The Gospel, English, p. 17
Luke 13:1-5 tells of a tower in Jerusalem that collapsed and killed 18 people. The Jewish mind searched for an answer for this tragedy. They realized that only God can know the secret thoughts and deeds of another man. Perhaps then, they reasoned, those 18 persons on whom the tower of Siloam fell were actually the 18 worst sinners in all Jerusalem. God could have gathered them together at the appointed time and place to execute his righteous judgment. This however would mean that only the very worst sinners are worthy of God’s judgment. The rest of Jerusalem (those who had not been killed by the falling tower) had apparently led good enough lives that they were not under God’s judgment. To believe this sort of reasoning, however, is to believe that salvation is earned by the works of the law. Jesus warned those who believed this way that they were facing eternal condemnation. He commanded them to repent – – to abandon all hope of securing a right standing before God by the works of the law, and trust in God alone for their salvation.
In Hebrews 9:9-14 the Bible calls sacraments or religious rituals through which men try to reach God “dead works.” A few chapters earlier, the same author tells us in Hebrews 6:1 that the “foundation” of the Christian faith is “repentance from dead works and faith towards God.” That is to say, one must stop trusting in “dead works” (i.e. religious rituals, sacraments, etc.) before he can exercise a genuine saving faith in God.
The Biblical command is clear. If a man believes that his religion will get him into heaven, he must repent, (Matthew 3:7-9). If he believes that obeying the laws of God are necessary to get him into heaven, he must repent (Luke 13:1-5). And if he believes that he must perform some religious ritual or sacrament to be saved, he must repent, and stop trusting in any of those things to save him (Hebrews 6:1). Like the person on page 14, he must put his “money” back in his pocket and accept eternal life as a free gift!
Faith in Jesus will not save you if, while believing that Jesus died for your sins, you also believe that you must be baptized, go to church, or obey the Ten Commandments to “help” get you into heaven. You cannot simply add Jesus to a long list of other things that you must do or be to get to heaven. You must utterly reject all of those other things as having no saving value whatsoever and trust in Jesus Christ alone.