"... the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life ..." "... by grace are ye saved ..."- - Romans 6:23; Ephesians 2:8
We get the point. Salvation from the death sentence is God’s gift, because God sent his own son to bear the death penalty for man. (John 3:16) But doesn’t salvation require the cooperation of the individual?
Yes. For instance, the exercise of faith is essential. "... if we believe on him ... being justified by faith ..." "... the just shall live by faith." - - Romans 4:24; 5:10; Gal 3:11
And the Apostle James shows that the sincerity of our faith must be demonstrated by our efforts at good works. This is why he says, "... by works a man is justified, and not by faith only." (James 2:24) This does not mean that God requires perfect works- - Paul shows that we are not capable of that. (Romans 3:20; 2:16, 3:11) But it does mean that we must try as much as possible to do those things that God would be pleased with. "Faith without works is dead." - - James 2:26
During this age ...
God is not dealing with the world in general. He is preparing the Church class for a glorious reward. They are to be joined with Christ Jesus, and to share both his throne of dominion and his very nature- - the divine nature. (Acts 15:4; Room. 2:7) But before any will be raised to such a position of glory and honor, God wishes to see a character crystallized in earnest loyalty. Of Jesus it was written, "Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered ..." ( Hebrews 5:8) Each of Christ’s followers are also to have their obedience proved. We are to search our minds and hearts to see that they are kept in a proper attitude of devotion. The Apostle John said: "Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward." - - 2 John 8
One inference of this counsel is that some will receive less than the full reward of divine nature. Some will be "overcharged with the cares of this life." Some will carelessly build with "wood, hay and stubble" rather than "gold, silver, and precious stones." (1 Corinthians 3:15) But if their hearts are loyal, God will still care for these. "If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire." (1 Corinthians 3:12) For some this will mean deliverance "unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus." - - 1 Corinthians 5:5
Some will fall.
From other scriptures we learn that it is possible for some to come to a knowledge of the Lord, and then to willfully neglect the favor of God and become estranged from Him. To express and exercise faith in Him, and later to lose it. To receive a standing before God through faith in the blood of Jesus, and to fall. The vital, living and quickening faith of a
believer can turn sour. Thus, the warning of Hebrews 10:38: "Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him ..." Jesus said, "No man having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God." - - Luke 9:62 The condition of heart that would completely turn from God after having believed and received of the Holy Spirit, would make future repentance impossible. Read carefully Paul’s words in Hebrews 6:4- 6: "For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted of the good word of God, and the powers of the world to
come, if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance ..." The warning of Hebrews 10:29 is to those who have at one time been sanctified.
"Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?"
This condition, though infrequent, is nevertheless a real danger. What of such?
The Apostle Peter, in chapter two of his second epistle, speaking of such a class, says: "... if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning." (2 Peter 2:20) These, he says, "have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam ... who loved the wages of unrighteousness." - - 2 Peter 2:15
Peter says that for them "the mist of darkness (the oblivion of death) is reserved for ever." (2 Peter 2:17) "... these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, ... shall utterly perish in their own corruption."
- - 2 Peter 2:12
How can this be?
Doesn’t Romans 8:35- 39 teach that nothing and nobody can "separate us from the love of God"? True, none of the distresses which he mentions there can separate us- - but we can separate ourselves by an attitude of
faithlessness and carelessness leading to heart disloyalty and rebellion. Paul’s discussion is intended to be an assurance to all who will keep their hearts. Even the Apostle Paul himself said, "But I keep under my body,
and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway." (1 Corinthians 9:27) See Romans 11:21.
In addition to these warnings, we have instruction to "Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life." (Proverbs 4:23) And Paul speaks of those "... who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory, honor, and immortality. ..." ( Romans 2:7) For, in the full sense, "He that endureth to the end shall be saved." - - Matthew 10:22;
Faithful unto death
Jesus forewarned that the battle of a Christian would not be easy. The world will taunt and je er. "If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household?" (Matthew 10:25) "And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake ..." ( Matthew 10:22) From our own flesh will come difficult
enticements of pride and lust. (Romans 7:18- 24) And Satan, as a "roaring lion" (1 Peter 5:8), will at every opportunity seek to make shipwreck of our faith.
Love for the Lord, and appreciation of the great price that secures our redemption, will inspire our devotion. Only such love will hold fast to the promise, "Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life." (Revelation 2:10) BUT, "Hold fast that which thou hast, that no man take thy crown ..."- - Revelation 3:11
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