Sandy Seventh-day Adventist Church

Hope and Healing For All People

The Choice

In teaching Sabbath School over the years at other churches, I would ask my class just once a most important question with a raise of hands: “If a bomb were to drop here right now and we’re all gone, how many of you believe that the next thing you would see is the Lord Jesus coming back to take you home?” The response was almost always a few hands quietly raised up. The last time I asked that question of my class at a nearby church, only one very enthusiastic hand shot up… he was a visitor! After discussing that puzzling occasion with my dear wife, she suggested that I was asking too personal of a question, so of course folks would hesitate to raise their hands. I never asked that question again.

I really had to stop and think how I would react as a student in a Sabbath School class if the teacher posed the hypothetical question regards an abrupt end to this life, and then awakening anew, realizing that Jesus returned in the sky, and that an angel was lifting me up, so I would live eternally with Him, with true happiness and joyfulness; with sin and suffering and fear and death forever banished, and I would never again be separated from loved ones… but was just too personal to raise my hand?

Ultimately, the real answer to this question hinges upon your deep belief regards the “assurance of salvation.” A simple thumbs up or thumbs down response was likely too simplistic and revealing. On the one hand, we are supposed to spread gospel simplicity with life eternal through faith in Jesus perfect sacrifice for us. On the other hand, there are many stark warnings in the Bible and thousands of other books and documentation that place our own decisions and choices squarely in the path of salvation’s assurance. Where do you stand in all this?

Have you ever observed a very self-assured Christian who proclaims their salvation as of a certain date and time?... no matter what they do afterwards? That’s “Once Saved Always Saved.” Sadly, mainstream Christianity is packed full of variances on that theme, which originally stemmed from Calvinism. John Calvin believed that there is no real freedom of choice; you are preselected to either be saved or lost, regardless of what you ever say or do. The more current accepted version is that once you do accept Jesus, right then you are irrevocably locked into salvation. Does that sound a little presumptuous to you?

We as Seventh Day Adventists rightly believe that our power of choice is never revoked, but that also means that salvation may be acquired and then lost, repeatedly. That is often called “carousel salvation”: one moment you’re saved, the next moment you’re lost. Does that sound right to you?

As World War III progresses and spreads across the planet, my original hypothetical question regards a bomb may not be quite as hypothetical anymore. So should we raise our hand or not raise our hand if asked if we have the assurance of salvation? Should we ‘shoot the messenger,’ and ‘tar and feather’ the teacher who asks such loaded questions and ‘run him out of town on a rail?’

My best answer is that you always do retain the power of choice; so indeed continue to let Jesus be your Lord, guide, savior, and the love of your life. However, if you do stumble or fall or become discouraged (as happens to us all), Jesus is also your advocate, full of mercy and grace and love. Let Jesus pick you back up, dust you off, heal your wounds, refill you with hope, love, and the Holy Spirit, and keep you moving forward to the finish line (As Paul said in Philippians 3:14). Then indeed the next thing you will see is Jesus returning with His angels to bear you up and take you to your eternal home with Him… to include your family and your loved ones.

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