In almost every endeavor of mankind, there is an attempt to save time, effort and money by taking shortcuts. Even in education, there have been shortcuts made in math and other subjects to the advantage of the students. Not all shortcuts are as advertised, particularly in travel. The shortcut may be shorter, but it may take longer to reach the destination. Therefore, we must be alert to the fact that shortcuts may not be shortcuts.
The path to heaven has been charted by God through what is written in the bible. Man has tried to take shortcuts by eliminating various steps in the plan that God has prescribed. A note in some instructions to ministers said that they were to “preach the gospel”as written in Mark 16:15. That was a true statement, but it was a shortcut. The verse says that they are to preach the gospel but the rest of the command is in verse 16,“He that believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.”
This shortcut that omits baptism is very popular among many churches because it is very convenient, and they point out various scriptures that speak about faith and grace saving one’s soul. One common question is, “have you been born again?” If one answers no, then the usual method of a new birth is expressing a belief in Christ and accepting Him as your Savior.
Ignored in the above example is the teaching of Jesus when he explained the new birth to Nicodemus in John 3:5, “I say to you that unless one is born of the water and the Spirit he cannot enter the kingdom of God.”The ‘kingdom’ in other places in the New Testament is said to be the church. Hence, one must be baptized in water by the authority of God the Father, God the Son and the Holy Spirit.
A common practice in some religious groups is called “praying through.” This means that one can gain salvation through prayer. When we read the account of Paul’s conversion, he prayed for three days but when Ananias went to Paul, he said, “And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16).A shortcut many take is that they omit the first part of the verse about baptism washing away sins and go to “calling on the name of the Lord.”
The “sinner’s prayer” in various forms is taught by many churches. In this prayer the one seeking salvation admits that they are a sinner and recites that they believe in Jesus and accept Him as their Savior. The one teaching the person will normally tell them that based upon that statement they are saved. This is a very dangerous shortcut because it omits the new birth process that Jesus taught to Nicodemus and Paul went through.
There are various religions in the world that completely by- pass Jesus in the salvation process. In Acts 4:12, Peter told the rulers of the Jews that there is no other name than Jesus whereby one may be saved. This is a statement that excludes salvation in any other religion than one that teaches salvation through Jesus.
Is it possible that when Jesus taught that He was the door to the sheepfold that there were those who would enter in by “climbing up another way is a thief and a robber”He is talking about those religions who do not accept Jesus as the Savior (John 10:1)? Matthew 10:33,“But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.” These are the words of Jesus that were recorded by Matthew under the direction or inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
As a final word on shortcuts, conversions in the book of Acts include acceptance of Jesus as Savior and baptism by immersion. Any shortcut that eliminates this is very dangerous.