Are Gender Roles a Distraction From the Gospel?

Should we stop teaching Biblical commandments regarding gender roles? Is the teaching of Biblical gender roles a distraction to spreading the Gospel and bringing people to Christ?

This is what a lot of Christians today believe.  In fact I personally know many preachers today who say they stand on the Word of God yet they take this approach that “teaching what the Bible says on gender roles distracts from reaching people for Christ”.

Some of these men are firm believers in Biblical inerrancy.  They would even be considered “conservative” in many aspects of their life and ministry.  They will preach on many subjects including the church, giving and general holy living topics. They don’t believe that preaching “thou shalt not bear false witness” or “thou shalt not covet” are distractions to the Gospel. But to them teaching women that God says Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing is a distraction from the Gospel.

Recently I received an email from a man calling himself Mike.  I believe his email is a very good representation of what I have actually heard from Christian ministers today even if he is not a minister. This issue needs to be addressed as we challenge our culture (sadly even our Christian culture) with the truth of God’s Word.

With that said below is Mike’s email.

“We have so many people that we Christians need to help simply cross the line into believing in God first and foremost that this is where our number one priority should be. Your site and others like it simply muddies the waters.

If you can’t even understand “Judge not lest ye be judged”, how in the world do you come to the conclusion that your interpretations are correct and everyone who doesn’t believe as you do is wrong?

Are you not seeing just how flawed as a human you are when you make statements concerning interpretations? I certainly know the sinner I am and would never presume to make the statements you do about scripture. Knowing the mind of God is beyond all our capabilities. When we get people to believe, HE will take care of the rest. People must make up their own minds WITH the gifts God gives them. That is between HIM and them. No one on this planet has the right to judge them on those beliefs except God.

I’m actually curious if you really believe that those who don’t share your interpretations are not going to be saved?

My above statement about helping people to make that commitment to believe becomes so much more important when I see these types of arguments on your site being batted back and forth. They become terrible distractions to the main mission! “Faith alone”, not works or anything else for that matter. We MUST focus on that. I have a brother I can’t even help understand Gods existence. Believe me when I say I understand my flaws. You should be helping your readers to understand yours.

Gender roles are simply not an important subject as long as men and women treat each other with respect. We can’t even get that done right! It just becomes another pointless distraction in the bigger picture of faith. Time passing alone changes things as they become more fully understood. I certainly don’t follow food instructions from the Bible, do you? This is precisely why we must get people believing FIRST, then LET God do his work within them. Remember that the “Judge not” statement literally covers all of scripture. I’m curious as to how or even if you will respond. I won’t hold my breath, but MY belief in God told me this needed to be said.

Respectfully Yours. Mike”

 

What follows is my response to several key statements Mike makes on this issue.  I think this will truly help to clarify these assertions that are so commonly made today by many Christians in our culture regarding the teaching of Biblical gender roles.

Shouldn’t the Gospel Be Our Number One Priority?

Mike’s Statement:

“We have so many people that we Christians need to help simply cross the line into believing in God first and foremost that this is where our number one priority should be.”

I very much believe that as believers in Christ our first priority should be reaching people with the Gospel of Christ.

Christ said this before his ascension:

“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” – Matthew 28:19 (KJV)

If I teach someone about Biblical gender roles and they implement that in their marriage but they have not placed their faith and trust in Christ as their Lord and Savior their following of Biblical gender roles won’t benefit them in the eternal sense.  They will die and go to hell as all those who do not take Christ as their savior will do.

It is only when they place their faith and trust in Christ that their following of Biblical gender roles will have value not only in this world, but also in the world to come when they receive their reward for the race they have run in this life.

Do you have to believe in Biblical gender roles to be saved?

Mike’s Statement:

“I’m actually curious if you really believe that those who don’t share your interpretations are not going to be saved?”

Being baptized does not save us. Being part of a particular Christian denomination like Catholic, Baptist, Lutheran or Methodist does not save us and believing in and practicing Biblical gender roles does not save us.

This is what the Bible says saves us:

“But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name” – John 1:11 (KJV)

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” – John 3:16 (KJV)

“9 That 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. 10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” – Romans 10:9-10 (KJV)

“1 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; 2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.

3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures” – 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 (KJV)

It is believing in our heart that Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior, that he died for our sins, was buried and rose again the third day for our redemption that saves us.  If we receive Christ as our Lord and Savior we become children of God and have passed from death to life.

Isn’t it wrong to judge others for not following Biblical gender roles?

Mike’s Statement:

“If you can’t even understand “Judge not lest ye be judged“, how in the world do you come to the conclusion that your interpretations are correct and everyone who doesn’t believe as you do is wrong?”

Mike is displaying the common misinterpretation of the principle of not judging people.  Let’s see what Christ actually said about judging.

“1 Judge not, that ye be not judged. 2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. 3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? 4 Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?

5 Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.” – Matthew 7:1-5 (KJV)

When Christ made his famous statement of “Judge not, that ye be not judged” he explained in the verses that follow the type of judging he was talking about.  He was talking about hypocritical judging.  That means if you are doing the same thing or worse you have no business telling someone they are wrong.  Fix your own house before your try to fix other’s houses.

Christ later actually COMMANDS us to judge in the passage below.

“Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.” – John 7:24 (KJV)

Paul later tells us not judge one another on disputable matters:

“1 Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations. 2 For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs. 3 Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him. 4 Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand.” – Romans 14:1-4 (KJV)

The Apostle Paul says we as Christians should not judge one another when it comes to disputable matters.  This has to do with personal applications of the Scriptures to our daily lives. For instance one person may feel they have the freedom to drink alcohol and another person may not because they were raised by alcoholics or have a fear they may succumb to alcoholism.  The one who drinks should not judge the one who does not believe they can drink and the one who does not drink should not judge the person who takes advantage of his freedom to drink.

There may even be some differences with how one husband applies the Biblical principles of male headship with his wife and how another applies it with his.  For instance one man may allow his wife to writing out the checks for the bills and another man may never allow his wife to see the bank account or check book. This is an example of a personal application the principle of male headship in marriage.

The point is on the subject of judging – we are actually commanded to judge by Jesus Christ himself.  We are simply commanded to do it in a righteous way.  It is not hypocritical judging or even judging on disputable matters to preach what God clearly says in his word about the distinct roles for which he made men and women and what he says about marriage.  If we compare God’s Word to what Christians and non-Christians alike say that directly contradicts with clear statements of the Scriptures that is not wrong judging, that is in fact righteous judging.

How can we as flawed humans presume to interpret the Bible for others?

Mike’s Statement:

Are you not seeing just how flawed as a human you are when you make statements concerning interpretations? I certainly know the sinner I am and would never presume to make the statements you do about scripture. Knowing the mind of God is beyond all our capabilities.”

I am well aware of my own person flaws and my sin nature. I encourage people here regularly to follow the psalmist’s words:

“23 Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: 24 And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” – Psalm 139:23-24 (KJV)

And yes we as human beings can never fully understand the mind of God as the Scriptures say:

“15 But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. 16 For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? but we have the mind of Christ.” – I Corinthians 2:15-16 (KJV)

We can never fully understand God’s mind or his thoughts.  However we can understand through Christ and the Holy Spirit what God has revealed about himself through his Word.  And we are not responsible for what God has not revealed but only what he has shown us in his Word.

Christ called on us as flawed human beings to “judge righteous judgment” (John 7:24) as I pointed out to you earlier. God calls on us to submit to flawed human beings in government (I Peter 2:13-14). And God even calls on women to submit to flawed husbands (Ephesians 5:22-24, I Peter 3:1-6).

The men who gave us God’s word were flawed as well as the men who preached it after them. The difference was that Paul and the other Apostles and Prophets who gave us the Scriptures while being flawed sinners received perfect revelation from God.  He was one of the few men in the history of the world that God chose for this great privilege.   This is why the Apostle Paul wrote:

“For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.” – 1 Thessalonians 2:13 (KJV)

But  God actually has given the gifts and offices of Pastor and Teacher to help people interpret the Word of God:

“11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:”- Ephesians 4:11-13 (KJV)

What we see here is God talking about gifts he has given for the edifying of the body of Christ. God has personally given me the gift of being a teacher and I have tried in my own imperfect way as he has given me grace to exercise that gift over the years. Whether it was when I taught Sunday school classes or other groups I was exercising my spiritual gift “for the edifying of the body of Christ”.

In fact Paul warns the young Pastor Timothy not to neglect his spiritual gift:

“14 Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.” – 1 Timothy 4:14 (KJV)

God does not want me to stop preaching his Word or teaching the interpretation of the Scriptures.  He placed this gift in me for the edification of the body of Christ as he has done with many imperfect and sinful men for thousands of years.  Do I claim that all my interpretations and applications of the Scriptures are infallible? Of course not.  Only Christ and his Prophets and Apostles were infallible as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

But God wants me in my own imperfect way to exercise the gift he has given me and other men with similar gifts to do the same until we all reach heaven where we will be perfectly unified in our understanding as we are in the presence of God himself.

Does Anyone Have the Right to Correct or Rebuke Other’s Bible Interpretations?

Mike’s Statement:

“When we get people to believe, HE will take care of the rest. People must make up their own minds WITH the gifts God gives them. That is between HIM and them. No one on this planet has the right to judge them on those beliefs except God.”

Did Paul say this to a young Pastor named Timothy – “Timothy you are a flawed and sinful man and unlike me you have not received the authority and inspiration from God to write his Scriptures. Therefore, you cannot preach any interpretation of the Bible or correct or rebuke anyone else’s interpretations of the Bible.  Let everyone decide for themselves what God’s Word teaches.”

The answer is NO.  The Apostle Paul told this young Pastor just the opposite!

Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. 5 But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.” – 2 Timothy 4:2-5 (KJV)

Does “Faith Alone” Mean We Must Only Preach the Gospel and Nothing Else?

Mike’s Statement:

“My above statement about helping people to make that commitment to believe becomes so much more important when I see these types of arguments on your site being batted back and forth. They become terrible distractions to the main mission! “Faith alone”, not works or anything else for that matter.”

It is absolutely true that faith alone saves as the Scriptures state:

“8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.” – Ephesians 2:8-9 (KJV)

But as Martin Luther famously said “We are saved by faith alone, but the faith that saves is never alone.”  The Scriptures tell us this regarding the life changing power of true faith:

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” – 2 Corinthians 5:17 (KJV)

So as we can see Martin Luther’s statement that the faith that saves is never alone perfectly aligns with the Scriptural view of salvation.

But what you are contending when you said “Faith alone” is that the only doctrine we should teach is that of the Gospel.  This is false.  Let me take you back to the great commission Christ gave and this time I will add his follow up statement:

“19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” – Matthew 28:19-20 (KJV)

Christ told us to preach the Gospel as well as well as  teach people everything he commanded.

And what was one of his commands?

“But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” – Matthew 4:4 (KJV)

Every word of the Bible sir comes from the mouth of God. We are to live by every word – not just those words concerning the Gospel and God gives us preachers and teachers of the Word to help us to understand all of God’s Word, not just the Gospel.

If God Canceled Some of His Laws Does That Mean He Canceled All of Them?

Mike’s Statement:
“Time passing alone changes things as they become more fully understood. I certainly don’t follow food instructions from the Bible, do you?

This is a classic argument that liberal Christians and even non-Christians make to write off parts of or even the entire Bible.  Sadly I have even seen some Christians who claim to believe in Biblical inerrancy write off the entire Old Testament based on this false argument.

No I don’t follow the food instructions that God gave to Israel as a theocracy.  Here are the reasons why:

On the morrow, as they went on their journey, and drew nigh unto the city, Peter went up upon the housetop to pray about the sixth hour: 10 And he became very hungry, and would have eaten: but while they made ready, he fell into a trance, 11 And saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending upon him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth:

12 Wherein were all manner of fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air. 13 And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat.14 But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean. 15 And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.” – Acts 10:9-15 (KJV)

“1 Then verily the first covenant had also ordinances of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary… 10 Which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation.” – Hebrews 9:1 & 10 (KJV)

The Old Testament contains three types of laws – Moral, Ceremonial and Civil.  The Ceremonial laws were for Israel as theocracy to worship God and make sacrifices – it also included dietary  and other cleanliness laws.  The Civil laws dealt with the punishment or restitution that was to be made for breaking God’s moral law under the theocracy of Israel.

When Christ ushered in the New Covenant with his death, burial and resurrection he did away with the first covenant including the ceremonial and civil laws of Israel. Now only the moral law of the Old Testament and all of the laws in the New Testament are binding on us as Christians.  Therefore as a Christian living under the New Covenant, I do not have to follow the dietary laws anymore.

But Biblical gender roles WERE part of the moral law of God in the Old Testament and they were even strengthen and further explained in the New Testament as I will show in the final section of this article.  So yes it is completely consistent for me to preach and teach that Christians must follow God’s gender rules and design for man and woman yet we no longer have to follow the dietary rules or other ceremonial rules and we are no longer under the civil penalties and restitutions mandated in the Old Testament.

Are Biblical Gender Roles an Unimportant Distraction From Gospel?

Mike’s Statement:
“Gender roles are simply not an important subject as long as men and women treat each other with respect. We can’t even get that done right! It just becomes another pointless distraction in the bigger picture of faith.”

Contrary to your assertion the teaching of Biblical gender roles is even MORE important when men and women are not treating each other as God has commanded them treat one another.  The Biblical doctrines of gender roles are critical to us living the lives God has called us to live.

Christ did not just die to save us from hell but rather he died so that we would live for him:

“And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.”

2 Corinthians 5:15 (KJV)

While we are not saved by works, Christ calls us to live for him.  How can we say we are trying to live for him when refuse to follow the purpose for which he designed each gender?

God says he made man to image him and doing so bring him glory and he made woman for man to help him in his duty to image God:

“7 For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man. 8 For the man is not of the woman: but the woman of the man. 9 Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man.”

I Corinthians 11:7-9 (KJV)

God says that he made marriage to be a model of the relationship between God and his people:

“22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. 24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.

25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; 26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

28 So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. 29 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church” – Ephesians 5:22-29 (KJV)

Conclusion

To Mike and all those Christian teachers and preachers that refuse to teach the doctrines of Biblical gender roles to your people – you are in direct disobedience to the Word of God. You are not preaching the whole counsel of God when you preach only the Gospel.

I have never said here or elsewhere that if people reject the doctrines of Biblical gender roles that they are unsaved or not going to heaven.  We are saved by faith alone in Christ alone apart from works and not by following Biblical gender roles. But Christ did not save us so we could just live for ourselves anyway we want – he saved us so we could live for him in this life.

While we will not lose our salvation for refusing to follow the doctrines of Biblical gender roles and other doctrines concerning holy living we will in fact lose our reward for doing so.  If we do not run the race of this Christian life lawfully we will lose our reward in heaven as the Scriptures tell us:

“And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully.” – 2 Timothy 2:5 (KJV)

“24 Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.” – 1 Corinthians 9:24 (KJV)

“11 For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

12 Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; 13 Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.

14 If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. 15 If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.” – 1 Corinthians 3:11-15 (KJV)

Finally, even besides the consequences in the next life(loss of rewards) we will and are seeing the consequences of not following Biblical gender roles both as individuals and as a society in general in this life.  Since Second Wave Feminism arose in the 1960’s divorce rates have skyrocketed in our country.  While they leveled off at around 50% which is still a horrible number, the only reason they did so was because more couples just decided to live together outside a covenant of marriage.

The point is the idea of a man and woman living together for life in the covenant of marriage is becoming less and less common in our society since we as a culture left the practice of Biblical gender roles.   Marriages today are now “feelings centered” and specifically “woman centered”.  “Happy Wife Happy Life” is just another way of saying “Your wife is the boss just do whatever she says”.  And what has been the result of men allowing their wives to take over for decades – the destruction of the family unit.

What does the Bible say about salvation?

“In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” This famous quote by Benjamin Franklin would be accepted by men of all religions. Death is a certainty that we witness before our eyes every day. We all know it will one day be our turn to die.

But is death the end? If it is not and we indeed have eternal souls that live on then what becomes of them? Is there a heaven and a hell? If there is how can we be saved from going to hell?

The only way to answer our questions about what happens after death is to first answer the question of our existence? How did the world come to be? How did man come to be?

The Bible answers all these deep questions of life and many more questions.

Before we proceed I want to talk about why I am addressing this subject.  This is a gender roles blog.  I talk about gender roles, dating, marriage and sexuality for the most part.  I plan on keeping those focuses as there are many good Christian websites that talk about the God, salvation, the Bible and a host of other important topics to Christians.

There are much fewer sites that talk about gender roles, dating, marriage and sexuality and a tiny fraction of them talk about these subjects the way I do.  So I do feel this is where the Lord has called me to focus the majority of my time and energy as true Biblical teaching in these areas is so badly need in our modern feminist world.

But lately I have felt the Lord leading me to speak on salvation as I have had many emails from people asking about salvation and even my own teens were asking some questions about salvation after attending a church teen conference.   It is not as though I have not talked about salvation before on this site.  I have mentioned salvation several times amongst many of my posts.  But here I wanted to dedicate an entire article completely to the subject of salvation.

Some people might think only non-Christians have questions about salvation but in truth many professing believers have questions about salvation.    I am going to try and answer some of the most common questions people have about salvation from a Biblical perspective.

The most important question we must first answer

“Is there a God?” This is the question that every person must answer for themselves before they can answer any of the other deep questions of life.

The Bible tells us that creation itself is a testimony to the existence of God:

“For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse” – Romans 1:20 (KJV)

So what the Bible is telling us is that all we have to do is look around us at the perfection and beauty of the earth and all the life in it as well as the universe and we will see evidence for the existence of God.  Contrary to what evolutionists teach – creation itself is the greatest rebuttal to evolution without a person ever having to crack open a Bible.

But if there really is a God why does he allow bad things to happen?

This is a question that causes many people to bury their heads in the sand and ignore the evidence of the existence of God from creation. “Why would God allow people to die from the most horrific diseases when he could save them and cure them instantly?” “Why does God allow wars, genocide, murder and rape? He could stop all these things and yet he does not.”

The Bible answers this question:

“But our God is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased.” – Psalm 15:3 (KJV)

The answer to the question of why if there is a God does he allow bad things to happen is that God is not obligated to intervene in the affairs of this world – he does as he pleases.

Yes God has in times past directly intervened in his creation either to punish some men or assist some others. But it is always in accordance with his plan.

I realize that is not an answer that many people like. But just because you don’t like the answer to a question does not mean it is not true. And just because you don’t like how God chooses to intervene or not intervene does not make him exist any less. As he said to Moses “I Am That I Am” (Exodus 3:14).

Ok so there is a God but did he only speak through one people?

The Bible answers this question as well:

“19 He sheweth his word unto Jacob, his statutes and his judgments unto Israel. 20 He hath not dealt so with any nation: and as for his judgments, they have not known them. Praise ye the Lord.” – Psalm 147:19-20 (KJV)

God revealed his Word through one nation of this world and one nation alone – Israel.  He preserved it for us in written form in the Bible.

So does the Bible tell us there is a heaven and a hell?

The Bible tells us there is indeed a heaven and it the place from which God sites on his throne and oversees the affairs of his creation.

“And he said, Hear thou therefore the word of the Lord: I saw the Lord sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing by him on his right hand and on his left.” – I Kings 22:19 (KJV)

“The Lord is in his holy temple, the Lord’s throne is in heaven: his eyes behold, his eyelids try, the children of men.” – Psalm 11: 4(KJV)

The Bible also tells us there is a place called hell:

“And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” – Matthew 10:28 (KJV)

“And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.” – Luke 16:23 (KJV)

This is what in store for those who enter God’s presence in heaven:

“And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.”  – Revelation 21:4 (KJV)

There is no more crying, death, sorrow or pain in heaven.  Only the sheer joy of being in the presence of God himself.

But hell is described in very much the opposite terms:

“But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” – Matthew 8:12 (KJV)

“But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.” – Revelation 21:8 (KJV)

The Bible describes hell as a place of weeping, sorrow and pain.  It is a place of fire and burning – it is the second death.

Why would God send anyone to hell? Why does he not just bring everyone to heaven?

The reason that God sends people to hell is the same reason that a judge sentences people to prison and sometimes even to death.

It is because God is just.

“12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:” – Romans 5:12 (KJV)

“For the wages of sin is death…” – Romans 6:23a (KJV)

The Bible tells us that Adam, the first man broke God’s law and his sin nature was passed to all his descendants.   Because all of us sin by breaking God’s law we deserve the second death – we deserve to go to hell when we die in this life.

So how can we be saved from hell and the second death?

God knew even before he made man that man would eventually sin against him and would need a way to be saved from the second death.  So even before God created gave life to Adam he already had a plan in place to offer salvation to mankind.

The Bible says that Christ’s death was “foreordained before the foundation of the world” in I Peter 1:20 and Christ is called “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” in Revelation 13:8.

700 years before Christ died on the cross the prophet Isaiah spoke about why he would do this:

“4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. 5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” – Isaiah 53:4-6 (KJV)

Christ himself before he died and rose again told the Jewish teachers the way to salvation:

“28 Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? 29 Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.” – John 6:28-29 (KJV)

John tells us that when we receive Jesus Christ we become children of God:

“But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name” – John 1:12 (KJV)

Paul tells us we specifically what we must believe about Jesus Christ:

“9 That 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. 10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” – Romans 10:9-10 (KJV)

We must believe that just Christ was not just a man, and he was not just a lord, but THE Lord of all creation. We must believe it when Jesus said “Before Abraham was, I am.”(John 8:58) We must believe that we have broken God’s law and are in need of salvation and that Christ’s death on the cross paid for our salvation.  We must believe he died and was buried and rose again for us. If we truly believe these things in our heart then we become children of God and are saved from the second death in hell and later the lake of fire.

Do true Christians still sin after they are saved?

Absolutely true Christians still sin after they are saved.  Many passages of Scripture show that this is the case. In fact this struggle, AFTER we are saved is pictured as war within ourselves between the new man and the old or between the flesh and spirit.

For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.” – Galatians 5:17 (KJV)

This is Paul speaking to Christians – those who have believed and are saved:

“28 Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth. 29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. 30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.” – Ephesians 4:28-30 (KJV)

Paul had just spoked in this same letter to the Ephesians about how we are sealed with the Holy Spirit – by our faith and belief in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Then he tells Christians to stop the doing the sinful habits they did before they believed the Gospel.  Paul says it is indeed possible for Christians to grieve the Holy Spirit of God who dwells within them by sinning.

Paul even admits that he himself as one the chosen few to write the very Word of God still struggled with sin:

“14 For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. 15 For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I…

23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.” – Romans 7:14-15 & 23(KJV)

Certainly God does not want us to sin after we are saved but if we sin we have and advocate with the father – Jesus Christ who intercedes on our behalf.

“My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” – I John 2:1 (KJV)

Can Christians lose their salvation?

The moment we believe we have passed from death to life and we no longer stand under the threat of God’s condemnation:

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.” – John 5:24 (KJV)

Contrary to what some Christian teachers teach today – salvation is not a lifelong process but rather a moment in time event.  In that moment God adopts us as his children and leaves us with a deposit guaranteeing that one day we will receive glorified bodies and dwell with him forever:

“12 That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. 13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, 14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.” – Ephesians 1:12-14 (KJV)

Ephesians 1:12-14 is one of many passages that teaches the doctrine of the eternal security of the believer or “Once saved always saved”.

Some Christians have taught that we can indeed be saved and then lose our salvation because of sins we do after we are saved.  But Christ makes it clear here that if a person is not saved it is not because they lost it but that he NEVER knew them:

22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” – Matthew 7:22-23 (KJV)

Jesus did not say “I knew you and then you fell away because of sin” he says “I never knew you”.

The fact is that if salvation is something that could be lost because of a person not doing enough good works or because of a person doing too many sins than it is no longer a free gift and it is no longer all of Christ.

The distinction between our being children of God and our being Disciples of Christ

Many Christian teachers throughout the centuries have confused our becoming children of God with our being Disciples of Christ.

Some preachers and Christian teachers have wrongly used passages like the one below to say that we must warn those we give the Gospel to of the “cost” of coming to Christ for salvation:

“27 And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. 28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? 29 Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, 30 Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish.

31 Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand? 32 Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace.

33 So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.” – Luke 14:27-33 (KJV)

The cost Christ is talking about is NOT of salvation. The scriptures are abundantly clear that salvation is the gift of God.

“8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.” – Ephesians 2:8 (KJV)

“Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.” – Romans 5:18 (KJV)

“Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.” – Romans 3:28 (KJV)

The Bible could not be any clearer on the distinction between salvation and discipleship.

The gift of God is salvation by grace through faith – it has absolutely nothing to do with us.  We simply reach out in faith and receive it.  There are no costs to consider before accepting this precious gift.

But there is indeed a cost to being a disciple of Christ.  If we are to set out to be like Christ (which is what discipleship is) then we must count the cost and be prepared for everything that may happen to us for emulating our Lord and following his commands.

So how do we become Disciples of Christ?

We do not become a disciple of Christ to become a child of God – in other words to be saved. We must FIRST become a child of God before we can become a disciple of Christ. Now does this mean being a disciple of Christ is optional for a child of God? The answer is no it is not optional – God commands all his children to become disciples of Christ.

But Christ did not die for us just to make us his children and save us from hell. He died for us so that we might live for him to the glory of God.

“And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.” – II Corinthians 5:15 (KJV)

When we become children of God he then wants us to follow his commands and his will for our lives. Jesus Christ was our perfect example of how to follow God.  That is what discipleship is about – it is about following Christ’s example, walking as he walked.

Jesus tells us what it takes to be his disciple:

“And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.” – Luke 9:23 (KJV)

Discipleship means to be like someone. In the case of us being Disciples of Christ it means if we are to be like him then on a daily basis we must decide to deny ourselves and take up our cross and follow the commands of God.

What does it mean to deny ourselves and take up our cross daily?

Denying ourselves does not mean we don’t eat and don’t take care of our body. In fact the Bible tells us that our bodies are the temple of God:

“19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? 20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” – I Corinthians 6:19-20 (KJV)

God wants us to care for our bodies and even acknowledges that he has given us natural instincts to do so:

“For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church” – Ephesians 5:29 (KJV)

Denying ourselves does not mean that we are not allowed to enjoy the things in this world that God has given us for our enjoyment:

God wants us to find companionship in marriage

“And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.” – Genesis 2:18 (KJV)

“Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the Lord.” – Proverbs 18:22 (KJV)

God wants us to enjoy sex in marriage

“18 Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth. 19 Let her be as the loving hind and pleasant roe; let her breasts satisfy thee at all times; and be thou ravished always with her love.” – Proverbs 5:18-19 (KJV)

God wants us to enjoy our children

“3 Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. 4 As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. 5 Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.” – Psalm 127:3-5 (KJV)

“He maketh the barren woman to keep house, and to be a joyful mother of children. Praise ye the Lord.” – Psalm 113:9 (KJV)

God wants us to enjoy the fruit our labor

“Behold that which I have seen: it is good and comely for one to eat and to drink, and to enjoy the good of all his labour that he taketh under the sun all the days of his life, which God giveth him: for it is his portion.” – Ecclesiastes 5:18 (KJV)

Denying ourselves DOES mean putting the will of God first and carrying for the needs of others:

“36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law?

37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment.

39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” – Matthew 22:36-40 (KJV)

Denying ourselves DOES mean denying our sinful desires (as opposed to our God given desires):

“11 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, 12 Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;” – Titus 2:11-12 (KJV)

Take up our cross means being will to suffer loss and being willing to be persecuted for being like Christ and following God’s will for our lives:

“He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” – Matthew 10:37 (KJV)

“8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, 9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:” – Philippians 3:8-9 (KJV)

Conclusion

The Gospel is so simple that a child could believe it. We must believe that we have sinned against God and are in need of his salvation.  We must believe that God came in the flesh in the form of Jesus Christ and that lived a perfect and spotless life and died on the cross for our sins and then rose again for our sins. If we truly believe these things in our heart we are saved and the Holy Spirit of God indwells, makes us a new creature and is our guarantee of glory with God to come.

Our salvation is not a life long process but a moment in time event when we become a child of God. But our discipleship or our progressive sanctification as it is sometimes called is indeed a life long event. It is a daily dying to the sinful nature and daily walking with the Spirit of God.

All true Christians will change and grow, but we will not all change and grow to the same extent.  In fact some of us may only grow to a certain point and remain immature Christians for the remainder of our lives. As Christians we may have blind spots where we do not see or obey the will of God in certain areas of our lives due to our own selfishness and pride.

But we must never forget that our salvation does not rest in our own strength or good works – but it rests in the finished work of Christ on the cross.

I did not address the debate that has raged within Christianity about faith and works in this post – but I did discuss in more detail in another article I wrote called “What is the relationship between faith and works?