The goal of one who believes in heaven and hell, being lost for eternity or being saved for eternity is to be saved. Yet, the Bible clearly shows us that not all will be saved. In the sermon on the mount, 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). He then continued with an example of such, saying, “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (Matt. 7:22-23). Earlier in that same chapter, Jesus had commanded, 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). Thus we see that not only will not everyone be saved, but the majority will be lost. The word “many” was used to describe those headed for destruction while the word “few” was used for those headed for eternal life. Therefore, we can safely say, many will fall short of salvation. We could add to that, they do so because they failed to do the will of the Father. Some have neglected some exceptions needed for salvation. Let us note a few of these exceptions that are required for one to be saved.
First give consideration to the fact that except one is drawn to the Lord by way of the word of God, he or she cannot become one of the saved. Jesus told the Jews, “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me” (John 6:44-45). Without hearing the gospel of Christ, one cannot reach heaven from this Christian age. Paul said that “…it is the power of God unto salvation” (Rom. 1:16). Salvation through the preaching of the gospel is the method that pleases God (I Cor. 1:21). There is a logical order involved in the need to first be taught the gospel. In Mark’s account of the great commission, Jesus stated that they were to preach the gospel and then those who believed it and obeyed would be saved (Mark 16:15-16). The apostle Paul shows this logical order when he wrote, “How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard?” (Rom. 10:14). Just a couple of verses later he wrote, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17). Except you learn the gospel, you will be lost.
Our next mandatory exception is one that involves the conversion process or in other words the changing from the lost spiritual state to the saved spiritual state. When Jesus taught Nicodemus, He used the analogy of a birth. One is born physically into this physical life, and Jesus used that analogy to show how we come into the spiritual state of life. He said, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). A second time we find this exception is when Jesus used a small child to teach His apostles concerning humility. Jesus told them, “Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 18:3). Thus, one who has not humbled himself to obey the gospel of Christ will not have life eternal.
Yet, making that change from being an alien sinner to a child of God does not guarantee one reaches eternal life after death, for there is an exception that needs to be considered. Paul told Timothy, “”And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully” (II Tim. 2:5). Continued obedience to the will of God is required in order than one see heaven after this life on earth is over. Many deny that one can be lost after having become a child of God, but the apostle Peter would beg to differ with them (II Peter 2:20-22) as well as other Bible writers. Paul said that we can stand unblameable at the judgment “if ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel…” (Col. 1:23). Another exception is seen in this continued obedience. Jesus told those on the mount, “…except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:20). Continued obedience must be coupled with honesty and sincerity of heart, without hypocrisy in order that one may live acceptably as a child of God. We will close with the exception needed for when we do fall short in our efforts to continue to walk in the light, and fall short we will do (I John 1:7-8). As Jesus once stated, “…except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3, 5). When Simon sinned, as recorded in Acts, he was told he needed to repent of his wickedness if he desired to be forgiven (Acts 8:22).
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