Second Chance

Scripture: 2 Corinthians 6:2, Romans 2:13, Hebrews 9:27
The doctrine of a second probation, another chance in a future existence, is one of Satan’s greatest deceptions. He seems to whisper in the ear of the unwary: “You need not fear. There is another time when you can be good and gain a place in heaven. Enjoy the pleasures of this world now, and later you can prepare for the delights of heaven.” What pleasant reasoning! But how fatal!
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The question, “How would you order your life, if you had the chance of living it again”, is an interesting one. Often, as we look back over our past life and see the many mistakes we have mad, we thing: “How I wish I could go back and change that!” So many of our mistakes are made through ignorance! Had we known better at the time we would not have committed such follies.

In some religious circles this questioning is carried further, and the query is raised: “Will not a just God give mankind a second chance-another period in which he can live, profit by the experiences of the present existence, and show to the universe that he can obey God’s law?” Many men who after a life of sin, repented on the deathbed, have uttered the thought: “Oh that I might live my life over again, how different it would be!” Such conditions as these have led many to assert that God will grant to all humanity another period of time, in which they will, by right living, atone for their present evil lives.

Although this belief has spread rapidly throughout the world during the past few years, it is not a new conception. It is as old as history. If we go back to the time when records were first kept we find that the Egyptians believed in metempsychosis, or transmigration of the soul. That is merely another way of saying that if an entity had lived an evil life in one existence, he would have a chance in another existence to redeem himself.

The Hindus have carried this idea to its furthest limit. They hold that the soul passes from one existence to another. If its conduct in one life is exemplary, it will go a step higher in the next. If its conduct there is evil, it will go a step down again. According to their belief, a wicked man will, in his next existence, perhaps be a woman or a sheep. If he does not do better in that life, he may descend still lower and become an insect or even a vegetable. If, however, the man lives a good life, he will be born into a higher cast in his next existence he may even be a Brahman, or a priest. So, the Hindus believe, the soul goes on and on through hundreds and thousands of lives, until it eventually perfects itself, and finally becomes a part of the essence of God Himself.

Does the Bible say anything about a second chance? Yes, it does. When Adam and Eve were created, they were perfect and were not by nature subject to sin. God gave them the Garden of Eden for a dwelling place. A spot more delightful the heart could not desire. One thing, and only one, reminded them that they were not supreme in the universe-the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

God said to Adam and Eve, regarding the eating of the forbidden fruit: “in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” Genesis 2:17. As long as they kept away from this tree of the knowledge of good and evil, men were to enjoy their happy state of existence without interruption. But Adam and Eve did not obey God. They partook of the forbidden fruit and became subject to death. “The wages of sin is death.” Romans 6:23. “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23. According to these Scriptures, all mankind is subject to death because of sin. We have all broken God’s immutable law, and thus incurred the penalty of eternal death.

But no sooner had Adam and Eve partaken of the forbidden fruit, than Christ, the Son of God, made possible the second chance. It was as if He said: “Adam and Eve have sinned. They have broken God’s law, and are therefore subject to death. They cannot save themselves, and their only chance to escape the penalty must come from without. I, who am sinless, will die in their stead, that they may have eternal life.” Christ made this offer in the beginning. In Revelation 13:8 He is called “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.”

So when Adam and Eve had sinned and were driven forth from the Garden of Eden, they were not left in despair, but were told of the second chance they should have. “I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” Genesis 3:15. In these words, spoken to Satan, is the essence of the gospel. They foretold that one day the Savior would come into the world, that He would suffer affliction at the hand of Satan, but that ultimately He would bruise the serpent’s head- that is, conquer him.

Adam and Eve had their second chance in this life. They did not continue in sin and then depend upon a future existence to right themselves before their Creator. They accepted the promise at once, and began striving to live right lives. As Paul said to the Corinthians, “behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” 2 Corinthians 6:2.

The second chance that Christ offers is not only available now, but it is of faith, not of works. “A man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.” Romans 3:28. This same truth is made even more emphatic in Galatians 2:16: “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.” In this verse three times the truth is laid down that the works of the law cannot justify. That means that our attempts to live good lives can never redeem us, once we have sinned. Salvation comes only by faith in Jesus Christ.

The doctrine of a second chance in a future period of time, after this life is ended, is merely another phase of salvation by works. How prone man is to attempt to work out his own salvation! The Hindu attempts to save himself by lying on planks studded with nails. He attempts to atone for his sins by thrusting needles and hooks through his flesh. I’ve seen this myself. But all such attempts are futile. Salvation, our second chance, is not by works, but by faith.

Now it’s true that if we had the privilege of living our lives again, with the experience we have had in this life, some of us would avoid many mistakes we have made and would live a far better life than this one. But my friend, a better life is not enough. Nothing short of perfection pleases God. Could we in a second chance live a perfect life?

Would we stake our eternal existence on our ability to live another life without committing one small sin? Not one of us would. The idea of a second chance is just another phase of salvation by works-being saved by our own efforts. To try to save ourselves is to spurn Jesus Christ. What we should do is to substitute His perfect life, by faith, instead of our sinful one.

Friends, salvation is the work of a moment. It does not require a lifetime of righteous living to atone for our sins. There is no need of another life to make preparation for our present misdeeds. All that is necessary is to believe on Jesus Christ now. If we will not do that, if we will not believe the teaching of Moses and the prophets regarding the gift of eternal life, then we need not expect to have another span of life granted to us to do the work of a moment-accept the sacrifice of Christ.

It is faith in Christ that saves, but this faith must be proved by good works. “For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.” Romans 2:13. It matters not whether this doing, this keeping of the law, is for a period of a few hours, as in the case of the thief on the cross, it is righteous living that proves to God and our fellowmen that we have faith.

But somebody asks at this point: “What about the thousands and millions of heathens who have never heard of Christ and have never had a chance to accept Him? Will they not have the privilege of another life in which to hear of Christ and believe in Him?” Let us read what the Bible has to say on this point, “When the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves.” Roman 2:14.

Here’s another verse on it, “unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required.” Luke 12:48. We are assured that every man has a minimum of light at least; for John writes, “That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.” John 1:9. If a man lives in accordance with the light he has, however little that light may be, God accepts him as well as that of a man who is more enlightened.

Again some may ask: “How is it that every person who has ever lived has had this minimum of light, when so many people live or lived in benighted lands, where no missionary has ever reached them?” The answer is evident. Those who have never heard the written word of God have heard the voice of God through His other book, nature. Does not inspiration teach this in Psalm 19:1-4? “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth his handy work...There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard. Their line is gone out through all the earth and their words to the end of the world.”

By the study of God’s Word we find that all have sinned and are subject to eternal death. Through Jesus Christ, eternal life is offered to all men. This is the second chance. The man who has never heard of Christ, and yet lives up to the light he has, is accepted as though he had faith in Christ, and he gets his second chance in this way. We know that many persons receive repeated calls to forsake their sins and accept Jesus Christ.

They have many chances; but their punishment if they spurn these chances is the greater because of the greater light they have rejected. God has made it possible for Christians, as light bearers, to bring tidings not only of a second chance, but of a third, a fourth, and many more. “The Lord is ... longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9. All who have ever lived on the earth have had their chance of salvation and will confess in the judgment that God has been just with them.

Bear in mind that these chances of ours to escape eternal death come to us now, not in a future period. In this life every human being who has ever lived has had ample opportunity to be saved. “It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.” Hebrews 9:27. When our eyes close in death, then ends our opportunity for salvation. Our records as they stand at that moment must be met at the judgment bar of God.

Let me repeat that salvation is by faith. It is the work of a moment. Salvation makes us perfect in the sight of God, and we need only keep perfect in His sight until life shall close. If we sin again, we must ask for salvation again. Paul said that he died daily. By this he meant that he called afresh on the salvation of Jesus Christ every day.

This is our privilege, too. We have a new chance of salvation every day, whenever we succumb to the tempter’s power. As long as we keep hold of God in this way we are sure of eternal life. But if we continue in sin who knows when we shall be called to lay down our lives without having made peace with God?

This is God’s plan of salvation. It is ready for us at any time, any hour of the day or night. We can receive it when we are young or when we are old. He is ever ready to extend it to us when we sincerely desire it, and as often as we want it. With such a beautiful plan in operation now, what need is there for a future period of probation?

The doctrine of a second probation, another chance in a future existence, is one of Satan’s greatest deceptions. He seems to whisper in the ear of the unwary: “You need not fear. There is another time when you can be good and gain a place in heaven. Enjoy the pleasures of this world now, and later you can prepare for the delights of heaven.”

What pleasant reasoning! But how fatal! It is like an opiate. It soothes an aching conscience, but does not remove the cause of the disease nor stop its ravages. It only conceals the presence of the cancer that eats away our vitals, and allows it to work unhindered.

The divine fiat is, “Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” Matthew 6:24. If we attempt to follow such a course, the toils of sin will wrap us more tightly about, till there is no desire to escape. We cannot dally with sin. We must not put off until another time the acceptance of salvation. To do so is fatal.

When Paul urged Felix to repent, Felix answered, “Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee.” Acts 24:25. But he never called. If we thing in the future there will be another opportunity for salvation, we are tempted to put off the present call. Yet this call may be our last. Let us heed it while we may.



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