I would like to share with you the following email, which I received this week:
First of all, thank you for bringing the message of Good News. Partly due to the positive effect of your website and studies, I can now truly say: "I am not ashamed of the evangel." Previously this was different.
The fact that Jesus is the Savior of all mankind, means that you can never rely on self-righteousness. You can not say "I have chosen for Jesus", because it was Jesus who chose us. And so it is 100% grace. That is crystal clear, when it comes to "incorruptible, imperishable life".
Yet, this brings to mind the following question: How does this relate to "eonian life"; "life in the eon to come? If the reception or rejection of that life still depends on whether or not one believes, would that then not give one reasons to boast about having exercised faith, as an act of self-righteousness? Because I receive eonian life due to having believed, does that then not give me a little bit of a reason to credit myself? Does this not mean that the reception of eonian life is not 100%, but maybe only 99.9999% grace? Is that life then only for those people who have been lucky enough to have heard of Jesus?
May I ask you to comment on this?
With friendly greetings,
A very good question. All of mankind is destined to receive justification and life, in the same way that all of mankind is condemned to die. These are not choices. but inescapable facts. GOD arranges all of this. But what about eonian life, concerning which I wrote in my previous blog? That is not for everyone, but only for those who believe. Is this, after all then, still due to a little bit of self-righteousness? No, and no again! In Acts 13:48 we read:
"Now on hearing this, the nations rejoiced and glorified the word of the Lord, and they believe, whoever were set for life eonian."
>A beautiful statement! What was it that made these people in Antioch believe? Answer: they were destined for eonian life. Note: they were not destined for eonian life because they believed, but conversely, they believed because they were destined for eonian life. So it is written. Listen to Paul, as well, in Ephesians 2:
"8 For in grace, through faith, are you saved, and this is NOT OUT OF YOU; it is God's approach present, 9 not of works, lest anyone should be boasting."
The words "this is not out of you" (neuter), apply grammatically to both, "saved" (masculine) and to "faith" (feminine). This means that there is no reason for us to boast in ourselves with respect to salvation or faith. We are receiving (cf 1Cor.4:7). It is a privilege that is allotted to an individual.
For many this is an unacceptable message. Such was already so in the days of Jesus, when He was here on earth. In John 6, we read that He said:
"64 But there are some of you who are not believing." For Jesus had perceived from the beginning who those are who are not believing, and who it is that gives Him up. 65 And He said, "Therefore have I declared to you that no one can be coming to Me if it should not be given him of the Father."
Who were the ones who came to Jesus and believed on Him? Jesus said, those to whom it is given by the Father; as He had explained earlier in this chapter:
"44 No one can come to Me if ever the Father Who sends Me should not be drawing him."
And what was the response to this message?
"66 At this, then, many of His disciples came away, dropping behind, and walked no longer with Him."
It is not popular to tell people that God takes care of everything and that faith, too, is a gift from above. But it is the truth. And instead of Jesus bothering to keep people to stay with Him, He asked those who were remaining if they also would not want to go away. Knowing that it is GOD Who chooses, draws and gives faith, all actions "to keep people" cannot be qualified, except as being the work of man. Perfectly useless, because "the flesh is not benefitting anything" (John.6:63).
"67 Jesus, then, said to the twelve, "Not you also are wanting to go away!"
68 Simon Peter answered Him, "Lord, to whom shall we come away? Declarations of life eonian hast Thou! 69 And we believe and know that Thou art the Holy One of God." 70 Jesus answered and said to them, "Do not I choose you, the twelve…?"
Peter understood it: believing in Jesus was not his own choice. He had no alternative, he simply could not do otherwise. And Jesus confirmed it: the twelve had not chosen Him, but He had chosen the twelve (cf John.15:16). Including Judas. Everything is proceeding according to plan. No one can boast, because no one has made himself. "The words of eonian life" are received only by those who are destined and chosen for this purpose. It is grace. Not for 99.9999%, but for the entire 100%!
Translation: Peter Feddema