The confusion over the condition, confidence and consequences of salvation is by no means limited to this generation. “If By Any Means,” written in 1940 by R. E. Neighbour, (Re-Publ. Conley & Shoettle Co.) is a beautiful theological tapestry that champions the cause of a free grace gospel and challenges the Christian community to a faithful life of service in this world that will be rewardable in the world to come.
The author begins by clarifying that it is by grace through faith alone that appropriates the gift of eternal life. He then weaves a beautiful theological mosaic of the security of the believer and the subtle satanic strategy to undermine that security.
The remainder of the book deals with biblical teaching concerning rewards to faithful Christians given by Christ. There is an enlightening discussion of the meaning of the “out resurrection” found in Philippians 3:7-12. In his treatment of the passage, Neighbour surfaces the theological options and unveils his interpretation that sees the “out resurrection” as being a “special” resurrection given to those believers who remain faithful to Christ. The argumentation and style is not technically exegetical in nature, but his examination of the text is cogent and complete, followed by a theological synthesis of his argument.
The section concerning the judgment seat of Christ is a beautiful expose of the theology of the “Bema” seat. The author intertwines biblical theology with personal poetry. This practical and emotional response is only natural in light of the sobriety of the nature of the pedagogy.
The final section deals with Hebrews 3-4, concerning “the Rest of God.” This section is a condensation of the author’s commentary on Hebrews, “If They Fall Away.” The author feels that the rest under discussion is not the rest of “salvation,” nor the “faith walk” of the believer, but the rest of reward in the millennium. At risk is the loss of the believer’s reward by the King-Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Although Dr. Neighbour does not hold to a partial rapture theory as does G. H. Lang and Robert Govett, his strong and forceful language concerning “missing the rest” could lead the reader to that conclusion.
R. E. Neighbour’s desire was “to clear away the debris that has all but covered the glories of God’s grace, and place service and rewards in their scriptural position.” This delightful work has accomplished both with theological consistency and pastoral compassion.
This would be a good read over the Christmas holiday season.
Until He comes for us,
Fred Chay, PhD
Grace Theology Press