The Few… the Forgiven… the SAVED
Almost everyone has heard the tagline for the US Marines (an awesome group of folks, by the way!): “The Few… the Proud… the MARINES”.
I have one for believing Christians: “The Few… the Forgiven… the SAVED”.
My belief is that Christianity is the one true faith. Because it sounds presumptuous (people will say “What can you mean? What about all of the other faiths out there??”), I am going to state the reason why I have this belief.
His Name is Jesus Christ.
In the last analysis, Jesus Christ was raised from the dead: being raised from the dead is something that no principal representative of any other religion has ever claimed at any time throughout human history.
There is the witness of Holy Scripture (italic emphases mine):
The book of Daniel describes a prophecy given to Daniel by the Archangel Gabriel:
“Seventy ‘sevens’ are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy. “Know and understand this: From the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven ‘sevens,’ and sixty-two ‘sevens.’ It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble. After the sixty-two ‘sevens,’ the Anointed One will be cut off and will have nothing. (Daniel 9:24-26)
Note that Daniel was given this prophecy 500+ years before Christ was born.
In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus spoke of (before it happened) His death and resurrection from the dead:
From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. (Matthew 16:21)
As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus instructed them, “Don’t tell anyone what you have seen, until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.” (Matthew 17:9)
When they came together in Galilee, he said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men. They will kill him, and on the third day he will be raised to life.” And the disciples were filled with grief. (Matthew 17:22-23)
“We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will turn him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life!“ (Matthew 20:18-19)
In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus spoke to others following His resurrection from the dead:
The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.” So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.” (Matthew 28:5-10)
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)
In the book of 1 Corinthians, the Apostle Paul speaks of how Jesus’ resurrection was eye-witnessed:
For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born. (1 Corinthians 15:3-8)
It is not necessary to present an overwhelming amount of Holy Scripture to make the point that Christianity is the one true faith. If there is a person other than Jesus Christ who can come forward and prove his or her resurrection from the dead, let them speak. Trust me, it will not happen!
Perhaps the most compelling witness that we have that Christianity is the one true faith is that of the Twelve Apostles left to carry on the mission of Jesus Christ after His ascension into heaven, 11 of them were martyred without recanting their faith in Jesus Christ.
NO ONE DIES FOR A LIE.
Why do I say ‘the few’? I say ‘the few’ because while all people are God’s creations, not all people are God’s children. Since we understand from the testimony of Holy Scripture presented (in part) above that Jesus is exactly what He claimed that He was… the Only Son of God, proven as such by His resurrection from the dead… perhaps His words regarding who will, and who will not, enter into the Kingdom of heaven will carry the weight they deserve for those who do not believe:
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ (Matthew 7:21-23)
Far too many people sincerely believe that they are ‘good people’, and that by doing good things, they will be seen as righteous by God, and worthy of admittance into the Kingdom of heaven.
There are no people who are good… NONE.
The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good. The Lord looks down from heaven on the sons of men to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God. All have turned aside, they have together become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one. (Psalm 14:1-3)
“Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit.” “The poison of vipers is on their lips.” “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.” “Their feet are swift to shed blood; ruin and misery mark their ways, and the way of peace they do not know.” “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” (Romans 3:13-18; from Psalms 5:9, 140:3, 59:7-8, 36:1)
The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? (Jeremiah 17:9)
The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men 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. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. (Romans 1:18-23)
How dare we… before a just, pure, holy and righteous God… claim to be ‘good’! If we claim to be good, Romans 1:18-23 shows us how God views people who claim to be ‘good’; Isaiah 64:6 shows us how God views our ‘good’ deeds (italic emphasis mine):
All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away. (Isaiah 64:6)
Jesus spoke a solemn warning:
Then Jesus went through the towns and villages, teaching as he made his way to Jerusalem. Someone asked him, “Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?” He said to them, “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Sir, open the door for us.’ “But he will answer, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’ “Then you will say, ‘We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’ “But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers!’ (Luke 13:22-27)
The narrow door referred to is a life lived in a relationship with the KING of kings and the LORD of lords, who is Jesus Christ… such a person is amongst the few.
Is there anyone who actually believes that he or she can live their life exactly as they please, being in effect their own god, rejecting God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ, and then expect to be admitted to the Kingdom of heaven? There must be many people who believe exactly that, because they don’t recognize their own evil, they do not believe in any power greater than themselves that they owe accountability to, they do not pray, they do not worship, they make their own rules, and they have their own morality, all of this amounting to their own perception of reality, within which they are the stars.
This is the ‘broad road’ to destruction, spoken of by Jesus:
“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. (Matthew 7:13-14)
If you are following the ‘broad road’ because you will not, by your choice, enter into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, you do so at your extreme peril.
Why do I say ‘the forgiven’? I say ‘the forgiven’ because God in His infinite mercy, even though we were condemned from birth to the lake of fire for eternity because of the sin within us as a result of the fall from grace of Adam and Eve, made a way by which we could be forgiven of the sin within us, and stand justified before Him, no longer condemned. The way is God’s Only Son.
His Name is Jesus Christ.
So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:16-21)
In the above passage, the Apostle Paul says that anyone who is in Christ (meaning anyone who believes in the One that God has sent) is… literally… a new creation: the old person with the old nature (that loved the things of this world, and all things sinful) is gone, replaced by the new person with the new nature (that loves the things of God, and all things holy). It is the hallmark of Christianity, unique to Christianity alone, that when one believes in God’s Son Jesus Christ, God in the person of the Holy Spirit lives in that person, enabling that person to follow God’s laws and commandments, thus fulfilling not only the requirements of the Old Testament Law by which men were condemned without any possibility of mercy and pardon, but also sealing that person against the Day of God’s judgment, because when God looks at that person, He does not see that person, but sees His Son Jesus Christ: and that person is acquitted of sin and its eternal punishment in the eyes of God… that person is forgiven.
I know that I have spoken a mouthful. Read it, ponder it, weep over it, accept it, know joy because of it!
Unarguably, the most well-known passage of Holy Scripture sums up the amazing love of God, which I pray can be better understood from understanding what has been said regarding God’s forgiveness above:
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)
Why do I say ‘the saved’? I say ‘the saved’ because of the testimony of John 3:16… people are saved from an eternity in the lake of fire, which is the just punishment for sin, because of the willingness of the Son of God to offer Himself to the cruelest of deaths that we might be pardoned in His Father’s eyes.
But to be saved, we must not treat God’s gift of His Son Jesus Christ as some sort of ‘get out of the lake of fire for eternity free’ card. Salvation is free to all who willingly come to a point in their lives where they surrender their lives and their wills to Jesus Christ, that He might reign in their hearts to give them freedom to live for God and to do God’s will, but salvation was not free for the One who earned it for us: He had to shed every last drop of His sacred blood on the cross of Calvary for it.
His Name is Jesus Christ.
Much less well known are the passages following John 3:16, but they are critical to understand that God does not condemn us; His desire is that not a single sinner should be punished: we condemn ourselves:
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. (John 3:17-18)
More than enough has been said. You now know very well what Jesus Christ offers you, if you are not a believer. I am a watchman on the walls. I am telling you that the world as we know it in these days is a dark place, and the only light that is in it is the light that God that God has given in His Son Jesus Christ. However, the seemingly endless patience of God with a stubborn humanity will not go on forever… there will be an end to it. People with hard hearts are spoken of in Holy Scripture:
First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:3-9)
So… what is it going to be? Will you be the god of your own life, and be condemned for eternity, or will you surrender your life and your will to the One who died for you so that you would live for eternity? It is your choice, but (italic emphasis mine)…
For he says, “In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.” I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation. (2 Corinthians 6:2)