It took me by surprise when a friend of mine commented last week that he didn’t believe that something was a “salvational issue” so he didn’t think he needed to do it. Now, I won’t tell you what the issue was, because it doesn’t matter. What does matter is that 1) he acknowledged that the Bible shows that Jesus did it, 2) he acknowledged that the Bible shows that the disciples and new churches founded after the resurrection did it, and 3) he acknowledged that the Bible shows we will be doing it in heaven. But he doesn’t think he has to do it because he doesn’t think it is a “salvational issue”.
At the time, I told him that I don’t believe there is a single defining “salvational issue” for everyone. Scripture tells us that, “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.” (James 4:17)
I also told him that Scripture says, “And that servant, which knew his lord's will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.” (Luke 12:47-48).
One last verse I reminded him of was, “And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent.” (Acts 17:30)
These verses tell me that God is just and fair. That He won’t hold a bush native in the back woods of some third world country to the same standard as the son of a preacher in the United States, or that he won’t hold a mentally disabled child to the same standard as a genius. These verses assure me that if I accidentally sin against God in my ignorance, because I truly didn’t know better, that God will have mercy. But they also tell me that if I clearly know truth, and decide that my way is better, well, I think this is as good a time as ever to use the phrase “I’ll have hell to pay.”
What struck me later is that essentially, this is what he was telling God: "Look God, I know what your son, the Word made flesh, who is my example in all things, did. And I know what His disciples, who were taught by him and sent out to teach others, did. But, you know God, I think if I don’t do this anyway, you will still take me to heaven. So I’m not going to do it. So there." Might as well stick your thumbs in your ears, wiggle your fingers, wrinkle your nose, and chant “nah na nah na nah na.” Not a good idea. Doesn’t that seem dangerous? Arrogant? Sinful? Rude? Silly? Suicidal?
It also calls to mind the two Proverbs that are identical. That should give us our first clue – how many verses are repeated word for word just two chapters apart? Proverbs 14:12 and 16:25 both say, “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.”
We can’t trust what we think, especially when it flies in the face of what Scripture teaches.
God tells us in Isaiah 55:9, “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
Friend, if your Bible tells you that Jesus and his disciples did something and that we will be doing it in heaven, don’t you think there is a blessing for you if you do it now, too?