When Jesus said he was the true vine and his real followers are the branches, and that he is the truth and all who came before were thieves and robbers, it could not be clearer.  You need to be explicitly a follower of his to be sure you will be saved.

Christians say that Jesus can work on a person who does not know who he is but that is regarded as a rarity and the rule is you have to be in the Church and agree to follow him in knowledge and truth.

Today in the name of tolerance it is common to say that as long as you are sincere in your faith worldview and do good you will be saved and go to God forever.  If sincerity matters that much then how do they know there is a possibility of going forever to God?

The Handbook of Christian Apologetics says that sincerity is not enough and some conditions must be fulfilled for it to suffice. The conditions are,


total commitment to the truth as an absolute – something that is right objectively, being open to truth,

repentance for the love of God no matter how vaguely God is understood,

 faith in some holy being speaking to you through the conscience

and reliance on the grace of God (page 326).

My objection to this is that all sincerity would contain these things implicitly.  For example, the Atheist who would love God and who does good will be saved by God despite rejecting belief in him for though he does not realise it he has a relationship with God. Another objection is the view that you need to hold that there is an objective truth. Some people really do think that there is no absolute truth and that reason is of no help though they live a normal life and are sincere about it so the Handbook is bigoted on this point.

Theologian Charles Hodge says that: "necessity of a knowledge of the gospel is expressly asserted in the Scriptures.  Our Lord not only declares that no man can come unto the Father, but by Him; that no man knoweth the Father, but the Son, and he to whom the Son shall revel Him; but He says expressly, “He that believeth not, shall be damned.” (Mark xvi. 16; John iii. 18.) But faith without knowledge is impossible. The Apostle John says, “He that hath the Son, hath life; he that hath not the Son of God, hath not life.” (1 John v. 12.) The knowledge of Christ is not only the condition of life, but it is life; and without that knowledge, the life in question cannot exist. Him to know is life eternal. Paul, therefore, said, “I count all things but loss, for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord.” (Phil. iii. 8.) Christ is not only the giver, but the object of life. Those exercises which are the manifestations of spiritual life terminate on Him; without the knowledge of Him, therefore, there can be no such exercises; as without the knowledge of God there can be no religion. It is consequently, as the Apostle teaches, through the knowledge of Christ, that God “hath called us to glory and virtue.” (2 Peter i. 3.) To be without Christ is to be without hope, and without God. (Eph. ii. 12.) The Apostle Paul, while asserting the general vocation of men, saying, “Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord, shall be saved;” immediately adds, “How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?” (Rom. x. 14.) Invocation implies faith; faith implies knowledge; knowledge implies objective teaching. “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Verse 17.) There is no faith, therefore, where the gospel is not heard; and where there is no faith, there is no salvation. This is indeed an awful doctrine. But are not the words of our Lord also awful, “Wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat; because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it”? (Matt. vii. 13, 14.) Is not the fact awful which stares every man in the face, that the great majority even of those who hear the gospel reject its offers of mercy?"  Systematic Theology, Volume 2.  See page 622.

The evidence indicates that the early Church universally rejected with horror the idea of anybody who was not a born-again Christian being saved. Salvation was activated at conversion even before Church membership. This makes it plausible that when the Bible warns that those who do not believe in Christ will not be saved that it means just that. There is no evidence for a non-literal interpretation so it is unjustified. Christians may reject the non-literal interpretation but that is because the literal one is unpalatable and philosophically unsound. But their motives are dishonest and unjust for their book often diverts from logic.


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