The Salvation of All - Part 2
Unbeknownst to most, the principle of sowing and reaping sets the standard by which our heavenly Father through Christ judges the world. Please consider.
Galatians 6:7-10 (ESV)
7 Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. 8 For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. 9 And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. 10 So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.
The principle of sowing and reaping is divine in essence and universal in its scope, applicable to every human being, past, present, and future, verified by the statement, “Whatever one sows,” where “one” is anyone. Not only is this true now, it has been true since our beginning.
Now, here’s the kicker. The Lord’s death on the cross wiped out all sins, once and for all time, however, it did not remove us from suffering the consequences of our actions. After all, the principle of sowing and reaping is divine, an immutable law in itself, for every “seed” can only bring forth “according to its kind” (Gen. 1:11-12; NKJV), and the “seed” of the Word of God is no exception (Luke 8:11; KJV). You cannot plant an apple seed and expect oranges, nor can you sow a seed of hatred and expect to reap love.
Though Christ took away the sin of the world, He did not undo the divine principle of sowing and reaping through His death. If anything, He enhanced this principle by showing that God’s love for us is unconditional, and this, my friend, is where GRACE enters! God loves us so much that He must allow us to suffer the consequences of our actions in order to turn us from them! This is why the story of our creation begins with a “garden” with two trees in its midst. The “garden of Eden” typifies this universal principle where the “tree of knowledge of good and evil” correlates with sowing to our own flesh (the law of God) and the “tree of life” correlates with sowing to the Spirit (the spiritual nature of the law of God; Gen. 2:9; KJV). And those who “live” are those who are awakened to this divine principle in all of its reality.
Folks, John said, “God is love” (1st John 4:8, 16), not does love (although He does), but “is love,” the very substance of it! And unlike our human love, God’s love is truly unconditional. “Unconditional” means, “Not subject to any conditions” (Google). So if this is true, then why have we placed conditions on it? Did Paul do this? As our passages from 2nd Corinthians 5 show, he did not! (See Part 1 of this series) If we place even one condition on love, then it is no longer unconditional!
Beloved, there can be no grace without unconditional love, for grace is the absence of conditions, and the greatest proof of this was seen in the death of God’s son! For this reason Paul wrote, “But God DEMONSTRATES HIS OWN LOVE toward us, in that WHILE WE WERE STILL SINNERS, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8; NKJV). So great was the Lord’s love for us that He said in regard to those who crucified Him, “Father, FORGIVE THEM, for they do not know what they do” (Luke 23:34; NKJV). And if Jesus asked the Father to forgive them, do you think that He wouldn’t? If Christ could forgive those who betrayed, humiliated, ridiculed, and murdered Him, does that not shout “unconditional”? In this we see that grace is to abide in a state of forgiveness, so we can rest in the fact that all that our Maker does, is out of this state. No wonder Peter said that Christ “was foreordained BEFORE the foundation of the world, but was MANIFEST in these last times for you” (1st Peter 1:20; NKJV).
Now, if you will indulge me, let me address the concept of “salvation,” which I believe has been greatly misconstrued by Christendom and the religious arrogance which is so characteristic of our time.
I will not win any popularity contest by saying this, but “salvation” is not about “going to heaven” or “hell” after we die! Think about it! If this is true, then God’s love IS CONDITIONAL, not unconditional, and the death and resurrection of Christ ACCOMPLISHED NOTHING! Friend, to believe in “eternal torment” is to put conditions on His precious sacrifice and charge our Maker with respect of persons (Acts 10:34; KJV). All of us who believe get to go to “heaven” and experience wonderful bliss while the rest? The rest get to experience an eternity in torment so excruciating that words fail to even describe it! Where is the “good news” (gospel) in this? Remember, while we were “still sinners,” Christ died for us, so wouldn’t it make sense that in doing so, He brought atonement when we were in our most wretched condition? And if this is true, then wouldn’t the idea of “salvation” more likely suggest that He wishes to bring us out of this? It would, for as Paul said, “He died for ALL, so that THEY WHO LIVE MIGHT NO LONGER LIVE FOR THEMSELVES, but FOR HIM WHO DIED AND ROSE AGAIN ON THEIR BEHALF” (2nd Cor. 5:15; NASB95). Friend, do we not see in this that those who “live” give themselves for others as Christ did? This, I believe, is what “salvation” actually means! It is attaining a state of “selflessness”!
What is truly wondrous about this is that God, in His omnipotent wisdom, determined to accomplish all of this through us. No wonder Jesus said that we are the “light of the world” (Matt. 5:14; KJV). Having declared this, does it not mean that the Lord is obligated to fulfill it? After all, didn’t Jesus also tell His disciples, “Without me you can do nothing”? (John 15:5; NKJV)
So, if what we are considering is true, what did Jesus mean when He told Nicodemus, “That whoever believes in Him SHOULD NOT PERISH”? (John 3:16; NKJV) What did Jesus mean by “perish”? Again, due to tradition and that ever sneaky element of religious pride, most believe that it means “eternal torment” after we die, however, let’s take a look at the following.
Matthew 16:24-26 (KJV)
24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. 25 For whosoever will save his life (soul) shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life (soul) for my sake shall find it. 26 For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?
See our word “lose”? This is the same Greek word rendered “perish” in John 3:16. Strong’s defines this as, “To destroy fully (reflexive to perish, or lose), literal or figurative.”
Now, take a moment to really think about what Jesus was teaching. Where in this discourse do we get that He was speaking of an afterlife? Answer? He wasn’t! Beloved, if we seek to save our life (soul) now, we lose it now. If we seek to lose our life (soul) for His sake now, we find it now. How do I know this? By what Jesus said right after this.
Matthew 16:27 (KJV)
27 For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works (deeds, actions, function).
Despite what tradition says about these passages, this is not talking about the Lord coming at some future date. How do I know? By what Jesus said to the seven churches in the book of the Revelation.
Revelation 2:26-27 (NKJV)
26 And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations-- 27 'He shall rule them with a rod of iron; they shall be dashed to pieces like the potter's vessels'-- as I also have received from My Father…
Revelation 3:21 (NKJV)
21 To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.
Do you see it? What Jesus told the churches is past tense, already accomplished! Jesus is not coming to sit on His throne in the future, He is sitting there now, ruling as the “life-giving Spirit” which He is (Matt. 5:17-20; 1st Cor. 15:45; KJV). If this isn’t true, then where has He been for the past two thousand years and what has He been doing since then? Or, as I am inclined to believe, has He not been rewarding “every man according to his deeds” since His ascension almost two thousand years ago? If not, then again we charge the Lord with respect of persons (Acts 10:34), for how can the Lord judge us in this present time and not in times past? (See 1st Peter 4:17)
The simple truth about our passages in Matthew 16 is this—the Lord taught self-denial IN THIS LIFE, not in the afterlife. After all, where is selflessness most needed if not in this present, evil world? (Gal. 1:4) So it is that those who “perish” are those who live their lives completely and utterly self-absorbed and suffer accordingly as our divine principle of sowing and reaping attests. And the truth is, all of us have and still experience this in varying degrees in all of our lives.
What does it mean to perish? It means to lose out on all those things which unconditional love brings to us! It means to be bound in our hearts and minds by all the prejudices that our pride in our Self or identity brings. Welcome to the American Dream, where we are cultured to push for success and wealth and prestige, not realizing that our abundance has become our enemy!