I have said things in these letters that sound as though one must work their way to Heaven. Of course I donít believe that and if it were so, it does away with the idea of justification by faith. Justification by faith is the linchpin of the Christian religion. So how do we explain the idea that to be part of the first resurrection one must do more than just to believe in Jesus?
I have tried to make the point that the world of mankind, which includes everyone that has ever lived, will have an opportunity to gain eternal life. The thousand years of the Millennial Age will be for the purpose of allowing them to work their way up "the highway of holiness". This will be actual effort put forth by each person to overcome his or her imperfections. It will not be a case of justification by faith but of actually being made right with God by their efforts. "The Christ", Jesus and his Church will be the "Mediator" between them and God.
The difference between that and now is that the probationary members of the Church in this age are justified by faith. That means that they are made right with God not by their own efforts but by Jesus covering their imperfections. They are in training for a great position. The training must be done now. When they get to Heaven with Jesus there will be no turning back. God will make no mistakes in the ones he chooses, but the effort and work they do now in preparation for their position then is the only time they have to do it. The work they do now is not to earn the reward but to prepare them for it. There is nothing anyone can do to earn his or her place in Heaven. Faith in the shed blood of Jesus is what makes it all possible. Paul in Romans 12:1 and 2 tells the requirements. "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God".
If one can do that, they can be assured that they will have a place in Godís kingdom. If they are sincere they will make every effort to do the Lordís will and it will not be to try to earn their way to Heaven. The Bible is full of instructions as to what is and is not proper conduct for the Christian. And work on ourselves is the chief thing we need to do. Paul makes this plain in 1Cor.13. He uses love as the thing we need to develop. After listing a number of things we might do he says, "without love we are nothing". No one is perfect and without the help of Jesus no one would make it. But there are many scriptures of reassurance. 2Peter1: 3-11 is one.
No matter how we describe these things we need to bear in mind that the decisions we make and the actions we take have a bearing on the position we have in Godís kingdom. To support this statement I will quote 1Cor 9: 24-27. Here the Apostle Paul has this to say, "Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway."
If the Apostle Paul could be a castaway what does that say for us?