Thursday, January 28, 2010

Safe to Save?

Are you safe to save? It may sound like a funny question, but it is one that has incredible import. We know, of course, that it is God’s highest desire that “all men” and women might “be saved” (1 Timothy 2:4). But there is also another important objective in Christ’s grand plan of salvation: He wants to restore the universe to complete harmony, security, and safety.

Think about it for a second: would you want one of your neighbors in heaven to be a person who merely professed Christ with his or her lips and yet was a murderer? Don’t get me wrong: any person who, by God’s grace, repents and turns away from sin has a place in God’s heavenly mansions—no matter how speckled his or her past life has been. But Christ is pretty clear when He says that “to him who overcomes” (see Revelation 2:7, etc.) He will grant the privilege of ultimately being saved. If a person has not “overcome” here on earth, they will not “overcome” in heaven.

And this is good news, not bad news. We see this illustrated in our government here in the United States, which grants every citizen freedom and liberty—but this is the important part—so long as that person’s freedoms and liberties do not encroach upon someone else’s freedoms and liberties. Our Constitution is set up in such a way that it provides freedom and protections, not only for the individual, but for every individual.

And this is the fine balance that God is seeking to achieve here in this universe. He desperately wants everyone to live forever with Him, but if there is a person who, by being granted eternal life, endangers the freedoms and liberties and safety of anyone else in the universe, then God has no choice but to exclude that person from eternity. As Nahum 1:9 tells us, “Affliction will not rise up a second time.” This is Christ’s goal—to make sure that affliction, distress, and trouble do not creep into the universe’s existence ever again, after Satan and the wicked are destroyed. Thus, any rebellion whatsoever—however minimal—that remains in our hearts will have to be eradicated here and now if we wish to enjoy eternity.

Notice these powerful words, expressed 120 years ago:

Were justice extinct, and were it possible for divine mercy to open the gates to the whole race, irrespective of character, there would be a worse condition of disaffection and rebellion in heaven than before Satan was expelled. The peace, happiness, and harmony of heaven would be broken up. The change from earth to heaven will not change men’s characters; the happiness of the redeemed in heaven results from the characters formed in this life, after the image of Christ. The saints in heaven will first have been saints on earth (1888 Materials, p. 731).

Doesn’t this speak to God’s awesome goodness? He wants everyone to be eternally saved—yet He also wants to make this universe eternally safe. And so, in His infinite wisdom, He figures out the balance between the two.

And, in the end, you and I will be able to sleep peacefully at night in heaven, knowing that we will always have pleasant and loving neighbors!

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