) refers to the mind and its thoughts and perceptions and dispositions and purposes. The first part (meta) is a prefix that regularly means movement or change. So the basic meaning of repent is to experience a change of the mind’s perceptions and dispositions and purposes.
The other factor that points to this meaning of repent is the way Luke 3:8 describes the relationship between repentance and new behavior. It says, “Bear fruits in keeping with repentance.” Then it gives examples of the fruits: “Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise” (Luke 3:11). This means that repenting is what happens inside of us that leads to the fruits of new behavior. Repentance is not the new deeds, but the inward change that bears the fruit of new deeds. Jesus is demanding that we experience this inward change.
Why? His answer is that we are sinners. “I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:32). What was Jesus’ view of sin? In the parable of the prodigal son, Jesus describes the son’s sin like this: “He squandered his property in reckless living . . . [and] devoured [it] with prostitutes” (Luke 15:13, 30). But when the prodigal repents he says, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.” Therefore, throwing your life away on reckless living and prostitutes is not just humanly hurtful; it is an offense against heaven—that is, against God. That’s the essential nature of sin. It’s an assault on God.
We see this again in the way Jesus taught his disciples to pray. He said that they should pray, “Forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us” (Luke 11:4). In other words, sins that God forgives are compared to the ones people commit against us, and those are called debts. Therefore, Jesus’ view of sin was that it dishonored God and put us in debt to restore the divine honor we had defamed by our God-belittling behavior or attitudes. That debt is paid by Jesus himself. “The Son of man came . . . to give his life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). But for us to enjoy that gift he says we must repent.
Repenting means experiencing a change of mind that now sees God as true and beautiful and worthy of all our praise and all our obedience. This change of mind also embraces Jesus in the same way. We know this because Jesus said, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God.” Seeing God with a new mind includes seeing Jesus with a new mind.
No one is excluded from Jesus’ demand to repent. He made this clear when a group of people came to him with news of two calamities. Innocent people had been killed by Pilate’s massacre and by the fall of the tower of Siloam (Luke 13:1-4). Jesus took the occasion to warn even the bearers of the news: “Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:5). In other words, don’t think calamities mean that some people are sinners in need of repentance and others aren’t. All need repentance. Just as all need to be born anew because “that which is born of the flesh is [merely] flesh” (John 3:6), so all must repent because all are sinners.
When Jesus said, “I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:32), he did not mean that some persons are good enough not to need repentance. He meant some think they are (Luke 18:9), and others have already repented and have been set right with God. For example, the rich young ruler desired “to justify himself” (Luke 10:29) while “the tax collector . . . beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ [and] went down to his house justified [by God!]” (Luke 18:13-14).
Therefore, none is excluded. All need repentance. And the need is urgent. Jesus said, “Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” What did he mean by perish? He meant that the final judgment of God would fall on those who don’t repent. “The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here” (Matthew 12:41). Jesus, the Son of God, is warning people of the judgment to come, and offering escape if we will repent. If we will not repent, Jesus has one word for us, “Woe, to you” (Matthew 11:21).
This is why his demand for repentance is part of his central message that the kingdom of God is at hand. “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15). The gospel—the good news—is that the rule of God has arrived in Jesus to save sinners before it arrives at his second coming in judgment. So the demand to repent is based on the gracious offer that is present to forgive, and on the gracious warning that someday those who refuse the offer will perish in God’s judgment.
After he had risen from the dead Jesus made sure that his apostles would continue the call for repentance throughout the world. He said, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem” (Luke 24:46-47). So the demand of Jesus to repent goes to all the nations. It comes to us, whoever we are and wherever we are, and lays claim on us. This is the demand of Jesus to every soul: Repent. Be changed deep within. Replace all God-dishonoring, Christ-belittling perceptions and dispositions and purposes with God-treasuring, Christ-exalting ones.