by Wayne Blank
"I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. I do it all for the sake of the Gospel, that I may share in its blessings." (1 Corinthians 9:22-23 RSV)
God is the Creator of freedom. Our salvation is ultimately in our own hands, based on the choice that we each make for ourselves. But to make that choice, that responsible choice that we will each be held personally accountable for later, by God, we must know the Truth - there will be no wicked rebels in the Kingdom of God, and there will be no truly repentant Believers in the lake of fire.
Throughout Bible History, God's servants experienced wonderful happiness when the message that God sent them to proclaim was accepted. Their joy was so often bittersweet however, because always along with those who accepted the Truth were those who rejected it, or who fell away later. Although their duty was done, and therefore their consciences were clear, God's servants had to live with the heavy burden of the knowledge that their ministries would provide much of the evidence for the later "separating of the sheep from the goats," that the purpose of their ministries, the fruit, was that one portion, by their choice that they made for themselves, would find glorious eternal life, while the others, by their choice that they made for themselves, will be cast into the lake of fire. A bittersweet feeling, indeed.
Creating The Evidence For Innocence Or Guilt
Only God has the power to forgive or to condemn when it comes to salvation, so what is meant by God's servants "binding and loosing"?
In the New Testament, the translated English word bind is from the original Greek word pronounced day-oh, meaning to tie or be bound. The translated English word loosen is from the Greek word pronounced loo-oh, meaning to break up or melt.
God's servants were witnesses of the Gospel, teaching and preaching it. They were witnesses in terms of what they proclaimed, but they were also witnesses in terms of creating a record (that God alone holds in heaven) of how each person, that they came into contact with, accepted, or rejected, the Truth - the "evidence" for that individual, for good or bad, that God will examine on the Judgment Day:
"Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it; from His presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Also another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, by what they had done." (Revelation 20:11-12 RSV)
And where did Jesus Christ say what is "written in the books, by what they had done" on the Judgment Day will come from?
"Then He began to upbraid the cities where most of His mighty works had been done, because they did not repent. 'Woe to you, Chorazin! woe to you, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I tell you, it shall be more tolerable on the day of Judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You shall be brought down to Hades. For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I tell you that it shall be more tolerable on the Day of Judgment for the land of Sodom than for you." (Matthew 11:20-24 RSV)
The "keys to the Kingdom" is the Truth of the Gospel message, but the servant can only open the door for those who pass by; the actual power of entry is in the hands of every individual who hears it. It's up to each person, by their own free choice, to decide to accept or reject it, to enter while the door of their personal salvation is open, or to be left outside, not in the shivering cold, but in the blazing heat, after it has been shut.
Fact Finder: Is the entire earth going to be purified by fire?