Will We Make It To Heaven By The Skin Of Our Teeth
From time to time, I hear individuals exclaim something to the effect: “If Christians barely make it to heaven there is no way anyone else will” or “If we make it to heaven it will be by the skin of our teeth.” Have you heard these expressions? These ideas of “barely” making it to heaven, from what I can tell, come from a misunderstanding of 1 Peter 4:18 where Peter states: “And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?” The confusion seems to occur as a result of not properly understanding what is meant by the word “scarcely.” Just what did Peter mean when he penned that the righteous would scarcely be saved? Let’s consider this for just a moment.
The term scarce or scarcely appears four times in the KJV of the New Testament. It is an English word that was translated from the Greek word molis. According to Strong’s Dictionary of Greek words, the word molis means: “With difficulty.” W.E. Vine has defined this term as: “Signifying with difficulty, hardly (from molos, toil).” As one reads the rendering of the meaning of this word by both Strong and Vine, it is seen the word means with difficulty or with much work as opposed to the idea of “barely.”
If one were to look up the word scarely in a standard Webster’s Dictionary they would find it to mean, “Barely, only just.” You must remember, however, that an English Dictionary defines a word according to its’ common usage in English. It says nothing of the word’s meaning in the original Greek. Keep that in mind!
Now, having said that, the Greek word molis occurs at least six times in the New Testament. Notice how the word was translated into English:
Acts 14:18 – “And with these sayings scarce (molis) restrained they the people, that they had not done sacrifice unto them.”
Acts 27:7 – “And when we had sailed slowly many days, and scare (molis) were come over against Cnidus, the wind not suffering us, we sailed under Crete, over against Salmone.”
Acts 27:8 – “And, hardly (molis) passing it, came unto a place which is called The fair havens: nigh whereunto was the city of Lasea.”
Acts 27:16 – “And running under a certain island which is called Clauda, we had much work (molis) to come by the boat.”
Romans 5:7 – “For scarcely (molis) for a righteous man will one die: Yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.”
1 Peter 4:18 – “And if the righteous scarcely (molis) be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?”
Observing how this word is used in other passages helps shed precious light upon the meaning of the word and opens one’s understanding to what God intended for us to know.
After investigating the meaning of the passage and seeing now that Peter is saying the Christian who makes it to Heaven will do so as a result of difficulty or much work, let’s think further. An individual who makes it to Heaven will not have done so by accident. Heaven is a prepared place for prepared people. We will make Heaven our home as a result of having lived faithful unto God while being pilgrims on this Earth. The Hebrew writer penned: “Though he was a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; and being make perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him” (Heb. 5:8,9).
The apostle Paul had confidence in his Heavenly reward because he knew he had been pleasing to God. Listen to Paul: “For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: 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 Tm. 4:6-8). Again, Paul said concerning faithfulness: “Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful” (1 Cor. 4:2). We will gain an eternal abode in Heaven if we will render obedience to the Gospel and live a life in subjection to the Almighty God (Rev. 2:10).
Being a Christian is often accompanied by trials and troubles. The Bible says: “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (2 Tm. 3:12). Going to Heaven will be difficult but we can make it if we will be faithful. Listen: “Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tm. 2:4). God wants each of us to be saved and make it to Heaven. He has done his part (Jn. 3:16). Will you do yours?
- Donnie Oliver