The late, Dr. D. James Kennedy said, “The vast majority of people who are members of churches in America today are not Christians. I say that without the slightest contradiction. I base it on empirical evidence of twenty-four years of examining thousands of people.”
How well do you believe this verse?
“Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified” (Galatians 2:16).
This is something quoted often inside Christianity, but is not always believed. The gospel at the core is not designed to be something easy to follow, but rather to be hard for a mind to accept. It is hard to understand math, and will not be accepted by most people including those who sit in church buildings. To show an example of how challenging this gospel math is, consider the following true tales of sad souls.
Most people know the name of Jeffrey Dahmer who strangled and dismembered seventeen boys and men and cannibalized some of them. The world was shocked at the dark tale of what this man did, a true symbol of how evil a man could be. He was reported to pick up these men from gay bars, torture them, and commit unthinkable acts. Most people were ready to see this man burned alive for his crime, yet there was another that took another approach.
Pastor Roy Ratcliffe began meeting with Dahmer for a number of years, going though Scripture with him, and explaining the gospel. According to Jeffrey Dahmer’s confession, he trusted in Jesus alone for the forgiveness of sin. Sometime later, after being attacked in jail, Dahmer wrote, “I don’t know if you heard, but last Sunday I was attacked while in the chapel. Some guy tried to cut my throat open with a razor but didn’t succeed. The razor broke, and my neck was only slightly scratched. I believe that it was only the protective grace of our Great Lord and Savior Jesus Christ that saved me from serious injury or death!”
Pastor Ratcliffe did suffer backlash from his desire to share the gospel with Dahmer. Several members reportedly left his church. Some cited that God would never let a monster like that into heaven. This reaction is based on beliefs that God requires you to have a measure of your own goodness to enter into heaven, and they were less of a sinner than Dahmer, so he was less worthy of the gospel than they were.
There is another soul to examine, one much kinder.
Teresa of Calcutta, M.C., commonly known as Mother Teresa, Mother Teresa founded the Missionaries of Charity, a Roman Catholic religious congregation which in 2012 consisted of over 4,500 sisters and is active in 133 countries. They run hospices and homes for people with HIV/AIDS, leprosy and tuberculosis; soup kitchens; children’s and family counseling programs; orphanages and schools. Members of the order must adhere to the vows of chastity, poverty and obedience, and the fourth vow, to give “Wholehearted and free service to the poorest of the poor.” (Wikipedia)
Her works are well known, helping countless numbers of people. She was a strong valued person, pro-life, outspoken on issues of life and the value of children. There is something of note in her belief system. In her book, Life in the Spirit: Reflections, Meditations, and Prayers, she says on pages 81 and 82:
We never try to convert those who receive (aid) to Christianity but in our work we bear witness to the love of God’s presence and if Catholics, Protestants, Buddhists or agnostics become for this better men – simply better – we will be satisfied. It matters to the individual what church he belongs to. If that individual thinks and believes that this is the only way to God for her or him, this is the way God comes into their life – his life. If he does not know any other way and if he has no doubt so that he does not need to search then this is his way to salvation.
“Of course I convert. I convert you to be a better Hindu or a better Muslim or a better Protestant. Once you’ve found God, it’s up to you to decide how to worship him.” (“Mother Teresa Touched Other Faiths,” AP, Sept. 7, 1997)
Statements such as these are in conflict with Scripture. Salvation is by faith alone, in Christ alone, and not by works or any other gods. If the gospel is to be believed, we must reach a conclusion that is not going to be easy to accept. If these statements are truly believed about both of the souls, then we must accept the possibility the Jeffrey Dahamer is in heaven, and Mother Teresa might not be.
Do you see the problem that a natural man will always have with the gospel? Religious men believe their salvation is based on their worth to God, yet the Scriptures remove our value in the salvation process. Salvation is all about the work of God, who died to the sins of all men, so that all who turn and trust in Him alone, in the payment for sin provided.
“Who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus,who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time” (1 Timothy 2:4-6).
This is, hard to understand math. The gospel says we have nothing to offer God but our evil desires and our sin, but He offers a free gift if we come to Him. What are you going to accept? Are your works making you better than other sinners, or are you going to see yourself as someone who has nothing but Christ alone?