Faithful to the end

“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” I Corinthians 5:58

It is important to understand the argument of the entire book of I Corinthians before we look at the end of I Corinthians 15. All of the failings of the Corinthians – their divisiveness, pride, insensitivity to immorality, idolatry, taking each other to court, etc. (1:11; 3:1-3; 5:9-6:20; 11:21-32) – each expressed a tendency to pollute God’s truth with human wisdom. This tendency is again evidenced in I Corinthians 15 by some in the Corinthian fellowship who were doubting the future resurrection of believers from the dead (15:12).

It is no mistake that Paul both begins and ends this epistle with arguments concerning the content of the gospel. In 1:18-25, he showed that their divisions were caused by a misunderstanding of the gospel. Human wisdom said that the message of Christ crucified was foolishness; Paul countered that while the gospel is foolishness to those who are perishing, it was God’s power for those being saved (1:18). At that point in his letter, he only focused on Christ’s crucifixion (1:17, 18, 23; 2:2).

Now, he addresses the questions of some concerning the bodily resurrection of believers, again pointing to the gospel message, focusing here on the resurrection of Christ – to show the error of their thinking (15:1-19). Again, Paul points out that mixing human wisdom with the gospel message, does not result in clarity, but in confusion. In this case, it is the blessed future hope of resurrection that is sacrificed on the altar of human wisdom. The historical bodily resurrection of Christ was central to the gospel message the Corinthians believed. The Corinthians knew the gospel; in fact, they received it, and were standing firm in it (15:1). What Paul really wants to make known to them is that by denying the doctrine of the bodily resurrection of all believers, they are actually denying the resurrection of Christ, and thus the gospel! This had escaped their notice.

Paul wants his readers to know that the good news (euangellion) of Jesus’ death and resurrection is foundational to healthy Christian living. Christians cannot live a victorious life for Christ if they stop believing in any aspect of the good news, especially Jesus’ substitutionary death, His bodily resurrection, His soon return, and their own bodily resurrection and acquisition of glorified bodies (15:1-57). This is why Paul concludes I Corinthians 15 by saying, “Therefore…” (15:58a). The word “therefore” refers to all that Paul wrote about the centrality of the bodily resurrection of Christ to the gospel message, Jesus’ soon return, and our own bodily resurrection and acquisition of glorified bodies (15:1-57).

Paul refers to his readers as “my beloved brethren” (15:58b). They were dearly loved by the apostle and by Christ Himself. Knowing we are very much loved by someone gets our attention and opens our hearts to hear more from him.

Paul challenges them (and us) to “be steadfast, immovable” (15:58c). The primary meaning of these two words is to be faithful to the gospel message Paul has handed down to us. Paul is telling us not to stop (“be steadfast”) or move away (“immovable”) from preaching the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Even though many theologians, seminaries and churches are mixing good works with the gospel message, we must not move away from the pure gospel of grace message which proclaims faith alone in Christ alone who died for our sins and rose from the dead. No matter how difficult it is to proclaim Christ’s death and resurrection, we must remain firm and unwavering in our commitment to preach the clear and simple gospel message given to us by the Lord Jesus and His apostles.

But there is more. Paul writes, “always abounding in the work of the Lord” (15:58d). The word “abounding” means to serve Christ above and beyond the expected measure. When it comes to preaching the death and resurrection of Christ to a lost world, we are to give Jesus our very best effort, not our leftovers. Notice that this all out effort for Christ is to be given “always,” not just occasionally.

Why are we to always give Christ our very best when we preach His gospel message? Paul tells us in the last part of the verse. “Knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord” (15:58e). Since Christ’s resurrection guarantees our own (15:1-57), our service(“labor”) for Christ is not “in vain” or of no value because at the Judgment Seat, Christ will richly reward those who remain faithful to preach the gospel of His death and resurrection (cf. I Cor. 3:8-4:5; 9:24-27; 2 Cor. 5:9-11).

Prayer: Precious Lord Jesus, thank You that I am dearly loved by You. Thank You for entrusting me with the privilege of proclaiming Your death and resurrection to a lost world. Let me not stop or move away from preaching Your clear and simple gospel message. Knowing that Your resurrection guarantees my own future resurrection and appearance at the Judgment Seat, motivates me to do my very best for You each and every day. Lord, I long to hear You say to me, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.” Gaining Your approval means more to me than anything else. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Why is it important to meet with other Christians?

 “24 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:24-25

The author of the book of Hebrews is writing to Christians who are being pressured to return to Judaism and give up on their Christian faith. After focusing on the sufficient sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross to perfect them and give them total acceptance before God (10:1-18), the writer admonishes his readers to boldly “draw near” to God in a “new and living way” without unbelief or consciousness of sin or guilt (10:19-22). They are to persevere in the faith (10:23) and Christian fellowship till Christ’s return (10:24-25), when the promise of the eternal inheritance will be awarded to those who persevere (cf. Heb. 9:15; 10:35-37).

As the nearness of Christ’s return approaches, Christians are to meet with one another “to stir up love and good works” among each other. The word “consider” means to carefully focus on another person in such a way as to “stir up” or stimulate one another to love God and each other so they can live a godly life (“good works”). Satan wants Christians to withdraw from other believers so he can attack them and destroy them much like a lion that preys upon animals that are isolated from the herd and more vulnerable to attack (cf. I Peter 5:8). But God wants us not to forsake “assembling ourselves together, as is the manner of some,” so we can focus on “exhorting one another” in such a way as to encourage and strengthen each other to persevere in the Christian faith.

The more we meet with other believers, the more prepared we will be to face Christ on “the Day” of His return for His church. Satan will whisper lies to us (“No one would love me if they knew all about me,” “I cannot depend on others to help me,” “Christians are such hypocrites,” “No one would miss me if did not go to church,” “I am not needed”) to keep us from meeting with other believers. But the more Christians focus on the truth (“Christ wants to love me through other believers,” “I can learn to depend on others through Christ who strengthens me,” “Christians are imperfect sinners like me,” “I am an important member of the body of Christ,” “I am needed to love and be loved in the church”), the more motivated they will be to connect with other Christians.   

Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me dismiss the lies that keep me from meeting with other believers who encourage and strengthen me and I them to be more prepared to face You at the Judgment Seat of Christ. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Will King David be in Heaven?

“So Saul died for his unfaithfulness which he had committed against the Lord, because he did not keep the word of the Lord, and also because he consulted a medium for guidance. But he did not inquire of the Lord; therefore He killed him, and turned the kingdom over to David the son of Jesse.” 1 Chronicles 10:13-14

The writer of Chronicles records detailed genealogies from Adam to the family of King Saul in the first ten chapters of I Chronicles to encourage his original readers to remain faithful to God following their Babylonian captivity. Instead of being like King Saul whose family dynasty experienced a tragic end due to his disobedience and unfaithfulness to God (10:13-14a), the Chronicler wants his readership to be the opposite of King Saul. He is admonishing his readers to be “committed” to the Lord and “keep the word of the Lord” more like King “David, the son of Jesse” (10:14b-29:30).

When some of us read that God wants us to be more like King David, we may ask, “Why would God want us to be more like a man who committed adultery and murder (cf. 2 Samuel 11:1-27)!?! The Chronicler presents David as a strong model of a king by recording the crowning of David as king which reveals God’s choice of David (I Chron. 11:1-3); David’s capture of Jerusalem (I Chron. 11:4-9) and his desire to build a temple there (even though his son, Solomon, would eventually do that – I Chron. 17:1-27) which shows his heart for God (I Chron. 13:1-14; 15:1-17:27; 22:1-29:30); David’s mighty men which revealed the impact of David’s character on others and the power he had (I Chron. 11:10-12:40; 14:8-17; 18:1-21:30); and the gathering of the multitudes behind his leadership which showed his influence on the nation (I Chron. 14:1-7, 17; 16:36; 18:14-17; 29:30).

Some Christians would go so far as to say that King David will not be in heaven because he committed adultery and murdered Bathsheba’s husband, Uriah. They think that such sins are unforgiveable. But what does the Bible say about this?

Even though David had committed adultery and murder, the Bible refers to David as an example of those who are justified (declared totally righteous before God) by faith alone in Christ alone apart from any works. 5But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness, 6just as David also describes the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works:7 ‘Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; 8Blessed is the man to whom the Lord shall not impute sin’ ” (Romans 4:5-8; cf. Psalms 32:1-2). Paul quotes David (Romans 4:7-8) who wrote in Psalm 32:1-2 of the blessedness of forgiveness as he looked ahead to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ which would pay the penalty for the sin of the world (John 1:29), including David’s adultery and murder (cf. Psalm 16:8-11; Acts 2:24-36; Colossians 2:13-14). 

Paul is saying that the righteousness of Jesus Christ was credited to David and all who believed in His coming death and resurrection in the Old Testament (Romans 4:5-8; cf. Genesis 15:6; Isaiah 61:10; John 8:56; Hebrews 11:26). So when a person in the Old Testament or in the New Testament believes in the coming Messiah, Jesus Christ, he or she is covered with the righteousness of Jesus Christ so that God no longer sees their sin, He sees the perfect righteousness of His Son ( Genesis 15:6; Romans 3:21-4:25; 2 Corinthians 5:21).

Henry Ironside shares a helpful illustration about what it means to be justified before God. One morning on his way to a sheep ranch, he noticed a very peculiar sight. He saw an old ewe loping across the road followed by the strangest looking lamb he had ever seen. It seemed to have six legs, and the last two were hanging helplessly as though paralyzed. When one of the sheep ranchers caught the lamb and brought it over to Ironside, the rancher explained that the lamb did not really belong to that ewe. She had a lamb that was bitten by a rattlesnake and died. This lamb that Ironside saw was an orphan and needed a mother’s care. But at first the ewe refused to have anything to do with it. She sniffed at it when it was brought to her, then pushed it away, saying as plainly as a sheep could say it, “That is not my lamb!” So the ranchers skinned the lamb that had died and covered the living lamb with the dead lamb’s skin. When the covered lamb was brought again to the ewe, she smelled it once more and accepted the lamb as her own as if to say, “That is Mine!”

Like that orphan lamb, all people are born as outcasts, separated from God because of their sin. But God’s only Son, Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God (John 1:29), died in our place on the cross and rose from the dead (I Corinthians 15:1-8), so that when we believe or trust in Him alone, we are clothed with His righteousness (Romans 4:5; 2 Corinthians 5:21).  God can accept us into His family now because He sees the righteousness of His Son instead of our sin. He can say, “That is Mine!” 

Knowing that King David was justified and forgiven because of his faith in the coming Messiah, Jesus Christ, not only assures us that he will be in heaven, but it can also assure us that we will be in heaven if we have believed in Jesus for everlasting life no matter what we have done in this life before or after our faith in Christ (cf. John 6:35, 37-40; 10:28-29; 2 Timothy 2:13). 

But the Bible also tells us that even though King David was an adulterer and a murderer, God still assessed his life “as a man after My own heart” because he did the will of God (Acts 13:22). God did not let David’s moral failure blemish his entire life. For example, God showed patience toward evil King Abijam because of David’s godly life. We read, “4 for David’s sake the Lord his God gave him a lamp in Jerusalem, by setting up his son after him and by establishing Jerusalem; 5 because David did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, and had not turned aside from anything that He commanded him all the days of his life, except in the matter of Uriah the Hittite” (I Kings 15:4-5). God can say this about David because even though he did fail miserably, he confessed that sin and continued to do God’s will. He trusted and obeyed the Lord as he faced the severe consequences of his own sin. David was not defined by his failure. He was defined by God’s Word.

From God’s assessment of David we learn that if we do not give up, we cannot fail in God’s sight! David continued to trust and obey the Lord the remainder of his life after his adultery with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband, Uriah. Was it easy? Not at all. But David did not give up on God. He was not perfect, but he was honest with God as seen in his writings in the Psalms. David is very honest about his sin (cf. Psalms 32; 51) and his feelings of abandonment (Psalm 6; 13; 22), anger (Psalms 4; 13; 38), anxiety (Psalm 37; 119), awe (Psalm 8), betrayal (Psalm 10), despair (Psalm 3; 9), dismay (Psalm 30), distress (Psalm 6), exaltation (Psalm 18), fear (Psalm 3; 55), guilt (Psalm 32), hate (Psalm 31),  heaviness (Psalm 32), hopelessness (Psalm 12),  joy (Psalm 4), peace (Psalm 37), sadness (Psalm 6), and thanksgiving (Psalm 26; 100). And as a result, God could say that David was a man after his own heart. 

From this study of Saul, David, and Solomon, we see three types of believers:

King Saul represents an immature or carnal believer (I Sam. 10:9; 28:19; cf. I Corinthians 1:10-16:17; James 1:21-5:20) whose persistent disobedience invites God’s severe discipline now (Hebrews 12:5-11) and the loss of eternal rewards at the Judgment Seat of Christ (I Corinthians 3:15; Revelation 2:25-27). Since Saul committed suicide he will forfeit rewards that require faithfulness to God to the end of one’s life (cf. Matthew 19:27-29; Romans 8:17b; I Corinthians 6:9-10; Galatians 5:19-21b; Ephesians 5:3-5; Colossians 3:23-24; 2 Timothy 2:12; Revelation 2:25-27), but it is possible that he will receive some rewards that cannot be lost once earned (Matthew 6:19-21). 

King Solomon represents a believer (I Chronicles 28:6; 2 Peter 1:21) who starts out well but finishes poorly (I Kings 11), and will experience God’s discipline on earth and forfeit rewards that require faithfulness to God until the end of one’s life on earth (cf. Matthew 19:27-29; Romans 8:17b; I Corinthians 6:9-10; Galatians 5:19-21b; Ephesians 5:3-5; Colossians 3:23-24; 2 Timothy 2:12; James 1:12; Revelation 2:25-27). It’s likely, however, that Solomon will have some rewards that cannot be lost once they are earned (cf. Matthew 6:19-21). 

King David represents a believer (Psalm 32; Romans 4:5-8) who imperfectly (2 Samuel 11) perseveres in a life of faithfulness to God to the end of his life, and therefore will be richly rewarded in heaven (cf. Matthew 19:27-29; Romans 8:17b; I Corinthians 6:9-10; Galatians 5:19-21b; Ephesians 5:3-5; Colossians 3:23-24; 2 Timothy 2:12; James 1:12; Revelation 2:25-27).

There is no guarantee that a believer will persevere in good works till the end of his life on earth. Otherwise, why would God warn believers of the consequences of failure (I Chron. 10:13-14; cf. John 15:6; I Cor. 10:1-12; Hebrews 4:11-13; 6:4-8; 10:26-39; 12:5-11) and the loss of rewards in the future (Matt. 10:32-42; 22:1-14; 25:24-30; I Cor. 3:14-15; 9:24-27; 2 Tim. 2:12; I John 2:28) if all “true” believers finished well for God? It makes no sense to conclude this. 

The truth is God is good to those who refuse to give up (Lamentations 3:25-26; Matthew 7:7-11; Luke 11:5-13; 18:1-8). He will richly reward believers who remain faithful to Him till the end of their lives (Matthew 25:20-23; 2 Timothy 2:12; Hebrews 3:6, 12-14; 4:1-13; James 1:12; I Peter 1:3-12; 2 Peter 1:5-11; Revelation 2:10-11, 25-27; 3:5, 11-12, 21-22). 

Will King Saul be in Heaven?

“As Saul turned to leave Samuel, God changed Saul’s heart, and all these signs were fulfilled that day.” I Samuel 10:9

When the Philistines gathered their armies to fight against Israel, King Saul became very distressed and “inquired of the Lord,” but “the Lord did not answer him” (28:6) because Saul had not been listening to the Lord in the past (I Samuel 13:8-14; 15:1-11). When God did not answer Saul, Saul hypocritically chose to seek guidance from “a medium” [those who communicate with the dead] (28:7) even though he had removed “mediums and spiritists [those who communicate with evil spirits] out of the land” earlier in obedience to God (28:3; cf. Leviticus 20:6; Deuteronomy 18:9-22). Saul’s hypocrisy sank so low as to try to hide his identity from this medium (“Saul disguised himself”) knowing she would not cooperate with him if she knew who he was (28:8). He hypocritically promised the woman, “As the Lord lives, no punishment shall come upon you for this thing” (28:10). 

When the medium summoned Samuel to come up, “she cried out with a loud voice” when she “saw Samuel” because she was expecting a demon impersonating Samuel to arise (28:12). Samuel rebuked Saul for trying to get information from him about the future when the Lord would not give him that information due to his disobedience (28:15-18). However, Samuel assured Saul that he and his sons would be with Samuel in Paradise tomorrow after they are killed in battle (28:19; cf. Luke 23:43). 

The next day when Saul was severely wounded in battle, Saul asked his armorbearer to kill him for fear of the Philistines torturing him and abusing him (I Sam. 31:3-4a). But when his armorbearer refused to kill Saul, “Saul took a sword and fell on it” (I Sam. 31:4b). King Saul took his own life. He finished his life in utter defeat. 

Saul started his kingship well because he was humble and sensitive to God’s leading (I Sam. 10:11-12:25; cf. 15:17), but when he disobeyed Samuel’s command to wait for him to come to Gilgal before making offerings to the Lord (I Sam. 10:8; 13:1-15), Saul’s life took a turn for the worse. His life became filled with ungodly decisions:

– He assumed a priestly role and offered sacrifices before battle and Samuel announced God’s choice of a new king (I Sam. 13:5-23).

– He made a foolish oath and the people turned against him (I Sam. 14:1-52)

– He disobeyed God’s instructions by not completely destroying Agag and Samuel announced God’s rejection of him as king (I Sam. 15:1-9).

– He personally tried to kill David, and fear and a distressing spirit from the Lord overcame him (I Sam. 18:10-16).

– He became paranoid and ordered the murder of David (I Sam. 19:1-7).

– Again he tried to kill David and a distressing spirit tormented him (I Sam. 19:8-10).

– He continued to try to murder David and became more jealous and fearful of him (I Sam. 19:11-24).

– He tried to persuade his son Jonathan to assist in the killing of David, and Saul even became violent toward Jonathan (I Sam. 20:1-42).

– He ordered Doeg to kill the priests of Nob and slipped further into mental anguish and depravity (I Sam. 22:6-23).

– He visited a witch to obtain guidance when God did not answer his prayers (I Sam. 28:7-25).

– He committed suicide and died in great shame (I Sam. 31:4). 

Was King Saul saved? Some students of the Bible would say Saul was not saved because he finished his life in utter failure. They believe all true believers persevere in good works to the end of their lives. Others say that Saul was a believer, but he lost his salvation because he finished his life out of fellowship with God when he committed suicide. But what does the Bible teach us about Saul?

To answer this question, we must first understand that “by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin” (Rom. 3:20). Under the law of the Old Testament, good works have nothing to do with salvation from hell. Salvation is always (in Old and New Testaments) based on the sufficient sacrifice of Christ’s death on the Cross and is by grace through faith alone in Christ alone (cf. Gen. 3:15; 4:3-5; 15:6; John 3:14-18; Rom. 3:21-5:1; Gal. 2:16; Ephes. 2:8-9; Heb. 9:11-10:18; 11:4).  

After the prophet Samuel anointed Saul to be king over Israel, he informs Saul about various signs that will take place after he leaves Samuel’s presence (I Sam. 10:1-4). Samuel tells Saul that when he comes to the hill of God where the Philistine garrison is, he “will meet a procession of prophets coming down from the high place with lyres, timbrels, pipes and harps being played before them, and they will be prophesying. The Spirit of the Lord will come powerfully upon you, and you will prophesy with them; and you will be changed into a different person.” (I Sam. 10:5b-6). 

The events that Samuel predicted came to pass as he said (I Sam. 10:9-11). A summary statement of these events is given in verse 9: “As Saul turned to leave Samuel, God changed Saul’s heart, and all these signs were fulfilled that day.” (I Sam. 10:9). Verses 6 and 9 clearly refer to Saul’s conversion because how else can a person be “changed into a different person” and God change their hearts? 

It is also significant that during this encounter a group of prophets were prophesying (I Sam. 10:5, 10). It is likely that they were prophesying about the coming Messiah of Israel. After all, the apostle Peter said, “To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins” (Acts 10:43). When Saul joined in with the prophesying of the prophets, he did so as a result of believing what they were saying about the coming Messiah. The Holy Spirit’s saving work in Saul’s life is manifested by Saul joining their prophetic testimony. Even if Saul had not prophesied, he would still be a new man with a new heart because salvation is always based upon faith alone in Jesus the Messiah. 

This Messianic hope was also understood by Moses as revealed by the writer of Hebrews. “By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasure of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ [literally, “the Christ” or the Messiah] greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he looked to the reward” (Heb. 11:24-26). So Moses believed in Jesus as the Christ, the Messiah, but he also pursued Christ for eternal rewards just as Saul should have pursued them. But Saul did not pursue Christ as he should have, and therefore, he would forfeit eternal rewards that could have been his. 

Saul’s life after his conversion is like that of a carnal or baby Christian (I Cor. 3:1-4). He lived in disobedience to God. This reminds us that Christians are capable of living like non-Christians (cf. I Corinthians; James). This does not mean they are in danger of damnation in hell (John 6:35-40; 10:28-29; Romans 8:35-39), but it does mean they are in danger of God’s discipline now (Hebrews 12:5-11) and the loss of eternal rewards at the Judgment Seat of Christ (I Corinthians 3:15). 

Some would say that a person who claims to be a Christian and commits suicide just proves that he or she was never really a Christian at all. But there is no evidence in the Bible that those who have believed in Christ possess anything less than eternal life, which by definition cannot be lost (John 3:15-16, 36; 6:35-40; 10:28-29; 11:25-27). Those who think Saul could not be saved because he committed suicide assume that all Christians persevere in faithfulness and obedience until the end of their life, but the biblical evidence disproves that. Samuel assured Saul that he and his sons would be with Samuel in Paradise after they are killed in battle (I Sam. 28:19; cf. Luke 23:43; Acts 5:1-11; I Cor. 11:30).

According to the Bible, all of the believer’s sins are forgiven at the moment of faith in Christ, including the sin of suicide (Col. 2:13-14). That is why there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ (Rom. 8:1) and no one can successfully condemn a believer (Rom. 8:31-34), nor can no one or nothing separate a believer from the love of Christ, even death— death from whatever cause (Rom. 8:35-39).

Someone may ask, “What happens if a person dies with unconfessed sin?” The Bible promises that “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). But a believer who commits suicide cannot confess that sin. Yet the truth is every believer will probably die with some specific sins not confessed. Besides, I John 1:9 relates to the believer’s fellowship and walk with God, not the condition for obtaining eternal life (cf. I John 1:3-7). Confessing each and every sin is not a condition of eternal salvation. The only condition for eternal life is faith in Christ and His offer of eternal life based on His finished work of paying for our sins on the cross (John 3:15-16, 36; 5:24; 6:40, 47; 11:25-26; Ac. 16:31; I Tim. 1:16; I John 5:13). Christians can be assured that when they sin, they have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ, who satisfies God’s justice for all of our sins (1 John 2:1-2).

Since God knows everything and by His grace forgives all sins – past, present, and future, there is no sin that will surprise God or make Him regret having saved someone. The Bible also teaches that where sin abounds, grace abounds much more (Rom. 5:20). No one can out-sin God’s grace! Knowing this, a Christian should never presume upon God’s grace by committing any sin, much less suicide. Suicide is a selfish and serious sin that dishonors God, hurts other people, and deprives God of one’s service on earth. Any abuse of God’s grace has its consequences—a loss of God’s blessings in this life and in the eternal experience as well. But that loss is in the quality of one’s fellowship or enjoyment of God, not in one’s relationship to God. Believers who finish their lives on earth in utter failure like Saul did, will still enter the kingdom of heaven by virtue of their faith in the Messiah (John 3:5, 15-16), but they will not receive rewards that are based upon living faithfully for Christ to the end of their lives (cf. 2 Tim. 2:12; Rev. 2:17, 25-27; 3:4-5, 21; 22:14).

Conclusion: Saul will be in heaven because of his faith in the Messiah which resulted in him being “turned into another man” and God changing his “heart” (I Sam. 10:6, 9; cf. Acts 10:43). But his life teaches us that when believers stop listening to God’s Word, the only direction for them to go is down. Saul could not obtain guidance from the Lord because he had stopped listening to Him. Believers sometimes cannot gain guidance from God because they have been unwilling to listen to God and obey Him. Saul tried to get guidance from a medium which God forbid because He has given us all the information we need about our future in His Word (cf. Leviticus 20:6; Deuteronomy 18:9-22). God graciously provided guidance to Saul through Samuel in the form of a final warning, but Saul stubbornly ignores that too. The longer we refuse to listen to the Lord, the worse the consequences will be for us. Turn back to the Lord before it is too late. “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you” (James 4:8). 

Will King Solomon be in Heaven?

“For it was when Solomon was old, that his wives turned his heart after other gods; and his heart was not loyal to the Lord his God, as was the heart of his father David.” I Kings 11:4

King Solomon “surpassed all the kings of the earth in riches and wisdom” during his reign as king over Israel (I Kings 10: 23). Yet we are told that “when Solomon was old, that his wives turned his heart after other gods; and his heart was not loyal to the Lord his God, as was the heart of his father David” (I Kings 11:4). Even though God had warned Solomon not to marry foreign wives because they would turn away his heart after their gods (11:2), Solomon disobeyed the Lord and “had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines; and his wives turned away his heart” (11:3). Solomon did not just worship their false gods, he also built worship centers for the people of Israel to worship the false gods of his foreign wives (11:7-8). As a result, God “became angry with Solomon, because his heart had turned from the Lord God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice, and had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after others gods; but he did not keep what the Lord had commanded” (I Kings 11:9-11). 

As a result of Solomon’s idolatry, God would tear the kingdom away from his son except for one tribe for the sake of His servant David (11:11-13). Because of Solomon’s sin, God disciplined him through many adversaries, including Hadad, Rezon, and Jeroboam (11:14-40). So Solomon died as an idolater (11:41-43). 

Will King Solomon be in heaven even though he finished his life as an idolater? Was Solomon even saved? Some believe Solomon was not a believer because they think all true believers persevere in faith to the end of their lives. Others teach that Solomon was a believer, but he lost his salvation because he did not finish his life in fellowship with the Lord.  But what does the Bible teach about this?

First of all, the Bible tells us that Solomon was a child of God. God said to David, “It is your son Solomon who shall build My house and My courts; for I have chosen him to be My son, and I will be his Father” (I Chronicles 28:6). God declared that Solomon would be His son and He will be Solomon’s Father. Hence, Solomon is a believer in the coming Messiah because he is a child of God (cf. John 1:12; I John 5:1). Also, God used Solomon to author three books of the Bible: Proverbs (Solomon was the principal author), Song of Solomon, and Ecclesiastes. The Bible says that the human authors of the Bible were “holy men of God” who “spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21). Even though Solomon was an idolater, the Bible says he was a “holy” man of God. How can this be? He is “holy” in God’s eyes because he has been set apart from his sin and shame by virtue of his faith in the coming Messiah who would die for all of his sins -including the sin of idolatry (cf. Isaiah 53; Colossians 2:13-14; Hebrews 10:10, 14). 

Since Solomon was a believer in the coming Messiah, Jesus Christ, he had everlasting life which can never be lost (John 3:15-16). If it could be lost, it would not be everlasting. He had passed from death into life and would not come into judgment for his sins because Christ was judged for his sins on the cross (John 5:24; 2 Corinthians 5:21; I Peter 3:18). And no one could snatch him out of God the Father’s and God the Son’s hands (John 10:28-29). He was secure forever. Therefore, king Solomon will be in heaven. 

What determines a person’s eternal destiny is their response to Jesus Christ, not their works. He or she either believes in Him or they do not believe in Him. The Bible says, “He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and  he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him” (John 3:36). A person’s works determine their degree of rewards in heaven if they are a believer in Jesus (1 Corinthians 3:8-15; Revelation 22:12) or the degree of their punishment in the lake of fire if they do not believe in Jesus (Revelation 20:11-15). 

When God appeared to Solomon a second time, He told Solomon if he would walk before God as his father David walked in integrity of heart and in uprightness, then God would establish the throne of his kingdom over Israel forever. But then God warned the king if he or his son turned from following Him and did not keep His commandments, but would go and serve other gods and worship them, then God promised He “will cut off Israel from the land which” He “had given them” (I Kings 9: 1-7). God did not tell Solomon he would go to hell if he turned away from the Lord to serve other gods. But God did warn Solomon that the nation of Israel would lose the rights to their land which God had given them. When Solomon disobeyed the Lord and committed idolatry, God said He would “tear the kingdom away from” Solomon and give it to his servant (I Kings 11:11). So Solomon would lose authority and privileges as a king for misleading the nation to worship other gods, but there is no mention of him losing his position as a child of God and going to hell. 

This is consistent with the New Testament which distinguishes “entering” the kingdom from “inheriting” the kingdom. We “enter” the kingdom of God by faith alone in Christ alone (Matt. 18:3; 19:14; Mark 10:15; John 3:5, 15), but we “inherit” the kingdom of God through faithful, sacrificial service and suffering for Christ (Matthew 19:27-29; Romans 8:17b; I Corinthians 6:9-10; Galatians 5:19-21b; Ephesians 5:3-5; Colossians 3:23-24; Hebrews 1:2, 5, 9, 13-14; 6:12, 17; 9:15). 

For example, “entering” my house is different than “inheriting” my house. Entrance into my house is free. But if you want to inherit or possess my house, you must pay for it. When you pay for it, then you are entitled to certain privileges or authority. When you inherit my house, you can decide how to arrange the furniture and what colors to paint on the walls. But if you just enter my house, you don’t have those privileges. The same is true in the spiritual realm. You enter the kingdom of God through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone. But you will not have all the privileges or authority that come with inheriting the kingdom. You must earn those privileges through faithful service to Jesus.

When I Corinthians 6:9-10 warns that “idolaters…will not inherit the kingdom of God,” this means that believers who finish their lives as idolaters, like Solomon did, will forfeit the right to rule with Jesus Christ in His coming kingdom (Matthew 19:27-29; Romans 8:17b; I Corinthians 6:9-10; Galatians 5:19-21b; Ephesians 5:3-5; Colossians 3:23-24; Hebrews 1:2, 5, 9, 13-14; 6:12, 17; 9:15). They will still be in the kingdom through believing in Christ alone for salvation (John 3:5, 16), but they will forfeit the privilege of ruling with Christ in His government administration.  

Like many Christians today, Solomon failed to see how living his life on earth would affect his eternal rewards in the future. Just because Christians have eternal life now which can never be lost (cf. John 3:16; 10:28-29), does not mean they can live however they want on earth without facing any consequences. God wants believers to live like the “saints” that they are (I Corinthians 1:2) by virtue of their position in Christ lest they experience grief and shame because of the loss of rewards at the Judgment Seat of Christ (cf. Matthew 25:24-30;  I Corinthians 3:8-15; 6:9-10; I John 2:28). 

Conclusion: Solomon will be in heaven by virtue of his faith in the coming Messiah, but he will not have the reward of ruling with Christ in His coming Kingdom because he did not remain faithful to the Lord to the end of his life. Christians can learn from Solomon’s life by focusing on the Judgment Seat of Christ so they can prepare to face Jesus  and receive eternal rewards from Him on the basis of how they lived for Him on earth (I Corinthians 3:8-15; 2 Corinthians 5:10; Revelation 22:12).