A slightly difficult uphill and narrow way in Tobago
Until sunset tonight (October 8, 2012) is a Holy Day often called as the Last Great Day. It helps picture an important part of God’s plan of salvation.
Whether or not you profess to be a Christian, do you actually understand God’s plan of salvation?
At risk of possible gross oversimplification, there are many incomplete as well as inaccurate views of what God’s plan of salvation is that I will attempt to briefly summarize:
- Evangelicals and Certain Other Protestants: God is trying to save everyone now through the name of Jesus. But since most have not heard the message of Christ, most who ever lived will be eternally lost.
- Calvinist Protestants: God is not trying to save everyone now and never had a plan to truly offer salvation to all as all humans are sinners who deserve eternal punishment. Yet, God is so merciful He sent His son to die for a few (roughly 1-3% of the population) that were predestined to be called now and saved, and this shows that God has love. Nearly all who ever lived will be eternally lost.
- Unitarians: God does not really care what you believe or do, but if you try to lead a decent life, He will save you. Note: This is not the position of unitarian groups like the Jehovah’s Witnesses and some others, but the position of those generally known as Unitarians (like a group I once visited near where I live).
- Universalists: God loves everyone and will save everyone.
- The LDS (Mormons) teach that God since will not condemn those who for no fault of their own have not accepted Christ, that He will save many through baptism for the dead. Hence they try to find the names of the dead through genealogical research and have people baptized in proxy for them.
- Although the Eastern Orthodox tend to consider that God’s plan of salvation is highly sacramental, they tend to teach that God’s plan is not one terror and that somehow God may save people up through the time of the White Throne Judgment.
- Catholic: God wants to save everyone, but most will not be saved. Despite not hearing the name of Christ, God has a plan and will save some from the pagan religions who strive to live right and will give salvation to Catholics who have gone through the right sacraments at the right time.
The Evangelicals and many other Protestants are right that it is only through the name of Jesus that one can be saved (Acts 4:10-12). But they normally limit when God can do this and do not understand about the age to come (Matthew 12:32; Mark 10:30; Luke 18:30; Hebrews 6:5).
The Calvinists are right that all are sinners (Romans 3:23) and that God has predestined some to be called in this age. But they neglect that since God is not a respecter of persons (Acts 10:34, KJV), that others who think that there hope is cut off will receive an opportunity (cf. Ezekiel 37:1-11).
The Unitarians are correct that God wants people to “live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age” (Titus 2:12). But that is not how one is saved. For it is “by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
The Universalists are right that God loves everyone and that God wants all saved. However, since some will intentionally reject God’s offer of salvation, not all will be saved (cf. Revelation 20:13-15).
The Mormons are right that God has a plan of salvation that involves the dead who have not committed the unpardonable sin (see also What is the Unpardonable Sin?). Yet the idea that this will happen because of ritualistic baptism for peoples names found in genealogical records is incorrect. Plus, since God is not a respecter of persons (Acts 10:34, KJV), one does not give the opportunity for salvation because one happens to have been part of a culture that maintained birth, marriage, death and/or other historical records.
The Eastern Orthodox are right that God’s plan is not really intended to be one of terror. And while God actually does intend the time of the White Throne Judgment (Revelation 20:11-12) as part of His plan, since the Orthodox do not observe the Fall Holy Days they misunderstand much of the actual plan.
The Catholics are right that God does have a plan of salvation and that plan includes reaching out to those who have never known the God of the Bible. However, since every knee will bow to Jesus Christ (Philippians 2:9-11), all who will be saved will have to accept Him as savior. Plus, salvation is not mainly a sacramental process as the Catholic tend to emphasize (though the Bible does state that believers need to repent and be baptized as the Apostle Peter taught in Acts 2:38).
The biblical reality is that while God wants to repent (Acts 17:30), He knew that all would not. And so to reduce the number of humans who would commit the “unpardonable sin” (see What is the Unpardonable Sin? ) and thus not be eligible for future salvation, He allowed Satan to blind and deceive most in this age (cf. 2 Thessalonians 2:9-11; Revelation 12:9; 13:14).
We in the real Church of God believe that the Bible teaches that God made everything and it was “very good” (Genesis 1:31) and that “this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments” (1 John 5:3). And that God made humans upright (Ecclesiastes 7:29), but that humans felt that they could decide to disobey God’s commands (Genesis 3:6)–such disobedience is harmful to themselves as well as others and leads to death (Romans 6:23). Because of that disobedience, God stopped humans from having immediate access to the tree of life on their own (Genesis 3:22; John 6:44)–even though He had a plan of redemption from before “the foundation of the world” involving Jesus (Revelation 13:8, plus see the article Universal Offer of Salvation: There Are Hundreds of Verses in the Bible Supporting the Doctrine of True Apocatastasis).
We in the genuine Church of God believe that God gave humans 6,000 years to live their own way (please see the article Did The Early Church Teach Millenarianism and a 6000 Year Plan?). And that humans will mess things up so bad, “unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved” (Matthew 24:22).
But because God has a plan for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 13:38) and a God of love (1 John 4:8,16; John 3:16), that He will intervene and send Jesus to establish a millennial kingdom on earth (Revelation 11:15; 20:4). During this 1000-year reign the world will become beautiful again (Isaiah 35:1-10; 58:12) (see also Did The Early Church Teach Millenarianism?).
After this thousand year reign, all who ever lived will be resurrected (Revelation 20:5). The judgment will begin (Revelation 20:12) and God will plead His case (Isaiah 3:13; Jeremiah 25:31). When humans see how they started out with a very good and beautiful earth and messed up and nearly completely destroyed it in their 6,000 years, it appears that they will realize that humankind that distanced itself from the true God cannot properly govern itself. However, when they see how when starting with a messed up and nearly completely destroyed earth at the end of the 6,000 years (please see the article Does God Have a 6,000 Year Plan? What Year Does the 6,000 Years End?), that it was restored to being very good again, like Eden (Isaiah 51:3), because people obeyed the King of Kings during the millennium (please see Did The Early Church Teach Millenarianism?), then apparently nearly all who ever lived will repent of their ways, accept Jesus as the Christ, and will live God’s way of life.
Since God is love (1 John 4:16), we in the genuine Church of God believe that He has a plan that takes into account how human beings would have rebelled against Him (cf. 1 Peter 1:20-21). We also believe that God is smart enough to have developed a plan that does not result in the vast majority of humanity having to suffer endless torment. Thus we believe it is logical that His plan will result in nearly everyone who ever lived, no matter what their religion or background was, to be saved. And that there are hundreds of verses in the Bible that show this—and this is God’s will (2 Peter 3:9; John 3:16-17). This plan is also consistent with writings about Christianity throughout history—though most in modern times seem to wish to overlook that fact. And a little known fact is that there are hundreds of verses in the Bible that show this (documentation is in the article Universal Offer of Salvation: There Are Hundreds of Verses in the Bible Supporting the Doctrine of True Apocatastasis).
We believe that the biblical Holy Days reveal God’s loving plan of salvation (see article Is There “An Annual Worship Calendar” In the Bible?), yet because most who profess Christ keep non-biblical days such as Christmas and Easter, they simply do not understand that God has a plan which will result in nearly everyone who ever lived to be saved.
We believe that since God is a God of love that He wanted to reproduce Himself and share His joy to all that He could and that His plan of salvation accomplishes this. This concept of God “reproducing Himself” for us to be truly part of His family is not totally foreign to what passes for mainstream “Christianity” as even the Catholic and Orthodox “Saint” Athanasius (fourth century) taught of Jesus, “For He was made man that we might be made God” (Athanasius. On the Incarnation of the Word, Chapter 54, Verse 3) (for additional details on this doctrine, please see Deification: Did the Early Church Teach That Christians Would Become God?).
Jesus was clear that only a few will find this way in this age:
23 Then one said to Him, “Lord, are there few who are saved?” And He said to them, 24 Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able (Luke 13:23-24).
14 Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it (Matthew 7:14).
32 “Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. (Luke 12:32)
So only some few will be called in this age. And there is an “age to come” (Matthew 12:32) where even infamous sinners will have an opportunity (cf. Matthew 10:15;11:22).
The Bible clearly teaches:
“all flesh shall see the salvation of God” (Luke 3:6).
Those who did not truly see and understand this plan of salvation will have it explained to them. And that is what the Last Great Day pictures.
Notice what Jesus taught:
37 On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. 38 He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” (John 7:37-38)
The Last Great Day helps demonstrate that all who ever lived will have an opportunity for salvation–an opportunity most will accept (John 7:37-39; Romans 11:25-26; Ezekiel 37:11-14; Hebrews 9:27-28). Those who do not observe the same Holy Days that Jesus and His disciples did, normally do not truly understand God’s plan of salvation.
A major reason that I originally became part of the Church of God is that in addition to proving all things from the Bible, I truly believe that since “God is love” (1 John 4:16) that He has a plan of salvation that will ultimately result in everyone being called and nearly every one who ever lived being saved.
Some articles of related interest may include:
Hope of Salvation: How the Genuine Church of God differ from most Protestants How the real Church of God differs from mainstream/traditional Protestants, is perhaps the question I am asked most by those without a Church of God background.
John Calvin, Calvinism, TULIP, and What is Predestination? Who was John Calvin? Did he believe in sola Scriptura or did he hold to unbiblical doctrines? TULIP analyzed.
What is the Meaning of Life? Who does God say is happy? What is your ultimate destiny? Do you really know? Does God actually have a plan for YOU personally?
Universal Offer of Salvation: There Are Hundreds of Verses in the Bible Supporting the Doctrine of True Apocatastasis Do you believe what the Bible actually teaches on this? Will all good things be restored? Will God call everyone? Will everyone have an opportunity for salvation? Does God’s plan of salvation take rebellion and spiritual blindness into account?
Some Dissimilarities Between The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS) and the Real Church of God The genuine Church of God is not related to the Mormons and this article explains some differences and a couple of similarities. Also, might certain LDS prophecies apply to Mitt Romney?
Some Similarities and Differences Between the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Genuine Church of God Both groups claim to be the original church, but both groups have differing ways to claim it. Both groups have some amazing similarities and some major differences. Do you know what they are?
Did the Early Church Teach Purgatory? Is there a place called purgatory? Does God have a plan to help those who did not become saints in this life?
What is Limbo? Is There Such a Place as Limbo? What Happens to Babies When They Die? When did Limbo start being taught? What is the truth about dead babies?
Which Is Faithful: The Roman Catholic Church or the Genuine Church of God? Do you know that both groups shared a lot of the earliest teachings? Do you know which church changed? Do you know which group is most faithful to the teachings of the apostolic church? Which group best represents true Christianity? This documented article answers those questions. Português: Qual é fiel: A igreja católica romana ou a verdadeira igreja do deus? Tambien Español: ¿Que es fiel: La Iglesia Católica Romana o la Iglesia verdadera de Dios? Auch: Deutsch: Welches ist treu: Die römisch-katholische Kirche oder die Kirche Gottes Original?
What is the Unpardonable Sin? What is it? Can you repent of it? Do you know what it is and how to avoid it?
Is There “An Annual Worship Calendar” In the Bible? This paper provides a biblical and historical critique of several articles, including one by the Tkach WCG which states that this should be a local decision. What do the Holy Days mean? Also you can click here for the calendar of Holy Days.
Passover and the Early Church Did the early Christians observe Passover? What did Jesus and Paul teach? Why did Jesus die for our sins?
Should Christians Keep the Days of Unleavened Bread? Do they have any use or meaning now? What is leaven? This article supplies some biblical answers.
Pentecost: Is it more than Acts 2? Many “Christians” somewhat observe Pentecost. Do they know what it means? It is also called the Feast of Harvest, the Feast of Weeks, and the day of firstfruits. What about “speaking in tongues” and being led by the Holy Spirit?
Did Early Christians Observe the Fall Holy Days? Did they? Did Jesus? Should you?
The Book of Life and the Feast of Trumpets? Are they related? Is so how? If not, where not?
The Day of Atonement–Its Christian Significance The Jews call it Yom Kippur, Christians “The Day of Atonement”. Does it have any relevance for Christians today?
The Feast of Tabernacles: A Time for Christians? Is this pilgrimage holy day still valid? Does it teach anything relevant for today’s Christians? What is the Last Great Day? What do these days teach?
Holy Day Calendar This is a listing of the biblical holy days through 2017, with their Roman calendar dates. They are really hard to observe if you do not know when they occur