Is it possible to be saved without the traditional “confess Jesus” or being “born of the water and of the spirit”? Billy Graham and others have boldly defended those positions:
13 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. (Romans 10:9)
5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. (John 3:5)
21 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved. (Acts 2:21)
12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. (Acts 4:12)
What became of those who died during Old Testament times before the name of Jesus was used? Or those who die without having the opportunity of hearing the message? Either God is a poor planner (if His goal is to get as many into heaven as possible), or Jesus is not “the only way.” So what is the truth?
The truth is, if Jesus did not say it, then it’s not required for our Salvation. The Father gave Jesus very specific words to teach (Deut.18:18, Jn.8:28, Jn.12:49-50, Jn.17:8), and if He did not say it, then it’s not required for Salvation. Aside from that, it’s important to read verses in their context. The following verses, when read in context, show that the requirements for Salvation are far broader than what has traditionally been taught.
5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. (John 3:5)
Jesus did more than atone for the sins of humanity, He gave practical advice for this life (so we could experience it “abundantly” Jn.10:10) and for the next, i.e., heaven. He referred to Himself and His words as “the bread of life” and “living water,” which, if consumed daily, would have a “quickening” effect upon a person, causing them to become “born again.” [The Quickening method for spiritual growth is hardly known among Christians (see The Return chapter Glory). Generally speaking, they seek spiritual growth through tongue-speaking and being slain in the spirit.]
The “water” and “spirit” of which Jesus spoke have traditionally been interpreted as the baptism of water and of The Holy Ghost. But He said to be “born of” them, which implies a different mechanism. The following scriptures reveal what those mechanisms are:
13 My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water. (Jeremiah 2:13 NIV)
1 Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.
2 Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness.
3 Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live; (Isaiah 55:1–3)
10 Jesus answered her, If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.
14 But whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life. (John 4:10,14 NIV)
37 On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink.
38 Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them. (John 7:37-38 NIV)
35 And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. (John 6:35)
16 Holding forth the word of life; (Philippians 2:16)
63 It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. (John 6:63)
25 My soul cleaveth unto the dust: quicken thou me according to thy word. (Psalms 119:25)
37 Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity; and quicken thou me in thy way.
38 Stablish thy word unto thy servant, who is devoted to thy fear.
39 Turn away my reproach which I fear: for thy judgments are good.
40 Behold, I have longed after thy precepts: quicken me in thy righteousness. (Psalms 119:37–40)
50 This is my comfort in my affliction: for thy word hath quickened me. (Psalms 119:50)
10 Teach me to do thy will; for thou art my God: thy spirit is good; lead me into the land of uprightness.
11 Quicken me, O Lord, for thy name’s sake: for thy righteousness’ sake bring my soul out of trouble. (Psalms 143:10–11)
The Word of God as given by Jesus are like fountains of living waters that can spring up within a person “quickening” the spirit of God that is already within them causing them to become “born of the spirit”:
8 But there is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding. (Job 32:8)
6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. (John 3:6)
It’s important to read Romans 10 in context. Here’s the backdrop:
1 Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.
2 For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.
3 For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.
4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.
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.
13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. (Romans 10:1–4,9,13)
First, we learn that Paul’s audience was the house of Israel, not the world at large. Second, he’s connecting the dots for them saying Jesus is the “end” or “fulfillment” of their Law of Moses.
Here’s the backdrop:
16 But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel;
17 And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:
18 And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy:
19 And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke:
20 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come:
21 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved. (Acts 2:16–21)
In other words, Peter was quoting what the prophet Joel prophesied:
32 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the Lord hath said, and in the remnant whom the Lord shall call. (Joel 2:32)
Obviously, Joel did not use the name “Jesus” in his prophecy, but according to Peter, they are one and the same, which echos Paul’s promise in Romans 10:13.
Here’s the backdrop:
8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them, Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel,
9 If we this day be examined of the good deed done to the impotent man, by what means he is made whole;
10 Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole.
11 This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner.
12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. (Acts 4:8–12)
The same as Romans 10, Peter was speaking explicitly to the house of Israel (of which the Jews were part) saying, “Jesus” was their promised Messiah, and they should not “look for any other” (Mat.11:3), not by name or person.
Romans 10, Acts 4, and many other verses stress the importance of the “name” “Jesus.” But that’s the English version of His Hebrew name “Jeshua.” So which is it “Jesus” or “Jeshua”?
21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. (Matthew 1:21)
21 And she shall bring forth a Son, and she shall call his name Yeshua, for he shall save his people from their sins. (Matthew 1:21 Aramaic Plain English; Lk.1:31,2:21;)
There are several books on the “Names of Jesus” and the “Names of God.” They average around 50 names for Jesus, and 100 names for God, because Jesus is the God of the Old Testament (see The Return for details), that brings His total names to over 150. For the children of Israel to whom Jesus was sent, the name by which He was known to them was the only name with which they needed to be concerned. For everyone else, there are 150 choices.
Here is a sample:
3 And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by my name JEHOVAH was I not known to them. (Exodus 6:3)
6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)
21 Therefore, behold, I will this once cause them to know, I will cause them to know mine hand and my might; and they shall know that my name is The Lord. (Jeremiah 16:21)
23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. (Matthew 1:23; Isa.7:14)
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (John 1:1)
13 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last. (Revelation 22:13)
Jesus the Christ, Son of God, Son of Man, take your pick. If you reach out for the “greatest good” or your “source” or the generic “God,” then your message WILL be received by Jesus, for He is the “greatest good,” “God,” and “our source.”
34 Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:
35 But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him. (Acts 10:34–35)
Here are the ways a person can be saved outside of the traditional Christian approach.
Legalism believes it’s about a particular “name” and if you just get the “name” right, you inherit Eternal Life. Legalism breeds arrogance because it pits the “haves” against the “have-nots” and is blind to the internal workings of the heart or righteousness, which is what the Law of Moses bred (especially the Pharisees). Jesus came to change that, and this is why Peter said God was “no respecter of persons” except those who “worketh righteousness,” for God is righteous, and Heaven is a righteous place, thus, it makes sense that no one but the truly righteous will inherit Heaven.
Which begs the question, what other types of qualities or characteristics does God have, or are found in Heaven – that if a person had, would qualify them to inherit it?
How about “love”? We learn that “God is love,” and if a person dwells in love, then that person dwells in God:
10 He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him. (1 John 2:10)
16 And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. (1 John 4:16)
Again, regardless of race, creed, or religion, “love” alone can qualify a person to enter the Kingdom of God.
Jesus is full of truth, and so is Heaven, therefore, whosoever lives in truth, also lives in Jesus, and can go to Heaven:
14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)
6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (John 14:6)
20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.
21 But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God. (John 3:20–21)
And as John 3:21 points out, it’s all about “light.”
Love is associated with light, and truth is associated with light, and all three are associated with God:
5 This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.
6 If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:
7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. (1 John 1:5–7)
What is often missed in the above stanza is the promise that if we walk in light, the blood of Jesus will cleanse us of all sin. There’s the direct approach of choosing Jesus and confessing our sins to obtain forgiveness, and there is another method which is the Method of Love. I have never heard the Love Method for reaching Heaven preached anywhere. Just to confirm this is the case, read the following:
8 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. (1 Peter 4:8 NIV)
Which is confirmed by this verse:
19 Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him;
20 Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins. (James 5:19–20)
The whole process of converting a sinner from their error would, of course, be an act of “love.” In the end, all our acts and thoughts are being shaped by either an attraction to “light,” or to “darkness”:
19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. (John 3:19–20)
Another way to obtain forgiveness is by forgiving others. This alone could override all other methods:
12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. (Matthew 6:12)
Sin cannot enter Heaven. We have all sinned (except children and the like). Therefore none of us will enter Heaven unless our sins are expunged.
We learned there are a variety of ways to “cover” or remove sins. Of course, not a one would be remotely optional if it were not for the Atonement of Jesus Christ. He broke the bands of death and hell alone, but He is also about love, truth, righteousness, and according to what we just read from The Lord’s Prayer, forgiveness. He won’t allow any of these methods for removing sin unless we are able to forgive others.
There are 32 mentions of “conscience” in the New Testament. It is clear from these verses that man has a conscience, and God will use it to judge a person:
11 For God does not show favoritism.
12 All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law.
13 For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous.
14 (Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law.
15 They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them.)
16 This will take place on the day when God judges people’s secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares. (Romans 2:11–16 NIV)
If a person is true to their conscience, then they are being true to God and will enter Heaven. Even a man’s conscience tells him to repent, make amends, treat others the way you want to be treated, etc. It’s a powerful tool given by God and mentioned 32 times in the New Testament.
God the Father can, if He wants, grant permission to any person He wants to enter Heaven:
65 And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father. (John 6:65)
48 And as many as were ordained to eternal life believed. (Acts 13:48)
It should not be taken for granted that children are given access to Heaven. If confessing the name of Jesus was the de-facto requirement for gaining access to heaven, we would not expect any children in Heaven who could not speak. But that is not the case. Heaven is both a place and a state of being, and Jesus graciously provided us an example of how it is – children:
3 And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 18:3)
14 But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 19:14)
21 Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you. (Luke 17:21)
Least of These
The Parable of the Sheep & Goats makes it perfectly clear that the diligence by which we either helped or ignored the less fortunate could alone secure our fate. Because said He, when we have done it to the “least of men” we have done it “to Him”:
31 When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:
32 And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:
33 And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.
34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:
42 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:
43 I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.
44 Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?
45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.
46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal. (Matthew 25:31–46)
This places “the least among men” on the same footing as those other things that we have established are on par with Our Lord: righteousness, love, truth, light, and forgiveness.
It’s one thing to be “saved” “from hell,” or “in heaven,” however you want to put it, and quite another how we will be clothed, or where we will live. By many accounts, “heaven” is a large, self-contained planet. At one end of the spectrum is God upon His throne surrounded by the city New Jerusalem, and at the other end is what some have termed “outer suburbs” where murderers, whoremongers, liars, sorcerers, and the like live:
14 Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.
15 For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie. (Revelation 22:14–15)
Making it into Heaven is great compared to being forever in hell with Satan and his angels. But the “outer suburbs” of heaven may be just as uninviting. Our adornments, house, suburb, or neighborhood, etc. will be based on works:
24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
25 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.
26 For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?
27 For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works. (Matthew 16:24–27)
23 I will give unto every one of you according to your works. (Revelation 2:23)
The crime of churches is that they “rob” people of their “reward” (Col.2:18) and give them a false sense of spiritual security. Sitting in a pew for a few hours each Sunday secures nothing as far as heaven is concerned. Also, the so-called “good” they perform by “bringing people to Christ” is undone by the fact that they bring them into a false gospel. Whatever “good” each church is doing by their favorite “pet projects” is also being outweighed by the fact they are dividing communities, siphoning money and talent, duplicating community services, etc.
Even mission work is being outweighed in the long term by the fact they are spreading a false, divisive religion and not the original Good News.