I’ve written about some of the street preachers of downtown Toronto before (see here and here), but I came across some of them again yesterday while on a walk, and once again the duplicity of the words they preached jumped out at me (although I believe they almost certainly had no idea how deceptive what they were saying was; they always seem quite sincere to me). Once again, they preached that there is nothing anyone in their audience could possibly do in order to be saved, then turned around and told their audience members what it is they have to do in order to be saved. They had no idea that they were contradicting the sentence they’d just finished speaking (if “there’s nothing you can do to be saved, now here’s what you have to do to be saved” isn’t a contradiction, I don’t know what is), and also that they were preaching salvation by superiority, not to mention salvation by works.
Now, I’m not going to get into the whole topic of why having to choose to believe something is a work again, since I’ve covered it sufficiently before, and it should really be obvious to anyone who thinks about it that having to choose to do something (even if that something is simply having to choose to believe a certain fact, or even having to choose to have faith in a certain truth or Person) is still a work anyway, but I did want to discuss the fact that they are also preaching (as does nearly every other preacher out there) that one must be superior to those around them in order to be saved, and that only those superior humans like themselves can actually be saved.
Remember, Christians, for the most part, believe that one can only be saved if they happen to choose to “receive the gift of salvation” that Christ offers them. They don’t believe that what Christ did already saved everyone apart from anything they can do or even believe. In fact, they don’t believe that what Christ did saved anyone at all, since Christ’s death for our sins, and subsequent burial and resurrection, didn’t actually guarantee anyone salvation if they don’t choose to also “receive the gift” (if they don’t choose to “receive the gift,” they haven’t actually been saved by Christ, according to their doctrines). The problem is, not everyone chooses to “receive the gift.” This might not seem like a big problem at first to most Christians, but if you ask them why they decided to “accept the gift” while others don’t choose to do so, the problem becomes a little more clear.
You see, every decision we make is based on a cause. You can’t have an effect — even an effect such as a choice to believe or “accept” a teaching (or to “receive the gift,” so to speak) — without a cause or a reason. So what is the reason that those other people who don’t choose to “receive the gift” don’t make that right choice, while the Christians did make the right choice to “receive” it? Was it that the others weren’t born as smart or wise or righteous or humble or lucky as they were? If so, was it their intelligence, their wisdom, their righteousness, or their humility, that saved them, or was it simply pure, dumb, random luck that they happened to make the right decision, while others weren’t fortunate enough to do so? Well, let’s break down the options:
- If it’s because they were smart enough to do so, it’s the intelligence they have — which the unsaved don’t have — that saved them, which means that we’re ultimately saved by intelligence (what Christ did was only step 1, while we have to complete our salvation through step 2: making the right choice to believe the right thing, making us our own, at least partial, saviours).
- If it’s because they were wise enough to do so, it’s the wisdom they have — which the unsaved don’t have — that saved them, which means we’re saved by our wisdom.
- If it’s because they were humble enough to do so, it’s the humility they have — which the unsaved don’t have — that saved them, which means that we’re saved by naturally having the right amount of humility.
- If it’s because they were righteous enough to do so, it’s the righteousness they have — which the unsaved don’t have — that saved them, which means that we’re saved by our own self-righteousness.
- And if it’s because they were simply lucky enough to happen to do so, it’s the good luck they have — which the unsaved don’t have — that saved them, which means that we’re saved by good luck, or simply by random chance.
Whichever of those it is, though, it means that their superior nurture and/or nature (meaning the genetics they were born with and/or the life experiences they went through up until the point they decided to “receive the gift”) is responsible for them making the right decision, and those who don’t choose to “receive the gift” must have an inferior nurture and/or nature because something inside them keeps them from making that right choice. Either that or God just chose them to make the right choice (and made sure they did), as Calvinists teach, and left everyone else to suffer.
Of course, if you’ve been reading my website for any time at all, you already know the truth: That because Christ died for our sins, and was buried and rose again on the third day, everyone has already been saved from an absolute perspective, and is guaranteed to be resurrected and/or quickened (made immortal) by the end of the ages, and those of us to whom God has chosen to give the faith to believe this Good News now are also saved from a relative perspective and will be resurrected and/or quickened early, at the Rapture (and that those who believe the Good News of the Kingdom instead of the Good News of the Grace of God that Paul proclaimed will be resurrected and quickened 75 days after Jesus returns as well, but that’s a whole other sort of salvation). In fact, “receiving something” isn’t something one does voluntarily anyway. Paul talked about how five times he received “forty stripes save one,” and if you think receiving those lashes was something he had to first choose, you might want to reconsider a few things.
While Christians really have no ability to believe the true Gospel unless God gives them the faith to do so anyway, it is still sad to hear them proclaiming salvation by superiority whenever I hear them preach. (They truly have no idea just how hypocritical the false expressions they teach are.) Thankfully, even they’ll one day experience the salvation that Christ won for them on the cross, even though most of them will likely have to wait for the end of the ages for it. But, in the meantime, when you encounter a Christian who believes that he or she is saved because they made the correct choice to believe the right thing (or to “receive the gift”), congratulate them on being better than all those people who haven’t been able to bring themselves to choose to believe the right thing (or haven’t been able to choose to “receive the gift”).