Saturday, May 08, 2010

Second Chances

Second Chances

“...they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12.

Are there second chances in life? Absolutely. Second chances are available for just about every aspect of life. Our God is a God of second chances, and third and forth and on they go. “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9. This verse is indeed encouraging, and rightfully so.

“Longsuffering is that quality of self-restraint in the face of provocation which does not hastily retaliate or promptly punish; it is the opposite of anger, and is associated with mercy, and is used of God.” – Vines Expository Dictionary.

That’s our God, longsuffering; even though we at times are quite rebellious He’s loving and patient, full of grace and mercy to us-ward. But the question is, will God be patient forever? Many have heard the Gospel of Christ, and cannot make up their minds whether or not the Christian life is for them. Still others simply rejected it. Either way, knowingly or not, these folks are relying on God’s longsuffering and patience.

“For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:” 1 Corinthians 15:3, 4. Just so we are all clear on what the Gospel of Christ is, I just played a trick on all those reading this commentary who claim they’ve never received the Gospel. You just did. Now we can move on.

Those who hear (or read) the Gospel and yet choose to put off their decision for Christ while they wallow in their desired sin just a tad longer are playing with fire. Those who’ve just outright rejected Jesus Christ haven’t a clue as to what they are playing at. Why? Time is the procrastinators Achilles heel. “And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.” Romans 13:11.

You say you want to wait until after the Rapture of the Church, if there is such a thing, to say yes to Jesus Christ? The word of God says not to delay, but when we hear the Gospel message we are to repent of our sins.

With all the signs of the times currently exploding onto the scene, and knowing what the Bible says about the end times believers in Christ know God is on the cusp of ending His self imposed longsuffering. If this is so, what happens to second chances then?

We all make mistakes, and oh how great it is when we are given a second chance; a chance to right the wrong we’ve committed. I’m sure everyone reading this commentary has had occasion when they can remember being afforded a second chance, perhaps even more than once. There will come a time though when all God’s second chances will end.

The Holy Spirit of God works in mysterious ways, ways we cannot comprehend. He works ever diligently, never tiring, pointing everyone to Jesus Christ. But there comes a time when the continual in His face rejection of the truth moves the Holy Spirit away from that soul. When a person hardens their heart to the extreme against God there’s a point of finality when the Holy Spirit ceases His work. Then those poor misguided souls are left to their own destruction.

People, for the most part, don’t understand God and His far reaching love for His creation. Where you and I might have given up on a person, believing them to be a lost cause, God sees far past our perceptions of who’s a lost cause and who’s not. A terrible place for any human to be though is in that place where the Holy Spirit finally decides enough is enough. I’d like to say that this just isn’t the case, but the Bible says differently.

“…because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved... That they all might be damned” 2 Thessalonians 2:10b & 12. This means they were offered the truth by the Holy Spirit of God, and that God was patient with them to a point you and I would consider extreme, and yet they continued in their rejection of God’s only begotten Son.

The Gospel of Christ has been preached around the world and, for the most part, in every language. So for the majority of earth’s human population the Gospel of Christ is a fairy tale. This rejection God calls blasphemy. These folks fall into a category for which this commentary was written. They are those who’ve rejected the truth of the Gospel, who have rejected the Holy Spirit’s convicting messages. This is essentially calling the Holy Spirit a liar, which is the blasphemy God speaks about and a condition, if not corrected, that will condemn the blasphemer to Hell “…because they receive not the love of the truth…” (v.10).

I’ve often been asked if, after the Rapture of Christ’s Church, people continue to be afforded salvation. The answer is yes. The 144,000 Jews for example (12,000 from each of the 12 tribes of Israel ) will be saved and will be witnesses for Christ and spreading His Gospel everywhere during the Great Tribulation. Many more will be saved because of the efforts of these and others. Yet we read, “... for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:” 2 Thessalonians 2:11. What cause? They rejected the love of the truth. Recognizing the truth during the Great Tribulation for those who’ve rejected it for years will be very difficult, if not impossible. And by the way, if you’ve heard the Gospel and are still fence setting that would be the same as rejecting the love of the truth.

So what happens to second chances after the Rapture? God tells us that because of the strong delusion He will send them they will believe the lie. Who? Our current world of Christ rejecters. Why? Because they were given chance after chance after chance to believe the truth, yet they rejected God’s truth at every turn. Harsh punishment from a loving God? Not at all. These are the folks who took pleasure in unrighteousness and hardened their hearts against their God.

So why believe a lie instead of the truth? What could that strong delusion consist of that would be so appealing? The Vines Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words tells us that it’s a fraud. We all know how frauds operate, always lying, working feverishly at their craft of deception convincing the simple minded that they have the truth. Frauds are appealing, that’s how they deceive. People are easily deceived when they are ignorant of the truth.

“Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,” 2 Thessalonians 2:9. This strong delusion, this fraud, this anti-Christ, with all his lying signs and wonders will take many gullible people with him to Hell.

There will be folks who come to Christ during the Tribulation’s seven year duration, I’m not disputing that fact, but here’s the rub, many more will not be saved, and they will not be saved because of the condition of their hearts now. God’s strong delusion being placed on earth will be the stumbling block that keeps many from salvation.

Completely rejecting Christ now, before the Rapture, will lead multitudes to commit a horrible mistake during the tribulation period. God’s not going to make it easy on those who’ve called His Holy Spirit a liar and rejected His only begotten Son. A lifetime of rejecting the truth is a good indication of who will believe the lie.

“That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” 2 Thessalonians 2:12. Those who fall for this delusional lie condemn themselves to Hell. Why? Because they took pleasure in unrighteousness instead of rejecting unrighteousness and accepting the truth. That damnation comes as a result of their own foolish choice. Hardening ones heart against God means one accepts the enemy’s lies as truth.

Those of you who have been assured that salvation will still be possible during the seven year Tribulation may want to re-evaluate that assurance and your stance on God’s free gift of salvation now, this side of the Rapture. There’s nothing standing in your way of believing the truth while there is still time. God has made His free gift of salvation accessible and easily acceptable, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved,” Acts 16:30b-31a. God offers His free gift of salvation universally to all. The truth is, waiting for another day to accept God’s gift of salvation is pushing foolishness to the extreme.

So many people have been lied to for so long about what it means to be born again, that people shy away from asking for forgiveness and repenting of their sins. Many have heard the Gospel and liked what they’ve heard, but they feel it would be impossible to ever stop sinning. So they wait until they, through their own self will, can stop this sinfulness they’re obsessed with. But in all actuality the opposite is true – repent and ask for forgiveness now and the sinning will decrease. People need to be educated in this truth by all who preach and teach God’s word.

All believers are sinners and will remain so until death or the Rapture. Even though a person is born again, born from God, they never stop sinning. But they are forgiven and that is the key. Forgiveness only comes through repentance of sins and by believing in Jesus Christ. Waiting to say yes to Christ and His Gospel after being given truth is akin to sitting at a bus station and waiting for a bus you know has already come and gone. Foolishness.

Today many pastors and Bible teachers teach that sin is completely abated when we become born again. That is a completely erroneous fabrication and blatant corruption of the truth. The Apostle John addresses that very subject in his first epistle.

“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” 1 John 1:8-10. Here John is speaking to believers. How do I know? Go to the next chapter of First John “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:” 1 John 2:1. Here John addresses those he’s writing to as “My little children” He uses this phrase in conjunction with believers and no one else.

When we read First John chapter 2 verse 1 it is obvious that he’s telling us to “sin not”. Clearly he wants us to be mindful of our nature to sin and to turn against that nature. Then John states this most telling verse, “And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:” (v10). Another way to translate this word “if” from the Greek is “in case”, in case anyone sin. That tells us that Jesus stands with us as our advocate with the Father in case we sin. Clearly the Holy Spirit would not have had John include the above verse in his epistle to the saints if there was no further sinning after conversion.

God is a God of second chances; this is what John addresses in this epistle. This is what needs to be taught even to non-believers as we witness to them, even to those who are continually sitting on the fence. They need to know that as a believer in Christ they will occasionally sin while residing on this side of eternity. But their sins will, over time, diminish. As a matter-of-fact they will begin to hate the sin and remorse will ultimately set in each time they sin.

All our friends and family members, who fall into this category of fence-sitter or of those who completely reject the truth of the Gospel, need to realize that after the Rapture salvation will be much more difficult to obtain because of the strong delusion God is going to place on all who’ve rejected His Son. It is pure foolishness to put off the decision to become a born again believer in Christ hopping God will give you one last future chance.

If you’re still a fence sitter it’s time to take that leap of faith, all second chances are about to reach their finale. Say yes to Jesus Christ, right now, please don’t wait any longer, the end is in sight, Jesus is at the door, planet earth is sitting late in her last hour. There will be no second chances once your residence is Hell, and one way or the other, believer in Christ or Christ rejecter, everyone lives forever, the only question remaining is which eternal destination have you chosen?

God bless you all,

Ron Graham

All scripture is from the KJV

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