Salvation, eternal life, eternal punishment

To talk about salvation, I wanted to present the gospel, what is eternal life and eternal punishment, and who gets which.

To start with, we have to realize that everyone sins.

Romans 3:23

3 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

Th problem with that is these sins earn us death, as we see in Romans 6:23

23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Indeed, once we come to a knowledge of good and evil, we die.

Romans 7:7-13

7 What shall we say, then? Is the law sinful? Certainly not! Nevertheless, I would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” 8But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of coveting. For apart from the law, sin was dead. 9 Once I was alive apart from the law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died. 10 I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death. 11 For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death. 12 So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good.

13 Did that which is good, then, become death to me? By no means! Nevertheless, in order that sin might be recognized as sin, it used what is good to bring about my death, so that through the commandment sin might become utterly sinful.

Now the good news is that there is a remedy to this. God presented Jesus Christ as a sacrifice for our sins. So redemption from our sins is available to all – but it must be received by faith. Only those who have faith will be justified (found not guilty).

Romans 3:24-26

24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25 God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement,through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— 26 he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.

We have to realize that we need faith in Christ to be saved.

People are saved by God’s grace through faith in Christ.
Ephesians 2:8

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God

In fact, it is ONLY through faith in Christ that we CAN be saved.
Acts 4:12

Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”

People must turn to God in repentance.

Acts 20:21

I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus.

It is godly sorrow that beings about repentance which leads to salvation, but worldly sorrow brings death instead of salvation. Notice the two roads – salvation or death.
2 Corinthians 7:10

10 Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.

By accepting the Son of God, Jesus Christ, as savior, people’s sins are forgiven.

Acts 10:43

All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”

Acts 13:38-39

38 “Therefore, my friends, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. 39 Through him everyone who believes is set free from every sin, a justification you were not able to obtain under the law of Moses.

When we believe in Christ, we are saved.

Acts 16:30-31

He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.”

When we believe, we have eternal life.

John 3:16

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.

Well, to be more accurate, it has to be a belief which is more than simply an idea. It has to be faith which causes change in you to do good deeds.

Acts 26:20

20 but kept declaring both to those of Damascus first, and also at Jerusalem and then throughout all the region of Judea, and even to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds appropriate to repentance.

James 2:14-26

14 What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? 17 Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself. 18 But someone may well say, “You have faith and I have works ; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” 19 You believe that God is one. You do well ; the demons also believe, and shudder. 20 But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless? 21 Was not Abrahamour father justified by works when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? 22 You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected; 23 and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “AND ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS RECKONED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS,” and he was called the friend of God. 24 You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25 In the same way, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? 26 For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.

The one who believes will be the one who repents and turns to God and who has deeds which show repentance and who does the will of God, and this will be the one who will live forever.

1 John 2:17

17 The world is passing away, and also its lusts ; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.

According to Jesus, those who believe God will not be judged but have eternal life.
John 5:24

Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.

Hebrews 9:27-28 tells us people are destined to die once and then face judgement.

27 Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, 28 so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.

There are two ways to reconcile John 5:24 and Hebrews 9:27:

  1. Either everyone  will face judgement when they die physically but those who believe God will not be judged guilty and so have eternal life
  2. Or  not everyone will face judgement when they die physically.

Either way, Jesus WILL BRING salvation to those who are waiting for Him.

Recall that when we believe, our sins are forgiven, we are saved and we have eternal life. We NEED faith for that to occur.

Romans 1:16

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.

And that faith must stay with us to the end, otherwise, its not faith.

Matthew 24:9-13

9 “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. 10 At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11 and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. 12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13 but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.

1 Corinthians 15:2

By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain

Hebrews 3:14

We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end.

When we believe the gospel of salvation, we are included in Christ and marked with a seal – the Holy Spirit.
Ephesians 1:13-14

13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.

The end result of our faith is the salvation of our souls. Further, it is evident that the coming of the salvation is ready to be revealed in the last time. Yet, at the same time, believers are receiving the salvation of their souls. So we have been saved, are being saved, and will be saved.
1 Peter 1:3-9:

3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, 5 who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.6 In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9 for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

But from what are we saved? According to scripture, we are saved from God’s wrath.
1 Thessalonians 5:9

9 For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.

While God shows His wrath daily, this is not the only wrath from which we are saved. We are saved from the day of wrath as well.
Psalm 7:11

God is a righteous judge, a God who displays his wrath every day.

Romans 2:5

But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed.

God’s wrath will be displayed in the day of God’s wrath, the day of Judgement, as an eternal punishment of fire.

Matthew 25:46

“Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

Jude 1:7

In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire.

People who do not trust in Christ will be sent into the lake of fire, what John called the second death.

Revelation 21:8

But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”

Not only are we saved from the results of judgement of us based upon our sins, but we are saved to become heirs having the hope of eternal life.

Titus 3:4-7

4 But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.

Some of you will complain that God has said he wants everyone “to be saved” and that “works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will.” Let us look at the scripture itself.

1 Timothy 2:4 (NASB) reads,

who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

Notice that the Greek word ‘desires’ is Thelo, which means

  1. to will, have in mind, intend
    1. to be resolved or determined, to purpose
    2. to desire, to wish
    3. to love
      1. to like to do a thing, be fond of doing
    4. to take delight in, have pleasure

While some people would like to think this term is always meant to be used to indicate that which is referred to as the will is something that God ensure occurs, a simple perusal of how this term is used will show that it is only rarely translated as ‘will’ and most often translated as ‘desire’ or ‘want’:

am willing, 3; am…willing, 1; delighting, 1; delights, 1; desire, 14; desired, 4; desires, 4; desiring, 2; intended, 1; intending, 1; like, 3; maintain, 1; mean, 2; please, 1; purposed, 1; refused, 1; unwilling, 11; want, 52; wanted, 15; wanting, 3; wants, 8; will, 5; willed, 1; willing, 15; wills, 4; wish, 24; wished, 7; wishes, 16; wishing, 4; would, 1.

Only once is it translated as ‘purposed’ and the translators could have easily chosen  ‘intended’ or ‘wanted’ (see John 1:43).

And before we can claim that God works everything out based upon what He wants, we have to realize that Ephesians 1:11 tells us that believers were chosen because they were “predestined according to the plan who works out everything in conformity with the PURPOSE of His will.” God works things out in conformity with the PURPOSE of His will. Not simply because He wants something.

11 In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will

Some might use Isaiah 46:10 to say God will work things out for His own pleasure. But again, let us look at the scripture in question.

10 Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things which have not beendone, Saying, ‘My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure ‘;

But it is God’s PURPOSE which will be established. Yes, it does say He will accomplish all His good pleasure. But let us look at what God takes pleasure in and what He does not take pleasure in:

Ecclesiastes 5:4 tells us God has no pleasure in fools who do not keep their word:

When you make a vow to God, do not delay to fulfill it. He has no pleasure in fools; fulfill your vow.

We see in Deuteronomy 18:12 that there are certain actions which are detestable to God and those people who do them are detestable to God.

Anyone who does these things is detestable to the LORD; because of these same detestable practices the LORD your God will drive out those nations before you.

We see a similar thing in Deuteronomy 25:16

For the LORD your God detests anyone who does these things, anyone who deals dishonestly.

Its even more clear in Proverbs 15:9

The LORD detests the way of the wicked, but he loves those who pursue righteousness.

God tells us in Proverbs 28:9 that even the prays of those who ignore what God teaches are detestable:

If anyone turns a deaf ear to my instruction, even their prayers are detestable.

Ezekiel 18:20-32 tells us God detests sin, that the righteous will live and the sinful will die:

20 The one who sins is the one who will die. The child will not share the guilt of the parent, nor will the parent share the guilt of the child. The righteousness of the righteous will be credited to them, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against them.

21 “But if a wicked person turns away from all the sins they have committed and keeps all my decrees and does what is just and right, that person will surely live; they will not die. 22 None of the offenses they have committed will be remembered against them. Because of the righteous things they have done, they will live. 23 Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign LORD. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?

24 “But if a righteous person turns from their righteousness and commits sin and does the same detestable things the wicked person does, will they live? None of the righteous things that person has done will be remembered. Because of the unfaithfulness they are guilty of and because of the sins they have committed, they will die. 28 Because they consider all the offenses they have committed and turn away from them, that person will surely live; they will not die. 29 Yet the Israelites say, ‘The way of the Lord is not just.’ Are my ways unjust, people of Israel? Is it not your ways that are unjust?

30 “Therefore, you Israelites, I will judge each of you according to your own ways, declares the Sovereign LORD. Repent! Turn away from all your offenses; then sin will not be your downfall. 31 Rid yourselves of all the offenses you have committed, and get a new heart and a new spirit. Why will you die, people of Israel? 32 For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign LORD. Repent and live!

Notice that Ezekiel 18:23 tells us that God is PLEASED when people turn from their ways and live. Ezekiel 18:29 says the people will claim that God’s ways are unjust. But God says it is the ways of the people that are unjust because He will judge each according to their own ways. He URGES people to turn away from their sins and get a new heart and new spirit instead of die. He URGES them to REPENT and LIVE!

Yes, God desires everyone to be saved. But is that His WILL?

John 6:40 tells us God’s will.

40“For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.

Notice that this is a DIFFERENT word translated as ‘will’. In this case, the Greek word is Thelema, which means:

  1. what one wishes or has determined shall be done
    1. of the purpose of God to bless mankind through Christ
    2. of what God wishes to be done by us
      1. commands, precepts
  2. will, choice, inclination, desire, pleasure

THIS word is translated as  ‘desire’ one time, ‘desires’ one time, and ‘will’ fifty-seven times. So THIS would be the actual WILL OF GOD. Looking at what John wrote in John 6:40, we see the WILL OF GOD “is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and [He] will raise him up at the last day.”

1 Thessalonians 4:3a tells us God’s will (Themela) is that we be sanctified – set aside, made holy, become holy.

3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification

So we see from Ezekiel 18:20-3, John 6:40, 1 Thessalonians 4:3,  that God’s purpose is that people turn from sin, turn to Him through faith in Christ, and LIVE. He WANTS people to REPENT and LIVE! But He gives them the choice. They can choose to sin or choose to not sin. By choosing to sin, they choose to be judged and die. By choosing to not sin, they choose life.

Jesus was clear that not everyone will enter the kingdom of heaven – only those who do the will (Thelema) of God.

Matthew 7:21

21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.

So then the question comes up, ‘Will only a few be saved?’ Jesus was asked this question, and said yes.

Luke 13:22-24

22 Then Jesus went through the towns and villages, teaching as he made his way to Jerusalem. 23 Someone asked him, “Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?”

He said to them, 24 “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to.

Christ also spoke of the narrow door in reference to eternal life in Matthew 7:13-14

13 “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. 14“For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.

Many will think they have have escaped the results of judgement and gained eternal life, but they will find that they were mistaken in thinking so.

Matthew 7:21-23

21“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. 22“Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 23“And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’

In fact, if we look at the fuller conext of Jesus saying only a few will be saved in Luke 13:23-27, we see that He will deny entrance to those who do not repent from sin.

23And someone said to Him, “Lord, are there just a few who are being saved?” And He said to them, 24“Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. 25“Once the head of the house gets up and shuts the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock on the door, saying, ‘Lord, open up to us!’ then He will answer and say to you, ‘I do not know where you are from.’ 26“Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets’; 27and He will say, ‘I tell you, I do not know where you are from; DEPART FROM ME, ALL YOU EVILDOERS.’

So why does God get to decide that only some people will be saved and others will not be? Because He is GOD! He gets to do what He wants with his creations!

Romans 9:19-24

19 One of you will say to me: “Then why does God still blame us? For who is able to resist his will?” 20 But who are you, a human being, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’”[h]21 Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use?

22 What if God, although choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath—prepared for destruction? 23What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory— 24 even us, whom he also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles?

Some want to believe that everyone will be saved. Indeed, Christ is called the savior of all men and the savior of the world.
John 4:42

They said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.”

1 Timothy 2:6

6 who gave himself as a ransom for all people. This has now been witnessed to at the proper time.

1 John 4:14

And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.

But we see the truth of these statements more clearly in 1 Timothy 4:10.

1 Timothy 4:10

That is why we labor and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe.

Christ is the savior of all men in the sense that He came to suffer and die for the sins of everyone. BUT, Christ is the savior especially (specifically) of those who believe. That is to say that His death is only effective for those who believe, those who make up the church, the called-out-ones, the Ekklesia. Those who believe in Jesus are the ones who are saved. Thus, Christ is the savior of the church.
Ephesians 5:23

For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.

Indeed, we see that not everyone will be saved, as Christ is the source of salvation for those who obey Him.
Hebrews 5:9

9 and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him

God’s wrath remains on those who reject the Son, and those people will be judged and will not see eternal life.
John 3:36

Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.

We see in 1 Peter 2:7-8 that some people are destined to disobey the gospel message. They are destined to stumble.

7 Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe, “The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,” 8 and, “A stone that causes people to stumble and a rock that makes them fall.” They stumble because they disobey the message—which is also what they were destined for.

Indeed, God has shown great patience, but some are prepared for destruction.
Romans 9:22

What if God, although choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath—prepared for destruction?

In fact, enemies of the cross of Christ are destined to destruction.
Philippians 3:18-20

18 For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things. 20 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ,

Judas was doomed to destruction.
John 17:12

While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled.

There is at least one person besides Judas doomed to destruction.
2 Thessalonians 2:3

3 Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction

In fact, we see this even more clearly in 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12. People perish because they refuse to love the truth and so be saved. And God sends them a powerful delusion so they will believe the lie.

9 The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with how Satan works. He will use all sorts of displays of power through signs and wonders that serve the lie, 10 and all the ways that wickedness deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 11 For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie 12 and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.

So yes, some people are destined to be saved, others are destined to be punished eternally. But I still dont see where scripture says EVERYONE will be saved, or EVERYONE will be punished, or that those who are not destined to be saved are destined to be punished.

So we’ve seen where everyone sins and there is a price to our sinning – death. But God provided a remedy, His Son. So who ever believes in Him may be saved and have eternal life. But the flip side to that is that who ever does NOT believe in Him still has the wrath of God upon him. Eventually, everyone will face judgement. People will have either loved the truth and so be saved, or they will have delighted in wickedness and be condemned to the eternal judgement, the second death, the lake of fire.

Each of us must decide for ourselves. Does God exist? Did He send His only Son to be born, suffer, and die to pay the cost of our sins? Do you accept through faith what God has done for you in this area? If so, then you are saved and have eternal life. If not, then the wrath of God remains on you and you  are facing eternal judgement and eternal punishment in the eternal fire.

The choice is yours.

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