Chapter 8 Criteria to Being Saved
1 Corinthians 1:4-10 RSVA (4) I give thanks to God always for you because of the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus, (5) that in every way you were enriched in him with all speech and all knowledge– (6) even as the testimony to Christ was confirmed among you– (7) so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ; (8) who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. (9) God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. (10) I appeal to you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree and that there be no dissensions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.
It seems like the majority of Christians prefer to ignore or avoid the subject of God as our supreme judge. Why avoid the obvious? There are a number of reasons people tend to avoid the subject of God as our judge. How does a view of God as judge fit into the image of the all loving God people like to mold and present? In other words, if you bring up the views of God as all loving and a judge, you open the door to a paradox that is difficult to explain. In today’s world, God as judge may be offensive. Let’s face it, modern media has done everything in its power to make harsh subjects, for lack of a better term, illegal. They tend to call that, being politically incorrect. But God is above and beyond politics. God would not dirty His feet in this world wind of political correctness. To a large degree, God stands on the side and allows people to form their own paths to happiness and security. God allows people to go so far to build their image of the perfect utopia, before He steps in and introduces His plan. In the hope people can and will learn from their mistakes, God allows people, institutions, governments, and countries to pursue their own course before He gets involved. But do we really learn from mistakes made in the past?
The Bible contains a collection of stories designed to shape and guide our course in life. To a certain degree, those stories are read, discussed, and sometimes people will preach on those stories. Not often enough though. More often than not, preachers take a sentence or two from one story, then a few sentences from another story, then go way off track by telling their own story, a personal view based on a few sentences taken from the Bible. People listening to those stories somehow are convinced, the story is Biblical. The preacher started his story in the Bible. So why wouldn’t it be Biblical? The sad fact is, the Jews who killed Jesus formed the same sermons, concepts, and ideals from a few sentences in scripture. Then of course blended them with a host of man made concepts they agreed with. Those concepts led to the arrest, trial, conviction, and execution of God’s Son. In other words, the worldly views held by the Jews were 100% wrong. Of course we have the New Testament to help us clear up a few of the mistakes the Jews made. But why do people keep using the same failed system the Jews used to interpret and understand scripture?
No one can argue the fact, God is in charge. God is the judge. God has passed that role unto His Son. But to what degree? We’ll never find the answer to that question when we prefer to ignore the subject in scripture. We’ll never find the answer if we use worldly views and rely on personal experiences. We won’t find the answer in a pew, on TV, we certainly will not find the answer on social media, or in a book. Not even this book. Common sense will tell us, God decided to omit specific details on His role as judge for a reason. God wants each of us to approach His throne as individuals so He can personally explain His role as judge, and how that effects our lives. All the sermons, books, and videos in the world can never amount to a single second in God’s presence.
When we think about God’s judgment, we can’t help but remember views of some guy in his painted station wagon with loud speakers mounted on top. A few select scripture are brush painted along the side of the flat black station wagon. Speakers are blaring the same message over and over again about how God is going to judge this world, and we are all going to burn in hell. It seems some people are obsessed by the judgment period, and feel it is their duty to tell the world their view of the judgment process. It’s not difficult to look at that approach as offensive. Maybe that is why so many people decide to ignore the subject. We could go on forever about the worldly view on God’s judgment. But what good would that do? We would never reach an understanding more than one step above that of the Jews, priests, and Pharisees. We could look at the New Testament and see what that adds. But for the most part, we are not going to find the details we need to paint a complete picture. But Paul and other writers did give us a wealth of information. We just have to learn to follow their train of thought. After all, their words were inspired, and that is all we have to go on.
Paul made it clear, we need Jesus to teach people about Jesus. It really doesn’t matter what subject we are going to cover. There are many sides to every subject. We have radical views, peaceful views, and all kinds of views in between. For the most part, they are views from the world, formed and tainted by this world of sin. Some subjects require a total escape from this world before we are able to find accurate and reliable facts. Paul told us, we are supposed to be, “united in the same mind and the same judgment.” How can we be united without talking about the subject, opening up the Bible, and finding a few bits and pieces of scripture to define our stand on the judgment? Let’s take a step back for a second. How do you think you are going to be judged? Maybe you should think about when you are going to be judged. We’ll cover that subject in a later chapter. In the mean time, will you be judged on an individual or corporate level? That establishes one view of God in your mind. Your view may be quite different than mine.
Once a view of God is established, that is a starting point to draw closer to God. How is that done? Paul hit on a few details for us to consider. First, as Christians we are prepared or trained on the subject, life, and ministry of Jesus. Paul placed that training where it belongs, in a personal meeting with Jesus. After Jesus rose from the grave, He returned to this world to retrain His disciples. Those disciples had to experience a number of growing pains before they were ready to drop everything they were taught, and open their eyes to what Jesus was saying. Before Jesus was arrested, He explained everything about the Holy Spirit, and how the Holy Spirit was going to take His place in this world. When we are communicating with the Spirit, we are communicating with Jesus. The two are one mind, thought, and action.
Paul added a brief comment about spiritual gifts. Those gifts are from the Spirit, and the Spirit provides training for those those gifts. The church can’t train you. The online video can’t train you. You have to be in personal contact with the Holy Spirit to receive the proper on the job training. Somehow that training leads to a total understanding and unified view of the judgment. We are not going to find all the answers in one chapter. So we will take a look at other popular text on the subject.
1 Corinthians 4:1-10 RSVA (1) This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. (2) Moreover it is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy. (3) But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. I do not even judge myself. (4) I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. (5) Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then every man will receive his commendation from God. (6) I have applied all this to myself and Apol’los for your benefit, brethren, that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up in favor of one against another. (7) For who sees anything different in you? What have you that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if it were not a gift? (8) Already you are filled! Already you have become rich! Without us you have become kings! And would that you did reign, so that we might share the rule with you! (9) For I think that God has exhibited us apostles as last of all, like men sentenced to death; because we have become a spectacle to the world, to angels and to men. (10) We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are wise in Christ. We are weak, but you are strong. You are held in honor, but we in disrepute.
Up to this point we have not learned a great deal of actual, definitive points describing God’s actual role as judge. We could pour over scripture, search the Bible, and pray about those details. But what would we find? How can we find the unified view Paul wrote about?
Of course Paul covered a great deal of details between chapters 1 and 4. In 1 Corinthians 4 Paul enters into an interesting discussion. Christ’s servants should have insight into the mysteries concerning God. Paul mentions trust, which has a direct link to a relationship. How can Christ trust you if He doesn’t know you? Of course if God sees everything, He knows all about you. So Jesus definitely knows if He is able to trust you. There is nothing to hide. On the other side of the relationship, what do you know about Jesus, God, and those mysteries?
It seems some people question Paul on his knowledge and motives. That was nothing new. Paul knew it was going to happen, and it was something he had to deal with. Paul introduced another type of judgment. The one people practice between one another, anyone who is different, and in what we all should expect, a judgment process where we weight the facts being presented. It will clear up matters when we take a look at the actual Greek word Paul used to explain this judgment process.
G350 ἀνακρίνω anakrinō an-ak-ree’-no
From G303 and G2919; properly to scrutinize, that is, (by implication) investigate, interrogate, determine: – ask, question, discern, examine, judge, search.
We should know, there are different types of judgment, as well as different judgment processes. We have judgment related to court systems. We have God’s judgment process. And of course we have a type of judgment that occurs between Christians. To say, “we should never judge,” is an understatement. Most likely coming from people who never looked up the definition of the different judgments found in the New Testament.
When we use the right judgment process the proper way, we are not judging people in a condemning manner. We are simply weighing the evidence they submit. That is a skill all Christians should have. But what criteria do we have to judge, scrutinize, and investigate what other people are teaching? We have the Bible. But what good is the Bible without the Holy Spirit? It is no good at all. That brings up another good point. Does the teacher or preacher exhibit and display any connection with God’s Spirit. If they did, they should be ready, willing, and able to prove it. We also run the risk of weight evidence based on what we’ve been taught. We have to be honest and examine those sources. Paul identified Christ as the only reliable source of information. Paul presented his relationship with Christ as his most important credential. Paul had no problems describing the direct view and meeting he had with Christ. What about those preachers you learned from? Are they as reliable as Paul?
Paul made it clear, we have one type of judgment to perform, and God’s judgment process is far different than ours.
1Co 4:3 ButG1161 with meG1698 it isG2076 a(G1519) very small thingG1646 thatG2443 I should be judgedG350
1Co 4:5 ThereforeG5620 judgeG2919
When we look at the KJV+, we see it pointing us to two different Greek words. One is a type of judgment process. The other points to the results only God is allowed to determine. So we do have a role in one type of judgment, but the definition of other types of judgment tell us to keep our noses out of it. We should have a minimal knowledge of those different types of judgment. The thing we have to remember is, where we got that knowledge. God chose Paul as a voice and pen. When we learn something from Paul, it is more than learning something from words in a book. We are learning from a direct revelation Jesus gave to Paul. So we can’t take any credit for ourselves. We have to send all that credit back to Jesus. We are not in the business of unlocking mysteries in the Bible to bring fame and fortune to ourselves. We are in the business of bringing people to Jesus. Not to a church or preacher claiming to know the truth, or possess some secret power to interpret inspired scripture. Scripture was written for all of us to read, study, pray on, and receive personal revelations on. Some for our personal benefit. Others to share.
Paul made a point by placing himself at a lower level than the people he was writing to. That was designed to accomplished 2 things. To prove his personal relationship with Christ is worth more than anything in this world. Even more than the words of one of the most reliable teachers this world has known. It also reminded people how that increased knowledge will be shunned by this world. As you learn more and more about Christ, and as you share that knowledge, be prepared to be questioned, scrutinized, and condemned. People will cross that line on judgment without batting and eye. They may do it out of ignorance. But that is the way of the world.
2 Thessalonians 1:4-11 RSVA (4) Therefore we ourselves boast of you in the churches of God for your steadfastness and faith in all your persecutions and in the afflictions which you are enduring. (5) This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be made worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering– (6) since indeed God deems it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, (7) and to grant rest with us to you who are afflicted, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, (8) inflicting vengeance upon those who do not know God and upon those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. (9) They shall suffer the punishment of eternal destruction and exclusion from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, (10) when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at in all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed. (11) To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his call, and may fulfil every good resolve and work of faith by his power,
In this letter, Paul makes it more than clear that we need to place revenge in God’s hands. If we know God, we know He sees everything that goes on around us. Especially the plots, slandering, and when it happens, the persecution. Why sweat it when we can leave all that work to God?
Hebrews 6:1-8 NLTse So let us stop going over the basic teachings about Christ again and again. Let us go on instead and become mature in our understanding. Surely we don’t need to start again with the fundamental importance of repenting from evil deeds and placing our faith in God. (2) You don’t need further instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. (3) And so, God willing, we will move forward to further understanding. (4) For it is impossible to bring back to repentance those who were once enlightened–those who have experienced the good things of heaven and shared in the Holy Spirit, (5) who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the power of the age to come– (6) and who then turn away from God. It is impossible to bring such people back to repentance; by rejecting the Son of God, they themselves are nailing him to the cross once again and holding him up to public shame. (7) When the ground soaks up the falling rain and bears a good crop for the farmer, it has God’s blessing. (8) But if a field bears thorns and thistles, it is useless. The farmer will soon condemn that field and burn it.
This seems to be one of the strangest chapters related to God’s judgment. Its relationship with God’s judgment may be missed by most people. If you read the entire chapter, you will see how the author wrote about God’s promises and rewards. Although God’s judgment carries the death penalty, the other outcome is of course, eternal life. Another subject we have to investigate to understand the entire story. How much do we know about God’s promises, why He gave those promises, how and why those promises have a progression, and how God intends to fulfill those promises. We also have to look into who is going to see those promises fulfilled. Actually live that fulfillment.
Here the author wrote about subjects the average Christian should know. Based on the author’s comments, some people get stuck on those subjects. If you are out in the Christian world, you’ve seen how some people get stuck on one subject, look at themselves as a leading authority on that subject, and feel it is their duty to get the world to think like them. Is that what a Christian is? Is that all it takes?
Hebrews talks about an advancement. A constant growth. The question is, how do we grow. Hebrews seems to be written to people who were are not your basic Christians, but to Christians on a definite path or course. And dedicated to keep moving along that path. The Book of Hebrews is like no other book in the Bible. It doesn’t tell us anything new. But that book does explain details other books linger upon but for lack of a better term, lack the depth many of us search for. The Book of Hebrews ties together a number of stories, places events in the proper order, explains symbols, and the reasoning behind them.
The Book of Hebrews may be a little different that other books in the Bible, but follows a familiar pattern found in other inspired books. It contains promises and curses. Why did God use that pattern in so many books in the Bible? There must be a reason. My engineering experience tells me to get as close to the original design to understand the concept behind it.
We could do a study and look at how God’s promises progressed over the years. Every few generations received a new detail on that promise. But we only want to look at the first promise God gave to this world. That promise followed the first sin in this world. Adam the man was to work and sweat for his food. Eve was to suffer during child birth. What about the promises. One of Eve’s sons, after quite a few generations was going to crush that snake’s head. What about Adam? He would receive food to survive, but at a cost. Hence, this world reached a new age with a whole new set of rules brought on by sin.
No mention of working our way back into God’s grace was ever given. God never outlines a method or series of steps to work our way out of sin. In other words, sin had to run its course. Not only was the Book of Hebrews telling us, we had to spend time and put in effort to find out about God, we also had to beware of sin’s progression. Over the generations, we have grown rather far away from God. Some people may think books and technology have brought us closer to God. But let’s get real. Jesus waited a number of generations before coming here to save this world. Part of saving this world was retraining this world. Getting at least some people to give up the grasp this world had on them. To break away into a far better world. The one God promised. That promise has always been there. And those curses are still holding us down. Keeping us from getting as close to God as we’d like to be.
That’s why the Book of Hebrews told us, some people are stuck. They know a little about God, but are afraid to take that next step. They use the world as an excuse. They think they have to get the world up to their speed before taking the next step. That is not reality. That is nothing more than an excuse. That is giving into the fears this world creates.
The most interesting part of this portion of Hebrews is the comment of those “who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the power of the age to come– and who then turn away from God.” That is the part I had to pray about, and a part I had to give God some time to set a few personal experiences into play.
What chance do people who constantly drift away from God stand in the judgment process? When we look at this in simple terms, how would Jesus answer when the Fathers asks, “Son, do you know this person?” How would Jesus answer? He may say, “I knew them at one time, but they turned their back on Me.” How else is Jesus supposed to answer? Would Jesus take time to go over the hundred or so times He tried to reestablish a relationship with them? Would Jesus mention the countless times He asked them for help, but they chose to ignore the request? These are the type of details the Book of Hebrews is trying to get us to consider.
After a few weeks of living on the edge of a number of Internet scams, I was shown how some people drift away from God. It’s just not me. Internet scams are on the rise and coming from some rather high places. Major companies are involved, and government is making some rather poor decisions by passing new laws that don’t help the average person, but help to hide scammers. All of that amounts to one thing. People moving further away from God.
If you have a Christian based profile or are on a Christian dating site, and run into a scammer, you’ll be up against someone who knows enough about Christianity to lure in the average, unsuspecting victim. Hence, we need to be on guard and up to date in the latest scams. We have to have an idea how they work, and how to identify a scammer taking advantage of recent laws that hides their identity, making it impossible to find out who we are communicating with.
In 2018 it was easy to find the general location an email was sent from. The Header on the email contained an entire map showing us where an email originated and which servers transferred that email. In an effort to protect the identity of people who didn’t want to be traced or identified, Congress and some world organization making new Internet laws changed all of that. Today all we get is one address showing the business location of the last server that delivered the email to your computer. In other words, there is no way to figure out if you are emailing a person down the street, or on the other side of the world.
That is one example of people who are drifting away. Somewhere they learned enough about Christianity to make you think they are loyal, follow God, are caring, read the Bible, and are exactly what you have been searching for. But they just want to set that hook and make some money. What scammers have been doing is influencing people in rather high positions to pass laws that protect their identity. They hide behind a computer or phone. Scammers prefer to use Google Voice that has been designed to hide your identity and location. There are other things Google has been doing to protect scammers and put the rest of us at risk. At this point, I’ve seen some rather unfair business tactics Google has been using in their Internet ad industry that gives them an unfair advantage. Check out the Internet and I am sure you will find a series of complaints, lawsuits, so on, and so forth.
Internet scammers and large Internet corporations pretty much fit the description of people God warned us about throughout the Bible. The only thing is, God used rather basic descriptions. But when we put 2 and 2 together with the growth the Book of Hebrews tells us to pursue, we can easily see how they fit into the scheme of things.
Scammers have grown at a faster rate then the Internet itself. They focus on new ways to part a fool from their money. They have no respect for people, target Christians, and the elderly. Scammers dedicate themselves to perfecting their black art as well as doing what they do best, hide in the shadows. When someone dedicates their life to sin, does a quick prayer asking to be forgiven make everything right with God? Are they saved at that point? Or does our all knowing God see their plans, and make a decision based on the evidence presented?
That is one question we have to consider when we study the subjects of God’s judgment, and the judgment process we as Christians are supposed to conduct. Which is investigating situations. Not condemning people, but learn to tell a real Christian from a pretend Christian. We can and should plant seeds when given the opportunity. But with some people, there is only so much we can do. The author of Hebrews spelled out our limitations. We need to respect our limitations, as well as work to higher levels to be more productive working with the Holy Spirit.