Salvation Is Not By Chance

Ever flipped a coin to make an important decision? What are the odds of making the right decision by doing so? Most would say it is 50/50. But research has proven that a coin has a 51 percent chance of landing on the side it started from. So, this means if you start with heads up, there’s a slightly bigger chance that a coin will land with heads up. Therefore, the result is not totally random. Yet, some people seem to be “flipping a coin” regarding their eternal soul. These people go through life taking a chance by not making the proper preparation. They are gambling with their souls.

Consider, if there were a coin (which there isn’t) with Heaven as heads, and Hell as tails. Would you be willing to “flip” this coin to determine your eternity? Some probably would try it and “hope” the coin landed with heads (Heaven) up. But this was not God’s plan for the determination for the eternal home of the souls of humanity.

Eternity is not a gamble

Eternity is not a gamble or a “flip of a coin.” God desires all to be saved (1 Timothy 2:3-4). He has delivered a plan whereby man can have the salvation of his soul. In Acts 11:13-14, as Peter was making his defense to the Jews, he said, “And he (Cornelius, JC) reported to us how he had seen the angel standing in his house, and saying, ‘Send to Joppa and have Simon, who is also called Peter, brought here; and he will speak words to you by which you will be saved, you and all your household.” This means that Peter was bringing the Lord’s “instruction” as to how Cornelius and those who heard those Words could be saved.

If heads on the coin is “saved” and leads to Heaven, the other side must be “lost” and leads to Hell. If action, (hear, believe, repent, confess Jesus as the Son of God, being baptized “into Christ”, and then remaining faithful) leads ultimately to Heaven, we can surely grasp that failure to obey, and inactivity (no action) is to be lost. Perhaps this is the idea being conveyed in 1 Peter 4:17-18 where he says, “For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? AND IF IT IS WITH DIFFICULTY THAT THE RIGHTEOUS IS SAVED, WHAT WILL BECOME OF THE GODLESS MAN AND THE SINNER?

We should not take a chance

Could this be why Peter and the eleven, on the day of Pentecost were given words to direct the lost into the kingdom? Acts 2:40 shows this to be the case. The following verse shows how those that believed and received the words responded and what benefit they gained as a result. They were, according to verse 47, “added to the church”. They didn’t take a “chance.” They acted according to the word of God.

This requirement for action is not just applied to the lost. Those who have been saved by the blood of Christ in baptism, are also required to continue the “work” to remain ready for eternity. The Spirit had Paul remind the folks in Philippians 2:12 of this great need when he wrote, “So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling.” Then, the Corinthian brethren in 2 Corinthians 5:9-10 are told, “Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.”

The parable of the lost sheep shows Jesus’ purpose for leaving Heaven and coming to live as a human. He said, “For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost” (Matthew 18:11). And all are aware of God’s great love in allowing His Son to die on Calvary’s cross (John 3:16). But some don’t seem to be understand when Jesus died on that cross, He provided the means for salvation. Jesus told Thomas, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me” (John 14:6). In Matthew 11:28 we find Christ saying, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” No, friend, salvation is not a coin toss, nor is it by happenstance. One of two outcomes will occur, and this outcome is up to you. A person will be saved by doing what God teaches through His word. Or they will ignore God’s teachings and be lost for eternity. Make your choice today and do what God requires. The salvation of your soul is not left to chance.

A Commitment For The Day

With every sunrise and the awakening of the eyes, the war with Satan begins. A man uttered a prayer to God saying, “So far today, I’ve done O.K. I haven’t lost my temper and I haven’t gossiped. I haven’t been grumpy, nasty or selfish, and I am really glad for that! But in a few minutes, Father, I’m going to get out of bed, and from then on, I’m probably going to need a lot of help. Thank you!” Overcoming temptation and the power of sin is a struggle in which the child of God is continuously involved.

Many times, we find ourselves overcome by temptations and struggles again and again. With each day, new challenges face the Christian. To fight the good fight is to continue the struggle each day as the one before, because Satan is never tiring in his work. Peter tells us to add perseverance to our faith (2 Peter 1:6). For a continued spirit of diligence is needed to make our calling and election sure. James tells us, “That the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2-4).

As we look at our lives and wonder how we can ever overcome temptation and sin, the outlook seems bleak. We resign ourselves to accept our sin and pray for God’s mercy. Often, we become despondent over the possibilities of truly being what God wants us to be. When that happens, we in effect have decided that it is not possible to defeat Satan and it is easier to give him the victory than to continue fighting.

Many Reasons for Failure

The reasons for failure are numerous and shared by all men alike. Many know the answer to overcoming sin and even amid combat – armed with the weapons of defense against sin – lay them down to be overcome. Can we be victorious? Can we truly have the hope of eternal life burning within us? Can we be all that God wants us to be? Is that power of faith available to me?

Jesus gives us the answer. “Do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:34). We tend to look at the “big picture” of our life and see what a great challenge we face to overcome sin. While we must be aware of the “big picture” and understand the whole, perhaps we need to focus more on today.

Each day is a big enough picture to look at and deal with. All the tomorrow’s that will ever exist have so many worries and anxieties about them that we can never deal with them. That is why someone said, “Don’t worry about tomorrow, God is already there.” God can deal with all the tomorrow’s and as His Son tells us to deal with the day at hand and we shall have enough to do. As the Danish proverb says, “The only mile we have to worry about is the next mile.”

From this realization that our lives are only understood by the day in which we have, we then must learn how to begin each day to help us through the remainder of the day. Health officials tells us that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and it sets to tone for our day’s health. As with the body, we must feast upon spiritual matters to help us make a good day in the work of the Kingdom.

First, a realization of what lies before us is important to remember. As Paul pointed out in Ephesians 6, we face on onslaught of mighty forces that seek to destroy us. We cannot go out in the day thinking that we are fighting against a small, unprepared army.

If we awoke to the presence of 500,000 armed soldiers surrounding our home with every conceivable weapon of war at their disposal (2 Kings 6), would we just walk out the door casually and think we could defeat this whole army unprepared? That probably is not going to happen, but we must realize Satan is there with his army each day even though we may not physically see them.

A Commitment is Necessary

Jesus died on the cross to give us the victory over sin. We can repel the forces of Satan because the power that we have is greater than the power Satan has. One of Satan’s most effective tools is to convince us that he is too big to defeat. In our daily struggles, we give up because we believe it impossible to stop sin. On the contrary, we have such a great army at our disposal that Satan trembles at the knowledge of such.

God did not leave us alone nor unguarded to fight the host of wickedness. “But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel” (Hebrews 12:22-24).

“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31). We can defeat ourselves if we do not make the proper preparation for the battle. Paul illustrates in Ephesians 6 that we must put on the whole armor of God to withstand in the evil day. Each day must be faced with the commitment to conquer the day. Again, the focus is not to worry about tomorrow but to face the day that is upon us.

A commitment for the day is needed to know the battle plan. We know we have the victory, but we must enact our will to follow the plan for victory. Each day must be faced with prayer. Our prayer is a commitment to overcome what we see approaching during the day. Prayer is not a generalization of some religious thoughts or saying “God, help me.” Rather, it is a specific declaration of truths. In speaking to God, tell him what you plan to do for the day and how you plan to carry it out.

Examine the day and its challenges and declare in specific terms how you will overcome the temptation or sin.

A daily reading of the Bible is not an option to learn how to fight against Satan – it is an absolute necessity! How many times have faithful Christians gone out to battle without a knowledge of God? How many Christians have been overcome by sin due to a lack of His Word? The word of God not only tells us about the wonderful grace and love of God, but it also tells us how the devil works.

Originally by Kent Heaton

Edited and adapted by Jack Critchfield

Inescapable Conclusions

Choices are a part of life. Whether they deal with what to do for a living, who to marry, etc., choices must be made. Most of the time these choices are not restricted to one option but offer several different avenues to a conclusion. However, there are some situations in life where the conclusions are inescapable. God has always had the best interest of His people in mind when giving instruction. That is why Solomon wrote, “The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person” (Ecclesiastes 12:13). But this Old Testament Commandment is also applicable to those of us blessed to live in New Testament times. Of course, all of God’s Directives to man must be “accurately handled” so they can be properly understood and followed.

The apostle Paul wrote much the same thing to Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:15. But here, He also told how we are to “know” what God wants us to do as we strive to be pleasing and acceptable to Him. One cannot know if they will not study! If Timothy needed this admonition, it certainly applies to us as well.

“Why is keeping the Commandments of God” the whole duty of man?”

When Jesus came to earth, He did not come to judge man (John 12:47). His purpose was to bring Salvation (the means for Salvation) to man. But we must also understand the Hebrew writer says judgment will come. He says, “it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). Paul also writes “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:10).

The judgment is an inescapable conclusion if one reads and studies the Bible. We do not know when this will occur, except to the degree the Bible tells us. We know the “end” is coming. 1 Corinthians 15:24-26 tells us this. So, we see that Christ will “rule” or “reign” until the end. The end of what? Peter answers that for us. “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up” (2 Peter 3:10).

Inescapable conclusions

From these Bible facts, we can also conclude that while we are alive and have full access of our faculties is the time to make the needed changes in our lives. One way to make the changes needed within us is to prioritize. Jesus knew this and told those hearing Him preach the Sermon on the Mount that the “kingdom” (the church) which would soon come, and the righteousness of God would have to be first in their lives (Matthew 6:33). The “things” of which the Lord spoke were the other necessities of life such as food, raiment, and shelter.

How do we prioritize the many things within our lives to ensure that we seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness first? Well, it must be through that which will judge us after life for all humanity is over. It is a choice all must make. We can receive His Word, or we can reject it. In John 12:48, Jesus said: “He who rejects Me and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day.” It is an inescapable conclusion that only the Word of God, properly understood and lived leads to the eternal life we desire. If we walk the wrong path or walk the path of this life without the light of the gospel, we will reach a destination we do not wish to reach.

I Know That My Redeemer Lives

The Biblical Story of Job:

Hope is defined as, “To trust in, wait for, look for, or desire something or someone; or to expect something beneficial in the future” (Bakers Evangelical Dictionary). In the 11th chapter of the letter to the Hebrews the writer list for us several of the “heroes of faith” who had this hope.

But perhaps there is one not mentioned in this list. I am sure we have all read the story of Job. While not being listed specifically in the Hebrew letter, Job stands out in the Bible as one who hoped in the Lord. He says, “Oh that my words were written! Oh that they were inscribed in a book! That with an iron stylus and lead They were engraved in the rock forever! As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, …” (Job 19:23-26).

As we start looking at the thought expressed by Job, it is necessary weunderstand Job was a man who respected God (Job 1:1). And a man who was secularly successful at the same time (Job 1:3). But, as we continue our reading, we find that Job catastrophically lost everything, including his health. Yet, the one thing he did not lose was his trust in God. Job earnestly desired that the consolation with which he was comforted based on this hope would be realized by many others as well.

Job’s hope and confidence was three-fold: (1) Job was confident that the Redeemer lives; (2) he also fully expected the Messiah would someday appear to rescue his and other souls; and (3) Job was hopeful and confident regarding the general resurrection in which he would participate.

These are ideas and convictions that encouraged Job in the face of adversity and served as the basis of his hope. In the same way children of God today who find themselves greatly afflicted or facing death can find consolation through the same hope. Certainly, for the rest of us who are relatively free from great trials, can, through this same hope find sufficient strength to satisfactorily cope with daily affairs.

The Redeemer of whom Job spoke is the Christ (Savior, Messiah) whose function and certain ministry on earth was first intimated in Genesis 3:15. The fact that our Redeemer lives is the foundation of our hope; if our God were dead, as some declare, we could have no hope. Job had sure hope based on the resurrection long before Christ walked the earth or was crucified and resurrected. Because we can look backward, we see so much more clearly than Job and yet he harbored great hope–the same hope.

Unlike idolaters whose worship pertains to dead gods fashioned from stone, wood, metal and the imaginations of men, Christians have a living Savior. Our Great Prophet is alive, whereas Moslems revere a dead (buried) prophet. Jews reject the Christ and have no Savior (Redeemer). Only Christians have a living Savior–who resides in heaven at the right hand of God (Acts 1:9-10; 7:55-56).

The 2nd coming of Jesus Christ is the hope of God’s saints both in the Old and New Testament. Our eternity depends on it. As important as the 1st coming of the Christ is it would be meaningless were Jesus not to come again; the 2nd coming. The 2nd coming of the Lord is the fundamental hope of Christians (1 Corinthians 15; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18) and the dreadful fear of the ungodly (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9).

The time when all shall be resurrected is yet to be realized (John 5:28-29). Our hope for eternity rests on our resurrection from the grave; we know we shall be resurrected because the resurrection of Christ guarantees our resurrection. Without such all would be hopeless (1 Corinthians 15:19).

We have a common hope with Job and God’s people of all dispensations: (1) our Redeemer lives; (2) our Redeemer is coming for us; and (3) our Redeemer will resurrect us.

Job desired that his hopes might be recorded in a book or engraved in stone so that others might develop the same kind of hope and become beneficiaries of the same consolations. His words, though, are immortalized in the eternal volume, the Bible, for all to see.