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"Unto Us Who Are Saved"
"For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God." 1 Corinthians 1:18
Here is a scripture some would use to prove that being "saved" is a final transaction and every believer who confesses Christ is saved to heaven and cannot be "unsaved." This is supposed to be powerful Gospel preaching which delivers everyone who confesses Christ to the portals of heaven.
There was the case of a minister from a Bible seminary who came through a local neighborhood. All seminary students were required to go door to door with a message something like this: "If you were to die today, do you know if you would go to heaven?" One person answered he did not wish to preempt God in judgment and humbly said, "God is my judge, and I cannot and will not judge my own case before God." The seminary student said, "What kind of weak faith do you have? Here and now I can guarantee heaven for you." He told the person if he offered this prayer he would be guaranteed heaven. It reads:
"Dear Jesus: I know I'm a sinner. I know I cannot save myself. I know you died on the cross for my sin. I ask you to come into my heart, and forgive my sins, and take me to heaven when I die. Amen."
Regrettably, this type of preaching is going on almost everywhere in person, on radio and on television. Quoting one or two verses of the Bible, preachers are offering free tickets to heaven, while leaving out vast numbers of Bible verses that suggest other needed qualifications. This type of preaching is very popular in today's easy virtue society. Who can prove them wrong for offering a free passage to heaven? It satisfies the emotional longing for security to believe that with an easy confession, such as, "I accept Jesus as my Savior," heaven is certain. Jesus never offered heaven on such a simple basis. Remember how he discouraged the nobleman whom he loved from eternal life by making the terms difficult?
What shall we say about Paul's words, "unto us which are saved?" (1 Corinthians 1:18) Here we find the translators are a little too relaxed. They evidently believed in the theology that you are either "saved" or you are not "saved." However, the Greek, [sozo] "saved" used here means clearly "being saved." It is not a forever-accomplished fact, but an ongoing process.
The New American Standard Bible, Green's Interlinear Greek English and most accurate modern translations support the thought of an ongoing salvation for "being saved." Quoting the entire verse from the New American Standard Bible, we read, "For the word of the cross is to those who are perishing foolishness, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." How beautiful is this correct reading. Some may not like it because it robs them of "saved" to heaven as an accomplished fact. Everyone seeking the truth of God's Word must have a good, honest heart and strive to understand and harmonize the Bible.
This verse speaks of "being saved" as an ongoing process that will ultimately lead to a heavenly reward. It is not a finished fact, as the King James Version would suggest. The individual who remains a footstep follower of the Master may hope for a heavenly reward. The word "saved" when expanded upon may have the connotation of heaven. Three other verses imply that heaven is the ultimate meaning of saved. The heavenward journey starts with "remission of sins" and the gift of the "Spirit," but the end of the Christian journey is to "live and reign with Christ."
"For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved [Greek, being saved, Green Interlinear Bible*], and in them that perish [Greek, being lost, Green Interlinear Bible*]" (2 Corinthians 2:15).
Translators ignored the literal requirements of the Greek and chose "saved" and "lost" as a foregone conclusion. Careful evaluation of what the Scriptures say helps avoid wrong conclusions. Christians are "being saved" when saved includes the development of holiness and putting on the mind of Christ. Outside of Christ, the world is "being lost" or perishing. This means people are dying. Does it mean they are beyond God's grace? No. They perish when they go down into the grave, but all in their graves "shall hear his [Jesus'] voice, and shall come forth" (John 5: 28, 29). The resurrection of the dead provides a future day of salvation for the world.
Matthew 10:22, 23 says, "And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved [Greek, sozo]. But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another."
The believer "must endure to the end" the hatred of the world to receive the end of his faith-salvation. Anyone can enter a race with reasonable qualifications, but few triumphantly pass the finish line. The end of our faith is, as Peter says, "the salvation of [our] souls" (1 Peter 1:9). The apostle is speaking of the "end of our faith," and not its beginning.
Matthew 24:12, 13 says, "And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved [Greek, sozo]."
This text is rarely quoted because it does not offer easy salvation. Jesus' disciples must endure the trials of life faithfully while the love of many may be turning cold. Only such receive the commendation, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant" (Luke 19:17). Why do so many desire the commendation of "well done" without having done well?
God is not mocked, "For whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting" (Galations 6:7, 8). It is a grand delusion for any to hope to be "saved" while living lives devoid of spiritual reality. There is no Biblical support for an easy entrance to heaven. Yet some preachers will assert that all works diminish grace. This, too, is a mistake.
The works necessary to salvation are works of character and faith. The Christian must put on all the "graces" of the "Spirit." They are works of grace accomplished in the Christian through the holy Spirit. The Christian must put on the "Lord Jesus Christ." How can one be a follower of Christ in any other way? The form of works properly deprecated in the Bible can only refer to outward works or self-justifying works. These, all will agree, cannot commend anyone to God. However, inward works of character and faith enhancement are necessary to Christian growth in Christ.
Mark 13:13 reads, "And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved [Greek, sozo]."
Here the Word brings into focus the end goal for which we were given "remission of sins" and the "Spirit." The goal is to experience the glorification change that will unite us with our beloved Master. As Paul says, "It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him: if we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us" (2 Timothy 2:11, 12). The Lord may be denied verbally, but more often it means to deny him by our life and actions. There are stringent requirements for each follower of the Master. "Suffering" and being "dead" with Jesus is not easy. It will require utmost diligence to live as a true disciple of Christ.
"Saved: Yet so as by Fire"
In 1 Corinthians 3:15 "fire" brings salvation. We read, "If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved [Greek, sozo]; yet so as by fire." Two classes build upon the "foundation of Christ." One class builds with "gold, silver and precious stones." The other builds with "wood, hay and stubble." The Christian's faith will be subjected to "fire" to test his faith structure. Those who build with the "gold, silver and precious stones" of the pure Word of the Lord will be able to pass the "fiery trials." Those who build on the foundation of Christ with faulty theology that does not harmonize the Scriptures will find themselves in trouble. "Wood, hay and stubble" of human tradition and popular errors will not do. Their faith structure will be consumed in the fiery trials the Lord will bring upon them, yet because they built on the true foundation of Christ, they shall be "saved," in the sense of being delivered out of the fire. However, they will suffer the loss of "living and reigning with Christ." The Lord in his mercy has a place for these poor builders-before the throne, where they will "serve him day and night in his temple" (Revelation 7:14-17).
"Them That Are Sanctified"
"For by one offering he hath perfected for ever [once for all] them that are sanctified" (Hebrews 10:14). This text has been used to prove that with one sweeping sacrifice the Lord's followers are "sanctified" forever. It is true that our justification is a finished work provided by Christ when he ascended in the presence of God "for us." It cannot be a process of justification or "being justified." The moment God accepts our consecration to do His will, from that moment we receive justification or "remission of sins." This is not an ongoing activity. We are justified by our faith in Christ. Sanctification is another matter. We are in a continuing mode of sanctification until it is accomplished. Sanctification means to "be purified" or a state of "holiness," according to Strong* (#38). (*Strong's Exhaustive Concordance, by James Strong, S. T. D., L. L. D., published by Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, MI 1987 edition.) It means following after God's holiness, "without which no man shall see the Lord." "This is the will of God, even your sanctification" (1 Thessalonians 4:3). This is an ongoing work in every true Christian.
Hebrews 10:14 has been used to teach what the Greek does not say. Rotherham translates it correctly, "For by one offering hath he perfected for ever them who are being made holy." Every true reading should have "being made holy" or "being sanctified." Translators have generally rendered a great service to all that love the Bible. In the process of translation, judgments have to be made. Sometimes it is easy to make wrong judgments that seem innocent enough. The term "perfected for ever" refers to justification, which is a continual basis for the remission of sins. This is an accomplished fact for all in Christ. Christ does not have to die over and over again for our justification. He died once and "dieth no more" (Romans 6:9). This is in contrast to the Jewish arrangement when sinners had to offer repeated sacrifices for their sins because, in fact, these sacrifices never really took away their sins. The translators did not see the difference between justified ("perfected for ever") and "sanctified." "Perfected for ever" refers to remission of sins or justification provided through the finished work of Christ. "Being made holy" is the ongoing work in all Christians. The work of God in us is our "sanctification" or "being made holy."
In Romans 12:1, 2 we read, "I beseech you therefore, brethren...that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God... And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind..." This text leaves no room for those living lives devoid of spiritual reality. The Christian must be "transformed by the renewing" of his mind. Failing in this, he will be "conformed to this world." One is either being "led by the Spirit of God" or being "conformed to this world" which is under the ruler of darkness.
God's will is done in heaven. It always has been, and always will be. God is committed to having his will done. In the outworking of God's plan, those who wish to live outside of his will cannot hope for life everlasting in heaven or on earth. God does not grant "remission of sins" to any who wish to have a license to sin. Those who find pleasure in unrighteousness cannot enjoy fellowship with God and his dear Son. God had a solution for sin even before he created man on earth. The solution was very simple and final-death. We knew nothing before birth-neither life's pleasures nor its heartaches. As it was before we were born, so it is after we die, except for the hope of the "resurrection of the dead." "The wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 6:23).
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