Salvation is a free gift that, when received by faith, will be manifested in a person’s life. “We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death” (1 John 3:14). Faith is not seen, but a person’s works are a manifestation of it.
“But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way? For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also” (James 2:20-26).
Heaven would be hell for those who have not formed a relationship with Jesus. They would not be able to do all the so-called sinful pleasures of this world. Living a life with no sin is foreign to them. Many Christians believe sin cannot be overcome in this life. We are to have high moral values and have no part in unrighteousness. “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord [agreement] hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel [unbeliever]? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty” (2_Corinthians 6:14-18).
How can a Christian adopt and live the principles set down by Jesus without appearing self-righteous, judgemental, hypocritical, or fanatical to a religious code? In everything we do, we need to express our love for Jesus and others. We should always be uplifting Jesus and His goodness to others, so they will be drawn to Him.
“Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings” (1 Peter 2:1).
“Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom… For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace” (James 3:13, 16-18).
We must honor Jesus by what comes out of our mouths, and how we interact with others. The more time we spend in prayer and Bible study the more we will be like Him. We must live in the world at this time, but we do not need to live like the world. “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon [riches]” (Matthew 6:24).
The world does not set the standards we need to live by. As Christians it is God’s standards we must live by. We must prove ourselves by His Word. Salvation is given to us by the grace of God. It is not anything we have done or can do to earn it. However, if we love Jesus we will want to live our lives the way He asks us to. “But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they” (Acts 15:11).
By the Son of God, “…we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name” (Romans 1:5).
We must examine our lives as to whether we are in the faith and walking according to Gods holy standards. Sanctification is a process we must be willing to be a part of everyday. God has a plan to cleanse our lives from sin. We do not want to find ourselves as somebody Jesus rejects or castaway. “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates [rejected]?” (2 Corinthians 13:5).
How to Keep Eternal Life
Animals walk by sense, sinners walk by sight or their own reason. Christians walk by faith and by God’s Spirit. “For we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7). “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” (Romans 8:1).
A Christian puts Jesus above all else. “And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life” (Matthew 19:29).
After repentance and justification, we need to abide in a relationship with Jesus Christ. Those who do will have eternal life. “That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life” (Titus 3:7).
“And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming. If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him” (1 John 2:28, 29).
You might say I cannot become holy or perfect. But Jesus said, “For with God nothing shall be impossible” (Luke 1:37). We need to be confident in God that He can finish the work of sanctification in our lives. “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6).
The Ten Virgins
“Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh” (Matthew 25:1-13).
All ten virgins slumbered and slept. But when the midnight cry was given only five of them were ready. Only five of them had enough oil. They were the ones who were concerned for their salvation and walk with God. They were the ones who had a daily relationship with the Saviour. The five virgins who didn’t have enough oil were careless with both. Maybe they only had a once-a-week relationship with God, or only called on Him when they were in trouble or a crisis. They both were advocates for the truth and were attached to those who believed the truth. The main difference is they didn’t have the Holy Spirit in their lives, so their head knowledge did them no good. Think about this: fifty percent of those who professed to believe didn’t make it to heaven. Jesus gave a talk about these people.
“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (Matthew 7:21-23).
We are saved by the sacrifice that Jesus made in our behalf. We have to only confess our sins and invite Him into our lives. Our debt is paid, but this does not give us a license to continue to live as devils, but instead gives us the privilege to live godly.
(This study was written by a prisoner in Oregon. I pray it is a blessing. Editor)