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Think On These Things, Issue #013
April 15, 2015
Think On These Things
A Bimonthly E-Zine of Bible Studies With Chris
Table of Contents
Can One Be A Good Person And Still Be Lost?
To the cynic, this is a cold, cruel world. Everyone is out for themselves, and no one cares for his fellow man. However, I am convinced that man is generally good and wants to do what is right.
I recently saw a news story of a man crossing the street in a wheelchair with a bag of groceries when suddenly his wheel fell off and he fell to the ground. The car that was at the intersection got out of his car, picked the man up off the ground, fixed his wheelchair and helped gather his groceries.
Such a story is not uncommon in the news. It does not account for the countless acts of kindness and selflessness that do not find themselves in the media. Indeed the world is filled with good people.
Can one be a good person and still be lost? Indeed they can. One of the most common misconceptions concerning salvation is that if one is a good person, honest, kind to his neighbor, a good parent, then he will be accepted into heaven. The Bible teaches that salvation is a gift from God. One can never do enough good to earn his place in heaven. Paul wrote, “for by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Eph. 2.8,9).
The problem comes with a misunderstanding of the nature of sin. It is sin that separates man from God (Isa. 59.2), and nothing that we can do, by and of ourselves, will ever remove those sins. The only thing that can remove our sins is the blood of Jesus Christ (1 Pet. 1.18,19), offered as a gift (grace) from God (Rom. 5.15).
Furthermore, God has put in place a set of conditions, things that we must do, in order to receive His grace. Those conditions include faith (John 8.24), repentance (Luke 13.3), confession of our faith (Rom. 10.10), and baptism (1 Pet. 3.21). These acts of obedience are not to be confused with works of merit. One does not earn salvation by submitting to God’s requisites. But he does comply with the conditions by which God has promised salvation.
God expects us to do good works (Eph. 2.10). But the works by themselves do not save. We are saved by the blood of Christ when we render obedience to the commands that God has put in place.
Is The End Near?
In Matthew 24.32,33, Jesus said, “Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near — at the doors!” Every few years, someone will stand up and publicly declare that the second coming of Christ and the final day of judgment is near. Although Jesus said, “But of that day and hour, no one knows” (Matt. 24.36), some even go so far as to predict the very day and hour of His arrival.
God defines a false prophet as one who speaks in the name of the LORD, but “the thing does not happen or come to pass” (Deut. 18.22). God is never wrong. When someone claims to know the end of the world, and it does not come to pass, then he is, by definition, a false prophet.
How, then, are we to understand the warnings and predictions of Jesus such as the passage quoted at the beginning of this article? Many point to such statements to show that the end is near. What many fail to realize is that these predictions warn of the destruction of Jerusalem, an event that took place a little more than thirty years after these warnings.
Consider the context of Matthew 24. At the end of Matthew 23, Jesus expresses sorrow over Jerusalem and describes the great city as “the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her!” (Matt. 23.37). The destruction of Jerusalem was a judgment against her by God for their slaying of the prophets (Matt. 23.31-36). At the beginning of chapter 24, Jesus walks through the city pointing out all the buildings and structure and says, “Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down" (Matt. 24.2). The many signs that were given in that chapter were warnings so that those in Jerusalem could get out of town before the city fell (Matt. 24.4ff). When these signs appeared, His disciples were instructed to “flee to the mountains” (Matt. 24.16).
When would this destruction of Jerusalem occur? Again, the Bible makes it clear: “Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place” (Matt. 24.34). Those events described by Jesus would take place within their lifetime – not ours.
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