Paul wrote, “For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.”
There are many who like to tout the “once saved, always saved” theory as if it were inviolable truth. Yet right here we see the notion shot down in Paul’s underlying premise. Paul is not addressing this erroneous theory – no one squarely does in the New Testament because it is a later “theological” development than the New Testament – but, in the midst of his teaching, he gives us insight into just how we might persevere to the end so as to be saved.
There are two processes in view in this verse: reconciliation and salvation. The “once saved, always saved” theory tends, generally speaking, to lump these two together, applying the standards of reconciliation (which is freely and completely accomplished in Christ) to the standards of salvation (in which we must co-labor, work out, persevere with Christ and God in fear and trembling to the end of our days lest we neglect so great a salvation as has been given to us). And the difference between reconciliation and salvation is, Paul says, literally the difference between life and death – Christ’s death and His life.
The death of Christ purchased for us reconciliation with God. Reconciliation is the bringing together of two parties who were previously at enmity. God, in His perfect righteousness, is unrelentingly opposed to the sinfulness of man. There is nothing any man can do to attain to the perfect righteous standard of God. God, in His infinite mercy, sent His Son to die in the place of our sinfulness and obtained for us the complete reconciliation of man to God. The enmity between God and man is abolished forever – but only in the death of Christ. Those who refuse to enter into this death remain squarely faced with God’s enmity.
The life of Christ presents to us the opportunity to live forever in, with and like Christ and God. No one is forced to participate in this resurrection life. Only the opportunity is presented to each one. And whether one truly enters into this resurrection life of Christ or not is, in part, the basis by which each one will be judged on the last day. Salvation is a partnership cooperation between man and God based, first, in the complete reconciliation that Christ purchased with His death and then, second, in the super-abundant resurrection life of Christ.
Those who refuse to directly participate in the resurrection life of Christ but instead bring their own version of “righteousness” to the table – by practicing some version of “Christian” law they themselves have chosen to adhere to or by practicing whatever “Christian” religion is right in their own eyes (lawlessness) – cannot hope to experience the eternal rewards that God offers to those who are in Christ. “Church” attendance will never – not even in a home “church” - replace simple, personal obedience to the King, Christ Jesus.
Christ Jesus is the author of salvation for those who obey Him – He makes no promises (that anyone in their right mind would want to receive) to those who disobey Him.
Let he who has ears hear.
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