Continued from FAQ page…
Since it is clear that apart from God we can do nothing to spiritually better ourselves or others, attempts to save oneself or to spiritually improve oneself via human activity are acts of futility. Yet, this is precisely what many who claim to be Christians do as a matter of practice throughout much of their time here on Earth.
Apart from God, we can NOT be saved from the wrath of God that will ultimately be experienced by all unbelievers in what the Bible calls the lake of fire (Rev. 20: 13, 15).
For the purpose of this study, an unbeliever is one who has heard and has chosen to reject (disbelieve) a presentation of the TRUE Gospel Message.
The futility of human effort does not mean that the human race cannot be saved. The futility of human effort does it mean that born again believers cannot experience a more intimate walk with Lord in the course of our post salvation spiritual life. It is, however, only when we learn that it is not what we do (other than to believe), but faith in what He has done, is doing, and will do that we begin to make headway in the spiritual realm.
Satan, primarily through false religion has a plan to see to it that this does not happen.
We must learn that without God and without doing things His way, securing salvation and executing the true post salvation spiritual are impossible (Matt. 19: 25, 26), no matter how many “religious” rituals or how much human good one goes through or produces.
“And when the disciples heard this, they were very astonished and said, “Then who can be saved?” And looking upon them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible (Matt. 19: 25, 26 NASB).”
The only part in the salvation process that the human being plays is to choose to believe in a presentation of the true Gospel (John 3: 18). The ability to understand the Gospel is the Work of God the Holy Spirit, but the choice is ours to make. There is NO greater one-time decision that a human soul can make during his/her time here on Earth, as an eternity in either Heaven or Hell hangs in the balance. The second greatest decision is made on an ongoing and daily basis, and that is to discern and accomplish God’s will for each day of one’s post salvation spiritual life. “Progress” in the religious life is measured and evaluated by what we do on various days or seasons and reaching various milestones along the way. The TRUE post salvation spiritual life is measured and evaluated by what we do each and every day, taking it one day at a time.
What distinguishes true Christianity from “Christian” religion (and every other religion of the world (Psalms 96), is that true Christianity is about placing one’s faith (belief/trust) in what God has done, is doing, and will do for all who believe. Religion is that Man tries to do to make and/or keep himself “right” with the God/god of his choice.
To the extent that God allows, the human being can produce all kinds of human good that his individual ability and opportunities affords him. This is true of atheists and non-Christian peoples of faith, as well with Christians. For this reason, the rule of thumb is that if an atheist or non-Christians can do it, then it is not divine good in view.
God does use the human good that is produced by believers and unbelievers, good and evil people, alike. Mary, Joseph, John the Baptists, the disciples, as well as Judas Iscariot, Pilate, the Pharisees and the Sanhedrin all played a part in fulfilling the plan of God by bringing the Lord Jesus Christ to the cross. This was the very purpose that He came to Earth in the first place.
The classic example of human good being performed by both believers and unbelievers alike is the work of talented surgeons. God certainly uses the human good that both groups produce every day here on Earth to preserve the natural lives of those it serves until the appointed time of death arrives. IF God allows, such human good can do much for the body, but nothing for the soul other than to provide it with more time to be saved or edified.
All the money, authority, and human activity, good or evil, can do nothing outside of what God directs or allows to take place.
Human good provides the one who produces it and his/her dependents with the logistical necessities and temporal pleasures that his/her line of labor offers. Human good can result in one attaining worldly fame and fortune. In its proper place, there is nothing wrong with any of this, but if what this world has to offer is all that one has to show for the life God has given us, then the ominous scenario of Rev. 3: 17, 18 surely applies.
“Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are (spiritually) wretched and (spiritually) miserable and (spiritually) poor and (spiritually) blind and (spiritually) naked, I advise you to buy (not with money, but with time spent in the Word of God) from Me gold (Bible Doctrine) refined by fire, that you may become (spiritually) rich, and (have) white garments (a uniform of glory) that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed (at the 1 Cor. 3: 12-15 evaluation); and eye salve to anoint your eyes, that you may see (with spiritual discernment) (Rev, 3: 17, 18 NASB parenthesis mine.”
As the Lord Jesus Christ put it, “For what will a man be profited, if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul…(Matt. 16: 26 NASB).” The 1 Cor. 3: 15/John 15: 5/Matt. 6: 19, 20/Rev. 3: 18 answer is NOTHING! Not only will it gain nothing, but will cost such man very much!
The forfeiting of one’s soul refers to failing to be saved and therefore spending all of eternity in what the Bible calls the lake of fire (Rev. 20: 13, 15). The forfeiting also refers to the forfeiting of the rewards at the 1 Cor. 3: 12-15 evaluation of the post salvation life of born again believers.
Human good is symbolized by the wood, hay, and straw of 1 Cor. 3:12. In the natural realm, such things can easily catch fire and be totally consumed. In the spiritual realm, the wood, and straw of 1 Cor. 3 is all that human good that one produced here on Earth. Although it may have had great value here on Earth, all of it will be totally consumed and rejected as having ANY merit for receiving heavenly reward.
This is the ONLY moment of disappointment and regret recorded in Scripture that many born again believers will experience in Heaven when they see much of what their lives produced go up in proverbial smoke. To stand at the 1 Cor. 3: 12-15 evaluation naked (naked = without a uniform of glory that will ONLY be worn by advancing disciples-Rev. 3: 5), and forfeiting the rewards that one could have otherwise received, is the shame and nakedness being spoken of in Rev. 3: 18/1 John 2: 28).
Sad to say, but it will not be until then that the message of this study will finally hit home with many born again believers. It will not be until then that they will finally concur that much of the time that God gave them here on Earth was wasted.
Having done our best with our human desire and ability will not gain for us either a uniform of glory or ANY rewards at the 1 Cor. 3: 12-15 evaluation. Such honors are reserved for born again believers who chose to identify and execute the TRUE post salvation spiritual life while HERE on Earth.
Born again (John 3: 5, 7) believers have forever (John 3: 18) addressed the issue of salvation. A born again believer, for the purpose of this study, is one who has heard and chose to believe in a presentation of the true Gospel Message. Among other things, being a born again believer assures (John 3: 16) the individual that he has received eternal life and a home in Heaven.
At the same time, being a Heaven-bound born again believer does NOT mean that he/she is a “disciple” or entitled to any of the benefits that post (after) salvation discipleship can generate.
These “benefits” will come at a price that many born again believers are not be willing to pay (Luke 14: 26). Just getting in to Heaven may be as far as one wants to take his/her spirituality while here on Earth, but it will be a choice that will be later regretted. Such believers are self-centered and not Christ centered.
Spiritually mature believers do not serve God in order to be rewarded, but God has revealed that those who chose to become disciples (learners, appliers and teachers) of the Word of God here on Earth will be called great in Heaven. This opportunity applies to all believers, as we “teach” others every day by all that we do and say.
To the extent that a born again believer does or does not choose to pursue the post salvation life of discipleship is the same extent that he/she fulfills the primary purpose that God created him/her. Man was created for the primary purpose of bringing glory to God.
There is a popular thinking going on in which one establishes a bucket list of all things one wants to accomplish or experience before departing this world. Again, there is nothing wrong with having and pursuing the good things that this life has to offer p-r-o-v-i-d-i-n-g one does not neglect God or the things of God in the process.
The bucket list for the spiritually mature believer consists of two major issues in a descending order of importance. #1 Be born again. #2 Become a disciple. The first involves making a one-time decision; the second is a life-long process that begins with oneself and eventually involves the evangelization and edification of others. Compete this buck list and you will leave this world a success in the eyes of God to Whom we will give an accounting (2 Cor. 5: 10) for the life we lived, no matter how many potholes we hit along the way!
Leaving this world as an unbeliever (in the Gospel) means an eternity in Hell without ANY Biblical chance of ever getting out. Leaving this world as a born again believer assures one of an eternity with God. Leaving this world as a born again believer, but having never entertained discipleship will result in the loss of many rewards and privileges that he/she would have otherwise received.
Suffer now and gain in Heaven, or gain now and suffer for all of eternity!
For some, their post salvation life will be accompanied by many earthly assets and pleasures, whereas for others, their post salvation experience will be an uphill battle. The reason for this is that God desires to place His ambassadors (2 Cor. 5: 20) in every walk of life and environment known to Man. The greater the challenge, the greater the glory. God only assigns his best troops into the most intense conflicts.
By far, God is glorified the most by the born again believer who suffers the most here on Earth. Anyone can be good as long as things are going his/her way. The witness and testimony of such persons will have little impact in comparison to the witness and testimony of those who have taken on everything negative that the devil’s arsenal has to offer, but remains loyal to the Lord and exhibit such things as the freedom of John 8:32 and the Phil 4:& peace that surpasses all human understanding in the midst of it.
In some cases, Church Age believers have been and will be called to be imprisoned, suffer great losses, be tortured, and to leave this world as martyrs. Many of us are like Peter who convinced himself that he was strong enough to die for the Lord, but when the chips were down he denied that he even knew the Man! Walking the walk and talking the talk are two very different things. Many of us can’t even take a public stand for Christ in the midst of family, friends, and coworkers, let alone risk life and limb!
God is NOT impressed by self-induced vows of hardship that are executed with human desire and ability. God does not want His children to be put on false guilt trips if His plan for them calls for an environment of relative blessing and prosperity. There are the two extremes of pleasure or adversity, but most of us will find ourselves experiencing a moderate taste of both blessings and adversity during out time here on Earth.
The advancing disciple will be wise enough to enjoy the blessings for as long as they last, but be strong enough to endure the adversity that is sure to come as a disciple and ambassador of the Lord Jesus Christ (2 Tim. 3: 12).
The spiritually mature believer will have no false guilt trips about enjoying whatever legitimate pleasures that life here on Earth may offer, but he will equally accept whatever adversity and suffering that his walk with God may require of him (Job 2: 10).
The more one advances in the post salvation life of discipleship, the more adversity he can anticipate from the devil and/or his Eph. 6: 12 forces of evil. “Not being worth the bullet” does not speak well of the life of one who claims to be an advancing disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ. If the devil is content to leave one undisturbed, right where he/she presently is, it in itself if clear indication than a 2 Cor. 13:5 self-examination is in order.
The devil is wise enough to quit while he is ahead of the game. He will capitalize on anything that can be used to shed negative light onto the Christian Community at large. Each and every day our personal life promotes the agenda of self, God, or the devil. The devil welcomes all the human good that goes towards making the devil’s world a better place to live. Establishing a productive kingdom independent of God has been on the devil’s mind long before Man ever walked on the face of this world (Isa. 14: 13, 14).
The deceptive part about human good is that it overtly appears to be what we, with human viewpoint, would think God wants us to produce. In the best-case scenario, human good is a companion of discipleship (James 2: 15, 16), but never-the-less remains to be only wood, hay, and straw (1 Cor. 3: 12). In the worst-case scenario, human good is perceived to be of equal status with divine good. Human good of this type includes all of the Man-made products and practices of “religion” that among the things that are highly esteemed by Man, but are detested by God (Luke 16: 15), likened to a pile of rags (Isa. 64: 6), as far as having any value in the spiritual realm.
For the most part, the devil will not attack the lives of many who claim to be Christians, so long as they do not choose to engage in the post salvation life of discipleship.
The devil is able and willing to “bless” those who knowingly (Luke 4: 6) or unwittingly (John 8: 44) do his bidding. Understanding (Psalms 73) the prosperity of the wicked in the midst of suffering by the godly takes a degree of spiritual discernment.
Apart from God, Man can only produce human good, symbolized as wood, hay, and straw in the 1 Cor. 3: 12 passage. Human good, that being all that Man can produce with human desire and capability. Many forms of human good can have tremendous value and purpose here on Earth, but ALL human good will be totally rejected at the 1 Cor. 3: 12-15 evaluation! One form of human good, being the products and practices of religion, can be a great source of distraction leading an unedified believer away from the TRUE post salvation spiritual life. This is precisely what the devil desires to accomplish in this area of spiritual combat.
The upside to the 1Cor. 3: 12-15 event that takes place in Heaven is that even those who will forfeit all the rewards that they could have received, do not lose their salvation. Such “Christians” remain saved, but will spend all of eternity without ever experiencing the reward(s) or executing the accompanying privileges that they could have otherwise received (1Cor. 3: 15).
Some religions portray God as one who is going to place all our good deeds one side of a scale and all one’s bad deeds on the other, with Heaven or Hell, reward or punishment, hanging in the balance. This makes sense to human viewpoint, but amounts to blasphemy as it insinuates that the sin(s) being then punished were not been paid in full by the Person and Work of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Praying for the salvation or change in the environment of a soul that has already-departed soul is like praying for great weather YESTURDAY. There is nothing that can be done to make save a spiritually-dead soul once he/she has departed this Earth. This includes ALL of the practices and rituals of man-made religion.
Loss of reward(s) is not punishment. Just as we would not pay a workman for work not done, neither will God reward a believer for divine good that was not produced.
Either the Lord Jesus Christ has already PAID IN FULL the sin debt of the whole world (with the exception of the sin of disbelief) as He claims and Scripture (1John 2: 2) teach, or HE did not. If He did, there can be no further punishment due to square the account. If He did not, then He lied, giving us no cause to trust God about any other spiritual issue.
The receiving or the forfeiting of reward at the 1 Cor. 3: 12-15 evaluation has got NOTHING to do with sin. The ONE and ONLY sin that will cause one to find himself in Hades, Hell, or what the Bible calls the lake of fire is the sin of disbelief in the Person and the Work of the Lord Jesus Christ. The purpose for the 1 Cor. 3: 2-15 is to determine what good deeds were of the human good variety (for which there will be NO heavenly reward, and what good deeds were of the divine good variety for which rewards will be given. There are NO bad deeds or sin(s) involved in this event.
This is NOT a license to sin, as there is divine discipline for post salvation sin here on Earth (Heb. 12: 6). Divine discipline is for the children of God. Divine good is for the purpose of correcting the wayward believer involved, or to correct others who see the discipline being imposed.
Divine discipline can range in anything from living with a guilty conscience up to and including physical death (Acts 5). For a spiritually keen soul, a guilty conscience will be enough to motivate correction, but even the most hardened soul will think twice before opening the door to physical death.
It is not to be assumed that physical death is always the result of divine discipline. Everyone (except for believers who are here on Earth when the Rapture (1 Thess. 4: 17) takes place, has an appointed date and time to depart this world via the door of physical death. At the same time, one is a fool to think that God cannot use physical death at the maximum form of divine discipline here on Earth (Acts 5).
Every human being since the Fall of Man has an appointed time for his/her earthy departure. Physical death of the body IS the worst thing on Earth that can happen to an unbeliever, as it means that the departed this world and is then in the Torments of Hades with no more to look forward to than what the Bible calls the lake of fire (Rev. 20: 13, 15).
On the other hand, until the Rapture takes place, physical death is the means through which the believer leaves the body behind and goes to Heaven. Scripture (Psalms 116:15) calls this a precious event when physical death involves a “saint (Psalms 116: 15)”, aka a born again believer of the Church Age. The separation that takes place via physical death here on Earth is temporary, but the reunion is permanent (1 Thess. 4: 17).
No one remains here on Earth one second longer that what God has decreed, and no one departs before his appointed time. Even homicide and/or suicide attempts will not succeed without first having passed through the filers of God’s direct (what he commands) will or His permissive (what He allows) will. His will is always consistent with His plan.
A spiritually mature believer does not want to leave this world with unfinished business, but neither does he/she wish to remain here in the devil’s world once his/her work has been done. How a believer looks at death speaks volumes about where he/she in his/her walk with Lord.
God establishes the timing and length of our earthly life span. For some, His plan calls for a very brief one, while others it will be more than 100 years. In comparison to eternity, our time here on Earth is no more than a passing moment, but the choices we make will determine where and how we will experience all of eternity.
The identity of the Producer is what distinguishes human good from divine good. God will use human beings to plant the seeds of the Gospel and post salvation doctrine, but only God can produce divine good (John 15:5/). It is the divine good that God produces through the born again believer that will be rewarded at the 1 Cor. 3: 12-15 event.
The devil works long and hard to equate human good and religion with divine good and spirituality. The general lack of discernment enabling believers to distinguish between such things in the time in which we are living reveals the devil is having considerable success. If such things had not been prophesied (1 Tim. 4: 1), one would have a hard time figuring out what is going on in the Christian Community at large.
How well we, as an individual disciple, can and will be used of God in the production of divine good is contingent on the quantity and the quality of the doctrine that we (should) have stored in our edified soul structure Matt. 7: 24-27). Like a runner in a torch relay race, one cannot be used of God to pass onto others what he does not first possess himself.
When a spiritually mature believer is asked if he/she is a “religious” person, his/her response should be, “I certainly hope not!” This may open the door of opportunity to speak of the difference between religion and spirituality.
In addition to an edified soul structure, God has a specific spiritual gift and an accompanying ministry (area of service) for each and every born again believer of the Church Age. It is via the accurate Bible Doctrine that one has in his/her structure and the identification and the development of his/her assigned gift that one becomes the most useful in the hands of God. This is how the advancing disciple does his/her part in the production of divine good.
The devil is a master in the art of deception. He deceives the unedified soul into thinking that what he/she does in the production of human good, and what he/she does by participating in “religion” is what God desires and requires of him/her. In truth, human good and Man-made religion has never and will never make or keep one in a spiritual relationship with God.
Discipleship is a post (after) salvation activity. As a post salvation activity, it has nothing to do with obtaining or retraining salvation, but it has everything to do with the production of divine good.
Discipleship is a 24 hour, 7 day a week lifestyle. The word disciple English word disciple is a translation of the Greek word m-a-t-h-e-t-e-s found in the original transcripts in view. Here in the Church Age, a m-a-t-h-e-t-e-s is a person who is a student of the Bible who studies and applies Scripture to his post salvation spiritual daily life (Matt. 7: 24-27).
God’s way of studying the Bible is under the filling of God the Holy Spirit under the teaching ministry of a Biblically-qualified pastor teacher.
In closing, human good consists of all that Man produces with his human desire and ability. Human good can have great value for the here and now, but accomplishes nothing in the spiritual realm. In the Church Age, God is glorified by divine good that God produces (John 15: 5) in the post salvation life of a born again believer. In order for God to produce the maximum amount of divine good though a born again believer, the believer must develop and apply the doctrine of an edified soul structure to the events and opportunities of his daily life.
In addition to an edified soul structure, the believer must identify and develop the specific spiritual gift and accompanying ministry that God has for him/her as an individual if he/she is to fulfil the divine purpose that God created him/her.
Discipleship begins with one self, but its long term objective is for him/her to be used for the evangelization and spiritual edification of others.
The reason that doing “our” best will always fall short of the glory of God is that we can only produce human good. God is glorified through the divine good that He produces through a born again believer.