[Word Count: 1436]
Before we go on to Sanctification i wish to address those who have found fault with Part Five of this series of blog posts (or this series in its entirety)...
...there are two sides to GOD's Compassion: Divine Mercy and Divine Grace...
...Divine Mercy can never be owed, and Divine Grace can never be earned.
If you can embrace these two Truths, you can submit yourself to the Sovereignty of GOD and KNOW you've been chosen and predestined for Eternal Salvation.
(NOTE: i know that KNOWING that you're going to be Saved from the Wrath of GOD is declared heresy by the Roman Catholic Church; if you STUDY A RELIABLE TRANSLATION OF THE BIBLE, however, you will see that GOD wants you to be assured and confident of your eternal destiny. [1 John 5:13-15]).
Anyone who finds themselves in the Lake of Fire and Sulfur at the end of time takes issue with one or both Truths. For without Divine Sovereignty the Gospel--which is humanity's ONLY means to escape eternal damnation--is misunderstood and misrepresented; and Sanctification winds up being erroneously defined as an act of human willpower rather than a miraculous Gift of GOD.
By its verified definition Mercy can never be owed; in today's courts a criminal must be CONVICTED of a crime before Mercy (leniency) can even be discussed. Even in a case where leniency is a consideration, mercy will NOT be offered if the convict demonstrates no remorse or regret (Repentance) for what he has done. So it is with the present generation of American church goers: in their minds they are "doing the right stuff" and inconveniencing themselves by "not doing the bad stuff" (that they really enjoy doing); the LEAST GOD can do is forgive their sin and let them into Heaven...
...then when they find themselves doing backstrokes in the Lake of Fire and Sulfur, they feel cheated because "I did all this WORK and God didn't keep His Promise."
In truth leniency only exists at the DISCRETION and PLEASURE of the Judge. If the Judge does NOT offer leniency but hands down THE MAXIMUM SENTENCE ALLOWED BY LAW, he is perfectly within his authority to do so. Everyone understands this fact...yet we are so foolish as to believe that GOD is somehow obligated to "cut us some slack."
Dear Reader, HUMBLE YOURSELF, BE AFRAID AND TAKE TO HEART THE DREAD LORD WHO YOU ARE GOING TO BE DEALING WITH. It was within GOD's Authority to destroy Adam on the spot AND YOU AND I ALONG WITH HIM. Without any justifiable reason GOD has been OVERABUNDANTLY MERCIFUL from the very beginning: both to Satan and his demons as well as this traitorous and treacherous human species to which He granted His Own Image and Likeness. If you can take every breath given to you with humility, gratitude and submission, you will do well.
One half of the Coin of Divine Compassion is Mercy: undeserved and unexpected yet received with gratitude when offered. The other half of Divine Compassion is Grace: the Spectacular Power of GOD to make you in every way as Holy, as Righteous and as Perfect as The GODHEAD THEMSELVES are. Contrary to what all the religions of the world declare, YOU COULD NEVER ACHIEVE GOD'S LEVEL OF TRANSCENDENCE IN A QUINTILLION LIFETIMES (that's '1' followed by eighteen zeroes); which means Grace can only be RECEIVED as a Free Gift by Faith...and NEVER earned. Everyone outside the Ark of the Gospel is trying to WORK their way to Immortality; it saddens me to say that this attitude is shared by many in the church that believe they are on the Road to Salvation, yet are still destined for the Lake of Fire and Sulfur for one simple reason: they do not understand that GOD ONLY WORKS WITH FAILURES (Luke 18:10-14).
When a sinner decides to become a Christian (a disciple of Christ) and experiences a clear conscience and the Peace of GOD for the first time they fall into the trap of handling the Righteousness of Christ AS IF IT WERE THEIR OWN. Having been deluded into believing the Relationship between Christ and The Father poured upon them is somehow due to something innate in them and not due to GOD's Pity for them, they make themselves RESPONSIBLE for Its continued maintenance and FEEL PROUD when they believe their efforts at that maintenance have been successful.
Such a tragic mistake would be avoided if they were taught the Doctrine of Divine Sovereignty at the beginning of their walk with Christ! We believe pride serves us while we walk the Earth; pride only does us IMMENSE HARM in our relationship with GOD.
If ANY religion tells you Mercy is owed to you or ascendence can be earned or achieved it is peddling a FALSE GOSPEL. And the Lord Jesus warned us that the last days of Earth's history would be plagued by false prophets and false teachers preaching false gospels...leading most seekers and religious church goers astray into damnation.
Now we can look at Sanctification...
We Were Sanctified
Like Divine Compassion, Sanctification is also a Coin with two sides: the Separating of the saints from the world doomed to Hell and the Perfecting of the saints which is necessary for them to be fit for the Culture of Heaven.
From the moment Adam decided to disobey GOD's Word, "it was a wrap" for the entire human species. Sin is so evil, wicked and atrocious to the GODHEAD that destroying Adam would not be enough; Adam (remember that GOD called both the man and the woman "Adam") would have to be PUNISHED...FOR EVER. We acknowledge the atrocities of Satan and his demons as being worthy of eternal punishment; yet, hypocritically, we place the consequences of our own decisions in a different basket...
...GOD makes no such distinction. While the Lake of Fire and Sulfur was made for Satan and his demons (Matthew 25:41), ADAM FOLLOWED SATAN'S ADVICE AND DISOBEYED GOD'S WORD...he must therefore share Satan's punishment.
I know i'm being redundant, yet it is CRITICAL for you to understand what an astounding Act of Compassion it was for GOD to change the fate of ANY human sinner away from eternal punishment to Eternal Comfort!!! NO HUMAN SINNER HAS EVER OR WOULD EVER MAKE SUCH A DECISION ON HIS OR HER OWN...we're all too far gone to enjoy the Presence of GOD at all. True believers in Christ Jesus are each proof of the Existence of GOD; GOD's people on Earth would not exist without the compassionate intervention of GOD's Grace (Romans 3:9-20). And, of course, this Separation of the sinner who believes in Christ Jesus from the eternal damnation he or she should have received was performed before the believing sinner was ever born (Jeremiah 1:4,5).
Sinner to Saint
Contrary to Roman Catholic doctrine NO ONE WHO IS NOT A SAINT WILL BE ALLOWED INTO THE KINGDOM OF CHRIST. Period.
If you desire to be saved from the Terrifying Wrath of GOD, you MUST become a saint...which, of course, is ABSOLUTELY IMPOSSIBLE for any sinner to accomplish. Period.
So how is anyone saved???
The ONLY WAY anyone is saved is for GOD to separate them from the herd of damnation, wash them from their sins in the Blood of His Only-Begotten Son Jesus Christ and replace their sins with the Relationship that has existed between Him and His Only-Begotten Son from all Eternity (Divine Grace)!!!
And before you prayed the "Sinner's Prayer" or begged Jesus for Mercy or confessed your sin or confessed Jesus as Lord or believed in your heart that GOD raised Jesus from the dead or stepped up to a Christian church altar or decided to turn your life around, GOD decided from the foundation of the world that you were going to be pure, holy and righteous...as pure, holy and righteous as He Himself has always been!
I'm not saying you shouldn't make every effort to work out your own salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12) or that you shouldn't make your calling and election sure (2 Peter 1:10)...rather: while you are engaged in these activities let your faith and confidence rest not in bloodlines or the will of the flesh or the will of humanity, but in the Grace and Mercy of our Father GOD which comes only through the Person of The Lord Jesus Christ (John 1:12-14).
In Part Seven of The Narrow Way, we shall conclude our survey of the Decisions The GODHEAD made in Eternity with the doctrine of Election.