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Question 190

Good Afternoon Pater, I have a question which has been puzzling me, how can I get salvation? I understand that this is by the grace of God through Jesus, and by this alone. But does that mean that I can do and be whatever I want as I have no input into the matter and just hope that Jesus likes me? Or do I have to commit to some form of works, but then, have I not eliminated Jesus and God from the process? If I do good stuff throughout my life then I am my own saviour? The Catholics, I believe, think anything goes as long as you confess all the time, do bad stuff and then confess and then do more bad stuff etc... isn't this reducing Christ to a mere Notary? Very confused Pater and would love to understand this?

 

Answer to Question 190

 

Most protestants believe that they don’t have to do anything to be saved other than simply “Believe in Jesus” This is because modern bibles have mistranslated or distorted a verse from the Gospel of St. John which tells them that that is all they must do.

The verse in question is John 3: 16.  Modern translations read: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 (New International Version) “God loved the people of this world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who has faith in him will have eternal life and never really die.” John 3:16 (Contemporary English Version)

These translations give the uninformed reader the impression that Christ taught that all one has to do for eternal life is to “believe in Him.” In contrast to these, the original Greek and the early translations such as the KJV read:  “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 (King James Version) Notice that it does not say like the modern translations that the person who believes will have eternal life, but that believing in Christ is part of the salvation process, and “may or should” bring eternal life.

Salvation is not just believing, but a process which involves hard work and sacrifice from the believer. It means to follow Christ in his footsteps for as he said “anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.” (Matt 10:38). and: “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” (Matt 7:21)

Just “believing in Christ,” is no more of an accomplishment than the demons achieve. “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?” James 2:19-20 

Why then was John 3:16 changed in the Bible of the modern Christian? Because it conforms to the new theology that salvation is a one time event, and all one needs to do is just “believe in Christ.” One has to admit, this is a quick sell and is very appealing to prospective members. If only Christianity was just that easy. If only salvation was just that easy. But unfortunately it is not what Christ said or taught.  Christ said: “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” (Matt. 16:24)

Believing in Christ is only the first step, from then on if we want to follow him we must deny ourselves. This is probably the hardest thing to do, to not live according to how we want, but to give up our free will to live according to how Christ has taught us. Thus to your question - we can’t do or be whatever we want and hope Jesus likes us. We commit ourselves to Christ and allow him to guide us what we must do to find eternal life and salvation.  How? This is a big question and it would take me hours to explain. What I will say is that if someone wants to know what Christ taught, he should read the New Testament. In it Christ instructs us in many things that we must do for our salvation. But be warned, we can’t pick and choose want we like to follow, we either follow all of what Christ said or none at all.  It’s a bit like being an football supporter, you either devote yourself to the team or show no interest at all. Thus to be called a Christian one must be as devoted to the cause, we can’t take on the name and show no interest.