Let's begin with a definition.
In the spiritual realm, to be sanctified simply means to be set apart for a specific purpose. As we will see in this presentation, there are two kinds of sanctification. There is positional sanctification, and there is experiential sanctification. Positional sanctification is permanent, being the result of making a one time choice to believe in a presentation of the Gospel Message. Experiential sanctification requires the making of daily choices to execute the post salvation spiritual life.
Positional sanctification pertains to salvation, whereas experiential sanctification pertains to discipleship.
All disciples are born again believers, but not all born again believers are disciples. The Biblical (Greek) word for disciple is m-a-t-h-e-t-e-s,which means to be a technical student and applier of the Word of God throughout the course of one's post (after) salvation spiritual life.
Positional sanctification begins at the moment of salvation. One is not saved when he/she arrives in Heaven. One is saved during his time on Earth. Securing eternal life with a home in Heaven is the result of having been saved (born again) during one's time here on Earth.
Q.: Saved from what?
A.: Saved from what the Bible calls the torments of Hades (Luke 6: 24) upon departing this Earth, and ultimately from spending all of eternity in the lake of fire (Rev. 20: 13, 15).
One is saved (Romans 8: 1) IF and when he/she is born again (John 3: 5, 7). Religious folks strive to earn a place in Heaven, and hope they make it. Born again believers know they are saved, and know they have a-l-r-e-a-d-y secured a home in Heaven.
One is born again (John 3: 5, 7) once, by choosing to believe (place his/her full confidence and trust) in a presentation of the Gospel Message. At the very millisecond when one first believes, several things takes place. One of the things that takes place is that the then born again believer is sealed 4: 30 NASB) (baptized/marked for identification) by God the Holy Spirit) for the day of redemption.
Water baptism rituals of Scripture were for purpose of i-d-e-n-t-i-f-i-c-a-t-i-o-n with someone or something.
The Lord's water baptism was for the purpose of identifying with the Work that He came to accomplish. Those who baptized by John were baptized to identify with John's message of repentance, in preparation for the coming Messiah. Once the Lord was publicly announced as the Lamb of God (John 1: 29), the objective and purpose of John's ministry (Luke 1: 17) was fulfilled. Shortly thereafter, John's ministry came to its end when John was martyred.
Every individual of the Church Age, whose water baptism was recorded in Scripture, involved adults who had already been born again, having already made a (Matt.16: 16) confession (statement) of faith, similar to the confession of faith made by Peter. Acknowledging that Jesus was "the Christ", Peter acknowledged both the Person and the Work of the Lord Jesus Christ came to accomplish. This is what the Gospel Message is all about.
It is on the basis of such individual confessions of faith (and not on Peter) or any religious ceremony that the Church that God designed would be built; one soul at a time.
During the Church Age, Water baptisms were post (after) salvation events, used to identify the a-l-r-e-a-d-y saved individuals as accepted members of a group of local believers, or with the Christian Community at large. Gathering together (Heb. 10: 25) is another post (after) salvation activity for born again believers, and is not, in of itself, the means to either obtain or retain salvation. There are unsaved souls filling the pews on a regular basis in virtually every congregation.
The one and only thing that an unsaved soul might gain from attending Church is IF that is where and when he/she is given the opportunity to hear and respond to the Gospel Message. That is, of course, if the Church he/she attends is the type of "church" makes that makes that opportunity possible.
Water baptism is not the means, nor is a part of, the s-a-l-v-a-t-i-o-n process. Being "sealed" (baptized-identified) by the God the Holy Spirit IS an automatic event that takes place at the moment of salvation. This baptism IS a part of the salvation process, but does NOT involve a clergyman. It is the work of God.
Another thing that takes place at the moment of salvation, and is also the Work of God the Holy Spirit, is the r-e-g-e-n-e-r-a-t-i-n-g of what was the dead human spirit (Titus 3: 5) of the individual involved. This too, is the Work of God and does not involve a clergyman.
It is when one is sealed (baptized) by God the Holy Spirit) that the individual receives (and forever retains) his/her positional sanctification. It is then that he/she is set apart (from the unbelievers). Positional sanctification is a theological term for what it means to be, "in Christ Jesus (Romans 8: 1 NASB)."
Q. Who says its permanent?
A. God, in His Word (Romans 8: 1 NASB).
"There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8: 1 NABS)."
All born again believers have p-o-s-i-t-i-o-n-a-l sanctification, that is, they have been set apart.
Q. Set apart from whom or what?
A. From the unbelievers headed for the torments of Hades and ultimately for the lake of fire Rev. 20: 15).
Q. Set apart for what?
A. To participate in the post salvation spiritual life here on Earth, and for the day of redemption in Heaven.
Q. What if one is saved, but never participates in the post salvation spiritual life?
A. Such a believer will remain saved (Romans 8: 1/1Cor. 3: 15), retains his home in Heaven, but forfeits some or all of the rewards (1Cor. 3: 14) and privileges (Rev. Chapters 2 & 3) that are in store for disciples.
Positional sanctification is permanent and refers to the status and the integrity of the salvation one receives the moment he/she is born again.
The permanency of one's positional sanctification is brought out in such passages as the Matt. 12:29/Mark 3: 27 parable.
"Or how can anyone enter the strong man's house and carry off his property, unless he first binds the strong man. And then he will plunder his house (Matt. 12: 29 NASB."
The strong Man is God and the house is the intangible Church that He designed. God's property is the saved souls (Acts 16: 31) and the regenerated (Titus 3: 5) human spirits of born again believers of the Church Age. There is no power anywhere that can bind God or undo the saving, sealing, and/or sanctifying Work that God performs at the moment of salvation. There is no power that can relieve Him of His property.
For those that contend that one can "give it back," consider the principle of 2Tim. 2: 13.
"If we are faithless (in the post salvation spiritual life) He remains faithful (regarding our salvation), for He cannot deny Himself (2 Tim. 2: 13 NASB italics mine)."
God would deny Himself, if He later rejected the atoning Work that the Lord Jesus Christ "finished (John 19: 3 NASB) on the cross; the "sealing (Eph. 4: 30 )' and/or the "regenerating (Titus 3: 5) Work that God the Holy Spirit performs at the moment of salvation; or the sustainig and delivering Work (Romans 14: 4) that assures the believer of arriving in Heaven.
Salvation is not earned; it is a gift that God unconditionally gives to every soul that believes in a presentation of the Gospel Message.
The gifts and the calling of God are i-r-r-e-v-o-c-a-b-l-e (Romans 11: 29).
Therefore there is now no condemnation (suffering in Hades or later in the lake of fire) for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8: 1 NASB)." There is no need for a Purgatory to "work off" or atone for a sin debt that has already been stamped PAID IN FULL by the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. GOd can not look (with approval) any sin. Either the entire sin debt was paid in full, as Scripture claims, or it wasn't. The one exception, by divine design, is the sin of disbelief (John 3: 18). For this sin ONLY, will any soul find itself being tossed into the lake of fire for all of eternity.
Q. Is salvation a license to sin?
Just as Ananias and Sapphira certainly found out (Acts 5), there is divine discipline (Heb. 12: 6) for post (after) salvation sin here on Earth, and there is loss of rewards (1Cor. 3: 14) and loss of privileges (Rev. Chapters 1 & 2) for failure in the post salvation spiritual life. One can not "live in sin" and execute the post salvation spiritual life at the same time. To live in sin, means to live with any (James 1: 10) sin that has not been confessed (1John 1: 9) and/or forsaken (John 8: 11). Sin takes (and keeps) us out of fellowship with God. What percentage of one's post salvation spiritual life that a born again believer spends out of fellowship is up to him/her.
The "good" news is that being out of fellowship with God does not result in the recall of a born again believer's positional sanctification. The bad news is that it does open the door for divine discipline (Heb. 12: 6) here on Earth, and the loss of 1Cor. 3: 14 rewards, and Rev. Chapter 2 & 3 privileges in Heaven. As each hour of each day that comes and goes, there will be opportunities for the born again believer who is in fellowship with God, to have God (John 15: 5) produce divine good though the Spirit-filled believer. The time and opportunities lost as a result of being out of fellowship with God can not be recovered.
For the advancing disciple, just being out of fellowship with God will generate enough pressure in his/her soul for him/her to want to take the corrective actions (1John 1: 9/John 8: 11) so that fellowship can be restored, enabling him/her to move forward in the plan of God.
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With the understanding that p-o-s-i-t-i-o-n-a-l sanctification is permanent, let's move on to the principle of of e-x-p-e-r-i-e-n-t-i-a-l sanctification.
In both cases, sanctification means to be set apart.
As we have already learned, in positional sanctification, the individual soul is set apart from the m-a-j-o-r-i-t-y (Matt. 7: 13, 14) of the members of the human race who are physically alive, but spiritually dead, living outside of God's plan of salvation.
In the case of experiential sanctification, the born again believer is set apart from the m-a-j-o-r-i-t-y of fellow born again believers, who are all saved, but will not choose to identify, execute, pursue, or remain in the post (after) salvation life of discipleship.
Just as the devil has a whole warehouse full of alternatives to God's one and only plan of salvation, the devil has many alternatives to the post salvation spiritual life of discipleship.
In both scenarios, these alternatives involve all the r-e-l-i-g-i-o-u-s things that we do (or have done) in an attempt to place ourselves in a position to receive the earthly and the eternal blessings of one God/god (Exodus 20: 3, 4/Psalms 96: 5), or another. Genuine Christianity is NOT about what we do (or have done) to please God, but faith (trust and confidence) is what God has done, is doing, and will do for the people of faith. The people of faith are those who are born again, which as NOTHING to do with Man-made r-e-l-i-g-i-o-n, be it of the so-called "Christian" variety of any other.
It is much easier to rest in the knowledge of eternal security and/or to remain in the comfort zone of spiritual ignorance, than it is to grow in the knowledge of the Word (2Pet. 3: 18) and have to deal with the adversity that the application (James 1: 22) of the Word of God (Matt. 13: 21) will generate.
Most ongoing requirements of religion can be accomplished within an hour or so once a week, with maybe another 10-15 minutes of private devotional time by the "really" religious individual s once a day during the week. But discipleship encompasses a 24-7 lifestyle, applying the Word of God to all that one thinks, does, and says, no matter where we are or what activity we involve ourselves.
When it comes to religion, keep the (Matt. 15: 9/Luke 16: 15) principles in mind.
But in do they (religious people) worship Me. Teaching as doctrines the precepts of men (Matt. 15: 9 NASB italics mine)."
"Christians" of all Man-made denominations (1Cor. 1: 12, 13)/1Cor. 3: 4) are infamous for pointing out the flaws in the religion of the Church down the street, while being totally ignorant of the apostasy taking place in their own chosen house of worship (1Tim.4: 1). The the truth is that if all the religious objects, furnishings, and practices were to be removed from within the Christian Community at large, what would remain would be barely recognizable. Many at the pulpit and within the congregation would be a loss for what to do.
Going to Church for an hour or so once a week, and ten minutes of devotional time once a day only accounts for less than 2% of the 168 hrs each week that have been given to glorify God. The majority of the Christian life (as much as 98%) is NOT spent learning, but is spent applying what one has learned and is learning when he/she does gather together for corporate worship. Even in our sleep, our souls are processing either the doctrine or the garbage that we have allowed to take root in our soul structures by what we choose to expose our souls to in the course of any given day!
The exclusionary principle of Luke 14: 26 in of itself is more that what most "Christians" are willing to apply, let alone self-denial (Luke 9: 23), suffering (1Pet. 2: 21), loss (Phil. 3: 7, 8), persecution (2Tim. 3: 12), hatred (Matt. 10: 22), isolation (John 16: 2), etc., that will be the experience of those who pick of the cross daily and follow the Lord (Luke 9: 23) as one of His disciples.
The more Christlike (Romans 8: 29) one becomes in thought (1Cor. 2: 16)and action (James 1: 22), the more "different" he/she will become in the eyes of both God and Man. world. Even a small child will learn soon enough that there is a price to be paid for being different! The one who is not interested in being different, is not interested in the life of discipleship.
Especially in the times in which we are now living (1Tim. 4: 1), if there is no obvious difference between one's thoughts and actions and the thoughts and actions of the devil's world, there is an immediate need for a 2Cor. 13: 5 self-examination.
Discipleship will casue the advancing disciple to be at odds with the world around him/
"If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate (love less) his own father and mother and wife (or husband) and children and brothers and sisters, even his own (daily) life, he cannot be My disciple (Luke 14: 26 NABS)"
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Once a soul has been born again, the devil knows that there is nothing that he can do to diminish the integrity of the salvation that any born again believer has a-l-r-e-a-d-y received. He will however, through human viewpoint and man-made religion, do the best he can to generate fear and to raise doubts and insecurity in the spiritually weak minds of immature believers.
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The human race was created to glorify God in the midst of an ongoing conflict between divine and diabolical forces that initiated before Man was ever created. In fact, planet Earth had become "formless and void (Gen. 1: 2 NASB" as a part of the conflict that had taken place BEFORE Man came into the picture. What is traditionally taught as being the creation story in Gen. 1: 2-30 was the restoration of the already existing (Gen 1: 1) planet, in preparation for its next inhabitant, the human race, and the phase of the Angelic Conflict.
We are presently living in the dispensation (period of history) of the Church Age that began at Feast of Pentecost shortly after the Ascension of the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ (). The end of the Church Age, but not end the Church or the human race at large, will take place at the Rapture (1THess. 4: 16, 17). There are many more events (e.g. Rev. 20: 6, 10) that are going to take place AFTER the Rapture, in both Heaven and on the Earth BEFORE the new heaven and Earth (Rev. 21) are established.
As long as the Church Age remains in progress, the primary means through which Man glorifies God is by choosing to believe (place full confidence and trust) in a presentation of the Gospel Message. Once saved, the primary means though which a born again believer of the Church Age glorifies God is through the identification and the execution of the post salvation spiritual life. This is why the proclaiming of the Gospel Message and the making of disciples became the marching orders and primary function of the Church that God ordained. No wonder why the devil has introduce and promotes so many alernative agendas for the Church to involve itself!
The more one advances in the life of discipleship, the more of a target he/she will become in the realm of spiritual combat (Eph. 6). Being more of a target, the advancing disciple become the recipient of more frequent and more intense diabolical attacks (Eph. 6: 16).
If one is a Christian, and is not the target of diabolical attacks, there is a good chance that is is because the devil already has him/her right where he wants him/her. More than likely, such a "Christian" is unwittingly promoting one of the devil's alternatives.
These attacks are not (usually) of the Hollywood variety, but are launched out of the mouths and actions of those who promote the devil's agenda, whose objective it is to discourage any further progress along the road to spiritual maturity. The devil and his Eph. 6: 12 forces of evil are experienced masters in the art of spiritual combat. They know what buttons to push and when to push them for maximum effect.
There are exceptions (Luke 4/Matt. 4/Luke 22: 3, but for the most part, the devil does not get directly involved himself, but accomplishes his goals through third parties (Gen. 3: 1/2Cor. 11: 15). No one with his/her head on straight is going to take the devil's advice if they had the spiritual discernment to know up front where the "guidance" was coming from.
For those with spiritual discernment, they can detect the devil's voice loud and clear in much of the media, entertainment, and interpersonal conversations of our day and age. Deceived and/or spiritually blind people (Matt. 15: 14) do the devil's bidding (John 8: 44) without even being aware that they are promoting the devil's agenda. Some will go as far as to think they are doing the work of the Lord when they attack advancing disciples (John 16: 2) that are exposing the truth.
Experiential sanctification, that is being set apart for discipleship, is not forced upon a born again believer. Discipleship does not increase the integrity of the salvation that a born again believer has already secured, but discipleship will result in the receiving the (1Cor. 3: 14) rewards and the Rev. 2 & $ privileges that are reserved for born again believers who engage in discipleship. Successful discipleship will come at a cost to those who pursue it here in the devil's world.
Disciples do not do what they do in order to be rewarded, but God has made it clear that He will reward in Heaven, those who live for Him while here on Earth.
God's army is an all-volunteer outfit. However, a born again believer will never be all that God wants him/her to be if he/she chooses to live outside of the individual plan that God has in mind for him/her. God's plan begins with and continues to involve the ongoing study and application of His Word. God's individual plan involves such things as identifying and executing the specific spiritual gift and accompanying spiritual ministry (area of service) that He has in mind for each and every born again believer (1Cor. 12: 6, 7).
Just as God desires that every soul would choose to take part in His plan of salvation (1Tim. 2: 4), God desires that every born again believer would choose to identify and engage in the post salvation spiritual life of discipleship.
It is the born again believer that chooses to respond to the post (after) salvation call to discipleship who will be set apart (sanctified) to live the life of discipleship (Luke 9: 23) and ambassadorship (2Cor. 5: 20). These disciples and ambassadors are called up from among the majority of born again believers within the Christian Community at large and are set apart for the purpose of engaging in the post salvation spiritual life.
A disciple is one who chooses to c-o-n-t-i-n-u-e to learn (2Pet. 3: 18) and to apply (James 1: 22) the principles of the Word of God. As this life-long process takes place, the advancing disciple becomes more and more Christlike (Romans 8: 29) in his/her thinking (1Cor. 2: 16), which determines (Prov. 23: 7) his/her priorities, speech, and behaviors. Fallen Man is by nature not only self-centered, but hostile (Romans 8:7) towards God and the things of God. When out of fellowship with God, the born again believer will think, speak, and act according to the leading of his/her fallen nature.
If one is not becoming more and more Christlike, he/she is becoming more and more like the devil's world (Romans 12: 2). The purpose of the 2Cor. 13: 5 self-examinations are to verify which direction one is heading along the spiritual highway. If we are not progressing, then we are regressing. The road to spiritual maturity is an ever-increasing uphill climb. There is no neutrality, nor are there any level plateaus along the way. The only "rest" that an advancing disciple will experience will be the peace that is beyond human understanding in the midst of the daily spiritual combat of the Church Age.
If you are a born again believer, the status of the salvation that you received has neither increased or decreased from the moment you first believed. Never-the-less, your level of spiritual maturity is in a constant environment of change. Be it for the better (progressing), or for the worse (in regression). One way or the other, you will NOT be at the same level of spiritual maturity, let's say, six months from now as you are right now.
There are two questions that an advancing disciple will ask him/herself when engaging in the 2Cor. 13: 5 self-examinations.
Q. #1: What doctrine have I learned or that I have a better understanding of now, that I did not have at the last examination?
Q. #2 What doctrines do I better job of applying than hiow I was doing when I took the last examination?
This does not mean that you are going to experience an Earth shaking experience every time you gather together for corporate worship. But never the less, if there has been no measurable increase in either the quantity of the knowledge or its application over a period of time, there is something gone amiss.
It is not unusual for newly born again believers to advance in leaps and bounds in the knowledge of the Lord when he/she first engages in discipleship, but the more he/she learns, the more he/she will come to learn that obtaining knowledge and applying the knowledge learned are two very different things. For the more mature believers, it is usually more of securing a better understanding of the fundamental knowledge he/she has already received. Like the newly born again believer, the real challenge comes into view when one is presented with an opportunity to apply it.
What level of spiritual maturity any given born again believer is at along the way is determined by his/her quantity of accurate Bible Doctrine, and his/her degree of application. Many born again believers do well in the obtaining knowledge department, but really struggle when it comes to what they do with the knowledge they have secured. Its one thing to learn the truth, its another matter altogether to consistently apply it. This is especially true when the pressure from one's fallen nature is encouraging us to do just the opposite of what we know we should do in any given situation.
The Apostle Paul spoke of his own struggles to do so in his letter to the believers in Rome (Romans 7), some thirty years after he was born again and towards the end of his outstanding ministry here on Earth.
It is when a disciple has reached and is maintaining a higher degree of spiritual maturity through the knowledge and the application of Bible Doctrine that he/she can best function as an ambassador for the Kingdom of God. One can not promote what he/she does not know.
An ambassador (2Cor. 5: 20) is one who represents one kingdom while living in another. A faithful ambassador is well versed in the policies and the procedures of the Kingdom he/she represents. While functioning as an ambassador, he/she never endorses any alternative policies or procedures contrary to the policies and procedures endorsed by the Kingdom he/she represents.
If a born again believer wants to be set aside (sanctified) to serve the Kingdom of God, there is a life-long process of increasing one's knowledge of the Word of God, and an ever-increasing application of what he/she learns. These increases do not go unnoticed by the forces of evil, and will inevitably be addressed.
Any experienced pastor teacher can tell you that it is much more difficult to edify a born again believer who comes from a religious background, than it is to edify a former atheist. When an atheist in converted, there is no false "religious" material to be removed, as such things were never made a part of his/her soul structure. However, in the soul structure of a religious individual, there is often times much deconstruction to take place before an edified soul structure (1Cor. 3: 10, 11 /Matt. 7: 24-27) can be built and maintained.
Genuine atheists (rejecting the concept of there is any god) are very few in number, as nearly everyone has been introduced to some form of religion, and acknowledges that there is "a" god, but not necessarily "the" God of the Bible. The poisonous roots of man made religion run deep and are not easily removed yet they must be removed if the born again believer is going to move forward in the post salvation spiritual life.
A .#1. "Just a little leaven (false/inaccurate doctrine) leavens the whole lump of dough (the soul structure) -Galatians 5: 9 NASB italics mine."
Such areas of false doctrine in the soul provides the devil with a foothold (Eph. 4: 27) from which he can further deceive the believer.
Psalms 96 makes reference to all the false religions of the world that have evolved (and continue to evolve) throughout the course of human history. The concepts they promote are in line with human viewpoint, in that one earns and maintains his/her standing with the god (or God) of their choice by complying with all the "do's and don't's" that their chosen religion promotes. Being in good standing is the means through which the individual receives the earthly and eternal blessings. This makes perfect sense to human understanding.
In this regard, the various Christian religions (as opposed to Christianity) are no exception.
Genuine Christianity is not about what we do to earn the earthly and Heavenly blessings of God, but about faith (trust and confidence) in what God has done, what God is doing, and what God will do for and through born again believers of the Church Age.
The idea that we all worship the same god, but by different names and practices, is one of the lies that is promoted by the devil. The devil promotes the false religions of the world knowing the end result of such activity is for the souls involved to spend all of eternity in the lake of fire (Rev. 20: 15).
Choosing to be set apart (experiential sanctification) from the man-made religious traditions of one's family and/or culture will bring out the hostility of their fallen natures. Depending on the culture, this hostility will manifest itself by shunning, isolation, social rejection, persecution, threats and in some case physical harm or death, and of course, threats of going to Hell from the religious authority in view.
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If one is at peace with the world, he/she is at war with God (James 4: 4).
"You (spiritual) adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God (James 4: 4 NASB italics mine)."
The "world" in this sense is referring to anywhere the devil has been able to establish a presence with a voice of influence. Accordingly, his world can be found inside (1Tim. 4: 1/2Cor. 11: 14) as well as outside (Luke 4: 6) of what is generally perceived to be the Christian Community at large. This world can be found in the workplace. This world can be found where we socialize. This world can be found in our educational facilities. This can be found in "entertainment." This world can exist within one's home and family (Matt. 10: 36), thus the Luke 14: 26 warning. This world can even be found in the soul structures of born again believers (Romans 7: 21).
"I (the Apostle Paul speaking) find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wishes to do good (Romans 7: 21NASB italics mine0."
Those who choose the life of discipleship, is on a collision course with the devil's world that includes those he has been able to deceive through religion of various types, including what is ironically called Christian religion.
It takes a high level of spiritual maturity for an advancing disciple to experience inward peace with God (Phil. 4: 7), while in the midst of all the adversity that comes along with being at war with the devil (1Pet. 5: 8), his evil forces (Eph. 6: 12), and with well-intending, but deceived people who hold to human viewpoint and religious concepts that run contrary to Scripture.
Christian religion (the phrase is actually an oxymoron) vs. Christianity consists of every thing that Man has added (Prov. 30: 6), by its teaching and practices, to what can be substantiated in Scripture. The devil promotes the illusion that Christian religion and Christianity are one in the same. A side by side comparison examination will reveal their differences, and the very different "end results" that each one produce.
There will be many who consider themselves Roman Catholic, Protestant, Eastern Orthodox, and non-denominational Christians who will find themselves in Heaven, and there will be many who consider themselves Roman Catholic, Protestant, Eastern Orthodox. and non-denominational Christian who will find themselves sin the what the Bible calls the lake of fire (Rev. 20: 15).
Q. How can this be?
A. The short answer is because their names were not found written in the book of life (Rev. 20: 15 NASB)."
"And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire (Rev. 20: 15)."
The longer answer is that although many of the above participated in all the required activity of their chosen religion, they were never born again (John 3: 5, 7 NABS) as a result of believing (placing one's full trust and confidence) in the Gospel Message.
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Some will say that "You have to go somewhere," and to a degree a agree with that statement.
To be saved, one has to go where the Gospel Message can be heard, affording one the opportunity to hear (read) and respond to it. This "where" could be virtually anywhere and through any means (including this link) that God the Holy Spirit chooses to use. The unadulterated (free of religious contamination) Gospel Message will be proclaimed and reiterated in the type of Church that God designed, but not always in the alternative churches that have evolved in the name of religion.
To become a d-i-s-c-i-p-l-e, one has to go or connect with the means to be instructed by a pastor-teacher that the Bible considers qualified. In the current day and age of technology, this can take place in a traditional local assembly or via the many available means of communication.
Other than being one of many places where an unsaved soul might here and respond to the Gospel Message, "going to Church" is a post (after) salvation issue. I place the phrase "going to church" in parentheses because technically Church Age believers do not go to Church, but are the collective temple of God (1Cor. 3: 16) that gathers together for such things as celebrating the Lord's Supper and being made disciples.
Attending Church and going through all the rituals and ceremonies does NOT in itself mean that one has been born again. In some cases, by going to Church, one might be deceived into thinking all is right between him and God on that basis alone. I have always contended that if the Rapture were to take place during the middle of worship services, there would be many left behind sitting in the pews and behind the pulpits.
The question that an advancing disciple will inevitable ask him/herself, is rather or not his/her present "Church" line up with the type of Church that God designed.
It is IF and WHEN one is born again that his/her name (individual identity) is written in the Rev. 20: 15 book of life. This corresponds to the sealing (marked for identification) Work of God the Holy Spirit performs at the moment of salvation when one receives positional sanctification.
There will be many born again believers at the 1Cor. 3: 12-15 "rewards ceremony" who will see much of what they thought was going to bring them heavenly rewards (1Cor. 3: 14) and privileges (Rev. Chapters 2 & 3) go up in smoke (1Cor. 3: 15). All of the human good one accomplished here on Earth had its own reward here on Earth, but it is only the divine good that God produced (John 15: 5) in the life of an advancing disciple that is rewarded in Heaven.
"I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit (divine good); for apart from Me you can do n-o-t-h-i-n-g (in the spiritual realm) (John 15: 5 NASB italics mine)?"
Atheists and non-Christians produce just as much, and in some cases even more, human good as do many born again believers, but are not saved as a result of it. The human good that Christians produce does not save them either, nor is their human good rewarded in Heaven.
Human good is all the positive things that one accomplished with human power and abilities. Divine good is what is produced through the enabling power (John 15: 5) of God during the course of the believer's post salvation spiritual life.
Salvation is what positional sanctification is all about. Discipleship is what experiential sanctification is all about.
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In summary, to be sanctified simply means to be set apart.
P-o-s-i-t-i-o-n-a-l sanctification takes place at the moment of salvation when one is born again. It is at that moment in time when the saved soul is set apart from the spiritually dead unbelievers and their final destination (Rev. 20: 15).
Positional sanctification is p-e-r-m-a-n-e-n-t. It is the sealing (Eph. 4: 30) work of God that He will not undo. There is no power anywhere that can undo what God has made permanent.
Experiential sanctification takes place if and when a born again believer chooses to respond to the post (after) salvation call to discipleship. Such a born again believer is set apart from fellow born again believers for the purpose of identifying and executing the post salvation spiritual life. Every disciple is a born again believer, but not all born again believers engage or remain in the life of discipleship. Discipleship involves a life-long study and application of the Word of God. It begins with one's own edification, with the long term objective of participating in the Great Commission that the Lord Jesus Christ gave to the Church that He designed. The Great Commission (Matt. 28: 19, 20) calls for the proclaiming of the Gospel Message for the salvation of unbelievers, and calls for the making of disciples out of those who are born again.