Robert C. OliverContributing columnist

Last updated: January 29. 2014 2:28PM - 1476 Views

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God would have all men to be saved. Speaking of God, Paul tells Timothy, “Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of truth” (I Tim. 2:4). In addition, God has made salvation available to all men. Paul told Titus, “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men” (Tit. 2:11). The devil would have all men to be lost. He too does all that he can to see to it that one is lost. Peter warns, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (I Pet. 5:8). Yet, the Bible teaches that not all will be saved. In fact it teaches that the majority will be lost and only the minority saved. Jesus said, “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” (Matt. 7:13-14). Notice “many” will go the way that leads to destruction while only “few” there be that go the way of life. This leads to one grand question, what determines which way one goes?

The answer to our grand question is one word, “choice”. One can choose to go the way that leads to life or the way that leads to destruction. The way that leads to life is strait and narrow for it requires following the word of the Lord. Jesus said, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 7:21). Paul told the Thessalonians that when the Lord is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire, He will be “taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” (II Thess. 1:7-9). The writer of the book of Hebrews says concerning Jesus, “And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him” (Heb. 5:9). Jesus said, “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will show you to whom he is like: He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock. But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great” (Luke 6:46-49). Obedience to the word of God is not salvation by works, but salvation faith, for true faith in Christ Jesus will require one to obey His word. God requires that one hear the gospel, believe the gospel, repent of their sins, confess that Jesus is the Christ and be baptized into Christ for the remission of sins (Mark 16:15-16; Acts 2:38; Matt. 10:32-33). It is spiritual suicide to reject God’s way to salvation.

After having obeyed the gospel, having then been added to the body of Christ by the Lord Himself, one must live as instructed. It is still one’s choice to continue to walk in the light or to turn back to darkness and eternal damnation. As some have been quick to note; no man can pluck the saved out of the Lord’s hand (John 10:28-29). However, the Bible clearly teaches that one can leave the Lord’s hand on their own. The writer of the book of Hebrews used the example of those brought out of Egypt falling in the wilderness, never entering into their land of promise (Heb. 3:8-19) by way of warning to Christians. He followed this text saying, “Let us therefore fear, lest a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it”…”Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief” (Heb. 4:1, 11). Peter certainly understood that one could loose their salvation. He wrote, “For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them” (II Pet. 2:20-21). In what is commonly called the parable of the prodigal son, the freedom one has to turn away from his Heavenly Father is clearly seen. No man made that son leave, he left on his own (Luke 15:11-13). Neither did the father force the son to stay, he allowed him the choice. Yet, after coming to himself and realizing his present state as compared to the least of those under the hand of his father, he chose to return to his father. The father said, “For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found” (Luke 15:23). God has given man the freedom of choice to become one of His children or to remain in the kingdom of darkness. He has likewise given the child of God the choice of freedom to remain faithfully in the light or to turn back to the way that leads to eternal destruction. In both cases, he who chooses to go his own way rather than God’s, has committed spiritual suicide.

(Editor’s note: Send any questions or comments to: rcoliver@centurylink.net)

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