Today there is much confusion about salvation and how to attain it. Some preachers, anxious to please men, say there are many ways to God. Some say we are saved totally by grace and repentance is not required, some say we can be saved and yet accept such abominations as abortion, homosexuality, or idolatry (the act of giving to another what belongs solely to God). Their message seems to be summed up by ‘what you can get from God’ and not ‘what you should give to God’. Jude, a brother of James writes about them –
“These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots; Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever.” – Jude 1:12,13
They do not have the fear of the Lord. You may think this is too harsh an opinion of them but to God, they are destroying the people that His Son died to save. Jude’s answer was to contend for the true faith –
“Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.” – Jude 1:3
Notice he begins writing about our common salvation. Our Christian faith is not based on Catholicism, or Protestantism, or any other ism, – It is based on Jesus the Messiah who was slain for sinners. He is the Root of Jesse.
“And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious.” – Isa. 11:10
“For if the firstfruit be holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the branches. And if some of the branches (Israel) be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree (Gentiles), wert graffed in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree; Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee.” – Rom. 11:16-18
He is the only way back to God, there is salvation in Him alone and any preacher who says differently is mistaken. This message is proclaimed throughout the Scriptures, both Old Testament and New Testament.
“Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.” – Isa. 45:22
“Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” – Acts 4:12
It is the kindness and favor of God that presents us with this offer of salvation but, as Jude reminds us, there are requirements that come with it –
“I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not.“ – Jude 1:5
When Jesus began His earthly ministry, His message was “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” There has to be a change of heart, a turning around, a surrendering to God’s sovereignty and will in receiving salvation. We can come as we are but, we have to come. If we continue living in sin as we were, Paul says we received the grace of God in vain (We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain. – 2 Cor. 6:1). This does not mean we are suddenly perfect but that we begin towards perfection, trusting in God’s favor to help us on the way.
“But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle. Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace,” – 2 Thes. 2:13-16
There is a strong link between being called and being chosen but, they are not the same. The Hebrew children were all called out of bondage in Egypt but, they were not all chosen to enter the promised land, as Jude reminds us. The difference was belief. We are called by the Gospel of grace but, we are chosen by believing the truth, sanctification of the Holy Spirit and we must stand fast on God’s word. It is all God’s grace at work in us but, we alone must choose to believe.
So, how can we claim God’s grace for salvation if we choose not to obey His word? How can we accept lifestyles that He calls abominable? How we approve of actions that He says He hates? We cannot! Therefore, someone has to change and God declares ‘I change not!’
I write this to you because the Lord’s second coming is not far off and He said –
“And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?“ – Luke 18:7,8
There are some who believe we will not face this great tribulation Jesus is warning about in the verse above but, He taught differently –
“For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. … Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” – Matt. 24:21-31
Notice it is after the great tribulation that the Lord comes and gathers His elect from one end of heaven to the other – not before.
We are in a race and we must endure to the end, even growing stronger in faith and righteousness until the end. God is willing to help us if we are willing to try.