- “23 And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.24 Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.” 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24
- “7 So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ:8 Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.9 God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.” 1 Corinthians 1:7-9
- “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:” Philippians 1:6
- “9 And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment;10 That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ;11 Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.” Philippians 1:9-11
- “12 And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you:13 To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.” 1 Thessalonians 3:12-13
I can tell I’m going to like this message already…look at all the Scriptures! I can also tell you that I believe this could be quite the lengthy message. I hope that you’ll hang with me through this one, and I’m most definitely going to need to be sure we open up this message in prayer to make sure that the Holy Ghost is the One who speaks and writes and directs and inspires what we talk about today…because I believe this is going to be a powerful message that will answer a lot of questions.
Lord…I need You today to completely take this message over, and use me as a vessel to speak through. I know this is going to be powerful, I know that there’s going to be much revelation and understanding…and I ask that You would help me to do this message justice. Holy Spirit…I seek Your anointing, Your voice, and the supernatural ability to write only of the oracles of You. I ask that You would make my fingers that as a pen of a ready writer…writing only that which You would have me to write…I pray that this message would be clear, precise, and fully inspired by You. I yield myself and this time to You. I ask that You would open the ears, eyes, and hearts of those that will be reading this message today…and I pray that You would open the eyes of my understanding as well…I ask these things in Jesus’ name…Amen & Amen.
WILL WE ARRIVE BLAMELESS ON THE DAY OF CHRIST?
There is a faith-sustained holiness that Paul wants his converts to have on the day of Christ — the day of his return, when the dead in Christ will be raised (1 Corinthians 15:23). This holiness (which he also calls “blamelessness” and “guiltlessness” and “being above reproach” and “purity”) is certain through God’s faithfulness, contingent on persevering faith, and dependent on human agency.
Friends. One of the things that disturbs me the most is this talk about holiness, and that we can somehow be holy in and of ourselves. Can I tell you that we cannot? Can I tell you that the holiness that we have (if we’re all believers here) only comes to us because Jesus is holy? Can I tell you that we received all of the holiness we were ever going to receive the day we confessed and called upon the name of Jesus to be saved? Can I also tell you that whether you confess Christ on your death-bed or you’ve been faithfully saved for over 30 years that you’re not going to be anymore holy in 30 years than you were the day you received Jesus as Lord and Savior.
Why do I say those things? Simple. Our holiness has absolutely positively NOTHING to do with us. Yes, we may have our lives changed, transformed, and we may become more conformed to the image of His Son…but we will never be more holy than we were on the day Jesus came into our hearts. Why? I just told you. The holiness we receive is Jesus’ holiness. We’re holy ONLY on the basis that HE is holy…and for NO other reason than that.
It’s true we may become more sanctified and set apart, and we’re told to “pursue holiness”. However, I believe that while our lives can become more cleaned up, and display more of the character of God…and the fruits of the spirit. Our attempts at “pursuing holiness” are actually how we are to pursue our relationship with God. I’m the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. I’m holy because He is holy. That’s it…plain and simple. The only reason I’m above reproach is because of Jesus.
In addition…let’s return to 2 Corinthians 5:17-21 (KJV). As we discussed in yesterday’s message this is what’s known as “The Ministry of Reconciliation”. When we take the time to look at 2 Corinthians 5:19 (AMP) in the Amplified Version we find it reads this way:
It was God [personally present] in Christ, reconciling and restoring the world to favor with Himself, not counting up and holding against [men] their trespasses [but cancelling them], and committing to us the message of reconciliation (of the restoration to favor).
There’s an important part to this verse that all those who preach that we can lose our salvation miss…because most of them contend that if we sin bad enough…then we’re not eligible to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. But…is that true? If it’s true that God is “not counting up and holding against [men] their trespasses [but cancelling them].” If it’s true that God is “not counting people’s sins against them” as described in the Common English Version. If it’s true our sins are no longer being counted against us because they were all judged at the same time on the Cross…then how can our sins eventually cause us to lose our salvation?
The truth is they cannot. Because God would be contradicting to say that He’s not counting our sins against us, and then turn around to tell us that if we sin bad enough once we confess Christ as our Savior that we sin our way out of eternal life with Him.
Here’s another set of Scriptures that speak to this point that are often overlooked…because in the end these people who preach that we can sin our way out of our salvation are really modern-day Judaizers who may believe that our we enter into salvation by faith, but that we have to some how maintain it. I don’t know about anyone else, but if my salvation in any way is my responsibility…then there’s no one that will enter into the Kingdom. I don’t know about anyone else, but I’ve been told that my righteousness is of filthy rags…that’s why when I receive Christ as my Lord and Savior I become the righteousness in God…how…in Christ Jesus.
Oh yeah…that other set of Scriptures is found here in 1 Corinthians 3:10-15 (KJV) and it reads:
10 According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise master builder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.11 For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.12 Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble;13 Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.14 If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.15 If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.
All of us who call upon the name of the Lord for salvation begin building our lives on the foundation of Jesus Christ. “For no other foundation can no may lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” The way we live our lives determines what we build upon that foundation…and our reward is determined upon our works. If all of our works burn up…we still have our foundation…and that means we’re still saved…and that we will indeed arrive in heaven blameless.
Paul is certain that God will work this persevering faith and holiness in his converts for the day of Christ. This is part of God’s faithfulness. That’s Paul’s expectation and confidence for his converts. But the certainty of their perseverance in faith and holiness is not automatic. That is, it does not lie within the converts in such a way that their faith and holiness will survive without God’s work in them.
The Christian convert as God’s new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17) does not contain the power to persevere. Rather, the new creation contains the link to the one who daily provides the power to persevere. And that link is sure, Paul says, because it is sustained decisively by God, not man. This is why Paul insists, “God is faithful; he will surely do it” (1 Thessalonians 5:24; cf. 1 Corinthians 1:9).
The other thing to think about here is the fact that God is always working in us, and will continue working in us and upon us until the day of Christ. We become new creations, and that means that we were once headed to hell…but we’re now on our way to eternal life with Jesus. However, just because our eternal destination has changed…that doesn’t mean we have changed. There are still things that we need to work on, overcome, and allow God to work out of us. That…friends…is the sanctification process…not the “salvation process” as some would have you to believe.
Salvation is not a process…it is an event. Sanctification is not an event…it is a process. Holiness is instant because the holiness we receive is Jesus’…but the daily walk with God that allows us to become new creations in Christ lasts a lifetime. God is faithful…and He will complete the work that He begins in all of us…because He’s not only faithful…but He’s perfect…and we’re all in the process of being perfected…because God’s the One who is doing the perfecting.
Nevertheless, though it is certain for all who are new creatures in Christ, Paul tells believers, “You . . . [Christ] has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, if indeed you continue in the faith” (Colossians 1:21–23).
The holiness that we are to have at the day of Christ’s coming is contingent on continuing in the faith. This contingency does not contradict certainty. God is faithful; he will do it. But no believer should think that he will be ready to meet Christ if he does not “continue in the faith.”
God’s faithfulness is experienced in his continually awakening in us the grace to keep believing. He keeps us. And he does it by giving us the passion to treasure him and pursue holiness.
This talk about “continuing in the faith” is an interesting point, and brings me to another point. There is only one way that we can lose our salvation, and that’s by deciding to not continue in the faith. Let me explain. Continuing in the faith is not contingent upon me not sinning, but it’s contingent upon me continuing to hold on to my faith that Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the life…and the ONLY way to heaven.
I can hear the question. How then can we lose our salvation? By leaving the faith. By faith we are in, and by faith we are out. It really is that simple. If I were to all of a sudden decide that those Muslims have it right, and start worshipping Muhammad…that’s leaving the faith. If I decide that there’s something in those Buddhists that I like, and decide to start worshiping Buddha…that’s leaving the faith. That is the ONLY way that we can lose our salvation…period.
I know the angry comments are coming. Those who are going to try to bring to me the verses about working out our salvation with fear and trembling. I know all the verses that you’re going to try to write to me about to pad your argument on how certain people will not inherit the Kingdom of God, and I appreciate all that you’re going to try to prove…but all I have to say…is that either Paul is lying when he wrote that God is not counting our sins against us…or your theology is wrong.
Paul does not simply watch this dynamic play out in the lives of his converts. He prays for them. And what he prays is that they will, in fact, be pure and blameless on the day of Christ.
It is certain they will arrive safely in faith and holiness at the day of Christ. That arrival is contingent on persevering faith. And Paul’s prayers are the agency God uses to bring them safely home. (Philippians 1:9-11, 1 Thessalonians 3:12-13)
It is certain they will arrive safely in faith and holiness at the day of Christ. It’s important to pray for those whom are within our sphere of influence whether they know Jesus or not. Usually whenever I pray for people who don’t know Jesus I usually pray that if it’s not me who leads them to Jesus then God will lead them to someone who they will listen to that can and will lead them to salvation, and a relationship with Jesus. It’s also important to do like Paul does, and pray for those who do. Prayer is one of two of our offensive weapons…and one of the most important things when it comes to prayer…is making sure we know well the other offensive weapon of our Armor…the Word of God.
Why? This goes back to our “Why Read The Bible?” series. The Holy Spirit’s obligated to respond to the Word of God. The Word of God is where the power of the Holy Ghost is because His ministry is to point to Jesus, and point to the Word of God…and when the Word of God is spoken…it’s then that the Holy Ghost can move. Just keep in mind that until God spoke…the Holy Spirit hovered…and when God spoke…then the Holy Ghost brought forth light, and the rest of Creation…but nothing happened without the spoken Word of God.
Therefore, let the truth of Paul’s certainty make us sure. Let the truth of contingency make us serious. And let the truth of agency make us to surround ourselves with praying brothers and sisters who intercede for our faith and holiness.
One last point on prayer is the one that John Piper makes here. Make sure you surround yourselves with people who will keep YOU covered in prayer. Especially those of you who are in ministry. It’s important that we have prayer warriors committed to praying on our behalf…Amen!?!
So…we can be certain that God’s working in our lives to perfect us, and it’s because we’re in Christ that we can be assured we will arrive blameless in Heaven. Again…it’s not because of our works or our holiness that we will enter into eternal life…it’s because of Jesus. If you’re a whosoever that’s called upon the Name of the Lord to be saved…you are going to Heaven. If you’re a whosoever that has not called upon the Name of the Lord to be saved…you are not going to Heaven. It really is that simple friends.
When the Lord gave me the theme for this year: “Getting Serious About Being Serious With God” that was the catalyst that helped get me to take the step into the ministry that I knew I’d been called in for more than 10 years. It’s one thing to embrace the call…it’s a whole new thing to actually begin to walk it out…and I’ve to say that since I’ve begun walking it out…it’s been an amazing ride…and I’m thankful that the ride has only just begun.
Finally…pray always…pray without ceasing…and make sure you surround yourself with people who are committed to praying for you. These are three very good points…and I hope it’s helped to answer the question of how you can be assured that you’ll arrive in Heaven blameless.
Father…thank You for a message like this. We all from time to time need that re-assurance because there’s so many in the religious world that would have us to believe that getting to Heaven is contingent upon us…that we’re responsible for getting ourselves to Heaven. Thank You for messages that remind us that we’re not going to Heaven because of what we do or don’t do…or because we earn it. We are going to Heaven because we have believed upon and confessed Your Son as our Lord and Savior…remind us always that the road to Heaven is only as wide as Jesus’ shoulders…in Jesus’ name…Amen & Amen