Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Saving Faith

God’s commitment to us is grace, our commitment to God is faith. But today the word “faith” has been so diluted to mean more or less an intell­ectual assent, that we need to find another word that accurately conveys the biblical meaning of faith. Indeed, many New Testament scholars now translate the Greek word for faith as “commitment”.

In the church and over the centuries, the word “faith” has come to mean accepting certain doctrinal statements to be true. As a result, “I believe in Jesus” has come to mean, “I believe that there was such a person called Jesus, that he came into the world, that he died for me, that he rose again.” This is “faith” in the church today.

While these doctrinal statements are important, merely accepting them to be true is not the full meaning of faith in the New Testa­ment. Certainly it is crucial to believe that Jesus died for us and rose again, but this alone is not saving faith. The devil believes this too (James 2:19), but that doesn’t save him.

Saving faith is a response to God that finds expression in total commitment. In this context James also speaks of “works”; another widely abused and misunderstood word. James is not afraid to speak of “works” when he says, “Faith without works is dead” (James 2:17,20,26). A dead faith saves no one.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

The End of the "World Powers"

Despite the fact that the Kabbalah erroneously portrays the angelic "world powers" as holy "angels of God," the medieval Kabbalists remained tied to the primary themes of the Old Testament, themes such as the uniqueness of God's nation Israel, the numerous promises involving a Messiah or Redeemer figure for Israel (and for the world), and the apocalyptic belief that the "time of the end" would involve judgment on the Gentile nations and the salvation and glorification of Israel. Psalm 2 is an Old Testament passage that speaks of these themes:

"Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the LORD and against his Anointed One [Hebrew Mashiach].

"Let us break their chains," they say, "and throw off their fetters."

The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them. Then he rebukes them in his anger and terrifies them in his wrath, saying, "I have installed my King on Zion, my holy hill." I will proclaim the decree of the LORD: He said to me, "You are my Son; today I have become your Father. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession. You will rule them with an iron scepter; you will dash them to pieces like pottery."

Therefore, you kings, be wise; be warned, you rulers of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry and you be destroyed in your way, for his wrath can flare up in a moment. Blessed are all who take refuge in him." (Psalm 2)

This passage predicts that the kings and rulers of the world will one day violently resist God and His Messiah, but they will fail miserably. The end result is that the nations of the world which are presently the possession of the fallen angelic "world powers" will become the possession and "inheritance" of God's Son, the Messiah. These verses are commented upon within the Kabbalist's bible, the Zohar:

Volume 9 Beshalach, Section 22, verse 309:

"Rabbi Yitzchak said: This verse refers to the time when The Holy One, blessed be He, will attire Himself with majesty over the nations that shall gather against Him, as it is written: "And the princes take counsel together, against Hashem, and against His anointed" (Tehilim 2:2).

As we have learned seventy generals of armies shall gather from every side at that time with the hosts of the entire world to wage war against Jerusalem, the Holy City, and to plan against the Holy One, blessed be He. What do they say? 'Let us rise against the protector first, and then against His people and His sanctuary'."

A. E. Waite was an occult historian, high level Freemason and former member of the Golden Dawn who was also a very serious scholar of the Kabbalah. A brief passage in his book The Holy Kabbalah shows that he understood these apocalyptic themes and predictions which found their way into Kabbalistic teaching from the Old Testament:

"A great king will rise up and will conquer the world. There will be war against Israel, but the chosen people shall be delivered. According to one account, the seventy celestial chiefs who rule the seventy nations of the earth will marshal all the legions of the world to make war on the sacred city of Jerusalem, but they will be exterminated by the power of the Holy One."

Kabbalistic teaching has many Gnostic, Pagan, and Occult overtones, especially when it comes to communicating with the spirit world as a shortcut to determining the will of God. However, these Torah-forbidden Pagan influences are not enough to overshadow the influence of the Old Testament, which predicts the eventual downfall of the very spirits that the Kabbalist places his faith in as guides of his spiritual quest.

So the question that must be addressed is the final fate of the Kosmokrator "gods." These "gods" are portrayed by many sources as holy angels, as spiritually evolved "Ascended Masters," or as benevolent extra-terrestrials, and they are credited as being humanity's ancient teachers, our future saviors, and even as our original creators. Occult sources including Pagan mythology, Hermetic literature, Aleister Crowley, Helena Blavatsky, Alice Bailey, and channeled messages from UFO cults and New Age mystics, all predict that the "New Age" of peace and enlightenment will come with the appearance of these "gods" to accepted and outward positions in human society. With their guidance it is believed that mankind will spiritually evolve, realize our inherent inner divinity, and finally become the gods that we have always been, just as the Serpent promised in the Garden of Eden.

The Judeo-Christian tradition speaks of a different fate for these "gods" and for the human beings who are deceived into following them. We have already looked at Psalm 82, in which God sits in the Divine Council and judges against the "gods" because they have abused their positions of authority. God says that their final end will be "death" and that the nations will become God's "inheritance." Psalm 2, above, similarly explains that the "rulers" of the earth will be destroyed when they resist God and the nations will then become the inheritance of the Messiah.

Daniel 7 is the description of an apocalyptic dream that was given to the Hebrew prophet Daniel who was living in exile in Babylon. In this dream the Gentile nations of the world are represented as four great Beasts and the final Beast represents a kingdom that will conquer the entire world. God is predicted to destroy this Beast, and following that Daniel witnesses the transition of global authority into the hands of a figure who is referred to as a "Son of Man":

"In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed." (Daniel 7:13-14)

In the New Testament Jesus of Nazareth claimed that He was this very "Son of Man" mentioned enigmatically by the prophet Daniel, who would "inherit" all the nations of the world. Before His crucifixion Jesus was put on trial by the chief priests of the Sanhedrin. Caiaphas the High Priest demanded of Jesus, "Tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God." In response Jesus said,

"Yes, it is as you say... But I say to all of you: In the future you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven." (Matthew 26:64)

Because of this statement the High Priest accused Jesus of blasphemy, Jesus was sentenced to death, and the trial was immediately ended. There was absolutely no question that Jesus was claiming to be the Jewish Messiah who was predicted to one day rule as King over the nations of the world. Afterwards Jesus was brought before Pontius Pilate, the Roman ruler in charge of Palestine. Pilate repeated the question that had prompted the death sentence given by the High Priest: "Are you the king of the Jews?" Jesus replied by saying,

"You are right in saying I am a king. In fact for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth." (John 18:37)

However, Jesus prefaced this remark by saying, "My kingdom is not of this world."What Jesus meant was that His kingdom would first be a spiritual kingdom before becoming a physical earthly kingdom, which will only begin after the defeat, judgment, and destruction of the unholy "world powers." Foreshadows of this "spiritual kingdom" can be seen in an episode near the beginning of the ministry of Jesus, which reveals that Jesus knew He was dealing with a "world order" ruled by spiritual beings under the authority of Satan.

The Gospel of Luke explains that Jesus appointed seventy disciples to travel ahead of Jesus throughout Israel "to every city and every place." When they entered a house they were instructed to say "Peace be to this house," and then to give the message that "The kingdom of God is near you." Jesus even told these seventy messengers that if they entered a city and were not accepted into any homes then they were to proclaim their message in the streets.

Some of the Greek manuscripts that record this event say that Jesus appointed "seventy-two" disciples for this mission, but whether the actual number was seventy or seventy-two the symbolic intent behind the mission was clear: Jesus was serving notice to the spiritual powers behind the scenes that the Pagan World Order was coming to a close. The era of the "gods" was ending and the "Kingdom of God" would take its place. When the seventy disciples returned to Jesus they joyfully announced to him, "Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name."Jesus responded to them by saying (Luke 10:18),

"I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven."

The spiritual "Kingdom of God" had just been established on earth, at the expense of Satan and the fallen angels. Jesus then went on to explain what this meant to His disciples (Luke 10:19-20, 23-24),

"Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing will injure you. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven...

Blessed are the eyes which see the things you see, for I say to you, that many prophets and kings wished to see the things which you see, and did not see them, and to hear the things which you hear, and did not hear them."

The fallen angels exist as two distinct groups. One group is already chained up in the Abyss and awaits the final judgment. Jude 6-7 connects the fallen angels of this group with the angels that had sexual relations with human women in Genesis 6 which states, "...the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their own home--these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day." The Apostle Peter also refers to this group of angels bound in the Abyss: "...God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them into gloomy dungeons to be held for judgment" (2 Peter 2:4). Throughout the Gospels, when people were cured of demon possession, the demons would often be cast into the Abyss to await their judgment and punishment.

The other group of fallen angels is the group that the Apostle Paul refers to as the "powers of this dark world, and as the "spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms" (Ephesians 6:12). They exist in the heavens from where they attempt to manipulate the affairs of humanity as much as they are able, against the Church which has been given "all power" through the name and authority of Jesus Christ. For the last two thousand years, this has been the spiritual struggle that Paul referred to in his letter to the Ephesians.

The book of Revelation explains that one day Satan and his fallen angels will be forcefully evicted from heaven and thrown down to earth, where they will be in control for only a short time before their judgment comes:

"And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down; that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him." (Revelation 12:7-9)

The judgment upon the "spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms" is predicted by Isaiah the prophet as one of the results of the apocalyptic "Day of the Lord":

"The earth is broken up, the earth is split asunder, the earth is thoroughly shaken. The earth reels like a drunkard, it sways like a hut in the wind; so heavy upon it is the guilt of its rebellion that it falls--never to rise again. In that day the LORD will punish the powers in the heavens above and the kings on the earth below. They will be herded together like prisoners bound in a dungeon; they will be shut up in prison and be punished after many days. The moon will be abashed, the sun ashamed; for the LORD Almighty will reign on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, and before its elders, gloriously." (Isaiah 24:19-23)

The prophet Jeremiah simply states:

"These gods, who did not make the heavens and the earth, will perish from the earth and from under the heavens." (Jeremiah 10:11)

The book of Revelation is a detailed account of the final confrontation between God and the "gods" before the Messianic Kingdom is established. Central to this conflict is a document held by God that is described as a Scroll sealed with seven Seals, which many scholars of Bible prophecy believe to be something like a Title Deed to the earth. In the aftermath of the Tower of Babel and the death of Nimrod, this Deed became the property of the seventy angelic princes and Satan their leader. That is why Satan was able to tempt Jesus by offering to give Him authority over the kingdoms of the world in Matthew 4. Satan could offer it because it was Satan's possession to give. That is also why the Kingdom of God is only a spiritual kingdom for now, and "not of this world."

But one day this world will be taken away from the "gods" and given into the hands of the Son of God. The precise moment that this occurs is shown in Revelation, after the blowing of the seventh Trumpet, which is the final Trumpet released by the breaking of the seventh Seal of the Scroll:

"The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said: 'The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Anointed One, and he will reign forever and ever.' And the twenty-four elders, who were seated on their thrones before God, fell on their faces and worshiped God, saying: 'We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, the One who is and who was, because you have taken your great power and have begun to reign. The nations were angry; and your wrath has come. The time has come for judging the dead, and for rewarding your servants the prophets and your saints and those who reverence your name, both small and great; and for destroying those who destroy the earth.'"  (Revelation 11:15-18)

Until that moment, the earth will still be the physical property of Satan and the fallen angels. Within this system human beings are also the possession of Satan, as harsh as that may sound. Redemption from this terrible situation can only be achieved through faith in the sacrifice of Jesus the Anointed One. The book of Revelation explains that it was this divine sacrifice, of the life of the Son of God given on behalf of human beings everywhere that "purchased men for God":

"Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders... He came and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne. And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb... And they sang a new song: 'You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.' " (Revelation 5:6-10)

The Second Coming of Jesus Christ will put an end to the strange situation that presently exists in our little corner of the universe, of fallen angelic spirits ruling over a fallen earth that is inhabited by fallen human beings. The fallen angels will be cast into the Abyss, judged, and finally destroyed, along with the human beings that they were able to deceive. On the other hand, those who reject the lies and deception of the "world powers," who embrace the Creator and Jesus the Anointed One as their Savior, will be raised up from their fallen condition and given an eternal life with infinite rewards.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Do We Have the Power to do Good?

by Eric Chang

One can be moral without being spiritual, but one cannot be spiritual without being moral. That is to say, one can be some sort of “good” person without being spiritual, but one cannot be spiritual without being a good person. We need to understand this principle if we are to avoid error.

You can be poor without being spiritual, but you cannot be spiritual without being poor. By “poor” we mean an attitude of dependence on God that doesn’t regard our possessions as being our own but as belonging to the lord Jesus, God's anointed one.

Living a life in which the anointed one Jesus is lord; in which all my possessions, learning and achievements belong to him; is humanly impossible.

Where it is easy to go from good to evil, and easier still to go from evil to evil, it’s impossible to go from evil to good once we understand what is involved.

You can still choose good even if you’re in bondage to evil. With your mind you can still choose good, as was the case in Deuteronomy 30 when Joshua asked Israel to make a choice. They publicly declared their choice for God, but Joshua knew that it was just a mental choice, for in all the things they had been doing, they revealed their love for Egypt, a symbol of the world.

In their entire wilderness journey, they were always hankering after the things they had left behind. They had indeed physically left those things behind in Egypt, but their hearts were still longing for them. Joshua knew that they wouldn’t be able to break free from the strong grip of the world, or to move from evil to good despite their declaration of choosing the good.

Commitment is more than an intention to commit. Intention alone won’t take you from evil to good. If it were possible to move from evil to good on your own, you would be able to save yourself by sheer determination.

By sheer determination you may be able to quit smoking or even drinking, though the chances of success would be far worse in the case of drug addiction. But when it comes to the power of evil, no determination in the world will break you free from evil and take you into good.

In your own strength, it is impossible to be a committed follower of the lord Jesus in the biblical sense. It must be something that God does in you.

Understand that the difference between good and evil is so vast that you cannot pass from evil to good except through a radical transformation. Your whole life has to change totally from being self-centered to being God-centered.

Note: The root of evil, in its very essence, is the love of self. Why? because the love of self gives rise to all other sins. 

Solution: Enabled by God's Spirit one can put aside the love of self, and love God with one's whole being, which we also do indirectly, by loving our neighbor as ourselves.

Many people, after realizing that only God can rescue them from evil, are far from being happy about it. Why? because they don’t want to yield their lives totally to the lordship of God.

If we could break free from evil and become good in our own strength, we would be able to save ourselves and be the master of our own lives. But because we cannot save ourselves, we realize we are not our own masters. We then realize we need to depend on our God and Father to save us, allow­ing Him to become the master of our lives.

In the whole universe, only one being can be properly called good; and that is the only true God, Yehovah.

James says: Every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation, or shifting shadow. (James 1:17, NASB)

The truth that only God is good is seen in James’ statement that every good thing comes from God, who is the only source of good. Good is defined not by what a person does but what a person is!

James is saying that just as God is the Creator of all things and the Source of all physical life and blessing, so He is the Source of everything that is good in the spiritual and moral sphere. He is both the Creator of all physical life and the Giver of all spiritual life. The material creation and the spiritual world are presented in parallel. Just as God gives us all physical blessing, He gives us all spiritual blessing.

There is no “variation or shifting shadow” in God who is the source of all good. God never changes. The heavenly lights like the sun and the moon may wax and wane, but God’s character is consistent.

The same is true of the Son of God: “Jesus the anointed one is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8, NIV). You can put your trust in him, knowing that the kindness, goodness and faithfulness you saw in him yesterday, will not disappear today or tomorrow. People may change but the anointed one Jesus never changes.

In committing to God our Father, it is most important to see God’s goodness and consistent character if we are to place our full confidence in Him, and in the one who perfectly shows forth the glory of his God and his Father, the anointed one Jesus.

The next thing we need to understand is that, in Scripture, good and life are as inseparable as the two sides of a coin, as are evil and death. Where there is good, there is life. Where there is evil, there is death. In talking about good and evil, we are also talking about life and death. We are not discussing good and evil merely for their moral signifi­cance, but because they have to do with life and death. Just as Yehovah God is the supreme embodiment of all good and there­fore of all life, Satan the devil is the supreme embodiment of all evil, so much so that the Bible simply calls him “the evil one” (e.g. 1 John 5:19).

Since Yehovah God is the source of all good, and since God is a spiritual being, good and spiritual cannot be separated.

Correspondingly, because evil is embodied in Satan the evil one, we now see the spiritual dimension of evil. Evil is not simply a matter of morality but a matter of spirituality. That is why Jesus in the Lord’s prayer says “deliver us from evil” (Matthew 6:13, NASB) or “deliver us from the evil one” (NIV).

Every choice for evil and every act of evil, knowingly or unknowingly, is a choice for the evil one and an advancement of his interests. Every sin you commit advances the power and the kingdom of the evil one.

But not every act of good advances the kingdom of God. There is no exact parallel here. You can be moral without being spiritual, but you cannot be spiritual without being moral. A moral act is not necessarily a spiritual act, but a spiritual act is necessarily a moral act. Paul gives us an example of a moral act that is not spiritual:

And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing. (1Corinthians 13:3, NASB)

If I show genuine love to someone, that love will be expressed in some concrete form called good. If I give to the poor out of love, it is because I am spiritual by the grace of God. But if I give to the poor for any other reason, perhaps to gain a good feeling, that won’t advance the kingdom of God one bit.

Good comes solely from God, whereas evil is embod­ied in Satan, the evil one. Life comes from God because life and good cannot be separated, but death comes through Satan; though not only through Satan; because Satan has the “power of death” (Hebrews 2:14). If you choose God, you have chosen life. But if you don’t choose God, you have chosen death.

Evil is death, and the one who holds the power of death is Satan, the embodiment of evil. You can no more pass from evil to good than pass from death to life, or from the power of Satan to the power of God, by your own strength. That would be impossible!

There is no way for you to pass from the kingdom of Satan to the kingdom of God, from death to life, except by God who alone has the power of resurrection.

To be delivered - saved; to become a follower of the anointed one Jesus is to pass from death to life. This takes the power of creation which God’s life-giving power creates life out of death. To become a follower of the anointed one Jesus in the biblical sense of the word, doesn’t simply mean to get baptized or to go to church.

A follower of the anointed one Jesus is someone who has passed from death to life by God’s life-giving power, which is His resurrection power.

We are talking about life and death not merely as passive states of being but as active powers. When we say that God is the source of life, we don’t mean that He is like a container that contains life, but that He has the power to make us alive. And when we say that Satan holds the power of death, we don’t mean that he is like a bottle that contains death, but that he can inflict death on others:

Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil. (Hebrews 2:14, NIV)

In what sense does the devil hold the “power of death”? It is that he can inflict death on those who are under his power. It is a fearsome thing.

I am trying to show that we cannot go from evil to good in our own strength because we are dealing not merely with states of being but with powers that are too strong for us. It takes power to deal with power.

As we saw in Romans 12:21, we can “overcome evil with good”. This important truth is established, firstly, from scriptural revelation, and, secondly, from experience. The Bible will be real to you if you experience it. It won’t be real to you if you don’t experience it.

In the experience of many people, evil is stronger than good. Paul describes a period in his life when he was unable to do the good he wanted to do, but did the very evil he didn’t want (Rom.7:15). In his own experience at that time, evil was more powerful than good, so he was always fighting a losing battle.

It is only through commitment to God, the source of all good, that good will always triumph in your life. In talking about good and evil, we are talking about practical everyday living.

The best way for you to know that every good thing comes from God is to experience it. The psalmist says, “O taste and see that Yehovah is good” (Psalm 34:8, NASB).

So in the final analysis it come down to what do we choose good or evil, Yehovah or the Adversary Satan. If we don't choose to be obediently committed to Yehovah, and a slave to righteousness, then we automatically choose to be a slave in bondage to the Adversary Satan!

You were dead in your transgressions when you lived under the control of the flesh which is self-centered by nature. But this death has now been overcome in God's anointed one Jesus by the power of the resurrection. That is what happens in baptism when you enter into a new life; the life in God's anointed one Jesus.

The choice is yours, choose life or choose death, there is no in between! Jesus says if you are not with him you are against him. Choose to be with him!

Edited by Bruce Lyon

Wednesday, April 6, 2016


by Leroy Garrett

The Word was the true light that enlightens all men; and he was coming into the world. – John 1:9

This single verse illustrates the difficulty the translator sometimes has in determining precisely what the Bible is saying. It is not certain what "coming into the world" modifies. If it modifies men, then the King James Version is correct in rendering it, "That was the true Light which gives light to every man who comes into the world." If it modifies Word, as rendered by the New Jerusalem Bible, then it is he (the Word) that is coming in the world, as given above. But "coming into the world" could modify Light, which would make it read, "The true light, that enlightens every man, was coming into the world," which the NJB gives as an alternate translation, and which is preferred by most modern versions.

Of course, all three of those things – human beings, the Light, and the Word – came into the world, so it may not matter how it is rendered, except that the KJV is less likely. The writer’s point is almost certainly that it is the Word or the Light that has come into the world, and in doing so has "enlightened" or "given light" to every person.

And that is my thesis in this essay – every person, by virtue of God’s abundant grace, receives some measure of light (revelation) from the Word (Christ) who came into this world.

Or, as I have indicated in a previous essay, we may see God as revealing himself (giving light) through three books, not just one. There is the book of nature in which the Creator reveals himself "through the things which are made," as Paul puts it in Romans 1:20. Then there is the book of human nature, which is the reference in our text, and which the apostle refers to in Romans 2:15 as "the law written in their hearts." The third book is, of course, the book of Holy Scripture.

It is, therefore, amiss for us to conclude that if one has not been exposed to the third book -- the Bible and the gospel of Christ – he/she is without any knowledge of God. Our text makes it clear: In coming into this world Christ gave light (knowledge) to every person who has ever lived or will live -- past, present, future. No exceptions! Every one has some light. We may presume that this will vary, depending on circumstances, with some having more light than others.

And surely this proposition is self-evident: Every person is responsible for the light (knowledge) that he/she has, but only for the light that he/she has. God is not demonic. He does not condemn one for not knowing or not doing what he/she had no way of knowing or doing. God does not expect a blind man to see or a deaf man to hear. Nor does he condemn one for not believing and obeying the gospel when he/she has never heard the gospel nor had any opportunity to hear.

But God may well condemn one for not making a faithful response to one of the other two books in which he discloses himself. If one rejects the light of "the law within" – his own conscience and his own sense of right and wrong – he stands condemned, like Cain who murdered his brother Abel. Cain had no commandment "Thou shall not murder" in the book of Holy Scripture – it came after his time – but he knew from the light he had that he was doing wrong.

I am confident of still another proposition: God rejects only those who reject him.

Mark it well. It is evident in reason, in the good common sense God has given us, and in Scripture – God rejects only those who reject him! And one rejects God only when he/she refuses (and continues to refuse) to respond in faith and obedience to such light (revelation) God has given to him/her in whatever form that light comes.

To put it another way, Holy Scripture tells us who the condemned are. There are various lists of those "who will not inherit the kingdom of God" (Galatians 5:19-21), and those "who have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death" (Revelation 21:8). You will notice that these are not those who may have had a heart for God but who never heard the gospel. They are rather those who boldly and persistently reject whatever measure of (moral and religious) knowledge they had, in whatever form that light or knowledge came – murderers, drunkards, idolaters, adulterers, sorcerers, factionalists, liars, disbelievers (not unbelievers), abominable, cowardly (those who deny Christ).

If the Bible tells us who the condemned are – those who brazenly and knowingly reject such light (knowledge) of God as they have, in whatever form that light comes – then we know who the saved are. Every one else!

We may conclude this since Scripture affirms that Jesus is the Savior of all human kind (1 Timothy 4:10), and that he died on the cross for every person (Hebrew 2:9). Jesus is not the potential Savior or the conditional Savior – if one will believe this or do that – but the Savior (period). The men of Sychar got it right when they said of Jesus, "We know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world" (John 4:42). John the Baptist introduced him in like terms, "Behold, the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world" (John 1:29).

This passage is especially enlightening: "As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive" (1 Corinthians 15:22). The word all has the same force in both instances: all people die because of Adam’s sin; allpeople are made alive (saved) because of what Christ did on the cross. How could it be made plainer?

We must conclude, therefore, that when Christ died on the cross he saved every one – all those who lived before him, all those who lived in his day, and all those who live after him. All humanity -- past, present, future! Therefore, every one is of the elect, and everyone will be saved in heaven – except those who reject such a salvation, or reject God’s light in some other form. They are the non-elect. The references above show that some will not inherit the kingdom, and will have their place in the lake of fire. It is clear who they are – those who refuse to believe and accept what Christ did for them, or who knowingly reject God in other ways.

One may rightly ask, "Does not one have to believe in and obey Christ?" Yes, of course, just as he/she must respond in faith to any and all light God has given him/her. A "believer" is not only one who accepts Christ, but one who responds to the light in the two other books of God. Rahab, the Ethiopian eunuch, and Cornelius were all "believers" in that they "feared God" (Acts 10:2) when they had comparatively little light. It is the principle of available light. One finds favor with God by walking by such light as he/she has. Enoch did not have much light as a patriarch, but still "He walked with God" (Genesis 5:24). Those who died in the flood had similar light, but they did not walk by the light they had and were lost.

Those who believe and obey the gospel – which of course they must do once they hear it (or eventually do so) – will be those who are already faithful to such light as they have. No one is ever worse off by hearing the gospel. If they are the elect – accepting such light as is available – they will accept more light as it becomes available. If they are not of the elect – rejecting such light as they have – they will reject further light (the gospel).

An interesting illustration of this is in Acts 18 when Paul was at Corinth. The Jews rejected his message – "opposed him and blasphemed" – and he shook his garments and told them, "Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean. From now on I will go to the Gentiles" (verse 6). Then in the night the Lord spoke to him and told him not to be afraid and not to remain silent, that he would be with him. Then the Lord said, "for I have many people in this city."

Paul was to remain in Corinth and preach the gospel – in spite of all the difficulties – "for I have many people in this city." Who were these people? They were "believers" in that they were God’s people --- the elect -- who were already faithful to such light as was available. God wanted them to have the light of the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ, which they would of course accept once they heard it.

But suppose a deadly plague swept through Corinth that night and killed all of them -- before they heard the gospel – would they have been saved? The Lord referred to those who were to hear the gospel as "my people." Does God have any people in hell? Of course they would be saved! They were saved when Christ died for them. We are not saved by what we do, but by what Christ has done for us. Our part is to respond to what he has done for us – to follow such light as is available to us.

It may help to distinguish between actual or objective salvation – which occurs at the cross of Christ – and personal or subjective salvation which takes place when we believe and obey the gospel. Those who were "my people" in Corinth were actually (objectively) saved when Christ died for them. The Lord wanted them to enjoy personal (subjective) salvation by hearing and obeying the gospel preached by Paul.

You might well answer the question When were you saved? in those terms. You could truthfully say you were saved two thousand years ago when Christ died on the cross for you. You could also say you were saved when you went forward during a revival as a penitent believer, confessed your faith in Christ and were baptized for the remission of your sins. Both are biblical, and they are two perspectives of salvation.

Those of us of the Stone-Campbell heritage will be interested in Alexander Campbell’s reference to the principle of available light. This imaginary conversation he created between Martin Luther and a monk named Erastian goes far in stating his position on this subject.

Erastian: Friend Luther, What think ye has become of your pious father?
Luther: He has gone to heaven, sir, I doubt not.
Erastian: And your mother too?
Luther: Yes, and my mother too; and my grandfather and grandmother also; for Saxony can boast  of no Catholics more devout than they.
Erastian: And in the name of both Saint Paul and Saint Peter, why have you caused all this fuss in  Germany and throughout the world? Do you expect anything better than to go to heaven when you die?
Luther: Nothing better than to enjoy heaven.
Erastian: If then, your pious ancestors, who lived and died in the bosom of the Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, have gone to heaven as you believe, how dare you separate from that church? Are you sure that, separated from that church, you can arrive at heaven? Besides, you say that you can promise yourself no more than heaven where you now stand; why then have you not kept the good company of your virtuous ancestors, and walked with them in the good old way, rather than be enrolled with heretics and hazard so much for nothing gained!

Luther: ‘For nothing gained!’ Why, sir, I have gained every thing in renouncing the Pope – peace of mind and the joyful hope of heaven.

Erastian: Remember you have conceded that your ancestors gained heaven in the Church of Rome; and why could not you?

Luther: Because they were pious members of that church, which I could not possibly be.

Erastian: Why not?

Luther: Because I have been favored with more knowledge than they.

As the extended conversation continues Campbell has Luther say of his ancestors, "They lived in conformity to all they knew, and died in the church; I live in conformity to what I know, and have left that church." Luther goes on to say, "Certainly as the brain grows the heart should grow." And finally Campbell has Luther tell Erastian that one must obey the light God has given him.

One can see that Campbell puts himself into that conversation. He too made changes as the light broke, such as his decision to be baptized by immersion after having been sprinkled in infancy. It conforms to his definition of a Christian – "one who believes that Jesus is the Christ, repents of his sins, and obeys him in all things according to his understanding."

As Campbell had Luther say to the monk, "The ratio of piety is the ratio of conformity to the revealed will of God," and "No man can be justified today by living in accordance with the knowledge that he had yesterday."