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Bible verses about Salvation, Opportunity for
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Ephesians 2:11-12

What a depressing status! If these verses stood alone, these "aliens" and "strangers" would indeed live their lives in vain. Without a future opportunity for salvation, they would truly be lost forever.

Are millions lost because they never heard the name of Christ? What about infants who died? What about the billions enslaved under the dreadful yoke of atheistic communism? They did not choose to be born in a godless society. Are the doors forever shut on those born in a nation dominated by Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, or Islam? Most calling themselves Christian think so.

Could we call God merciful if He consigned people to hopelessness merely because of an accident of birth? Would He be fair to condemn those who never heard? God can do anything He wants. It is, after all, His creation. In verse 13, though, there is a slight crack in the door of hope: "But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ." Everyone has stood in the Gentile's position of being far off from salvation. We have all had to be brought near by the blood of Jesus Christ. Could the only difference between us and them be a matter of timing?

Imagine the multiple billions who have lived through childhood unloved, uneducated, and unhealthy in body and spirit. They may have endured miserable marriages, reared and lost children to disease, war, and natural disaster. Others may have spent seemingly pointless lives growing old, neglected, and disrespected as fodder for the next disaster.

The heaven and hell doctrines of this world's Christianity may make for interesting reading, but they render the judgments and resurrections of God as superfluous. They diminish the creative power of the great, merciful God in these areas as finished and past, not as ongoing and future.

In contrast, the Last Great Day has a very special meaning to those who understand. It answers perplexing questions about the great masses of humanity who are living or have died without knowledge of God's way or a true understanding of Jesus Christ, the only "name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12). In my multiple decades as a minister, I have yet to talk with anyone from another church who knows the fate of these "lost" people.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Final Harvest


 

1 Timothy 2:1

Three times in four brief verses (I Timothy 2:1, 3-4, 6), God states He has planned for the salvation of all. Since He desires to save all men, they must all be given an opportunity for it. It is very obvious from human experience that very few among all mankind have ever heard the gospel or come to the knowledge of the truth.

Verse 6 also says that Christ is a ransom for all, and this will be testified or witnessed of in due time. The way Paul wrote this shows that the testifying is still future. In other words, many had not heard of Christ's ransom for sin, and Paul indicates that he expected many then living and many yet unborn would also die without hearing of it. But it would be witnessed to all in due time because Jesus Christ is the only name under heaven by which men can be saved.

God's plan, humanly speaking, covers a long time. Like Paul, Peter clearly says that God does not desire anyone to perish. Other scriptures indicate that some will, but it is not God's will that they do so.

The critical factor in these verses is repentance. How can a person repent if he does not have knowledge of the truth, if he does not know the purpose God is working out, of what he should repent, why he should repent, or by what means his sins are forgiven? The overwhelming majority of people who have ever lived on earth fit into this category! These things remain untestified to them.

I Corinthians 15:21-23 adds another important revelation to this mystery. "For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ's at His coming."

Simply put, God is proceeding according to a plan. All die, but that same all will also be made alive, resurrected in a certain order according to God's plan. Verse 26 reads, "The last enemy that will be destroyed is death"—it has not yet been destroyed! This means that God's plan is still continuing, and in due time the opportunity for salvation will come to all, even though God must resurrect many to that opportunity. Most churches exclude most of this world from salvation because they are not part of their group. Why do people scoff when we point out that God will give all mankind the chance to conform to His image?

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Final Harvest


 

Revelation 2:2

To each church in the letters in Revelation 2 and 3, Christ says, "I know your works." People with an incomplete knowledge of Christianity will argue almost endlessly and quite vociferously that no works are needed for salvation. These people are simply, if energetically and zealously, confused.

Salvation is indeed a free gift; it cannot be earned by anyone's works. But that does not mean Christianity has no works. Why would Christ say, "I know your works," if He did not expect people to have them as part of their way of life, as part of Christianity, and if He was not, in most cases, disappointed at the way that the people were working? Christianity does have works as a major part of its makeup.

Herbert Armstrong used to explain salvation and grace and works in an understandable and accurate way. He said, "If I freely offered to give to you one million dollars, but you have to meet the condition of walking across the room to get it, you haven't earned the money by simply walking across the room. You worked during the walk, you met a condition, but the money was still a gift. If the gift had not been offered in the first place, no amount of walking across the room would have earned it. You could have walked from here to Tokyo if you wanted to, and it still would not have earned you that gift. The gift had to be freely offered first."

Think of this in terms of eternal life. No amount of work, no degree of quality of work, can earn that gift for us. We do not have immortality inherent in us, for immortality is something that must be given as a gift. This is what God offers us. He offers us the opportunity to be born again into the Kingdom of God, thus receiving the gift of eternal life. It must be given and received as a gift. However, it is given on the conditions of faith, repentance, and remaining loyal to Him and to His way.

It is in the area of loyalty that works play a major role. We show our loyalty by the way we talk, what we talk about, who we fellowship with, and what we do with our time, our knowledge, and energy. In short, we show our loyalty by our works—that is, by our conduct—and what we produce with what we have been given.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Love and Works


 

 




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