By Heath Rogers
“These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. Therefore many of them believed; also of honourable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few” (Acts 17:11-12). This passage is a testament to the noble minded Bereans. They heard the word of God spoken by an apostle, yet they were not satisfied with his message until they first investigated it in light of Scripture. They weren’t taking anything for granted. It was only after a careful examination of the word of God that they came to believe.
To assume means to take something for granted, to suppose something to be a fact. We make assumptions about things every day. But we also realize there are times when an assumption just will not do. If we start having chest pains, we don’t assume it is heartburn and that it will go away. We seek medical attention. If we have car trouble, we don’t just assume it will be all right. We don’t want to be stranded somewhere. We climb under the hood or take it to a mechanic. If we get overcharged on a bill, we don’t assume it is correct and pay it. We call the company, find out what the charge is for, and get it corrected.
How much more important are our eternal souls than these things? Yet many people are satisfied with what they have heard someone say about the Bible, and have taken it to be the truth, though they have never searched the Scriptures for themselves. They are resting their faith, and their fate, upon dangerous assumptions. What are some of these assumptions?
I’m A Good Person
Some people think they don’t need religion, church or the Bible because they are good people. I’m glad they think they are good. But the fact is that all of us can find people worse than ourselves to make ourselves look good.
The Bible is concerned with our sin. Whether good or bad, all of us have sinned (Rom. 3:10, 23). And there’s not a thing our goodness can do to save us (Tit. 3:5). In Acts 10 we are introduced to Cornelius. He was devout, feared God, was generous to the poor, and prayed always — certainly a good person by our standards today. Yet he was told to send for Peter and he would be told what he “must do.” Despite his goodness, he was lacking something. When Peter came to his house, he commanded them to be baptized (Acts 10:48). Cornelius teaches us that being good is not good enough, we must be a Christian.
I’ve Been Too Bad
This next assumption is to the opposite extreme. When talking to some about becoming a Christian, they will say, “You don’t realize what I’ve done. God would never have me. I can never be forgiven for what I’ve done.” They feel that they have been too bad to be saved. This is the biggest lie that the devil has ever told. God is the one who does the saving, why don’t we let him decide who he will and will not save?
When one responds this way I ask them to consider what the Jews on Pentecost had done. Peter told them that they killed the Son of God (Acts 2:23, 36). When they asked what they should do, Peter didn’t tell them that they couldn’t be saved. He told them, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2:38). If God was willing to forgive the very men who were responsible for the murder of his Only Begotten Son, why wouldn’t he forgive you?
The first group of people that we looked at believe that Christianity is for bad people. These folks believe it is for good people. The fact is that the gospel is for all.
God Has Already Chosen Who Will Be Saved and Lost
When I was in college, there was one day each semester that the Gideons would be on campus handing out their New Testaments. I was sitting in a lecture hall awaiting the beginning of a class on one such day and I heard a couple of young men sitting behind me flipping through their New Testaments. One said to the other, “You know, it says in here somewhere that God has already chosen who will be saved or lost. So, what’s the point?” Then I heard him close it and put it away. I have often thought about that young man. He closed his Bible because of an assumption, something he had heard someone say about the Bible.
The Bible does teach that we are predestined or chosen by God. The question is “How?” Are we chosen strictly as individuals without regard to our faith or obedience (as the young man assumed)? Or are we chosen as a group of individuals who meet specific qualifications based upon our faith and obedience? I believe it is the latter.
Ephesians 1:4 tells us that we were chosen by God in Christ. God determined before the world began that he would save those who have entered his Son through faith, repentance, and baptism. He left the choice of believing, repenting, and being baptized up to us.
There are some serious consequences to face if God has chosen us as individuals. For one thing, it would make him a respecter of persons, which the Bible says he is not (Acts 10:34-35). And it would make God cruel. Why was the gospel to be preached to all if not everyone could be saved by it (Mark 16:15)? Wouldn’t it be cruel to offer eternal salvation to someone you had no intention of saving? The Bible says that God wants everyone to be saved through a knowledge of the truth (1 Tim. 2:3-4). Heaven’s invitation is extended to “whosoever” (Rev. 22:17). That includes you. Open your Bible.
Doesn’t Matter What You Believe, As Long As You Are Sincere
This assumption is dangerous because it is half true. We have to be sincere — but it does matter what we believe! Paul shows us that it is possible to be sincerely mistaken (Acts 23:1). 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 which is in heaven” (Matt. 7:21).
Many want to see God as a kind, gentle, grandfather figure who loves everyone, will only condemn the “Hitler” types, and is tickled to death that anyone would do anything for him. This is not an accurate representation of God. True, God is loving, merciful, and forgiving. But he is also a righteous God who has always required obedience. It is dangerous to make assumptions about God.
Once Saved/Always Saved
This assumption is dangerous because it gives one a false sense of security. It teaches that all one has to do is become a Christian and he is saved forever regardless of what he does. We can see why this doctrine would be embraced by so many. It is a license to sin!
Galatians 5:4 says, “Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.” Heaven is not guaranteed to us the moment we are saved. Heaven is a promise based upon the condition that we remain faithful until death (Rev. 2:10)!
Our soul is the most important thing that we have because in the end it is the only thing that we will have. We have our lifetime to secure a resting place for our soul. Heaven and hell are just too important to be satisfied with assumptions. We don’t have to take anyone’s word for what the Bible says. Ephesians 3:4 tells us that “when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ.” Jesus said, “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). Search the Scriptures for yourself and find the truth.
23 S. Margaret St., Joliet, Illinois 60436 firstname.lastname@example.org