By the way, this is a continuation of a series I started on my old blog, in case you are interested.
By providence, I came across a quote from a friend that I must strongly disagree with:
Jesus preached plenty about loving others, regardless of their beliefs. He didn’t ascribe other beliefs to the devil.
I do not know when he posted this quote or the full context, but I can say that this statement is categorically incorrect. From what context I do have, I know this is stated after insulting the integrity and infallibility of scripture. Now, this person would call himself a Christian, but I know he is not. I can, on the basis of this statement alone, say he is not a Christian. I am able to make that judgment only because Christ and his Apostles made the same judgment. I shall demonstrate.
Aside: I am about to make a scriptural defense of the doctrine I know to be true. I do this knowing that this person (and most others) do not trust scripture. However, I appeal to scripture because anyone called by God will trust it as an authority and will not casually cast it aside. Therefore, I speak to any seeker that may read this and, in the meantime, pray that my friend will be drawn to trust scripture one day and hope that with consistency and reliability I can demonstrate here might be able to help someone understand this issue. Amen.
Jesus, and his followers, are not OK with “other beliefs.” Other beliefs are, in fact, ascribed to the devil by Jesus. Let’s go through this and show how consistently and completely the BIble rejects other forms of belief. First, let’s start by saying that the English word for “other beliefs” is “idolatry.” In the words of my Oxford Dictionary, idolatry is “extreme admiration, love, or reverence for something or someone.” Idolatry is a very, very bad thing according to all of the Bible. In fact, it is number one on the list of the Ten Commandments:
You shall have no other gods before me. (Exodus 20:3)
I’d say that is pretty clear. However, just in case that’s not good enough, God elaborated and explained in detail what he meant:
You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments. (Exodus 20:4-6)
God is jealous. He wants us to worship Him and Him only on His terms and only on His terms. Anything less is idolatry by God’s own definition. So, let’s get it clear how bad idolatry is.
“Whoever sacrifices to any god, other than the LORD alone, shall be devoted to destruction.” (Exodus 22:20)
God commanded the death penalty for idolatry. While the death penalty is no longer commanded because Israel is no more and because of the fulfilling work of Christ on the cross, we have this knowledge still: God is jealous unto death that He be the only God worshipped in his chosen nation.
“You shall tear down their altars and break their pillars and cut down their Asherim (for you shall worship no other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God), …” (Exodus 34:13-14)
God is awesome and deserving of praise. Therefore, this kind of jealousy by him is a virtue where it would be idolatry for us to be jealous for the worship for ourselves or any other god. God is jealous for your worship.
“But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in my name that I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that same prophet shall die.” (Deuteronomy 18:20)
Anyone who claims to speak for God, but then speaks in the name of another was to suffer the death penalty in God’s chosen nation.
“‘Cursed be the man who makes a carved or cast metal image, an abomination to the LORD, a thing made by the hands of a craftsman, and sets it up in secret.’ And all the people shall answer and say, ‘Amen.’” (Deuteronomy 27:15)
This is a formal legal curse by God for anyone who even secret had idols in Israel. Even secret idolatry is condemned. If you worship an idol in your heart, you are under this curse.
“What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols?” (2 Corinthians 6:15-16)
The Church of Jesus Christ is completely incompatible with any other belief. Jesus may show compassion to sinners and unbelievers, but in the day of judgment, anyone who remains in unbelief will be judged and condemned.
“Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God.” (Colossians 2:18-19)
Even seemingly good practices like denying oneself physically can be idolatry if it usurps the primacy of God. Any practice or belief that stands in the place of worship of God is condemned and disqualifies one from achieving eternal glory.
“But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.” (Revelation 21:8)
Everyone lives forever. Some will spend eternity worshipping God in all his glory. The rest will suffer torment in a place described as a lake of fire.
But let’s hear it in Jesus’s own words. Let’s hear what our Lord and Savior has to say and see if he agrees with God the Father on this.
“No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.” (John 3:13-21)
Unbelievers stand condemned already before Jesus comes to them. Once this Jesus comes, you can either believe him on his terms and have eternal life, or you can die in your condemnation. Jesus will tolerate no other belief.
Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’ ” (Matthew 4:10)
As for ascribing other beliefs (a.k.a. idolatry) to Satan, here is Jesus doing just that. Satan tried to get Jesus to worship something else, namely Satan. Jesus doesn’t condemn worshipping Satan, he condemns the worship of anything that is not God. Idolatry is exactly what Satan wants more of in any form because he hates God.
“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” (John 14:1-7)
Jesus is preparing the way for those who believe in him. He offers no salvation for anyone else.
“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.
Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” (Matthew 7:12-14)
There is only one way Jesus accepts: His way. Every other way leads to destruction.
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’” (Matthew 7:21-23)
Therefore, it is not enough to believe in a Jesus. You must believe in the Jesus, this Jesus. The New Testament is full of references about false teachers and those who would try to add to or take away from the teaching Jesus came with. This too is condemned.
On this basis, I can say what I’ve said, “I can, on the basis of this statement [the quote at the top of this post] alone, say he is not a Christian.” It takes away from the clear and repeated teaching of every part of the Bible. There is one way and only one way to heaven. All other ways lead to death.
Jesus will certainly show mercy to anyone who comes to him. Jesus has even provided common grace for all to experience for a time. There are good things to be had by both believers and unbelievers in this life. Yet, the deciding time is now. All must die once and stand before judgment. Once dead, no man can change the course of his life. He will either be rewarded for his good works as a soul ransomed by Jesus or he will be condemned as a sinner. Jesus has left us with no third option. The decision stands before us all continually, even me, and demands an answer: Will you believe in Christ and call upon his name or will you worship the idol of your choice? Choose wisely.