God's Righteous Judgment and Salvation
We are made in God's image and designed to exist forever. This reality brings purpose in loving our neighbors and consequences that require faith.
The greatest questions throughout history for the human race must surely be…
Is there a God? Is there life after death? Will we ultimately be judged by a Creator?
To get straight to the point, all of mankind will ultimately be judged by their "faith" in God and their conscious effort to live by the laws espoused in the Bible. This is the ultimate test in life. Faith changes everything! It is mankind's primary requirement for eternal life.
"And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him."
In Mark 8 we also see the importance of our public profession of our faith:
"For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels." - Mark 8:38
In Romans 1:18-32 the issue of mankind's disregard to God's righteous message and those who knowingly suppress this truth is addressed.
"The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness
and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness,
since what may be known about God is plain to them,
because God has made it plain to them." - Romans 1:18-19
Though there has always been public confusion, the Bible offers defined answers about God's judgment and the requirements for eternal salvation. My favorite Scriptures on the subject and one's that offer a specific criteria are found in the 2nd chapter of Romans. The very first verse sets the tone where it addresses mankind's hypocrisy.
"Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge,
practice the very same things." - Romans 2:1
Chapter 2 begins by teaching us that mankind is to set an example for others to follow. And that it is God's role to judge and not ours. Further on, in the same chapter we are taught about the specific requirements in regards to being righteous in the eyes of God, and that we are all ultimately accepted through the salvation of Jesus Christ... Amen!
But what about the great theologians and God fearing people of the Old Testament? They never had the opportunity to hear the Words of Jesus Christ. Or people from around the world who do not have the fortunate opportunity to hear the Gospel proclaimed in the New Testament? This issue is also addressed by the apostle Paul in the book of Romans.
"For all who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law,
and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law.
13 For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God,
but the doers of the law who will be justified. 14 For when Gentiles,
who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires,
they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law.
15 They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts,
while their conscience also bears witness,
and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them
16 on that day when, according to my gospel,
God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus."
What this means is that God's judgement applies to everyone who respects and obeys His laws. God's judgement is the same whether you have read or heard the Gospel or not. Hearing or reading the Scriptures does not mean that we are living by God's laws either. It is those who live by the law that are justified. Because, if we have faith and love for God, we will surely make a conscious effort to obey His righteous teachings. Verses 12 to 16 explicitly say that everyone who lives by the law will gain salvation through Christ.
God's Laws, Sin and Forgiveness
God's laws include Old Testament teachings like the Ten Commandments, the New Testament ministry of Jesus Christ and the apostles, and the faith and wisdom in the hearts of those led by the Holy Spirit. They all work together as one because of the example that Jesus made to our Creator at the cross at Calvary.
It is our duty to recognize when we are tempted and fall short of God's laws. We must learn to recognize sin. In the Book of James 4:17 it says:
"So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin."
When we become aware of our sin, we should pray for forgiveness.
"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins
and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." - 1 John 1:9
We must also be mature enough to forgive others who sin against us:
“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other,
just as in Christ God forgave you.” - Ephesians 4:32 (NIV)
The truth is, if a sincere God-fearing person who lives by the law, never has the opportunity to physically hear of the Gospel, they are still accepted by grace due to the sacrifice and resurrection that Christ made on the cross at Calvary. For it was Christ who made an example to God that one human being could live a sinless life, endure grave persecution, forgive their persecutors, suffer a physical death and rise again through resurrection. Ultimately, Jesus saves everyone who has faith in God!!!!!
In John 14:6 it says:
"Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life.
No one comes to the Father except through me."
Because we all live in sin, without Jesus there is no salvation or eternal hope for any human being. We are all saved by God's grace, not by our own works and deeds.
Salvation From Christ
On the other hand, faith in Christ will also save many people who did not live by God's laws during their lifetimes prior to their conversion. The perfect example is the criminal who was crucified on the cross next to Jesus. This sinful person accepted Christ as his savior just before he died. Was this person an outrageous sinner who did not follow God's laws? Possibly so, but it doesn't matter as God forgives all sin committed by those who sincerely accept Christ as their savior.
The Scriptures found in Romans Chapter 2 provide specific answers. Are people that lived before Christ or in remote locations around the world like the Amazon jungle excluded? The answer is no, as long as they had sincere faith in one omnipotent God (Creator, Great Spirit, etc...) and were inspired by the Holy Spirit to consciously strive to live by the law.
This is confirmed in Romans 2:14 specifically where it says:
"For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires,
they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law."
In Mark 12:29 Jesus reiterates the importance of worshiping one true God:
All individuals that have honest faith in the one true God will develop a sincere eternal relationship with the Lord. This relationship will compel them (with the help of the Holy Spirit) to make an honest conscious effort to live by God's laws of love, forgiveness and service as the aforementioned verses clearly state.
To reiterate the importance of Christ: Jesus existed in heaven before he ever walked the Earth, was willing to sacrifice his heavenly existence to be born on Earth, suffer incredible persecution, experience a physical death through crucifixion, all the while forgiving those who persecuted Him. Amazingly to His credit, He proved to God that at least one human could live a sinless life. AMEN!!!
This means that Christ made an example to God that no other individual ever will. This is why ALL come to the Lord in the name of Jesus Christ. We are instructed to pray to the Lord in the name of Jesus and ask for forgiveness of our sins in the name of Jesus.
The Bible says that making a public profession of faith by being Baptized is our public way of certifying our faith in Christ. Baptism is the symbolic act of purification by our submersion into water. This submersion into water also symbolizes the cleansing of sin and the rebirth of the human soul in the name of our savior Jesus Christ.
Humans can’t earn salvation as Ephesians 2: 8-9 (NIV) says:
"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God not by works, so that no one can boast."
Since the gift of eternal life is by grace... There is nothing we can do personally to justify salvation from our own works since Jesus already paid the price for our souls.
This amazing act of grace allows Christians to stop worrying about their own salvation so they can instead focus on helping and teaching others. The closer we are to God in heart and mind, His rewards will be amplified through His wisdom that inspires us to do God's work. Living by the laws found in the Bible will not only bring peace and stability to one's life, but it also allows us to bear fruit by helping others understand the true purpose to life, thus inspiring them to bear fruit by spreading the Gospel themselves.
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