One of the saddest things I encounter is people who say they're Christians, but who seem to think that whatever Jesus said isn't as important as what Paul said. I know why they do that. It's because lots of people who claim to be Christians are really followers of whatever denomination they're attached to. And instead of filtering their denominational theology through the lens of Jesus' words, they tend to filter Jesus' words through the lens of their denominational beliefs.
I'm often amazed by people who are forced to compare their beliefs with what Jesus actually said. They get flustered when you confront them with what Jesus actually said regarding one of their denominational beliefs.
For instance, the "once saved always saved" people are often stumped and don't know what to say when you point out some of the things that Jesus actually said about that man-made doctrine.
I call that doctrine man-made because there's no actual biblical argument, passages or verses that teach that. Instead, supporters proof-text the Word of God looking for verses they believe supports their belief while ignoring the context of the passages they pull verses out of. But they tend to overlook what Jesus actually said on the topic.
Here's something Jesus actually said that clearly contradicts that teaching.
And ye shall be hated of all [men] for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.
Who will be saved, according to Jesus? Anyone who endures to the end of their earthly lives, following Him. What happens if you don't endure to the end? Will you still be saved because of "once saved always saved" (OSAS)? Not according to Jesus, and His "words shall not pass away."
But Jesus said more about this subject that should cause any true follower of Jesus to stop and think. Look at the following passage (I'll include the whole passage for context but I'll highlight verses several portions.)
1) I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.
2) Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every [branch] that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.
3) Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.
4) Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.
5) I am the vine, ye [are] the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.
6) If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast [them] into the fire, and they are burned.
7) If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.
8) Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.
In this beautiful passage, Jesus explains the relationship that we can have with Him and His Father. And though He's not mentioned by name, it's clear the Holy Spirit is also present as the life-giving force that flows through the Vine and into the branches. Without His presence, we'll have problems.
Jesus explains that it's vital for believers to maintain their relationship within the vine. In verse six Jesus tells us what happens when someone chooses not to "abide" or remain in the Vine. They're cast forth and withered and ultimately cast into the fire and are burned. Who does the casting out? The Husbandman or Vinedresser, obviously.
While pointing this out to someone who believes in OSAS, he was completely stumped. All he could say was, "They're still branches aren't they?" Dead branches, maybe, but not even that. Once they're cast into the fire and burned, they're just ashes. A pile of dead ashes is not a living branch. And that leads to verse eight.
The Father is glorified when we bear much fruit. But if a branch is cast forth from the vine, it can no longer bear fruit. If you have no fruit, how can that glorify the Father? It can't. Obviously.
Then there's the belief that if we think we must do anything more than just "believe" then somehow that makes us heretics. I found one "Christian" web site that claims it's a "hellish doctrine found nowhere in the Scriptures" to say we must turn from our sins if we want to be saved. They then go on to claim that Paul said we must "believe" only. If we do anything other than "believe" then we're teaching "works salvation." They even go so far as to claim that we're saved by grace alone "through faith alone." Yes, we're saved by grace, that's clear. But the idea that it's through "faith alone" meaning "believing" only with no change of behavior on our part is complete nonsense. God's Word teaches no such thing. James said that faith without works is dead faith and incapable of saving anyone (James 2:14-18).
Another well known Christian site states that if we think we must turn away from our sins, then we're really turning to the Law. Again, this is complete and utter nonsense. And it's easy to see that it's nonsense simply by going to Jesus.
21) Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
Here Jesus clearly tells us that simply saying you "believe" -- "Lord, Lord" -- is not enough. Instead, it's about "doing the will" of the Father. Doing. In other words, obedience to what He calls us to. No obedience, no belief.
Another statement by Jesus is even more emphatic.
46) And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?
Here Jesus tells us that if we refuse to obey Him then clearly He isn't our Lord. Again, obedience is what He's looking for, not answers to some theological quiz. In fact, true belief and obedience go hand-in-hand. Jesus makes this clear in a short parable He told to some Pharisees.
28) But what think ye? A [certain] man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work to day in my vineyard.
29) He answered and said, I will not: but afterward he repented, and went.
30) And he came to the second, and said likewise. And he answered and said, I [go], sir: and went not.
31) Whether of them twain did the will of [his] father? They say unto him, The first. Jesus saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you.
32) For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not: but the publicans and the harlots believed him: and ye, when ye had seen [it], repented not afterward, that ye might believe him.
Here the message is so obvious that you would have to close your eyes or ignore it to miss the meaning. The first son tells his father that he won't go into the vineyard as requested, "but afterward he repented, and went." The second son tells his father he'll go but doesn't. Then Jesus asks the obvious question in verse 31: which of the two "did the will of his father?"
Obviously, it was the one who didn't just say the right thing but the one who did the right thing. Then Jesus connects some dots for us in verse 32. He connects belief with repentance and obedience. He also explains that the lack of repentance connected to obedience indicated the lack of belief. There's no way to deny it. And why would we? We claim to follow Jesus so we should be obedient to Him. Shouldn't we?
But that's why so many denominational folks seem to spend more time dissecting Paul's statements rather than dealing with what Jesus actually said. But we must view all of Scripture through the lens of what Jesus said. When we do, we'll see that Paul and all the other writers of Scripture were in agreement with what Jesus taught.
One of the reasons that Jesus' words will not pass away is because what He said was exactly what His Father told him to say. God's Words are forever enshrined in Heaven (Psalm 119:89). Look at what Jesus said about this:
48) He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.
49) For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak.
50) And I know that his commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak.
Jesus tells us exactly what the Father said He should say. So how can we ignore Him? And if we do ignore Him, what does that really say about our belief in Him? And God the Father Himself?
Earlier I mentioned a "Christian" site that calls it a "hellish doctrine" to say that we must turn from sins to be saved. If I could talk to the people who run that site, I'd ask them if Jesus was "hellish" when He said the following to a couple sinners:
14) Afterward Jesus findeth him in the temple, and said unto him, Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee.
10) When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?
11) She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.
"Sin no more." That's a command from Jesus, not a suggestion. That means we need to stop sinning because Jesus said we must. You can't deny these obvious statements without suffering the consequences explained in John 15:6.
Let's take a quick look at the last few verses from the Sermon On The Mount. Here Jesus contrasts the person who hears his sayings and obeys them with the person who hears his saying and doesn't obey them. The obedient hearer has nothing to fear. The disobedient hearer, well, it's not good.
24) Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:
25) And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.
26) And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand:
27) And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.
Hopefully, you're getting the point that what Jesus tells us in the Scriptures is what we must embrace. We need to understand all the rest of Scripture based on how Jesus reveals it to us. Then, we're supposed to take these same teachings of Jesus and pass them on to other believers who should then pass them on to other believers and on and on. That's what Jesus commanded in "The Great Commission."
18) And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
19) Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
20) Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, [even] unto the end of the world. Amen.
See that highlighted section of verse 20? Jesus told His disciples to teach new believers to "observe all things whatsoever [He] commanded [them]." That would include the final command mentioned here in verse 20. That means Jesus intended His followers to pass on what He commanded them through every generation of Believers. Those who obey are those who believe and love Him. Those who don't obey are merely deluding themselves. That's what Jesus Himself said:
15) If ye love me, keep my commandments.
16) And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;
17) [Even] the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.
18) I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.
19) Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also.
20) At that day ye shall know that I [am] in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you.
21) He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.
22) Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world?
23) Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.
24) He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's which sent me.
Finally, let's hear what the Father has to say about Jesus.
7) And there was a cloud that overshadowed them: and a voice came out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son: hear him.
So what will you do with Jesus' words?