Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
February 14, 1957
NUMBER 40, PAGE 1,11b

Choosing A Way To Be Saved

R. A. Ginn, Meridian, Mississippi

God made man a creature of choice. To man was given the power to decide on a course of action, and the Creator expects us all to use this gift. Even in the garden of Eden we find Adam and Eve making their decision about obeying the voice of the Almighty. God and Satan both spoke to them, and they chose to follow the suggestions of evil rather than the commands of Jehovah. Not only did God allow Adam and Eve the right to choose for themselves, but he has thus dealt with all men everywhere. The Jews were told, "Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse . . ." The blessing was to follow their obedience to the law, and the curse would be upon those who rejected it. Many years later, Joshua commanded his people to "choose ye this day whom ye will serve." Moses, said Paul, chose to suffer ill treatment with the people of Israel rather than to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter. (Heb. 11:24, 25.)

Men always insist on exercising their right to choose for themselves. We demand the privilege of selecting our friends, our public officials, our jobs, our manufactured products, and other such things. This is not only permissible but even commendable in most cases, and yet we have become so accustomed to choosing for ourselves that we have fallen into a grievous error regarding duty to God. Many feel that this prerogative of choosing should extend even as far as those matters that have to do with man's salvation from sin. Now, it is quite true that God has not and will not force religious truth upon any man, and in that sense we have even here the right to decide for ourselves. The only trouble with this is that our choice about how we will he saved may not necessarily be a satisfactory one. The Bible teaches one way for men to be saved. (John 14:6; Matt. 7:13, 14, 21.) The Bible way is not just the best way for man to be redeemed, it is the only way. If we choose the wrong plan of redemption, our mistake will condemn us for an eternity. Despite the gravity of this situation, however, many still insist on choosing their own way to be saved, whatever God's word may say. Remember — God wants us to choose for ourselves those things that will save us, but our choice must be the proper one. The Bible indicates clearly just what the choice should be. Let us examine a few of the ways of "salvation" commonly chosen by men:

Multitudes of people feel that their own way of salvation is best, whatever it might be. There are, of course, many variations of this way to be "saved": One's own way may be a life of moral uprightness, or of self-sacrifice and service to one's fellowman. It may be that a man inclines himself toward a life of religious strictness, or he might feel that just being semi-religious is sufficient to take him to heaven. Whatever the particulars, it is commonly believed that one's own way of salvation is the right one for each individual. Many are convinced that they need not be "orthodox" in any way. The truth about such a choice is that man simply is not capable to choose for himself the way that leads to eternal glory. Salvation is the gift of God. (Eph. 2:8.) It is offered to man therefore on the giver's terms. (Heb. 5:8, 9.) A lack of conformity with these God-given terms will condemn us, because "it is not within man that walketh to direct his steps." (Jer. 10:23.) Sincerity and honesty are not protection, either. Solomon said long ago that "there is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death." (Prov. 14:12.) Let us not propose to choose just any way of salvation that seems to suit our fancies!

Just as many have the idea that the way of salvation they should choose is the way of their parents. Those things that were done by their forefathers are the logical things for them to do also. Whatever their parents did not do, is not worthy of their attention. While it is true that the Bible commands children to honor their parents (Eph. 6:2, 3), and while we all like to please them in everything we do, such motives must never influence us in choosing a way to be saved. Many inherit their religion along with their politics, never questioning the truthfulness of either. We should always remember two things: (1) Parents can be religiously wrong. The apostle Paul's were. Cain was a father, but he was likewise a murderer and a wicked man. Cornelius's parents were possibly idolators, but being parents did not make their idolatry pleasing to the true God. Peter speaks of the "vain manner of life handed down from your fathers." (I Peter 1:18.) We do not question the sincerity of our parents or the good influence that they doubtless had among those who were acquainted with them. We only realize and admit that their religious duty could have been wrong, and indeed was if it differed from the pattern of obedience set forth in the word of the Lord. (2) We must accept the gospel of Christ for ourselves. "So then each one of us shall give account of himself to God." (Rom. 14:12.) We must therefore be concerned with our own salvation, and "work it out" (Phil. 2:12) to the very best of our ability. Some feel that if their parents should be absent heaven could not possibly be a happy place for them. God assures us that if we are so privileged to go there it will be worth the effort. (Rev. 21:4.)

Some are bent on being saved according to the preacher's way. Preachers are necessary to God's plan (Rom. 10:14), and every Christian should support and respect them for their work's sake. However, many have come to make the preacher the authority in their choice of a plan by which to be justified. Oftentimes, one chooses "his" preacher and then adopts whatever doctrines and schemes that preacher might propound. He loses sight of the fact that the Bible warns us of false preachers in the world. (I John 4:1.) Paul speaks of some in his day who were the ministers of Satan. II Cor. 11:15.) The only authority that any preacher has is to proclaim the truth as contained in the New Testament. He never has authority to legislate for himself or any other. ". . . If any man speaketh, speaking as it were the oracles of God." (I Peter 4:11.) Let's glean God's way of salvation from the scriptures and then start looking for a preacher whose teaching conforms to the truth!

Then there is the sensuous and emotional way chosen by others. A thing is "sensuous" if it pertains or appeals to the senses of man. Some feel that we must see what we worship. Religion to them is something that appeals to the eye. The Catholic religion is a good example of this. Priests through whom to approach an unseen God, images to represent materially those who are spiritual, crucifixes, etc., form the basis of worship under that system. The satisfaction of fleshly impulses is the standard by which many judge all religions. They choose a way that involves pomp and splendor. They prefer a church with a tremendous pipe organ to overwhelm the worshippers or with a polished and accomplished choir to entertain them. An emotional religion is one that pertains to a man's feelings rather than to his intellect. Some deplore a religion that springs from sane and sensible reasoning. They think that any worthwhile system of salvation should be much "better felt than told." They profess to be completely under the control of the Spirit of God, and they attribute their speaking in "tongues," etc., to his manifestation in their lives. All of this in the face of the Bible's teaching that such miraculous gifts of the Spirit have ceased. (I Cor. 13:8-10.) We are led by the Spirit today through his teaching in the New Testament. (James 1:18.)

Of course, there are always those who are seeking the easiest way to be saved. If a system seems easy, requiring a minimum of effort, it quickly becomes their choice. Is it any wonder that a religion which offers salvation on the basis of a mere faith in Christ as God's Son should find so many partisans? They rally around the church that gives them a choice of how to be baptized. After all, it's so immodest and inconvenient to be immersed — how generous of a creed that will also admit of sprinkling and pouring of water upon a candidate! Some prefer a religion that will provide a priest who will "pray away" the sinner's transgressions. Of course, a religion that teaches the impossibility of apostasy for the child of God is most comforting and is the logical choice for those seeking an easy way to be saved. God's way is not an easy way. We must sacrifice to pursue it. (Rom. 12:1.) We must humble ourselves, despite any inconvenience that might be caused us. Matt. 18:3.) Any easy way cannot be God's way for men to be saved.

Finally, there is the Bible way in which man can have his sins forgiven. This is the way followed by those who respect the wishes of the Christ who died for their sins. The Bible way of salvation is a way of obedience. Jesus said, "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 who is in heaven." (Matt. 7:21.) Our hearts are purified before the Almighty through the obedience we render. (I Peter 1:22.) God's Spirit is given to the obedient (Acts 5:32) and those who do not have that Spirit do not belong to Christ. (Rom. 8:9.) In the Bible we have revealed that which is God's power unto salvation. (Rom. 1:16, 17.) We are taught in the Bible that sinners must believe (Acts 16:31), repent of sins (Acts 17:30), and be baptized for the remission of those sins. (Acts 2:38.) God adds these saved people to his church (Acts 2:47) and after a life of faithful service in the army of the Lord they will receive a crown of life. (Rev. 2:10.) God's way of salvation is the Bible way. The Bible way is a simple way, beautiful in its simplicity and comforting in its promises. Will you not choose it as the way in which you will seek salvation?