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Salvation and I will judge every one according to his ways

   

    Salvation is a hotly contested topic. It all depends, I believe, on the quotations in the Bible that the individual focuses on. Some say that Jesus in the only way, while others claim that Jesus is not the only way to salvation. The Roman Catholic and some Protestants positions are in the article, “The Way to the Kingdom of God” in my website http://www.geocities.com/lauho08 under the Heading Salvation.   

    All agree that the real Christians are mysteriously blessed to proclaim the Good News to all nations. Finally all have to depend on the grace of God as is seen in the crucifixion scene where Jesus assures one of the robbers that, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise."(Luke 23:43 NKJV)

    The various quotations from the Bible are:

   

A) Only Saved Position

 

Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6 NKJV).

 

Salvation is to be found through him alone; in all the world there is no one else whom God has given who can save us" (Acts 4:12 TEV).

 

“He then brought them out and asked, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’ They replied, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved--—you and your household.’" (Acts 16:30-31 NIV)

 

"Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:13 NIV)  

 

“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.” (Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV)

 

“This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 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 Timothy 2:3-6 NIV)

 

Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.” (Mark 16:16 NIV)

 

"For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:17-18 NKJV).

 

“Then Jesus cried out and said, ‘He who believes in Me, believes not in Me but in Him who sent Me. And he who sees Me sees Him who sent Me. I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness. And if anyone hears My words and does not believe, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him; the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day. For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak. And I know that His command is everlasting life. Therefore, whatever I speak, just as the Father has told Me, so I speak.’" (John 12:44-50 NKJV)
 

“We were God's enemies, but he made us his friends through the death of his Son. Now that we are God's friends, how much more will we be saved by Christ's life!” (Romans 5:10 TEV)

 

“For it was by hope that we were saved; but if we see what we hope for, then it is not really hope. For who of us hopes for something we see?” (Romans 8:24 TEV)

 

If you confess that Jesus is Lord and believe that God raised him from death, you will be saved. (Romans 10:9 TEV)

 

“As the scripture says, ‘Everyone who calls out to the Lord for help will be saved.’" (Romans 10:13 TEV)

 

“This is a true saying, to be completely accepted and believed: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. I am the worst of them,” (1 Timothy 1:15 TEV)

 

B) Judgment Position

   

    ‘Do I have any pleasure at all that the wicked should die?’ says the Lord GOD, ‘and not that he should turn from his ways and live?’ But when a righteous man turns away from his righteousness and commits iniquity, and does according to all the abominations that the wicked man does, shall he live? All the righteousness which he has done shall not be remembered; because of the unfaithfulness of which he is guilty and the sin which he has committed, because of them he shall die. Yet you say, 'The way of the Lord is not fair.' ‘Hear now, O house of Israel, is it not My way which is fair, and your ways which are not fair?’ When a righteous man turns away from his righteousness, commits iniquity, and dies in it, it is because of the iniquity which he has done that he dies. Again, when a wicked man turns away from the wickedness which he committed, and does what is lawful and right, he preserves himself alive. Because he considers and turns away from all the transgressions which he committed, he shall surely live; he shall not die. Yet the house of Israel says, 'The way of the Lord is not fair.' O house of Israel, is it not My ways which are fair, and your ways which are not fair? Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways,’ says the Lord GOD. ‘Repent, and turn from all your transgressions, so that iniquity will not be your ruin. Cast away from you all the transgressions which you have committed, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of one who dies,’ says the Lord GOD. ‘Therefore turn and live!’”(Ezekiel 18:19-32 NKJV)

 

“The Lord is . . .  not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9 NKJV)

 

“And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.”(John 10:16 KJV)

 

“When the Judgment Day comes, many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord! In your name we spoke God's message, by your name we drove out many demons and performed many miracles!' Then I will say to them, 'I never knew you. Get away from me, you wicked people!'” (Matthew 7:22-23 TEV) 

 

“My conscience is clear, but that does not prove that I am really innocent. The Lord is the One who passes judgment on me. So you should not pass judgment on anyone before the right time comes. Final judgment must wait until the Lord comes; He will bring to light the dark secrets and expose the hidden purpose of people’s minds. And then all will receive from God the praise they deserve.” (1 Corinthians 4:3-5 TEV) 

 

“When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right hand, 'Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.' Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?' And the King will answer and say to them, 'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.' Then He will also say to those on the left hand, 'Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.' Then they also will answer Him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?' Then He will answer them, saying, 'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.' And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life." (Matthew 25:31-46 NKJV)

 

C) Mysteriously Blessed Position

 

 “And he (Jesus) added, "This is the very reason I told you that no people can come to me unless the Father makes it possible for them to do so." (John 6:65 TEV)

 

“. . . no one can confess ‘Jesus is Lord,’ without being guided by the Holy Spirit.” (1 Corinthians 12:3 TEV)   

 

“Not everyone who calls me 'Lord, Lord' will enter the Kingdom of heaven, but only those who do what my Father in heaven wants them to do.” (Matthew 7:21 TEV) 

 

Even before the world was made, God had already chosen us to be his through our union with Christ, so that we would be holy and without fault before him. Because of his love God had already decided that through Jesus Christ he would make us his children---this was his pleasure and purpose.” (Ephesians 1:4-5 TEV)

 

“For you gave him authority over all people, so that he might give eternal life to all those you gave him. And eternal life means to know you, the only true God, and to know Jesus Christ, whom you sent.” (John 17:2-3 TEV)

   

“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.” (Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV)

     

“My friends, what good is it for one of you to say that you have faith if your actions do not prove it? Can that faith save you? Suppose there are brothers or sisters who need clothes and don't have enough to eat. What good is there in your saying to them, ‘God bless you! Keep warm and eat well!’---if you don't give them the necessities of life? So it is with faith: if it is alone and includes no actions, then it is dead. But someone will say, ‘One person has faith, another has actions.’ My answer is, ‘Show me how anyone can have faith without actions. I will show you my faith by my actions.’" (James 2:14-18 TEV)

              

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never die. No one can snatch them away from me. What my Father has given me is greater than everything, and no one can snatch them away from the Father's care. The Father and I are one." (John 10:27-30 TEV)

 

D) Final Position

   

    With our limited mind we can never fully understand the ways of the infinite God. God has His own ways and means to work in the hearts of men. The questions we need to constantly remind ourselves are:
    1. Do we know in what ways God is appearing to that soul?
    2.
Do we know in what ways God is drawing that soul to Him?
    3. Do we know really know in what ways God wants to work in that heart?

    4. Do we know how God wants to reveal Himself to that mind?
    If we do not know what God is doing, who are we to say that a person is saved or not?

 

    Take the case of the robbers in the crucifixion scene:

          At first the two robbers mocked, scoffed and blasphemed at Jesus: “Then two robbers were crucified with Him, one on the right and another on the left. And those who passed by blasphemed Him, wagging their heads and saying, ‘You who destroy the temple and build it in three days, save Yourself! If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross.’ Likewise the chief priests also, mocking with the scribes and elders, said, ‘He saved others; Himself He cannot save. If He is the King of Israel, let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe Him. He trusted in God; let Him deliver Him now if He will have Him; for He said, 'I am the Son of God.' Even the robbers who were crucified with Him reviled Him with the same thing.” (Matthew 27:38-44 NKJV).

    But, in the last minutes just before they died, who could have imagined that one of the robbers would be assured of salvation:Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, ‘If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us.’ But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, ‘Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong.’ Then he said to Jesus, ‘Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.’"(Luke 23:39-43 NKJV)

 

    This is how Max Lucado describes the crucifixion scene:

    “The man they mocked was half-dead. The man they mocked was beaten. But the man they mocked was at peace. “Father, forgive them, because they don’t know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).

After Jesus’ prayer, one of the criminals began to shout insults at him: “Aren’t you the Christ? Then save yourself and us” (v. 39).

    The heart of this thief remains hard. The presence of Christ crucified means nothing to him. Jesus is worthy of ridicule, so the thief ridicules. He expects his chorus to be harmonized from the other cross. It isn’t. Instead, it is challenged.

    “You should fear God! You are getting the same punishment he is. We are punished justly, getting what we deserve for what we did. But this man has done nothing wrong” (vv. 40—41).

    Unbelievable. The same mouth that cursed Christ now defends Christ. What has happened? What has he seen since he has been on the cross? Did he witness a miracle? Did he hear a lecture? Was he read a treatise on the trinity?

    No, of course not. According to Luke, all he heard was a prayer, a prayer of grace. But that was enough. Something happens to a man who stands in the presence of God. And something happened to the thief.

    Read again his words. “We are punished justly, getting what we deserve. .. . But this man has done nothing wrong?’

The core of the gospel in one sentence. The essence of eternity through the mouth of a crook:

    I am wrong; Jesus is right.

    I have failed; Jesus has not.

    I deserve to die; Jesus deserves to live.

    The thief knew precious little about Christ, but what he knew was precious indeed. He knew that an innocent man was dying an unjust death with no complaint on his lips. And if Jesus can do that, he just might be who he says he is.

    So the thief asks for help: “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom?”

    The heavy head of Christ lifts and turns, and the eyes of these two meet. What Jesus sees is a naked man. I don’t mean in terms of clothes. I mean in terms of charades. He has no cover. No way to hide.

His title? Scum of the earth. His achievement? Death by crucifixion. His reputation? Criminal. His character? Depraved until the last moment. Until the final hour. Until the last encounter.

    Until now.

    Tell me, what has this man done to warrant help? He has wasted his life. Who is he to beg for forgiveness? He publicly scoffed at Jesus. What right does he have to pray this prayer?

    Do you really want to know? The same right you have to pray yours.

    You see, that is you and me on the cross. Naked, desolate, hopeless, and estranged. That is us. That is us asking, “In spite of what I’ve done, in spite of what you see, is there any way you could remember me when we all get home?”

    We don’t boast. We don’t produce our list. Any sacrifice appears silly when placed before God on a cross.

It’s more than we deserve. But we are desperate. So we plead. As have so many others: The cripple at the pool. Mary at the wedding. Martha at the funeral. The demoniac at Geresene. Nicodemus at night. Peter on the sea. Jairus on the trail. Joseph at the stable. And every other human being who has dared to stand before the Son of God and admit his or her need.

   We, like the thief, have one more prayer. And we, like the thief, pray.

    And we, like the thief, hear the voice of grace. Today you will be with me in my kingdom.

    And we, like the thief, are able to endure the pain knowing he’ll soon take us home. (He Still Moves Stones, 185-186)

 

          It defies human understanding that even at the moment before his death, the robber can be saved. So, it may be best that we leave salvation to the grace of God:

     “He saved us. It was not because of any good deeds that we ourselves had done, but because of his own mercy that he saved us, through the Holy Spirit, who gives us new birth and new life by washing us. God poured out the Holy Spirit abundantly on us through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that by his grace we might be put right with God and come into possession of the eternal life we hope for.” (Titus 3:5-7 TEV)

        Peter says, “We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved” (Acts 15:11 NIV)

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