Thursday, October 3, 2013

Lord, are there few that be saved?

Most Holy Name of the Blessed Virgin Mary--->
<---God and the Angels


From the view that all are called to salvation, is becoming more "narrow" focus and increasingly pessimistic about the amount of people going to be saved. Eager to know more about the proposed doctrinal arguments, attempting to develop an answer by observing the progressive revelation of God in Scripture - which some call the "biblical theological perspective."

This analysis will lead to an answer "pessimistic optimist" to the question - pessimistic about humanity's hostility toward God and deserved judgment (few will be saved), but optimistic about gratitude, kindness, love, the sovereignty of God and the salvation He offers us (many will know it, but will not insist).

Before this, however, we will briefly discuss two crucial assumptions behind the question. The first concerns the nature of ‘salvation’, which we will take to be the process resulting in a perfect relationship with the living God. The second question the meaning of the word ‘few’, with the need to hold in tension both its absolute and relative meaning.

We begin with a brief look at Jesus' answer to this question, assuming that this must fit at least the rest of our thinking.

The question: Luke 13:22

When Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem, was asked the question: "Lord, will only a few people be saved?".
The question is only recorded in Luke, and Jesus does not directly answer without answering both "how many", but who "will be saved". Although the immediate context in Luke is two parables that speak of the greatness and omnipresence of the kingdom of God (the mustard seed and the yeast), it is clear that Luke 13:22 is the start of a new section in the story of Jesus on the road to Jerusalem.

In response to the question, Jesus establishes a "personal ethical challenge" to his listeners to strive to enter by the narrow gate, which means responding to your message, to acknowledge him as Lord, King and Savior of the world. The warning follows the need to urgently respond to this message, lest the "home owner" refuses to know when they finally knock on the door. These images suggest that the answer to our question is indeed say "yes" to Jesus, being pessimistic in front of his hearers. However, Jesus encourages them with the comment in Luke 13:29 that people will come from "east and west, north and south" to "eat in the kingdom of God", he suggests a huge number of people finally will come (will be saved).

We note that the context of the question originally asked of Jesus was during his preaching ministry, on the way to Jerusalem. People clearly had heard of Jesus then, and had heard his gospel, and yet we have seen that his imagery of the narrow door suggested that indeed, few would be saved. If that suggestion is valid, then one may rightly fear for the consequences of those who have heard of Jesus, yet have not believed.

Yet as we will see, much of the debate concerning this question revolves around the question, what about those who have never heard the word of God?, a conundrum not explicitly addressed by Jesus here.
But the Catholic Church understands that even if a person does not know God directly as Catholics know it, will be saved alike.

Because every human being carries implicit in his heart and in his being, the fact of knowing what is right and what is wrong.
If the person practices evil and does evil to all, there will be little hope of salvation for him, althought does not knows God, knows who does evil, his her heart, his being, it is saying to him.
However, if he does the good, is kind, just and merciful to others, will be saved, althought he does not know God. All good attitude and good procedure comes from God, all bad attitude and bad procedure comes from the evil one. So it is Jesus does not answer the question directly, but combines his personal challenge with both immediate pessimism and ultimate optimism.

TWO ASSUMPTIONS

We must define the nature of ‘salvation’. Generally within religions, there is a necessity for ‘salvation’ of some sort, although there is broad disagreement on why salvation is needed, how it is achieved, and what it means in reality.

For some salvation is political matter. So-called "liberation theologians" see mankind’s problem as class oppression and poverty, and sees Jesus as a revolutionary who is the model of struggle for political liberation, they understand that salvation is that. Jürgen Moltmann joins them with a critique of the fact that the political aspect of the cross and resurrection is “absent”.
Whilst Jesus is rightly seen as a kind of revolutionary, the revolution he brought in was not one of earthly politics so much as the enabling of a complete change in the relationship between man and God.

Others therefore incorporate a sense of restoration of relationship with God, but therein risk redefining God. So defines salvation as the “transformation of human existence from self-centredness of human to God- or Reality-Centredness”.
We would affirm that salvation must be linked to a focus on God, that it can be defined broadly. Scriptures link salvation and eternal life in a intricately and inseparable way. The salvation of human depends on a personal knowledge of God, and of Jesus, as God’s Son and Savior. So, Jesus prays to his Father in the presence of this disciples: “this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent”.

Man is therefore totally dependent on God to restore the broken relationship with him. The fact that we are made in God’s image demonstrates that God cares for us, but does not automatically imply that the relationship between Creator and created is unbroken.

The nature of this debate revolves around not so much whether God saves, but how we are saved.
All know God is gracious, but how is this grace operative?

Throughout this, we need to hold a tension between the relative and absolute definition of ‘few’. The usual understanding would be to take ‘few’ as meaning both relatively and absolutely. It may be, however, that relatively few are saved, proportionate to those who are lost, but that this number is absolutely huge.

Similarly, and perhaps somewhat pedantically, if none are ‘lost’, because none end up in hell (for instance, because many are annihilated), then we could say that absolutely few are saved, but that this is ‘all’ relative to those in hell (which is none).

Similarly, and perhaps somewhat pedantically, if none are ‘lost’, because none end up in hell (for instance, because many are annihilated), then we could say that absolutely few are saved, but that this is ‘all’ relative to those in hell (which is none).

We will now consider the argument, tracing our thread through three categories: pluralism, inclusivism, exclusivism.

PLURALISM

For some writers their central concern is to see the nature of God’s love fully portrayed. They hold that because God is a God of love, he wants all people to be saved; because he is all powerful, he is able to save all people. Therefore, all people must be saved. Other also argues that the exclusivity of Christ’s salvation would require that only those within the church are saved. God is such a God of love, that is he is present in a savior way in all religions.

The difference between religions are simply each individual’s own personal circumstances - cultural, geographical, and the like. Many religious addresses those who disagree, pointing to conflicting truth claims, by arguing that God is ultimately is beyond us - infinite compared to our finity. So God transcends all human understanding, yet religions are able operate savingly and bring every human to an encounter with the ultimate God who is behind all religions.

These arguments rightly seeks to uphold the wonder of God’s love, yet are wrong in both their understanding of this love, and of Jesus’ own truth claims. God’s love means that he hates evil, and will judge it accordingly.
Since evil is fundamentally a rejection of God’s rule, and since so much of the Bible is a warning against "foreign" gods. God permits all religions, as well as rejects those who go after other gods. Similarly, Jesus’ teaching was as clear as it was shocking for the Jews who heard him: “I am the way, the truth and the life, no-one comes to the Father except through me”.

INCLUSIVISM

The inclusivist view holds that Jesus alone is Saviour of the world, but also seeks to include other religions within the scope of that salvation. This typically holds that many are saved. An ‘extreme’ position would be that of the papal encyclical: “every human person without exception has been redeemed by Christ”.

For the theologian Karl Rahner the possibility of people not being saved is very real. He believes that “Jesus Christ is the saviour of all people”, and so must be present everywhere: in every time, place, people group and therefore every religion.

It is through the Holy Spirit that God has revealed himself to all people, whether people wants, or reflect on whether or accept it, or not. Yet the hell is a reality, which people must face as a warning to acknowledge the God who has made himself known to us.

However, Karl Rahner holds this warning and must be held alongside “the doctrine that the world and the history of the world will in fact enter into eternal life with God”. Meanwhile, because there is some form of delay between death and the full bodily resurrection, he argues that we can not say anything “decisive” against what he calls “a place of maturation” (akin to purgatory or post-mortem opportunity for repentance)

Rahner is helpful is high-lighting that God has made himself known to all people, but neglects the fact that many (in scripture at least) have rejected him. Similarly, we need to clarify that general revelation is not salvific in itself: Rahner separates Christ from the salvation event, a separation which is contrary to the fact that it is in the name of Christ which saves.

In a different view, Ruchard Bauckham argues that whilst Karl Barth was not “strictly” a universalist (even though Brunner accuses him so ), for Karl Barth “the final salvation of all mankind as a possibility” could not be denied. Barth considered that Jesus Christ was the only one who was elected both for salvation and for condemnation.

Jesus takes on himself the sins of the world. The world, therefore, both sees its sins paid for in Christ, and in the same Christ, receives reconciliation with God. Because Christ is therefore both condemnation and reconciliation, for all people, no-one need be lost. The possibility remains that some may be lost, because, effectively, God’s patience with those who “persistently try to change the truth into untruth” runs out.

We concur with Brunner, that there is no biblical warrant for this point of view. It also questions God’s justice. If all mankind’s sins are paid for, then how can God justly condemn anyone?

A further proponent of inclusivism is Clark Pinnock (was a Christian theologian, apologist and author. He was Professor Emeritus of Systematic Theology at McMaster Divinity College). Pinnock’s two principle axioms are both that Jesus is unique and final as the God Saviour of the world, and that God’s desire is for all to be saved. Strange summarises succinctly the result of the two axioms in Pinnock’s thinking: “given the truth of the above axioms, salvation must be universally accessible”.

Pinnock is then faced with the problem that, over history, relatively few people or (he claims) ever heard the gospel: how can this be held in tension with the ‘fact’ that God wants all to be saved, and all can attain that salvation?

Pinnock objects to this, arguing that it would seem that: “God cannot save those he would like to save, if indeed it is true that there is salvation only where the gospel is preached and is accepted”.

Pinnock’s methodology is to use the concept of general revelation, which he considers enables people not just to know about God, but to know him, personally, for themselves. He rejects the idea that this revelation merely makes people all the more culpable, as if God were to “tantalise them with truth about himself that can only result in their greater condemnation”. God’s common grace then operates on people, that they may reach out and find him.

Furthermore, God then considers them on the basis of their “faith in him, even when it is forced to rely upon defective and incomplete information”.
Just as people before Christ believed and were saved, even though they had never heard the name of Christ, so people today can be saved in the same way, as long as they renounce their sin and seek God.
The Roman Catholic doctrine says that those who “sincerely seek God” can also be saved, without knowing the gospel. This is helpful in acknowledging that we do not need perfect understanding of the gospel to be saved.

But Pinnock treats faith generically, as if it has more to do with the subject of the faith than the object. Jesus is comprehensively clear that he alone is the object of salvific faith, regardless of how little or much someone has. In this case, we affirm: “the Bible offers no hope that sincere worshippers of other religions will be saved without personal faith in Jesus Christ”.

The implications of God’s universal salvific will drive to Pinnock to another area of hopefulness: that of post mortem evangelism. Although he admits that this is not a doctrine that is as biblically certain as, for instance, the deity of Christ, he concludes that there are enough and “broad hints about post-mortem probation” in the Bible, what it allows to have hope for this.

The case rests on the passage in 1 Peter 3 19-20. [1 Peter 4-6 is also used, but this confirms that all are judged in this life, and is silent on post-mortem opportunities for change].
Pinnock accepts that the verses are unclear, yet argues that there is sufficient in them to warrant the idea that Jesus proclaims the gospel to the dead, and that he is thereby giving them a chance to repent. Depending on one’s views, this proclamation is made only to those who have never heard, or to all who have rejected Jesus in the physical world.
This proclamation may also be a limited affair, or may continue until people eventually “give in” to God, and accept the gospel message.

Against this, it is denied that ‘post-mortem evangelism’ is a possibility. The use of 1 Peter does not fits, not least because it is unhelpful to formulate such a specific doctrine from so complicated a text. It is unclear about the ‘spirits in prison’. The passage itself refers to them as “spirits in prison, who in former [Noah’s] times did not obey”, presumably referring to a limited group, in a limited time period.

Therefore, it is suggested, exegetically fanciful to claim that they are all those people, in eternity, who have never heard the gospel. Furthermore, Jesus makes a proclamation to them - but there is nothing in the text to suggest it was a call to repentance, or that they responded with repentance to the proclamation.

The Bible teaches that we are judged on death, for works done in the world. It is man’s attitude towards God in this life that determines whether or not we are saved. Also some theologian hold that, on the moment of death, God gives a person a vision of the gospel, and determines either their response to God, or what would have been their response to God, and judges them according to that. But since this is pure speculation, however attractive that is,in different ways, and since it holds no biblical warrant in and of itself, we do not consider it an option we can rely on.

It is at this stage that we should consider, for a moment, the concept of purgatory. Purgatory is a place which is neither heaven, nor hell, where souls go, for some form of punishment. There are variety of beliefs that would come under this thinking. At one end it is holds that all are saved in the end, by means of purgatory, others hold that purgatory is only for purify all sins committed in this world after the repent and ask for pardon.

We consider that the purgatory exists for those who died believing in Christ and asking pardon for their sins. For if they did so, then Scripture assures us they will be saved. Rather, we address the issue of whether people who died outside of Christ, can be forgiven, through some form of post-mortem experience (in this case: purgatory).

If person dies doing evil, will have a brief lapse of time to make a eternal decision, whether to accept the merciful of God or not.
If he accepts, will be saved if not will be condemned.
We ratify that this kind of possibility exists. After death, we are judged. It is our attitude (reject or accept) towards God what save us, at the time of our death which determines whether we are accepted by him because of Christ’s punishment on the cross, or whether we face the punishment for our sins which we deserve.

EXCLUSIVISM

The exclusivist believes that salvation is in Christ alone, and none will be saved outside of him. This view is held both by those who believe that many are saved, as by those who believe that only a few are saved: the deciding factor is not so much God’s grace, but as the extent of man’s sinfulness.

The theologian P. Helm also struggles with the belief that a God of love could not allow only a few to be saved. His model gives grounds for optimism by affirming that Christ only saves, yet stressing that the key to salvation is a intimate relationship with God.
He reasons that none of us call on God perfectly, but rather rely on his grace towards us, as we call on some of his attributes. Therefore, it may be that someone does not know the name of Christ, yet in their prayers can call on God, by calling on him because of one of his communicable essential attributes.
We suggest that in the above postures, we should not be pessimistic as to man’s own position before God, yet optimistic in the hope that many will be saved.

A BIBLICAL-THEOLOGICAL APPROACH

In this account, we will see that the world is rebellious against its Creator, and comes under his righteous judgement. Wonderfully, God does not condemn the world as it deserves, but is rather active in reconciling the world created by him.

Old Testament Realities

The Bible begins most optimistically. The created world is “very good”. Mankind is commanded to fill the world.
God’s initial desire is therefore for the whole world to be filled with many people, all of whom are in loving relationship with God.
Almost immediately, there is a downward spiral of rebellion against God, which is sin. Adam and Eve are cast out of Eden, and their first son, Cain, is a murderer. The world became so wicked, that God resolved to destroy it, saving only a few: Noah and 7 members of his family. In the New Testament, Peter notes, albeit as a subsidiary point, that only a few are saved in the Ark.

God then called Abram, one man only amongst many, to be the one through whom he blessed the world. The number of Abram’s descendants would be as great as the stars in the heavens, or sand on the seashore. So amidst the pessimism of a rebellious world at Babel, one man is chosen to be the father of countless children of God.

If one were to take the relative number of people ‘saved’ from Egypt, one could have grounds for optimism. However, Paul warns the Corinthian church that in fact very few of the people who were rescued from Egypt reached the promised land, because of their rebellion - a warning also picked up in the book of Hebrews. So optimistic beginnings, through God’s mercy, result in pessimism, through man’s idolatry.
The thrust of the Old Testament is that despite man’s wickedness, God is sovereign and merciful, constantly reaching out for people to be reconciled to him. Whether it be with individuals or nations, God will move so as to cause people to come to him, or to continue in their rebellion. So we see the wise woman from Tekoa, in 2 Samuel 14, saying: “God will not take away a life; he will devise plans so as not to keep an outcast banished forever from his presence”.

Similarly, although God brings judgement on all who rebel against him, there are times when he graciously spares some. The language of Isaiah is full of judgement on the wicked, both within Israel and Judah, and amongst the foreign nations. Yet amidst so many chapters warning of judgement, there are rich veins of the promise of salvation - there will be a remnant from amongst Israel.

In Ezekiel, God promises to bring judgement on the whole house of Israel, wherever they are - but he “will spare some”. The purpose of these few, and in the context it seems very few, will be so they can tell the nations of God’s actions, partly in salvation, but principally in judgement. This leads us not only to a severe pessimism, but also to thinking that one result of world evangelism is actually the working out of God’s judgement on the nations.

It would be very difficult to argue that the widespread judgement and destruction of God’s enemies in the Old Testament was in fact a cloaked form of salvation: the language of destruction and retribution is too strong for that. So there is much to be pessimistic about in the Old Testament. Yet strong veins of hope keep appearing, God promises a Saviour, the Messiah.

Jesus - inauguration of new world order

Jesus’ birth is described as light shining into darkness. Surely now the world will know who God is, and it will now honour him as he deserves?

Yet the world does not recognise its God, Jesus, who has come into the world. Time and again, those who are supposed to be closest to the ‘kingdom’ (e.g. the Pharisees and teachers of the law) betray their hostility to Jesus, and therefore to God. Jesus’ use of parables is to see the hardening their hearts against him. Jesus dies, rejected by all but a few of his own people.

In this context, we would argue that for Jesus, the ‘default’ position for mankind is condemnation. It is only because Jesus has come into the world that a hope of salvation is offered - a salvation offered to the whole world. As the New Testament continues, the theme of pessimism because of man’s rebellion, but optimism because of God’s graciousness, develops. Although the epistles were typically written to churches, the evidence is that those outside of the church stand condemned. So Paul speaks of how all men not only are “without excuse” (because they have denied the living God), but also must hear of the Lord Jesus, and believe in him, for He is the salvation.

The very picture of salvation being offered to the whole world, to the ends of the earth, and affirms that reigns the optimism, no longer is there a division between Jew and Gentile. All are called to the salvation.
So the New Testament ends optimistically with the wonderful picture of hope and eternal life, with the reign of the victorious Lamb, with his people numbering multitudes upon multitudes. The number saved is clearly absolutely very large, since the 144,000 is symbolic of the completeness of the house of Israel, and yet over and above this, there is a “great multitude that no one could count from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages”.

CONCLUSION

We conclude by returning to a point of common agreement: ultimately, Jesus alone saves. All our thinking therefore centres on his grace - not just on the extent of it (which all agree is boundless), but also the nature of it. So we would argue that because of his grace, we have good reason to be optimistic and think that many people will be saved: heaven will be full.

Yet as we must consider mankind’s rebellion, we can not but be pessimistic as to man’s response to God’s grace. This serves to magnify God’s grace, because it demonstrates just how patient and merciful God is, with a wicked world.
We could ask : why not be “optimistically pessimistic”? We would argue against this, because the final decision is God’s, and his alone. God has most graciously acted in history to save all his people: optimism should be predominant.
Yet human observations, and the reading of the thrust of scriptures, yields us great pessimism in the number who respond to God’s gracious activity.

Despite all this argument, we would do well to use Scriptural principles only in the way that Scripture uses them. Since scripture is arguably ambiguous on this specific question, we should be cautious in our answer.
But if scripture does teach us anything, we conclude that our attitude should be pessimistically optimistic.

Carl M. Chambers is the minister of Christ Church, Brighton, "a church for those who don't go to church."

ARE THERE FEW THAT BE SAVED?

Scripture Text: Luke 13:23,24 "Then said one unto Him, Lord, are there few that be saved? And He said unto them, Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able."

I would direct your attention to one of the many significant questions found in the word of God, and this question has to do with being "saved". It is a term which is found over 100 times in the word of God, yet there are many people today who do not like to hear the word "saved". The term seems to have a stigma connected with it.

In fact, to some people , it is almost as repulsive as the words, "born again". Well there is some people don't like to hear the words "being saved", and "born again", then they can be sure of one thing---they are not "saved", and they never been "born again".

The Lord Jesus Christ tells us in John chapter 3 and verse 3 that "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." So unless you've been "born again", then you're not "saved"; and if you're not "saved", then you're lost; and if you're lost, then you're under the wrath of God; and if you're under God's wrath, then you're headed for the place that Jesus Christ called "Hell", and the ultimate, "Lake of Fire".

In Luke 13:23 the question is asked, "Are there few that be saved?" How would you answer that question?
I believe that the vast majority of you believe that most people who have died, have gone to Heaven. But the Lord Jesus Christ tells us that most people, are accountable to God for the committed sins, go down deeply and wail in the flames of Hell. In the oft-quoted "sermon on the mount" the Lord declares in Matthew 7:13,14, "Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat; Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it."

The world today is hastening on to the judgment of God. Generally speaking, people today are so busy making money, seeking an education, getting married and raising a family, buying a home and preparing for a favorable retirement, that they fail to realize, that even though these activities are legitimate and may be commendable, the fact remains that the most important aspect of their life should be their preparation for eternity, the most important in this life to gain the friendship of God and assure the soul. The exhortation is given to all of us in Amos 4:12, "Prepare to meet thy God".

The time is coming, and perhaps sooner than we think, when the Lord's admonition in Matthew 6:33 to "seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you", will no longer be a viable option for the unsaved. In answer to the question of today's scripture text, the Lord says, "Strive to enter in at the strait gate; for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able." Yes, the gate of salvation will be closed one of these days, and your chance to be "saved" will have ceased to exist.

Scripture has shown us that, down through the centuries of time, mankind has been reluctant to be "saved" from the coming judgment of a loving God, even though He has provided a means for their escape. We see it in the days of Noah, when God provided the ark of safety for those who would obey the message of Noah to enter the ark, or else suffer the consequences of a watery grave.
Noah pleaded with the people for 120 years, and after that time he was only able to convince his wife, his three sons and their wives, to enter the ark and be "saved".

Similarly, we're told how Lot and his family were living in the sinful city of Sodom, and God was about to destroy the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah because of the conduct against hospitality, charity, indifference and love thy neighbour. We read how Abraham pleaded with God to spare the cities for the sake of the few righteous people who were living there.

God then sent two angels down to warn Lot to take his wife and two daughters and to flee from the coming destruction of the cities. The only other condition for them being "saved" was that they were not to look back. Well, almost everybody know what happened. Lot's wife looked back and she was immediately turned into a pillar of salt. Her disobedience prevented her from being "saved".

In Luke 17:32-37 the Lord Jesus Christ warns, " Remember Lot's wife. Whoever tries to preserve his life will lose it, and who is prepared to lose his life will preserve it. I tell you, that night there will be two men in one bed, one man will be taken and the other will be left. Two women will be turning the grinding-mill together; one will be taken and the other left.”

Yes, Lot's wife, perhaps like some of you who are reading this message, could have been "saved", but she disobeyed the warning from God's messengers, so she perished.

Since beginning my radio ministry on March 4, 1956, I have been warning people to accept God's salvation and to be "saved", because to reject His Son as their Saviour, would most assuredly cause them to incur the wrath of God. Some have chosen to accept the love of God, as expressed in the substitutionary death of His Son at Calvary's cross, and they've been "saved".

Others have rejected God's Son as their Saviour, and have died in their sins, and even now they are in the place of eternal torment and separation from God. In Ezekiel 33:7 God says, "warn them from Me." Friend, if you die unsaved, you'll have no one to blame but yourself, because we're told in I Timothy 2:4, God wants "all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth."

"Are there few that be saved?" At the present time there are over 6 billion people in the world, and even if everyone in the world who has heard the name of Jesus Christ were "saved", only about 40% of the world's population would be on their way to Heaven.

Now why is it that there are so few people who are really "saved"? We've mentioned that disobedience to God's warnings has been evident in the past, and it is obvious that it is still the main reason for people not being "saved", and prepared for eternity. However, let's take a brief look at some of the other reasons that are mentioned in the word of God, the Bible.

People are not seeking God's salvation. In Romans 3:11 we read, "there is none that seeketh after God". Yet we're told in Isaiah 55:6, "Seek ye the Lord while He may be found, call ye upon Him while He is near." Again we read in Hebrews 11:6 that God "is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him." Have you ever diligently sought after God's salvation, which He has provided for all those who want to be "saved"? If not, then let me remind you of what we're told in Ezra 8:22, "The hand of our God is upon all them for good that seek Him; but His power and His wrath is against all them that forsake Him."

People are blinded to the truth of God's word. In II Corinthians 4:3,4 we're told, "But if our Gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: in whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ, Who is the image of God, should shine unto them."

Over in the Book of Acts, in chapter 26, the Apostle Paul is giving his testimony to King Agrippa regarding how he was saved on the road to Damascus, and how God had sent him forth to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles.
Why? In verse 18 we read, "To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins."

In Ephesians chapter 4, the same Apostle Paul is reminding the Christians in verses 17,18, that they are not to live as they had lived previously, "in the vanity of their mind, having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart." Yes, before they were saved, they had been blinded in soul, body and spirit!

Many people shouts "Hallelujah!, Praise the Lord!, Thank You Jesus!, Amen!" Is this salvation?
Here's what we hear from the lips of the Lord Jesus Christ in the well-known, and often quoted, "sermon on the mount". In Matthew 7:21-23, the Lord says, "Not everyone that saith unto Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of Heaven; but he that doeth the will of My Father which is in Heaven.

Many will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Thy name? And in Thy name have cast out devils? And in Thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from Me, ye that work iniquity."

Yes, there are many apparent miracles being performed today in the name of the Lord, by so-called "Healers", and the Lord says that He doesn't know them because they are workers of iniquity. Some such individuals are more interested in the physical and financial condition of their congregations, than they are of their spiritual condition.

WHAT DOES SAY THE GOD´S WORD ABOUT SALVATION?

People lack a reverential fear toward God. Most people today have little, or none of fright about the eternal damnation. They have lost reverential fear of the One Who holds their every breath in His hand and Has the power of salvation.

God's word says that "all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God".

God's word says that we cannot reach Heaven because of our so-called "good works", or religious rituals.

God's word says that "without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin"- God's word says that He loved us so much that He sent His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to die on Calvary's cross for our sins.

God's word says that faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is the only way to Heave.

God's word says that if a person dies unsaved, that person goes to Hell.

God's word says that the next great event prophetic of God is the "second coming of Christ".

Listen to what the Apostle Paul says in the following scriptures: "For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile."(Romans 1:16).

"But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the Gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts." (I Thessalonians 2:4)
"do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ". (Galatians 1:10)
"For though I preach the Gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the Gospel."(I Corinthians 9:16)

People already don´t fear of God, listen:

They can take His blessed name in vain, and they can spew the lovely name of His dear Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, from their filthy lips. The last of the 14 indictments given by God against all mankind is recorded in Romans 3:18, "There is no fear of God before their eyes." Yet we're told in Psalms 85:10 that "Surely His salvation is nigh them that fear Him".

If people today had a heartfelt reverential fear of God, they wouldn't be living in gross sin and iniquity. They wouldn't be having abortions and killing thousand of babies per day. They wouldn't be committing adultery or fornication. They wouldn't be living with a evil inspired philosophy of "eat, drink and be merry, this is the only life we have", failing to realize that there is a "toll gate" at the end of their highway, called "life".

They would be convinced that there really is a Heaven to gain - and a Hell to shun! Yes, they would realize that God says what He means, and He means what He says!

In Proverbs 9:10 we read, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom". Yet many people don't get "saved" because they are afraid of what their friends, relatives, neighbors, co-workers or classmates might think. They fear man, but they don't fear God. This is a trick of the Devil, the enemy of your soul. We are reminded in Proverbs 29:25 that "The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the Lord shall be safe."

The Holy Spirit of God, through God's word, has revealed to them that they are spiritually lost and perishing in their sins, but for one reason or another, they decide to wait, like Governor Felix in Acts 24:25, who said, "Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee."

The Bible makes it quite clear that salvation is being offered today, but that there is no guaranty that it will be available tomorrow. Over in Proverbs 27:1 we're reminded, "Boast not thyself of tomorrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth." Again in II Corinthians 6:2 we read, "Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation."

There are countless souls in Hell today who expected to get " be saved someday", but their "someday" never came, and now it's too late!
We read those very solemn words in Proverbs 29:1, "He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy."

No wonder the Lord Jesus Christ said that "few are be saved". Look at it both logically and scripturally.
IF YOU AND I COULD BE SAVED AND REACH HEAVEN BY OUR OWN EFFORTS, THEN WHY DID JESUS CHRIST DIE THE SHAMEFUL, AGONIZING, AND IGNOMINIOUS DEATH OF CALVARY'S CROSS?

There is no salvation for your soul apart from having "faith" in the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ!. Faith alone don´t save.
In John 10:9 Jesus said, "I am the door: by Me if any man enter in, he shall be saved." The Apostle Peter says in Acts 4:12, "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under Heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved."

The Apostle Paul tells us in Romans 10:9,10, "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. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation."

Friend, I plead with you today, in love for your soul, and in view of the vast eternity that lies ahead, to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ as your own personal Saviour, because if you do, according to God, Who cannot lie, you'll be "saved" for time, and thank God, you'll be "saved" for all eternity. And remember, my friend, THIS IS FOR ETERNITY!
Thanks to Minor C. Hawk.

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