Grace Bible Church
Robert R. McLaughlin Bible Ministries
The TREE OF LIFE is a weekly teaching summary.
The Tree of Life for week ending 05/27/01.
The Motivation Believers Should Have Toward the Unbeliever
As we celebrate Memorial Day and bring into remembrance those who have given their lives for this great nation, we can see an application to our current study in PHI 3:3, the doctrine of the Book of Life. We are now on Point 5, The Book of Life in Relation to Unbelievers.
According to the word of God the military is vital to the client nation. A client nation is a national entity under the promotion of God, assigned the responsibility for the formation, preservation, communication, and fulfillment of the canon of Scripture. The United States of America, with whatever faults we have, is still the greatest nation in the world because we are God's client nation.
Memorial Day is meant to bring into memory the soldiers and heroes who have died or who have made a tremendous sacrifice for their country. It is extremely important that we honor them, and it is good for us to have a day to remind us of what they did for us. The act of giving one's life so that others may live in freedom has always been awe inspiring. This principle is brought to its fullest in what our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ has done, to die a spiritual death so that all mankind would have the opportunity to live forever with Him. This is, of course, why we celebrate the communion service the first Sunday of every month (1CO 11:23-27).
The observance of Memorial Day goes well with the doctrine of the book of life. We see in PSA 69:28 that all unbelievers had their names in the book of life in eternity past. Their names are officially blotted out of the book of life on the day of their death, but originally the names of all members of the human race were recorded in the book of life. Why? Because in eternity past God the Father knew every single sin that the entire human race would ever commit, and He provided the solution (salvation) for every member of the human race, ACT 2:22-23, "Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know this Man, delivered up by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death." The Lord Jesus Christ was not put to death by the Jews or the Romans but by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God.
In JOH 3:18, we read "He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God." It does not say because his name was "not in the book of life" but because he "has not believed" in the name of the only begotten Son of God. All unbelievers were once in the book of life as it relates to eternal salvation. There is not a person alive right now, including all of your friends and loved ones, whom God does not desire to live with Him for all of eternity.
2Pe 3:9 The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.
1TI 2:3-4 This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
God selected every member of the human race to have the opportunity to be saved by giving them life. The very fact that we all have human life is God saying in effect, "I will for you to be saved, you are in my book of life!" Therefore, the fact that many are not saved is simply a matter of their own negative volition. It is their responsibility. God has done everything He could without violating man's free will. He does not will that all men should be saved and then do nothing about it. For God to impute human life to a soul and then cast that person into the lake of fire to burn forever, not by their will, but only because of Adam's original sin imputed to them, would be to say that God is not fair or just. It is God who gives the spark of life at physical birth, and He would not do so unless He had a plan for the salvation. This is the principle of the unlimited atonement.
2CO 5:19 Namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.
No person in the entire human race had his own sins imputed to him after Adam. In JOH 3:17 our Lord said, "For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him." In eternity past, all sins were foreknown and then imputed to Jesus Christ in time. The Trinity held a counsel and dealt with the entire issue of sin in eternity past. All those sins would then be imputed to the Lord Jesus Christ for three hours on the Cross, 1PE 2:24, 1CO 11:24, 2CO 5:21.
The unlimited atonement eliminates sin in the unbeliever's indictment at the last judgment. No one is ever judged for their sins; they are evaluated by God on one issue only-they will be asked this question in MAT 22:42, "What do you think about the Christ?" The unlimited atonement teaches that the names of every member of the human race were written down in the book of life from eternity past.
Point 6: The Motivation Believers Should Have Toward Unbelievers Because of the Book of Life.
It is not God's will that any should perish, 2Pe 3:9, but that all men should be saved, 1TI 2:3-4, and this should be the mind of Christ that is manifested in the believer. The reality that people are not saved comes from negative volition and rejection of the Gospel on their part (not a "limited" atonement), and it has nothing to do with the will of God. Christ was judged for the sins of the entire human race on the Cross, therefore everyone can be saved! The fact that everyone's name was written in the book of life offers potential salvation for the entire human race but restricts actual salvation to those who believe in Christ. God provides salvation for both the elect and the non-elect, the saved and the unsaved, and that is grace! God even knew the people who would not believe in Christ, and He still made salvation available; this is the impersonal love of JOH 3:16. If you need to be reminded of anyone this memorial holiday, remind yourself of the One who gave Himself up for you and who was judged for our sins in His own body on the Cross.
A great passage for increasing our understanding of this subject is found in 2Co 5, beginning at verse 14, "For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died..."
Occupation with the Lord Jesus Christ is a giant step in the Christian way of life; it is a complete change in your spiritual motivation. It means basically that your love for Christ is what motivates you. Your spiritual life is going to fall apart from time to time and place to place, but motivation from your love for Christ will keep you going. People may let us down from time to time, even the church may let us down; however, our love for Christ keeps us going forward. Your knowledge of the book of life and love for the Lord Jesus Christ will motivate you to reach out for others even if you do not particularly care for them.
Jonah was one of the most successful evangelists in the Old Testament, although he couldn't stand those to whom he was sent (the people of Nineveh), JON 3:1-4:11. In this passage, Jonah learned that Christ died for everyone, including those who hated and despised Him, because every member of the human race had a name in the book of life. When He was hanging on that cross and the crowd laughed and ridiculed and blasphemed Him, it never stopped Him from bearing the imputation of their sins, TIT 2:11, "For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men."
While we do feel the repercussions of our sins now and then, we are not being judged for them. Your sins, my sins, the sins of the entire world were judged only once, at the Cross. Any evangelist who makes an issue out of your sins is ignoring the Word of God. The issue is not "sin," the issue is Christ, the "Son." One does not renounce sins, repent from his sins, nor do anything about his sins to be saved. Here is where evangelism becomes heretical, misleading, and evil, and an insult to the character and nature of God.
- Sin is not an issue in salvation, MAT 22:42.
- Sin is not an issue in the judgment of the believer, 2CO 5:10.
- Sin is not an issue at the last judgment for the unbeliever, REV 20:11-15.
Sin was only an issue at the Cross, 2,000 years ago, and the doctrines of the book of life and the unlimited atonement clearly teach, "Do not make sin an issue!" When you think of sin you have to consider two things:
1. The Cross, where all sins were judged.
2. The law of volitional responsibility.
While you will never be judged for your sins, you must take the responsibility for your volition and your own sinful decisions.
This love of Christ in 2CO 5:14 "keeps on motivating us." It does not come from emotion, singing hymns, or joining a church; it only comes through Bible doctrine in the soul. Once you are motivated by your true love for the Lord Jesus Christ, you will never be embarrassed when witnessing, because you are not embarrassed to talk about someone you are in love with. In 2CO 5:15 we see the result of proper motivation, which is impersonal unconditional love toward all mankind: "And He died for all, that they who live should no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose gain on their behalf." This means to take the doctrines learned and apply them to life, to apply principles such as "faith-rest," which simply takes doctrine printed on the brain's neurons and applies them to the situations of life. Man was not designed to live for himself.
- Man manufactures the problems.
- God manufactures the solutions.
Proper thinking becomes a tremendous form of energy. Mental attitude is one of the most important factors in life. Your energy and contentment in life are related to what you think or fail to think. Many believers have a totally unbiblical mental attitude towards everything in life. They take themselves too seriously, and magnify the problems by thinking the worst. What we need to remember is that all of us have experienced injustice at one time or another,1PE 2:18-21; 1PE 3:13-17; 1PE 5:7-9, "Casting all your anxiety upon Him, because He cares for you. Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world." Every person sooner or later experiences some form of genuine injustice. However, you can find yourself in a bad situation and still overcome it with the right energy and the right motivation when you have the right information printed on the neurons of your brain.
Our Lord came to "seek and save that which was lost," LUK 19:10, and He did not come "to call the righteous, but sinners," MAT 9:12-13. This is the mind of Christ and it should be the mind of the believer, PRO 11:30, Dan 12:3,1CO 9:19, JUD 1:23. If we truly believe that unbelievers are headed for a lost eternity in the lake of fire, brimstone, torture, blackness, pain and suffering, a bottomless pit, then we would surely do all in our power to persuade men to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.
Here is the challenge to believers in 2CO 5:15, to live "for Him who died and rose again on their behalf." In order to do this the believer needs spiritual energy or spiritual motivation which comes from the thoughts of the neurons of the brain, which need to be "programmed," 2CO 10:3-7. Thinking can make you or break you. Failure to print the proper information on the brain becomes one of the greatest tragedies of life. Thinking is very vital, and, for the believer, it falls into two categories:
1. Divine viewpoint.
2. Human viewpoint.
Everything that you learn and that goes into those neurons falls into one of these two categories. You will either look at life consistently from the divine viewpoint or from human viewpoint. Human viewpoint is nothing but destructive and distracting, MAT 7:14, "For the gate is small, and the way is narrow that leads to life, and few are those who find it." There is therefore a conflict in the soul of every believer between these two viewpoints over the source of his energy-which way will you choose to think? The greatest energy that God has given He has given to the soul, that being His very own thoughts.
Printing the neurons of the brain with human viewpoint causes people to think of themselves way beyond their ability, which in turn causes arrogance, GAL 6:3, "For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself." This does not mean the lack of ability or attractiveness; it simply means no doctrine printed on the neurons of the brain. Throughout the New Testament we have command after command to take in divine viewpoint, 1CO 2:16, PHI 2:5, ROM 12:2, 2CO 10:4, COL 3:2. Mental attitude determines your real character, and a flawed mental attitude means a flawed character and a flawed personality. A godly mental attitude means a godly character and personal love for God as motivation; however, this requires a lot of time spent printing divine viewpoint on the neurons of the brain.
When you regard people from human viewpoint you will feel threatened by them. You recognize someone as better looking than you or as having a better personality, better talents, or anything else, and you eventually begin to feel jealous and threatened by others and their success, talent, and abilities.
2CO 5:16 Therefore from now on we recognize no man according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer.
Notice the word "Therefore," which is a reference to the previous two verses-because we are in love with Christ, because He died for all, because all are dead (verse 14), and because we who live do not live for ourselves (verse 15)... "Therefore [verse 16] from now on we recognize no man according to the flesh..." From now on we know no man according to the old lifestyle, the old sin nature, or the old way of thinking, human viewpoint. "After the flesh"means on the basis of our former standards, when we were insecure and felt threatened, and we couldn't stand people because we were jealous. Because of constant competition we had vain and empty ambitions. Paul is saying that from now on we know no man through human viewpoint. We no longer look at life the way we once did. We now have a brand new system of thinking because as 2CO 5:17 puts it, "We are new creatures," a new spiritual creation.