Christianity is very simple, it is very pure, it is about having Christ, knowing Christ. Paul says in Philippians 1:21, “For to me to live is Christ, to die is gain.” He says in Philippians chapter 3 that when he saw the glory of Christ, everything else became (Skubala)manure. Philippians 3:8 Furthermore I count all things to be but loss for the excellent knowledge of Jesus Christ my Lord; for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but as dung, that I may gain Christ: So basically Paul is saying Christ is so awesome that everything else is Dogs**t compared to HIM! And so he says, Philippians 3:13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. What is that? What is the prize when we’re called up? It is to be like Christ. Paul says, “One day I will be like Christ. Until then, my goal is to pursue that Christlikeness.”
We have only one message, and that is Christ. We tell sinners they can have a relationship with Christ and in that relationship with Him, they will receive everything they need, all spiritual blessings in the heavenlies. And yet in the name of Christianity, in the name of the gospel, in the name of the church, in the name of evangelism, people are told all kinds of things, promised all kinds of things, sold all kinds of things and in the middle somewhere is, if recognizable, a significantly diminished Christ. Anything that diminishes Jesus Christ is a perverted presentation, it is another gospel, a false gospel.
Christ is Christianity and He is all there is to offer because He is all that we need.
When you ask…what is a Christian? It is one for whom to live is Christ. Christ is our life. We have no other life. We have nothing but Christ and we have everything in Christ.
Apparently the Colossians had been told that there was a lot more needed than just Jesus Christ. Something beyond Christ was necessary. There was some insufficiency in Christ that prompts the Apostle Paul to write these words. The insufficiencies in Christ can be made up by philosophy, human traditions, doctrines of man, external gifts, etc.. These, the Colossians were told, will make up what Christ lacks. Christ is not enough.
Modern Day Judiazers – There have always been those who balk at the idea of God’s salvation being offered freely to those who believe. They reason that such a grand gift as forgiveness from such a holy God must require some kind of payment from us. We thank God for His grace, but we understand that He expects us to somehow earn that grace—in other words, there must be something that we can do to pay off the debt we owe to God.
In the early church, those who taught a combination of God’s grace and human effort were called “Judiazers.” The word Judaizer comes from a Greek verb meaning “to live according to Jewish customs.” The word appears in Galatians 2:14 But when I saw that they were deviating from the truth of the gospel, I told Cephas in front of everyone, “If you, who are a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you compel Gentiles to live like Jews?” here Paul describes how he confronted Peter for forcing Gentile Christians to “Judaize.”
A Judiazer taught that, in order for a Christian to truly be right with God, he must conform to the Mosaic Law. Circumcision, especially, was promoted as necessary for salvation. Gentiles had to become Jewish proselytes first, and then they could come to Christ.
To add anything to the work that Christ did for salvation is to negate God’s grace. We are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, not by returning to the Law. Galatians 2:21“I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing”
Galatians 5:11 Now brothers, if I still preach circumcision, why am I still persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been abolished. 12 I wish those who are disturbing you might also get themselves castrated!
Paul is saying if cutting off a little makes you Holy then cut it all off and be super Holy!!
Though this is a long time ago, nothing has really changed. There are people today who tell us that Christ is not enough, we need more than Christ, more than all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge that are found in Him. We need Christ plus philosophy, human traditions, man made doctrines, external gifts, baptism,etc.
Here is what some common denominations teach as their doctrines of Salvation.
Pentecostal (UPC)– Baptism in Water in Jesus name Only to be saved God is absolutely and indivisibly one. In Jesus dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. He is the self-revelation of the one God, the incarnation of the full, undivided Godhead.
God has revealed Himself as Father (in parental relationship to humanity), in the Son (in human flesh), and as the Holy Spirit (in spiritual action). The one God existed as Father, Word, and Spirit before His incarnation as Jesus Christ, the Son of God; and while Jesus walked on earth as God Himself incarnate, the Spirit of God continued to be omnipresent. However, the Bible does not teach that there are three distinct centers of consciousness in the Godhead or that Jesus is one of three divine persons. Oneness groups teach that one must be baptized in order to be saved. Baptism of water and Spirit is the birth of water and Spirit, the born-again experience of which Jesus spoke in John 3:3-5. The three steps are not human works that earn salvation but divine works of salvation in human lives. The Epistles also allude repeatedly to the Jesus Name formula. Moreover, the examples in Acts show that the baptism of the Spirit is for everyone and is accompanied by the initial sign of tongues. The experience signified by tongues is the promised outpouring of the Spirit On the basis of such passages as Acts 2:38 which speaks of being baptized “for the remission of your sins” and John 3:5 where Jesus says one must be born “of water and of Spirit” Oneness Pentecostals argue that baptism is absolutely essential for one to have their sins forgiven and be born again.
Assemblies of God Salvation is received through repentance toward God and faith toward the Lord Jesus Christ. By the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, being justified by grace through faith, man becomes an heir of God, according to the hope of eternal life. The inward evidence of salvation is the direct witness of the Spirit. The ordinance of baptism by immersion is commanded by the Scriptures. All who repent and believe on Christ as Saviour and Lord are to be baptized. All believers are entitled to and should ardently expect and earnestly seek the promise of the Father, the baptism in the Holy Spirit and fire, according to the command of our Lord Jesus Christ. This was the normal experience of all in the early Christian Church. The baptism of believers in the Holy Spirit is witnessed by the initial physical sign of speaking with other tongues as the Spirit of God gives them utterance.
Catholism – Salvation, in Roman Catholicism, is a process with many steps: Actual Grace, Faith, Good Works, Baptism, Participation in the Sacraments, Penance, Indulgences, and Keeping the Commandments. Basically, salvation is attained through baptism and good works. It is maintained by good works and participation in the sacraments. If lost, it is regained through the sacrament of Penance which only a Roman Catholic priest can administer. Add to this purgatorial cleansing after a person dies, and you can see that salvation is an arduous process.
In Catholicism, a person can gain salvation and lose it many times depending on the number of sins committed, their severity, and how much of the sacraments that they participate in–in order to regain grace which enables them to do good works by which they are justified. Furthermore, justifying grace is infused into the Catholic upon baptism and via the sacraments. This grace can be gradually lost through venial sins or forfeited all together with mortal sins.
Colossians 2:8 Be careful that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit based on human tradition, based on the elemental forces of the world, and not based on Christ. 9 For the entire fullness of God’s nature dwells bodily in Christ, 10 and you have been filled by Him, who is the head over every ruler and authority. 11 You were also circumcised in Him with a circumcision not done with hands, by putting off the body of flesh, in the circumcision of the Messiah. 12 Having been buried with Him in baptism, you were also raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. 13 And when you were dead in trespasses and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive with Him and forgave us all our trespasses. 14 He erased the certificate of debt, with its obligations, that was against us and opposed to us, and has taken it out of the way by nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and disgraced them publicly; He triumphed over them by Him.
In verses 13 and 14, not only a complete salvation but a complete forgiveness. “And when you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgression, having canceled out the certificate of death consisting of decrees against us…that’s the record of all our sins which was, of course, hostile to us…and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.”
I want you to notice something. Verse 9, “In Christ.” Verse 10, “In Him.” Verse 11, “In Him.” Verse 12, “Buried with Him. Raised with Him.” Verse 13, “He made you together alive with Him.” It is about being in Him, in Him, with Him, with Him. And because we have Christ, we have complete salvation and complete forgiveness…so complete that He has literally blotted out our transgressions, canceled out, erased, wiped off our sins.
In verse 15, “On our behalf He disarmed the rulers and authorities, the host of hell, the demons, Satan.” He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them. Again, through Him. When He disarmed the rulers and authorities, we triumphed over them through Him. Because we have Christ, we have complete salvation. Because we have Christ, we have complete forgiveness. Because we have Christ, we have complete victory over all the hosts of hell. Philosophy, Human Traditions and doctrines adds nothing whatsoever to that. What we offer in offering the gospel is what this text presents. We are offering a transformation through faith in Jesus Christ from death to life. We are offering the forgiveness of all our sins for Jesus paid in full the penalty for those sins, the list of our sins literally was nailed to His cross. We are offering in the gospel true, total, complete, triumph over Satan and demons. Philosophy, Human Traditions and doctrines can do nothing to embellish that.
So what does it take?
Faith in Jesus Christ as the Savior is the only “step” to salvation. The message of the Bible is abundantly clear. We have all sinned against God (Romans 3:23). Because of our sin, we deserve to be eternally separated from God (Romans 6:23). Because of His love for us (John 3:16), God took on human form and died in our place, taking the punishment that we deserve (Romans 5:8; 2 Corinthians 5:21). God promises forgiveness of sins and eternal life in heaven to all who receive, by grace through faith, Jesus Christ as Savior (John 1:12; 3:16; 5:24; Acts 16:31).
Salvation is not about certain steps we must follow to earn salvation. Yes, Christians should be baptized. Yes, Christians should publicly confess Christ as Savior. Yes, Christians should turn from sin. Yes, Christians should commit their lives to obeying God. However, these are not steps to salvation. They are results of salvation. Because of our sin, we cannot in any sense earn salvation. We could follow 1000 steps, and it would not be enough. That is why Jesus had to die in our place. We are absolutely incapable of paying our sin debt to God or cleansing ourselves from sin. Only God could accomplish our salvation, and so He did. God Himself completed the “steps” and thereby offers salvation to anyone who will receive it from Him.