PART 15 THE SPIRITUALITY PUZZLE

PART 15 The Spirituality Puzzle

Whatcauses someone to become a child of God and have assurance of eternal life?

 

How does the forgiveness of sins and final judgementrelate to the salvation message? Let’s find out.

                                                                                       

Chapter24                                

Atthe Final Judgment Will Sin Be an Issue?

 

    I’msure the first thing you are thinking about is, what is the final judgment? Itis a future day when every person past, present, and future will be judged.Judged for what? For us living here right now wouldn’t we want to know theanswer to this question, so we can make sure that our judgment is in our favor?And by the way where does forgiveness or rather the forgiveness of sins comeinto play? Let’s search the scriptures and find out.

    In a brief manner, maybe the first question we should attempt to answeris, when will this final judgment take place? Currently, we are living in anage of time, called the Church Age, which many believe began on the day ofPentecost and will end when the church, born-again Christians, are taken outfrom the earth before a seven-year period of time called the Tribulation Periodbegins. Some believe we will be taken out from the earth by means of an eventcalled the rapture. This is a study in and of itself, so we will leave it as isfor now. Acts 2:1;                                      1Thessalonians 4:15-17; 1Corinthians 15:52   

     The Tribulation Age will be a period oftime involving seven years, when anti-Semitism will abound and the world willbe on the brink of World War III. It appears that the focus during this timewill be on converting unbelieving Jews to believe in Jesus as theirMessiah/savior. Apparently, a world ruler will rise up and bring about a peacetreaty, which will seemingly avert total annihilation, albeit only for a shortperiod of time. During the next three and a half years, there will be worldpeace. At this time, the Jewish people will have finished rebuilding theirtemple at Jerusalem and resume worshipping their God Jehovah under theinstitution of the Mosaic Law. Daniel 9:24-27;Revelation 3:10; Matthew 24:1-3; Matthew24:21; Jeremiah 30:7

     Unfortunately, after three and half yearshas gone by, this world ruler goes to Israel and decides to enter the templearea and desecrate it with idol worship of some sort, which undoes the peacetreaty. In response to this, an all-out effort by Israel’s enemies is reignitedand they try tirelessly to kill every last one of them. This conflict goes onfor three and half years and nearing the end of such Jesus comes back with hischurch (his risen saints) and intervenes, thus preventing world oblivion andtotal extermination of the Jews. Matthew 24:15;Revelations 13:5-7; Matthew 24:29-30

     Jesus sets up an earthly kingdom withhimself in control and whose capital is at Jerusalem. This is a newdispensation of time, called the MillennialReign, which will be in effect for one thousand years. At the close of thisperiod of time, there will be one more rebellion inspired by guess who, thedevil. This will be his last hurrah. Eventually, when the time is right, hewill be apprehended and cast into a place called the lake of fire andbrimstone, where he will reside forever and presumably never be heard fromagain. And then what we have talked about takes place, i.e. a final judgmentwill commence. Revelations 20:4-6;Revelations 20:1-7

 

    What is this final judgment all about and how does it relate to theforgiveness of sins?

 

Revelation20:11 And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose facethe earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.

 

    The final judgment is a judgment that will take place before a greatwhite throne (the supreme court), on which will sit God the Father, from whomthe earth and heaven (the whole universe) will disappear.

    

12And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books wereopened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the deadwere judged out of those things which were written in the books, according totheir works.

 

     And before this throne will be all whohave died, both common and great, who will appear before him. It is interestingwhat we are told next in that there is mentioned a collection of books and oneseparate book. We are told that these people (unbelievers) will be judgedaccording to their works (a record of human deeds), which are contained inthese books. And that none of them would be considered acceptable. Why not? Ithink the answer will be found when we look at the other book that would alsobe opened, called the book of life. What is this book all about? The followingverses will give us a glimpse.

 

Luke 10:20 Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that thespirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names arewritten in heaven.

 

Philippians 4:3 And I intreat thee also, true yokefellow,help those women which laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement also, andwith other my fellowlabourers, whose names are in the book of life.

 

Revelation 3:5 He that overcometh, the same shall be clothedin white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, butI will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.

 

     According to these scriptures, this bookcontains the names of those, who are saved. Is there anything else that thesescriptures convey to us? Yes, it seems that the names of every person, who wereever born, was initially placed in this book. And the basis for their namesstaying in it was, did they respond to God’s initiation for salvation? Whatabout their works, were they judged?

 

     Please go to 1 Corinthians chapter 3.

 

Of What Sort It Is

1 Corinthians 3:13-15

Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shalldeclare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try everyman's work of what sort it is. If any man's work abide which he hath builtthereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, heshall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.

 

     These verses concern the works ofbelievers. Are these judged, yes? In what way? Scripture tells us that theywill be tried by fire (by the Holy Spirit) as to what sort it is. The words “what sort it is” means as to theirquality; to their character; or as to them being empowered by God. For whatpurpose are they judged? We are told that whichever works abide (remains) shallreceive a reward. So, believers works are judged as for reward. And by the way,scripture also tells us that if a believer’s works are burned and there isnothing redemptive about any of them, the believer will still be saved. Why?Well, who do you think is residing in them, the indwelling Spirit?

     There is no mention of the works of thebeliever being judged at the white throne judgment other than that the names ofthose who are saved are contained in a book, called the book of life. So, whatcan we deduce about the works of those, which are contained in the books? Notonly was there any empowerment by God, when they were exercised, but there wasno indwelling God living inside of the person. That’s why each and every one ofthem, whom we can call unbelievers were cast into the lake of fire andbrimstone.

    

     This brings us to what this chapter isessentially about, and that is the relationship between the forgiveness ofsins, final judgment, and the salvation message. Nothing is mentioned aboutanyone being judged for their sins, whether a believer or unbeliever.Furthermore, nothing is mentioned about an unbeliever’s sins not being forgiven.What I am trying to convey is that sin and its forgiveness was not an issue interms of the final indictment against unbelievers. This would I allege say tome that the reason why this is the case is because the debt of sin andsubsequent forgiveness was taken care of on the cross.

     The scriptural concern as to what was justsaid is this, how could an unbeliever repent and believe in Christ and yet goto hell because they were not baptized in water, which according to thesalvation message of Repentance, Belief, Water Baptism, and Godly Worksforgives sins? A response to this could be that works produced in the power ofthe sin nature are sinful. I would agree that some works or deeds are sinful,but not all. 

 

    Interesting! What I would like to do is leave you with closing remarks.Has it been decided that one of these salvation messages is the one that wouldcause an unbeliever to find God or become his child and at death go to a betterplace? Turn the page and find out.

 

Closing Remarks

 

     As I am about to conclude this study, Ican’t help but think that a dialogue on what constitutes the salvation messagewith my daughter Renee would culminate in a joint study by both us, which hastaken about three months and twenty-four chapters later. This has stretched mebeyond measure meaning that I had not only had to better understand thesalvation message that I have ascribed to for many years, but I had tounderstand the salvation message of the church my daughter is attending and beable to explain it with accuracy and clarity.

     We started looking at four differentsalvation messages and narrowed them down to two. After this intensive studyyou might ask, what are my thoughts as to whether one of these salvationmessages is the one that I will present to unbelievers? There is one that I’mleaning towards, but each of us has to make our own choice in this regard.

 

     Below, are the bullets and salvationmessage for Repentance and Belief.

 

●Jesus paid the penalty and providedforgiveness for all sin on the cross.

●Water baptism does not forgivesins.

●Water baptism does not cause thereceiving of the indwelling Spirit.

●Water baptism is not necessary inthe salvation process, but is important.

●Godly works might evidence thefilling of the Spirit, but not as to whether someone is saved or has lost theirsalvation.

●A believer who lives in habitualsin will be disciplined by God, but not lose their salvation.

●The Baptism of the Spirit means tohave received the indwelling Spirit.

●The Baptism of the Spirit causes abeliever to be placed in union with Christ and is actually

identified with him in his death andresurrection.

●The filling of the Spirit meansthat a believer isunder the Spirit’s control, when they are yielded to him; and when this issuch, they will manifest his fruit i.e. love, joy, peace, longsuffering,gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance] and operate in his power(to manifest his gifts).

●Water baptism is symbolic of abeliever’s identification with Christ in his death and resurrection.

●Following repentance and belief thebeliever will receive the indwelling Holy Spirit.

 

    This is the salvation message that would be presented to an unbelieverand hopefully responded to, by them.

 

Iacknowledge that I am a sinner, who desires a new nature so that I don’t haveto continue in committing mental, verbal, and overt sins. 

 

I believe in you Jesus, being deity,who is one of the members of the trinity, the other two being God the Fatherand God the Holy Spirit, left heaven being born of a virgin, having nevercommitted one sin, died on a cross, paid the penalty for sin in order tosatisfy the justice of God, forgave these sins putting them away forever neverbringing them up again, rose again after three days never to die again, hissacrifice being accepted by God the Father, and ascended into heaven to beseated at His right hand.

 

Thankyou for sending the Holy Spirit to come into my life, who is evidence that Ibelong to God the Father and the assurance of going to heaven at physicaldeath.

 

    Proponents of the Gospel of Repentance and Belief would have three concerns with the Gospel of Repentance,Belief, Water Baptism, and Godly Works.

 

~ The first has to do with the fillingof the Spirit coming before the indwelling. The same question I asked earlierstill remains to be answered and that is, how could an unbeliever receive thepower or filling to exercise the gifts of the Spirit and be under his controlwhen they are yielded to him and subsequently increasingly manifest his fruitbefore they were indwelt by him at water baptism? 

~ The second has to do with the finaljudgment for unbelievers, who were judged according to their works and notaccording as to whether their sins were forgiven at water baptism.

~And the third one has to do with the allegation that Christ’s death on thecross paid the debt for sin, but didn’t forgive it (didn’t remove the record ofit), which could only be received at water baptism. This would make Christ’swork on the cross non-efficacious meaning to not be effective as a remedy.

 

     Withthat said, while there might not be total agreement between these two gospelmessages both my daughter and myself have the same heart, and that is to seeunbelievers be saved. So, now I welcome her to present the salvation messagefrom the church she attends and provide a closing statement.

     Below, are the bullets and salvationmessage for Repentance, Belief, Water Baptism, and Godly Works.

 

●Water baptism forgives sins.

●Water baptism causes the receivingof the indwelling Spirit.

●Water baptism is necessary in thesalvation process, without it a person is not saved.

●Godly works evidences whether aperson’s salvation is genuine. 

●A believer who lives in habitualsin will lose their salvation.

●Water baptism causes a person to beplaced in union with Christ and be actually identified with Christ in his deathand resurrection.

 

    This salvation message that would be presented to an unbeliever is asfollows.

 

    The salvation message is the good news of Jesus Christ, the message ofwhich is that God sent him, his Son, being deity, who is one of the members ofthe trinity, the other two being God the Father and God the Holy Spirit, beingborn of a virgin, having never committed one sin, died on a cross, paid thepenalty for sin in order to satisfy the justice of God the Father, having forgivenall sin putting it away forever never bringing them up again, rose again afterthree days never to die again, his sacrifice being accepted by God the Father,and ascended into heaven to be seated at the Father’s right hand. Prior to, butunderstood to be aligned with it, the unbeliever would be asked to repent (aconfession of sins; a hearty purpose to turn from them167).

    Following their confession of faith, we will remind them that hopefullyin the near future they will be baptized in water, and by adhering faithfullyto the Bible they will be evidencing godly works.  John 7:37-39; John 3:16; Acts 17:30; Romans10:10

 

    I want to thank my daughter for her joint cooperation with me in writingthis paper, maybe soon to be book. We’ll see. I would like to turn this over toher for her closing remarks.

 

     I, too, amgrateful to have been able to collaborate on this study as it has stretched myunderstanding of the scriptures and prompted the need for me to study deeper.In doing so I’ve also realized that there can seemingly be grey areas withinthe Bible that Satan uses to confuse us into disobeying God’s clear commands.While we, as humans, may never have every full understanding of God and hiswords in their entirety, I must rely on Jeremiah17:9 that reads: “the heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.Who can understand it?” That being said, I think it’s crucial that when facingdoctrinal questions, we don’t rely on our “heart” i.e. how we feel, to lead usto conclusions. Just as the rich young ruler in Mark 10:17-22 went away sad when faced with God’s truth, we mustalso accept that God’s truths won’t always leave us feeling good. Sometimes wemay even be left disturbed by what His truths ultimately mean for us or ourloved ones. Yet we should not confuse this heart reaction with false doctrine,if what we are faced with is rooted in the scriptures.

     I have found by studying the scripturesthat amidst a God that is so clearly loving and gracious, the scriptures alsodepict a God who has clear qualifications and expectations for all who willenter His kingdom. I see accounts of men and women who had belief, love, andgood intentions toward God, yet Jesus had to make it clear that more was neededfor their salvation. Mark 10:17-22 isthe story of the rich young ruler who was a religious, believing man thatlacked one thing to receive eternal life (salvation). The one thing he lackedwas not faith or belief, yet he still had not attained salvation. Luke 14:25-33 describes a scene wheremultitudes of people were traveling with Jesus, yet Jesus lays out clearinstruction of what it would take for them to truly be his disciples. He didn’tfind it enough that they were believing, even to the point of faithfullyaccompanying him on his ministry journey. Further, we see Jesus, in Matthew 7:15-23, referring to falseprophets as those who have an appearance of religiosity, yet can be verified bytheir “fruit,” i.e. their life. False prophets can be identified by somethingwe can actually see, i.e. something they are doing. Additionally, Jesuswarns all that belief and religiosity alone does not save, that we cannot sayone thing and yet do another, to the extent that one could even perform manyreligious acts and miracles yet remain unsaved. The saved will instead be theones who actually do God’s will, which, in 1Timothy 2:4, is described as God wanting all men to be saved and to come toa knowledge of the truth. Therefore, to do God’s will, we must have a lifepurpose of bringing others to God.

     In 1 Corinthians 3:1-15, the “works” beingreferred to is that of building God’s house, which is comprised of all Christ’sfollowers. So, the work that will be revealed and tested is that of savingsouls, not just of our character. But the fact that it is measuring variousqualities of building, of saving souls, implies that this is referring to thosewho are in fact making disciples, which would mean living like a disciple.However, the quality of which they are making them may differ. So, anyone whoisn’t living like a true Christian by actively making other disciples isn’teven included in the analogy, for they are not living as co-workers to beginwith.

     As 1 Timothy 4:16 states, “Watchyour life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you willsave both yourself and your hearers.” Here we see clearly that both lifeand doctrine are considered necessary for salvation, as both the salvation ofus and our hearers depend on them. We cannot have one without the other.

     The multitude of scriptures addressing howwe must live and the cumulative process of salvation leaves me with fear foranyone willing to risk their eternity for any reason that might negate them.Even if there might be a scripture that would allude to the alternative, itwould be a huge gamble with potential grave consequences to decide to side withthat over the other. And I wonder, if there seemingly are scriptures to supportboth views, why is there such an inclination to side with one view over theother? Further, while I believe Jesus bore our sins by dying on the cross, I donot believe the sins of all were forgiven at this time, as we see manyconditions regarding forgiveness of sins in the scriptures. Aside from Acts 2:38, which states that we arebaptized for the forgiveness of our sins, even Matthew 6:14-15 states that God will not forgiveour sins if we don’t forgive others. These scriptures would cease to exist ifforgiveness was taken care of on the Cross. As Luke 13:22-27 states, sadly many will try to enter God’s kingdombut few actually will; this scripture is not addressed to atheists or those whoworship other things, it is addressed to those who believe and are actually tryingto enter God’s kingdom. Yet they will fall short for lack of obedience in somepart of their conversion or life as a Christian. Similarly, Matthew 7:13-14 tells us that only a fewwill be saved. “Faith alone” does not support this reality as many have faithor have at one point had faith, nor does false doctrine.

Iwill end my closing remarks with Deuteronomy12:32: “see that you do all I command you; do not add to it or take away fromit.”

 

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At the final judgment will sin still be an issue?
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