THE RACE FOR SALVATION
When my mysterious mere mortal mind makes malfunctions mainly in its ability to understand complex theological principles, and not simply saying sanctimonious alliterations, i am compelled to return to basic rational and such questions that Reason and Wisdom teach us. The subject of salvation which includes so many variables and has so many opinions is not an easy one to address. Not in the sense that it lacks Scriptures to display its fundamental truths, but because most of us reading these verses or commentaries do not come researching with a Tabula rasa (blank slate), but rather with preconceived notions from our relative, historical, social, cultural and even political influences and experiences. Thus, in order not to act with bias after years of having preformulated ideas, i am obligated and inspired to follow the natural steps of Logic and Logos.
The Spirit of Wisdom and Counsel (Isaiah 11:2) instructs my conscious (soul and spirit) and physical cerebrum (Latin for ‘brain,’ so technically i am referring to the telencephalon) in a linear and logical (commonsense; sound – 2 Tim. 4:3; Titus 2:1) fashion. The real questions that i have and desire answers to are: ‘must we race for salvation?’ and if so, ‘what does that race entail?’ Yet, specifically, before getting to the these questions Wisdom reminds me, pause, breath; now meditate a minute and listen to Me – that is to the Holy Spirit. Ok, i get it – i hear (Matt. 11:15; Mark 4:23; Rev. 2:7,29; 3:22) You. Now, sometimes i hear the Spirit saying ‘Is there…’ and sometimes ‘do you believe there is…’ This is a very important difference; for ‘is there’ a Creator relies only on Truth; while ‘do i believe that there is’ a Creator relies on faith and opinions.
However, it is for the most part beyond the scope of this article to debate certain fundamental truths that every Christian should know and believe. Thus, though the question may state ‘is there,’ i may answer more in the format of ‘do you believe.’ Yet, if the Spirit asks, ‘Is there a First Cause or Creator we call Almighty God and Father?’ And you answer, ‘no’ or ‘I am not sure,’ than you are not likely a Christian and thus, whether the doctrine of eternal security is true or false is irrelevant to your needs.
So with the previous aforementioned things, i begin to listen to the questions from Spirit of the Lord that lead me to truth and list my responses:
1. Does God the Father Almighty exist? Yes of course, You do Adonai (my Lord). Barukh Adonai Eloheinu, Adonai Echad (Blessed are You Lord, our God; the Lord is One; Deut. 6:4).
2. Did the Lord create earth, the universe and mankind? i am here, and i know by Your ‘word the heavens came into being and the earth (2 Peter 3:5); and that ‘all things created, visible and invisible, whether they are principalities or powers or mankind or spirits: all things were created (Col. 1:16)’ by You; and i say that understand that our Lord Jesus Christ ‘is before all things, and by Him all things consist;’ and that ‘because’ You ‘plainly’ and clearly ‘reveal’ and show forth Your ‘invisible qualities,’ ‘people are without excuse’ who reject you – that is they will have no excuse at their trial. Barukh atah Adonai, Eloheinu, melekh ha’ olam (Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe).
3. Did the Lord create Heaven and Hell; and for what purposes? Yes Lord, ‘You laid the earth’s foundation and …brought forth the constellations… and You created ‘the heavens (Job 38).’ And yes, ‘You prepared the eternal fire for the devil and his angels (Matt. 25:41; Rev. 20:14);’ and ‘hell has enlarged itself’ for ‘the wicked and all that forget You (Isa. 5:14; Psalm 9:17; Matt. 13:49; 1 Cor. 6:9; Gal. 5:21).’
4. Does the Lord desire that none should perish? Yes Lord, ‘He is longsuffering towards us, not desiring that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9; 1 Tim. 2:4).’ It is in His very name that He is ‘compassionate (merciful) and gracious, slow to anger (longsuffering – KJV), abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love and forgiving sin… (Exodus 34:6-7).’ His ‘lovingkindness never ends (Psa. 77:8),’ and He ‘longs to be gracious to us (Isa. 30:18),’ and ‘all day long You reach out to rebellious people, who walk in ways not good, following their own evil paths and imaginations and desires (Isa. 65:2).’
5. Yet many shall suffer eternal shame – why? Yes ‘many’ shall go ‘the broad way that leads to destruction, because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life and few find it (Matt. 7:13-14).’ And for this reason, one of Your servants John Bunyan wrote Pilgrim’s Progress, which during the great revivals You sent to various nations was the second most read book in the world, next to the Holy Scriptures. And also for this reason, Christ explained, ‘Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already… the Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil… (John 3:18-19).’ And in another place by two or three witnesses, Jesus explained in a parable; ‘the word of God is sent out, and for some the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved.’ And for others, ‘they believe for a while, but in times of testing they fall away.’ And also some ‘who hear the word, go on their way and are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures and they do not mature (Luke 8; Matt. 13; Mark 4).’
6. Is there eternal life available? Yes, ‘God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16)?’ There is a place for the wicked of ‘eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life (Matt. 25:46).’ Thus, John also said, ‘they that have done good shall be resurrected to life, and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation (John 5:29).’ It is the same that Your prophets said, as Daniel, ‘many shall awake to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt (Dan. 12:2);’ ‘for the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom. 6:23).’
7. What is Salvation? Yes actually my Lord, who and what is salvation? For the very name of my Lord is Salvation that is Jesus Christ, Yehoshua or Yeshua Ha Mashiach, which is Savior or Salvation the Anointed One. (yeshuah 3444; deliverance, save, saving, security, victory; yasha 3468, safety, salvation) Salvation is the process by which man is saved by God; in which we are (4991; sótéria: salvation, deliverance) saved, rescued and or delivered out of destruction and into safety. And as related to being delivered or saved from this world and eternal shame; our ‘Advocate, Jesus Christ the righteous Lamb of God, Son of God, is the propitiation (atonement, satisfaction, reconciliation, mercy seat) for our sins (1 John 4:10).’
8. Is there a need for Salvation? Yes, man is dying, almost 3000 years ago the Lord declared our ‘lives are seventy years (Psalm 90:10)’ roughly and it is so that we die physically. But it is also true there is more to us than a body; we have a free-will soul and a spirit. And the spirit of men is subjected to many influences and our souls cannot in and of ourselves overcome sin. Without a Deliverer or a Savior we are ‘enslaved to sin (John 8:34);’ but worst without a Savior we ‘will die in our sins (John 8:24).’ And that is how we will be seen by our Creator without atonement or salvation.
9. How are humans saved from eternal shame, to receive eternal life? ‘The grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men (Titus 2:11).’ For ‘the Christ Jesus, the Son of Man, came into the world to seek and save sinners – that which was lost (I Tim. 1:15; Luke 19:10).’
10. Does God show partially? For ‘the gospel is the power of God to salvation to everyone who believes, Jew and Gentile (Rom. 1:16).’ ‘For the Lord God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and takes no bribes (Deut. 10:17).’
11. If God can condemn thousands and millions and tens of millions to Hell, what makes you different in value? Nothing, ‘we are all as an unclean thing; all our righteousness are as filthy rags and we all fade as leaves (Isaiah 64:6).’ ‘We are all His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God had ordained that we should walk in (Eph. 2:10).’ ‘For God loves the entire world (John 3:16);’ and He ‘has created all things by His will and for His pleasure (Rev. 4:11).’
12. Who is God; that is what is His name and nature – attributes and way? God is ‘the Lord, and there is no other… (Isaiah 45:5).’ And the Lord passed before Moses and proclaimed His name, “The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, 7 keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children to the third and the fourth generation (Exo. 34:5-7).” He is ‘a jealous God (Exo. 20:5).’ ‘He is the Father of all (Eph. 4:6).’ ‘His ways are higher than mans (Isa. 55:9);’ and ‘He is perfect in all His ways; for all His ways are righteous and just (Psa. 18:30; Deut. 32:4).’
13. Do the apostles speak for God? ‘All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof and correction (2 Tim. 3:16).’ And insomuch as ‘in the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, and in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son (Heb. 1:1-2);’ and in that ‘Christ Himself gave the apostles and the prophets (Eph. 4:11);’ and that ‘prophecy came not by the will of man: but holy men of God spoke, as they were moved by the Holy Ghost (2 Peter 1:21);’ then as they spoke Truth for the TRUTH (John 14:6; Rev. 19:11) and by way of the Spirit of Truth (John 16:13), yes they spoke for God and their letters still do.
14. Who was Paul and John speaking to concerning ‘whoever’ does these things ‘shall not inherit the kingdom of Heaven?’ And what does that mean? ‘Life and death is set before’ us – ‘whoever’ to choose (Deut. 30:19); that is ‘whosoever’ or ‘whoever’ repents and believes in the gospel and resurrection and forgiveness and salvation and Lordship of Jesus Christ can be saved, and ‘whoever’ chooses to ‘continue is sin (Heb. 10:26),’ in disobedience and rebellion, ‘even if a righteous person turns from their righteousness and commits sin and does the same detestable things the wicked person does; because of the unfaithfulness they are guilty of and because of the sins they have committed (without repentance), they will die in their sins… for the Lord will judge each of us according to our ways; thus declares the Sovereign Lord, Repent and live! (Ezk. 18).’ The Lord shows no partiality, ‘the Lord does not change (Mal. 3:6).’ And thus, Paul declares, ‘Do you not know that the wick (unrighteous sinners) will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor those who perform homosexual acts, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor verbal abusers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God (1 Cor. 6:9-; Gal. 5:19-)’. And John says the same (Rev. 21:8, 27).
15. What do the apostles and Christ say concerning Salvation? Salvation comes by grace through faith (Eph. 2:5,8; Titus 2:11). ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved (Acts 16:31).’ ‘Salvation is found in no one else (Acts 4:12).’ ‘It is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved (Rom. 10:10).’ ‘He has saved us and called us to a holy life (2 Tim. 1:9).’ ‘Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned (Mark 16:16).’ ‘Narrow is the path that leads to eternal life and few find it (Matt. 7:14).’ ‘It is appointed for men to die once and after this come the judgment; yet, Christ was crucified and sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and He will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are wait for Him (Heb. 9:27-28).’
16. Are there conditions and or is endurance required in your walk or race? There are over 1,500 ‘if’s’ in the Scriptures that express condition. It would only take ONE to satisfy the truth that the Holy ONE gave us. ‘If we walk in the light, as He is the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1:7).’ He told His disciples; ‘If you continue in My Word, then are you My disciples (John 8:31).’ ‘If you continued in the faith… (Col. 1:21).’ ‘We are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end (Heb. 3:14).’ ‘He that endures to the end shall be saved (Matt. 10:22).’ ‘He that endures to the end shall be save (Mark 13:13).’ ‘He that endures to the end shall be save (Matt. 24:13).’
17. What does the Lord say concerning repentance, obedience and holiness? ‘The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).’ ‘Repentance from dead works and faith toward God,’ are fundamental principles and ‘doctrines of Christ (Heb. 6:1).’ Because the works of the flesh will produce spiritual death (Gal. 5:16-21), we must ‘repent and turn to God and produce fruits and do works meet (proper; suitable) for repentance (Matt. 3:8; Luke 3:8; Acts 26:20).’ In obedience and with holiness we love the Lord our God with all our hearts and soul and might and fear Him alone and serve Him, and teach this things to our children (Deut. 6:4-9; 10:12; Eccl. 12:13; John 15:14). ‘Like the Holy One who called us, we must be holy… (1 Peter 1:15);’ For if anyone says they are ‘a Christian, let them not be ashamed, but let them glorify God and Christ Jesus; for it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the judgment for those who do not obey the gospel of God? (1 Peter 4:16-17).’
18. What part does grace play in salvation? ‘The grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to ALL people. It teaches us to say ‘no’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope – the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for Himself a people that are His own and eager to do what is good – what is righteous (Titus 2:11-14).’ Grace appears in the name of God (Exo. 34:6), grace comes like the Spirit of Truth (John 16:13), and grace is the Spirit of Truth, and grace is the Spirit of prophecy (Rev. 19:10); in so much as Grace is an attribute of God – termed so we can understand part of God’s nature; Grace is no different or stronger or weaker than the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding and the Spirit of counsel and of might, and the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord – for they are the Spirit of the Lord (Isaiah 11:2),’ as the Comforter, the Spirit of Truth and Grace proceeds from the Father (John 15:26).’
19. Is grace enough and am I grace alone, says the Lord? Yes of course, insomuch as Grace is of the Lord God, yes You Lord are enough alone. Yet, insomuch as You require holiness, obedience, repentance, faith and insomuch as You are so much more beyond what we can understand, You are not grace or love or one single attribute alone; then no You are not grace alone.
20. Can your actions – can continue sin – and or lack of performance effect your Salvation? Can Christians lose their salvation? In the LIGHT of all the previous understanding and knowledge, than it is as it is written: ‘Sacrifice and burnt offerings for sin You did not desire, nor had pleasure in them (Heb. 10:8; Psa. 40:6-8; );’ thus, Your prophet said, ’what is more pleasing to the Lord: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to His voice? To obey is better than sacrifice (1 Sam. 15:22).’ And so it is written, ‘Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts washed from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering… let us consider one another in other to stir up love and good works… as the Day is approaching; for if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour His adversaries. Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. Of how much worse punishment… for those who trampled the Son of God underfoot, and count the blood of the covenant …a common thing, and insult the Spirit of grace?’ …Therefore, do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise… indeed… the just shall live by faith; but if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him (Hebrew 10:22-38; Hab. 2:4; Rom. 1:17).’ Thus it is written, ‘If you think you are standing strong, take heed lest you fall; we must be careful and pay attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away (1 Cor. 10:12; Heb. 2:1; see Ezekiel 18).’
Paul rightly says, ‘Do you not know that when you offer yourselves as obedient slaves, you are slaves to the one you obey, whether you are slaves to sin leading to death, or to obedience leading to righteousness? (Rom. 6:16).’
James rightly tells us, ‘Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death (James 1: 12-15).’ For this reason from the beginning the Lord has said, ‘If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it (Gen. 4:7).’
NOW, in the light of this understanding and know, there is loosely termed a ‘race for salvation?’ There is a need and requirement for endurance. Paul said, ‘Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified (1 Cor. 9:24-27).’ Thus, when running Paul said, ‘I press toward the goal to win the prize of God’s heavenly calling in Christ Jesus (Phil. 3:14).’ And when near his end, Paul did and could rightly say, ‘I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith (2 Tim. 4:7).’
As stated previously, the Lord declares, ‘he who endures to the end shall be saved.’ But concerning this race to the ‘wedding of the Lamb and … the blessed supper of the Lamb (Rev. 19:6-9);’ let us consider Jesus words in a certain parable (fusing together Matthew and Luke’s accounts – Matt. 22 and Luke 14):
After speaking about “the Resurrection of the just one of those who sat at the table with Jesus said to Him, ‘Blessed is he who shall eat bread in the kingdom of God!’ Then Jesus replied, ‘the Kingdom of Heaven is like a KING who prepared a Wedding Banquet for His SON. So a certain man gave a Great Supper and invited many, and sent His servants at supper time to say to those who were invited, ‘Come, for all things are now ready.’ But they all began to make excuses. Some refused to come. Some said, ‘I bought a house and land, and must go and attend to it. Please excuse me.’ And some said, ‘I bought some equipment for my business or for my land, and I am going to test it. I ask You to have me excused.’ Still others said, ‘I have married and therefore I cannot come.’ So they paid no attention and went off to their fields, properties, and businesses.” (They loved their father, mother, sons, daughters, spouses ‘more than Jesus Christ’ and thus are ‘not worthy’ – Matt. 10:37; Luke 14:25). ‘The servants came and reported these things to the Master.’
“And then the KING became enraged, and the Master of the house, being angry, said to His servants, ‘the Wedding Supper is ready, go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor and the lame.’ And the servants did so, and said, ‘Master, it is done as you commanded, yet there is still room.’ Then the Master said, ‘Go out through the main roads and paths along the hedges, and compel them to come in, that My House may be filled. Yet, I say to you that none of those men who were invited and adhered to their excuses shall taste My Supper.’
And ‘so the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, the bad as well as the good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests. But when the King came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. He asked, ‘How did you get in here without wedding clothes, friend?’ The man was speechless. ‘Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For ‘many are invited, but few are chosen’.”
It is difficult to hear and understand and follow ‘whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.’ Or ‘he who loves the things of the world is not of the Father.’ Of course, other than willful evil and continuing in sins which are abominable to the Lord, the principle is about putting the Lord God and Christ our Lord first. Endurance implies continuing in the faith and in good works. ‘Holding fast (Rev. 3:11)’ is a way of life. A soldier has times of rest and peace which surpasses all understanding, yet a good soldier is forever aware of his adversaries and his own strengths and weaknesses.
‘Since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off every encumbrance and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with endurance the race set out for us (Heb. 12:1).’ Let us ‘do not consider that we have laid hold of the prize until reaching the end; let us press on toward the goal to win the crown of life through Christ Jesus (Phil. 3:14; James 1:12; Rev. 2:10).’ ‘May the Lord bless you and keep you… (Numbers 6:24).’