Now when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they assembled together. And one of them, an expert in religious law, asked him a question to test him: “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” Jesus said to him, ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. The second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.”
(Matthew 22:34-40 NET)
What must we do to be saved? For most Christians, the answer that would come to mind without a second thought is “Have faith in Jesus.” A very simple, straightforward answer to the most important question anyone could ever ask. To make a bad pun though, the devil is in the details.
What exactly constitutes faith in Jesus. Is it simply the act of saying the Jesus is the Son of God? Probably not. Even the Devil recognizes Jesus as God’s son. Faith implies much more than the intellectual acceptance of Jesus as Lord and Savior. Having true faith means that we live our lives as if this belief in Jesus means something to us.
There are some groups that claim to be Christian, who teach that to really be saved, a person who claims to follow Christ must follow the all the laws of the Torah, such as the dietary laws and observing the Sabbath on Saturday to really live out faith in Christ. There are also groups, such as those who follow what is called Christian Identity Theology, who believe that only White Anglo Saxons can achieve salvation (don’t ask how they come to this conclusion, as it involves a pretty messed up understanding of human history). Other groups insist that to be saved you have to believe everything in the Bible is literally true (a belief that is commonly called Bibliolatry).
At the Society of Peter the Disciple, we have come to believe that salvation comes from accepting the very basic creed that the Apostle Paul gave to the church in Corinth in 1 Corinthians 15:3-4
For I handed on to you as of first importance what I, in turn, had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures.
Accepting that creed though, we are called to live our lives as people who love the one who gave himself up for our sins. Probably the most famous verse in the Gospels, John 3:16 clearly points out this fact:
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.
(John 3:16 NRSV)
To believe in Christ is to love him. To love him is to follow his teachings. To follow his teachings is to follow the two Great Commandments he gives us in Matthew 22. Nothing else is required to achieve salvation. It does not matter what our race is (Jesus clearly offered salvation to all people, Jews, Romans, Greeks, Ethiopians, freemen, and slaves, male and female, all are offered this same precious gift). Our salvation is not dependent on following the minute details of the dietary laws or religious laws of the Torah as we can see when reading the Book of Acts or in reading of Jesus’ disputes with the Pharisees. Nor is salvation dependent on our accepting the Holy Scriptures as inerrant in all things historical. Our salvation comes entirely from our faith in Christ, a faith that requires us to love God with all our being and to live our lives in love with all people, as Christ gave his life in love for all people.
Your brother in Christ,