The “great salvation” that Jesus has secured for us has three parts. One part is justification, which is what we receive when we accept Christ. This is a “gift” received by faith in Jesus Christ alone and cannot be earned by merit or lost by demerit.
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” - Eph 2:8-9 (KJV)
The second part is where the Church gets all mixed up. We are presently in a process of sanctification i.e. God is working in our lives little by little each day and making us more like Jesus. If we cooperate with God in this process, we will receive a reward. However, if we insist on going back to depending on ourselves like before we accepted Christ, we run the same risk as the Israelite s did of not inheriting all that God has prepared for us.
“Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; [Notice that Paul calls the readers of this “brethren.” They are saved.] And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and did all eat the same spiritual meat; and did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.” - 1 Cor 10:1-4
Moses pleaded with God to forgive their sin and God “pardoned” them.
“Pardon, I beseech thee, the iniquity of this people according unto the greatness of thy mercy, and as thou hast forgiven this people, from Egypt even until now. And the LORD said, I have pardoned according to thy word”: - Num 14:19-20 (KJV)
These people ate “manna” for forty years and God sustained them but refused to allow them to inherit the promise land because of the sin that he forgave them of. The penalty for their sin was the loss of “inheritance”
What was their “sin”? Consider their exodus from Egypt. How did they qualify to get out of Egypt alive? They put the “blood of the lamb” on the doorposts and over their doors. This was an act of faith. How did they cross the red sea? They followed Moses in “faith”. In both of these cases, they were utterly powerless to deliver themselves. This is the same way we come to Christ. While they were in the wilderness, they tempted God ten times.
“Because all those men which have seen my glory, and my miracles, which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have tempted me now these ten times, and have not hearkened to my voice; Surely they shall not see the land which I sware unto their fathers, neither shall any of them that provoked me see it:” - Num 14:22-23 (KJV)
The point is that they refused to keep trusting in God as they did when they came out of Egypt and crossed the Red Sea. To cap it off, when Moses sent out the twelve spies to search out the promise land, ten of the spies came back with a statement of unbelief.
“But the men that went up with him said, we be not able to go up against the people; for they are stronger than we. And they brought up an evil report of the land which they had searched unto the children of Israel, saying, the land, through which we have gone to search it, is a land that eateth up the inhabitants thereof; and all the people that we saw in it are men of a great stature. And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, which come of the giants: and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.” - Num 13:31-33 (KJV)
These are true statements for men without God. That was the problem, God wasn’t asking them to do anything different than when he told them to leave Egypt and cross the Red Sea with Moses. God did all the work, but they had to walk it out with their eyes fixed on him. The bottom line is that they refused to fix their eyes on God and were therefore powerless as “grasshoppers” in their own eyes. They were redeemed by the blood over the doorposts but “disinherited” by their refusal to keep walking with their eyes fixed on God. As Paul continues,
“But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness. Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted. Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, the people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play. Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand. Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents. Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer. Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” - 1 Cor 10:5-12
For those who have accepted Christ, “idolatry” and “fornication” can be overcome by fixing our eyes on Jesus just as we did when we first believed. However, when we refuse to keep our eyes on Jesus we run the risk of falling under the same judgment of those “murmuring” i.e. being discontent in all things and tempting Christ, i.e. mockingly challenging him to do something to prove his power.
“For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” - Heb 10:26-31 (KJV)
Notice that these people are classified as “his people”
“There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” - 1 Cor 10:13 (KJV)
This verse in context is speaking to believers who were being tempted to take their eyes off of Jesus and return to a sinful lifestyle and is a parallel to the Israelite s who considered the “giants” as a task too big for God who had brought them out of Egypt.
The believer who refuses to keep their eyes fixed on Jesus and overcome the sin temptations in their life runs the same risk as the unbelieving Israelites. I am not speaking of sinless perfection here but a spirit of allowing God to work in our lives and cause us to grow into overcomers.
“How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him”; - Heb 2:3 (KJV)
As Israel had a great deliverance out of Egypt and through the Red Sea by keeping their eyes on God, we who have believed in Christ have likewise received a “great salvation.” However, as the Israelite s refused to keep their eyes on God and were judged for it, we likewise will be judged if we “neglect” to keep our eyes on Jesus.
May God help us to hold our “first confidence firm to the end” that we may “escape” the judgment the Israelite s received and “inherit” all he has planned for us.
God bless, Orval