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Thread: Believe In The One He Has Sent

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    Default Believe In The One He Has Sent

    Believe In The One He Has Sent
    A Bible Study by Jack Kelley

    Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done.Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. (Rev. 20:11-15)

    The Great White Throne Judgment fits descriptions we have about the Day of Atonement, also called Yom Kippur. It was believed that on the first of Tishri (Rosh Hashanna) the books in which all the deeds of God’s people had been recorded were opened in heaven for review. The names of those whose behavior in the previous year had been exemplary in every way were immediately inscribed in the Book of Life. Those whose behavior had been totally without merit were scheduled for death in the coming year.

    Obviously, almost everyone was somewhere in between these two extremes so for the next 10 days, called the days of awe, the people conducted a thorough self examination and went around frantically trying to right the wrongs they had committed during the year, because the forgiveness of God required prior reconciliation between men (Mishneh Torah, Laws of Repentance). On the 10th of Tishri, Yom Kippur, the books were closed and those who had righted the wrongs of the previous year were inscribed in the Book of Life for another year. During the 10 days of awe, a common greeting among friends was, “May your name be written in the Book.”

    The difference in Rev. 20:11-15 is the absence of the 10 days of awe. The unsaved dead will be resurrected and immediately taken to judgment without any opportunity to make things right. Anything that was not dealt with before the person died will be there to condemn him or her at the Great White Throne. Therefore only those who died in a state of total righteousness will find their names written in the Book at the resurrection of the unsaved.

    Traditional Or Conditional?

    There’s a lot of talk these days about degrees of good and evil, and some of it has even evolved into a re-thinking of our traditional view of the eternal state of unbelievers. The traditional view is that anyone who fails to personally accept the pardon that God purchased for us with the blood of His son will spend eternity in a state of agonizing punishment in the Lake of Fire.

    But some have begun to question this view, asking why an unbelieving humanitarian who led an exemplary life in service to others but failed to acknowledge the Lord as his Savior should receive the same punishment as someone like Hitler or Stalin who murdered millions of people in cold blood. They say it’s not like God to do this, and back it up by quoting Revelation 20:12 that says in part, “The dead were judged … according to what they had done.”

    To them this verse indicates that a spirit of cause and effect resides in the judgment, and reveals God’s intention to make the punishment fit the crime, so to speak. Therefore, they claim, God who is just and merciful will look upon unbelievers who lived otherwise fruitful lives and hand out a punishment for them that’s shorter and less severe than the mass murderers and torturers receive. But since no matter how good a person is, dying in a state of unbelief must result in eternal death, then at the end of their term of punishment they’ll be destroyed and cease to exist in any form. So, as a reward for their good life on earth, they’ll be put out of their misery after a shorter and more tolerable time of punishment. This is called the “Conditional View” of Hell.

    Let’s Back Up For A Minute

    Is there Biblical support for this? Let’s take another look at history’s first judgment for sin to find out. By studying the first time an important concept is mentioned in Scripture, we’ll often discover clues to understanding that will help us interpret subsequent similar situations. Scholars refer to this as the Principle of First Mention.

    And the LORD God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.” (Genesis 2:16-17)

    Adam was created in the image of God, immortal, with talent and ability you and I can only imagine. The same was true of Eve. They were both full of goodness and purity, and they walked and talked with God. They only had one rule and they only disobeyed it once.

    But when they did, in spite of the fact that the good in them far outweighed the bad, and though they had only committed one sin, they died and the creation was cursed, as was all their progeny. We all lament the consequences brought upon us by this one act of disobedience. As Paul wrote, “The result of one trespass was condemnation for all mankind.” (Romans 5:18)

    Yet they were relatively good, maybe even better than most of us, for the Bible never mentions another sin in their lives. Did their punishment fit their crime? Did God weigh the good of their lives against the bad? Or did He do exactly what He told them He would?

    For what it’s worth, I don’t see any shades of gray in God’s dealings Adam and Eve then or with mankind since. I think that applying a scale of relative goodness to the life of each person is a man made idea. For example, take the reverse situation. How are believers granted entry into the Kingdom? Is there any scale of relative merit applied there, or are we all 100% in forever? Some say that the punishment of unbelievers is too extreme, but how many believers deserve the reward we’re getting? Isn’t that kind of extreme, too? If our reward is based only on belief, why wouldn’t their punishment be based only on unbelief?

    In Islam, it’s said that at the final judgment Allah will compare the good and bad in each person’s life and then decide whether or not to allow him or her into paradise. (The only guaranteed ticket in is to die in battle as a martyr.) As Christians, we react poorly to that idea. We say it’s unfair, because no one could ever know in advance whether they’re saved or not. And yet some are OK with having that same uncertainty be part of an unbeliever’s lot in terms of judgment.

    Couldn’t that uncertainty have the effect of causing someone who doesn’t really believe in Hell anyway to be more confident in putting their salvation decision off, thinking that since they’ve lived a good life they’ll be able to work something out with God after they’ve died? Didn’t we all think we were living relatively good lives until we got saved?

    I’m going to suggest that maybe man’s whole understanding of the phrase “judged according to their works” is flawed. Adam and Eve had one rule, and when they disobeyed it nothing else mattered. There was no negotiation, no weighing in the balances. They got what the Lord had warned them they’d get. I think it’s the same with us. I think we have one rule too, and if we disobey it we’ll get just what the Lord warned us we’d get.

    What Is The Work That God Requires?

    After Jesus had fed the 5000 the crowds that followed Him understandably grew exponentially. He knew they just wanted Him to give them more bread. He warned them not to be so preoccupied with working for food that spoils but to work for food that endures to eternal life.

    Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?” Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” (John 6:28-29)

    There you have it, mankind’s one rule. Believe in the One He has sent. It’s our equivalent to “Don’t eat from that tree.” It’s the only thing that God requires. If we disobey, nothing else matters. Those who deny Jesus go to eternal punishment according to Matt. 25:46 while the righteous go to eternal life. Isaiah 66:24, Daniel 12:2 & Mark 9:48 all agree.

    Now don’t misunderstand me, I know we’re called to live lives that reflect our beliefs and are even promised additional rewards for doing so, and I’d be the last one to advise someone to profess their faith and then forget about living it out. But the simple fact is that faith is the only work that God requires and none of the other things we can do count for anything until we’ve taken that one required step. We’re saved because of what we believe, not because of how we behave. Nowhere in all of Scripture is there even a hint that an unbeliever’s destiny can be altered in the slightest by the “goodness” of his or her life.

    In fact, it would appear from scripture that the Lord equates unbelief with disobedience. Paul wrote that God believes His existence is simply too obvious to be missed (Romans 1:18-20). And in 2 Thes. 2:10 he said that unbelievers will perish because they refused to love the truth and be saved. To refuse something is to decline it. It’s a specific action. By doing so, unbelievers have disobeyed the one rule He gave us, and in response He’ll do exactly what He said.

    Let’s Get One Thing Straight

    It bruises our egos to learn this, but none of our good works help God at all, just as none of our sins hurt Him. Remember Elihu’s words to Job about the impact our life has on God.

    If you sin, how does that affect him? If your sins are many, what does that do to him? If you are righteous, what do you give to him,or what does he receive from your hand? Your wickedness affects only a man like yourself, and your righteousness only the sons of men (Job 35:6-8).

    Isaiah explained this even more clearly. About the religious works of unbelievers, He wrote,

    “But whoever sacrifices a bull is like one who kills a man, and whoever offers a lamb, like one who breaks a dog’s neck; whoever makes a grain offering is like one who presents pig’s blood and whoever burns memorial incense, like one who worships an idol.

    They have chosen their own ways,and their souls delight in their abominations;so I also will choose harsh treatment for them and will bring upon them what they dread. For when I called, no one answered,when I spoke, no one listened. They did evil in my sight and chose what displeases me”
    (Isaiah 66:3-4)

    God only considers the works of believers good to the extent that they’re done out of gratitude, in an effort to please Him, because of what He’s done for us. (1 Cor. 4:5) It’s like when your 3 year old proudly hands you a barely recognizable drawing. It has no intrinsic value to you. But you know your child was trying hard to please you, and it’s the thought that counts. The same is true of our good works.

    But unbelievers aren’t trying to please God with their good works, they deny that He even exists. They’re only trying to make themselves feel better. If their good works don’t help God and are motivated by selfishness, where is the justification for considering them when determining their punishment for rejecting Him? This idea makes no more sense than the one allowing rich entertainers and politicians to purchase “carbon credits” to offset their huge “carbon footprints”. The checks they write don’t nullify the effects of their extravagant lifestyle, they’re just trying to make themselves feel better.

    If all this is true then you may wonder why God goes to all the trouble to record every one of our actions? If only one of them matters, why bother with the others? The Bible doesn’t answer that question but since God is just, I think that by having everything recorded He can demonstrate that his records are complete and accurate, and that he didn’t overlook a single detail of any person’s life. This will prove that a person’s omission from the book of life wasn’t due to an accident or oversight, but the result of that person’s refusal to do the one thing He requires of us.

    And so I think it’s just possible that when unbelievers are judged “according to their works”, only the work that God requires will be at issue. Have they done the one thing that He asked them to do, and that’s to believe in the One He has sent? Remember, in the absence of that one thing, there is nothing that man can do that’s considered good according to God’s standards. Rev. 20:15 agrees. If anyone’s name was not found written in the Book of Life was thrown into the lake of fire. You can only be written in the Book of Life by being 100% righteous. And you can only become that way by having the Lord’s righteousness imputed to you by faith (Romans 3:10 & 4:5). In other words, to believe in the One He has sent. Selah 06-16-12 http://gracethrufaith.com/ikvot-hama...e-he-has-sent/
    "...earnestly contend for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints." Jude 1:3b


    Jesus + something = nothing

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    Love Jack Kelley!

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    Yep, another one hit out of the park.
    "...earnestly contend for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints." Jude 1:3b


    Jesus + something = nothing

    Jesus + nothing = Everything

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    Excellent article. I was only just thinking on that verse a couple of days ago re ‘Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”’ (John 6:29).

    I’ve long wondered if there were degrees of punishment as per the verse in Revelation 20:12: “The dead were judged … according to what they had done.” Kelley presents a great argument to show otherwise.

    I think my only query is that if believers, having been saved by their belief alone, are then rewarded according to our works in Christ for eternity, then unbelievers would only be punished to the extent of their works.

    But as Kelley explains, which I think is a key point for consideration, how can an unbeliever actually perform a ‘good work’ for God when they are not in the faith and impossible to do anything that would be pleasing to the Lord? Even if those works are not selfishly motivated, they are works outside of Christ, the only way in which we are justified.

    An article that certainly gives me some food for thought!

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    Quote Originally Posted by $teve View Post
    Excellent article. I was only just thinking on that verse a couple of days ago re ‘Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”’ (John 6:29).

    I’ve long wondered if there were degrees of punishment as per the verse in Revelation 20:12: “The dead were judged … according to what they had done.” Kelley presents a great argument to show otherwise.

    I think my only query is that if believers, having been saved by their belief alone, are then rewarded according to our works in Christ for eternity, then unbelievers would only be punished to the extent of their works.

    But as Kelley explains, which I think is a key point for consideration, how can an unbeliever actually perform a ‘good work’ for God when they are not in the faith and impossible to do anything that would be pleasing to the Lord? Even if those works are not selfishly motivated, they are works outside of Christ, the only way in which we are justified.

    An article that certainly gives me some food for thought!
    I just read all of John today. The people who think that they can work their way to heaven will hear these words "depart from me ye workers of iniquity I never knew you." Salvation is a free gift paid in full by the finished work of Jesus at the cross when he shed his blood for all our sins. I that those who have not accepted Jesus as their personal Savior will do so today!
    John 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. Love RR Family, Janice

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    The Lord makes salvation so simple for us! It's mapped out so perfectly in His word--yet the world is so confused about it that there are thousands of "religions" out there trying to make right with "nature" or "the creator".

    On judgement day--I can already hear the cries of our Lord not being "fair" (an accusation straight from the pit of Hell) since the homicidal murderer who later accepted Christ & repented/turned from his sins is found justified--while the peace-loving Buddhist who donated her whole salary to charity is confined to Hades.
    John 14:6 Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

    John 11:25 Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die.

    Romans 10:9 If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

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    Quote Originally Posted by iSong6:3 View Post
    In fact, it would appear from scripture that the Lord equates unbelief with disobedience.
    I think the church and the world has little understanding of just how wicked unbelief truly is. The Lord Himself descended from heaven to do what only He could do, all for man. Yet, some spit on what He did.

    Maybe put it in context of a family might help. Say your 5 year old has decided 'you don't exist' to them anymore (and can heartbreakingly live it out right in front of you). All their 'bad deed's', deeds that are destructive to their lives, you can't warn, correct, comfort through, forgive, admonish, etc. But if the child refuses to believe what you say, refuses to even consider you said something at all, what can you do for the child? It is the worst wickedness one can do. It calls God a liar, it refuses to give God glory for all the good that He alone has given us, it refuses to thank Him for all His mercy and lovingkindness He shows men. Its telling the giver of life that He never gave them life, its their own to do what they want with it, even while not acknowledging God gave it. Men are deceived and foolish in how we treat God, and praise God for His patience and grace towards me.
    Don't panic! Just be Rapture Ready.

    Joel 3:2

    I will gather all nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat. There I will put them on trial for what they did to my inheritance, my people Israel, because they scattered my people among the nations and divided up my land.

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    I was thinking while reading the article, that Adam, being immortal, had sinned and was appointed to death for one sin, yet Satan and the angels, who are also immortal and sinned, received no such wage. But the wage (death) for man was actually a merciful judgment, because it gave man during the span of his life the chance to believe in His Son and be reinstated to fellowship and eternal life with God, showing the manifest grace of God to the angels and eventually all men. All of it foreseen by God, nothing wasted, all things together used for the purpose of manifesting the goodness and justice of God, the only One who has the authority to save and condemn. Luke 12:5
    Rom. 8:19 For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God.
    Rom. 8:28 God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

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    Thanks for posting this.

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    Quote Originally Posted by iSong6:3 View Post
    Yep, another one hit out of the park.
    Ya, It'll leave a mark.



    Pre-Flood; Pre-Furnace; Pre-Fierce Anger (orgēn)

    How is that 'Times Of The Gentiles' working out for you, World?

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    Thank-you for posting this. I have wondered about the "according to their works" phrase before as well. He explains it in a way that is easy to understand (for me).The ONE command is to believe. That is their works...

    Also, this part,
    "Couldn’t that uncertainty have the effect of causing someone who doesn’t really believe in Hell anyway to be more confident in putting their salvation decision off, thinking that since they’ve lived a good life they’ll be able to work something out with God after they’ve died? Didn’t we all think we were living relatively good lives until we got saved?" (from article)

    It really is food for thought... I have many un-saved loved ones who fervently believe that because they are "good people", God would never send them to hell. They think God is much too kind to do that. They even think I am being a snobby elitist to tell them that the ONLY way to be saved is by faith and not by how you treat others or the Earth, or babies, or puppies, or etc. etc. on ad infinitum....


    I pray that I can get them to read this article... Maybe you could pray too?
    Please pray for my unsaved loved-ones. Time is short.

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    We had a great sermon Sunday that highlited the Bride's work during the jewish mariage process of Bible times.

    After betrothal, the groom supplied the bride with material to make her dress.
    That was her only work. To prepare her wedding gown. (and wait)

    The groom prepared the place, the groom's father decided the day,
    and the bride spent her time preparing for the wedding.

    She would be snatched away, would be presented, would marry, no matter what.
    But her gown would reflect how she spent her time while waiting. It would reflect her love for her husband,
    it would honor Him.

    Its tough for a guy to imagine, but supposed your DBW had showed up in burlap.
    You would still love her, you'd still marry her, but you would be saddened that you could not honor - or show her off.

    Our preparation is to make His joy all the more full when He comes.
    And does it not fill you to think of the smile He will have on His face when He comes to get you?
    It's ALL about Jesus. The Son of God - Emanuel - The Mighty God - Our Salvation.

    John 1:1-3 NKJV --- Luke 22:42 NKJV --Romans 3:23 NKJV, Rom 5:8 NKJV, Rom 8:28 NKJV, Rom 8:31 NKJV, Rom8:38-39 NKJV, ---Titus 1:2 NKJV - Heb 6:18 NKJV --- John 14:6 NKJV --- 1 John 5:13 NKJV --- Acts 16:29-31 NKJV ... John 6:28-29 NKJV... 1John 2:22 NKJV... Heb 10:11-13 NKJV

    “Oh Look,... an Atheist........I Don't believe it....”

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    Quote Originally Posted by grace-saved View Post
    I pray that I can get them to read this article... Maybe you could pray too?
    Praying for the loved ones you have on your heart, may they be convicted of God's truth and come to belief in the One He has sent...
    "...earnestly contend for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints." Jude 1:3b


    Jesus + something = nothing

    Jesus + nothing = Everything

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