I cannot recall the entirety of the context of the conversation, but the owner of the local market ended it with, “Well, its better than the alternative.”
The subject matter is irrelevant, his response, coming from a man who attends church on a regular basis, was not exactly unexpected by me, but it was made known that it was unquestionable, the alternative was his own death, and by saying what he said, it was revealed to me that there is no assurance of salvation in this man. “They have ears, but they hear not; neither is there any breath in their mouths.” (Psalm 135:17)
There was a saying popular among the men and women of God years ago that is not heard very much today, and it is this, “There but for the grace of God go I.” The world has basically altered it to “Well, it could be worse,” giving no glory or even reference to the Almighty, which is to be expected, whatever our adversary can do to take the eyes of man off the Lord God, he will do, and the fitting verse here for that is Isaiah 53:6, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.”
I believe that in heaven, when those who have arrived home before us gaze over hell, there but for the grace of God go I is heard many times, for it is by grace through faith in Jesus Christ that we are saved from the wrath of God. Not baptism, not by any works of our own, grace alone, faith alone, Christ alone. It is the shed blood of the Savior that God accepted for the sins of all mankind, it is faith in the Word of God concerning Jesus Christ that saves a man, only Jesus Christ could do what was required, what was necessary for us to come to the Lord our God.
“For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” (2 Cor. 5:21)
I pity those that sit in the pews of religious organizations, of works-based churches, even in many places that dare to call themselves Evangelical that hope in salvation but have no assurance of it. How can one say with Paul, “Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.” (2 Tim. 4:8) Unless they have that assurance, how can doubt to that point of not only the possibility of no assurance, but the loss of it even enter into the mind of one who trusts in the truth of John 10:28, “And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.” Or Romans 8:38-39, “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
There is no proof, no validation of the assurance of salvation in one who says, “It’s better than the alternative.”
I cannot recall if I said it or not, my memory is not what it used to be, and it has never been very good, but the wise man would have immediately said, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Phil. 1:21) and then questioned that man on his faith in Christ.
The alternative, death, is better for those who have been crucified with Christ, we long for righteousness, we long to be in His presence eternally, to be freed from this body of sin, to go past the point of sanctification to the moment of glorification.
“There but for the grace of God go I.”
I would ask you to memorize those words, contemplate them each time you think on one you once knew who died in their sins, who now resides in hell. Think on them when you are trying to be good enough, when you meet those who say you must be baptized, that you must follow the prescribed ordinances or traditions of any church. Repeat them when you meet those that say that the shed blood of our precious Savior was not sufficient in itself for the salvation of the soul of man.
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Eph. 2:8-9) It was grace that saved wretches like us.