We’re Saved By The Action Of Choosing

November 8, 2016

Friends,
“If he had taken warning, he would have saved himself.” (Ezek. 33:5) This statement is made by the Sovereign LORD.

“We don’t save ourselves,” many church people insist. “Salvation is all God’s doing.”

Let’s tell them to read the verse again.

“But that’s Old Testament,” they reply.

Let’s read Acts 2:40 to them then: “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” Those are the words of Peter who had just been filled with the Holy Spirit. (v. 4,17,33)

We do save ourselves. We do it by choosing to grab ahold of Christ Jesus, His pardon, and His Way, doing so through faith (trust and obedience) and by renouncing the false and sinful way. The ability to make this choice has already been granted to all people through the ransom Jesus paid with His blood. (1 Tim. 2:6 // 1 John 2:2) Christ’s death on the cross was the universal invitation of reconciliation God made to everyone (John 12:32 // 2 Cor. 5:18,19) and this Good News contains in itself God’s power for salvation for those who choose to believe. (John 3:14,15 // Rom. 1:16) Yes, Jesus is the Salvation. And yes, God provided the Way by which to be saved. But now, being that that is already a done deal, the choice is ours. Each person must step into the Salvation and thereafter walk the Way of salvation. The deliverance is offered and the power is available, but we must save ourselves by making the right choice.

What happens if someone procrastinates concerning the choice to step in under Christ’s blood through faith and repentance? Then that person has already made a choice –the choice to neglect the right option and so remain on the dark way. Such a person will be shut out from God’s presence forever. (2 Thes. 1:8,9)

What happens if someone chooses Christ but then, after a while, lags back from following Him? Then that person has made the choice, through neglect (which is actually a form of rebellion –Heb. 2:1-3 & 10:35-39), to forfeit their Secure Position. (Same verses // 2 Pe. 3:17) Such a person is cut off from unity with Christ, thus cut off from His love, falls back under God’s wrath, and like a rejected branch, is thrown to the fire. (John 15:6,9,10) This is why Jesus keeps emphasizing in this passage (v. 1-10) the importance of remaining in Him.

“No, this is wrong teaching,” many say. “For once we accept Christ, God sees us as righteous forever afterwards due to Christ’s righteousness imputed to us. In other words, our salvation is not determined by what we do but by what Jesus has already done for us.”

Are they correct? Not according to God’s Word, they aren’t.

The Sovereign LORD says in Ezek. 33:12, “The righteousness of the righteous man will not save him when he disobeys.” And again, “The righteous man, if he sins, will not be allowed to live because of his former righteousness.” (Same verse) And once again, “If a righteous man turns from his righteousness and does evil, he will die for it.” (v. 18) It is about what a person does –his or her actions– for God sums up this warning with, “I will judge each of you according to his own ways.” (v. 20) As He stated it to Jeremiah, “I the LORD search the heart and examine the mind, to reward a man according to his conduct, according to what his deeds deserve.” (Jer. 17:10) Ps. 62:12, Pr. 24:12, and Ec. 12:14 warn of the same.

“This is all Old Testament,” the careless respond. “And we exist in the New Testament era.”

Let’s show them Rom. 2:6 where Paul quotes the Old Testament by saying, “God ‘will give to each person according to what he has done.'” Verse 7 states that it is those who persist in doing good who will receive eternal life, while those verses surrounding (v. 5-11) reveal that stubbornness in accepting the Truth incurs the opposite. Indeed, those who are disobedient to God by following the sinful nature instead of the Spirit will not inherit Christ’s Kingdom (1 Cor. 6:9-11 // Gal. 5:19-21 // Eph. 5:5,6 // Col. 3:5-7) but will “suffer the punishment of eternal fire.” (Jude 1:7)

“The word ‘die’ in Ezek. 33 is speaking about physical death, not spiritual or eternal death,” the skeptics say. “It is only rewards, not eternal life, that will be withheld from those Christians who sin.”

But they are wrong. Let’s remind them of Rom. 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” There is a contrast there of death and eternal life, and combined with the previous verse (v. 22), it is revealed that the person who keeps sinning receives eternal death as opposed to receiving eternal life. This, as well as that it is our own choice, is shown again in Rom. 8:13,14: “For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit YOU put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.” There we see the contrast made of belonging to God as opposed to not, based on how we live and what we do. This is shown throughout the passage (v. 1-14), and is particularly clear in verse 9.

If we read 1 John we see numerous warnings about our actions –that, regardless of our claim, our actions prove who we belong to –God or Satan. 1 John 3:10 states this plainly while verse 24 reveals that being unified with Christ is contingent upon our obedience to His commands. Verses 3 & 4 of chapter 2 also say that obedience to Christ’s commands is the test of belonging to the Truth, and verse 6 says we must conduct ourselves as Jesus did. That is about behavior and lifestyle, not about imputed righteousness. Verse 29 of the same chapter says that “everyone who does what is right has been born of Him.” Verse 7 of chapter 3 says that “he who does what is right is righteous” and verse 8 says that “he who does what is sinful is of the devil.” This is all about doing (actions) and it corresponds to Jesus’ warning in John 5:29 where He says, “Those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned.”

If we look at the warnings in Rev. ch. 2 & 3 which Jesus gave to the seven churches, we see that He spoke repeatedly about their deeds. In fact, it’s almost entirely about what they did or didn’t do. Overcoming is about action, remaining true to Christ’s name is about action, hard work and perseverance is about action, holding to or rejecting certain doctrines is about action, enduring hardship is about action, repenting (rejecting sin) is about action, being lukewarm is about action, and all these are mentioned in these two chapters. Jesus warns in Rev. 3:2, “I have not found your deeds complete”, in 2:10 that faithfulness even unto death is what reaps the crown of Life, and in 2:23, “I am He who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds.” Is this not clear New Testament confirmation –and from the lips of King Jesus– of what the Sovereign LORD previously said through Ezekiel, Jeremiah, Peter, Paul, John, and others?

Salvation does happen by our action of choosing it. God has already chosen to save everyone. But some won’t believe. Some won’t repent. Some won’t remain faithful. Can we cast our vote in the United States presidential election by simply believing we have the right and opportunity to do so? Of course not. We must take action. We must get to the voting booth and cast our ballot. Since all has been prepared for us, this actually comes about, for each one of us, by one thing: Our choice. Our choice to take action concerning it.

So let’s go back to what the Sovereign LORD says in Ezek. 33:5: “If he had taken warning, he would have saved himself.” –Saved himself from eternal separation from God.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

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