'Jesus came to save sinners': that is the message of His incarnation, death on the cross, resurrection and ascension. That is the large print of God's blood covenant in His Son. It is the message to all humanity. When we believe Jesus' words of life, we are saved.1,2 Yet there is an important aspect to the salvation message. Jesus did not come only with words, but also with deeds: He suffered and died on the cross. Similarly God expects those who accepted His blood covenant to put deeds to their words. The latter is the small print of the blood covenant in God's Son. At the last judgement, which He entrusted to His Son, only the records (of people's obedience or disobedience) will speak. No one will be able to call on or rely on God's mercy and grace for sinners; the time for that will be over. Only those who passed successfully through the judgement will be saved from the pool of fire and will enjoy God's grace and mercy eternally.
The progression is interesting: God revealed Himself in words and deeds (when He created and throughout the history of Israel); Jesus came with words and deeds; and we as believers also have to have deeds to support our words of faith. 1 Peter 4:17 states that 'it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God,' so believers are not exempt from judgement. It is for everybody ('the dead, great and small') according to Revelation 20:12-15. So Christians also have to obey God (2 Peter 1:5,8,10; 3:14). God desires that all people will be saved, but He is righteous and only the books (Scripture [it is the constitution] and the books of our lives will be used to decide who is going to which destination [heaven or hell]). Why does the Bible tell us that? Isn't salvation free and an act of mercy from God? It is, but the foundation of God's throne is righteousness and justice.3 Nobody will be given any preferential treatment. Only facts will speak. Unbelievers, whose names are not found in the book of life, whose deeds were antithetical to Scripture, are thrown into the lake of burning sulphur, while those whose lives corroborated with Scripture, will live with God eternally.
The following are a few examples of the 'fine print':
- The world will hate the disciples: John 1:4-5; 15:18-19.
- In Luke 14:15-31 He explains some principles about being a disciple: following Jesus and forsaking family, taking up your cross (not my will, but Yours be done), calculating the cost, giving up everything for the Gospel.
- Luke 18:22 advises disciples to sell and give to the poor, because the rich will be saved with difficulty.
- Mark 8:34-38 reiterates the same principle: Christ died for us, so we 'die' for Him, by not being ashamed of Him and His words as recorded in Scripture.
Why is Jesus so 'insensitive' to tell us to forsake everything and love the Lord our God above all else? The theory is: Jesus saved me. The practice is: what I do shows what salvation means in my life and that is recorded in the books. NB: It has to be understood clearly that nobody can ever 'earn' heaven. It is a gift. What is important, however, is to remember that faith without works is dead. If someone is indwelled by the Holy Spirit and lead by the Scriptures it has an effect on his life style, because faith grows and develops (2 Peter 1:5-11).
1. John 5:24. 'I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.'
2. John 6:63. 'The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life.' Vers 68. "Simon Peter answered him, 'Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.'"
3. Psalm 89: 14.