Tuesday, November 08, 2005

You Are Saved

I have been a Christian all my life and spent five years of my life in full-time ministry and yet I never truly understood what this thing called "The Gospel" that I was supposed to be spreading really was. I never understood what the Good News was and is.

I was brought up, and taught, to believe that God had sent his Son to die for me, and because of that I would go to Heaven when I die...but on one condition, that I believe. Jesus was only my Saviour if I believed he was, if I didn't, I would go to Hell when I died, and suffer an eternity of torture and torment along with everyone else who didn't believe...including anyone who'd never even heard of him. That's a lot of people.

Are you starying to understand why I never understood what the Good News really was? After all, doesn't that really sound like Bad News to you? God loves you so much that he died for you so you can go to Heaven...but...your friends and family who don't beleive that...well, he's going to torture them for eternity. That's Good News if I'm completely self centred, but for anyone with even an ounce of compassion, that's Bad News.

So...what's the Good News, then?

The Good News is truly good...you are saved from death and will enjoy eternal life and you have to do absolutely nothing to gain that salvation because it has already been done for you. You do not have to die because Christ already died for you on the cross. He took your place and died for you, and it doesn't matter if you believe that He did it or not because, "God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Rom 5:8

The Church beleives that it is spreading the Good News when it preaches that salvation is for believers, but this is a lie. It is totally un-scriptural.

"This is good, and pleases God our Saviour, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men - the testimony given in its proper time." 1 Tim 2:3-6

All means all. Timothy says here that God "wants all men to be saved." Now, God is by his very nature Sovereign. His will shall be done. If he wants all men to be saved then this is not some kind of "wishing and a hoping" kind of a want. God doesn't want all men to be saved in the same way that I want someone to nock on my door and give me a million pounds. I have no power to make my want a reality, I cannot effect whether or not someone knocks at my door and gives me a million pounds. My want is a wish. God is sovereign, his wants are not wishes. God wants all men to be saved in the same way that I want to love my kids. I want to love them so I will. It is completely in my power to love my kids just like it is completely in God's power to save all of mankind. If anyone wants to tell me that it is not in God's power to save all of mankind then I have to wonder why they are worshipping this powerless God.

All means all. Timothy also says that Christ "gave himself as a ransom for all men." He did not give himself as a ransom for some men, he did not give himself as a ransom for only those who believe in him. He gave himself as a ransom for all men. Would God be a just God if, even though Christ has already paid your ransom, he went and killed you anyway? No, he would not. Your price has been paid. All means all. All means you.

Now, this is Good News.

But, hey, this is just Timothy speaking, right? What did Jesus say?

"But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself." John 12:32.

All means all.

Now, I know what some of you will be thinking. Surely it says in the scirptures that only those who believe in Jesus will be saved. So, at worst I'm wrong and at best we have a contradiction. The scriptures don't contradict themselves however, so does that mean I'm wrong? Lets' look at one of the most famous verses from the Bible, John 3:16:

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever beleives in him shall not perish but have eternal life."

Oh dear, that certainly seems to suggest that eternal life is only for believers, doesn't it?

Well, let's see, how would you define a believer? How about...anyone who would bow their knee before Christ and confess that He is Lord? That would seem to me to be a fairly accurate description of a believer.

Okay, some of you may be ahead of me here, but let's take a quick look at Philippians 2:9-11:

"Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."

So, here we have every knee bowing and every tongue confessing that Jesus Christ is Lord, could it be that everyone will believe? And if all who believe will be saved, and all will believe, then surely all will be saved! Notice also that this scripture refers to all "in heaven and on earth and under the earth." What else can be meant by "under the earth" than in the grave? So even the dead will believe and will be saved. (Think that God can't save people from the grave? Check out Psalm 49:15, "But God will redeem my life from the grave, he will surely take me to himself." This is King David talking of his hope of resurrection, not of God sparing him from the grave and instead taking him to Heaven, for in Acts 2:34 we read, "For David did not ascend to heaven.")

Of course, some here will argue semantics and point out that it merely says that every knee "should" bow...but, of course, man being inherently rebellious, all will not necessarily do what they should. Ok, how about Romans 14:11:

"It is written: "'As surely as I live,' says the Lord, 'Every knee will bow before me; every tongue will confess to God.'"

So, "will" is a bit clearer than "should." Paul here says, "It is written." Where is it written? In Isaiah 45:23:

"By myself I have sworn, my mouth has uttered in all integrity a word that will not be revoked: Before me every knee will bow; by me every tongue will swear."

We now have the same thing being said three times, in both the old and the new testaments. Do you think that maybe God is trying to make a point here? Not only that, but here in Isaiah we have it from the very mouth of God! This word "will not be revoked"! "Every knee will bow"!

This is strong stuff. We started out with a contradiction. The scriptures seemed to be saying that all men would be saved, but at the same time they were saying that only those who believe will be saved. With but a little study we can now clearly see that the scriptures are also saying that all men will believe, so there is no contradiction! All men will believe, all who believe will be saved, therefore all men will be saved.

This is not complicated, and yet the church continues to teach that only a select few (them) will be saved. And they call it Good News?! I have heard it preached so many times that we are saved by grace and not by works...and yet we tell people that in order to be saved they must first do something...they must come forward, confess their sins, accept Christ Jesus as their Lord and Saviour...these things are all as much works as anything else. "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no-one can boast." Eph 2:8-9. And yet how boastful are these so-called "born again" Christians, so assured of their passage to heaven because they believe, and so smug in their condemnation of Hell-bound non-believers. They boast of their salvation while they mock those they believe will be tormented for eternity. It's all a bit sick, really. Once you realise that we will all be saved, there can be no boasting, no pride, only gratitude...and a heartfelt desire to spread the Good News!

So, if we are all saved, then that's great, right? We can all just say "Thank you very much, God" and go right on living our lives like nothing was different. Well, firstly and foremost, I really don't think you can. For me, personally, the revelation of the true Gospel was a life changing moment. Jesus said, in John 8:32, "Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." And in verse 36, "So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed."

But more than that, it truly does make a difference how we live our lives, that is something else the scriptures are clear on.

"By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds. For no-one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man's work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping the flames." 1 Cor 3:10-15

Let's unpack that a bit. The "gold, silver and costly stones" refer to ones righteous and good works, the "wood, hay or straw" refer to our unrighteous and evil acts. On "the Day", or Judgement Day as we've come to know it, all of our works will be brought to light...our secret good deeds and our secret bad deeds. The fire is no more a literal fire than the gold is literal gold, or the straw is literal straw, but on this Day of Judgement, we will be put through the fire, and, of course, wood, hay and straw are burned up in fire...whereas gold, silver and costly stones are not. All of our evil, corrupt actions will be burned away, leaving only the pure, good stuff behind. If we have been good people, the majority of our works will remain, and we will be rewarded for that. If we have been bad, the fire will burn longer to burn off all the bad stuff, and so the process will be harder to bear (though not unbearable). We will be saved, but will have nothing to show for our lives, and so we will receive no more reward than what Christ paid for on the cross...our lives. We will be like a man who wakes in the night to find his house is on fire and runs from the building just in time to see everything he has in the world reduced to ash. Again, I stress, this is not a literal fire, it is a spiritual, metaphorical fire. How can anyone explain the process of God's judgement but by using metaphors?

So, this is the Good News of Christ crucified - you are saved from death.

But, this is the Good News of Christ resurrected - you can inherit the Kingdom of God. We'll get into that in another post, though.

Suffice it to say for now that you are saved, rejoice! Now, go, repent of your sins that they may be forgiven and that on the day of Judgement your works will be of gold, silver and costly stones.

Oh, and if you're wondering about Hell. If we're all saved, there is no Hell. Does teh Bible mention Hell? Some Bibles do, the original Greek and Hebrew scriptures don't, check out bible-truths.com for more info on that and a whole load of other stuff.

If you've got this far, thank you for reading and God Bless YOU!

1 Comments:

Anonymous Chuck Maly said...

Ian,
Very well stated. I am a Bible Student and could not have explained the "Good News" better.
God Bless
Chuck Maly

7:42 PM  

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