Jesus does not give us a long list of do’s and don’ts, or criteria for salvation; just that we believe and are baptized.
Often we talk with people about Jesus and how He has impacted on, and changed our lives. When I have done this it has sometimes resulted in me getting labelled as a person who is ‘religious’. I really don't mind this badge when it comes from a non-believer, as this is actually a badge of ignorance. In these situations I generally attempt to get across the sense of faith and the personal relationship that I have with God and how this is different to being ‘religious’.
James 1:27 tells us ‘Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world’. This is very interesting to me, it says nothing about which version of the Bible a person should read, which Church to attend, how often a person should pray or what a person can and can't eat. It speaks to a higher purpose, one that God finds acceptable.
Often we tend to add extra's to the grace and love that God has shown us at the cross of Calvary. We say that a person must be baptized to be saved, or say the sinner's prayer to be saved. While these things may be right and Jesus certainly does say in Mark 16:16 ‘Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned’. It is important to notice that Jesus says ‘whoever does not believe will be condemned’. Jesus does not say ‘anybody who is not this or that’, or who has ‘not achieved this in their lives’ will be condemned’. Jesus does not give us a long list of do’s and don’ts, or criteria for salvation; just that we believe and are baptized.
When Jesus walked this earth in the form of a man, He often challenged the religious leaders of the day. These leaders had a deep seated sense of religion even to the point of telling Jesus that they knew more about what God requires of them than He did. They simply did not recognise him and in those days Jews would make sacrificial offerings to God to atone for their sins. However once Jesus made his once and forever sacrifice these rituals and sacrificial offerings become meaningless – there was no reason to continue with them, as Jesus became the perfect sacrifice; Hebrews 10:14-18; ‘For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy. The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. First he says: ‘This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds’. Then he adds: ‘Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more’. And where these have been forgiven, sacrifice for sin is no longer necessary’.
Anything that separates us from the divine love and grace of God is empty religion and has no place among God's elect. Let us be vigilant therefore not to allow the things of the world creep into our lives. 1 Peter 5:8; ‘Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour’.
May God bless and enrich your life
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