Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The True God and Eternal Life, Part 7

The Pharisees asked a very reasonable question in their time: “Who can forgive sins but God alone?” Mark 2:7. Yet Jesus could and did. All sin is against God, Psalm 51:4. Since we offend God by our sins, He alone must forgive. When you sin against someone, a neutral party cannot forgive you on their behalf. No, the offended party must forgive. Jesus forgives sins on earth because men have sinned against Him! The offended party offers forgiveness, or forgiveness is meaningless. Jesus promised that anyone who came unto Him for forgiveness of sin and eternal life would by no means be cast out, John 6:37. In fact, Jesus promised to give us rest, Matthew 11:28. This rest is free (His gift) and found in Him alone; our only work is to believe: “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent,” John 6:29. The will of the Father is that anyone who believes in the Son of God would have everlasting life, John 6:40.

Adam’s single sin brought eternal consequences, since death passed to all through him. God desired a creature who could choose to love Him…or choose to reject Him if they so wished. Our free will is a gift of God, since He wants men to love Him, and love cannot be coerced. Robots cannot love, and God even allowed man the ability to hate Him so that the love relationship between Himself and His creatures was genuine. We have a responsibility upon hearing the gospel: we believe unto life, or we disbelieve and abide in wrath, John 3:36. We are brought into judgment on the basis of our works: how well we lived in light of knowledge we attained. Mind you that no one will be delivered by their upright life; this is purely a determinant of what degree of judgment unbelievers will suffer. For those who never heard the gospel their punishment will be less severe than one who grew up in a country where the gospel was preached with relative clarity and ease of access. Those whose faith is in the risen Christ escape this judgment, for our sins are paid for by Jesus’ atoning sacrifice. Let us view how God sees man’s efforts for salvation apart from imputed grace that is God’s free gift. In Isaiah we read, “But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousness are like filthy rags,” Isaiah 64:6. “Filthy” in this verse is translated “menstrual” in the Hebrew to give an idea of what God sees human righteousness as. The Psalmist wrote, “There is no one that does good, no, not one,” Psalm 14:3. Again, “They are corrupt, and have done abominable iniquity; there is none who does good.” Psalm 53:1.

The writer of Hebrews says, “There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His. Let us be diligent therefore to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience,” Hebrews 4:9-11. The tenor of the passage speaks of ceasing from our efforts, so we may by faith alone enter into God’s rest. Verse 10 indicates that only when we cease from our own efforts are we capable of entering God’s rest. To witness to this Biblical truth, Paul writes, “But to him that worketh not, but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness,” Romans 4:5. God promises peace to all who come to Him by faith. A man who works does not have peace, because he has no assurance, or else he would cease working. This peace is precisely what God wishes to give us. Believers are assured we are presently and eternally saved, so we may have the peace of God and peace with God. If you have no confidence of salvation's attainment in this life, then you do not have God's peace.

The Law states that if a man does the Law, he shall live by it, Leviticus 18:5. Grace states instead that the just (justified) shall walk by his faith, Habakkuk 2:4. It is refreshing that we are justified apart from works. It is comforting to believers that Heaven is an eternal abode, and we are eternally saved from sin’s penalty, daily saved through the work of the Holy Spirit from sin’s power, and eventually utterly saved from sin’s very presence when were dead or Raptured. Then we shall see Jesus, and be changed when we see Him as He is, 1st John 3:3. Hebrews 10:14 states: "For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified." Note the certainty of the writer concerning salvation; perfection is seen in the past tense. Also note Ephesians: "When we were dead in trespasses, [God] made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved) and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus," Ephesians 2:5-6. The reason being, "in the ages to come (in eternity) He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus," verse 7. Salvation's glorious working is to elevate the majesty of God, whose mercy is our sole hope and consolation. The gospel is “the power of God unto salvation for everyone who believes,” Romans 1:16. There are no other criteria. Shifting the focus from God to us by saying we must attain or maintain our salvation snatches glory from God. Belief is a confession of our inadequacy; it is not an ongoing affair that must never be abated for fear of eternal forfeiture! Like it or not, that too is a works system. Think of it this way: when someone gives you a gift it is generally yours, right? The condition you keep that gift in does not determine whether or not you have the right to keep it. We cannot become worthy of the gift of eternal life; we were not worthy from the first, Romans 5:8-10.
To be Continued.

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