According to the Word of God there will be at least three categories of people who wind up in Hell’s eternal flames, such as those who understood the message of salvation but rejected it, or those who never heard the message but ignored their natural intuition to seek more truth. But by far the greater category will be those who allowed themselves to be deceived into thinking they were bound for an eternal Paradise, even as they were heading for an eternal Hell instead.
If we are going to understand how that happens, we must accept two vital peculiarities about the Word of God:
1.) God’s WORD is perfect because,
2.) GOD is perfect.
Perfection means absolute purity, righteousness, and holiness. As such, He cannot remain perfect if He tolerates the imperfect in any measure without a perfect Advocate between Himself and the opposite. Jesus Christ is that Perfect Advocate.
This immutable truth falls out to us this way: God’s truth, being absolutely perfect, cannot be progressive. It never adapts to changing human society, but rather demands without apology that humanity adapt to His own immutable, inflexible standard of what is right and what is wrong. He even said of our relationship to Him, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father in Heaven is perfect” (Matt. 5:48). No matter what it is that humans do, whether in word, deed, custom, dress, artistry, poetry, music, occupation, politics, and especially church, they must conform to God’s holy, righteous, and perfect standards, or else it will miss the aims of His will every time.
Brought under God’s scrutiny, if it has even the very appearance of evil, then something is afoul of His standard of holiness. Do we see our reaction to this? Since our very depraved natures are afoul anyway, we are by nature attracted to worldly offers, and find ourselves all too easily led astray by our fleshly appetites, most especially in our taste in vision, preference in music, and quality of speech.
With the understanding that God’s Word is perfect and cannot be progressive with human society, it is reckless, yes, reckless, to dismiss so-called Old School Christians of yesteryear as being outdated, behind the times, and should be put aside now for the modern generations with new innovations for evangelizing. What such reckless mouths forget is that on every occasion when the church had an awakening (three in America alone!), they always had to go back to what former generations had already found out: That is, go back and “Do your first works over.” Frankly, until the newer generations manage to get the quality of results the older generations did, they should keep their mouths shut. After all, if they do get the same results it will be because they also went back to the first works of the perfect New Testament pattern. There is simply no other way, no matter what clamor we hear about New-School, Purpose Driven, or any other such nonsense.
God’s perfect Word is always present in God’s earth to show us the way. Like sheep, we need shepherds who will not only feed us all of God’s pure truth, but who are not afraid to crack rebellious knuckles. But God’s Word is crystal clear: Unlike sheep, even without a shepherd we are personally responsible for how we treat God’s holy Word.
Since creation, the world has always teemed with other books and/or false prophets. But only God’s Book has proven itself beyond measure to be the one and only solution to the voracious, ever-seeking, restless souls of humanity. It behooves us, then, to know and understand exactly what God has openly declared to be the truth about His offer of salvation to every soul. In answering that sobering question of eternal consequence, the direction of this article is to show what salvation is not.
~ ~ ~ Christian Salvation is not a thing of the head. This one perhaps accounts for the greater part of those who miss the truth of it. Here is where many well-meaning souls flake off into deception through intellectually cold calculation. Millions of souls have side-tracked into this stark land of granite monuments of facts and figures. Old Testament Jewry slipped into this legal minefield with the Mosaic Law, and a great host of New Testament Christians are there as well through the same legalistic mechanical treatment. Jesus said, “These things ye should have done, and not leave the other undone” (Luke 11:42), meaning they had missed the very personal spirit of God’s Word.
So often we hear about many coming forward to make “Decisions for Christ,” as though that many actually received God’s genuine salvation. Unfortunately, the actual statistics show only a smattering of those go on to serve God. Yes, many were convicted of sin, but few committed. It is one thing to come under conviction of the truth, but it is quite another to make it one’s own. Why? Because God also demands immediate repentance, a turning away from former sinful practices, and a turning toward a life of holiness. Frankly, few are willing to make that reverse of lifestyle. The lack of it openly declares their sincerity in the whole matter, and so they return to their old ways.
However, if the prospective convert can be convinced that one can be saved while continuing in much the same lifestyle as before, many times they will proceed into the good graces of the fellowship of a church of similar deceived Christians while assuming that God accepts such practices. But a church whose standards of Biblical holiness are lowered to keep saints comfortable will have an atmosphere more common to a community club membership. Such a church is best depicted as the intellectuals Paul encountered on Mars Hill (Acts 17). They were there only to “Hear some new thing.” The second nature of which is commonly called GOSSIP.
~ ~ ~ Christian Salvation is not unemotional! There is no such thing as half a human being, unless it is a corpse. True salvation involves one’s entire being—body, soul, and spirit. It is flatly impossible for one to go from a state of separation from one’s holy, perfect Creator to a state of unity with Him—the imperfect suddenly comes into union with the Perfect—without it impacting one’s emotional state in some way. If a healthy human cannot keep from flinching at a nearby unexpected explosion, or from the sudden news that one has gone from rags to riches, or from a myriad of other such surprising impacts, then one cannot prevent the same reaction to sudden peace and fellowship with one’s holy Creator. Frankly, a simple change of mind in our value system is not enough. Worldly people do that all the time. When we cease being one creature but suddenly wake up a new creature where “Old things are passed away…and all things are become new” (2 Corinth. 5:17), we are going to DO more than casually go on about our business.
If our conversion experience fails to make us feel saved, we would do well to question what we are calling “salvation.” By our very nature the feeling part of our salvation follows the spiritual. If we walk daily with God in proper fellowship, we will radiate peace, joy, and happiness, all of which show up in us as emotional expressions. And if that is not what we are showing, then we have probably left the Lords presence and have foolishly stepped onto the conveyor belt heading in the opposite direction.
~ ~ ~ Christian Salvation has no family ties: not social, tribal, communal, ecclesiastical, or national; not inner circle, outer circle, political, clannish, marital, regional, ethnic, racial, for the poor, the rich, the healthy, the sickly—none of those things. While it is for all of those, it is not tied to any of them. Just because one may have connections with one or all of them, salvation does not depend on any of them. Instead, it is for individual, solitary persons ONLY, to take place inside the confines of their God-given free wills when he created us in His own image of freedom. Scripture makes it starkly clear that only individuals are judged on judgment day. This free-willed image of God in each of us means a person cannot claim a bad upbringing, ignorance, a tragedy, or holding a grudge against God for anything, as an excuse for not accepting God’s salvation. All of that lame tommyrot is swept away in God the Father’s seeing the sacrificial death of His only begotten Son as the one and only reason He doesn’t sweep all of sinful humanity into Hell anyhow! There is absolutely no excuse whatever He will accept for rejecting that sole sacrifice to save us. Yes, He is aware of human suffering, and has compassion on those who got cheated in life, but to all those who reach the age of accountability, God’s steady finger points at our noses saying something like, “You now freely stand in the land of golden opportunity, thanks to my merciful Son. My question to you demands an answer: What are YOU going to do about HIM?” All too often we fix on doctrines that focus only on His Son’s compassion, kindness, mercy, love, long suffering, and other such qualities in His Son. Sadly, we forget about His Father, who’s base attribute is holiness and justice, which gave rise to the work of His Son. When we consider salvation, we dare not fail to look beyond the Son to see His Father who stands ready to execute judgment on those who reject His dearly beloved Son. There is a very good reason to FEAR GOD. Just as surely as there is eternal life in the Son, there is eternal doom in the hands of His Father! As His Word warns, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of an angry God” (Heb. 10:31).
~ ~ ~ Christian Salvation is not an escape from trouble and persecution. Most Christians will agree with that. But most overlook the fact that it is MORE than NOT an escape from it. If the salvation is genuine, it will amount to a guaranteed SHORTCUT to trouble, especially persecution. The Word of God is specific to this: “They that live Godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (2 Tim. 3:12). The word is emphatic: SHALL, not might. The only escape from it is the old adage of “go along to get along.” A stand for right will get you shot in an ally, or your head severed from your body, you and your family eaten by lions, a life of chains in the salt mines, worked to death as an oarsman in a Roman galley, burned at the stake, living life as a slave to a despot, dying of starvation, being burned alive in your church. The fortunate will be merely the object of gossip, peer pressure, finger pointing, whispering, fun poking, even a challenge to fisticuffs.
Why? Again, because of the free will in every human. We fail to consider that evil men have free wills created by God to be just as free in this world as good men. We all have it by natural instinct, and know we have it as surely as we know our head sits on our shoulders. God guarantees the free operation of that gift, whether for good or for evil. The free wills of the evil men of 911 flying that airliner into the twin towers, for a brief instant came eye to eye with the free wills of some Christians in the Tower. They all met in a flame of death and destruction because God guaranteed the free operation of both wills. The spiritual law of humanity’s free will in both brought them both to the ground by another of God’s natural laws which He guarantees to operate—gravity. When God’s people who accept His salvation and purposely put Him in charge of their lives, individually or as a nation, they become a bulwark against evil men. If not, God’s law of free will guarantees that “Evil men shall wax worse and worse” (2 Tim 3:13). Christians get themselves into a heap of trouble under the false notion of “God is in control,” meaning whatever evil takes power must be there because God’s providence pre-planned it and “allowed” it. Such error nullifies God’s mandate to His church to evangelize a lost world with the Good News of genuine Salvation.