Sunday, April 25, 2010

The True God and Eternal Life, Part 5

Heaven is an eternal, literal place of bliss for anyone who is in Christ. Jesus told the apostles before He was crucified, “In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also,” John 14:2-3. In Jesus’ great priestly prayer He prayed the Father, “I do not pray for these alone (the apostles), but also for those who will believe in Me through their word (all Christians through all time)…and the glory You have given Me I have given them…Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world,” John 17:20, 22, 24.

One must venture the question: where is Jesus? We know that He is at the right hand of the Father in Heaven (Mark 16:19; Luke 24:51; Acts 1:9; Hebrews 1:3, etc.). Because we know where the Author and Finisher of our faith resides we know the eternal destination of everyone who places his faith in Jesus Christ. Paul tells the church, “For our citizenship is in Heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,” Philippians 3:20. Later he wrote the Thessalonian church to tell them to comfort each other with such words as the fact that we shall be caught up to Christ, and always be with Him, 1st Thessalonians 4:17-18; 5:9-11. Since Scripture is for the mutual learning and comfort of the entire church (Romans 15:4), then this glorious inheritance applies to every believer.

Our need of a Savior who can do what mankind cannot quickly becomes evident. God is holy and just. He cannot allow sinners into Heaven without giving them life. In the Old Testament, anything dead was unclean and not to be touched, because it defiled you. We, as sinners, are dead in trespasses and sins, Ephesians 2:1; Colossians 2:13. God will not allow what is defiled into Heaven; He makes that abundantly clear. So our Substitute came, who paid the penalty for our sins, and satisfied God’s justice. The Bible is clear that Jesus Christ is our Savior. It’s also an interesting point to notice that God the Father is also named our Savior. Just a simple reading of 1st and 2nd Timothy and Titus reveal the title “God our Savior” some five times, “Jesus Christ our Savior” three times, with Jesus Christ named both God and Savior a fourth time, Titus 2:13. He is our great God and Savior, which Isaiah agreed with when he was inspired to write about the Child who would be: mighty God, everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. These are all names of Messiah, but equally names of God. The Child born unto Mary was indeed mighty God, and Son of Man, our great God and Savior. This is why Paul wrote that believers must attain, “all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ,” Colossians 2:2. The purpose of attaining to this understanding was so that believers would not be deceived by persuasive words, Colossians 2:4.

John wrote that anyone who denies that Jesus came in the flesh is not of God, 1st John 4:2-3. But what does this mean? Christians, Muslims, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Seventh Day Adventists etc, all believe Jesus Christ came in the flesh; yet only Christians believe that Jesus Christ is God the Son, second member of the Trinity and God our Savior. John is stating that anyone who denies that Jesus was not God come in the flesh is not of God. In the beginning was the Word…and the Word was God…and the Word became flesh, John 1:1, 14. See also 2nd John 1:9-11.

In our spiritual death, we are separated from God. To enter into eternity in such a state means we have entered the Second Death; i.e. eternal separation from our Creator. God says of the unjustified, “they are dead,” see 1st Timothy 5:6. An act of new-birth is necessary. Anyone unsaved has no spiritual life, for Christ is our life. To enter eternity without the new birth is to be separated eternally from God; they pass from spiritual death in this life, to spiritual death in the next life. Yet those who enter this sorry state will be able to reason, feel, know, etc. They will know that they have rejected life and chosen death, and their worm will not die, and the fire will not be quenched forever. Jude wrote a terrible warning for apostate teachers. He referred to such men as "twice dead" in his letter, Jude 1:12. Such men, having heard and rejected the gospel, are apparently already in the thrall of the second death as described in Revelation. All of the unsaved will be twice dead at some point, dying physically and then dying in the Lake of Fire, which is the second death, Revelation 20:6, 14. But for those teaching lies opposed to the gospel of grace, having heard and rejected it, they are already twice dead. Take heed.

Adam was sinless and innocent in Eden, and yet we learn that he willfully disobeyed the Lord, and ate of the fruit he was forbidden to, 1st Timothy 2:14. James reminds us succinctly that anyone trying to live by law, breaking one point, is guilty of all the law, and has become a transgressor, James 2:10-11. Religion tells us to be active and obedient, to serve and be found in God’s service. The Bible says to believe, and salvation is our present and eternal gift without works. To substitute work for faith is an effort to save oneself and demonstrate our ability to obey apart from the operation of God’s Spirit, in order to be accepted by Him. We anticipate that our efforts are somehow useful to God, and therefore salvation is the attainment of wages accrued, rather than a free gift given. Religion promotes what we do for God; the Bible declares what God has done for us! Works stem from the new-birth, out of love and from faith; they never precede salvation-they flow out of salvation’s accomplishment. Evasion of this basic doctrine births heresy, since we are informed that the simplicity of salvation by faith alone in Christ alone is a stumbling stone to the unsaved, 1st Corinthians 1:23; 1st Peter 2:8. "Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness," Romans 4:4-5.
To be Continued.

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