Posted by: admin on Sat, Aug 8, 2009
by Brad Edwards
Who Then Can Be Saved?
by Brad Edwards
The disciples were even MORE amazed, and said to each other, "Who then can be saved?" Mark 10:26
When discussing the subject of salvation how soon many forget the declaration from Jesus concerning this serious topic. This was exactly the topic brought to Jesus by his disciples who were dumbfounded at his answer. Jesus answered them with these words:
"With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God."
Are we like the disciples of Jesus' day and still asking, "who then can be saved?" It seems that many Christians are certain that only the "few" are saved and that the "many" are not saved. They point to many reasons why these "many" are not saved, but they seem to have forgotten that Jesus told us concerning mankind's salvation that "all things are possible." Could it be that in fact, God could save anyone He desires when He desires it - even a rich man?
When we look around us at the people we meet, do we see someone that God can not save? When we watch the news and see the evil men do, do we see someone who God can not save? When we look at the condition of the world with all of it's hate, violence and paganism, do we see someone that our Almighty God can not save? Would one ever look in the mirror and see someone that God can not save?
But before tackling the world's salvation, let's examine the story of the rich man who came to Jesus desiring God's life. Here is the complete discourse from Mark although similar accounts are found in Matthew and Luke.
First we see this man, who happens to be rich, falling on his knees before Jesus. No doubt this man believed that Jesus was a prophet from God - "a good teacher." And yet, Jesus corrects the man by telling him that there is only one who is good - God alone, His Father.
Next because this was still the time of the Law (Old Covenant), Jesus tells this man to keep God's commandments handed down from Moses. Then the man says he has kept the Law and note that Jesus does not deny this, but Jesus knew his heart and knew that this man served money over God. So Jesus tells him that he must sell ALL that he has and give it away then follow Him. At this point the man becomes very sad and walks away.
Notice that Jesus says that by giving all that he has away, the rich man will be placing "treasure in heaven." He did not say that he would have eternal life. This is important. The last words Jesus told him were to follow Him. The only way to God's kingdom is through and with Jesus Christ - following Him. He is the way, the truth and the life. The good deed of giving what he had to the poor would not "earn" his way into heaven, but he would be rewarded in heaven for surrendering what he had on earth to God.
Perhaps later, he did repent and do as Jesus Christ told him to, but next Jesus STUNNED his disciples first by saying that it was hard for a rich man to enter into God's kingdom and then He turned their thinking UPSIDE DOWN with those famous words: "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." These words just floored his followers. We read they were even "more amazed" or distressed.
This image provided by Jesus should prove that God does have a sense of humor. While teaching on this seemingly very serious topic - mankind's salvation, Jesus puts an impossible and somewhat comical image into the minds of his listeners. But do we understand why they were even more flabbergasted?
Not only was this image a shock to them, but the real shock for them was trying to figure out why it was hard for rich men to enter God's kingdom even those who kept the laws of Moses like this man did.
You must understand that it was believed that those men who kept the commandments were rich BECAUSE God had blessed them. Being rich was often a sign of God's favor for a particular individual. This theme can clearly be seen of most of God's servants, kings and prophets of the Old Testament. There should be no need to list God's faithful and the riches they had.
So this why the disciples were so dumbfounded. Why would this man whom God Himself has blessed have a difficult time being saved? To paraphrase, the disciples may have thought in great shock, "if this one whom God has blessed will find it very difficult to be saved, then surely none of us have a chance!"
This is the BIG QUANDARY for the disciples. But Jesus eases their hearts and minds with those words that many seem to forget - "all things are possible with God." It is perfectly simple. God can do anything that he desires (ISA 55:11). And He desires that all men be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth does He not? (1 TIM 2:4). So we know that God desires to save all mankind and that ALL things are possible for Him, then why do so many not even consider that Christ came to reconcile and restore all creation including all of mankind (ACTS 3:21; EPH 1:10; COL 1:20), and further that He will accomplish what the Father has planned for Him? Why the disbelief in God's ability to save mankind? Essentially Jesus said that God could save anyone - after all He is the One who created them, right?
But let's continue this study to ask ourselves "who can be saved" while looking at the disciples of Jesus. Surely no one would doubt that the all of disciples were saved by God, but have you considered their behavior during and after their time with the Christ?
First, let's consider Simon Peter - the "Rock." Was he the rock or was it the faith that he was given that was the Rock? I tend to believe that Jesus was referring to the faith that God had given Peter because of what happens next. Jesus calls this blessed man, "Satan." Peter was still very carnal in his thinking. He had not been born of the Spirit of God. His mind was not yet refreshed by the Spirit of truth.
But Jesus knew Peter better than Peter did. God knows our hearts and minds and exactly what it will take to save us. He is OUR Savior and we cannot save ourselves. When Peter walked on the water, became afraid, and then fell into the water, who saved him? Jesus did. Even though Peter's faith failed and fear overcame him, Jesus' faith did not fail. It is by Jesus' faith that we are saved, by His righteousness we are saved, by His love and obedience to our Father we are saved.
Finally, after ALL the miracles, teachings and the EVEN the Transformation, what did Peter do? He denied knowing Jesus Christ because of his fear. Yes, Peter was still a scared, carnal man deep inside in spite of the faith that he had been given. Don't you see that our faith is not what saves us? Are many Christians any different that Peter was here? Didn't Jesus say that if you denied Him before men that He would deny you before the Father? How then could this multiple-denier of the Christ who was called "Satan" be saved? The answer - by Jesus Christ, the Only Savior of men.
Next, let's look at Thomas. We've all heard, "don't be a doubting Thomas," but why did Thomas doubt? Was his skull thicker than any man's that ever lived! - possibly so. After witnessing first hand the myriad of miracles, the resurrection of corpses and the teaching of God's wisdom, HE STILL DIDN'T BELIEVE! What? Talk about stubborn converts, huh? If Thomas, or any man, had to rest on his own faith to be saved we would all fall short of salvation. THANK GOD IT IS A GIFT! Faith comes from God through Jesus Christ, not of our own lest we would boast. Faith is a gift. Some are given much and much is expected. In Thomas' case, he perhaps had not been given much or perhaps he had wasted this precious gift. Either way, how could this one of such little faith be saved? The answer is again by Jesus Christ - His faith.
Of course we must talk about the "worst sinner" of them all, Saul. Saul could be in the group of those "goats" in Matthew 25 and perhaps one of the worst "goats." He could also be placed with those religious Jews that Jesus called the "sons of Gehenna." Saul's heart was in miserable shape and his carnal mind thought he was serving God by trying to extinguish this fire called Christ. So how could this worst sinner, worst goat and son of Gehenna be saved? The answer again is simple, by Jesus Christ. Christ came to Saul and converted him in an instant. Imagine that - the worst sinner was brought back to God and saved by just giving him a taste of Christ and His Truth. Why don't we accept what the new man Paul had told us about salvation? We read in 1 Timothy:
Paul is plainly telling us that God chose him as an example of who God can save. Please understand that Paul did NOT choose Christ, but God chose Saul to be the apostle for the Gentiles. Paul declares this in the beginning of most of his letters. His states that he was made an apostle by the "will of God" and repeatedly tells us that he was saved by the "grace of God." It seems to me that Paul knew the truth about his and everybody's salvation. We can't earn it or even time it. God's gives salvation as a gift when He desires.
I find it strange that with all of Jesus' and Paul's admissions about salvation, many are still trying to earn salvation or even faith from God. Yes, it is true we must "believe" in Jesus Christ to be saved. This is emphatically true, but how do we come to this point of believing? God must impart into us a measure of faith before a man can believe in Him. Just "believing" is just the beginning of the process of salvation. Peter believed but his spirit had not been born of God by Christ's presence. At GOD'S TIMING, His Spirit must enter us and begin to build and mature Christ in us. We must be born again by God's Spirit in God's order.
Why do so many claim that they were saved at that very moment that THEY "made the decision" for Christ? If by faith given by God, they have come to accept the truth of Jesus Christ, that is wonderful - the first step has been taken toward God! Now God will, in His timing, come closer to that believer. At some time according to God's will, God will send His Spirit to begin the work in that soul. For our part is all about hope. We must accept the gifts God gives us and use them according to His will and HOPE for Christ to be born and revealed in us.
But believers may say that some refuse God's gifts including faith. This may certainly be true, but wasn't his true of Jesus' own followers? Also, I would ask of the many unbelievers, were they ever given the measure of faith, understanding and power given to Paul? If God truly does desire to save ALL men (1 Timothy 2:4) then would He not use everything in His power to bring those lost to repentance and to salvation?
It is my belief that NONE of the creatures created in God's image and likeness are beyond the saving power of Jesus Christ. It would mean that God created something that He knew He couldn't restore. All of us including the most evil souls can not resist God's love ultimately. All evil fails by being saturated by God's unending love. If God truly desires that all of mankind be saved and come to the knowledge of truth, would it not be just of Him to open their spiritual eyes and free their carnal minds so that they may see the shape they are in and their total need for God and His salvation through Jesus Christ? I don't believe that after the second resurrection that those children of God, standing in God's presence, being anguished in judgement by seeing God's righteousness, and being given shown God's truth and love in Jesus Christ, would not turn to God and be saved. Let me rephrase this. Every man, woman or child ever born is from God. Each one must be given the same chance to accept God's gifts. Each one is from our Perfect Father who has not begotten a bastard child that is to be orphaned into everlasting punishment with the devil for his father. Each one that God has created is by design - born in sin, dead to God and brought back to God by Jesus Christ in God's order. (1 COR 15:22).
It seems every denomination has a set of instructions on "how to be saved." Some say you must be baptized a certain way at a certain time in your life. Some say you must belong to a certain church. Some say you must make a decision for Christ before you die. And even some say that God has already decided who will be saved, and it's only a "few" souls and the rest of us have been predestined to go away to be tortured forever by order of our Almighty Father in heaven.
It is my hope that we stop looking to ourselves and our traditions to save us. Jesus means "God saves." Christ means "anointed by God." Jesus was the man who was anointed by God and has God's fullness to restore/save all of creation from the works of the devil and of sin. We now longer know Him as a man, but Jesus Christ is now a "life-giving Spirit" to bring us God's life.
If you have been saved, it is by the grace of God through the faith OF Jesus Christ. Neither the grace nor the faith is something we can earn or manufacture. Truly realize that these are gifts from God. God knows each soul and knows what it will take to save that soul. God has more than enough grace to bring all to repentance and to into Christ (Rom 5:20; EPH 2:7).
If salvation depended on what we believed and how we behave on this earth, Saul was headed straight to the lake of Fire with all the unbelievers and persecutors of Jesus Christ. We are only accountable for what we do with what God gives us. Our job is to glorify Him, and His job is to save us. He is patient. When we completely lose the faith that He graciously gives us, He will give us more (2 TIM 2:13). His love will never fail so that may be ALL in ALL.
The disciples asked, "who then can be saved?" I would ask, "who then can NOT be saved?" True, many go to their graves unsaved. But this was God's will. Few are chosen to be saved. Do you suppose that any soul that God had "chosen" left this world unsaved? If God has saved all that He chose before the ages began, then it should be understood and believed that God can save ANY soul when He desires. All that were chosen to be saved were in fact saved by God's will. I believe that God has only appointed a "few" to be saved (or found) in this lifetime while "many" go off to be destroyed (or lost).
The word "lost" and "destroy" come from the same Greek word - "apollumi." So being destroyed or going on the path of destruction simply means being lost. Salvation simply means being found like a lost sheep is found by the Good Shepherd. Jesus came to find that which is lost and will go after the one to bring His salvation quota up to 100%! Those that "find" the narrow gate are those "kind of firstfruits" of Christ - His Body. They are called overcomers in Christ. They receive God's Christ in THIS lifetime and know God in THIS lifetime.
Some are quick to say that Jesus came for "His sheep." Jesus ministered to the Jews. This was to fulfill prophecy and God's plan for salvation. After He left the earth, He became a Life-Giving Spirit, now the message and His life were for all those called to believe throughout the world. But no one can come to the Father unless called, or drawn by Christ. Once again, it is by God's will and timing that we are saved - "each in his own order."
So it is my hope that we move beyond the carnal understanding that led the disciples to exclaim, "who then can be saved?." And speak with truth and confidence in Christ and proclaim, "who can't be saved?" God will's all men to be saved. His will is Almighty and His love is overpowering that it will swallow up death and sin. Jesus Christ will find all that are lost according to His Father's will.
Understand that if it is your time, God will draw you, find you, meet you. love you and save you. There is no human will strong enough, no carnal mind too dark, no soul too evil to be transformed by the power and grace of our Almighty Father in heaven through His Son, Jesus Christ.
Do we dare now ask, "who can be saved?" Don't we read in God's word that Christ is to reconcile and restore ALL of creation so God may be all in all? Don't we read that God does all that He desires? Don't we read that God desires to save all mankind? Don't we read concerning salvation that all things are possible with God? Perhaps we do read these words, but when will we truly believe what God has said?
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