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"Reconciled to God by the Death of His Son"
Paul clarifies the subject of justification in the Book of Romans. In Romans 5:9, 10 we have this explanation-
"Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved [Greek, sozo] from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved [Greek, sozo] by his life."
Here we see a contrast between being "justified by his blood" and being "saved by his life." We need both to attain everlasting life. Being "justified by his blood" is the means whereby we are reconciled to God or justified. Being "saved by his life" means that we must follow in the footsteps of our Master as our life pattern. We also need a living Savior to intercede on our behalf, for when we sin "we have an advocate with the Father" (1 John 2:1). He alone may help us keep our robes "unspotted from the world" (James 1:27).
We are told, "For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need" (Heb. 4:15, 16).
"Saved By Hope"
People don't look very different from each other. We would not be able to stand on a street with people going by and tell who are "justified by his blood" and who are not. In time, all names appear in the obituary columns with no observable difference. The righteous and evil die alike. From the world's observation point it matters little whether Christ's blood reached any. The human scale of observation is of little value in assessing whether being disciples of Christ brings any reward. This fact has given religions a large playing field. They all claim some kind of life after death. If one follows the religious rites prescribed by each, a blessed afterlife is promised.
It is revealing that even non-Christian religions teach death is merely the door to a higher form of life. Many require re-incarnation until reaching the ultimate goal. The Bible teaches that death is an enemy that will be destroyed by Christ (1 Cor. 15:26) and death is the absence of life (Ecc. 9:5, 10). Only the Bible provides man's true hope, which stems from God's provision for a RESURRECTION from the dead and a restoration to life (Acts 24:15; John 5:28, 29).
Christianity is the only religion, besides ancient Judaism, currently teaching a resurrection from death. This is a distinguishing feature setting it apart from other religions. Jesus, the founder of Christianity, was initially the only one who died and rose again-because it was God's purpose to raise him from the dead (Acts 2:32). Jesus promised to resurrect all true disciples and "all that are in the graves" in due time (John 5:28).
Jesus died believing God would resurrect him. His hope was realized when God "raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places. [This was] far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: and hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church" (Eph. 1:20-22). Jesus, the "firstfruits" of the resurrection, implies there shall be after fruit (1 Cor. 15:23).
In one sense we are "saved by hope." Paul says, "For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it" (Rom. 8:24, 25). The Christian must exercise both faith and hope, because the reality of eternal life is not tangible, but something the believer receives by hope and faith. The main difference between true religion and false religion is that one will result in genuine reality and a true reward, whereas the other provides only a grand illusion and an unrealizable reward. The believer must take responsibility for a careful evaluation to see whether his belief is founded in true promises of God or whether the devil has fed him a few scriptures with the intent to deceive him. The devil knows how to use scriptures to deceive. The father of lies told Eve, "Ye shall not surely die" (Gen. 3:4). This still is a very popular lie perpetuated by various denominations and philosophies.
"Confess" and "Believe" in "the Lord Jesus"
It is easy to take a scripture and read more into the verse than is actually stated. When there are one hundred and nine verses mentioning being saved, and people build their faith on only one or two texts-we have serious concern. If God wanted us to build our faith on only one or two verses, why did he provide the whole Bible? Unless we consider all the texts on a subject and harmonize them, we have not rightly divided the Word of Truth. The Bible often states something in one place and then places a qualifying scripture in another place. The student must examine matters very carefully. God does not overtly prevent anyone from believing what they may want to. Only those who harmonize all the texts on a subject will understand the eternal truth the Bible teaches.
Paul says, "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved [Greek., sozo]. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation" (Rom. 10:9, 10). Paul speaks of two things the believer must do-"confess with thy mouth" and believe that "God raised him from the dead." Belief in Jesus' death and resurrection will bring "righteousness" or justification. However, the individual must also make "confession unto salvation." He must own his belief and give public expression to it in his daily life. This is what a true believer would do. It is not what someone whose life is devoid of spiritual reality would do.
Romans 10:13 continues, "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved [Gk., sozo]." Only one requirement is made of the believer. The same apostle is not discounting what he said in the preceding verses, but merely emphasizing that belief in Jesus is the sole means of being "saved" from our sins or the judgment standing against us. As already shown, there is much more to such belief than a casual expression of words. Wholehearted belief and consecration lead to a heavenly reward, but we are not to presume that a mere "call" upon the name of the Lord guarantees heaven to anyone.
"All Israel Shall Be Saved"
Many people have had concern over Jews who have not accepted Christ. According to traditional thinking, they are lost. Consequently, Jews have been pressured into accepting Christ. It would not have been so bad had they been entreated with the Gospel, but more often, the Jews have been bitterly persecuted in the most unchristian manner. They have been subjected to all kinds of hate propaganda and abuse merely for being Jews. Of course, Christians have been highly motivated; after all, they only wanted to "save" the Jews. Nearly five million Jews have been murdered in our day. Much of the hatred toward them, unfortunately, was learned from church history. Jesus was not the source of hatred toward his people. If Christian churches gravitated toward hatred of Jews, it came from another master.
Paul tells of the reconciliation of Jews and their Messiah. Rom. 11:26 says, "And so all Israel shall be saved [Greek., sozo]: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob." When the time comes for Jews to be reconciled to their Messiah their conversion will come easily and painlessly. The "Deliverer" shall come from Mt. Zion, where David's throne was established. Jews will accept him as the heir to David's throne. He will "turn away ungodliness from Jacob." The story of Jesus and his natural brethren could not have a happier ending. "All Israel shall be saved." Will they be saved to heaven? No, but they will be saved from the condemnation that has been against them as well as all men. They shall receive "remission" for their sins. God will enter into a New Covenant with the Jews, which will be written in their hearts, not on tables of stone (Jer. 31:31-34). The results will be wonderful. In the resurrection all the hateful deeds that men have committed will be played back to their shame. Deeds of love and kindness will be sweetly remembered forever.
Heaven-Safe Harbor for Past Sins?
There will "be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust" (Acts 24:15). That which was done in an imperfect world will play back in a perfectly ruled and ordered society. God says, "Is not my way equal (equitable)?" (Eze. 18:25) Things done with evil intent which were not addressed in this life, will be addressed in the "times of restitution of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets" (Acts 3:20, 21). Nobody will get away with anything. In the "regeneration" mankind will correct all past evil works. Good and kind deeds will bring sweet remembrance. One reason heaven is so popular is people think that in heaven, past sins will be erased-no one will have to face up to his past. Those who are judged worthy of the first resurrection will have their past sins blotted out. However, these are the saints who walked closely in the footsteps of their Master, who kept their robes "white and clean" and unspotted from the world. All others will return from the grave to see their past opened for all to observe.
What do the scriptures say? "Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation [properly translated, judgment]" (John 5:28, 29). God has "appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man [the man Christ Jesus] whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead" (Acts 17:31). Mankind will return to earth in the "regeneration" with a full opportunity to overcome their past failures and to grow in grace, knowledge and virtue. This will be a character-building experience for those who come forth to be tested during Christ's reign. Men will learn there is no quick remedy for a life lived without love for God or for one's fellow men. The road back to God is as long as the road away from God. God's ways are equal.
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