What About Angelfall,
and Me Personally?
Finally, we turn to the practical section of this entire website. Now it is time to discuss the issue as to what each person—individually—can possibly do about all of this?
In answer to the specific question, there is absolutely nothing any of us can do. There is nothing I can do as an individual to pull myself out of the hole that I'm in. The court has heard its case. The jury has passed its verdict. All of us have been born into this world because of the fall from heaven. And all of us are now under an eternal sentence of death. There is simply no way out of this predicament. During our lives on this earth, all of us are floundering together in the same sinking boat. We do "our time" here on earth until our physical bodies die. And that will be the "end of the matter" (see Daniel 7:26-28). The following passage from Romans says it all.
"As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Their throat is an open sepulcher; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of serpents is under their lips: Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: Their feet are swift to shed blood: Destruction and misery are in their ways: And the way of peace have they not known: There is no fear of God before their eyes… For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God" (Rom 3:10-18,23).
And here is the same quoted passage from Psalms in the Old Testament.
"God looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, that did seek God. Every one of them is gone back: they are altogether become filthy; there is none that doeth good, no, not one" (Psa 53:2,3).
Beggars Can't be Choosers
There is an age old expression—"Beggars can't be choosers." That is now the only personal role that any of us can play. As fallen humanity, we are nothing but poor beggars in need of salvation. Like the publican that Jesus talked about, we can only plead for God's mercy simply because at this juncture of our existence, no one owes us anything.
"And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other [more righteous Pharisee]: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted" (Luke 18:13,14).
Our redemption and salvation can only be found in following a path of admitting our helplessness, then crying out to God for mercy and forgiveness, submitting our own will to the will of God in both humility and obedience. His all sufficient grace is our only hope for survival.
Bad News, Good News
Yet in spite of all this seeming hopelessness, there indeed is some good news on the horizon. Because God's love is infinite, because the law of the universe requires wrath and judgment to be tempered by mercy and grace, He has indeed provided a way out of the mess we are in.
Like the prodigal son that returned to his Father's house in humility and brokenness, it was the Father's ACCEPTANCE that brought about the renewed friendship and relationship. Like the prodigal son, the only way we can be accepted back into the fold, is by being clothed with the Father's OWN robe of righteousness that He places on us.
But we have to come back first!
Please read carefully the following passage from the book of Psalms. This speaks of the grace of God that is always AVAILABLE to each person during his or her lifetime upon earth. In relation to the fall, this is the good news that we have all been waiting for.
"The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy. He will not always accuse: neither will he keep his anger for ever. He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us. Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him. For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust. As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth. For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more. But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children's children; To such as keep his covenant, and to those that remember his commandments to do them. The Lord hath prepared his throne in the heavens; and his kingdom ruleth over all. Bless the Lord, ye his angels, that excel in strength, that do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word. Bless ye the Lord, all ye his hosts" (Psa 103:8-22).
Only Jesus Saves
In spite of all the religions and belief systems out there, it is of utmost importance to point out the fact, that our return to our heavenly Father can only and will only be accomplished in a manner that does not—to any degree—lower the bar of God's perfection and holiness. Like a criminal who commits a heinous crime that demands justice, it is no different in the heavenly realm. God simply cannot go about forgiving his rebellious creatures, and accepting them back again without some standard and basis of righteousness. And in our particular situation, there was only one way that could possibly happen.
A substitute was necessary to die in our stead. A blood sacrifice was the requirement. Something had to give up its life in substitution for the sinner. That is, so the sinner himself could have his past sins canceled, and then be given a new life and a new beginning.
When Jesus died on the cross, He took our place and paid the price for all our sin and rebellion. He died in our stead. As the pattern Son, He then provided the only acceptable and substitutional way that any sinner could possibly ever be in right standing with God the Father. Because His sacrifice was perfect—God now sees and accepts the sinner on the sole BASIS of Christ's FINISHED work. In one fell swoop, all transgressions were wiped out and our slate is now clean. We are saved strictly by faith. We are then given a new life by the Holy Spirit, i.e. God's very own life is implanted into our being.
"He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him" (John 3:36).
"And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come" (1 Th 1:10).
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16).
There is simply no other possible way.
The discussion in this chapter will now be divided into the two parts. In Part I, we will discuss the fundamental issues related to this whole area of God saving certain individuals. In Part II, we will become more personal and discuss the human responsibility aspect of what each person THEMSELVES (those reading Angelfall) must take in order to make their salvation a sure thing. In other words,
These are the questions we will now address.
Who Then Will God Save?
In regards to salvation and the fear of uncertainty that is the burden of all mankind, this is the same precise question that the disciples asked Jesus one day.
"And they that heard it said, Who then can be saved? And he said, The things which are impossible with men are possible with God" (Luke 18:26,27).
Over the centuries, preachers have always put great emphasis on the concept that man has a free will, and that each person THEMSELVES are responsible to accept Christ and God's plan of salvation. There are indeed countless verses in the Bible that speak of human responsibility and the necessity of men choosing to obey God.
Yet human responsibility and human will is only a fraction of the whole picture. If we are to believe the above verse, what it is telling us is that salvation is IMPOSSIBLE with men. It is only possible with God, and as it states in Psalms "Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power" (110:3). It is the POWER and ARRANGEMENT of God that enables any person to receive salvation, or even get them to the point where they have the faith so they can.
So when it comes to salvation, God is the one who must take the INITIATIVE. In other words, He gets all the credit. Salvation can NEVER be man's work. It can ONLY be God's work. This fact is our foundation.
Before we can continue a more practical discussion related to all of this, it will be important now to take a brief detour and discuss a deep theological subject that is of critical importance. It is exceedingly important to understand the facts related to this big issue before we can come to any conclusion relative to man's eternal salvation.
The following subject will be implicated PROFOUNDLY, because of the discovered facts of Angelfall.
Armenianism vs. Calvinism
There exists in the Christian world a subject of great controversy and debate. This debate has raged for centuries, and it will continue to rage. The Christian world has been divided into two warring camps or schools of thought relative to the whole issue of salvation and God saving mankind. This great debate is called Armenianism vs. Calvinism. Each side has a stack of Bible verses that seemingly support its position strongly. The following two articles on Wikipedia explain this major subject.
Here now in a nutshell is a brief summary of what this is all about.
The Armenian Teaching
The Armenian teaching was promoted and named after Jacobus Arminius (1560-1609). From this teaching the Methodist church evolved under the leadership of another very famous individual who was a man by the name of John Wesley.
The Armenian doctrine believes that salvation is solely man's responsibility. God has no personal favorites, i.e. He treats everybody the same and is no respecter of persons (see Act 10:34). Whether a person goes to heaven or hell is something that man himself must determine. Arminianism holds to the following tenets.
Some Armenians follow their path of logic deeper into what is called Pelagianism. This is a theological theory (and heresy) named after Palagius, a fourth century British monk, who taught that the original sin did not taint human nature, and that mortal free will is still capable within itself, of choosing good or evil without divine aid. Adam's sin only "set a bad example," but his actions did not affect men otherwise. Therefore humanity has full control, and full responsibility for its own salvation. Pelagius also taught that humanity does not require God's grace for salvation, and that Jesus death on the cross was not a necessary requirement in order for men to be saved or redeemed. See, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pelagianism
Even today certain pentecostal holiness groups follow the Armenian persuasion. Through a secondary experience called "sanctification," a Christian can essentially become sinless and any Adamic nature is obliterated. He/she must therefore remain in that sinless state in order to be saved and ultimately make it to heaven. Even the smallest of sins can cause a person to "lose" their salvation thereafter. Also the Seventh Day Adventist church is strongly Armenian and believe in works based salvation (such as its heretical doctrine of "the investigative judment").
The Calvinistic Teaching
The Calvinist teaching was promoted and named after John Calvin (1509-1564). From this teaching the Presbyterian church evolved. Most all Baptists today are Calvinists to some degree.
The Calvinism doctrine believes the exact opposite of Armenianism in every respect. Instead, Calvinism teaches that ultimate salvation is solely God's responsibility. Sometime in eternity past, God selected certain individuals to be saved, and ONLY those specific individuals will be allowed to go to heaven. The only reason any person ever "chooses" to get saved, is because God first selected them individually and their "acceptance" of Christ is only the RESULT of God arranging certain circumstances in their lives. He then brings pressure to bear on that individual by the Holy Spirit, and in that process He then gives that person the gift of faith to believe the Gospel. Only after that does the predestined individual choose to obey and follow Christ. Therefore, salvation is conditioned on God choosing the man rather than the man choosing God. Christ's death and atonement on the cross was therefore limited only to those who would become the chosen recipients of God's grace. There are five points to Calvinism that goes by the acronym TULIP.
Of critical importance, since Armenianism believes that salvation is solely man's responsibility, then arriving in heaven will only take place if one "keeps" or retains their salvation by faith and good works. Calvinism teaches the opposite. Since salvation is God choosing me rather than me choosing Him, then good works can only be the RESULT of my salvation. This guarantees that a true Christian can NEVER be lost ultimately. Even if the saint falls into sin, God is still married to the backslider (Jer 3:14), and He will somehow bring the individual full circle if they have been genuinely saved in the first place. A true believer will never lose his faith 100% and will always be repulsed by his sins even if he does commit them.
Armenians love to point their fingers at certain individuals who at one time came faithfully to church carrying their Bibles, they professed to be Christians and love the Lord, but later fell into gross sin and are now "living like the devil." Whereas, the Calvinist says that these particular individuals were only pretenders and never had GENUINE saving faith in the first place, otherwise they would have continued (see the parable of the wheat and tares in Matthew 13:24-33, and also 1 John 2:19).
The Conclusion on Predestination
When one wades through the many Bible verses that both sides of the debate attempt to use to support their position, and weigh all the arguments and rebuttals both pro and con, it becomes evident than even though there is some truth on both sides of the ledger, only one position can ultimately be right. It is important to point out that probably 90% of individuals who really wade into the subject and study it in depth from the Bible—those individuals who are of keen theological mind—invariably end up on the side of Calvinism. Most people who are Armenian tend to be "literalists" in interpreting the Bible, and many come from various holiness factions of Protestantism and Pentecostalism. Generally speaking, they are not deep theological thinkers, rather "surface interpreters" of the text. They also tend to be very legalistic in both dress and lifestyle, and live in constant fear that they may not be good enough (or sanctified enough) to make it to heaven.
Angelfall and the theomatics evidence pretty much settles this issue. At its foundation and core, the premise of Calvinism is 100% correct and the Armenian premise is 100% wrong.
That does not in any way destroy the fact that men are responsible and God still holds them accountable for their lack of faith and sinful actions. God will never save anybody who resists His grace and continues to live in blatant iniquity. Yet the fall from heaven explains the condition of men's hearts and EXPLAINS WHY they do not want to follow and remain on the road to righteousness and holiness. Only God's initiative and supernatural power can turn things around.
Because of the revelation of Angelfall, we must understand that the worst sins we commit in this lifetime, is peanuts compared to the knowing rebellion that took place in heaven. That is why all Christians believe that there is no sin (whether murder, or witchcraft, or prostitution) bad enough to ever keep any person from ultimately being saved. God is willing to forgive anyone on this earth, at any time, for anything.
So when it comes down to this whole issue of God saving mankind and redeeming those who have fallen, all of it reminds me of a well known story.
Starfish on the Beach
The anecdote is told of a great storm that occurred at sea. It washed up literally thousands of starfish onto the sandy beach that stretched for miles. A young boy, walking along the seashore would pick up starfish after starfish, tossing them back into the surf (starfish can only live so many hours out of water). A wise old man, also walking along the beach observed the actions of the young boy. "Sonny," he said pointing down the shoreline, "Look at how many there are. You cannot even begin to save all of them. How do you expect to make a difference?" The young boy, without hesitation reached down and picked up another starfish, tossing it back into the waves. "It sure made a difference in that one," he replied.
When the billions upon billions of angels rebelled in heaven and the numerous stars were cast down to earth, they are also described in the Bible as "numerous as the sand upon the shore of the sea." The bare fact of the matter is that God at that point in time, was under no obligation to save anybody. All of them had crossed over the line. He could have sent the whole shebang "to hell in a hand basket," and certainly had the right to do so.
So it must be understood, again, as a fundamental principle—God is under no obligation to save anybody. And just like the young boy, He alone possesses the power to pick up and throw back into the water of life any number that He so pleases. And whomever He pleases. That is why Christians refer to Jesus as their Savior. He alone can save us.
A Most Important Fact
It is important to realize one very important fact—due to the rebellion and fall from heaven. This concerns man's spiritual state and frame of mind which has been fundamentally bent in one direction.
The difficulty in presenting the gospel to any individual—it is always an attempt to persuade a sinner to do something which he has no desire to do—he is by natural instinct repelled by it. The inherent nature of the fallen angel is to rebel against the gospel, rather than respond to it.
Only by a regenerating act of the Holy Spirit does that sinner have a chance at salvation, for he must be IMPARTED A GENUINE CHANGE OF NATURE which causes him to see his separation from God due to his sin, then to grasp the work of that Christ propitiated for him, so that gladly, he repents and believes in Christ. This is something that man is incapable of in his own strength (see discussion above on Calvinism). It requires a miracle of faith, and faith is a gift that God must give to that person first.
Chosen and Predestined
Salvation and redemption occurs only because of the love of God, and God choosing me instead of me choosing him (we already rejected and divorced ourselves from our Creator up in heaven). Jesus told His disciples, "Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you" (John 15:16).
Here in Romans chapter eight, it explains the process by which God saves lost sinners. This passage clearly establishes the steps of Calvinism relative to predestination—showing that God FIRST selected certain individuals to be saved BEFORE He actually called them and redeemed them (the word "redemption" means "to buy back"). Here it talks about those "whom He did foreknow."
"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He did predestinate, them He also called: and whom He called, them He also justified: and whom He justified, them He also glorified. What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's chosen ones? It is God that justifieth" (Rom 8:28-33).
The Greek word "foreknow" PROGINOSKO (ðñïãéíùóêù) means much more than simply knowing beforehand something is going to happen. Its actual and full meaning is "to pre-select and pre-arrange—to pre-determine beforehand the destiny of something." And the above passage verse clearly teaches that those whom God pre-determined, He also predestined. And then later he called them, saved them, and glorified them.
And this next verse really nails the case for predestination. Words could not be plainer. Here it states that all those—"as many as had been pre-appointed to receive eternal life," ended up believing.
"And when the Gentiles (nations) heard this, they rejoiced and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed" (Acts 13:48).
And in second Timothy it clearly establishes the fact that God's chosen ones were actually give grace BEFORE the world began.
"Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began" (2 Tim 1:9).
And in the book of Revelation, the names of those who are saved were actually written in the Lamb's book of life BEFORE the foundation of the world (see Rev 13:8, 17:8).
Here is yet another major passage, that talks about God's choosing certain individuals to be saved before the foundation of the world.
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: That in the dispensation of the fullness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him" (Eph 1:3-10).
There are many verses that speak of election or God's elect. To elect something means to choose or select it before hand (there are too many verses to show here).
"Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace" (Rom 11:5).
"For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence" (1 Cor 1:26-29).
Romans Chapter nine is unequivocally the predestination chapter in the Bible. It presents some profound theological arguments that are inescapable. This passage makes it clear that there are some people that God loves, and others whom He hates. In this passage it talks about two twin brothers who were born to Isaac in the Old Testament—Esau and Jabob. The Bible says that God loved one of them, but hated the other one, even before they were born and even before they had done nothing good or bad in this world (see Rom 9:8-16). Here is a small portion of that lengthy passage. Theomatics clearly shows that the "vessels of wrath prepared for destruction" are the fallen angels.
"Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honor, and another unto dishonor? What if God, willing to show his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction: And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had BEFOREHAND prepared unto glory, Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?" (Rom 9:21-24).
All of the above are just a few of the verses that speak concerning the subject of predestination and God choosing certain ones.
Because of God's Love
Now let us move over to the other side of the coin, which discusses the human side of the equation. Notice these precious verses, all of which point to the fall from heaven. This verse clearly shows that man DOES NOT POSSESS WITHIN HIMSELF either the power or ability to come to Christ by himself. The words "when we were yet without strength" has all the theomatics embedded of the fallen angels.
"For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life" (Rom 5:6-10).
There are so many passages that could be examined here. God has indeed provided a way for each and every person to be saved. And the way is to be found through the death of God's Only Begotten Son. The following simply has to be one of the greatest single passages of hope in the entire Bible.
"What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's chosen ones? It is God that justifieth. Who is He that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Rom 8:31-39).
Even the angels, principalities, and powers of rebellion are not able to separate one who has truly believed in Christ and been justified.
Even though predestination is true, this subject would not be complete unless we understand some underlying facts. God does not exclude any one person from ever being saved if they will truly come to Him.
Not Willing that Any Should Perish
In order for God to prove His own righteousness (even though He has the right to be selective)—in order judge men justly in the day of judgment, the Bible makes it abundantly clear that God has indeed provided a WIDE OPEN DOOR for every single person living upon planet earth. Anyone who wishes to be saved, and is willing to trust in Christ's finished work as the basis of that salvation—the Bible 100% guarantees them eternal salvation. Even though predestination is true, God excludes no one.
These words from the following brief statement clearly shows the connection between predestination and God's open door of salvation.
"For the last shall be first, and the first last: for many are called, but few are chosen" (Mat 20:16).
Here in the next verse, we find the perfect blend between predestination (all whom the Father chose will come to Christ and be saved), versus the fact that any one who wills to come and does come—they will in no wise be cast out.
"All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out" (John 6:37).
But then Jesus also said these words.
"And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life" (John 5:40).
The word "whosoever" appears 110 times in the New Testament. It is generally a term used to express an open invitation, and used without qualification. It essentially means, "whoever wills (or wants to), let him do such and such… " It is clearly an open invitation. Here are the words of Jesus.
"And whosoever believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?" (John 11:26).
"And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved" (Acts 2:21).
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16).
"And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely" (Rev 22:17).
The following passages clearly show God's intent of inviting all to be saved.
"The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance" (2 Pet 3:9).
And the invitation clearly extends to "all men."
"Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth" (1 Tim 2:4).
"Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life" (Rom 5:18,19).
"For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men" (Titus 2:11).
The parable that Jesus gave of the lost sheep shows the great value that God puts on any person who is saved and brought back home (Mat 18:12-14).
The Gospel Must be Preached
We are commanded in the Bible to preach the gospel to every creature. As missionaries, the Great Commission is our responsibility.
"And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned" (Mark 16:15,16).
"Nevertheless, if thou warn the wicked of his way to turn from it; if he do not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul" (Ezek 33:9).
All will come to Christ who have been chosen. God turns away nobody who is honest and sincere. Salvation is offered and open to every person, irregardless. Yet only those who were predestined and chosen will ultimately believe. The rest either don't care, or like the seed Jesus talked about, they spring up gladly but then wither away (Luk 8:4-15).
Most people will live their entire lives, going down the easy and thoughtless highway of life, not even caring what happens to them ultimately. The following words of Jesus are both fair warning, and also provide comfort in knowing that there does indeed exist a way that leads to life. And some people actually will find it!
"Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it" (Mat 7:13,14).
Open to All, Refused by Most
The following story that Jesus gave proves conclusively that God's invitation is open to every person. Yet there are a thousand different reasons why people refuse to repent and be saved.
"Then said he unto him, A certain man made a great supper, and bade many: And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were invited, Come; for all things are now ready. And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come. So that servant came, and showed his lord these things. Then the master of the house being angry said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind. And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room. And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. For I say unto you, That none of those men which were invited shall taste of my supper" (Luke 14:16-24).
In the book of Acts, the story is told how the apostle Paul preached the gospel to Felix the governor. Like many others, he had his own excuse. He was well aware of the implications and "judgment to come," but like the people invited to the marriage feast (and so many today), they "will make the decision" sometime later in life. As the saying goes, "The road to hell is paved with good intentions."
"And after certain days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, which was a Jewess, he sent for Paul, and heard him concerning the faith in Christ. And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee" (Acts 24:24,25).
Paul also in the book of Acts preached the gospel to King Agrippa, who replied,
"Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian" (Acts 26:28).
These next verses further show human responsibility in the matter. Rejection of the Gospel is a deliberate and willful act.
"For the heart of this people is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed; lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them" (Acts 28:27).
"How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him" (Heb 2:3).
"See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven" (Heb 12:25).
The above verses would lead some to the conclusion that God is trying to save everybody. Yet what all of these verses are simply telling us, is God does NOT EXCLUDE anybody who genuinely wants salvation and who genuinely seeks and asks for it. It is open to one and all. It is man himself who rejects the Word and refuses to come to Christ. In that process he seals his own doom.
"And ye have not his word abiding in you: for whom He hath sent, Him ye believe not. Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of Me. And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life. I receive not honour from men. But I know you, that ye have not the love of God in you. I am come in my Father's name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive. How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only?" (John 5:38-44).
Verse after verse make it abundantly clear, that men's own stubbornness and lack of repentance, is what keeps God from saving them. It is man's sinful heart that is the stumbling block. It all boils down to being an issue of the heart. The comforting fact is that God does not prohibit anybody from entering heaven.
"Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened" (Mat 7:7,8).
How Can I Know for Sure?
Now we will discuss the personal aspect to all of this, and hopefully provide some crisp answers. How can I be sure I'm a Christian? How can I be sure that I am in right standing with God and will go to heaven when I die?
Salvation is Not by Works
The first and most important fact to realize, is that no person can ever be saved or earn their way to heaven by being good. Scripture makes that fact abundantly clear.
"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them" (Eph 2:8-10).
What this verse tells us (and Calvinism teaches), good works can only be the RESULT of our salvation—never the cause of it. In other words, we can only do good things because we ARE saved. Not in order TO BE saved. Any church or religious organization that makes works (in any form) a requirement for salvation, is a false and self righteous cult.
Yet it is so important to point out that salvation is not automatic. There is always a human choice factor involved within God's program of predestination. Even though our own good works or efforts CANNOT save us, nevertheless, without reaching out our own hand and grasping the one extended towards us—there is no hope of salvation either.
There are some Christians who believe (particularly those of Armenian persuasion), that good works are necessary in order to be saved, or at the very least required in order to RETAIN one's salvation (although they will never openly admit that works actually save a person). They love to quote passages such as James 2:20, where it says, "Faith without works is dead," or the passage in Revelation where the dead are "judged according to their works" (Rev 20:12,13—the works this is talking about is the original rebellion in heaven, which for the Christian is entirely forgiven and those sins forgotten by God).
All through the gospels, Jesus taught the importance of bearing fruit in one's life. A true and genuine Christian must bear fruit (good works) and will AUTOMATICALLY bear fruit if he is genuinely saved. If there is no fruit, then there probably never was a real genuine saving faith to begin with. Here again, good works can only happen in our lives through God's strength and are simply the RESULT of regeneration.
"Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me" (John 15:4).
We see the perfect compatibility between predestination and the good works in the following verse.
"Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain" (John 15:16).
Not only did Jesus CHOOSE His disciples while walking upon the seashore (they never would have made it to heaven otherwise and certainly cannot take personal credit for it), He also determined that they should bear fruit and that this fruit of good works would last and REMAIN.
Another favorite verse the Armenians love to quote, is this one (which implies that works is what save us).
"Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling" (Phil 2:12).
But they fail to quote the following verse (a continuation of the same thought).
"For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure" (Phil 2:13).
What this passage is telling us, is that the working out (what we do in the realm of human responsibility), is actually God working IN us. Here again, the good works that we perform must be the RESULT of God's own personal effort in perfecting our hearts, not the other way around. We are only the light bulb. He is the electricity.
Let us talk now about what WE must do ourselves in relation to salvation.
Even though God has chosen certain ones to be saved, and He brings about the environment and circumstances in a person's life in order to consummate the calling, it would be recklessly presumptuous to presume that we need do nothing and that God does it all (if that was true, then humans would be nothing but robots and zombies).
The idea that man needs do nothing, but simply make a "concession" of some sort in order to be saved, is a heresy that theologians refer to as "antinomialism." The Greek word for law is NOMOS, and "anti-nomos" or antinomialism, means "against any law."
The Bible does mention at least three things that we are responsible to do in order to receive the gift of salvation. These are definite requirements in order to enter heaven. Yet it is the process of BOTH God's choosing and man's cooperation in tandem.
Make no mistake about it. No one will go to heaven without being baptized. Baptism is a spiritual matter. The act of water baptism by emersion is only a symbolic gesture of the DETERMINATION that should have already taken place in the human heart at the time the new Christian believed the gospel. Baptism is the transfer out of one world and into another world.
It is a very simple matter to be baptized. Anybody can easily do it. Baptism also speaks of human responsibility. It is something that I CAN do myself. No true Christian should ever refuse to be baptized in water (although "baptismal regeneration" as some people teach, is certainly not a requirement for salvation). In fact, water baptism is the very first act any person should seek to consummate after becoming a Christian (see Acts 8:35,36).
Baptism is the symbolic acting out of the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ on our behalf. To be baptized means a public and open IDENTIFICATION with Christ and what Jesus accomplished for us on the cross. When a person is baptized, the going down into the water symbolizes being crucified and dying with Christ. Going down with us into death is the entire world we are coming out of, i.e. the entire cosmos of the angelic rebellion and fall is included in that—the entire world system that we were previously a part of must experience death. It is the transfer out from the kingdom of the world, into another kingdom, i.e. the Kingdom of Christ (Rev 11:15).
"Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son" (Col 1:13).
The world we live in is a world under water. The waters men drowned in are symbolic of thoughts, concepts, religious philosophies, etc. The waters are symbolic of all the good and evil thoughts below the heavens. The world of sinners is dying right now in those waters. When the new Christian is baptized, he must die to all of that.
"But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world" (Gal 6:14).
But the Christian must not only die in the water through baptism, he must also COME OUT of the water. And then the coming up and out of the water speaks of resurrection and newness of life. This passage explains the whole thing perfectly.
"Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Rom 6:3-11).
Baptism is an open and PUBLIC declaration that I am now a Christian. In foreign countries where missionaries preach the gospel, baptism is a dreadfully serious matter. Many risk their very lives by taking that step of identity. Many relatives who are into other religions, will never speak again to a family member who has been baptized a Christian. Some have even become martyrs.
Filled (and/or Baptized) With the Holy Spirit
Following water baptism, is the second requirement. Every born again Christian is automatically filled (or baptized) with the Holy Spirit at the point of conversion. This is something that also may occur following water baptism (see Mat 3:16). It can happen many different ways. Sometimes it is barely noticeable, if at all. At other times there it can be a powerful and supernatural manifestation (along with speaking in tongues, i.e. a full fledged "baptism" or physical manifestation of the Holy Spirit).
When a person is truly saved and born again—God giving the gift of His very own spirit is the most precious thing imaginable. What is that, you may ask? In simple terms, it is God giving us His very own intellect and thoughts. When God gives the Spirit, He in a certain sense is giving us a "brain transplant"—He puts His very mind and thoughts WITHIN us. We are thus able to see and understand spiritual things. The lights will all start coming on—the Holy Spirit is the electricity of God's very own life.
Sanctification is an issue of the heart (1 Pet 3:15). It is the SETTING APART of ones emotions, objectives, desires, and aspirations, to simply do the will of God. It is an ongoing process in the daily life of the Christian. In short, sanctification means that you DESIRE to do the things that please God, and you AUTOMATICALLY abhor sin and doing things that might displease God. Your life has been set apart to do that which is right. Your desires change from the fleshly realm to the spiritual realm.
The Bible makes it unmistakably clear that in order to enter heaven, one must be sanctified. The expression "to sanctify" means "to be holy" or "to be set apart."
"Sanctify yourselves therefore, and be ye holy: for I am the Lord your God. And ye shall keep my statutes, and do them: I am the Lord which sanctify you" (Lev 20:7,8).
"Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy" (1 Pet 1:16).
"Follow peace with all men, and sanctification, without which no man shall see the Lord" Heb 12:14).
"That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour; Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God" (1 Th 4:4,5).
The above verses may seem to be a little intimidating. Yet it is important to point out that no one in this lifetime can ever be holy enough to be acceptable to God (Christ has PERSONALLY taken care of that issue—see 1 John 2:1). Sanctification is not an end result or destination. It is simply a GOAL, or rather, what the true Christian pursues and strives after. To be sanctified means "to be set apart." All Christians are set apart from the rest of the world (otherwise there would be no distinction). The important fact to realize, is that it is not our own holiness that counts or saves us. It is Christ's holiness that has been IMPARTED to us that makes the difference.
"But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption" (1 Cor 1:30).
Sanctification is not necessarily a list of rules and regulations. Yet there are certain things a true Christian should never enjoy or seek after. Any person who has been truly baptized and filled with God's spirit, and sanctified, should NATURALLY seek things that are pure, and dislike the impure and harmful items. A partial example and short list of obvious items would be the following.
Relative to this discussion, the following passage expresses God's own feelings on the matter.
"Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit" (Gal 5:19-25).
The world (or Cosmos), speaks of the entire realm that is opposed to God.
"Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever" (1 John 2:15-17).
And a true Christian will seek after the following.
"Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things" (Phil 4:8).
Verses such as these show what God's goals and aims are for His children.
"Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began" (2 Tim 1:9).
"But after that the kindness and love of God our Savior toward man appeared, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost" (Titus 3:4,5).
Jesus Must be BOTH Savior and Lord
A person cannot have Jesus as their Savior without making Him the Lord of their lives. This would be like telling another person that they are the only true love of your life, but you have no desire to make a commitment to marry them. To make Jesus Lord, means that we establish a RELATIONSHIP with Him, and make Him the king of our lives in an honest attempt to DO what He says.
"Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous (difficult to bear)" (1 John 5:1-3).
Christ did not die instead of you (so you would not have to). He died IN YOUR STEAD so as to make a way so that you yourself could die to sin. Jesus said that anybody who would be His disciple, must take up HIS OWN cross. What is the purpose of a cross? It is something you must die on. The cross symbolizes man's will crossing God's will. We have to die on that cross. We have to be WILLING to do the same thing Jesus did when He sacrificed His life in order to do the will of His Father in heaven.
Therefore, to die with Christ means that are now identified with Him to such a degree, that He now not only saves us, but He joyfully becomes our Lord and Master.
Finally, What Must I do and Know
Now we come to the critical and key question of this entire discussion. What Must I do to be saved?
The answer is simple. From God's perspective, being a Christian is NOT an intellectual issue. It is simply a matter of the heart.
One of the cardinal rules of aviation—everything that a pilot does in the cockpit should always follow a WRITTEN checklist (even if the procedure has been done hundreds of times before).
The following is a checklist of items that each person reading Angelfall should follow in order to make their salvation sure.
If you can answer these questions in the positive, rest assured that you are absolutely saved and on your way to heaven. If God has given you eternal life, and you genuinely love Him in your heart, you can NEVER ever be lost eternally.
"My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall NEVER perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand" (John 10:27-29).
No Set Formula
It is important to point out the fact that there is no set or precise formula for salvation that applies equally to everyone. Every person is different and God deals with each of His children differently. For each individual, He uses unique circumstances in order to draw that person to Himself. Some people get saved and come to Christ because they hear a message on the love of God. My own mother got saved in 1936 when she attended a summer Pentecostal camp meeting at a staunch Armenian church in Oregon. For two nights in a row she heard a fire and brimstone message on hell. Only then did she accept the Lord (out of fear). Yet she loved God with all her heart and spent the best years of her life as a missionary in the jungles of Colombia, South America. Football coaches will tell you that in order to get your players to perform, one kid you put your arm around him and talk gently. Another, you kick him in the hind quarters.
The following passage will tell us how the salvation process unfolds and takes shape. Please read these words carefully.
"Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (2 Pet 1:2-11).
In conclusion, I tell people this one thing. You have to genuinely CARE about your eternal destiny. The hallmark of the fallen angel on its way to hell is two things—they either don't care or "give a rip," or they are perfectly satisfied with their own righteousness and world view. On the other hand, the hallmark of the person who has been predestined to be saved—they genuinely care and are concerned about their eternal destiny, and they are willing to do whatever it takes to get right with God and accept His terms for salvation. They are willing to be humble and admit they need help.
This whole thing boils down to being an issue of what is in a person's heart. It says in Proverbs 23:7 that "As a man thinketh IN HIS HEART, so is he." All of us living physically on this planet are spiritual beings. All we are is thoughts. How a person thinks and what they believe in their hearts, has everything to do with where they will spend eternity. That is really the ONLY thing that makes a difference.
… and Finally
Salvation and being sure you are saved, constitutes just one simple act. Admitting your helplessness before God, in repentance and faith, and then giving Him your heart.
It is suggested that every person reading these words, spend some quality time in prayer, concerning what has been written, talking to God from your own personal heart and in your own expressive way, about these matters. Committing your life to God, and asking Him to help you do the will of God. The Lord will hear that prayer and the Holy Spirit WILL respond.
That is all it takes—honesty. From that point on, everything else will fall into place as you allow the Holy Spirit to work and manifest Himself in your life. You will then grow in His grace.
May these words be a blessing and comfort to all who read them.