Sorry about the late posting today, but I got inspired to write a short story and it consumed most of my weekend, meaning I missed my normal “write on Sunday for Monday” post schedule.
Was pondering a question about a few well-known people in the Bible:
- King Saul
- King Manasseh
- Ananias & Sapphira
Should we expect to see them among the saints in Heaven? What do you think? Why or why not?
16 thoughts on “Among the Saved?”
Huh. King Saul is an interesting case, and actually the hardest to judge. On the one hand, he was chosen by God to be king of Israel, though more as a curse on Israel for their impatience than for any positive aspect of Saul. In a way, Saul was the personification of how the World measures a leader. He failed, in the end, because he clung to power and because he forsook the wisdom of God. Will he be in heaven? In a way, Saul is the Christian who tries to be good. He wants to be a man of God, but he attempts it by his own strength. Like Judas, he was possessed by an evil spirit from God, and so did evil. When I see in full the heart of the man, I will be able to judge clearly.
Esau? Why Esau? Sure, he sold his birthright, but it seems that his life was blessed, with God giving him a promised land just as he gave Jacob. He forgave the one who sinned against him. Just from that, I would call him righteous. However, I don’t know the whole story.
Why even ask about king Manasseh? Straight to hell on a chute, from what’s in the bible.
Ananais and Sapphirah. As far as I can tell, they died in their sins, unrepentant and seeking to lie to God. What salvation is there in their example? False mirrors of grace, they exemplified the basic misunderstanding of Christ and His resurrection.
Well, I guess I do have to revisit Manasseh, it’s what I get for not reading to the end of the book. He is, in a way, a repeat of Samson, considered righteous because of his ultimate humility and recognition of the grace of God.
I don’t know. I honestly wouldn’t have known Lot was all that righteous if it wasn’t said later in the Bible.I can only do fanciful guesses based on some Scriptural peripherals.
Manasseh: Super bad then ended okay. I might expect him.
Esau: Godless and plotting to murder then ended being pretty cool with his brother. I might expect him but I don’t think being cool with the guy you were planning to kill says that a person is now a God Fearer.
Ananias & Sapphira: Started off pretty good then ended with a pretty bad action. I might expect them thinking that their sin was leading to [and culminating in] death. I might not expect them if I thought that their sin was a summary of all they thought about God.
King Saul: Although he prophesied early on and seemed to understand some things I’m not sure if he ever really got it. I don’t think I expect him.
Melchizadek: I might expect him but that’s based on one verse where he comes out and does something priestly but then is only used as a jumping board for some broader points.
They are all tough cases.
I have never read a good Reformed explanation for Saul in light of election. There is no doubt that Saul ended badly. He was tormented by demons, and opposed God’s own man, David. He consulted with spirits. God Himself regretted that He made Saul king. He took away Saul’s kingship. Bad, bad, bad.
Yet on the other side, his child was devout. Saul prophesied. The Spirit of the Lord rested on him. God chose and anointed him. The fact that Saul of Tarsus was named for him showed that the Jews still held him in some regard. The Lord deemed Saul a savior of Israel.
Considering those two sides, you would suspect no greater example of election in the Bible than Saul. Yet Saul didn’t seem very elect when he died.
Esau is one that troubles me, because Esau technically sold his eternal life. The birthright due him essentially represented his divine inheritance and the extension of his lineage leading up to the Messiah. We see that he sought restoration, but God denied it. In fact, God said that he hated Esau. Yes, Esau prospered, but it’s difficult to surmise based on this astonishing break from God, if God ever restored the spiritual dimension of Esau’s life. Hebrews 12:16 explicitly states that Esau was “unholy.”
Nothing seems to go in Esau’s favor here. At the end of his life, he may have been experiencing material blessings, but so do a lot of wicked rich people who die in their sins.
God would not relent of the punishment of Judah because of Manasseh. On the other hand, He did forgive Manasseh as a person, because we know that Manasseh repented of his sins in captivity. I had an OT teacher who believes that Manasseh is a better fit as the writer of Ecclesiastes than Solomon. He made an intriguing case, too. That Manasseh turned to God only shows how fallen one can be, yet God can still redeem.
Ananias and Sapphira have troubled me because they effectively lie about something they were going to do for the Lord, as if He wouldn’t know they were lying. That’s a frightening thought, though, because I suspect that many of us are guilty of the kind of sin that led to God slaying Ananias and Sapphira. Their sin was evidently great in God’s eyes or else He wouldn’t have taken their lives.
In truth, any sin a Christian commits is a sin against the Holy Spirit that indwells him. Most of the commentaries I’ve read on this part of Acts 5 never seem to get that point across, so I’m still left scratching my head as to how Ananias and Sapphira committed the “unpardonable sin” when it seems so easy to do that any of us could do it in the course of sinning.
Anyway, that’s my take on these.
Gooding on Acts made a pretty interesting point about A&S by pointed out that Luke says (4:32) that all the true believers did not lay claim to their possessions but rather shared it all with the community. Since A&S did the opposite they weren’t true believers. He equates their sin with that of Judas†“seeing the sign, power and reality of the Living God and at the same time lying to him. Pretty good point, I think considering that again.
Good grief, Rey, if Gooding is right, then 99.999% of the Church in the United States deserves to die like A&S! I know virtually know one who deals with their material gifts as described at the end of Acts 2 and elsewhere.
Well, the bible does say that few are chosen!
Gooding on Acts made a pretty interesting point about A&S by pointed out that Luke says (4:32) that all the true believers did not lay claim to their possessions but rather shared it all with the community. Since A&S did the opposite they weren’t true believers. He equates their sin with that of Judas–seeing the sign, power and reality of the Living God and at the same time lying to him. Pretty good point, I think considering that again.
I think the problem with Ananias and Sapphira was that, though they could have withheld some for themselves (that was not the issue) they said they were giving their all. Their sin was not withholding worldly possessions from the body of believers or from God.
Gooding was pointing out that their ultimate sin was not the action of withholding possessions and lying. He was pointing out how their material action was a reflection of their internal action against God. Like Judas’ thievery and subsequent betrayal were bad, what was uber bad was that he sat there hearing Jesus’ words, seeing the signs and wonders, having the private conversations with the disciples and utterly rejecting it in the inside resulting in an outside exemplification which reflected all that. So when A&P were in this community where there were signs being performed in public, and they were hearing the testimony of the apostles, and they were sharing in the benefits of the rest of the community their action of lying to the community in their giving reflected that they didn’t really believe that God was who He said He was–the all knowing, living and all powerful God. Their action reflected their internal heart discord with the rest of the actually believing community. I guess Hebrews would point out Jewish believers going back to the temple and that being a sign of something internally worst.
So yes, they could have withheld for themselves and said it but somehow they honestly believed they could lie about it and not get caught, even in light of pointed questioning.
Now I don’t know what the modern equivalent action could be (as in external action that reflects internal reality) because it’s not like we have a temple and its not like we live in that Acts scenario (which even that seems to have receded with how the apostles were working later on: Paul never remaining with the Jews, Peter going about, James and John somewhere else) and baptism doesn’t result in the same potential persecution that it would have back then.
sorry about the double post there.
I always wondered about Solomon. Sure, he did some good things, but how many wives did he have? How did he justify he relentless pursuit of pleasures–irrespective of where he landed? What is it that he did with his wisdom but write a few verses down? Perhaps we can be a little more certain than King Saul, but still there are questions unanswered.
Out of your list, I am still noodling A & S; they are the most difficult to pinpoint…care to comment on Achan? I’ve read/heard it said both ways and even heard a local preacher at a revival say there was no way he was saved. Personally, I think he’s there…
Achan might be there. I mean, they had to finally corner him to confess and that he did but he still had to suffer the consequences of his action.
When it comes to Saul, I focus on this verse, which Samuel spoke from the grave: “Moreover the LORD will also deliver Israel with thee into the hand of the Philistines: and to morrow shalt thou and thy sons be with me” (1 Samuel 28:19 KJV). Obviously, the first definition of “with me” would be the grave, but we expect Samuel to be with the Lord, and we expect Jonathan, one of Saul’s sons, to be with the Lord. Will Saul be there with him as well? David also continued to save Saul long after Saul had been rejected by the Lord. I believe, if David had not hidden his family and his soldiers’ families with the Philistines, where Amalek attacked Ziklag, David would have continued to save Saul in one battle after another. If David was willing to keep saving Saul as God’s anointed, would God not save Saul? And after Saul and Jonathan were dead, the men of Jabesh-gilead rose up, attacked the Philistines, returned with their remains, and fasted seven days. If these men showed valor and reverence because God used Saul to save their city, then why would God cast Saul away?
I cannot speak of Esau and Manasseh, although I would not be surprised if Esau were there.
As for Ananias and Sapphira, I look on the matter of their death as this: Paul wrote: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20 KJV). Ananias and Sapphira, if believers, had no life outside of Christ; therefore, if the Holy Spirit departed from them, they would be dead, because their former lives as sinners would no longer be valid. They were “buried with him by baptism into death” (Romans 6:4). If the Holy Spirit, if Christ, who lives in me, departed from me, I would expect to die immediately, because the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God. If I forsake that faith, then what life “in the flesh” do I have? But would Ananias and Sapphira still be saved? I would think so, but their sin, by lying to the Holy Spirit, forfeited them any “right,” if it can be called that, to continue to live in the flesh by the Holy Spirit. I would compare, too, the wording of their deaths compared to Herod’s. They “fell down”, whereas God “smote” Herod (Acts 12:23 KJV).
I like the way you’re thinking on Saul. Quite thought-provoking.