Salvation

Love is Powerful

love

The haunting lyrics were first written in 1957 by Felice and Boudleaux Bryant, and in 1960 The Everly Brothers recorded the song LOVE HURTS. It was included on their album titled A Date with the Everly Brothers.

A year later Roy Orbison remade the song with his distinct and endearing sounds, bringing it up to the top five on the Australian Single Play. Then in 1975 the heavy metal band Nazareth re-popularized Love Hurts, moaning words that expound the hazards a heart in love may encounter.

Love hurts—Love scars—Love wounds and marks—Any heart not tough or strong enough to take a lot of pain…

Country artist Emmy Lou Harris also included it in her repertoire. The song has always resonated with us because most everyone has at one time or another experienced the pain that love has the capacity to inflict.

This leads us to one irrefutable truth concerning LOVE:  It wields tremendous power—to heal or to hurt. To sway or to bring us in line. To kill or to save. And it possesses many different dynamics as well, as other songs elucidate, like The Power of Love by Huey Lewis and the News.

While most folks equate the facts of these songs only with romantic type love, it is also true of all kinds of love, such as paternal, brotherly and social love. Who would be foolish enough to argue that the love of a mother is not scary powerful? The nature of paternal love can quickly become a protective juggernaut not to be taken lightly. Motherly Protection 

But there is nothing, and I mean nothing that can measure the lengths a Father’s Love will go to in protecting his children.

You and I have a Heavenly Father who feels more strongly for us that any human parent is capable. Imagine that every soul who has ever lived is your child! Oh, how many have turned their backs and rebelled against Father God? A rebellious child always brings an indescribable heartache to their parents. What about when one of our children is struck by a car and killed, or is diagnosed with cancer? Sent to prison? What if someone were to deliberately injure our child?—just think of the strong feelings it would produce in us, and then multiply it by several billion. But even that wouldn’t come close to revealing the power of God’s awesome love.

God’s love is pure and much higher than ours, and likewise the pain that His love produces in His own heart is greater than anything we could possibly fathom. It was this same paternal love that caused Father God to send His only begotten Son to die in our behalf—so that His created children could be saved. The Author of Life willingly gave His life to save ours. Jesus said,

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13

And then He stretched out His hands to be nailed to a cross beam and brutally suffered a horrendous death. He had the power to stop it—He could have wiped us all out and started over with just a single word from His lips. But the power of His love held Him up there to endure it all. Besides, He knew He would rise again and usher in a way for you and I to live forever with our heavenly Parent in His new world, a glorious place with mansions for each of us along a street of gold.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16 KJV

Categories: Christian Living, Current Event, People, Romantic Love, Salvation, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Becoming One With God: Salvation

saved

 

I have shared God’s simple plan of salvation in many different ways over the years, but today I was led to write it out again, in a little different way. Sometimes I have no idea why God leads me to do particular things, and I’ve learned to just go ahead and do whatever it is He puts on my heart to do. Perhaps this post is meant for a specific person, or it could be for hundreds. Whatever the case, God knows and that’s good enough for me. I’ve taken off my writer’s hat in order to make this message clear and plain, because God’s word is what gives it power and not my skills.

I was asked by a friend on Facebook: “How do we become one with God?” Providing the answer involves more than what I could put into a comment on social media, and it struck me that the following questions are bound up in that question: How are we saved, and how do we walk in the Spirit, and be insured against the loss of eternal life?

When Paul and Silas were arrested and placed in the inner parts of a dungeon-like jail, God sent an earthquake that caused the chains to fall off their ankles and wrists. All the doors in the prison flew wide open. The jailer or C.O. in charge assumed all the prisoners had escaped, which by Roman law would have meant a certain death sentence for him. He was getting set to take his own life when Paul shouted out, “Don’t harm yourself, we are all here!” Acts 16:28

That jailer was filled with relief and wonder. He knew why these two men were in prison and that they were preachers of Christ Jesus. So he ran to Paul and Silas, fell on his knees and cried “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” (Verse 30)

The answer Paul and Silas gave is the gospel: the good news in condensed form, though we may need some clarification. “They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” (Verse 31)

Salvation is based upon the most simple of concepts: Belief. But we must understand what it means to Believe. The bible calls it FAITH.

Let’s say that you, me and lots of other people are all in one large room, and if we stay in that room we will most certainly be killed. There’s a bomb set to go off, but nobody knows at what time it is set to detonate. That’s a bit like life on earth, because Jesus’ return is coming and nobody knows when. There are many doors that lead out of this room, hundreds of them. But every single door except for ONE will also lead to our death—eternally separated from God.  Only one door will save us.

But then Jesus comes in and says “I am the door! Come through me and you will live!” There are also many other voices all shouting, “No,” and they are all pointing to different doors saying, “Follow me, this is the right way!”

Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6

 

Now I want to tell you that the devil believes Jesus is the way to eternal life. Satan believes that Jesus died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins, because we are all sinners. Romans 3:23 tells us: For all have sinned…” AND “The wages of (the penalty for) sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.Romans 6:23

The demons believe that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life, and that He died for our sins and rose from the dead. But they and the devil are not saved. You see that’s a different kind of belief.

The kind of belief that saves us is the kind that includes trust in Jesus. I must trust that Jesus is the right door to go through to be saved. I cannot stay in that room or I will die. I must make a decision, but I must also act upon that decision. In other words, I must actually go through the door!

Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep.” John 10:7.  I must go into Christ, and when I do, Christ comes into me—to live with me on the inside, in the form of God’s Holy Spirit. He is sometimes called the “Spirit of Christ”. That’s when we become one with Him. This means I follow Him. He is my leader and guide and I do things His way. At least I try my best to do that.

How? How do we become ONE with God through Christ Jesus? First we simply tell God in our own words that we believe in Jesus. We believe that the blood He shed on the cross paid for our sins. I tell Jesus that I believe He died for me personally. And that He rose back to life. And now I am going to give myself to Him. “Lord Jesus, I now belong to you—show me what to do.”

His answer is that we keep on trusting that He is the way. If I really trust Jesus I’m going to do my best to live in the way He tells me I should live. Now we cannot do this perfectly, and we will get to that in a little while. Because God knows we are weak and that sometimes we will still sin. He has done something about that for us! The blood Jesus bled on the cross covers my past sins, my present sins AND even the sins I might commit in the future! But this is not a license to sin!!

I must WANT with all my heart to be pure and holy like He is. When we want to be like Jesus, God begins working inside us, changing us little by little to become more like Jesus. Jesus said, But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matthew 6:33 And He also said “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” Matthew 5:6.

You see it is my desire to be righteous that begins God’s work of changing me, so that I actually start becoming righteous and holy like He is. The greatest satisfaction and contentment any person can ever have is found by doing God’s will—by being united with Him. I remember thinking how dull and boring the Christian life must be. But it wasn’t until I gave my life to Christ that I learned what real living is all about. He gives life to the fullest and it is intensely satisfying!

We will never “arrive” at perfect righteousness in this life. If we could do that we would no longer need a Savior. We most definitely cannot be perfect in these bodies we live in. God however, views us as being perfect, because we are in Christ, and He is perfect. We have the righteousness of Christ given to us. He took our sins upon Himself and carried them to the grave and buried them there. All our sin! It’s the best deal anywhere. He takes our sins away and gives us His righteousness, Praise God!

So we must trust in our Savior to cover our sins with His blood. On the day Jesus returns to take us home He will give us new spiritual bodies that do not sin. I’m really looking forward to my new body!

I must decide that I am going to die to my old sinful self. I’m going to put the old me up there on the cross with Jesus. And I am going to live the new life that He is giving me. Apostle Paul writes in Galatians 2:20 “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

Jesus said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” Luke 9:23

When our old self tells us to do things we say, “No” and we follow what God’s spirit and the bible tells us to do. God will lead us into the right decisions. We deny that old sinful nature and all the wrongful ways we used to say and do things. Instead, we now follow Jesus. When Jesus said to take up our cross, it means that there is work that He wants us to do. But we don’t work for our salvation—that’s already been given to us for free. We are saved by grace just because we believed and trusted Jesus Christ as our Savior. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of Godnot by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9.

But that doesn’t mean we have no work to do. No, He saved us so that we would work. The salvation is free because we had faith. But if we really did have faith to be saved, then we will also have faith to do the good works. The very next verse after our last one is this: “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10

The first of that work is to begin changing to be like God’s holy Son, Jesus. But it is actually God doing the heavy work, we simply cooperate with what He is doing inside us, and we must WANT IT. This starts in our minds. That’s why our mind needs to be focused on Jesus, on righteousness and holiness and all that is good. That’s what we are aiming for: Holiness, so we keep our eyes on Jesus. This is one reason it is so important for us to read our bibles. It helps us to stay focused on Jesus. And in this dark and sinful world it can be very hard to do. But we have supernatural power from God to use in our lives. It is used for only one thing: to obey God and do what pleases Him. He also gives us supernatural peace and joy and love! He has given us His Spirit to live inside us and He gives us life! We can die to our old selves because the Spirit is constantly giving us new life. We are united with Him and have become ONE with God as a part of His big family in Christ.

 

Here’s a key to pleasing God: Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” Colossians 3:2 The things we like will gradually begin to change, along with the things we love.

Here is another key verse about being saved: “For if you live according to the flesh, you will die…” Romans 8:13a Living according to the flesh means that I still love my sin. But once we come to know how good the stuff God has to give us is, we begin to love righteousness, holiness and goodness—we love Him! We begin to hate sin just as He does. Even though we may sin at times, we hate it and we can’t stand ourselves until we take that sin to God and confess it. He loves you! And God has promised: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 1st John 1:9

As Christians, our sins are already forgiven. But we confess them as the Spirit reveals them to us, and this keeps our relationship with the Lord strong and it clears our consciences. Now back to Romans 8:13b “…But if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.”  If I am saved, I will be trusting Christ who is in me. I will live my life day by day and minute by minute following Him, obeying Him, trusting Him. But remember, God has made allowance for our mistakes! Those future sins are covered too, if in fact my heart is SET on HIM. The very next verse says: “For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”Romans 8:14-15.

“Abba” means “Daddy!” When we experience God’s love for us we no longer have to fear His fiery judgment, because we know He has saved us and is working in us, and through us. We are His children and we love Him back by doing our best to please Him, just as we should do with our earthly fathers.

If you understand nothing else, please understand this: “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved.” Romans 10:9-10

 

The following is a very simple prayer suggestion. If you agree with it, please pray this from your heart to God.

“Heavenly Father, I know how desperately I am in need of your grace on a continuing basis. I believe in your Son Jesus and the work He did to save me on the cross, and I believe He has risen from the dead. I accept you Jesus, my Christ, to be the master of my life. Thank you for covering my sins by the blood you shed on the cross. Lord Jesus, please help me to deny what my sinful flesh wants to do, and instead to obey you and your Spirit inside me. Please help me to understand the bible as you speak to me in my heart. Help me to be quiet enough to listen, to sit still and just meditate and think about verses of scripture, and let you transform my heart and mind. I want to be holy. I am now one of your sons, oh God, my Father, and I want to be like your Son Jesus. Help me to live the way you want me to live. And please teach me more and more each day.  Also Lord, I ask that you will help me to know the right person here on earth who will encourage me and help me understand the bible, and who will love me and help to disciple me. Thank you my sweet Savior, in Jesus’ mighty name, Amen.”

In obedience to Christ, we need to be baptized into Him, and into His church. We confess our faith in Jesus in front of witnesses. “With your mouth you confess and are saved.” This is an outward act of obedience which proves our belief. We are commanded by God to be baptized into Christ. Even though Jesus was perfect and had no sin, He was baptized by John the Baptist. I believe this was an example for us to follow.

God Bless You!

 

Categories: Christian Living, Salvation, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | 8 Comments

Ascending Holiness Mountain

 

mount

A little wooden cross glued to a magnet kept wise old adages posted on my refrigerator door where I’d be sure to see them often. Both the words that were written there and the cross which secured them were mementos of things I needed to remember. The symbol was of who I am in Christ, since He’s paid the penalty for me by His death. But since He rose to life on the third day, I am guaranteed to one day rise as well. I must rise to walk in a new life today, since my old one has passed away.

The pinned words were admonitions I should heed. Wise people never forget these words once they ponder their truth.

Sow a thought and reap and act

Sow an act and reap a habit

Sow a habit and reap a character

Sow a character and reap your destiny.

Though Jesus has paid the entire penalty for my sin debt once and for all time, it is still my responsibility to cooperate with the sanctification process. I am being conformed to the holy image of Christ. I must submit to God, and obey His word and His Spirit who was given to me upon my rebirth into eternal life.

My character will be shaped by the thoughts that are allowed to occupy space in my mind. There are many things in the world that will stimulate thoughts, good and bad. This dictates that I must place a guard over what I see and hear. Whether we admit it or not, everything in life has an effect upon us. Another posted adage read as follows.

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”

The places I go have much to do with what I will see and hear. I must choose carefully where I go. The entertainment and recreation I select has a tremendous impact upon the sights and sounds I will experience, so those must also be carefully scrutinized.

Thoughts come from out of my heart, but there’s also thoughts that are suggested to me, both good and bad. Some are from God, and some from the world, and also some from the enemy of my soul. I must discern and distinguish the source of each thought, and choose to dwell upon those from God, and from the goodness He is growing in my heart. I must immediately reject all other suggestions.

My eternity is at stake

So there’s grave choices I must make

Selfishly, I could just live for today

Ignoring the coming judgment day

But life in Jesus grows sweeter with time

So joyfully I work, holiness mountain to climb.

Categories: Faith, Growing in Faith, Salvation, Sanctification, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

How To Be Sure Of Heaven

heaven

The question weighs heavy on the hearts of many people: “Am I really saved? If I died today or Jesus returns today, will I go to heaven?”

 

Romans 10: 9-10 promises that if we confess with our mouth Jesus is Lord and believe in our heart that God raised Him from the dead that we will be saved.

 

Someone may ask, “But preacher, what about Matthew 7: 21?”  There Jesus said:

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”

One verse says I just believe and confess, and the other states that I must also do the will of the Father. Is this a contradiction? What is the will of the Father?

 

During Jesus’ earthly ministry the people asked him an important question which weighed upon their hearts, and I believe the same question weighs upon the hearts of people today. They asked, “What must we do to do the works God requires?”  What does God want from us? How can we please Him, and how can we have His favor on our lives? Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” John 6:28-29

God would have us believe on His Son Jesus as our Christ (Savior). That is His desire for you. But we must understand what kind of belief this is that God requires. The two verses, Romans 19:13 and Matthew 7:21 are saying the same thing. They actually expound and clarify each other.

Listen to this little illustration of a woman who told her husband every single morning before he and she both left for work, “I love you.” Yet, the wife was having an affair with another man from her job. Hmm, not very loving if you ask me.

Considering that love is an action, rather than just a feeling, she was not at all acting in love toward her husband. She did not really love him. The same is true of belief. If we truly believe, we will show it by our actions.

 

If we really love God, we will want to do His will. We will follow Jesus and obey God’s word to the best of our ability—this is what it means to believe. The kind of faith that saves us is the faith that follows Jesus, acting upon what our intellect believes to be true. This is true saving belief, better known as faith.

 

Very graciously, God has made provision for the times we slip-up and make mistakes, or fall to a temptation that we regret. 1st John 1:9 is a wonderful and a comforting promise. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. God is so very merciful, and He knows how difficult it is for us to be perfect. But here’s the big difference between a non-saved person sinning and a saved person sinning. When a saved person sins they hate what they have done. We hate sin just as God does. We desire to be pure, even though we cannot achieve it on our own. God sees our hearts, and He knows the ones who truly hunger and thirst for righteousness. Jesus said: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” 

 

We believe we are forgiven, because He said we are forgiven. This is a part of believing on Jesus. God is always faithful to His word. We confess that we are sinners and need a Savior. After salvation, we confess our sins to maintain a good relationship with the Lord, and to cleanse our consciences. We turn away from those sins instead of running towards them. In other words, we repent. Our sins are covered by the blood of Christ. We also believe that God is working in our hearts to make those errors fewer and fewer as we mature in faith. It is God’s Spirit working inside you, reproducing holiness and creating the beauty of Jesus inside you! It is a growing process. The bible says that one day the glory that is being created in us will one day be revealed. (That’s in Romans chapter 8)

God bestows salvation based upon our faith. Ephesians 2:8: For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–

 

AND THIS SAVING FAITH IS BELIEF IN ACTION!

 

We have such a gloriously wonderful salvation! It is a free gift of God’s truly amazing grace in Christ Jesus. Ours is a relationship of love, of trusting God, and of an intense desire to obey Him, because of our love for Him. Our first act of obedience to God is to be Baptized into Christ and into His church. We will want to be with other people who are saved. God has designed our spiritual growth around the structure of our spiritual family on earth, in the church. We need each other to help us grow, just as with any family. Eternal life and all the riches of Christ are ours through faith in Jesus Christ. Praise God!

“Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Romans 10: 13

 

Pray this prayer with me:

Father God, please reveal your word to my understanding. Thank you for calling me to faith in Christ. I believe in your Son Jesus and the work He did by dying on the cross to take the penalty for my sin. Then he rose from the dead, guaranteeing that I too will be raised up to everlasting life. Please help me to live in a way that reflects my belief in you, my trust in you, and my love for you. Thank you for saving me and giving me this wonderful hope and peace. In Jesus’ precious name, amen.

 

Allow God to speak to your heart today as you read Matthew 7: 13-29. God Bless You!

 

Categories: Faith, Growing in Faith, Salvation, Sanctification, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

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