TPM’s teaching on salvation is similar to the Roman Catholic version in its structure. The only difference is what the steps of salvation entails. In the RCC, there are 7 sacraments namely Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist, Penance, Anointing of the Sick, Matrimony, and Holy Orders, whereby Catholics are said to receive grace by these means. After Baptism and Confirmation, a Catholic is to “eat the body and blood of Christ” literally at the communion (Eucharist) to receive grace. If a Catholic commits a sin, he is to confess to a priest and the priest will “forgive him” and give him a list of penance (usually a certain number of “Hail Marys” and “Our Fathers”). The aim of a catholic is to strive to live a sinless life and gain grace by the means of works and faith.
Martin Luther was once a Catholic Priest. As a young priest, he was climbing the Scala Sancta (This is a relic of 28 steps on which Jesus supposedly walked on during his trial. Catholics believe climbing this stair in a certain way reduced their time in purgatory). As young Luther was climbing this stair, he heard a voice like thunder that said “The just shall life by faith”. God made this a turning point in his life and the rest is history.
The reformation began in the year 1517. This year marks the 500th anniversary of the reformation, which was a cry to go back to scripture as the sole basis for doctrine. Sadly, 500 years since, we find many denominations trapped in a false gospel of salvation by works and TPM is one among them.
TPM’s Salvation Plan vs Scripture
When we look at TPM’s teaching on salvation, what do we find? TPM says we have to pass through seven steps to attain the “perfect salvation”,
- Water baptism
- Baptism of the Holy Spirit
- Divine healing
- Entire sanctification
“We have to pass through seven steps to attain the perfect salvation, i.e., conversion, water baptism, baptism of the Holy Spirit, separation, divine healing, entire sanctification, and perfection. Every step brings us to a particular experience.” (Voice of Pentecost, October 1991)
I don’t have much to say about step 1 to 3, except that 2 and 3 (baptism and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit) are what follows after a person is born again and not “steps” towards it. Let’s us focus on step #4 to #7. Any honest TPM believer will know what that entails. These steps according to TPM means to be separated from every other denomination, cut out ties with unbelievers, stop consuming medicine, throw away the television, stop listening to music, attend all possible church meetings, tithe, follow all the commandments, practice sinless living., etc. This list can go on and on. Basically, according to TPM you finally achieve separation, sanctification, and perfection by following every single doctrine and rules of TPM to the letter.
Folks, this is what salvation by “faith + works” looks like. These 7 steps are filled with a mixture of biblical and human commands where you struggle by your own efforts to reach a standard set up by a denomination. Fair enough, a little credit is given to God by saying we did those works by “God’s grace”, but that’s works nevertheless. A TPM believer has to do one work after another to save himself. If he misses one, he loses his salvation. Scripture says we are saved by grace through faith in such a way that there is not even a possibility that we could boast. TPM’s plan of salvation gives all the reason to boast and therefore is unbiblical. Moreover, we have a perfect God. If he saves anyone, he saves them perfectly. There is no question about that. We must never forget that salvation is ultimately for God’s glory.
What does scripture say?
“Therefore He is able also to save forever (completely, perfectly, for eternity) those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to intercede and intervene on their behalf [with God].” (Hebrews 7:25)
“For it is by grace [God’s remarkable compassion and favor drawing you to Christ] that you have been saved [actually delivered from judgment and given eternal life] through faith. And this [salvation] is not of yourselves [not through your own effort], but it is the [undeserved, gracious] gift of God; not as a result of [your] works [nor your attempts to keep the Law], so that no one will [be able to] boast or take credit in any way [for his salvation].” (Ephesians 2:8,9 AMP)
“And the jailer called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas. Then he brought them out and said, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’ And they said, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.’” (Acts 16:29-31)
“Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?’ She said to him, ‘Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.’” (John 11:25-27)
How Are We Made Righteous? – TPM Installment Plan vs Scripture
TPM’s understanding of how we are made righteous is laid bare in the book titled “God’s Eternal Purpose for Man”. In chapter 22, it says
“By receiving the fullness of righteousness of God alone, we can meet the Lord in the most holy place. For example, let us suppose that one goes to a shop and purchases a car worth Rs. 4 lakhs. When he pays an advance of Rs. 1 lakh, he receives the car on certain terms and conditions. By paying Rs. 1 lakh, he gets a vehicle costing Rs. 4 lakhs. But it is not his own. Still, he has full right to use it. On the one hand, he says, the vehicle is his own. It is not wrong either. However, by the terms of the agreement he made with that shop, the vehicle becomes his own only if he pays monthly installments of Rs. 10,0000 for 30 months. If he fails to pay but one installment, the vehicle will be forfeited even though he may have paid Rs. 4 lakhs. Just because he fails to pay one installment, he not only loses Rs. 4 lakhs, but the vehicle too is taken away. If one has to be so careful to fulfill such conditions when buying a car, how much more careful we should be to receive the measure of the righteousness of God and make it our own!” (God’s Eternal Purpose For Man, Page 144)
The chapter goes on to mention the 7 “installments” whereby we receive God’s righteousness
- New Birth
- Water Baptism
- Baptism of the Holy Spirit
- Divine Healing
- Life of consecration
- Perfect holiness
- Being preserved in victorious living by faith
There you have it. TPM says we receive righteousness step by step partly by our own works. Each step is considered a “payment” to God so that he gives his righteousness in exchange. And if you miss even one of those seven steps you forfeit it all. If you are a TPM believer, spend a little time thinking about those 7 steps and what is involved in completing these 7 steps. Doesn’t hundreds of rules set by TPM come to mind? You get a little righteousness when you refuse to take medicine and decide God has to heal you a certain way. Life of consecration and holiness involves following all the rules set forth by TPM and following every doctrine of TPM.
Scripture says we are made righteous by faith apart from the law, i.e apart from following a list of dos and don’ts. We receive righteousness by faith. Romans 4 explains how righteousness was credited to Abraham, the father of our faith, before he performed even a single work. Abraham believed and God credited righteousness for his faith.
“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Cor 5:21)
“But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it—the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,” (Romans 3:21-24)
“For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? ‘Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.’ Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness” (Romans 4:2-5)
“Just as Abraham ‘believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness’? Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, ‘In you shall all the nations be blessed.’ So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.” (Galatians 3:6-9)
One staunch TPM believer said only TPM has the right gospel and other denominations don’t. This kind of thinking is reinforced in most sermons and repeated a million times so that believers think this is true even without checking the scriptures to see if what TPM teaches is true. Our intention is not to ruin your faith, but to encourage you to set your faith in God, rather than a denomination. I encourage you to read the book of Romans, Ephesians and Galatians without a TPM lens. You will get a sound understanding of God’s faithfulness, how he justifies a believer by faith and how ultimately all this for the God’s glory. Our God is a faithful God and so you can trust him to take you to the end. Stop depending on your works to save yourself. Simply believe in Jesus. Do good works as a response to God’s love, not to save yourself. And remember ‘to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness’.