Do I Have to Believe Jesus is God to be Saved?

Jesus claimed to be God. The New Testament claims Jesus is God. The early church believed Jesus is God. Jesus is God. The Deity of Jesus is one of several most important truths in all of Christianity. As important as the deity of Jesus is, does a person have to believe Jesus is God before he can be saved? Is the Deity of Jesus something the Christian can grow to believe after salvation?

The gospel message includes a series of significant facts which must be believed for salvation. These facts include the death of Jesus on the cross for sin, the guilt of the individual, the resurrection of Jesus and the willingness of God to give salvation to those who trust Him. The Bible also teaches a person must believe Jesus is God to be saved.

Romans 10:9 connects the confession of Jesus as God with salvation. “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” Whenever the New Testament always uses the title Lord to refer to Jesus it is always a declaration of His Deity. The title hearkens back Jehovah, the name of God given in the Old Testament. To call Jesus Lord is to declare that He is God. Romans 10 promises you will be saved if you confess the Lord Jesus. Believing the Deity of Jesus is clearly a condition of salvation.

1 John 5 says that those who are born of God are those who believe Jesus is the Son of God. 1 John 4:15 says salvation is given to those who confess the Deity of Jesus. “Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God.” John 20:31 says eternal life comes through believing Jesus is God the Son. “But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.” These verses plainly declare that believing the Deity of Jesus is essential for salvation. No one can be saved without first acknowledging that Jesus is God.

Likewise, any one who denies the Deity of Jesus is not saved. First John is equally plain on this point. “Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son. Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father.” Denying the Deity of Jesus is proof a person is not saved, and those who deny Jesus make themselves His enemies. They are antichrist.

The Bible claims Jesus is God. The New Testament gives an abundance of evidence that Jesus is God. If you believe He is God who died for your sin and rose to life again you can be saved.

What does it mean to have your name “blotted out of the Book of Life?”

In Revelation 3:5 Jesus promises Christians in Sardis that those who stand firm against unrighteousness He will “not blot his name out of the book of life.” This raises a few questions. What is the book of life? What is the significance of your name being in the book of life? What is the consequence of having your name blotted out of the book?

The Book of Life is the heavenly record of all who are saved. It is mentioned once in Philippians. All the other New Testament references to it are in the book of Revelation. These passages tell us that those who are in the book of life will be given access to the New Jerusalem. Those whose names are not written in the book of life will be cast into the Lake of Fire. To have your name in the book of life is to be on record in heaven as a Christian and a possessor of eternal life.

Can someone have their name taken out of the book of life? In other words, can a Christian lose their salvation? The Bible clearly teaches that a Christian cannot possibly lose his salvation. Passages like Romans 8:31-19, John 10:28-29, 1 Peter 1:5 and Hebrews 7:25 make it abundantly clear that the Christian cannot lose his salvation. Salvation is secured by Jesus and by God the Father. Because the Bible does not ever contradict itself the statement about blotting names out of the book of life cannot be a threat to take away someone’s salvation.

The promise that their names will not be blotted out of the book of life is not a warning that names of Christians can be erased from the book. The structure of the letters in Revelation 2 and 3 makes it clear the statement in question is not a warning about losing salvation but is instead a promise of God. The letters from Jesus to the seven churches in Revelation 2 and 3 all follow the same basic pattern. Each letter includes a declaration of the greatness of Jesus, an evaluation of the church, a call to obedience, a warning of judgment and a promise of reward. In each letter the warning of judgment is separated from the promise of reward. They are distinct sections that do not overlap at all. In the letter to the church in Sardis the warning is that Jesus will come suddenly upon them when they are not ready for Him. The promise is that the faithful will be clothed in white raiment, their name will not be blotted out of the book of life and they will have their name confessed before the Father and His angels. This statement about the book of life is a promise of a reward, not a hint at condemnation. The promise that their name will not be blotted out is similar to the promise of Revelation 2:11, “He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.” Those who are faithful to the Lord show they are saved. The promise of God is that those who are saved will not suffer eternal death and they will not be taken out of the book of life. Instead of a threat that salvation can be lost, Revelation 3:5 is a promise that salvation will never be taken away.

Is the Gospel about Social Change?

The Great Commission commands the Christian to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. (Mark 16:15) To fulfill the Great Commission the believer must understand the gospel. Unfortunately, this is not as straightforward as it might seem. The political and social turmoil of recent years has given renewed urgency to certain ones who teach that the gospel is about social change. Tony Evans said, “There’s the content of the gospel that takes you to Heaven, but there’s also the scope of the gospel, which brings Heaven to earth.” His perspective is widely held by Evangelicals. But it is not held by all evangelicals. John MacArthur spearheaded a group that issued a lengthy statement opposing making social reformation a part of the gospel.

The social gospel is a version of the gospel that makes the reformation of society, the promotion of social justice, provision for the poor and the advancement of equity in societal systems to be integral to the gospel message. According to this view a gospel that does not include the call to renovate culture is an abbreviated gospel. Does the gospel message include the renovation of culture?

The discussion of the social gospel is not a question of whether the gospel produces change in a society. Few would deny the profound impact salvation has upon the individual and, as a result, on society. The issue is whether the gospel message demands a call to bring about cultural change. When Tony Evans said the scope of the gospel brings heaven to earth, he is saying the gospel is designed to transform the world to be more like the kingdom of God. In many minds, a gospel without a call for social renovation is not the gospel.

The Bible gives a very clear definition of the gospel. Scriptures presents the gospel in many places and teaches the gospel in a variety of ways, but only one place in the Bible specifically sets out to define the substance of the gospel. “For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures.” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4) This passage must be the final authority when creating a definition of the gospel because it is the only place in the whole Bible which intends to define the gospel.

1 Corinthians 15 lists several key facts of the gospel. First, is the person of Jesus- He is Christ. Second is His death. Third is the reason for His death- our sin. Fourth, is the fulfillment of God’s promises- according to the Scripture. Last, the burial and resurrection of Jesus. The gospel message is a message of individual sin and of God the Son who died to save us from our sin. The Bible never presents societal change as a component of the gospel. The Bible does not teach that man’s chief problem is an unjust political system or income inequality. The problem of man is not external to him. The problem of man is not social. The problem of mankind is internal to each individual. The problem of man is sin that resides in every human heart. The solution of the gospel is the forgiveness of sin, which makes each one who believes a new creature.

When enough people are saved and live in obedience to God society will change. This change is not the message of the gospel, but the result of the gospel. The distinction between of cause and effect must not be ignored. To confuse the results of the gospel with the gospel itself is to risk creating a false gospel.

What is the Unpardonable Sin?

Jesus said, “All sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, and blasphemies whatever they shall blaspheme: But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation.” (Mark 3:28-29) This blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is described today as the unpardonable sin. What exactly does it mean to blaspheme the Holy Spirit?

Jesus’ words are a response to the accusation that Jesus was demon possessed and that He cast out demons by the power of Satan. The Pharisees accused Jesus of being in league with the Devil. Jesus first refuted their accusation by showing that if Satan was casting out demons he would be undermining his own work. Jesus was casting out demons by a power greater than that of the demons and of Satan. Jesus cast out demons by the power of God through the Holy Spirit. (John 14:10; Acts 2:22) Consequently, the Pharisees attack on the power of Jesus was an attack on God the Holy Spirit. Their words essentially called the Holy Spirit a demon.

The unpardonable sin is the utter rejection of Jesus that accuses God the Spirit of being evil. Mark 3:30 says that Jesus spoke of the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit because they accused Him of having an evil spirit. The blasphemy of the Holy Spirit treats God the Spirit like a demon. The unpardonable sin so utterly condemns the grace of that God it considers His good to be evil. The unpardonable sin is an intentional, willful and deliberate condemnation of the Holy Spirit. The unpardonable sin does not happen accidentally or unknowingly. This sin is the result of exposure to the truth and is the knowledgeable rejection of the power of God.

Can people today commit the unpardonable sin? People can so despise the things of God that they consider the Holy Spirit to be a demon and the work of God to be the work of devils. Hatred of the Spirit of God seems to be increasing in our world today. Those who venomously hate God will not be saved. They will not turn from their sin and call out to the God they despise. They will never be saved because they never seek God.

The unpardonable sin is similar to the apostasy of those who hear the gospel, know its power and are movingly compelled by the conviction of the Holy Spirit but reject Him. For example, there are those who grow up in gospel preaching churches, know the Bible, know the promises of God and see the power of God at work in the lives of those around them, but they refuse the promise of salvation. These ones willfully despise the grace of God and miss their opportunity to repent.

However, none need fear they have committed a sin God cannot forgive. He promises all who seek Him for salvation will have forgiveness. The unpardonable sin is unpardonable because the one who commits it will not turn to God and will not trust Him to forgive their sin. If you will turn to Jesus as your gracious God and Savior, and if you will trust Him alone to take away your sin, He will save you. Jesus gave Himself for us to redeem us from all iniquity. (Titus 2:14) He promises that where sin abounds, His grace is even more abundant. (Romans 5:20) No sin is so great God cannot forgive it. He will forgive your sin if you will ask Him to do so and will trust Him alone to take away your guilt.

Can a Christian commit the unpardonable sin? Absolutely not. Those who have the Spirit of God will bless Jesus. No one that has the Spirit can call Jesus accursed. (1 Corinthians 12:3) If the saved cannot curse Jesus, they will not despise the Holy Spirit, the gift of Jesus to His children. The Holy Spirit is the Christian’s Comforter, Seal and Assurance of eternal life. The Holy Spirit so changes the Christian that the Christian will never desire to despise the work of the Spirit. Therefore, a Christian cannot condemn Jesus or accuse the Spirit of working for Satan. A Christian cannot repudiate his Savior or reject His Spirit. He is now a new creature in Christ who does not turn back to destruction.

Are there different levels of heaven?

Dante’s famous work “Inferno” describes a man’s journey through hell. As he travels he descends deeper and deeper into torment, each level worse than the one before it. This depiction of hell has caused many to wonder if the Bible teaches that there are various levels of hell. A natural second question follows, are there levels of heaven? Is heaven arranged so that those who lived best during this life get the greatest joys in heaven?

After death the Christian will stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ. This judgment will be an examination of the Christian’s service after salvation. After the individual gives an account of how he has served, “he shall receive a reward.” (2 Corinthians 3:14) The Bible promises various rewards to the faithful Christian including crowns, rich clothing, precious stones and favor with God.

The rewards given to saints probably will be all returned to Jesus. Revelation 4 describes a group of 24 elders seated before the throne of God in heaven. They have crowns of gold given to them, but they take their crowns off and throw them at the foot of God’s throne, declaring that to God alone belongs glory and honor. Though the Bible does not say this specifically, it seems likely that all Christians will return their rewards to One who gave them eternal life. Certainly, the cry of every believer in heaven will be, “Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy, and for thy truth’s sake.” (Psalm 115:1)

Likely there will be various positions of service in eternity. In Revelation 2 and 3 Jesus promises that certain saints will be “pillars in the temple of God” (Revelations 3:12) and others will be given “power over nations.” (Revelation 2:26) Possibly every one in eternity will be given a specific of responsibility. Some may serve before God’s throne, some may serve on the New Earth and some may serve in the New Jerusalem. Whatever the responsibility may be, it is certain that every task will be full of joy. The drudgery of work is part of the curse of sin. When the curse of sin is removed, work will never be misery. Work will be delight, and the redeemed will bring the glory and honor of their work to God. (Revelation 21:26)

The eternal condition of the saved will be one of great joy. The joy of every believer is, “God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them.” (Revelation 22:3) In eternity all the redeemed will have access to the presence of God, to the city of God and to the tree of life. The Bible does not teach that some Christians will have greater favor or greater blessing in eternity. There may be different positions of service, but none have less access to the presence of God which is the true joy of heaven.

The truths of rewards in heaven are taught in Scripture to motivate us to faithful service for the Lord. Those who are not faithful will have nothing to present to their Savior. They will be saved, but will stand before Him ashamed and empty handed. Let us therefore “labor, that, whether present or absent, we may be pleasing to Him.” (2 Corinthians 5:9)