If merely believing in the existence of God provided one with a “ticket to Heaven,” then the devil, his demons, and the fallen angels could argue that they should be allowed to re-enter.
“You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder – James 2: 19 NASB.”
The Eph. 6: 12 forces of evil believe in the existence of the one true God, but “shudder” because they know that even though they believe in the existence of God, their eternal destiny is what the Bible calls the lake of fire (Rev. 20: 10). The eternal destiny of the devil and his forces was established before the human race was created. It was based on the choices the made during Phase One of the Angelical Conflict.
Old Testament souls were judged on the basis of their belief or disbelief in the existence of God coupled with their belief or disbelief in God's plan of salvation, to the extent that He and it had been revealed to them.
Like the angels before them, human souls can also believe in the existence of the God of the Bible, but can still end up sharing the same eternal location (Rev. 20: 15) as the devil and the fallen angels if they are not born again (John 3, 5, 7, 18, 36). As of the dispensation (period of time) of the Church Age, salvation and the location of one's eternal destiny is based on one's belief or disbelief in a presentation of the Gospel Message.
Accordingly, the devil and the forces of evil to do all they can to prevent a presentation of the true Gospel Message from taking place. It is a part of the diabolic strategy to create and/or to promote false Gospel Messages. False Gospel Messages have been in existence from the very beginning of the Church Age (2Pet. 2/Gal. 3), and continue to evolve and be promoted by the authors of religion. "Christian Religion" is no exception. A false Gospel Message is one that disputes, distorts , or adds to the true Gospel Message.
If and when a human soul chooses to believe in the true Gospel Message, he/she is then and there born again (John 3: 5, 7, 16. 18 and 36). The true Gospel Message involved much more than just the existence of God. The true Gospel Message identifies the Lord Jesus Christ as God the Son, and that through faith in the atoning Work that He accomplished while on the cross, one is born again and saved for all of eternity.
Orthodox Jews and Christians alike will concur that "the Father" being spoken of in such passages as John 14: 6 is making reference to God the Father. God the Father is one of three divine personalities that make up the ONE Godhead of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. When a human soul has secured a relationship with ONE, he/she has secured a relationship with all three. To reject ONE is to reject the divine Godhead (1John 2: 23).
The plurality (multiple persons) of the what theologians call the Trinity is clearly revealed in such passages as Gen. 1: 26 with the usage of the "Our" and "Us" pronouns.
The one and only way to secure a relationship with the "Godhead" of the Bible is by placing one's faith (trust and confidence) in the Person and the atoning Work of the Lord Jesus Christ (John 14: 6). The divine Person of the Lord Jesus Christ is God the Son. The atoning Work that the Lord Jesus Christ accomplished and finished (John 19: 30) while alive and suffering on the cross involved the shedding of His blood to make atonement for the world's sin debt (), and the spiritual death (separation from God the Father-Psalms 22: 1/) that He experienced in our place.
He did NOT say that His atoning work "would be" accomplished when He gave up His spirit and physically died. The atoning Work was finished (John 19: 30) on the cross before He physically died. The physical death of His humanity took place after His atoning work was finished (John 19: 30) in order to set the stage for His resurrection. His spirit that He gave up into the hands (control) of God the Father (Luke 23: 46) descended to Paradise (Luke 23: 43) until He was reunited with His body that was raised in resurrection form on Resurrection Sunday (Easter) three days later.
The true Gospel Message makes it clear that one is born again and forever saved by making a one time decision to believe (place one's full trust and confidence) in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ and the atoning Work that He accomplished while physically alive ON THE CROSS. God's complete plan of salvation called for our Lord's spiritual death (separation from God) while alive on the cross, and the physical death of the His humanity after His atoning Work was finished (John 19: 30).
The Person spoken of in the Gospel Message refers to the identity of the Lord Jesus Christ as being God the Son. The Work spoken of in the Gospel Message included the shedding of His atoning blood. The Work included His spiritual death. Spiritual death is NOT a state of nonexistence, but a state in which one exists while being separated from God. This was what was taking place as the Lord recited the 22nd Psalm while ON the cross (Matt. 27: 46). The Lord Jesus Christ was NOT asking God the Father "Why?". He knew full well why He was on the cross and for what reason. He experienced the spiritual death ON THE CROSS that we deserved so that all would believe would never experience spiritual death in the lake of fire (Rev. 20: 15).
The plan of God called for the physical death of His humanity AFTER He finished (John 19: 30) His work on the cross. The physical death of His humanity was for the purpose of setting the stage for His resurrection three days later. His bodily resurrection was "living" proof that the atoning Work that He had finished on the cross satisfied God the Father. Had He had not risen from the dead, then His work failed and the human race has no means to secure eternal life (1Cor. 15: 14).
"And if Christ has not be raised, then our preaching (of the Gospel Message) is in vain, your faith is also in vain (1Cor. 15: 14 NASB italics mine)."
The purpose for physical death is for the departure of our souls from planet Earth in order to enter the eternal state.
My prayer is that by this stage of this presentation, one can see the Gospel Message goes w-a-y beyond merely believing in the existence of God. One can easily believe that God exists, but fail to be born again. One can believe in the existence of God and remain spiritually dead by placing his/her confidence in his/her participation in religious rituals, religious activity, good behavior, and good deeds as the means to secure eternal life. The one and only cure for the spiritually dead condition in which Fallen Man comes into this world is to be born again.
Any "religious" practice, ritual, or teaching, that promote the need for participating in "religious" activity in order to obtain or retain eternal life is a false gospel message. The Church was repeatedly warned of false Gospels that would be found inside and outside of what we generally consider to be a part of the Christian Community. Many did not listen to the warnings then, and many do not listen to the same warnings now.
Like any successful counterfeit operation or deception, ithe products they promoted must appear to be genuine if it is going to be accepted. One of the indications that one understands the true Gospel Message is when he perceives the evil behind all the alternatives and additives that Man has added to the true Gospel Message in the name (authority) of religion.
Many ancient Jews acknowledged God the Father as being the God of the Bible, but rejected the claim of the Lord Jesus Christ as being God the Son. Rejecting the Lord Jesus Christ as being God the Son is what sends all those who hold that position to the lake of fire (Rev. 20: 15). The Gospel Message identifies the Person of the Lord Jesus as being God the Son, the God of the Bible, and the One who took on the form of humanity to provide the means of salvation by His atoning Work on the cross.
The souls of each dispensation are held accountable to the extent that God revealed Himself and His plan(s) to them. Adam, Eve, Noah, Abraham, Moses, and the Old Testament prophets had never heard of "Jesus (the) Christ," but were all saved on the basis of their full personal faith to the extent in which the plan of God had been disclosed to them during their time here on Earth.
As of the Church Age, God's complete plan of salvation and the type of belief that He requires has been made known in the Gospel Message. Anyone who knows the true Gospel Message can tell you that the type of belief that God requires goes beyond just believing in the existence of the God of the Bible.
No one will see the kingdom of God who is not born again (John 3: 5, 7, 18, 36). No one is born again until he/she believes in a presentation of the Gospel Message. We are born again and saved IF and when we believe in the atoning Work that God the Son, in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ, performed ON the cross. The answers to all the why's, when's, and where's questions are explained in the Gospel Message. This is why God made the proclaiming of the Gospel Message the work of the Church that He designed (Matt. 28: 20).
This is why the devil promotes all the false Gospel Messages (Gal. 1: 6, 7) that are inside and outside of what is commonly considered to be a part of the Christian Community. These false Gospel Messages include any teaching that disputes the deity (divine nature) of the Lord Jesus Christ, and/or adds or promotes the additional religious requirements/traditions of men as the means to either obtain or to retain salvation.
* * *
There is no doubt in the devil’s mind or in the minds of any of the fallen angels about the identity of who the one true God is., or of His existence. Prior to the angelic revolt, the individual we now know as the devil, and the ones we now refer to as fallen angels, lived, served (Ezekiel 28: 14), and worshiped the God of the Bible in the throne room of the 3rd Heaven! For them, Heaven is NOT a matter of faith, but one of fact and personal experience.
The issue of believing in the existence of the God of the Bible was not an issue with Adam or the woman (later named Eve) in the Garden. However after the Fall, the false concepts of atheism (Psalms 14: 1) false gods/false religions (Psalms 96: 5) were introduced to their descendants by the forces of evil It was after the Fall that Man became hostile (Romans 8: 7 NASB)," towards the God of the Bible, yet receptive to all the alternatives that the imagination of Man and the forces of evil would generate. God continued to place the concept of eternity in every soul that He created (Eccl. 3: 11), but fallen Man would try to satisfy the questions that this knowledge raised with the concepts of the false gods associated with the false religions.
Scripture teach that such "gods" (note the small "g") fall into two categories. One involves lifeless idols (Psalms 96: 5/Rev. 9: 20) that do not exist beyond the imagination of those who construct them. Such "gods" have no life. The other category involves demonic beings (1Tim. 4: 1/Rev. 9: 20). To the extent that God allows, these demonic beings do have a considerable amount of power and influence over those who choose to worship (Rev. 9: 20), interact, and/or collaborate with them.
The reality of demonic activity and demonic possession is clearly documented in Scripture (Matt. 8/Mark 5), but there are many physiological conditions and mental disorders that can generate the same overt activity and symptoms. No born again believer (having the Spirit of God indwelling their body (1Cor. 3; 16)) can be demonically possessed, but anyone can become demonically deceived (Gen. 3/Rev. 12: 9) and/or influenced (1 Timothy 4: 1) if they choose to open up their soul structures to the things that are "taught by demons (1Timothy 4: 1) and/or promoted by the devil's spokespersons (2Cor. 11: 14).
Well intending, but deceived human beings who have been "taken captive" and deceived by "religion," can unwittingly become blind guides leading the blind (Matt. 15: 14). The longer and more frequently the religious traditions of men (Matt. 15: 9)" are practiced, the sooner they becomes elevated to having equal status to Bible Doctrine. Just because something comes from a religious leader or any given pulpit does NOT necessarily mean that it has come from God.
An advancing disciple will follow the advice of Luke 8: 18 and the example of the ancient believers in Berea Acts 17: 11). Before accepting any "new" or "revised" guidance concerning spiritual issues, the believers in Berea sought the confirmation of Scripture. If the teachings of the Apostle Paul were held to such scrutiny in Berea, should we not do the same with what comes from the pulpits of our day?
At the end of the day, rather it involves something new (to us) being proposed, or something that has been a part of one's family religious traditions for generations, it is either in agreement with Scripture or it is not. Sincerely believing in something with all one's heart does not, in itself, make it true.
Spiritual ignorance is result of wilful disobedience to the command of 2 Pet. 3: 18 to grow in the knowledge of the Lord. Living a life of spiritual ignorance is the direct opposite of becoming a disciple. A disciple is a learner (2Pet. 3: 18) and a doer (James 1: 22) of the Word of God).
Here in the Church Age, spiritual ignorance is what elevates and promotes Christian Religion in the place of genuine Christianity. Christian religion is the nemesis of Christianity. Christian religion is all about what Church Age believers try to do (or have done by clergy) to secure and to retain a relationship withe God of the Bible, in order to secure the earthly and eternal blessings of God. Genuine Christianity is based on placing one faith (trust and confidence) in what God has done, God is doing, and what God will do for the people of faith.
Here in the Church Age, the people of faith are those who have been born again. Born again believers can be found inside and outside of the many different areas and varieties of Christian religion.
At the end of the day, it not only matters that one believes, but what it is that one believes (John 3: 18). To be born again, one must not only believe in the existence of the Godhead of the Bible (Father, Son, and Spirit) of the Bible to the exclusion of all others, but also to believe in His one and only plan of salvation (John 14: 6/John 3: 18, 36).
The devil and the forces of evil, promote the worship of Idols, false gods,and the false religions that accompany them. The devil promotes false religious concepts within the Christian Community (Gal. 3: 1/1Timothy 4: 1/ 2 Cor. 11:14, 15).
Because God has given "free-will" to the souls that He creates, the "competition" between the forces of good and evil are real and is the center of attention in all dispensations (periods of human history). Matt. 7: 13 and secular statistics concur that only the minority of each generation of Man will choose for God and the things of God during their appointed life span here on Earth. Scripture (Rev. 12: 9) speaks of the devil as one who deceives the whole world.
It matters NOT (to the devil) which one or how many of the false gods that anyone chooses to acknowledge and/or worship. In fact, he encourages all such activity knowing the end result that such activity will produce (Rev. 20: 15). It matters not (to the devil) how much Christian Religion one chooses to involved him/herself in, as long as it is the type of Christian Religion that one follows and/or promotes does not proclaim and promote the true Gospel Message.
ALL the rituals and activities associated with Christian Religion are meaningless if one has not been born again (John 3: 5, 7). It is only after one has been born again that he/she can see the falsehood associated with some of the rituals and the activities that Christian Religion has engineered and promotes.
This brings us to the main point of this presentation. What is the type of belief being spoken of in such passages as John 3: 16, 18, 36? As we have seen, it goes beyond simply acknowledging the existence of the God. The Jews of the Old Testament (e.g. Noah, Abraham, Jacob (Israel), Moses. David, the prophets, etc.) dispensation, prior to the incarnation of God the Son believed in the existence of God,. The ancient Jews were given the Old Testament prophecies concerning the coming Savior/Messiah, but most of the Jews in the days that the Lord physically walked among us failed to acknowledge God the Son in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ. Old Testament believers had never heard of "Jesus (the) Christ." Old Testament believers were judged on the basis of the amount of prophetic information that they had been provided with concerning the coming of a Savior and His part in God's plan of salvation.
As of the Church Age, salvation is secured by choosing to believe in a presentation of the Gospel Message. It is the Gospel Message that explains what it takes for Fallen Man to be reconciled with God through placing one's faith (trust and confidence) in the Person and the Work of the Lord Jesus Christ. Disbelief in the Gospel Message assures unbelievers of spending eternity in the lake of fire (Rev. 20: 15) just as much as belief in the Gospel Message assures believers of a home in Heaven (John 3: 16).
All of the rituals and activities associated with Christian Religion are meaningless if one is not first born again (John 3: 5, 7, 18)." This is where Christian Religion and Christianity part ways. There are many issues and activities that have much to do with the post salvation spiritual life, but NONE of them have anything to do with either obtaining or retaining salvation. The post salvation spiritual life does not even BEGIN until one is first born again by having made a decision to believe in Him (John 3: 16).
The fundamental truth of the God's plan of salvation is summed up in the single verse of Scripture that we know as John 3: 16. But to have a clear understanding of what it means to believe in Him, one needs to hear the complete Gospel Message. By doing so, one will clearly see that simply believing that the God of the Bible exists falls short of the type of belief that God's plan of salvation requires if one is to be saved.