Sunday, February 22, 2015

The Final Word

                                                                                             So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.  John 19:30  NKJV

As someone who has spent the majority of his life trying to teach others, one thing I have always encouraged others to do is to ask questions.  Although it might seem as if that is something I would not necessarily need to do, you might be surprised how many people shy away from asking questions for fear of how others might regard them.  The unfortunate result of this, however, is those who feel they have all the answers usually dominate even when they are wrong.  Sadly, even within the body of Christ, this happens all too often as those who speak the loudest often drown out the words of wisdom others might bring to a discussion.

One of the things I have noticed over the years is that there are certain questions which never seem to go away, and in fact, also seem to evolve into more complex ones  resulting in believers having to take sides on issues of theology.  A good example of this would be the seemingly never ending debate concerning eternal security, which has grown to include faith versus works, and even what is known as the partial rapture theory.  Although I am sure those who advocate these positions would disagree, after many years of thought I sincerely believe they are a result of a lack of understanding of the grace of God, which allows Him to offer salvation to mankind as a reward for belief only, and not by anything else on our part.

While I have no illusions of having the last word on this debate, my purpose today is to simply encourage you to ask your own questions, and allow the Holy Spirit to help you to understand the questions we all have as a result of studying the Word.  In my own mind, regarding the subject mentioned above, one of the reasons I choose to believe in eternal security is a result of what Jesus’ final words were as He died for our sins.  Although I am sure most of us would say we know what they were, how many have taken the time to really think about them within the context of what He came to this earth to do?

The phrase, “It is finished!”, is translated from one Greek word, “teleo”, which means; “with reference also to the form, to do just as commanded, and generally involving the notion of time, to perform the last act which completes a process, to accomplish, fulfil”.  I highlighted the portion of the definition which I believe should be our answer to those who might hold a different view.  In His own words, Jesus plainly states that His death on the cross completed the process whereby we can be saved.  There is simply nothing left to be done but for us to believe that His death paid the price for our sins.

In the book of Hebrews, Paul is addressing a group of believers who were considering returning to the old covenant way of worship.  He makes it clear in his letter that the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross was sufficient for our salvation.

Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens; who does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the people’s, for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself. For the law appoints as high priests men who have weakness, but the word of the oath, which came after the law, appoints the Son who has been perfected forever.    Hebrews 7:25-28  NKJV

The phrase “saved to the uttermost” is the Greek word pantelēs, which means “all complete, perfect, completely, perfectly, utterly”.  There are many more passages which state the same thing to us concerning the sacrifice Jesus made for our salvation and the point in all of them is that there is absolutely nothing more necessary for our salvation  than for us to believe. Jesus’ own words to the unbelievers in the Laodicean church is a promise we all can take and use for our comfort in knowing we are saved by His grace.

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.                           Revelation 3:20  NKJV

In regards to the partial rapture theory, where some choose to believe that you can be saved but left behind at the rapture of the Church because you have somehow failed to measure up, I think Paul makes it pretty clear in his teachings that all who have made the decision to put their faith in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ will go to meet Him in the air.  Look closely at Paul’s words in his letter to the church at Thessalonica where he describes the rapture, and those who go.

For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.             1 Thessalonians 4:16-18  NKJV

There are two things here that I would point out to you, and those who choose to believe that not all of us will go.  First of all, Paul says plainly that after the dead in Christ are raptured, we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air”.  Notice Paul did not say “some of us”, or “those who deserve it”, but all who are alive and believers in Jesus Christ will go to meet Him in the air.

Have you made the decision to accept the salvation offered to us by the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross for our sins?  If you have, as Paul said, find comfort in the knowledge that you are saved, and nothing can take that away from you.  When Jesus returns to take us home to be with Him, you will go.

If you have never made that decision to accept Jesus as you personal Savior, as the passage from Revelations says, He stands at the door and knocks.  Open the door of your heart today and ask Him to come in.  He promises to come in, and you can rest in the knowledge He will take you home to be with Him for eternity.

Keep watching.