The Stages Of Salvation
It's been our experience that New Testament believers often become terribly confused about the plan of salvation until they finally catch on that Christianity is a long range program with at least three distinct stages.
The three stages are in three tenses and go something like this:
That may seem like an oversimplification but really it's a pretty good way to say it.
Stage One: I Was Saved.
It is imperative to *obey the Gospel.
●2Ths 1:7-10 ...This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power on the day he comes to be glorified in his selected people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you.
Obedience to the Gospel doesn't mean compliance with laws, rules, regulations, and/or commandments. The New Testament Greek word translated *obedience is hupakouo (hoop-ak-oo'-o) which is an ambiguous word that can also mean— besides obedience —to subordinate oneself to; viz; to submit, to yield, to accept.
What we're going to show you in Stage One are some things you need to accept in order to successfully "obey" the Gospel; e.g. when Mary was informed by the angel that she was to be the mother of Israel's Messiah, she accepted her fate. Some people prefer to call her acceptance an act of obedience. That's okay, and biblically correct. But her primary reaction was one of submission, rather than what might termed obedience, because Mary wasn't asked for consent nor was her pregnancy contingent upon anything she was asked to perform. No, Mary was going to have the baby whether she consented or not. Her acceptance was totally unrelated to compliance with laws, rules, regulations, and/or commandments. She wasn't ordered to have the baby, nor was she asked to have the baby; no, she was informed of the baby.
●Luke 1:31-33 ...You will become pregnant and have a son, and you are to name him Jesus. He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!
●Luke 1:45 ...And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were informed her from The Lord.
Mary's *obedience can be seen in her believing the angel's words, and yielding to God's plan for her life.
The first stage of salvation is just as simple as Mary's experience. It is the simplest stage and requires only a very small degree of repentance. After reading this portion, I have no doubt you will easily realize why the Gospel is called good news of great joy (Luke 2:10).
None of the usual stuff we think about in salvation applies to this stage. No religion, no commandments, no church attendance, no rituals, and no liturgy. Neither the ten commandments, nor the New Law, nor the commandments of Christ, nor the golden rule play any role at all in this stage because this stage is totally set aside to satisfy justice and settle accounts with God.
●1John 2:2 ...And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.
The word *propitiation is from the Greek word hilasmos (hil-as-mos') which means: an expiator. Webster's defines *expiate as: to put an end to, to extinguish guilt incurred, to make amends for. In other words, propitiation makes an acquittal possible, and clears the docket of crimes committed; and positions the sinner in a status of innocence; thus satisfying the desires of a holy God to vindicate justice.
●Ps 98:7-9 …Let the sea and all within it thunder, the world and its inhabitants; let the rivers clap their hands, the mountains sing joyously together at the presence of The Lord, for He is coming to rule the earth; He will rule the world justly, and its peoples with equity.
●Ps 99:2-4…The Lord is great in Zion, and exalted above all peoples. They praise Your name as great and awesome; He is holy! Mighty king who loves justice, it was You who established equity, You who worked righteous judgment in Jacob.
The Wrath of God
The Bible's God is primarily cheerful.
●Gal 5:22 …The fruit of the Spirit is… Joy
Usually, when the Bible speaks of the "wrath" of God, it's not talking about His personality nor about fits of rage. It's talking about criminal justice. If you were to find your local authorities (cops, judges, prosecutors, jailers etc) at a sports bar, I think they would be very affable and have a good time just like all the regular people. But when you're on the wrong side of the law, then those good-time Charlies can no longer be Mr. Nice Guy. It's nothing personal; it's just the business of law enforcement and criminal justice, which is regarded as "wrath" (cf. Rom 13:1-4).
Justice can be defined as the administration of law without passion or prejudice; leading to the assignment of merited rewards, punishments, and/or acquittal.
Divine justice is very narrow, and no man in his right mind would dare to face it alone if he knew just how severe and complete it really is. Not one single infraction will be overlooked. Man's very thoughts themselves will be scrutinized; even every idle word.
●Matt 12:36-37 ...But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every thoughtless word they have spoken. For by your words you will either be acquitted or condemned.
●Heb 4:12-13 ...For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
The effectiveness of Christ's crucifixion is related to three extremely important non-performance principles: 1) Moses' metallic serpent, 2) the Passover, and 3) the Sabbath. People trying to obtain eternal life by their own efforts via piety, charity, good works, love, and commandments are in violation of all three of those non-performance principles.
Jesus related his crucifixion to the purpose of the metallic viper that Moses constructed in Num 21:5-9.
People bitten by deadly snakes, that God himself sent among them, were doomed to die. The venom was 100% fatal, no exceptions. And in point of fact, numbers of Jews did die before Moses finished the effigy in time to start rescuing people from imminent death.
The doomed people only had to look to the metallic serpent to be cured. Neither love, nor synagogue, nor charity, nor fasting, nor commandments, nor sacrifices, nor self denial, nor tithing, nor morality, nor piety, nor good works, nor anything else one might associate with salvation would work; not even their own personal religious affiliation. They couldn't even pray; no, the only prescription God set up for them was the metallic serpent. It was their one and only God-given option; and the God-given default was certain death.
Apply the details of that event to Jesus' crucifixion and you'll have a pretty good idea of just how desperate things really are for mankind. He is already ruined by his own sins (Rom 1:32, Rom 6:23); no exceptions (Rom 3:23) .
Mankind's only chance of escape is the crucifixion; there are no other God-given options (Heb 10:26). Not church attendance, not sacraments, not love, not charity, not the Eucharist, not rosaries, not scapulars, not confession, not piety, not morality, not tithing, not commandments, not holy days of obligation, not fasting, not the golden rule, not the Sermon On the Mount, not self denial, not even one's own personal religious affiliation nor anything else one might associate with salvation will do, not even prayers, because until one fully looks to Jesus' crucifixion as their one and only chance to escape the wrath of God, they are a dead man walking.
According to Jesus' own personal testimony, everybody who refuses to apply the principles of Moses' metallic serpent to his cross, is already condemned; no waiting period.
●John 3:18-19 ...Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only son.
Objection: Jesus didn't say what it is that those who do not believe are condemned to in John 3:17.
If you'll permit; I'll walk you through it.
According to John 3:15 and John 3:16, the benefit for accepting Jesus' application of Moses' metallic serpent to his own crucifixion is eternal life.
Therefore, according to the analogy, the default for not accepting the application is eternal death, because death was the default for everyone bitten by the snakes; no exceptions; and life was the benefit for everyone who looked to the metallic serpent for relief, no exceptions.
Here's how to take advantage of the one God-given remedy for your own already-condemned to Hell status.
Find a private spot— a restroom, out in the garage, in your bedroom —any place that works for you. Put your face in the palms of your hands and ask God if you can take advantage of His son's crucifixion to ransom your soul from the wrath of God.
Some people may scoff at my recommendation as just another silly sinner's prayer. But I am not recommending that anybody pray about this until first accepting Jesus' application of the serpentary effigy that Moses constructed in Num 21:5-9; otherwise their prayer will result in a ping.
First off; it is essential to be fully convinced you are already condemned to Hell, no waiting period. Secondly; it is essential to be fully convinced Jesus' crucifixion will remedy your status just as effectively as the serpentary effigy remedied the Jews' dead-man-walking status. Then pray; but only if you meet those two conditions. Don't screw up and get the cart before the horse. And don't be afraid to pray about this matter. Jesus already testified that he will turn no one away (John 6:37-40).
●1Co 5:7 …For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.
On the night of the Passover in Egypt (Ex 12), The Lord instructed the people of Israel to paint the blood of a dead lamb on their door posts so that the Angel of death would see the blood and not enter a home to kill its firstborn child. It wouldn't do a bit of good to merely slaughter a lamb and eat it for dinner; nor would it do any good to talk about the lamb, nor to keep one for a pet. In order to save the firstborns, it was essential that the residents first heed the warning; and then respond to that warning by complying with the Divinely prescribed way of protecting their children by painting a dead lamb's blood on the door posts of their home.
When the Angel came through that night, it didn't look for charity, nor for love, nor synagogue attendance, nor for one's choice of religion, nor Torah study, nor festivals, nor Sabbath observance, nor fasting, nor prayers, nor repentance, nor the Eucharist, nor the sacraments, nor gender, nor ethnic, nor age, nor even for belief in Moses' God. It wasn't necessary to be a Jew, nor was it necessary to be a Christian. The residents could have been gay and lesbian pagans who worshipped Egyptian gods and practiced child sacrifice; it would have made no difference whatsoever. None of that mattered. The Angel looked for just one thing: the blood. As long as the dead lamb's blood was where it was supposed to be, the firstborn in that home was perfectly safe from harm even if it were the most evil, wicked, perverse, greedy, naughty, immoral, heartless, insensitive, rude, insolent, arrogant, stubborn little brat on the face of the earth because the Angel wasn't looking for piety; no, it was only looking for a dead lambs' blood (Ex 12:13).
Not even Almighty God himself could have entered those homes and killed a firstborn child or animal. No; the dead lamb's blood was a barrier even to Almighty God. Thus, Jesus' blood is just that good because he also is a kind of passover lamb. Now, my point is, if a professing Christian is protected by Jesus' blood, then why aren't more of them sure about where they're going when they die? Why do they lack confidence? Don't they trust Jesus' blood to protect them? In point of fact, according to Mark 16:16, those who don't trust his blood will be damned; and according to John 3:14-18, they are already damned this very moment— no waiting period —because they don't believe Jesus' blood is an adequate remedy for their already-condemned to death status.
There are basically two versions of the Gospel out and about. One demands obedience to commandments and the performance of good works. We've labeled that kind of gospel: works-leavened. Not only are works-leavened gospels in violation of the principles of Moses' serpentary effigy, and in violation of the principles of Passover; but works-leavened gospels are also in violation of Sabbath principles too.
Heb 3:1-4:11 focuses upon the first generation of Jews whom Moses helped rescue from Egyptian slavery in order to enter the land God promised their ancestors. But they didn't enter; and why didn't they? Because they failed to commit themselves to God's hands.
That generation didn't trust God to give them the victory. No, they lost sight of the mighty powers that God had only just recently demonstrated while saving them from Egypt. They saw only their own inadequate capabilities; and truly, their own capabilities were inadequate. So how does this apply to works-leavened gospels?
Well… when professing Christians believe it's possible to go to Hell in spite of being under the care and protection of Jesus' and his Father's hands, then they are practicing the very same kind of unbelief as that first generation of Jews. They are failing to fully commit themselves to the competency of Jesus and his Father as guardians of the sheep.
●John 10:28-30 …And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anything snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all things; and nothing is able to snatch them out of my Father's hand.
Among professing Christians, those of us who fully trust the competency of Jesus and his Father as guardians of the sheep, put absolutely no trust in our own capabilities. We soundly reject any and all works-leavened gospels because to accept them would be casting a vote of no-confidence in Jesus' and his Father's competency as good shepherds. We believe that they can be trusted to see the sheep through in spite of attacks by predators as well as falls brought upon themselves by their own stupidity.
●Heb 4:8-12 …There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his own works as God did from His. Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of unbelief.
●Heb 4:3 …For we which have believed do enter into rest
The Deadliest Sin
●John 3:16 …God so cared for the world that he donated His one and only son, that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
I don't know if you have kids of your own or not; but God didn't just donate one of His sons, no, He subjected His one and only son to crucifixion and torture in order to ransom an ungrateful world from Hell and eternal suffering. People who blow off that kind of a father's sacrifice are heartless b_stards who not only deserve to go to Hell, but Hell is even too good for them.
●Heb 10:26-27 ...Dear friends, if we deliberately continue sinning after we have received a full knowledge of the truth; there is no other sacrifice that will atone for these sins. There will be nothing to look forward to but the terrible expectation of God's judgment and a raging indignation that will consume His enemies.
In your opinion, what would constitute a raging indignation? Well... if you can remember the last time someone insulted and/or demeaned you so badly that you wanted to strangle them with your bare hands, then you have a concept of the indignation God feels for people who refuse to believe His son's crucifixion is an adequate ransom to rescue their soul from the wrath of God. When they relegate Christ's crucifixion to the status of an accessory to their salvation, rather than an essential; then they have relegated Christ's crucifixion to the status of a common death, and deeply insulted God's Holy Spirit.
●Heb 10:29-31 ...Think how much more terrible the punishment will be for those who have trampled on the Son of God and have treated the blood of the covenant as if it were common. Such people have insulted and enraged the Holy Spirit who brings God's mercy to his people. For we know the one who said; I will take vengeance. I will get even. He also said; The Lord will judge his own people. It is a frightful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
Everyone who takes advantage of Christ's crucifixion instantly satisfies Divine justice and is granted an escape from the deadly consequences of sin.
●Rom 5:6-11 ...At just the right time, when we were still helpless, Christ died for the unGodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were active sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been declared righteous by his blood, how much more shall we be protected from God's wrath through him! For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to Him through the death of His son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his living!
Stage One is the door to life and Jesus said few find it. I can't figure out why because everybody seems to know all about it. But I guess the problem is far too many professing Christians lack the courage and conviction to actually believe it works; hence, they fail to take advantage of Jesus' crucifixion while there's still time.
Objection: What about Matthew 25:31-46? Doesn't that verify the necessity of good works and charity as essential to one's safety from the wrath of God?
The event described in that passage doesn't take place at the end of world as does the Great White Throne of Rev 20:11-15. The judgment in Matthew will take place when Jesus returns in person to sit on David's throne in Jerusalem. At that time, the Tribulation will be over, and the survivors will be brought before him to evaluate their regard for Jesus' fellow Jewish countrymen during the Anti-Christ's administration: when there will occur a Federally mandated anti-Semitism so severe in nature as to make all previous anti-Semitism look like high school detention in comparison. Jews won't even be allowed to go shopping for daily necessities unless they first submit to the mark of the beast, which of course is all the same as renouncing YHVH.
Remember how James said in Jas 2:21-23 that Abraham's actions harmonized with his beliefs? Well... it is my own personal conviction, that anybody truly allied with David's son will not mistreat his fellow Jewish countrymen; viz: the goats are unbelievers; and according to Mark 16:15-16, unbelievers will be damned.
Incidentally, the Great White Throne judgment that takes place at the end of the world (Rev 20:11-15) is based entirely upon works rather than faith because The Dead are unbelievers. If they were believers, then their faith would shield them from a judgment based upon works; and they would not be The Dead, no, they would be The Living as per Jesus' own personal testimony.
●John 5:24 …I assure you, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from Death into Life.
Objection: What about the young man's experience in Mark 10:17-21? Didn't Jesus teach by that episode that obedience to the Ten Commandments is just as necessary as taking up the cross?
It's always a good idea to pay particular attention to the identity of Jesus' audience. In this case, it wasn't a Christian, but rather, a man under the jurisdiction of Old Testament Jewish law— a Law by which it is impossible for human nature to obtain eternal life.
●Gal 2:16 …By the works of The Law shall no flesh be righteous
●Gal 2:21 …If righteousness could be obtained by The Law, then Christ died for nothing.
●Gal 3:21 …Is The Law then contrary to the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a Law given which could have given life, then, assuredly, righteousness should have obtained by The Law.
So did Jesus mislead that man by telling him to obey the commandments in order to obtain eternal life? No. If somebody were to somehow succeed in consistent obedience to the commandments, they would obtain eternal life (Rom 2:6-7). That is a valid offer. But nevertheless, it is an offer that, to date, no one but Christ has succeeded in obtaining.
Were you aware that the words "take up the cross" are not in the actual New Testament Greek of Mark 10:21? No, those words were inserted in the KJV at the discretion of the translators. Luke's version is the more accurate. It leaves out the inserted words and just says "and come, follow me". (FYI: modern translations e.g. the NIV, render Mark 10:21 sans the inserted words)
That man was a Jew. The religion that he believed, and that he practiced, was Old Testament Judaism. Up to this point, he had not yet recognized Jesus as either a Messiah or a savior. To him, Jesus was nothing more than a good teacher. Jesus' invitation to "come, and follow me" wasn't a call to obey the commandments plus take up his cross, but rather, a call to forsake the rabbinical influences of his day. Everybody who follows Jesus will be led to an understanding of John 3:14-18.
●Gal 3:22-27 ...The Scripture has concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. But before faith came, The Law was our guardian: preparing us for the faith which would afterward be revealed. Therefore The Law was our tutor, charged with bringing us to Christ, that we might become righteous by faith. But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.
Commandments, you see, can't make people sons of God; no, commandments can only make people fugitives from justice.
Stage Two: I Am Being Saved.
Objection: But surely you can't brush aside the involvement of obedience in the plan of salvation. What about passages like John 15:1-11 and others like it?
The first stage of salvation is the rescue stage; which is totally faith-based. However, the second stage is discipleship, which is works-based. Far too many professing Christians have not only got those two aspects of Christianity confused, but they've also got them blended. Others are even getting the cart before the horse. Here's the chronology in a nutshell.
●Eph 2:8-10 …God rescued you by His sympathy and kindness when you believed; and you can't take credit for this; it is a gratuity from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God pre-ordained that we should walk in them.
Did you see the chronology okay? First comes rescue from the wrath of God. Afterwards comes discipleship.
●Rom 6:1-3 …Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more kindness and forgiveness? Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it?
●Rom 12:1-2 …And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice— the kind he will accept. When you think of what he has done for you, is this too much to ask? Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will know what God wants you to do, and you will know how good and pleasing and perfect his will really is.
●Gal 5:13 ...Brethren, you were called to be free. But don't use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature
●1Pet 4:1-3 …Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God. For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry.
Failure in the discipleship stage of Christianity absolutely will not cause forfeiture of the rescue stage. That's gratis, with no strings attached and nothing asked in return; and was something Christ did for sinners while they were sinners, not after they first cleaned up their act and became pious. And even if a sheep's entire life accomplishes absolutely nothing that Christ can commend, the sheep itself will still be saved even if it's been pruned off the vine and thrown aside like so much yard debris (John 5:24, John 10:28-29, and 1Cor 3:11-15).
If you keep the chronology of those two stages in their correct order, then I think you'll have much better luck getting a handle on the New Testament's plan of salvation.
Funny thing is; the rescue stage (which is actually a ransom) is the easiest of the two stages to understand, yet most Christians never seem to get it nailed down in their thinking because they're so fixated on the discipleship stage; convinced that it's the way to the rescue, when nothing could be any farther from the truth.
The discipleship stage is only for people who have successfully completed stage one; and is sometimes referred to as walking in the Spirit.
Stage Three: I Shall Be Saved.
At the very instant of physical death, believers will shed not only their Adamic bodies but also their sinful human. The new nature, which never does have complete freedom to express itself in this life because of competition from the old nature, will be in total control of our personalities. (See The New Birth and The New Man)
When believers underwent thier second birth as per John 3:3-9, they were given a kind of life called Eternal Life which is the life of God; a sinless kind of life that cannot be tempted to sin but there is nothing in it that can possibly respond to temptation (Jas 1:13-15). God is sinless, and will never sin: therefore; those of us who possess His kind of life will never sin in the future. Thus, we will never be in danger of retribution in the future because we will never do anything wrong.
Shedding our natural self with it's passions, and impulses, and attitudes is the central theme of a new covenant which God has in store for the faithful Jewish remnant that will return to Palestine in the future. It is the covenant that gave the New Testament its name. Here's a few references to the new covenant:
Included in Stage Three is the resurrection of the body; as Jesus promised.
●John 5:28-29 …Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out— those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned.
●John 11:25-26 …Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?"
●John 6:40 …For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.
●John 6:44 …No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day.
Born-again Christians get brand new supernatural bodies that can never die, nor age, nor experience debilitation of any kind. The new bodies are suitable for life in the extreme future— an environment that is absolutely impossible for the natural flesh and blood bodies we got from Adam.
●1Cor 15:50 ...I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.
Here's a few more references to the believer's resurrection.
An additional part of Stage Three is the time set aside for evaluation and awards.
I meet Christians all the time who don't have a clue about the believer's final evaluation. And they all seem to suffer the very same hang-up about it: it looks to them like a redeemed person can lose their redemption. However, it's a little late for that once somebody has already been raised from the dead with a brand new body and a sinless nature, don't you think?
The redeemed all have to give an account of how well they did with Stage 2. And also their efforts on Christ's behalf will be evaluated to see if they deserve some compensation or maybe even some special recognition. Here's a few references to the believer's final evaluation:
Stage One rescues the sinner from retribution.
Stage Two is war time. It is in this stage that the redeemed are expected to stifle their natural inclinations and work out their salvation. Not to work for their salvation; no, rather, to reform and live a God-fearing, Jesus-honoring life.
Stage three is the resurrection of the body and the believer's final evaluation. No believers go to Hell from Stage 3. Even if the believer's entire life was a completely wasted effort, he himself will still be safe. And he gets to keep his new body too.
●1Cor 3:11-15 …For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man's work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be spared, but only as one escaping through the flames.
Believers themselves are not under scrutiny in 1Cor 3:11-15, only what they did on Christ's behalf. The "fire" isn't for them, it's for what they built (1Cor 3:13). And even if Christ can commend nothing a believer built, they themselves won't be destroyed because Paul said; "he himself will be spared" (1Cor 3:15).
Sometimes when people are awakened at night by their dwelling burning down around them, they have only barely enough time to get out; and take nothing with them but the nighties and underpants they wore to bed; because there just isn't time to rescue anything else. They escape the flames; while their home, and everything in it, is lost; but at least they survived.
●Rev 20:6...Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years.
Even the lowest achieving believer is safe from the second death; and they too, as lousy a Christian as they may have been in life, will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him a thousand years. After that? A brand new earth and a brand new universe. This one, the one in current use today, will be destroyed with an incredible bang. (Isa 65:17-25, 2Pet 3:10, 2Pet 3:13, Rev 21:1-6a)
That's really all there is to it. The remaining chapters in The Walk catalogue are intended to help the redeemed maximize their chances for success in the second stage of salvation and earn themselves a good reward; and possibly even some special compensations for faithful service above and beyond the call of duty. The one principle upon which you need to concentrate in your walk with God is to always be looking out for The Lord's best interests. If you do only that much; everything else will fall right into place.
All We Like Sheep (Hendel)