THE TRUE BELIEVERS IN CHRIST
I WAS RAISED in a Christian family which reads the Bible and prays daily. My mother died believing with all her heart in the words written in John 3:16. When my father died, inscribed on his gravestone are the words “I am only a sinner—saved by grace.”
What have you to say about my parents’ salvation, and the salvation of the thousands of believers who lived and died without knowing of your particular Church? The very Scriptures that you use was made available to you by the blood of martyrs such as William Tyndale and others who were executed because of their efforts to bring God’s word to the people. Does God have a place for them?
When I see Christians who denounce their fellow Christians and who point to the Scriptures to show the “purity” of their beliefs, in or contrast to those of others which are “impure” or “misled,” I am reminded of the Pharisees and Scribes who searched the Scriptures in order to condemn Jesus.
There is enough hatred and bigotry in the world today with Christians teaching doctrines that will only lead to more trouble with each other. I am sure you are going to point again and again to the Scriptures (just as they did with Jesus) and show me that those words you believe in identify your Church as the one true Church today. But I pray that you will look again at the Great Commandment and let us all who profess Jesus as our Saviour and Lord work together in a spirit of love.
Clarence A. Sears
Jacksonville, Florida, USA
As one who has been raised in a Bible-reading family, you have indeed valued God’s words written in the Bible. This has particularly shaped your beliefs, most especially with regard to salvation. However, being a Bible reader does not guarantee that a person will attain salvation come Judgment Day. Perhaps you are familiar with the particular incident between Philip and the eunuch wherein the eunuch , in spite of his wisdom, still had to be guided by Philip in his study of the Scriptures (cf. Acts 8:26-40). This only shows that on one’s own, man will not be able to reach understanding of the Scriptures, particularly about the path to salvation.
The Iglesia ni Cristo firmly upholds the belief that the Holy Scriptures must be the sole basis of man’s faith. It teaches that belief or faith in our Lord Jesus Christ is important (cf. John 3:16). However, this belief is not the only requirement for salvation. In fact, the Bible proves that believing in Christ alone is insufficient. In John 8:31, this is recorded:
“So Jesus said to those who believed in him, ‘If you obey my teaching, you are really my disciples.”
Note that the people whom Christ was addressing already believed in Him. Yet, He did not tell them that believing in Him is enough. Instead, He told them that if they obey His teachings, they are indeed His disciples. The real disciples of Christ, then, are those who do not just believe in Him, but who likewise follow His teachings.
Our Lord Jesus Christ particularly taught how man can attain salvation. In John 10:9, this is stated:
“I am the door; anyone who comes into the fold through me will be safe.” (Revised English Bible)
The fold or flock being referred to by our Lord is the Church of Christ (cf. Acts 20:28, Lamsa).
Those that have obeyed Christ are in the Church of Christ. Christ’s pronouncement has made it clear that those who have entered the flock, or His Church, will be saved. This teaching is biblical and not a man-made doctrine.
You mentioned that your parents died without coming to know about the Iglesia ni Cristo. You asked if they, along with other people who lived and died without gaining knowledge about the true Church, will be saved too. God has a basis for judging people who lived before the reemergence of the Iglesia ni Cristo. Apostle Paul teaches, thus:
“All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law. (Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them.)” (Rom. 2:12, 14-15, New International Version)
God will judge those who lived apart from the law by the law written in their hearts with their consciences bearing witness.
However, in our time, this no longer applies. In these last days, God has entrusted His words to His messengers who have been tasked with reconciling man to Him (cf. II Cor. 5:18-20). Consequently, if men have already known God’s law as taught by His messengers, yet disregard it, they will no longer be judged by the law written in their hearts and consciences but by the law written in the Scriptures.
You are right in pointing out that there is enough hatred and bigotry in the world today. But must the truth be sacrificed so that peace will prevail?
You call for all believers of Christ to work hand in hand in a spirit of love would materialize if only all religions have followed Christ’s teachings. Yet in reality, what prevails today is a morass of conflicting doctrines upheld by various religions that promise salvation the easy way. The Bible clearly emphasizes that Christian unity is only possible within one body, as Apostle Paul states, thus:
“There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” (Eph. 4:4-6, New King James Version)*
Copied from LETTERS/PASUGO GOD’S MESSAGE/JULY 1996/PAGE 2-3/VOLUME 48/NUMBER 7/ISSN 0116-1636