Many people live lives that don’t appear to be a Christian lifestyle. Are we able to determine whether people are saved or lost upon their death?
We are in no position to assess someone’s state of heart nor their destination upon death. A person may be a believer, who rebelled against the Lord in a severe and lasting way. If so, then that person was welcomed into the Lord’s presence in the manner Paul describes in 1 Corinthians 3: Christian Lifestyle
1 Corinthians 3:12-15 (NKJV)
12 Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. 14 If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.
If someone never accepted Christ as the savior in a sincere way, and after a period of living as a cultural “Christian,” they gave up the act and returned to their true nature. If so, then that person was demonstrating the truth that Peter taught: Christian Lifestyle
2 Peter 2:20-22 (NKJV)
20 For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. 21 For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them. 22 But it has happened to them according to the true proverb: “A dog returns to his own vomit,” and, “a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire.”
In the first example, the Bible teaches that believers can – and do – stray from the Lord. In their disobedience, their life can resemble the life of an unbeliever. These children of God may even deny the Lord, much as Peter denied Christ during His trial. These denials are, in fact, lies just as Peter’s denials were lies. Though it may be hard to accept, a true believer may claim to be otherwise, may sin in appalling ways and make every effort to distance themselves from Christ in this life. Christian Lifestyle
But as Paul wrote:
Romans 8:38-39 (NKJV)
38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
In the second example, the Bible teaches that people can portray themselves as Christians in a convincing way, even to themselves. These portrayals include confessions of faith, the appearance of godly living, and even a degree of Biblical knowledge and piety. The Pharisees of Christ’s day are the best example of this kind of counterfeit religious observance.
Nevertheless, such impostors were never truly born again as one of God’s children. The missing ingredient was saving faith. The Bible says that saving faith is a gift of God, not something men acquire for themselves:
Ephesians 2:8-9 (NKJV)
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.
This is the “gift of salvation.” Saving faith itself is a gift, and once it comes to a person, they confess and believe are saved forever. The gift comes with the power of the Holy Spirit, Who indwells the person permanently as a down payment on the eternal inheritance God has granted to the believer: Christian Lifestyle
2 Corinthians 1:21-22 (NKJV)
21 Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, 22 who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.
Ephesians 4:30 (NKJV)
30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
Therefore, while we cannot say what happens to someone upon death, we can caution anyone from arriving at a doctrinal understanding through an analysis of any one person’s life. Since unbelievers can act like believers and believers can act like unbelievers, we cannot rely on such observations to form conclusions about the truth of salvation.
“The author’s biblical interpretations and conclusions presented in this document rely on original teaching used by permission of Verse By Verse Ministry International (VBVMI). The author’s views may not represent the views of VBVMI, it’s Directors or staff. Original VBVMI teaching may be found at http://www.vbvmi.org.”
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