What Does It Take?

Concerning the American peoples' last President, Ronald Reagan, a reader made this comment:

Not sure we would agree so much with him on his religious beliefs or statement of faith, but the fact that he was a God fearing man, speaks volumes in every other way.

His "religious beliefs?"

What's it take for a man to be a born again child of the Living God?

Jesus told us that all it takes is believing in Him as the Christ (John 6:47). That we believe in He who took upon Himself the sin debt of all mankind and by His suffering, death and resurrection not only paid that debt for those then alive or dead, but also for all those yet to be birthed.

In John 5:24 He told us that those who believe in Him will not come under condemnation.

I have read through the Bible a couple of times and through the New Testament a greater number of times and nowhere in my Bible reading, in a variety of translations, did I come across a declaration that something more than simple faith was required of any man. No mention of obligated service or works, no absolute requirement to attend worship services or pot-luck suppers every Sunday and Wednesday. No mention that a person who does not belong to the "proper" church or read the "proper" Bible (or any Bible at all) cannot be saved. No mention that to remain a blood-bought child of God one must live a decent and upright life according to whatever arbitrary standards someone or some church might establish. Nowhere have I read that a person, once born again, will ever forfeit his privileged status before the throne of God even should he live a desolute life after his regeneration.

All God asks is that we believe, truly believe, in Jesus Christ as the Son of the Living God who by His suffering, death and resurrection cleared our way to be entered into the Body of Christ - once and for always.

And I have read nowhere in Scripture that even one who may somehow stop believing is no longer saved. I believe it no more possible to be unborn again than it is possible for a person to be unborn from his mother's womb. Regeneration and Saving Faith are gifts from our Heavenly Father and cannot be lost or returned once they are received.

I do not believe, as do some in Romish and pseudo-Christian churches, that the gifts of regeneration and salvation conferred as sovereign acts of God are sometime conditions that one might lose or abrogate. Unless Jesus was a liar when He said such things as we read in John 5:24, or John 3:16-19, the saved state is a permanent condition.

I find nothing in Scripture that says a person must worship in a particular church or denomination. When Jesus the Christ was immolated, there were NO Christian churches, nothing more than a few thousands of believers, if that many. Churches, cults and denominations are the works of man, not of God. They have come into existence as a consequence of men having "discovered" something in Scripture that no one before them had recognized. So how is it now that some might declare that unless one is Catholic, or Presbyterian, or Southern Baptist or Four-Square Pentecostal or whatever he cannot be saved or that he will fall from grace and his salvation will be withdrawn? These are thoughts of men, not of God.

Those who have known me or my writings over the years must know that I have always maintained that true saints, true born again believers, might be found even in the pews of Catholic or other denominational churches. Our salvation depends on saving faith, not conforming to the Heidleberg Confession or the Code of Canon Law.

I have found that it is not at all unusual for some people to believe that their understanding of saving faith and their way of exercising whatever kind of faith they may have are the only ways that God approves of. This is not soteriology, it is the personal opinion of sinful mankind.

Certainly, we have seen people whose religious values are not in keeping with what we understand to be Christian and we removed them from our presence, condemning them as heretics or pagans. As you know, I am quick to do that with such folk, because I believe that what they post and do conflicts with our broad understanding of what Scripture teaches. There is a danger, I believe, that the activities of such persons at forums such as this one, are not only disruptive but also may create confusion or tension in the minds of others who are seeking to find and stay on the narrow path.

Even so, I do not believe that it is possible for me or any of us to know the eternal state of another. I might label someone or some denomination as heretic, but that is  only my opinon of what they say and do and cannot be understood to mean that everyone affiliated with that group is under condemnation. Only God can read the heart and it will be only when we all stand before the Great White Throne that we will come to know the true state of anyone, including ourselves.

I have been blessed to know a few people that I considered to be "good" people, but who never claimed to believe it God. And I have known, and shared a few years of my life with people of the most disreputable class imaginable, yet I do not doubt that, perhaps, some of them had at one time received the gifts of regeneration and saving faith.

I say again that all God requires is true faith, everything else is topping on the cake. I believe that no one once saved can ever be unsaved, no matter how he lives or believes after that moment, for the gift of salvation is irrevocable, unless Jesus of Nazareth was  only a smooth talking charlatan.


From: "Ronald Reagan Facts" page on the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Library website

Although raised in his mother's Disciples of Christ denomination, beginning in 1963 Reagan generally attended Presbyterian church services at Bel-Air Presbyterian Church, Bel-Air, California. He became an official member of Bel-Air Presbyterian after leaving the Presidency. In addition, Reagan stated that he considered himself a "born-again Christian."


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