Maybe you have friends who are falling for inclusionism. Maybe you are pastor or church leader having to deal with this problematic issue. I haven’t actually preached this, but it is a short sermon outline I have penned to refute inclusionism and call people to the need to believe and receive the good news, not just to get saved and to walk in the promises of God.
- Matthew 7:23 “And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” Let’s start with the words of Jesus Christ Himself. He is talking about the fact that at some point, some people will not enter Heaven. That’s the truth. Inclusionists say that no one will ever have to depart from Christ, but that is not what Jesus Christ Himself says. In dealing with inclusionism we must start at this point – some people will one day have to depart from Christ, and we must go to the words of Jesus, go to the Bible, and make sure that we are among those who do not have to depart, rather than just make up – against the words of Jesus Himself – a lie that no one will ever have to depart from Him. We have to agree with Jesus here. we cannot disagree.
- John 6.47 “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life” So, in making sure that we are not in the group of people who depart from Jesus, we go to the words of Jesus. Jesus starts this verse by letting us know that He is telling us the truth. The way to have everlasting life is not to find out that God forced it on us, but to believe in Him, to put our faith and trust in Jesus! That is the pathway to salvation. We are not saved by works, we are not saved by doing nothing either. We are saved by grace through faith. We have to believe. It’s that simple, Jesus said it and that’s the truth.
- Romans 1.16 “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek” Unsurprisingly Paul agrees with Jesus! The good news is the proclamation of Christ that has power to save us when – and only when – we believe it. The gospel is not the announcement of a God who has set us free whether we like it or not – it is the announcement of freedom paid in full and all we need to do is believe. Notice that both Jews and Gentiles have to believe! The path of salvation and the principle that we must believe the gospel to receive the power of the good news is universal to every single human, no matter their past or background.
- Hebrews 4.2 “For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.” Look at how strongly it is preached here – the gospel does not benefit everyone! It only benefits those who believe it, who put their faith in it. The idea that everyone is included before they believe holds zero weight when it comes to the Scripture. There are precisely zero benefits to a gospel that is not mixed with faith. And that is the clear teaching of Scripture.
- 2 Cor. 6.14 “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers.” One of the mandates of the New Testament is that we do not yoke together with unbelievers. That makes no sense in an inclusionist world. Why does believing or not believing matter? Why does it matter unless believing saved us and puts us in the place where we are going a whole new direction. No inclusionist has discussed this or thought through the moral implications that faith has no role in salvation or obtaining anything from God!
- 1 John 3.15 “Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him.” Just want to bring John into the mix here as well. John points out here that there are people – unbelievers – who have no eternal life inside them. That is exactly the opposite of what inclusionists teach. Inclusionism teaches we are all born born again, we all have eternal life and we are all saved from the beginning. But John deals with this head on and points out some people do not have eternal life inside them. This verse also builds on what we said about 2 Cor. 6.14, there is a way to live as a Christian, and the way and power to live that way comes from believing. Believing and receiving is how the whole kingdom of God works. To eliminate faith from the Scriptures butchers the entire New Testament. To say that everyone has eternal life contradicts Jesus, Paul and John. It leaves us without a moral framework, without a way to live and without a way to conquer, without a way to reach others and help them receive eternal life. Rather it weakly proclaims to a murderer – ignore the Bible, ignore that you just murdered someone, ignore all the hate in your heart – you honesty, really, truly, have eternal life. It’s nonsensical and unbiblical, but people still proclaim this!
- Romans 3.22 “even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:” There are so many Scriptures that could be put in place to finish this message, because the necessity of faith in God’s promises is all over the New Covenant, from Galatians, to Hebrews – which has a whole chapter on how people change the world “by faith” – but I wanted to wrap up with this verse from Romans, because it doesn’t just refute inclusionism, it helps us all understand the heart of the good news.
We were not born “born again”, we were not born righteous, we were not born right with God. We were born in sin. We needed a way to gain righteous not just so we can get into Heaven and not have to depart from Jesus, but so that we can pray and get those prayers answered, so we can enjoy the grace and mercy and blessings of God every day. So the power of salvation can flow through us and into this world. We are not automatically righteous and we cannot behave our way into righteousness. But because of God’s goodness and because of the work of the cross, righteousness is freely available. It is there for all of us, but it is not forced on any of us. It is unto those who believe. Anyone who believes can receive the righteousness of God. Anyone. But if you do not believe, it is not forced on you.
If you are a believer today, you are now as righteous as Jesus. You have the righteousness of God. It was a gift from Him! Your believing in Jesus opened the door to Him to be able to freely give you the same righteousness that He had on the earth. You can approach God without fear, without shame, without any sense of being second best. How wonderful! How glorious! But you have to believe to receive. You can believe and receive, or you can doubt and do without. God is love and love does not force salvation on anyone without consent. But all you need to do is believe and that belief gives God the consent to transform your spirit from sin to righteousness and pour His eternal life in you. It’s that simple!