Matthew 18:19,20: “If two of you agree (symphonise in harmony) on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. For where 2 or 3 are gathered together IN MY NAME, I am there in the midst of them.”
Our main point of unity around which we gather is the Person of Jesus and His Name (Who He is). The major Key of the Kingdom is knowing the Person and Name of Jesus, that He is both the Son of God and the son of man, the unique God-man. Knowing Him in this way is essential to enter and possess the Kingdom of God, for He is the Way, the Truth, the Life and the Door. Knowing He is a man, a prophet or teacher or even an angel is not sufficient. The uniqueness of Christianity marking it out from other religions and cults is the claim that God became a man in the Person of Jesus. Ultimately it is this that unites us in the face of an increasingly hostile world? A Christian is one who believes and trusts in Jesus as the very Son of God - the Lord God. As a result he confesses Jesus as Lord (God) and worships Him as God. He does not just follow Christ as a spiritual leader/teacher, but trusts in Him alone for His eternal life - for He is the Source of Life.
Romans 10:8-13: But what does it (the Gospel) say? “The Word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the Word of faith which we preach): that if you confess with your mouth Jesus is Lord (God) and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says,“Whoever believes on Him (as Lord) will not be put to shame” (Isaiah 28:16). For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord (God) over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For “whoever calls on the Name of the Lord (Jesus) shall be saved” (quoted from Joel 2:32).”
Joel 2:32 says: “whoever calls on the name of YHWH (the Name of God) shall be saved.” This establishes that when ‘Lord’ is used in this passage it refers to ‘God.’ Yet Paul is clearly quoting from Joel 2:32 and applying it to Jesus. He defines a Christian as one who believes in and confesses Jesus as Lord (God) adding that all who call upon Jesus as Lord (God) shalll be saved. Therefore salvation depends on believing in the Deity of Jesus Christ - that He is Lord.
The mark of a true believer is this REVELATION about the PERSON and NATURE of JESUS. Christians are marked out from others by the fact that this has been revealed to them by God. The Bible claims this revelation is necessary for salvation. Saving faith includes the belief that Jesus is the Son of God. The main problem with cults and other religions like Islam is that their belief-system includes a denial of the Deity of Christ - which leads them to eternal destruction. Therefore this should be the key issue we should focus on when talking to them.
2Peter 2:1,2 predicts the rise of these cults and false faiths: “But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed.”
False religion, even if it claims to be based on the Bible, is marked by the denial of 2 things: (1) They deny the Lord (the Deity of Christ).
(2) They deny salvation by grace (through faith) - they deny that on the Cross Jesus paid the full price for us.
John 3:14-17: “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up (on the Cross, to bear the judgment for our sin), that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world but that the world through Him might be saved.” To be saved and to have eternal life we must believe in Christ: (1) as the Son of man who died on the Cross for us and (2) as the eternal Son of God who was given by God to the world and sent by God into the world to become a man to save us from sin. Thus we must believe He is both fully man (the son of man) and fully God (the son of God).
(The description of Jesus as God’s only begotten Son denotes His Deity. It describes who He was in eternity before He was given to the world and sent into the world as a man. If God gave His Son to the world and sent His Son into the world to save us, then He must have already been the eternal Son of God before becoming a man).
“He who believes in Him (as the Son of God) is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the Name (the Divine Nature) of the only begotten Son of God (He has not believed that Christ is by Nature the eternal Son of God)” (v18). Therefore simply believing in Jesus as a great man, prophet or even angel does not save you from eternal judgement, if it means denying He is the Son of God (God the Son).
John 3:36 concludes: “He who believes in the Son (of God) has eternal life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath (judgment) of God abides on him.” Salvation (eternal life) depends on believing (trusting) in Jesus as the unique eternal Son of God.
In Matthew 16:15, Jesus asked His disciples, “But who do you say that I am?” This is the key question, that He asks every man. The answer to this determines one’s eternal destiny.
In v16, Simon Peter answered confessing, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” This is a confession of both His Messiahship and His Deity for the Son of God is a Divine title.
In v17,18, Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter (petros = small stone), and on this ROCK (Petra = large rock),
I will build My Church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.”
By His answer Jesus confirmed that He is the Christ, the Son of the living God, that He is the prophesied God-man Messiah (Saviour and King). Also He said that for anyone to know this, it has to be first revealed to him by God. People may believe and confess many things about Jesus (that He is a great man, prophet or even a super-angel) but the key to receiving God’s blessing of salvation (eternal life) is believing in Jesus as the Son of God. God had revealed this truth to Peter and he believed in Him as God’s Son, and as a result Jesus called him BLESSED, and this blessing is then described as victory over the Gates of Hell & Death (Eternal Life in Heaven with God).
Jesus then announced his new name signifying the new nature we receive when we believe in Him. Peter is not the Rock, but is ‘a chip off the old block’ made of the same stuff as the Rock (which is Christ).
Peter is a Type of all believers in Christ who become living-stones built upon the Rock (1Peter 2:4-8) forming the Church (the Assembly of all true believers in Christ).
As the first mention of ‘the Church’ this passage is definitive in telling us its fundamental truths:
(1) The Church is built on the revelation of the Person of Christ-that He is the eternal Son of God.
(2) Someone is added to the Church when they believe God’s revelation to them of His Son, and confess Him as Saviour and Lord (the Messiah and the eternal Son of God) as Peter did.
(3) The Church is built by the confession and proclamation of this revelation through the Gospel. As we proclaim Christ, God reveals the truth to men’s hearts so they can believe and be saved. Each one that comes to believe the truth about Jesus and puts their trust in Him will then, like Peter, confess and proclaim Him as the Son of God, resulting in others to believe and be saved.
(4) The Church (Christ’s Governmental Assembly) is given eternal life and His authority, power and victory over satan’s kingdom (the gates/plans of hades and death shall not prevail against it).
We have seen that the revelation that Jesus is the Son of God and the Lord (God) is at the very heart of the Christian faith, so that this is one of the key beliefs that distinguishes true Christianity from other religions and cults. Salvation is by God’s grace received through faith
- by (1) BELIEVING in Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, and
(2) TRUSTING in Jesus Christ alone as MY LORD and MY SAVIOUR.
To be saved you must: (1) BELIEVE in Him as LORD (that He is God) and as SAVIOUR (that He became a man to provide a perfect salvation for us: saving us from our sins, restoring us to God and giving us eternal life through His death and resurrection), and (2) TRUST in Him alone to be your SAVIOUR, surrendering your life to Him as your LORD (God).
It is not just believing the truth about Him, but also receiving Him as your Lord and Saviour.
Therefore SAVING FAITH requires first that we KNOW Who Jesus is and what He did for us. We must BELIEVE He is the Lord God, the eternal Son of God, and that He also became a man who died for us and rose again on the 3rd day for our salvation. We must believe in Him as the Son of God (the unique God-man), and we must believe in the salvation that He accomplished for us and has made freely available to all of us through His death and resurrection. We must KNOW these things (the Gospel), and we must ASSENT TO (AGREE WITH) these truths, because otherwise it is impossible to TRUST IN CHRIST ALONE FOR ETERNAL LIFE, which is the vital final component to a saving faith.
Faith is defined by: K.A.T: It consists of (1) Knowledge, (2) Assent and (3) Trust. Saving Faith is: BELIEVING THE GOOD NEWS and personally TRUSTING IN JESUS CHRIST ALONE FOR YOUR SALVATION.
It is not enough to just KNOW and AGREE with the Gospel (that is just Intellectual Assent). We must also personally TRUST in Christ alone (receiving Him as our Lord and Saviour).
When the scripture talks about believing in Jesus Christ, it means a faith that includes all these elements. It means trusting in Him for your eternal life, but you can only do this if you know the truth about Him, that He is the God-man risen from the dead who offers you salvation as a free-gift. Then based on this knowledge that you have of Him, you put all your trust in Him and you receive Him as your Saviour and submit to Him as your Lord. If you don’t know Who He is or what He did for you on the Cross it is impossible for you to fully trust Him for eternal life. If you think you are believing (trusting) in Jesus, but the Jesus you are believing in is not the unique Divine Son of God (but a mere man) then you are not trusting in the real Jesus but in a false, fictitious Jesus who does not exist, and so there is no salvation in that for you!
Thus to have a saving faith it is essential to first know that Jesus is the Son of God, who became a man for our salvation, which He obtained for us through His death and resurrection. KNOWING Who He is and what He did for us, we are then to TRUST IN Him for eternal life. This is what it means to BELIEVE IN HIM. This is exactly the teaching of John 3:13-18:
“No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in Heaven (the One who became a son of man will rise from the dead and ascend into Heaven).
And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up (on a Cross to die for us, bearing the judgement for our sins), that whoever BELIEVES (TRUSTS) IN HIM (as the Son of God who came down from Heaven, was lifted up on the Cross to die so that we might have life, and then rose again and ascended into Heaven having accomplished His perfect work) should not perish but have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son (to be born and live among us as a man and die and rise again for us and our salvation), that whoever BELIEVES (TRUSTS) in Him (as the unique, eternal Son of God who became a man and died for us) should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His (eternally begotten) Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who BELIEVES (TRUSTS) in Him (as the God-Man Saviour) is not condemned (but rather he is forgiven); but he who does not BELIEVE (TRUST) in Him is condemned already, because he has not BELIEVED (TRUSTED) in the Name (the Person and saving work) of the only begotten Son of God.”
Thus Salvation is only received by BELIEVING (TRUSTING) in the PERSON (NAME) of Jesus Christ (not just by believing facts about Him), and in order to truly believe (trust) in Him, we must know and believe in His NAME (Who He is by Nature), and His Name (which we must know in order to believe in Him for salvation) is ‘the only begotten Son of God.’ Therefore it is essential to know He is the eternal Son of God, who became the son of man to purchase our salvation, and then put all our trust in Him, if we want to have eternal salvation through Christ. So, in John 3:13-18, Jesus tells us that we are saved through believing (trusting) in Him, and also He tells us what we must believe about Him (saving truth), in order to be able to trust in the real Lord Jesus Christ and be eternally saved.
Acts 16:31: “Believe (trust) on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved.” You must know that the man Jesus is also the Lord (God) and the Christ (the Saviour, anointed to save us), and then trust in Him alone for your salvation, and then: ‘you shall be saved.’
Romans 10:13,14 confirms that once you believe the truth about the Name of Jesus (His Person or Lordship, and His Work of Salvation), you can then put all your TRUST in Him as your Lord and Saviour, by CALLING in faith upon His Name for salvation and you will surely receive it for: “all who CALL on the Name of the LORD (Jesus) shall be saved.”
Notice that an essential part of the Name of Jesus that we are told to call upon for salvation is His Deity, for He is called ‘the Lord.’ So calling upon the Name of Jesus for salvation requires that you first believe in Jesus as Lord (God) and then call upon Him as your Lord (God), trusting Him to save you. Believing that Jesus is Lord (God) and calling on (trusting in) His (Divine) Name for eternal salvation is the mark of a true believer in Christ (1Corinthians 1:2).