Let us begin with a definition. Dictionaries define "intolerance" as an unwillingness to accept beliefs and/or behaviors that are contrary to one's own. Accordingly, a "No Tolerance" policy is a position established and enforced by a person or system of authority in which any level of participation in a prohibited area of activity is met with stern response, and without exception. Performance enhancing drugs in the athletic realm, domestic abuse, violence, sexual harassment, religious, ethnic, racial, and gender discrimination, etc., are examples of situations where "no tolerance" policies have been introduced and strictly enforced by both private and governmental authorities. The ultimate objective is to purge present and to prevent future unwanted activities for the well being of the individuals and the group at large. On a more personal level, a no tolerance policy is a frame mind in which the individual refuses to accept beliefs, practices, and behaviors that run contrary to his/her personal beliefs, practices, behaviors, and convictions. The problem with no tolerance policies on the human level, is that they can be used to promote evil and to "justify" extreme ways and means to achieve what some perceive to be worthy "religious" and "political" objectives. The God of the Bible, being a God of love and mercy, is often perceived as being one that will somehow, some way, in the end, overlook sin and welcome e-v-e-r-y-o-n-e into His heavenly presence. Scripture (Matt. 7: 13/Rev. 20: 15) clearly reveal a very different scenario. "Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide, and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and MANY are those who enter by it (Matt. 7: 13 NASB)." "And anyone's name not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire (Rev. 20: 15 NASB)." Here in the Church Age, the ONE and ONLY way, according to Scripture (John 14: 6), to have one's name. "...written in the book of life...(Rev. 20: 15)," is to have been born again (John 3: 5, 7) during his/her time here on planet Earth. All of the "ands", "buts", and "ors" that "religion" and other forms of human viewpoint have to offer will not be entertained by the Court of Heaven. One is born again the first nanosecond he/she chooses to believe (place his/her full trust and confidence) in the Person (who He is) and atoning Work of the Lord Jesus Christ "finished (John 19:30 NASB)" on the cross. The God of the Bible has a No Tolerance Policy when it comes to dealing with sin. Promoters of the "all is forgiven concept" choose to overlook the fact that the God of "love" is ALSO a God of "justice". Justice requires that E-V-E-R-Y sin be accounted for and addressed. Thank God that the Lord Jesus Christ, "...is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world (1John 2: 2 NASB)." To propitiate means to do something to appease or satisfy someone. In the plan of God, the Lord Jesus Christ, in His humanity, appeased God the Father, whose justice required payment in full for the sin debt of the entire human race. On the cross, the Lord Jesus Christ did atone for each and every human soul what each soul could have NEVER, by any means, done for him/herself. The virgin conception (Luke 1: 35) of what became the humanity (body) of the Lord Jesus at the First Advent (Christmas) is what qualified Him to become, "...the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world (John 1: 29 NASB)!" See the Doctrine of the Hypostatic Union for more details on this principle. For Man, in the name (authority) of "religion" to add any further requirement(s) beyond placing one's faith in the atoning Work finished on the cross is not only false doctrine, it is a proverbial slap across the face of the One who initiated and already "finished (John 19: 30 NASB)" the Work on the cross. No wonder, ALL our acts of attempting to make one self right with God, that human viewpoint holds in high esteem, are seen as a filthy, detestable garment (Isa. 64: 6/Luke 16: 15) in the eyes of God. "For all of us have become like one is unclean (totally unacceptable by God), and all our (as opposed to His) righteous deeds (religious rituals/ human good works) are (to Him) like a filthy garment (Isa. 64: 6 NASB)." "And He said to them, "You are those who justify yourselves in the sight (viewpoint) of men, but God knows your hearts; for that which is highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God (Luke 16: 15 NASB italics mine) In the plan and timing of God, the Lord Jesus Christ atoned (paid for) the sin debt of the entire human race (1John 2:2), with *ONE exception When God forgave sin prior cross, He did so on the basis of what would be accomplished by the atoning Work of the Lord Jesus Christ. As of the cross, God grants forgiveness on the basis of what was accomplished on the cross. This *ONE exception, was by divine design, and not a deficiency in the Work of the Lord Jesus Christ. The one sin of disbelief (John 3: 18) in the Person (who He is) and the atoning Work (on the cross) of the Lord Jesus Christ is the ONE and ONLY "unpardonable" sin. Roman Catholicism has made a list of "mortal" sins, and promotes same as being grounds for the sinner to be denied at least immediate entrance into Heaven. This teaching runs contrary to James 2: 10 that places ALL sin in the same category, and amounts to an insult to the Lord Jesus Christ who already atoned (paid for) for such sins on the cross. The sin of disbelief is unpardonable because it was not, by divine design, atoned for on the cross. There is nothing that Man can ever do, or have done in his behalf, that will result in the pardon or forgiveness of the sin of disbelief. This is why the suffering to be experienced by unbelievers in the lake of fire (Rev. 20: 15) will never end. Eternity has no end, but even if it did, having spent all of it in the lake of fire (Rev. 20:15) would still not atone (pay for) the sin of disbelief. Because ALL other sins were atoned for by the Work of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross, the sin of disbelief is the ONE and ONLY sin for which one will receive the Rev. 20: 15 sentence. When the promoters of religion come up with all their never-ending list of other reasons for which they contend that one can find himself in Hell, try asking them if the Lord Jesus Christ had not paid for those "moral" sins on the cross, as He claimed to do! Once a debt has been paid in full, the creditor (God) can not claim, demand, or require ANY further or additional payment. This includes doing penance. Only God can and will (1John 1: 9) forgive sin, and does so on (and only on) the basis of the atoning Work of the Lord Jesus Christ. Forgiveness from God does NOT mean that there are not secular and civil penalties when the sin is also a violation of the laws of Man (Romans 13). Doing good deeds (when circumstances permit) to those who we have hurt by our sin(s) is a sign that repentance has truly taken place, but good deeds is NOT the basis for forgiveness. Biblical repentance means to have a change of mind that results in a change of behavior. Repentance is necessary in order for one to "forsake (John 8: 11 NABS) the sin in the future, but its not the means to obtain forgiveness for past or present sin. In order for ANY born again believer (John 3: 5, 7) to later find him/herself anywhere (Purgatory/Hell/ etc.) else other than in the presence of God (2Cor. 5: 8) upon departing this world, God the Father would have to disregard the atoning Work of the Lord Jesus Christ. Either the Lord Jesus Christ atoned for the world's sin debt as He claimed to have done, or He didn't. Being saved in the spiritual realm is like being pregnant in the natural realm. Either you are, or you aren't. Does this mean that once "saved", the born again believer can then sin and not expect to incur any consequences? Of course not (Heb. 12: 6). "For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, and He scourges every son whom He receives (Heb. 12: 6 NASB)." Isn't this a contradiction of the atoning work of the Lord Jesus Christ and the forgiveness that we just examined? No! Divine discipline is NOT for the purpose of "punishment." It is for the purpose of correction/re-direction of the born again believer via personal discipline, or via observing the discipline being imposed on others (Acts 5). Divine discipline, here on Earth, can range in anything from having to live with a guilty conscience, up to and including physical death. Divine discipline of Heb. 12: 6, in its maximum form, involves physical death (Act 5) of born again believer here on Earth, but does NOT take back (Romans 11: 29) the gift of salvation that he/she received when he/she was (past tense) born again. Any and all results of divine discipline received here on Earth are left behind when the soul departs the body. This is true even if one's departure is itself the result of divine discipline (Acts 5) or capital punishment for a secular offense (Romans 13:4). There is NO condemnation (in Heaven) for a born again believer (Romans 8: 1), but there is divine discipline here on Earth (Heb. 12: 6). In both Old Testament (Gen. 6: 5-7) and New Testament scenarios (Acts 5), divinely imposed physical death clearly confirms that the God of love is equally so, a God of justice. In addition to the applicable (Matt. 5: 17) commands of the Old Testament, there are more than 300 ways to sin documented in the New Testament. Roman Catholicism, a major Christian religion, classifies sin as being either of the venial or mortal variety, with differing solutions and consequences, before and after death. Classifying sin by seriousness and imposing a corresponding penalty makes sense to human viewpoint, as this is consistent with how justice is administered by secular government. Scripture (John 14: 6) offers one solution (faith in Person and the Work of the Lord Jesus Christ) for all sins, and offers NO means for a departed unbeliever to avoid or to ever secure release from, "... the lake of fire (Rev. 20: 15 NASB)."
All of the born again believer's past, present, and future sins, as far as salvation is concerned, were forever addressed at the moment one is born again. Confessing (1John 1: 9) post (after) salvation sin is for the purpose of returning to fellowship and moving forward in the post salvation spiritual life here on Earth. It is NOT for the purpose of restoring one's salvation. Post (after) salvation sins are addressed through the 1John 1: 9 process and the "forsaking" principle of John 8: 11. Post salvation sin results in divine discipline (Heb. 12: 6) here on Earth, and the potential loss of some of his/her 1Cor. 3: 12-15 rewards that he/she would have otherwise secured to be experienced in Heaven. James 2: 10 places all sinners in the same stinking, sinking boat. From divine viewpoint, a violation of ANY one of the Laws of God renders the violator as guilty as the one who has in fact broken them all. Engaging in post (after) salvation sin forges a chain of events that takes the born again believer further and further away from the true post salvation spiritual life. Here's the chain. Link #1: Post (after) salvation sin takes the born again believer out of fellowship (2Cor. 13: 14/Habakkuk 1: 13) with God. Until the sin(s) (James 2: 10) that took the sinner out of fellowship with God is confessed (1John 1: 9), the sinner remains saved, but is out of fellowship with God. Being out of fellowship with God is like the environment that a married couple goes through in the midst of a marital fight. They are just as "married, but usually have no desire to spend any quality time or activity with each other until the issue at hand is mutually addressed. The "issue at hand" between God and the born again believer is a sin that needs to be addressed (1John 1:9/John 8: 11). Periods out of fellowship can be as brief as the few seconds it takes to confess the sin, or for as long as the rest of one's post salvation spiritual life! This highlights the impact that sin that becomes a lifestyle can have on the spiritual life of a born again believer. Link #2: When out of fellowship with God, one is not going to be in the frame of mind necessary to execute the true post salvation spiritual life. The believer, more than ever, will then be vulnerable to substitute the true post salvation spiritual life with one of the many "religious" alternatives. Link #3: Failing to execute the post salvation spiritual life of discipleship, results in the lack of production of divine good, symbolized as gold. silver, and precious stones in the 1Cor. 3: 12-15 passage. The lack of production of divine good, results in denying God the glory that He would have otherwise received; opens the door to divine discipline here on Earth, and the loss of heavenly rewards and accompanying privileges that the same believer could have otherwise received at the 1Cor.3: 12-15 event that takes place in Heaven. Some forms of post salvation result in additional links of sin being added to the chain. For example, one may be pressured to engage in lying and stealing in order to either cover up or to support the initial sin he/she has engaged in and chooses not to confess (1John 1: 9) or to forsake (John 8: 11). The omniscience of God is fully aware of every sin that ever was, is now, or will be committed by each and soul of the entire human race. On the brighter side, this means that when we confess our sins to God, we are not telling Him anything that He does not already know, and we can be assured of His response (1John 1: 9). On the darker side, unless we choose to confess/forsake known sins, we are and will remain out of fellowship with Him until we do. No amount of participating in "religious" activity or human good has ever, is now, or will ever, atone or make up for the sins we have, are, and will commit while here on Earth. Such verses as James 2: 10 and Romans clearly place all of us in the same sinking, stinking, boat of sin, and equally in need of the one and only (John 14: 6) means of salvation. Once born again, every born again believer will be in the daily, moment to moment, need to engage in the 1John 1: 9 process and the John 8: 11 principle of forsaking sin IF one is going to regain or remain in fellowship with God. The ONE and ONLY divine solution for sin is one's personal belief in the atoning work of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross. The post (after) salvation "forgiveness of sin cited in 1John 1: 9 is for the purpose of returning to fellowship with God in order to get on (or back on) the true post salvation spiritual life of discipleship. The 1John 1: 9 intangible confessional is open 24-7. The availability of the "religious" confessional and procedure promoted by some "Christian" religions is not, denying the believer the "immediate" availability to return to fellowship with God. Furthermore, the confessionals of religion promote the involvement of human priests that engage in activities (imposing penance/granting absolution) that is not endorsed by Scripture. Only God can forgive sin, and "penance" is one of the many "additives" that religion has attached to the already "finished-John 19: 30)" Work of the Lord Jesus Christ. A 1John 1: 9 confession is not facilitated by a physical structure, does not involve a clergyman, or involve the confessor doing any penance. Such things are among the products and practices of r-e-l-i-g-I-o-n that has evolved throughout Church history. See the Doctrine of Confessionfor more details. The binding and loosening spoken of in (Matt. 18: 18) refers to blessings or consequences that the individual receives in response to the Church doing its assigned work (Matt. 28: 19, 20) of promoting theGospel Message and accurate post salvation doctrine. Religions (Psalms 96) of the world (including many "Christian" religions) offer many, many alternative means and practices to address the issue of original and post (after) salvation sin. According to Scripture, the issue of original and pre-salvation sin is addressed by being born again (John 3: 5, 7), and post salvation sin is addressed (1John 1:9) by confessing the sin (to God), and by forsaking (John 8:11) the same type of sin in the future. Repeatedly committing the same type of sin does NOT diminish the availability of forgiveness, but does invite more frequent and more intense forms of divine discipline (Heb. 12: 6). The 1John 1: 9 guarantee and inexhaustible source of forgiveness is based on the same principle as all the sins that were forgiven at the moment of salvation. That source is the atoning Work that the Lord Jesus Christ "finished (John 19: 30 NASB)" on the cross. As the Lord Jesus Christ agonized physically, He also, in His humanity, experienced the horrors of spiritual death that we deserved, being separated in His fellowship with God, as He quoted the 22nd Psalm. "My God, My God, why has Thou forsaken Me (Psalms 22: 1 NABS)?" The Lord Jesus Christ was NOT asking God the Father a question. The Lord Jesus Christ knew full well what and why all that was taking place in the spiritual realm, as this was the reason that He had come to Earth in the first place. By quoting the 22nd Psalm, He was drawing attention to the many detailed prophecies contained in Psalms 22 regarding His crucifixion. Psalms 22 was written some 1,000 years earlier during the time of David. The Lord Jesus Christ was on the cross for six hours from 9 am (Mark 15: 25) to 3 pm (Matt. 27: 45), with the latter hours (Matthew 27: 45) being in darkness. It was during the three hours of darkness that God Father placed on His atoning, bleeding, humanity the sin debt of the whole world (1John 2: 2), including ALL (with one exception) the sins that we, corporately and individually, would later commit during our time here on Earth. As we noted earlier, the sin of disbelief, by divine design, was not atoned for and there is NO forgiveness available. The omniscience of God, in order to place them on the Lord's suffering humanity, knew of EVERY sin that EVERY human soul would commit during his/her time here on Earth. This can be a source of comfort when we confess our sins to God, as we are not telling Him anything that He does not already know, and edified believers already know what His response will be (1John 1: 9). The atoning Work of the Lord Jesus Christ, who paid in full the sin debt of the world at large and each individual soul, is what makes the availability to receive forgiveness for post salvation inexhaustible, through the 1John 1: 9 process. The God of the Bible has a NO TOLERANCE POLICY when it comes to sin, and offers NO OTHER means to address it other than the one disclosed in the Gospel Message. The eyes of the God of the Bible cannot even look (with approval) upon ANY sin (Habakkuk 1: 13), let alone have it go unaddressed, or be in fellowship with the soul that embraces it and will not let go. * * * Many "religious" practices, including some promoted by some "Christian" religions, promote post (after) departure rituals and procedures with the idea of enhancing (or even changing) the location and the environment that a departed soul entered (past tense) into at the moment of physical death of the body. The popular, but false belief that after death activities, or lack of same, can impact the quality of the departed souls after-death experience, go way back to the ancient world. Such things are the end result of Man's intrusion into areas of spirituality to which he was never been invited. The same thing can be said of many, many practices of "religion" found in the world today. While such things are still popular in many cultures, they are based on human viewpoint that contradict some of the primary doctrines of Christianity. The only one (humanly speaking) who can impact where any given soul is going and how he/she will experience life after death is the one we see in the mirror. Both God and he devil will use the actions of others to impact our thought processes, but when all is said and done, it is the decisions WE make during our time here on Earth that determines where and how we will experience eternity. The classical example of "well-intended," but useless activity is how in many cultures, articles that the departed soul would presumably need in the afterlife are placed in the coffins/graves with the bodily remains. In more recent times, "religious" people engage in such things as praying for the salvation of departed souls, dedicating worship services, and decorating the grave sites. According to Scripture, the soul departs the body at the moment of physical death (John 19: 30/2Sam 12: 22, 23). Departed souls of believers (prior the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ) found themselves in Paradise, being a section of Hades (Luke 16: 23); a place of rest and comfort (Luke 16: 25) for the departed souls of believers. This was the "Paradise" spoken of by the Lord Jesus Christ while conversing with the repentant sinner, crucified on the cross next to our Lord (Luke 23: 43). And He said to him. "Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise (Luke 23: 43 NASB)." The human spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ, upon departing His body on the cross (John 19: 30), went to this Paradise, before rising from the dead and being reunited with His body that was placed in the tomb and would be raised in resurrected form in three days. Departed souls of unbelievers of the Old Testament dispensation, as do unbelievers of the Church Age dispensation, found/find themselves in the Torments (section) of Hades, experiencing agony (Luke 16: 24), for having committed the one sin of disbelief. Portions of Scripture were written in what is called "language of accommodation" so that it could be understood by all the generations of Man. For instance, it speaks (as do we) of the rising and the setting of the sun, when in fact the sun does not move. The fire of Hades is not like the fire on Earth that consumes its fuel source, but has the characteristic of causing great discomfort and suffering. As of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, there is no longer ANY souls of any Old Testament believers in the Paradise section of Hades, but the Torments of Hades continues to be filled with departed souls of unbelievers. There, unbelievers will suffer and remain until the final judgment of unbelievers takes place (Rev. 20: 13, 15). Following that final judgment, all of the unbelievers of the human race will be tossed into and forever remain the lake of fire (Rev. 20: 15). The dispensation of the Church Age began at the Feast of Pentecost in Jerusalem, Israel, in the approx, year 30-34 AD, and will remain in place until the Church (on Earth) is Raptured (1Thess. 4: 16,17). Souls that depart this world during the dispensation of the Church Age find themselves in one of two locations as a result of the spiritual choices that the departed soul made during his/her appointed time here on Earth. NO amount of post (after) death activity of any kind by any means here on Earth can alter, enhance, or diminish the environment, location, or experience that a departed soul entered into at the moment of physical death. For the souls of departed believers, the "location" is Heaven (2Cor. 5: 8), awaiting such future events as the Rapture (1Thess. 4: 16). For unbelievers, the immediate "location" is the Torments of Hades, awaiting the final Judgement Day for the unbelievers, at which time they will ALL be tossed into their final location, being what the Bible calls the lake of fire (Rev. 20: 13, 15). For believers, there will be a bodily resurrection of the dust (Gen. 3: 19) or decaying bodily remains of the more recently departed, on the day of the Rapture (1Thess. 4: 16). At THAT time, the dust or bodily remains will raised up in the form of a resurrected body and reunited with the departed soul presently in Heaven in interim bodies (2Cor. 5: 1). Moses, whose dead physical body was buried (Deut. 34: 5, 6) centuries before, appeared in his interim body and conversed with the Lord Jesus Christ (Matt. 17: 3) during the transfiguration event. There are bodily remains and/or dust, but there is NO soul in ANY corpse, casket, urn, grave, funeral parlor, or cemetery. The unavailability of humans to locate, bury, and/or to otherwise attend to bodily remains of a departed believer does NOT prevent the omniscient and omnipotent God from including them in bodily resurrection when the Rapture takes place. War, terrorist attacks, plagues, accidents, mass graves, and natural disasters have made the recovery and/or burial of bodily remains impossible for many individuals over the course of history. Intentional, unintentional, and natural disasters have disturbed or destroyed many cemetery or burial grounds over the course of time. None of the above type of incidents are going to prevent God from raising the bodily remains of a believer into a resurrected body when the Rapture takes place. Wakes, funerals, memorial services, grave site decorations, and the like, can be of great earthly importance to the ones the departed soul leaves behind, in order to provide them with such things as the means of "closure," or a perceived continuation of personal contact with the departed soul. Some Christian "religions" dedicate worship services to secure the salvation of a soul in Purgatory, but the concept of Purgatory is contrary to Scripture. As noted earlier, if a born again believer could find him/herself ANYWHERE but in Heaven, it would mean that the Work of the Lord Jesus Christ failed. NO activity here on Earth can alter the eternal experience or location of the departed soul, nor get in God's way of raising up the dust or bodily remains of believers on the day of the Rapture. Scripture (John 3: 16, 18/2 Cor. 5: 8/Luke 16: 23, 24/Rev. 20: 13, 15/1Cor. 3: 12-15) teach that the immediate location and environment (Heaven vs. the Torments of Hades) of a departed soul is determined by the decisions one makes during his/her own time while here on Earth. No can be "prayed" into Heaven or out of the Torments of Hades or the Lake of Fire. If salvation could be secured, now or after one departs, by ANY others means other than being born again during one's time here on Earth, then the atoning sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ was unnecessary. As of the Church Age, being presented with the Gospel Message affords each member of the human race the opportunity to secure permanent residency in Heaven, but the Bible (John 3: 18) equally assures everyone who rejects it of eventual and permanent residency in what the Bible calls the lake of fire (Rev. 20: 15). As of the Church Age, both the blessing (Heaven) for believing and the consequences (the lake of fire) for choosing to reject the Gospel Message are made clear in Scripture. Therefore, being presented with the Gospel Message and/or presenting it to others is serious business. If that should prove to be your or their one and only opportunity to hear it, your or their eternal location and environment hangs in the balance. No one is promised multiple opportunities to hear the Gospel Message. Once presented, one either believes it , and as a result is born again,or disbelieves it and remains spiritually dead. One can choose to religious at any time, but one can only be born again in response to an invitation from God. Religion, religious programs, have their own time schedule of events, and God has His. God determines WHEN and HOW that invitation (presentation of the Gospel Message) will take place. What most folks think as "Church" is only one of many locations and means through which one might be presented with the Gospel Message. I say "might" because there are many "Churches" out there that do not promote the true Gospel Message, and many that offer the alternatives of religion instead as the means to either obtain or retain salvation. Souls by the tens of thousands, on a global scale, depart this world each and every day, many of them with their departure having been the last thing on their minds or on the minds of those who knew them. Prior generations of Man were judged on the basis of their belief or rejection of the divine revelations that God made available to them, beginning with the Eccl. 7:11 concept of eternity. I believe, this same principle applies to those (if there truly are any) who do not hear of the Gospel Message while here on Earth. What is NOT open for debate is the salvation or the condemnation that one receives, when the Gospel Message has been made available to them. If you're looking at this Gospel Message link, you can no longer claim that you were never given the opportunity to hear the Gospel Message. Having been given this opportunity, or any other opportunity that God may choose to use to present you with the Gospel Message, renders such a soul without excuse when he/she leaves this planet. What the recipients chooses to do with his/her opportunities to be presented with the Gospel Message is a matter between he/she and God. It is NOT a matter between the human presenter and the recipient. Man-made religions, including some "Christian" religions, offer many a-l-t-e-r-n-a-t-i-v-e "solutions" and "answers" as to how sinful Man is to establish and retain a relationship with a God that has a NO TOLERANCE if sin policy. A NO TOLERANCE POLICY towards sin suggest that it would be humanly impossible to for fallen Man to establish and maintain a personal and intimate relationship with a holy God. God would be the first to agree (Matt. 19: 25, 26), but this does not change His policy. "When the disciples heard this, they were very astonished and said, "Then who can be saved?" And looking upon them Jesus said to them, "With men this (being saved) is impossible. but with God all things are possible (Matt. 19: 25, 26 NASB italics mine)."
Salvation and the execution of the post (after) salvation spiritual life IS humanly impossible, as apart from the enabling power of God (John 15: 5), Man can accomplish nothing in the spiritual realm. This applies to spiritually dead unbelievers (regarding salvation) and born again believers who (due to sin that that has not been confessed/forsaken) are out of fellowship (2Cor. 13: 14) with God (regarding the post salvation spiritual life). * * * It is the pre-salvation ministry of God the Holy Spirit, Who sets the stage for the Gospel Message to be presented and understood. (1Cor. 2: 14) are gifts from God. Rejecting such opportunities is one way in which the unpardonable sin of disbelief can be committed (Matt. 12: 31.)
* * * Some religious organizations will use God's NO TOLERANCE policy as a fear tactic in order to garner and retain the support of their followers, promoting their "religious" rituals as the means to establish, restore, or maintain "good standing" with God. These same religious organizations use fear to threaten non-participants and non-conformists with the fire of Hell. The devil himself promotes one's desire or perceived obligation to be "religious," as long as one is not born again and/or goes on to be an advancing disciple in the process. The lake of fire (Rev. 20: 15) is going to be filled with human souls that were religious, engaged in relatively good behavior, engaged in humanitarian projects, but were never "born again (John 3: 5, 7)." The primary difference that separates Christianity from Christian religion, is that Christianity is based on believing (placing one's trust and confidence in what God has done, is doing, and will do for the people of faith. On the other hand, in the religious circles of the world (Psalms 96), establishing and maintaining an Earthly and eternal relationship with the god (note small "g") of choice is based on what the follower does, doesn't do, or has done in his/her behalf. To this extent, the primary difference between Christian religion and the religions (Psalms 96) of the world is the identity and what means are required to be a part of the religious community in view, in order to receive the Earthly and eternal blessings that each one claims for itself. To repeat, Christianity is NOT about what we do, have done, or don't do, but about our trust and confidence in what God has done, is going, and will do in our behalf. In the religious realm, Man does the work, but accomplishes n-o-t-h-i-n-g (John 15: 5), whereas in the spiritual realm, God does all the work and accomplishes everything. ALL our human attempts (religious rituals/relatively good behavior/humanitarian deeds, etc.) to make ourselves right with God fall short of what glorifies Him and saves us. "For all of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our (self) righteous deeds are like a filthy garment (Isa. 64: 6 NASB/italics mine)." And He said to them, "You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of men, but God knows your hearts; for that which is highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God (Luke 16: 15 NASB)." "But in vain do they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men (Matt. 15: 9 NASB)." In context, Matt. 15: 9 referred to the "religious" teachings/practices of His day, but the principle remains true today, as well. The type of worship that God desires (John 4: 23) is a post (after) salvation activity, as, "...part from Me you can do nothing (John 15: 9)." A person can spend a lifetime being taken to "Church", or choose to go to "Church" every day of the week, but until and unless he/she is born again, he/she can not and will not see the Kingdom of God (John 3: 5). Such attendance is meaningless until one is born again. The command to "gather together- Heb. 10: 25 NASB " applies to individuals who have already been born again for the primary purpose of developing post (AFTER) salvation discipleship. Discipleship is the study and the application of the Word of God, which is the second (or internal) part of the job that the Church (that God established) was commissioned (Matt. 28: 19, 20) to do. Again, this is not going to happen in a "Church" that is not functioning in the way and/or serving the purpose for which it was created. The ONE and only thing that a spiritually dead soul can get out of "going to Church" is IF that is where and when God the Holy Spirit chooses to present the Gospel Message to that individual soul. This is NOT going to happen if the "Church" that one "goes to" is not doing the job it was Commissioned to to (Matt. 28: 19, 20). A "spiritually dead soul" is any soul that has not been born again. It is the n-o-t-h-i-n-g part that the spiritually dead, religious man can't understand (Romans 8:7). Until one is born again, he/she IS "apart (John 15: 5 NASB)," (separated) from God. Knowing this is why the devil promotes religion, but opposes genuine Christianity. Religion can make one feel good about him/herself, satisfy his/her perceived need to meet certain religious criteria and obligations, but accomplishes n-o-t-h-i-n-g (John 15: 5) in the spiritual realm. Due in part to one's association with "religion," many Christians have an over-rated opinion of themselves (Romans 12: 3). Such souls base their standing with God on all they have done, they are doing, or they will do in accordance with their religious convictions. "...I say to every man among you not to think more highly of himself that he ought to think...(Romans 12: 3 NASB)." Christians are sinners saved by the unearned grace of God, not via ANY "religious" activity, good behavior, or good deeds. The desire to engage in relatively good behavior and good deeds will be the RESULT of having a-l-r-e-a-d-y been saved, but such things are NOT the means to become or remain saved. Spiritually dead souls (headed for the lake of fire) can and do, for a variety of reasons, choose to engage in "religious" rituals, relatively good behavior, and good (human) deeds. If such things were to be the means of salvation, then there was no need for either the incarnation (taking on a human body) or the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ. Each and every one of us has a fallen nature that is not merely indifferent and disinterested in God and the things of God, but is inherently hostile (Romans 8: 7) towards God and the things of God. This hidden hostility often becomes overt when the soul is challenged spiritually such as when being presented with the true Gospel Message or an edifying passage of Scripture. Fallen Man is predisposed to failure when it comes to compliance with God's standard of NO TOLERANCE. When God, through Scripture (Matt. 5: 48), commands us to be "perfect," He is speaking of spiritual maturity, NOT sinless perfection. "Perfect" is an English translation of the Greek word t-e-l-e-i-o-u-s, meaning to be blameless, and therefore to be useful to God to accomplish His objectives. Such persons as Noah and Job were "blameless", but not sinless. As a result of being born again, the believer is "blameless," but will never (this side of Heaven) be sinless. Church age believers maintain (or return to) this "blameless" status of blameless and usefulness by engaging in the 1John 1: 9 process after having committed sin. If past sin eliminated one from serving God, none of us would ever qualify. "Perfection", in terms of application of the Word of God is a goal to be sought after, but one that will NEVER be fully realized here on Earth. As one spiritually matures, he/she will sin less while here on Earth, but will never be sinless this side of Heaven. With more than 300 New Testament ways to sin by what we think, do, and say, there will NEVER be even as much as a single day in which one will not be in need of the 1John 1:9 process. Being blameless is what place the born again believer in a position to serve God. Remaining blameless, and in a position to serve God, requires that one confess (1John 1: 9) and as need be, to forsake (John 8: 11) known sin that one inevitably entertains. The objective of being perfect, "...as your heavenly Father is perfect (Matt. 5: 48), begins with building an edified soul structure by taking in the Word of God under the ministry of a qualified pastor-teacher. The Biblical requirements for ordination and the functions of a pastor teacher are clearly outlined in such passages as 1Timothy 3: 2-7/ 1Tim. 2: 12/2TIm. 2: 24, 25/Titus 1: 7-9. "Religious" seminaries produce future promoters of the religion that founded such seminaries for that very purpose. Accordingly, the devil promotes such activity.
The accurate teaching of the Word of God is what provides the advancing disciple to have the "mind of Christ -1Cor. 2: 16 (NASB)," concerning any given spiritual issue. Once we have the mind of Christ, it then becomes matter of how we line up our thoughts, speech, and actions to be consistent with doctrine that we (should) have stored away in our soul structures. Like any other spiritual objective, this can only be accomplished via the enabling power (John 15: 5) of God. Advancing in the spiritual realm places the disciple on a collision course with his own fallen nature, the promoters of human viewpoint, and "religion." Advancing disciples are not only to be hearers of the Word, but doers of the Word, (James 1: 22) if they are to glorify God. This is a life long process, and one that will never end here on Earth. To the extent we are conformed to the likeness (in thought, speech and behavior) to Christ(Romans 8: 29), the born again believer glorifies God. To the extent we fail to do so, we become useful to the devil and his Eph. 6:12 forces of evil in the realm of spiritual combat. There is NO NEUTRALITY in the spiritual realm. E-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g we do (or don' do) favors one side of the spiritual realm or the other. * * * Paul, writing his letter (epistle) to the believers in Rome, made it clear (Chapter 7) that the sin nature does NOT go away once we are saved. Paul, expressing his personal, ongoing struggle with the sin nature within him, wrote this letter nearly thirty years AFTER he was saved, and towards the end of his post salvation spiritual life. * * * The first spiritual question that God's NO TOLERANCE POLICY raises is how is it than fallen Man is ever going to establish and maintain a personal, intimate, and eternal relationship with a pure and Holy God. The answer is that one is to do this by the power of God (John 15: 5), and not via human effort. One of the reasons that God allows His disciples to fall flat on our faces is to drive home the message of the futility of trying to achieve divine goals with human effort. We could avoid such disasters by applying the principles of John 15: 5, but most of us learn most of our lessons the hard way; through negative experience. During the dispensation (period of time) of the Church Age, it is the pre-salvation ministry of God that prepares the soul and makes the arrangements for a soul to be presented with the Gospel Message, affording that soul the opportunity to be saved. Many religions, including some "Christian" religions have a life-long schedule of events that begins shortly after birth; continues on throughout one's life here on Earth; and ends with one ritual or another after the soul departs. God's plan for the believers of the Church Age begins when the soul is "born again (John 3: 5, 7 (NASB)." One can be born again at any time AFTER the soul reaches the age/stage of moral accountability, by choosing to respond to a presentation of the Gospel Message. One can be born again in ANY place and in ANY circumstance that God the Holy may choose. Once born again, the believer then has the opportunity to engage in the post salvation life of discipleship. * * * Contrary to what the devil and his "religious" spokespersons have to say, No one or no thing can undo the divine (Titus 3:5/Eph. 4: 30, etc.) work that takes place the moment when one first believes the Gospel Message. One can NEVER be any MORE or any LESS saved that he/she became the moment he/she was born again. What can take place, however, is various degrees of failure (to glorify God) in the course of one's post (after) salvation spiritual life. Post (after) salvation sin does NOT diminish the integrity of one's salvation, but can cause much destruction in the quality of one's post (after) salvation spiritual life. Once saved, the devil has lost the primary battle for the soul's salvation, but is very much interested in destroying the potential impact of one's post salvation spiritual life (1Pet. 5: 8).
The SIN issue as far as salvation (going to Heaven) is concerned, is forever settled the moment one is born again. However, the issue and the consequences (Heb. 12: 6) of post (after) salvation SIN has just begun. So has the basis on which heavenly rewards will either be forfeited or received (1Cor. 3: 12-15). The born again believer's salvation is forever secure, but he/she is never-the-less subject to divine discipline (Heb. 12: 6). Divine discipline can range in anything from having to live with a guilty conscience, up to an including physical death. Until a known sin is confessed (1John 1: 9), the born again believer is out of fellowship (2Cor.13: 14) with God. When out of fellowship with God, one is NOT in a frame of mind ready to produce divine good. Failure to produce divine good results in the loss of rewards that the same believer would have otherwise received a the 1Cor. 3:12-15 event that takes in Heaven. We do not serve God in order to be rewarded, but if our lives are not securing rewards to be received in Heaven (1Cor. 3: 12-15), then we are not fulfilling the spiritual purpose that God created us for in the first place. Eternal security is NOT a license to sin, and does not change the NO TOLERANCE policy of God. One can not live in any type (James 2: 10) of sin and be in fellowship with God. To "live in sin" means to have a sin that has not been confessed (1John 1: 9) and/or forsaken (John 8: 11). * * * Thank God that the battle of the post salvation spiritual life is His battle and not ours (2Chron.20: 15). The battle plan Matt. 28: 19, 20), the strategy (John 15: 5), the supplying of all the logistical needs (Phil. 4: 19), etc., are all His responsibility. As one of His soldiers, our responsibility is to continue to grow in His grace and knowledge (2Pet. 3: 18). We are put on and master the use of the spiritual armor (Eph. 6) and weaponry. We are to be prepared to give an answer to all who ask spiritual questions (1Pet. 3: 15). We are to identify and execute the specific spiritual gift (1Cor. 12: 4, 7) and our individual place (1Cor. 12: 5) in the battlefield. Be it salvation or be it a post (after) salvation issue, once the believer realizes that the battle is the Lord's, the pressure to "win" is no longer on us, but the frequency and the intensity of the attacks from the opposition (1Pet. 5:8/Eph. 6: 12) will increase to the same degree that one advances in the true post salvation spiritual life. I say the "true" post salvation spiritual life because every believer has "a" post salvation spiritual life, but only a minority (Matt. 7: 13) identify or stick with "the" post salvation spiritual life outlined in Scripture. If one does not experience spiritual adversity, it could be that the devil does not see him/her to be worth the bullet. The devil has no reason to change what is working for him. If one is not serving the interests of the Lord, he/she is serving the interests of the devil. As noted earlier, when a born again believer is out of fellowship with God, he/she does not have the frame of mind to engage in spiritual warfare (Eph. 6: 12). It has been the objective of the devil (Isa. 14: 13) to establish a prosperous kingdom, but independent of God before Man even came on the scene. Many, many souls, have the same goal in mind. They, too, want to acquire all the success and prosperity they can, but want to be independent from God. The devil appreciates all the help, from whatever source, that contributes to making his world (Luke 4: 6) a better place to live, as long as God is not glorified in the process. It is when the advancing disciple develops the level of spiritual maturity to see the spiritual issues behind all that takes place here on Earth that he/she can take a stand for God. This is what draws the attention of the devil and his forces of evil. Biblical discipleship was/is the internal (inside) part of the mission, aka the Great Commission, that our Lord gave to His Church that was about to come on the scene (Mt. 28: 20). Biblical discipleship involves the teaching/study (Matt. 28: 20) and the application (James 1: 22) of the Word of God, is for the edification of the already born again believer. The long term goal is for the believer to become an advancing disciple to be used of God for the spreading of the Gospel Message to unbelievers, and to share post salvation doctrine for the edification of fellow believers. This is why, AFTER resolving the issue of one's own salvation, he/she remains here on Earth until the Lord calls him/her home. The devil, and even some "Christian" religions would have us believe that the battle for soul (concerning salvation) is not over with, but Scripture (Roman 8: 1/John 5: 24) tells us otherwise. By promoting the concept that battle of one's salvation is not over with, the *weak believer's focus of attention will be on obtaining/retaining the salvation that he/she has already received and can not lose, instead of moving forward in the plan of God. A *weak believer is one who makes decisions based on either ignorance or rejection of what the Word of God has to say regarding ANY spiritual issue. A base runner will not run his hardest towards 2nd base, 3rd base, or home plate if he is not sure he "really" touched first base along the way. Salvation is a done deal for the born again believer, but the battle of the post salvation spirit life has only just begun. Each and EVERY day the born again believer makes choices that either glorifies God or denies His the glory that He should have received. It is a part of the devil's strategy to do all he can to see to it that born again believers NEVER identify or engage in the true post salvation spiritual life. The fact that Scripture (Rev. 12: 9) refers to the devil who deceived the whole world reveals the level of success that he and his Eph. 6: 12 forces of evil has achieved in the realm of spiritual combat! Such global success would not have been possible if it were not for the contribution that Man made religion has made. Religion, like any other form of counterfeiting must appear to be the real thing if the deception is going to work. This is why the false teachings and practices of religion are promoted by wolves in sheep's clothing (Matt. 7: 15). "Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, inwardly are ravenous wolves (Matt. 7: 15 NASB)." In doing so, they a-p-p-e-a-r to be spokespersons for God, usually believe they are, while all the time deceiving their followers to believe they are worshiping and serving God. Note that such "wolves" do not do what they do with malicious intent. They are "inwardly ravenous" because of the destructive nature of the false doctrine they ignorantly promote. Having been first deceived themselves, they have become blind guides leading the blind followers (Matt. 15: 14) down the wrong path (Matt. 7: 13). How is one to distinguish the true spokesman from the false spokesman, since both claim to be the bearers of the truth? The answer is found in Acts 17: 11. "Now the these were more noble-minded (spiritually mature) than those is Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures d-a-i-l-y, to see whether these things (Gospel Message/post (after) salvation doctrines) were so (Acts 17: 11 NASB italics mine.)" At that time, the New Testament portion of the Bible was still a work in progress. As of 96 AD, with the 1500 year process of completing the Bible then accomplished, believers then had access to the completed Canon of Scripture with which to discern truth from error. Right from the start, the Apostles had to deal with false teachers and false doctrines (Galatians 3). What the Acts 17 believers in Berea did not have to contend with was all the additions, deletions, and distortions of the Word of God that would later infiltrate the Christian Community in the name (authority) of religion that take place mostly after the third century until the time of the Protestant Reformation when such things were publicly exposed. The Acts 17: 11 verification of truth through the examination of Scripture remians to be the primary means of identifying false doctrines. Dealing with overt and commonly accepted acts of sin begins at the "kindergarten" level of one's spiritual edification. If one is going to advance, and be effective, in the long term objective of discipleship (evangelizing unbelievers and edifying fellow believers) a much greater body of accurate knowledge of the Word of God (2Pet. 3: 18/1COr. 2: 16). A believer who chooses not to engage in the long term objectives of discipleship can have a relatively easy ride here on Earth, but the believer who advances in the true post salvation spiritual life will experience more frequent and more intense adversity consistent with the level of threat he/she poses to the devil's agenda. The greatest spiritual enemies that an advancing disciple is going to encounter will not be with overt sinners, but with religious members of his own household (Matt. 10: 36), and with the members of the "religious" community at large. Even though there may be no malicious intent, a bullet fired in ignorance can be just as lethal as the one fired with malicious intent. The promoting power behind the false prophet/spokesperson has nothing but destruction on his mind (1Pet. 5: 8). The last thing that an advancing disciple should want to be called is "religious"! Promoting principles and practices of Man-made religion that take the focus of attention away from the true post salvation spiritual life is a major part of the devil's strategy. It matters not (to the devil) if this objective is secured by prosperity (Luke 4: 6) or adversity (Book of Job), as long as God is denied the glory. God places His disciples in EVERY walk of life to serve Him as His ambassador (2Cor. 5: 20). For THIS reason, the advancing disciple of the Church Age may find him/herself in the worse or the best (humanly speaking) socioeconomic, political environment that life here on Earth has to offer. IF there is a divine need to make any significant changes in one's socioeconomic (Job 1: 21/Job 42: 10), health (Job 2:7/Job 42: 16), location or political environment, God will see to it that takes place even if it means spending three nights in the belly of a whale (Jonah 1: 17). When Earthly popularity and prosperity is from God, there is nothing wrong with enjoying such things (3 John 1: 2). On the other hand, many other believers, in order to fulfill the plan that God has for them, will never receive much Earthly prosperity, may lose what little they do have, and even been called to make the ultimate sacrifice of their natural lives. Most believers will not be called to experience either one of these two extremes, but will experience a lifetime of both challenges and blessings. For the advancing disciple, all he will want to know is that he/she is where God wants Him to be and accomplishing what it is that God desires in ANY given situation. Weak believers ask "Why" when adversity comes their way, whereas the advancing disciple asks "What" is it that God wants to accomplish by all that He sends or allows to take place. Sin is NOT the only reason that an advancing disciple will experience adversity. At times it will be because he/she is doing the RIGHT thing! * * * Assessing one's standing with God on the basis of one's Earthly prosperity can be a satanic trap (Rev. 3: 17). "Because you say,"I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing," and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked... (Rev. 3: 17 NASB)." Coming to terms with the overt, Earthly, prosperity of the ungodly is an age old issue/question that has been asked (Psalms 73: 1-16) and answered (Psalms 73: 17) for the edification of believers who have the spiritual maturity to perceive it. It is the love (desire to obtain it or retain it) of money, and not money or prosperity itself, that is the root of, "all sorts of evil (1Tim. 6: 10 NASB). Money and or prosperity is the bait (Gen. 3) that the devil uses to set many of his traps. It worked in the Garden of Eden, and has worked (for the devil) throughout the course of human history, "...as some by longing for it (money) have wandered away from the faith, and pierced themselves with many a pang (1Tim. 6: 10 NASB italics mine)." Prosperity is only one of many means through which the devil will use to lure away *weak believers. A *weak believer is one that is either ignorant of what God has to say about an area of sin, or does know, but chooses to not to apply the principle to his thoughts or actions. The fallen nature within us, as well as the devil and his Eph. 6: 12 forces of evil, have an unlimited supply of "justifications" and "solutions" for the sins we choose to engage in, but all fall short of the means to satisfy the NO TOLERANCE policy of God. Violating even ONE of God's laws renders the offender as guilty as the one who violates them all (James 2: 10). These principles reveal the devastation that sin can generate in the development and the execution of the true post salvation spiritual life. Although the salvation of a born again believer is NEVER in jeopardy, his/her usefulness in the production of divine good (1Cor. 3: 12-15) can suffer great destruction. Neutralizing the potential impact that ANY born again believer can have is on the devil's daily "things to do"list. Such destruction is of little interest, if any, to a weak or back-sliding believer, but will not leave an advancing disciple in peace. God's NO TOLERANCE POLICY is not to be taken lightly, but it is only the first stages of developing the post salvation life of discipleship.