A Question I Was Asked:

Is a Warm Association with a True Believer Enough to Save One?


The Question:

I've had a friend who has been taught in the past that you can get to heaven by "association," presumably meaning a partner who believes in Christ, therefore they will be able to get to heaven too. He claims he has been taught in his past both ways, grace through faith by ones own mouth, and the association concept. I believe everyone must make the confession and choice. He says that he is not sure but doesn't want to be left out. I believe each person has to make that choice himself/herself. I have never believed I would get to heaven riding on somebody else's back.

UK Apologetics Reply:

You are basically correct on this; we must all make our own decisions for Christ and we cannot be saved by riding into heaven on somebody else's back! [That is, if we live in a time and place where the Name of Christ may be known and where He may be appropriated]. Of course, it is God Himself Who actually calls, however it may appear to us.

Maybe this 'association' idea comes from this Scripture:

41. Whoever welcomes a prophet as a prophet will receive a prophet's reward, and whoever welcomes a righteous person as a righteous person will receive a righteous person's reward.
42. And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward. (Matthew 10: 41-42).

This is teaching the principle that people can gain blessings for themselves by being kind, warm and considerate to true believers. We also see the same thing in the Old Testament where the nations which helped and assisted Israel brought blessings upon themselves but those which persecuted Israel brought stern judgment to their door. However, in the New Testament, I don't think this is going as far as to say that certain ones don't need to make a personal decision where they are fully able to do so; this would seem to go beyond what this Scripture is saying, yet God may well be more prepared to be more merciful to them in a general sense. This Scripture could also be stating that such people behave in this wholly decent manner because of the Christ Who is already within them because of their divine election (in which case they very soon will make a personal confession and commitment to the Faith).

Notice Philippians 2:

10. ...at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11. and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
12. Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed - not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence - continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, (NIV).

How can we be 'working out our own salvation with fear and trembling' if we are attempting to ride into heaven on somebody's shirt tails? 'Every tongue' confessing Christ also does not sound like 'salvation by mere association.'

Then there is Galatians 6:

4. But let every man put to the proof his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.
5. For every man shall bear his own burden.
6. Let him that is taught in the Word share with him that teacheth, in all good things.
7. Be not deceived, God is not mocked; for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.
8. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. (NKJV).

Then there is Romans 10:

9. If you declare with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
10. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.
11. As Scripture says, "Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame."
12. For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile - the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him,
13. for, "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." (NIV).

Again, this shows that those who will be saved during this present age must individually confess and profess Christ where His Name may be known. Of course, all of this presumes that one lives in a time and place where knowlege of Christ and His Gospel is freely available and has not been suppressed. Ignorance, of course, is a different matter but we are not discussing genuine ignorance here, but the concept that one may know of Christ and of His claims but is free to avoid making a personal decision in the highly questionable belief that a warm association with a true believer may be sufficient for salvation.
Robin A. Brace. September 30th, 2011.