The Difference Between ‘Do’ and ‘Done’
A look at the insecurity other beliefs offer compared to biblical Christianity
If you’re like me, you examine the guarantee offered when you buy a product. The better the guarantee, the more confident you are the item will function well and hold up as advertised. Sadly, a guarantee is only as good as its provider; and often, providers offer no protection or fail to deliver what they promise.
The same principle holds true when it comes to religion. All religions promise entrance into paradise, heaven, nirvana, or some other positive place based on human performance. Biblical Christianity is the sole exception because the Bible teaches that entrance into heaven is not based on our works but, rather, on the work Jesus did on our behalf. That is why biblical Christianity can offer absolute assurance that “absent from the body [is] to be present with the Lord” (2 Cor. 5:8).
All the other religious options can be summarized with one word: Do. Only Christianity can be summarized with done.
Toeing the Mark
World religions and cults operate on a “do” basis. Followers must perform certain good works, which form the basis of their salvation and entrance into the future promised by the group. But how many good works are enough? How is failure resolved? What assurance do adherents have that their performance is adequate?
Muslims, for example, must keep the five pillars of Islam: faith, prayer, giving zakat (support of the needy), fasting during the month of Ramadan, and the pilgrimage to Mecca once in a lifetime for those who are able.
But even keeping these pillars does not guarantee entrance into paradise. In Islam, only a martyr’s death in a holy war secures paradise. Islam gives no one but martyrs such assurance.
Rabbinic Judaism also requires good works and ceremonial observances for salvation. Jewish people are expected to repent for wrong actions and do better in the future. According to beingjewish.com, “If you do good, you will get good.”1
Yet, this system cannot guarantee entrance into God’s presence; and it certainly offers no assurance to faithful followers. How good is good enough? As sinful human beings, we can’t be sure our performance meets the requirements.
In Roman Catholicism, adherents must keep the sacraments, stay within the church, and perform good works to enter heaven. Sin is divided into two types: mortal and venial.
Mortal sins, such as adultery, separate the guilty person from God; cannot be atoned for in this life; and require time in a place Roman Catholics call purgatory. Venial sins, such as a bad attitude, only injure one’s relationship with God and can be addressed through the confessional and penance.
Yet, even performing the sacraments consistently, doing good works, and being loyal to the church do not guarantee entrance into heaven.
Although the Roman Catholic Church holds to many key Christian doctrines, such as the divinity of Jesus, it adds other doctrines, such as veneration of Mary, that undermine the biblical fundamentals. Still worse, it denies justification by faith, the Bible’s teaching that a righteous standing before God is based solely on faith in Jesus Christ.
In Roman Catholicism, works win acceptance with God. This is a recipe for uncertainty and insecurity in the most important aspect of life: one’s eternal destiny.
Witnesses and Mormons
The variety of cults in the world is enormous, but their characteristics are virtually identical. Followers must keep the cult’s rules, remain active within the cult, and conform to its expectations.
For Jehovah’s Witnesses, for example, unquestioned allegiance to the hierarchy, regular attendance at the Kingdom Hall, and witnessing in the community through visitation are required to remain in good standing and might grant you entrance to the coming earthly kingdom. (Only a select 144,000 go to heaven.) Failure to conform results in expulsion from the Kingdom Hall and eventual extinction, along with the others who fail to enter the coming kingdom. There is no guarantee of eternal security.
In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Mormons are taught that Joseph Smith, an American religious leader who published the Book of Mormon in 1830, was a true prophet and that the Book of Mormon is sacred Scripture. Mormons must have faith in those tenets and remain in good standing with the Mormon Church so that they can participate in religious ceremonies, including baptism and celestial marriage.
Falling short disqualifies Mormon men from the promised future of attaining divinity and ruling a planet of their own with an eternally pregnant wife. But there still are no guarantees.
A belief system that mixes faith with works cannot guarantee eternal security with God. Humanity is not capable of performing its part perfectly in this combination. Furthermore, how could we ever know if our works have satisfied God? Unbiblical belief results in no security and no assurance.
It Is Finished!
In contrast, biblical Christianity offers eternal security and personal assurance for all true believers. Its foundation is the finished work of Jesus Christ in His atoning death on the cross, where He endured the penalty of sin for mankind and paid the redemption price to set us free (Rom. 5:6–9; 1 Pet. 3:18).
From the cross, Jesus declared, “It is finished!” (Jn. 19:30), communicating that the work of redemption was completed. Jesus did it all; thus, biblical Christianity can be summarized by the word done.
People can do nothing to save themselves (Rom. 3:20; Gal. 3:11) or add anything to Christ’s sufficient sacrifice (Heb. 9:25–28; 10:12–14). We must receive His amazing provision for us by genuine faith, apart from good works (Rom. 4:1–25; 5:1–2; Eph. 2:8–9).
True believers cannot undo what God has done, which involves regenerating them through the new birth (1 Pet. 1:3, 23) and justifying them (declaring them righteous before Him; Rom. 4:22–25). Our new standing is guaranteed by the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit (Eph. 1:14) and sustained by the indisputable promises of God the Father (Rom. 8:31–39; Phil. 1:6).
Both our eternal security and personal assurance rest on what God has done for us, which is final and unchanging. This fact gives genuine believers confident hope in their final destiny, despite their sins and failures—which are many.
No follower of Christ is sinless in this life (1 Jn. 1:8, 10), although we should sin less as we mature as believers (Rom. 6:6–14). Jesus Christ’s sacrifice covers all sin—past, present, and future—for every true Christian. Jesus is our High Priest (Heb. 4:14–16) and legal Advocate (1 Jn. 2:1) and neutralizes any charges against us.
God’s people are safe and secure in His love, which produces personal peace (Rom. 5:1) and heavenly hope (v. 2), as well as a reciprocal love (v. 5; Gal. 5:22; 1 Jn. 4:19) that we express through obedience to God’s commands (Jn. 14:15). Our obedience becomes good works that God has prepared in advance for us to perform (Eph. 2:10). These good works do not precede salvation but, rather, are produced by it.
God’s guarantee contains no deceptive fine print or hidden exceptions, and He will never renege on His promise. True believers have every reason to rejoice (Phil. 4:4) and look to the future with confidence (1 Jn. 4:17), thankful to God and happy to worship Him as our guarantee of eternity in His presence (Heb. 12:28).
- “How Does a Jew Attain Salvation?” (beingjewish.com/toshuv/salvation.html).
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