God’s case is open to all and all may receive the benefits of the eternal message. But, like the drowning man to whom a rope has been thrown, the rope must be grasped in order to be of any value. The fact that God loved man so much that He provided the plan and the Man to secure souls for eternity is an overwhelming blessing. Scoffers and doubters aside, believers ought to be continually on their knees humbly and contritely praising their Maker and Redeemer for His goodness and mercy. The fact that He provides direction with the promise of deliverance should be a comfort to every heart. It must also be obvious from the examples and illustrations found in His case that the system of faith it describes places a specific degree of responsibility upon every soul. Every individual is accountable for a personal response to it. There are things that must be done; the rope must be grasped. While it is true the great God could have saved the spiritually lost without requiring any effort on their part, His case reveals plainly that this was not His plan.
From the very beginning the divine record illustrates God’s required obedience from His creation. In Genesis chapter two the record states: “Then the LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it.” (Genesis 2:15). God placed man in the garden and required him to keep it. In verse 17 of chapter 2 we see that God also commanded the man not to do something: “but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Genesis 2:17). The Old Testament is replete with examples of God’s requirement that man respond obediently in order to receive His blessing.
With the coming of Jesus and His subsequent sacrifice as the only suitable offering for the sins of mankind, God could have chosen to accept this offering as the only requirement necessary for redemption. However, again the record is clear, God did not relieve men of the responsibility to obey Him and follow stated commandments. It should be clear to those who seek the Lord and read His book that He has not relaxed His standards nor His demand that His followers be obedient. Jesus Himself said: “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me.” (John 14:21).
Those who followed Jesus during His ministry asked Him on one occasion: “What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?” (John 6:28). His answer clearly indicated both what He considered a work of God and what must be done in its regard: “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.” (John 6:29). Faith, Jesus said, is a work of God and you must exercise that faith. Men are charged by God to believe and respond accordingly to the requirements of the gospel message. The apostle Peter knew this and when asked by the Jews who had cried out for the crucifixion of Jesus, what they needed to do to be forgiven of this grievous sin, he responded to them: “Repent, and let everyone of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins...” (Acts 2:38). They were required to work the works of God. Their faith in Jesus necessitated that they repent and turn from sin to God. In the same verse Peter also says they must submit to baptism in the name of Jesus that their sin might be forgiven. Here were two of the works of God upon which their salvation depended. Notice what Peter did not say to those who asked him what they must do. He did not say to do nothing because Jesus had done it all for them. It is true Jesus had opened the door for their salvation by offering Himself on the cross of Calvary, but they were obliged to grab the rope through their faith in and their obedience to His will.
God’s case still calls for all men everywhere to believe and obey. “If you believe what you like in the gospels, and reject what you don’t like, it is not the gospel you believe, but yourself.” (Augustine).
C.E. White is a native of Nacogdoches who graduated from NHS in 1965 and SFA in 1974. He is a Navy veteran and refers to himself as simply “a Bible student.” He may be reached at email@example.com.