Once, I used to go around and talk to people while I was in school about their salvation and 9 out of 10 answered that they weren’t sure of their salvation. They couldn’t tell in the affirmative nor confirm they weren’t saved either. Another time I was listening to a radio program on a Sunday morning while preparing to go to church and the discussion centered on salvation, who is a born again Christian and what happens with sin when one is born again. Well, I will attempt to answer these questions and more today. This is quite a lengthy read but then I haven’t written in a while so this is my way of making up so please bear with me and read through.
I will begin by sharing the story of a young rich man who also couldn’t say he was saved but knew he was doing his best in that regards. The story is in Matthew 19:16-30. It is too long to include here but please do read it to understand what I will be saying about him.
So, this young man lived in the coasts of Judea beyond Jordan and had heard the preaching of Jesus and His disciples, “repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” and wondered just like Nicodemus of what it meant to be born again. But he became much more concerned when he heard that to be born again was to have eternal life! Immortality, he must have thought to himself. Being rich he could afford it, whatever it took to have access to eternal life and to enjoy his wealth forever. So he went by himself to Jesus to find out and a dialogue ensued between the young man and Jesus.
The young man had heard of eternal life and knew he currently didn’t possess it but he also knew, am suspecting from Nicodemus, that the person to talk to was Jesus. He knew Jesus was going about doing a lot of good, healing people and casting out demons so he decided to use that approach. Besides, he wasn’t a bad person after all he liked to do good also. So he thought they had to be some superior good he could do to get eternal life so he asked Jesus “Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?” But Jesus told him to keep the commandments that there was nothing good he could do to get eternal life because only God is good. Okay, he must have thought and then asked again. What commandments then do I keep to have this life. Jesus lovingly listed all the commandments to him. He exclaims, I have been keeping all these from my youth up till date! So, what am I lacking Jesus?
This young rich man who had been doing good and keeping the commandments had a nagging feeling that he must be lacking something. Something was amiss, something was wrong. Okay, if something wasn’t wrong why then doesn’t he receive the eternal life?
I am going to digress to explain certain things here. The gospel as we know it has been preached in different dispensations1. Gal. 3:8 says that God first preached the gospel to Abraham saying “In thee shall all nations be blessed”. This was the first dispensation of the gospel. Then comes the second dispensation, Jesus and His disciples including John the Baptist and his own disciples preaching “repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” – Matthew 10:5-8. The 2nd dispensation preached the arrival of the kingdom, the arrival of Christ. John the Baptist was given the work of this dispensation to prepare the way for the arrival of Christ. Then the gospel of today, the 3rd dispensation is that which is now after the death and resurrection of Jesus, that of believing that Jesus came and died for our sins and was resurrected by the power of God and is now seated at the right hand of God in heaven. Mark 16:14-16, “Afterward he appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen. And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned”. He that believes in what? Believes in His death, burial and resurrection. Paul confirms this also in 1 Corinthians 15:1-8, “Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures”.
Now, back to the young rich man’s story. What he was asking for, eternal life wasn’t yet available as such because Christ had not yet died and resurrected. But because he had desired it so much Jesus gave him a way out. Sell all that you have and give it to the poor that you may have treasure in heaven and come and follow me. The “come and follow me” was Jesus telling him, I am the Life that you seek and if you do what I ask and follow me then you will assuredly have eternal life. But scriptures says that the young man because of what Jesus asked him to do became sorrowful since he had great possessions. This is also what Jesus told His disciples in Matthew 16:24-26, “Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?”
The young rich man’s story ends with Jesus marveling His disciples more by saying after the rich young man had left that it was impossible for a rich man to enter into heaven. Now, if Jesus says something is impossible then you have to really be amazed. When the disciples wondered about this they exclaimed “who then can be saved?” Am thinking they exclaimed because they thought eternal life should be for the rich so if the rich couldn’t be saved then who could be saved. But Jesus said to them that “with men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible”. Peter speaking on behalf of the disciples asked Jesus, “how about we that have left all to follow you?” Jesus reaffirms that they would have a hundred fold return on all they had left to follow Him and not only that but eternal life also in the next life. Proverbs 22:4 confirms this. “By humility and the fear of the LORD are riches, and honor, and life”. Many may have riches only and not life but they that have the fear of the Lord and humility shall have riches and not just riches but life and honor also.
In conclusion, John 1:12 says that as many that receive Jesus have been given the power to be the sons of God even they that believe on His name. This power which is the Spirit of God is given that we may live a life pleasing to God. It is by the help of the Spirit that we mortify, kill the deeds of the flesh, the old man of sin – Romans 8:13. So on the issue of living in sin even after being saved, I will say as Paul said in Romans 6:1-2, “Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?”
The grace of God which is the love and mercy of God towards us that we should be called the sons of God is not a license to sin but should rather constrain us and keep us away from sin. “The love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again” – 2 Corinthians 5:14. Also, in Titus 2:11-12, the grace of God teaches us to deny all ungodliness and worldly lusts and to live soberly, righteously and godly in this present world. Living in sin after receiving Christ is not a worthy compromise.
Related: For more on this read System Upgrade – Mankind v2.0
And finally, 1 John 2:1-2, “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world”. As Romans 8:16 says, I pray that the Spirit of God in you will bear witness with your spirit that you are a child of God from now henceforth in Jesus name. Amen
God bless you! Shalom – Peace!
- Understanding God
- System Upgrade – Mankind v2.0
- My Most Important Asset
- What Abounds in your Heart
- Self confidence is not of God
1. “This Gospel”, an audio message by Pastor Johnny Afahakan.