(THE SAVED AND THE LOST)
Of great importance in understanding the Word of God as taught in the New Testament Scriptures, are the doctrines of salvation for the unsaved sinners, or those that have wandered away for God <Isa.53:6>, and the doctrine of rewards for those that are converted (saved) <Jn.3:7>. A clear distinction must be made between the two which may be observed in the following contrasts.
- Salvation is a Free Gift: it is offered freely by God; there is no charge to the recipient; and is offered to whoever wishes to accept it. Although the penalty for all sin is death, God offers the gift of eternal life, and we can only be saved by the grace of a merciful God and not by anything that we can do to attain this salvation. “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”…”For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”……”he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.” <Rom 3:23; 6: 23; Titus 3:5 (NIV); see also Isa.55:1; Eph.2:8-9; Rev.22:17>.
- Works or service pleasing to God will be rewarded. Such works are the result of our salvation and are in response to the graciousness of God. We will be rewarded for the good deeds expressed to others in our service to God; we will be rewarded with a “crown of righteousness” for faithfully finishing the task that we have been given here on earth; our reward will be in accordance to our works; our reward will be incorruptible or everlasting unlike earthly rewards. Those who have been trustworthy in the insignificant affairs will be given authority over greater things. All our efforts will be tested by God and we will be rewarded accordingly; and we are encouraged to be faithful to God until the very end of our life and we will receive the “crown of life”; “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day — and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” <2 Tim 4:7-8 (NIV); see also Matt.10:42; Rev.22:12; 1 Cor.9:24-25; Lk.19:17; 1 Cor.3:11-15; Rev.2:10>. Rewards are referred to as crowns, and the Scriptures mention four crowns: joy, or rejoicing for our service; righteousness, for faithfulness in our witness; life, for faithfulness under difficulty; and glory, for our faithfulness under hardship <see Phil.4:1; 1 Thess.2:19; James 1:12; 1 Pet.5:4; Rev.2:10>.
- Salvation is a current possession. We receive the gift of salvation the moment we express our faith or belief in Christ and His provision for us in the “offering” of Himself as a sacrifice to God for our sins <see Lk.7:50; Jn.3:36; 5:24; 2 Tim.1:9; Titus 3:5; 1 Jn.5:11>. This salvation is eternal and we can never suffer the loss of our salvation. Although our old sinful nature may cause us to sin, we have an advocate in heaven, in the person of our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we can request forgiveness. “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life”……” If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”……”But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense — Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins…” <Jn.5:24; 1 John 1:9; 2:1-2 (NIV)>.
- Rewards will be received at a future event. We will receive our reward at the glorious appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ at His second Advent, and such rewards will be “according to our faithful service”. “For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done.” < Matt.16:27 (NIV); see also Lk.14:14; 2 Tim.4:8; 1 Pet.5:4; Rev.22:12>. God’s purpose of rewarding His servants is to restrain us from the pursuit of earthly riches and pleasures; to sustain us in persecution and to encourage us in the exercise of Christian virtues <see Dan.12:3; Matt.5:11-12; 10:41-42; Col.3:22-24; Heb.6:10; 11:8-10, 24-27; 12:2-3; Rev.3:11>.
BELIEVERS AND PRETENDERS
Throughout the Scriptures there has always been two groups of individuals: those that are genuine in their affirmation of belief in God and those that “profess” or pretend to believe but are not genuine in their affirmation. It is unfortunate that such will continue until our Lord Jesus Christ returns in His glory. There are numerous scripture references to this <see Gen.4:3-5; Ex.12:38; Num.11:4-6; Matt.13:24-30, 37-43; 2 Cor.11:13-15; Gal.2:4; 2 Pet.2:1-2; Phil.2:12-13; Eph.2:8-9>.
- Believers are saved – Pretenders are lost. Let us compare what the Scriptures teach in respect to True Believers and Pretenders.
(a) TRUE BELIEVERS: true believers are saved by faith alone; are committed to the teachings of the scriptures; can never lose their salvation and are covered by God’s righteousness. All are known to God and are destined to be with Christ in heaven; the work of salvation that has been started will be completed by Christ when we are taken to be with Him. All are committed to follow Christ to the end. “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” < Jn.10:27-30 (NIV); see also Lk.7:50; Jn.6:37, 39, 47; 10:14; 17:24; Acts 2:42; Rom.3:22; Phil.1:6; 2 Tim.2:19; Rev.19:7-9>.
(b) PRETENDERS: such live a life of pretense, they profess to be saved but their actions prove otherwise; they unfortunately accept leadership roles, and sometimes go as missionaries but are not committed to Christ. God who knows and sees everything – nothing is hid from His eyes – will dismiss them from His presence. “They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.”…. “Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'” <1 Jn.2:19; Matt.7:22-23 (NIV). They do not live by faith! They never entirely surrender to Christ! * <see Matt.22:11-13; 23:28, 33; Jn.6:64-66; Acts 8:13, 21; *Heb.6:4-6; 10:38; James 2:14>.
- Believers Will Be Rewarded – Pretenders Are Condemned.
In conclusion, understand that these principles are a guide to a precise understanding of the teaching of the Scriptures. The judgment of Pretenders is not assigned to us as believers, but is reserved for the Lord Jesus Christ. The believer’s responsibility is to serve God to the best of our ability with the help of The Holy Spirit, anticipating the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.