Following the second world war a man wrote about his combat experience and the fact that during that time he was dependent on native people for his survival as he fought against America’s enemy. He wrote that without those natives, who risked their lives to keep him safe, he would not have survived. As a result of his adventures he wrote a book titled No Man is an Island which became a best seller. Later a movie was made based on the book. I was privileged to see the movie. Though certainly not in the same sense, the lives we live today are lived in a social situation in which we are surrounded by and are dependent upon other people. Other people grow our food, build our cars and houses, make our clothes, create our electricity, fly our planes, etc. Socially, we are almost totally dependent on people who share our part of the earth. Though the individual-social connection dictates much, if not most of our daily lives, the connection does not apply to our spiritual lives. Our salvation is not a group affair. In the final analysis, THERE WILL BE NO CORPORATE SALVATION. THE INDIVIDUAL ALONE IS RESPONSIBLE FOR HIS ETERNITY. Being a “member in good standing” is irrelevant.
When asked if one is a Christian, is saved, ready for the rapture, etc. the standard responses from church people fall into the range of: “I belong to ______ church or faith,” or “I am a _______.” Note that the “proof” of one’s relationship with God is normally based on one’s affiliation with other people, normally a religious group. A group is involved even when “I know Jesus Christ” is used as proof of one’s right standing with God because one “knows” he is a Christian, saved, born again, etc. because others assured him of this “fact” after he completed the group’s prescribed ritual. Throughout the remainder of his life others continue to assure him of this “truth” each Sunday when they all meet together. The common focus within Institutional Christianity is the church and “we.” The common focus within God’s church is God and “me.” As the Scriptures repeatedly reveal, salvation is a one-to-One (individual to God) situation. The fact that like-hearted (minded) people come together to worship Him does not alter this Truth. In the final analysis, when we come before Jesus Christ on “that day,” we will each have to account for our lives as individuals. Now let us obey God’s command to “Prove all things of (that pertains to) God; hold fast that which is good” (1 Thes. 5:21). For the Very Elect of God, “That which is good” refers ONLY to that which is found in His Holy, Spirit-breathed Bible. Why? Because we will be judged by ALL THAT IS WRITTEN THEREIN AND NOTHING ELSE (Jn. 12:48-50). Now let us look into the mind of God so as to learn His Truth about the individuality of salvation.
But before we go to God’s Truth let us examine our daily social lives for evidence of the human tendency to blame others for one’s actions. Several years ago a man in Dallas was on a killing spree. He would ride his motorcycle around Dallas in search of victims. He specialized in gas stations. He would find someone at a pump, ride up to him/her and shoot them. Several people died at his hands before he was apprehended. More recently a man was found guilty of killing several people for no apparent reason. When asked why they had killed innocent people, both pointed the finger at their fathers who had treated them badly when they were children. Others have gone on mass killing sprees because of the way others, usually their peers, have treated them. Others, they claim, caused them to do what they did. They claim no personal responsibility. Does such a “I am what I am because of them” theology exist in the church?
Multiplied billions of people belong to a church (faith), believe what is taught by that group, “know” that they are saved because they belong to that group and believe what is taught by that group, declaring it to be “The Word of the Lord.” A few questions are in order: how did they come to belong to that church; why do they believe what is taught by that church; how do know they are saved, have a mansion in heaven awaiting them, etc? The answer to all those questions is singular: because their parents, grandparents, etc. had belonged, believed, etc. and taught them to follow in their footsteps because they were in the “right” group. This is called “coattail religion.” In other words, coattail Christian are “saved by association.” Ironically, if some of their relatives turn out to be evil (meaning they do not belong to their church, etc.) they are not automatically condemned–they are not “guilty by association.” Strange how that works.
As an aside, and having absolutely nothing to do with the subject at hand, I have noticed in the sports world that many athletes, upon winning, scoring, etc., point upward toward God, thereby giving Him credit for their success. However, when they fail, make a mistake, etc. they do not point toward Him. Question: if He is responsible for their success, as they indicate by their finger-pointing, why is He not responsible for their failure? Just wondering. Now back to what actually matters.
One of the best proofs that salvation is an individual undertaking is found in the Messiah’s prayer to the Father found in John 12:44-48. Here He is referring to salvation and those who would seek it. One will notice that in His prayer He repeatedly uses the singular words “he” and “him” in reference to eternal life. Of course this includes females. Here Jesus makes such statements as “he that believes;” “he that believes not;” “he that sees Me;” “whosoever believes (singular tense);” “any man;” “judge him;” “he that rejects Me;” “judges him,” etc. Notice that the terms “they” or “them” are not used. Though the corporate Church of God (not the denomination) will be saved, salvation of those within that group will receive the promise strictly on their individual character and conduct. We must all judge ourselves and “work out our own salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil. 2:12). This means that we must be absolutely certain that we are basing our faith for eternal life strictly on God’s Holy Word by which we will all be judged. Faith, God tells us, comes directly from that Word (Rom. 10:19). As I have said so many times: IT ALL GOES BACK TO THE WORD–the ONLY information we have about God, Jesus, salvation, etc. L.J.