Reflections on Scripture

by Wayne Bandy

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Reflections for January 19, 2017

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By Faith Alone

"Now to the one who works, pay is not considered as a gift, but as something owed. But to the one who does not work, but believes on Him who declares righteous the ungodly, his faith is credited for righteousness." (Romans 4:4-5)

Man is forever tempted to make up his own religion, which is an important reason, along with many others, one must consistently be into scripture. Otherwise we get pulled back into our own ideas of what should be rather than God's idea of what is.

Scripture states throughout that salvation is by faith, not works. Romans 4:4-5, above, being one example. Salvation is a gift of God that He bestows on us in response to our faith in His work on our behalf through Jesus Christ. But if we attempt to work for our salvation it is no longer a gift but something God owes us. While that may make sense to us, it is not God's plan. He rejects any means we devise to gain our own salvation. If we understand God at all, we recognize that His ways are upside down to our way of thinking. And God's plan for salvation is a prime example. Verse 5 above states it clearly, "But to the one who does not work, but believes on Him who declares righteous the ungodly, his faith is credited for righteousness."

There are some who try to corrupt God's plan of salvation in another way. Focusing on God's love, they reason that a loving God would never send anyone to hell. Therefore they further reason that there must be an opportunity for people to be saved after death. They will not find any support for this reasoning in scripture, however. But just as attempting to work for one's salvation eliminates faith, which God says is the way to salvation, so also faith is eliminated once one has died and has seen the outcome of refusing salvation by faith. For faith is not by sight, as Hebrews 11:1 states: "Now faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen." It is believing, or hoping, though not seeing.

The idea that an opportunity for salvation remains after death would mean that no one would choose hell. It's purpose would not be for eternal punishment but rather for a deterrent. Its existence would be only for people to witness after death so they might choose heaven instead. But it would not be by faith, which is God's plan for salvation.

Jesus' parable of Lazarus and the rich man teaches otherwise, though. Lazarus went to heaven after death due to his faith and the rich man to hell due to his lack of faith. Experiencing the agony of hell, the rich man appealed to Abraham in heaven to allow Lazarus to bring him water. But Abraham told him, "A great chasm has been fixed between us and you, so that those who want to pass over from here to you cannot; neither can those from there cross over to us.'" (Luke 16:26)

Death solidifies one's choice prior to death leaving no opportunity to change that choice.

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