Thomas Paine once wrote, "The Bible is a book that has been read more and examined less than any book that ever existed." One need not travel far in our society to find that either many people do not understand how to read or they just do not care to know Bible truths. Mankind has exhibited the greatest degree of sloth when it comes to trying to understand the Bible. A book that reveals the keys to an eternal existence of comfort or great anguish is treated as something of little value by many. Though God commands man to study His law (Il Tim. 2:15) most are ignorant of its truths (l 1 Corinthians 3:1ff; Hebrews 5:6-6:1ff). C. S. Lewis, speaking of the Bible, said, "It is not merely a sacred book but a book so remorse and continuously sacred that it does not invite... it excludes or repels the merely aesthetic approach. You can read it as literature only by a tour de force... It demands incessantly to be taken on its own terms: it will not continue to give literary delight very long, except to those who go to it for something quite different." Let's take a moment, in this short article, to examine three important things that the Bible identifies for man to be spiritually successful.
The Bible Reveals the Identity of True Religion
James wrote, "Pure religion and undefiled before our God and Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world' (James 1:27). Religious service to God entails personal responsibility and obedience to God's laws. The varied interpretations of God's laws are manifest in the fact that there are currently more than 10,000 separate religions in the world. One of those "religions" is Christianity. Christianity has within itself 30,000 different denominations. The Bible tells us that God is not the author of confusion (l 1 Corinthians 14:32). Man has obviously fabricated the existing religious confusion though God condemns it (see 1 Corinthians 1:10). True religion is identified in the Bible as being one. There is only one interpretation of the Bible (Il Pet. 1:20-21). There is only one God, faith, church, and baptism recorded in the Bible (Eph. 4:1ff). Furthermore, all true believers are to be ONE in mind and religious direction (l 1 Corinthians 1:10; Romans 15:4; Philippians 1:27).
The Bible Identifies the Saved and Lost (Matthew 18:11):
Another source of religious confusion comes in the area of answering the question: "What does one need to do to be saved?" The 30,000 denominations will send people in thousands of different directions to answer this question. The Bible; however, gives one plan for man's salvation. The Bible tells us to hear (Romans 10:17), believe (Hebrews 11:6), repent (Acts 17:30), confess the name of Christ (Romans 10:9-10), be baptized for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38; 22:16), and to remain faithful all the days of our lives (Revelation 2:10). The Bible tells us that only a few will follow through with these simple instructions (Matthew 7:13ff). We have all been blessed with one life to live. We have one chance at getting our eternal abode right. Those not saved in the end of time will be cast into hell and never see the eternal kingdom of God (see Romans 2:3ff; 1 Corinthians 6:910; Galatians 5:21; Revelation 20:10-15 etc.).
The Bible Identifies the MEANS whereby man is Saved (Matthew 1:21):
The saved are those who have received the gracious "free gift of God" (Rom.
5:12-18). The apostle Paul identified the gift of God as "justification." Those JUSTIFIED are those who have received the forgiveness of their sins [see Eph. 2:8 comp. to Eph. 1:7]). Precise and exact instructions are delivered in the book of Acts regarding how people received the forgiveness of their sins. Multiple examples are listed in the book of Acts that illustrate that those who originally obeyed the gospel, through the act of baptism, received the forgiveness of their sins (see Acts 2:38; 8:12, 36; 10:47; 22:16 etc.). Again, Paul writes, "For all have sinned, andfall short of the glory of God; being justifiedfreely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: whom God setforth to be a propitiation, through faith, in his blood..." (Romans 3:23-25). Salvation is found through the blood of Christ and man contacts that blood through the obedient act of baptism (see Hebrews 9:14; 1 Peter 3:21).
What is your identity? What is your "religion?" Are you saved or lost? Have you followed the precise instructions in God's word to be identified as saved and forgiven of your sins? We hope and pray that you will see that man cannot afford to concoct his own means of salvation. Test each man who tells you how to be saved (l John 4:1ff). Instructions that are found in the Bible should be received with open arms. Those instructions that cannot be found in the Bible are to be rejected.
John C Robertson