Two Paths to Eternity

‘This book will make a traveler of thee, if by its counsel thou wilt ruled be;

It will direct thee to the Holy Land, if thou wilt its directions understand:

Yes, it will make the slothful active be; the blind also delightful things to see.’ John Bunyan

Everyone, should they ponder the great mysteries of this life, will be confronted with the great question such as, ‘How did I get here?’ Why am I here?’ What is life all about?’ and ‘What happens when I die?’ 

And if one begins to get a smattering of the Bible, they start to understand that humankind has reached a wretched state, with respect to their relationship with their Creator:

For we have become like one who is [ceremonially] unclean [like a leper], and all our deeds of righteousness are like filthy rags; we all wither and decay like a leaf, and our wickedness [our sin, our injustice, our wrongdoing], like the wind, takes us away [carrying us far from God’s favor, toward destruction]. Is. 64:6 AMP

For my iniquities have flooded over my head; they are a burden too heavy for me to bear. Ps. 38:4 CSB

We begin to understand that there is an eternal penalty for opposing / rejecting God, and our self-preservation kicks in:

“…what must I do to be saved?” Acts 16:30 NKJV

In reality, it is our innate hunger for communion with God that is kicking in – klaxons blaring: ‘Danger, danger!’ Yet, if you look to satiate that hunger, God will lead you to him, by steering you towards His Son. This ‘steering’ is facilitated by the Holy Spirit, by way of increased understanding of God’s word through reading and by making available to you, a spiritual mentor – be it a preacher, teacher, or another brother or sister in Christ that is further along the road of waking in our Lord’s footsteps:

…a man of Ethiopia…had come to Jerusalem to worship…and sitting in his chariot, he was reading Isaiah the prophet…So Philip ran to him…and said, “Do you understand what you are reading?”

And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” Acts 8:27, 28, 30 & 31. NKJV

Once God brings that guide(s) into your life, then you can begin to learn about the calamity that befalls all who deny Him and about the wondrous grace that Jehovah offers for those who embrace Him instead, (i.e. the two paths to eternity):

“Then his soul draws near to the pit [of destruction, and his life to those who bring death (the destroyers). If there is an angel as a mediator for him…to explain to a man what is right for him [that is, how to be in right standing with God], then the angel is gracious to him, and says, ‘Spare him from going down to the pit [of destruction]; I have found a ransom [a consideration, or reason for redemption, an atonement]!’ Job 33:22 – 24. AMP

And just as it is appointed for people to die once – and after this, judgment – so also Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him. Heb. 9:27, 28. CSB

Yet, in the beginning of a new God-seeker’s journey, as is common with many people, he or she still harbors a fear of dying – convinced that is their lot in life due to their previous misdeeds. Thus, the need for their spiritual guide to illuminate for them the two paths:

“You can enter God’s kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate wide for the many who choose that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.” Mt. 7:13, 14. NLT

Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light on my path. Ps. 119:105 CSB

When the right path becomes apparent to us, and we set foot upon it, the devil goes in overdrive to defeat your intentions – even using your family and friends against you, as well as the government, schools and media. Why? Because your actions convict their sinful and damning-God behavior:

For I have heard the whispering and defaming words of many… “Denounce him! Let us denounce him!” All my familiar and trusted friends, [those who are] watching for my fall, say, “Perhaps he will be persuaded and deceived; then we will overcome him, and take our revenge on him.” Jer. 20:10 AMP

But we pray to God for strength to keep placing one foot in front of the other and a deaf ear to our so-called friends, knowing our heavenly prize awaits: 

“No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back [to the things left behind] is fit for the kingdom of God.” 

Lk. 9:62 AMP

So we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are unseen; for the things which are visible are temporal [just brief and fleeting], but the things which are invisible are everlasting and imperishable. 2 Cor. 4:18 AMP

Forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead, I pursue my goal as the prize promised by God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus. Phil. 3:13, 14. CSB

In spite of this worldly opposition, (from those on the path of a damnable eternity), if you earnestly continue to seek God, the picture of what is waiting for you on your heavenly path begins to crystalize:

“I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all. No one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.” Jn. 10:28, 29. CSB

However, don’t forget that we are weak. It is only by God’s grace that we are called. As we make that walk, the world will blindside us with temptation, and we fall from our path into the devil’s trap. Yet, God always stands ready to liberate us and reset us on our journey:

He brought me up out of a horrible pit [of tumult and of destruction], out of the miry clay, and He set my feet upon a rock, steadying my footsteps and establishing my path. Ps. 40:2 AMP

God will not give on you, if you don’t give up on Him. God cannot lie, and thus keeps all of His promises. And one of those promises states that along with your best efforts to live a godly life, He will make sure your destination is the right one – unlike the rebellious: 

Encourage the exhausted, and make staggering knees firm. Say to those with an anxious and panic-stricken heart, “Be strong, fear not! Indeed, your God will come with a vengeance [for the ungodly]; the retribution of God will come, but He will save you.” Is. 35:3 – 4. AMP

God is good. To be continued…

Goodnight and God bless. 

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How Are We To Find Salvation?

Isn’t that our primary spiritual concern? That is, we want to reach a ‘state of heart / spirit’ that guarantees our best life on Earth, as well as opening the gates for our heavenly arrival.

It’s obvious to those of the Christian faith exactly who does the saving:

“…you shall name Him Jesus (The LORD is Salvation), for He will save His people from their sins.” Mt. 1:21 AMP

“For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost.” Mt. 18:11 NKJV

“I am the Door; anyone who enters through Me will be saved [and will live forever], and will go in and out [freely], and find pasture (spiritual security).” Jn. 10:9 AMP

“This Jesus in the STONE WHICH WAS DESPISED and REJECTED by you, THE BUILDERS, but WHICH HE BECAME THE CHIEF CORNERSTONE. And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among people by which we must be saved [for God has provided the world no other alternative for salvation].” Acts 4:11 – 13. AMP

…having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. Rm. 5:9 NKJV

That pretty much puts that question to rest…

So, how do we get saved? The Bible seems to have two ‘camps of thought’ on this matter. The first we shall consider is what the Holy Spirit gave the apostle James (Jesus’ brother), to speak to God’s children:

What is the benefit, my fellow believer, if anyone claims to have faith but has no [good] works [as evidence]? Can that [kind of] faith save him? [No, a mere claim of faith is not sufficient – genuine faith produces good works.] James 2:14 AMP

…faith, if it does not have good works [to back it up], is by itself dead [inoperative and ineffective]. James 2:17 AMP

James even brings up Abraham as an example to justify his position:

Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered his son on the altar? Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? James 2:21, 22. NKJV

It appears that James is teaching that faith alone cannot confer salvation upon the believer.

The apostle Paul seems to teach the opposite:

In fact, he quotes the Old Testament regarding Abraham, to justify his stance:

Then Abram believed in (affirmed, trusted in, relied on, remained steadfast to) the LORD; and He counted (credited) to him as righteousness (doing right in regard to God and man). Gn. 15:6 AMP

What is salvation? is it not the conferring of Christ’s righteousness upon a child of God – cleansing the recipient of sin with His sacrificial blood? And, according to Paul, this is not something that we can do for ourselves, it is a gift from God:

For it is by grace [God’s remarkable compassion and favor drawing you to Christ] that you have been saved [actually delivered from judgment and given eternal life] through faith. And this [salvation] is not of yourselves [not through your own effort], but it is the [undeserved, gracious] gift of God; not as a result of [your] works [nor your attempts to keep the Law], so that not one will [be able to] boast or take credit in any way [for this salvation]. Eph. 2:8, 9. AMP

Oh, there is something that we must do – it is not a work, but it is rather to make ourselves available to receive our salvation:

‘AND IT SHALL BE THAT EVERYONE WHO CALLS UPON THE NAME OF THE LORD [invoking, adoring, and worshiping the Lord Jesus] SHALL BE SAVED (rescued spiritually).’ Acts 2:21 AMP

For Paul, it’s a matter of having faith:

…if you acknowledge and confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord [recognizing His power, authority, and majesty as God], and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. Rm. 10:9 AMP

For we maintain that a man is justified apart from the works of the Law. Rm. 3:28 NASB

Well, here we have two mighty men of God, both of whom are Holy-Spirit inspired to write God’s truth. Which one is correct? They both are.

Paul rightly teaches that salvation is a gift of God’s grace – given in exchange for one’s faith in Jesus Christ as being the Son of God, that He died for their sins, and that He was resurrected to the right hand of HIs Father in heaven. Being that salvation is a gift, you cannot earn your way into the kingdom of God – even through good works.

Jesus Himself said the same:

“He who has believed [in Me] and has been baptized will be saved [from the penalty of God’s wrath and judgment]…” Mk. 16:16 AMP

All we have to do is hold onto that faith:

“…it is the one who has patiently persevered and endured to the end who will be saved.” Mt. 10:22 AMP

Thus, it’s about having faith and declaring that faith. Looks like Paul was right. But wait, Jesus also said:

“Repent [change your inner self – your old way of thinking, regret past sins, live your life in a way that proves repentance; seek God’s purpose for your life], for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Mt. 4:17 AMP

To ‘repent’ means to turn away from sin with true remorse, and to make our best effort not to repeat that sin. And we repent in faith, believing that God’s way is the best way.

James rightly states that if we turn from our worldly ways and walk in the love of God, our character will change – which cannot help but change what we do, i.e. our ‘works.’

God gave the same message to King David as well:

LORD, who may abide in Your tabernacle? Who may dwell in Your holy hill? He who walks uprightly, and works righteousness… Ps. 15:1, 2. NKJV

Similarly, Jesus said that our works are a product of our godly transformation, and that they become part of our testimony for the glory of God:

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” Mt. 5:16 NKJV

Our ‘transformational character is born out of our best efforts to be more Christ-like. And we can thank God that He helps us do that very thing, by changing us from the inside-out:

…He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ… Phil. 1:6 NKJV

So, we see that James is just as correct in his own way as Paul; because if there is no change in a person’s heart, there will likewise be no change in the way that they conduct themselves. That person then, did not accept Christ in earnest in the first place.

We are saved by faith; and then that faith clears a path before us for taking righteous actions…

Goodnight and God bless.