The Need For Effort?
Last week, our evening sermon produced some passages of scripture that are sobering to think about and really should be down-right scary. The reality of the effort most Christians put towards their salvation is pitiful at best. Peter speaks a sobering fact in 1 Peter 4:18: "And if it is with difficulty that the righteous is saved, what will become of the godless man and the sinner"? If you have a study Bible, you will notice that this is shown as a quotation from Proverbs 11:31, yet Proverbs reads differently. "If the righteous will be rewarded in the earth, how much more the wicked and the sinner! Notice this is not a question but a statement. The unrighteous will be punished. Some in this life, and certainly all will be punished in the life to come.
While there are some individuals who live a Christian life with full diligence and effort, sadly many do not put much effort into their own salvation. In fact, that is a subject most do not even consider during their daily activity. I write this in hopes that I can renew some zeal that some have lost, or to get many to consider their spiritual condition in the hope that they will consider their soul with more intensity in their service to God.
We know the unrighteous will not inherit eternal life in heaven with God if they continue in their unrighteousness. There are plenty of scriptures that describe what unrighteousness is and many of the things that God calls unrighteous. For many Christians, they take this list and sort of check off each item and feel good about themselves because they are not doing these specific things.
But also knowing that in James 4:17 we read that if we know the right thing to do and do not do it, that failure to do right is called sin. Remember that sin can keep us out of heaven. The more we read and study God's word we should come to the realization that in order to get to heaven we need to apply effort to reach that goal. I believe Peter was teaching that it takes effort on our part to be saved. We should know that there is no way to heaven unless we apply effort in doing what the Bible teaches us to do. People are not going to be able to coast into heaven. There are no side doors.
What should concern many old-timers and Christians who have been around a long time is not to lose their first love as the Ephesian church in Revelation 2. I have seen many elderly Christians cease learning and trying to be better. Many of them have lost their zeal and excitement about Jesus and His power to save souls. I fear for these precious souls, some of whom have done great things for God, but in their latter days, they seem to have given up. Remember Revelation 2:10 tells us to be faithful until death. Some of these people are spiritually dead and do not even know it.
And I know there are many sincere people in various denominations looking forward to heaven. The truth is that only those who obey Jesus can be saved. Following the doctrines of men will not save anyone.
Do not give up in trying to reach heaven. Do not lose heart in doing good because a hope we have before us is great and powerful. So let us not rest yet. The Hebrews writer tells us (4:9) a rest remains for God's faithful ones, but that rest comes after life is over (9:27). Until our last breath is expelled from our body, we must make every effort to insure our salvation by doing works fit for the Master of our calling. May God bless us all with a renewed zeal and effort.
By Carey Scott
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