Num. 20:11-12 π 1 Sam. 15:26 π Prov. 8:13 π Prov. 9:10 π Isa. 46:9-10 π Jer. 1:5 π Mt. 7:21-23 π Mt. 23:24 π Jn. 1:29 π Acts 9:15-16 π Rom. 8:28 π Rom. 11:29 π 1 Cor. 1:29 π 2 Cor. 6:17-7:1 π Gal. 2:8-9 π Phlp. 2:12-13 π Col. 1:29 π Heb. 6:4-6 π Heb. 10:26-29 π Heb. 12:14-17 π Jas. 5:19-20 π 2 Pet. 2:20-21 π 2 Pet. 3:9 π 1 Jn. 2:15-17 π 1 Jn. 3:1 π Rev. 3:17-18 π Rev. 20:15 π Rev. 21:8
One of the key attributes of God is His omniscience, that is, that He knows all things. God declared to Isaiah,
"Remember the former things of old, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying, 'My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure.'" ( Isa. 46:9-10; top )
The implications of this fact are more than profound to those who seek to inherit eternal life. And yet we so often fail to grasp just how important it is that God not only knows what is and what will be, but that He also knows what might be. And it is this knowledge of what might be that holds the most frightening implications to those who seek the salvation of the Lord.
All that is known in the mind of God in the eternal is not necessarily that which will occur on earth in the temporal. That is to say, that not everything that God knows could happen is what will happen - though God does indeed know those things which will happen and those which will turn out to be only potential occurrences and missed possibilities. A key example of this lies in the fact that God is not willing that anyone should perish. ( 2 Pet. 3:9; top ) And yet, in spite of God's desire to give eternal life to all, we know that many of the dead will find their way into the lake of fire which is the second death, the ultimate destination created for the devil and his angels. ( Rev. 20:15; top )
We also know that God is not the author of evil, sin or confusion and that He works even these things around for the good of those who are called by Him and who love Him. ( Rom. 8:28; top ) The very existence of evil, even though contained within time and space and destined for ultimate and final removal, clearly demonstrates that God is not micro-managing the earth and forcing His own perfect will to occur in every given situation. Yes, He is macro-managing the big picture and specifically and even minutely intervening literally millions of times in everyone's life to accomplish His own purposes and to woo the stubborn and rebellious people He loves - but all His actions are consistent with His determination to not violate the free choice He has given to every man to choose for himself whether he really desires eternal life or to remain on the path to eternal death.
So while it is true that nothing happens without God having permitted it to be done, it is equally true that not everything that God wants to happen will happen. And it is in this reality that a most frightening implication arises for the believer.
Jeremiah was known in the mind of God as a prophet to the nations before he was born. ( Jer. 1:5 ) Ananias was told that Paul would be a messenger to both Jews and Gentiles and would suffer many things for the name of the Lord while he was still Saul, the murderous persecutor of the church. ( Acts 9:15-16 ) John the Baptist told his disciples that the Man walking past them was the Lamb of God who would take away the sins of the world. ( Jn. 1:29; top ) In each of these instances, these men became what was previously known in the mind of God.
Were these men isolated instances of God's calling out of special men? No. The Bible is replete with people who were intended to fulfill a certain role. But just as can be seen in the life of Moses, the actions of the individual can prevent the complete fulfillment of what God knows could be in the eternal. Moses, because of his anger and his presumptive and disobedient striking of the rock was denied entrance into the promised land. ( Num. 20:11-12 ) And one of the clearest examples of missing the purpose of God is found in the story of Saul, the first king of Israel. Samuel said to Saul, "You have rejected the word of the LORD, and the LORD has rejected you as king over Israel!" ( 1 Sam. 15:26; top ) Though Saul had been called to be king, his rebellious disobedience cost him and his lineage greatly.
We ought to recognize that God, in His dealings with mankind, would not be unwilling that any should perish and then not provide every opportunity for all to find eternal life. For God to do anything less than provide multiple opportunities for every individual to find eternal life would be a schizophrenic inconsistency within the heart of God. The offer of eternal life is extended to all - but it will only be received by those who believe. Every man has a gift and calling of God - a gift and calling which will never be canceled or revoked. ( Rom. 11:29; top ) But not everyone will walk in the fullness of what God desires.
So, in the same way as Moses failed to enter the Promised Land and Saul's authority as king was rejected by God, on the day of judgment many will be denied entrance to eternity with God because, through their own pride, arrogance, or even error, they caused themselves to become something other than what God intended that they become. Jesus said, "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness" ( Mt. 7:21-23; top ) Notice that many were involved in quite charismatically religious "church" activities - activities which are most often performed by the "pastoral" staff! - but these were still denied entrance to eternity with God because they were lawless - they were doing that which was right in their own eyes and neglecting what was right in God's eyes.
To become what God foreknew you to be is the highest and best calling in a person's life. And yet it is equally true that no human being possesses the ability to become that which God knows in the eternal. It is only the grace of God, that is, the power of God made available to men and women, that enables anyone to become what God knows they could be.
There is no possibility that Jeremiah could have become a prophet to the nations without the Spirit of God. There is no possibility that Paul could have become the apostle to the Gentiles if God's grace had not worked mightily in him. ( Col. 1:29; top ) And there is no way that Jesus, without the strength supplied to Him by the Spirit of God, could have been and remained the sinless Lamb who would be both qualified and willing to be the Lamb that was slain for the sins of the world.
So, while it is possible for a human being, having been given by God the right and responsibility to determine his own course in life, to self-destruct his life and divert it away from what God knows is possible in the eternal, it is not possible for the human being to put his own life on the course that leads to eternal life. It is by grace - the power of God at work to conform us to what is known about us in the mind of God - that we are saved, and not by our works, lest we should be able to boast. ( Gal. 2:8-9 ) No flesh will be able to glory or boast in God's presence - God has already determined that that shall be so. ( 1 Cor. 1:29 ) The only glory that will remain in the presence of God is His own glory - a glory He is more than happy to share with those whom He has loved so dearly that He has made them His sons. ( 1 Jn. 3:1; top )
There are those who teach the fallacious "once saved, always saved" theory. And there are those who differentiate between the salvation of the spirit and the salvation of the soul, a teaching which applies the "once saved, always saved" notions only to the spirit while the soul is progressively being saved throughout one's life. And while this latter view certainly contains much truth and may ultimately prove to be completely correct, I have great difficulty agreeing with anyone who makes the statement that a person who at one time became a believer in Christ cannot possibly spend his eternity in hell.
James wrote, "Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins." ( Jas. 5:19-20; top ) A person cannot be diverted from the truth unless they were walking in it in the first place. And the soul is not in danger of dying until it faces the second death, an eternal death reserved primarily for the devil and his angels.
Peter wrote, "For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them." ( 2 Pet. 2:20-21; top ) If every man and woman is born already on a course headed for eternal death - and they are - a course from which only the work of Christ on the cross can divert them, what possible consequence would be worse for those who knew the way of righteousness but departed from it? If they were already on their way to hell, what could possibly be worse than that? The only consequence that would be worse than an ignorant sinner going to hell for eternity would be for someone to spend eternity there knowing that they had almost escaped the fires of hell.
The writer of Hebrews speaks clearly about a point which, once a person passes it, cannot be repented of. ( Heb. 6:4-6 ; 10:26-29 ) In addition, this writer gives the example of Esau and says, "Pursue peace with all men, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: looking diligently lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled; lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright. For you know that afterward, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears." ( Heb. 12:14-17; top )
There is great reason we are told to work out our salvation with fear and trembling - because it is God Himself at work in us to complete what He has started. ( Phlp. 2:12-13; top ) God's "blueprint," known in the mind of God in eternity before the world was created, is not something that will be forced upon us. But when our time is complete, whether or not our life conformed to His blueprint is something which will factor heavily in His determination of where we will spend eternity. Those who have rebelliously resisted the work of the Holy Spirit and who bear no resemblance to this blueprint in the mind of God will be those to whom Jesus must say, "Depart from Me, I never knew you."
And while we will be tempted to assume that only gross and obvious sins are those which could keep us from conforming to this blueprint, we would do well to remember that those who are cast into the lake of fire are those who are "cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters and all liars." ( Rev. 21:8; top ) And while abominations, murder, fornication, and sorcery are generally blatant and obvious sins, cowardice, unbelief, idolatry and deceit can be quite subtle - and they are quite rampant in modern "church" circles. Thus one who shrinks back from obeying God, one who does not believe that God can do what He says, one who puts some aspect of life above the service and worship of the true God, or one who lives a life characterized by deceit at any level - each of these are candidates for the eternal lake of fire, the second death.
In the lukewarm church of the Laodiceans, religious blindness is rampant. And the remedy is to purchase from Christ Himself the things which enable true sight and accurate perspective. ( Rev. 3:17-18 ) The condition of being lukewarm speaks of compromise and carelessness toward things to which we ought to be paying attention. While perhaps we are not so gross in our hypocrisy that we are straining out gnats and swallowing camels ( Mt. 23:24 ), we nonetheless are not being careful to avoid every unclean thing and to forsake all the deceitful lusts of the flesh and of the world. ( 2 Cor. 6:17-7:1 ; 1 Jn. 2:15-17; top )
It is both our privilege and our responsibility to present ourselves to God that His will might be done in our life, that we might be conformed to this blueprint known in His mind. And while, that blueprint is always, in some respect, a representation of Christ, it is not to be assumed that it is some nebulous, generic likeness. For each and every individual, there is a specific and detailed blueprint in the mind of God. Being conformed to that blueprint is the very reason for which we have been chosen by God to be recipients of His salvation. Obedience to this heavenly calling is not an option, especially as one grows toward spiritual maturity.
Let me sound one final caution. All this has not been meant to stir up in you some fear that you may somehow carelessly misplace your salvation. Rather it is to point out that it is when we have no fear of the Lord - that beginning of wisdom and hatred of all evil ( Prov. 8:13 ; 9:10; top ) - that we have already become careless regarding our salvation. It is when we fear the Lord - reverencing Him with awe and veneration - that we will approach His priceless gift of eternal life with the joyful soberness and dignified solemnity that is appropriate in sons of the Most High God. If you believe there is any genuine basis for concern that you have not been living as God would have you live, then, by all means, seek Him out and get right with God. Nothing is more important than that you become all that He knows you can be.
I'd love to hear comments and/or questions from you! Email me!