How Are We To Find Salvation?

Isn’t that our primary spiritual concern? That is, we want to reach a ‘state of heart / spirit’ that guarantees our best life on Earth, as well as opening the gates for our heavenly arrival.

It’s obvious to those of the Christian faith exactly who does the saving:

“…you shall name Him Jesus (The LORD is Salvation), for He will save His people from their sins.” Mt. 1:21 AMP

“For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost.” Mt. 18:11 NKJV

“I am the Door; anyone who enters through Me will be saved [and will live forever], and will go in and out [freely], and find pasture (spiritual security).” Jn. 10:9 AMP

“This Jesus in the STONE WHICH WAS DESPISED and REJECTED by you, THE BUILDERS, but WHICH HE BECAME THE CHIEF CORNERSTONE. And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among people by which we must be saved [for God has provided the world no other alternative for salvation].” Acts 4:11 – 13. AMP

…having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. Rm. 5:9 NKJV

That pretty much puts that question to rest…

So, how do we get saved? The Bible seems to have two ‘camps of thought’ on this matter. The first we shall consider is what the Holy Spirit gave the apostle James (Jesus’ brother), to speak to God’s children:

What is the benefit, my fellow believer, if anyone claims to have faith but has no [good] works [as evidence]? Can that [kind of] faith save him? [No, a mere claim of faith is not sufficient – genuine faith produces good works.] James 2:14 AMP

…faith, if it does not have good works [to back it up], is by itself dead [inoperative and ineffective]. James 2:17 AMP

James even brings up Abraham as an example to justify his position:

Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered his son on the altar? Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? James 2:21, 22. NKJV

It appears that James is teaching that faith alone cannot confer salvation upon the believer.

The apostle Paul seems to teach the opposite:

In fact, he quotes the Old Testament regarding Abraham, to justify his stance:

Then Abram believed in (affirmed, trusted in, relied on, remained steadfast to) the LORD; and He counted (credited) to him as righteousness (doing right in regard to God and man). Gn. 15:6 AMP

What is salvation? is it not the conferring of Christ’s righteousness upon a child of God – cleansing the recipient of sin with His sacrificial blood? And, according to Paul, this is not something that we can do for ourselves, it is a gift from God:

For it is by grace [God’s remarkable compassion and favor drawing you to Christ] that you have been saved [actually delivered from judgment and given eternal life] through faith. And this [salvation] is not of yourselves [not through your own effort], but it is the [undeserved, gracious] gift of God; not as a result of [your] works [nor your attempts to keep the Law], so that not one will [be able to] boast or take credit in any way [for this salvation]. Eph. 2:8, 9. AMP

Oh, there is something that we must do – it is not a work, but it is rather to make ourselves available to receive our salvation:

‘AND IT SHALL BE THAT EVERYONE WHO CALLS UPON THE NAME OF THE LORD [invoking, adoring, and worshiping the Lord Jesus] SHALL BE SAVED (rescued spiritually).’ Acts 2:21 AMP

For Paul, it’s a matter of having faith:

…if you acknowledge and confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord [recognizing His power, authority, and majesty as God], and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. Rm. 10:9 AMP

For we maintain that a man is justified apart from the works of the Law. Rm. 3:28 NASB

Well, here we have two mighty men of God, both of whom are Holy-Spirit inspired to write God’s truth. Which one is correct? They both are.

Paul rightly teaches that salvation is a gift of God’s grace – given in exchange for one’s faith in Jesus Christ as being the Son of God, that He died for their sins, and that He was resurrected to the right hand of HIs Father in heaven. Being that salvation is a gift, you cannot earn your way into the kingdom of God – even through good works.

Jesus Himself said the same:

“He who has believed [in Me] and has been baptized will be saved [from the penalty of God’s wrath and judgment]…” Mk. 16:16 AMP

All we have to do is hold onto that faith:

“…it is the one who has patiently persevered and endured to the end who will be saved.” Mt. 10:22 AMP

Thus, it’s about having faith and declaring that faith. Looks like Paul was right. But wait, Jesus also said:

“Repent [change your inner self – your old way of thinking, regret past sins, live your life in a way that proves repentance; seek God’s purpose for your life], for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Mt. 4:17 AMP

To ‘repent’ means to turn away from sin with true remorse, and to make our best effort not to repeat that sin. And we repent in faith, believing that God’s way is the best way.

James rightly states that if we turn from our worldly ways and walk in the love of God, our character will change – which cannot help but change what we do, i.e. our ‘works.’

God gave the same message to King David as well:

LORD, who may abide in Your tabernacle? Who may dwell in Your holy hill? He who walks uprightly, and works righteousness… Ps. 15:1, 2. NKJV

Similarly, Jesus said that our works are a product of our godly transformation, and that they become part of our testimony for the glory of God:

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” Mt. 5:16 NKJV

Our ‘transformational character is born out of our best efforts to be more Christ-like. And we can thank God that He helps us do that very thing, by changing us from the inside-out:

…He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ… Phil. 1:6 NKJV

So, we see that James is just as correct in his own way as Paul; because if there is no change in a person’s heart, there will likewise be no change in the way that they conduct themselves. That person then, did not accept Christ in earnest in the first place.

We are saved by faith; and then that faith clears a path before us for taking righteous actions…

Goodnight and God bless.

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Jesus Pursues Your Salvation

Jesus and His apostles were traveling through Samaria on their way to Galilee. The Bible tells us that Jesus needed to go through Samaria. (Jn. 4:4) Most Jews avoided that region because they were prejudiced against the Samaritans for being a gene pool hodgepodge of Israeli and Assyrian lineage, i.e. not pure Jew, and therefore considered inferior.

So, Jesus had a purpose for being there. They came upon Jacob’s well. Jesus remained there while He sent the apostles to a nearby town to purchase food. Seemingly coincidental, a woman approached the well to draw water. I believe that Jesus’ purpose for going through Samaria was for this very meeting – so that He could reveal something to her that we all need to know.

Jesus asked the woman to draw Him a drink. Initially, she is taken aback because this ‘Jew’ is talking to her, a lowly Samaritan, and she tells Him so. But, there isn’t a prejudicial bone in Jesus. He answers:

“If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.” Jn. 4:10 NKJV

What is Jesus doing here? He’s pursuing her salvation! She responds by asking Him of the whereabouts of this ‘living water.’ He ignores her question and instead contrasts the water of the well with His living water:

“Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into eternal life.” Jn. 4:13, 14. NKJV

The woman’s curiosity was piqued, and she asked Him for some of His living water. But instead of directly responding to her request, He keeps her off balance by telling her that He knows that she has been married and divorced five times, and that she is presently shacking up with another guy.

Jesus is bringing the depth of her sin to the light for examination, but not with condemnation, so that she could perceive her need for salvation. Then, Jesus leaves the subject of her sin alone.

That’s the way Love operates. Jesus knows everything we’ve ever been up to. Even if our deeds are deleterious to our spiritual health, His love for us never waivers. He faithfully waits by our side, until we choose to return to Him.

Because of Jesus’ revelations about her past, the woman now believes Jesus is a prophet. So, she asks Him what she perceived to be a relevant spiritual question (and undoubtedly wanting to turn the focus of their conversation away from her sin). She tells Jesus that the Samaritans worship God in a temple in Samaria, but the Jews maintain that He can only be worshiped at the temple in Jerusalem. She asks Him which temple was the correct place to worship.

Jesus answers in a way to plunge the woman into deeper contemplation:

“Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming the you will neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews.” Jn. 2:55 NKJV

Jesus is telling her that worshiping God will no longer be limited to designated physical settings. He is also saying that Samaritan worship is a corrupted mixture of Mosaic Law and Assyrian paganism. And, He’s letting her know that He is a Jew and that the Messiah comes from the Jews. He continues:

“But the hour is coming, and is now here, when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is a spirit and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” Jn. 4:23, 24. ESV

Jesus is saying that the time for worship is now. In addition, He reveals that God is a Spirit, and therefore occupies all space and time. Thus, He can be worshiped from anywhere at any time. Jesus is also opening her mind to the reality that God is available to all sincere worshipers – regardless of race or ethnicity.

How do we worship in the spirit? Our spirit must first become predominant in our lives when we are born again.

Jesus has worked His wonder. The Samaritan woman’s spiritual eyes begin to open and she expresses her heartfelt desire:

“I know that Messiah is coming, (He who is called Christ – the Anointed); when that One comes, He will tell us everything [we need to know].” Jn. 4:25 AMP

In response, Jesus throws the doors of salvation wide open. Turning to her in His infinite compassion, He says:

“I who speak to you am He.” Jn. 4:26 NKJV

The woman left to go into the town and tell all of the Samaritans that she knew about this ‘Man’ at Jacob’s well – whom she believed to be the Christ…

Jesus will go to any lengths to lead someone to salvation. If you haven’t made the choice for Jesus yet, He is just waiting to swing your doors wide open as well. If you have, help Him with your ministry, swing wide someone else’s…

Goodnight and God bless.

Jesus Contact 4

Victory

The Bible tells us that Satan bore enmity towards Christ even at the time of Adam and Eve. (Gn. 3:15; Rv. 12:4, 5.) Much later, he even tried to kill the baby Jesus through King Herod. (Mt. 2:13 & 16.)

But we see that the devil’s first direct encounter with the incarnate Christ happened just after Jesus’ baptism:

Then, Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit, being tempted for forty days by the devil. And in those days, He ate nothing, and afterward, when they had ended, He was hungry. Luke 4:1 NKJV

So, the moment Jesus set Himself upon His God-quest, the devil attacked Him with temptations, attempting to sway Christ from fulfilling His Divine mandate.

Similar attacks come against God’s children when they are making an effort to do the same. Indeed, they are continually in Satan’s line of fire. Jesus says:

“The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.” Jn. 10:10 NKJV

The devil is not your friend:

Be sober minded; be watchful. Your adversary prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 1 Pet. 5:8 ESV

Let’s look at how Satan attacked Jesus in this first encounter, as well as the way He thwarted it:

Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, “If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” Mt. 4:3 NKJV

Jesus was famished from His 40-day fast. The devil is making an effort to leverage this, trying to tempt Him into satisfying the ‘lust of the flesh’ – to rely upon His own resources instead of keeping faith in His Father to pull Him through.

Check out Jesus’ first line of defense:

“It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’ “ Mt. 4:3 NKJV

Christ sets this example for all of us. He defends Himself by using the word of God (in this case, quoting Dt. 8:3). When we use and walk by God’s word, He covers us with His armor by giving us access (through our faith) to His truth, righteousness, unshakeable peace and salvation so that we can successfully resist the adversary. (Eph. 6:11-18.) When we align ourselves with God spiritually, He will see that our physical needs are met as well.

Satan launched a second attack against Jesus by taking Him to the top of the temple and asking Him to prove that He is the Son of God by jumping to the ground – depending upon angels to come and keep Him from harm.

The devil quotes scripture to back him up! (Ps. 91:11, 12.) But, he’s using it out of context to suit his own purpose. That’s why it’s so important for you to stay in the word of God so as to know its right application – freeing you from the Satan’s efforts to twist those same words.

In this attempt, Satan is trying to tempt Christ into giving into the ‘pride of life,’ to cast His humility aside and exalt Himself. Jesus fires back again with the word of His Father:

“On the other hand, it is written, ‘YOU SHALL NOT PUT THE LORD YOUR GOD TO THE TEST.’ “ Mt. 4:7 NASB

In other words, we are to take God’s words as truth (by faith), believing that they will be fulfilled, instead of arrogantly demanding that fulfillment.

Having failed on his second attempt, Satan finally takes Jesus to the top of a high mountain and shows Him all the kingdoms of man throughout time, offering to give them to Him if He will worship him.

(Notice that the devil says that those kingdoms are his to give – suggesting that he is working behind the scenes of all governments. Hmmm. Still, this is only a half-truth, because ultimate authority always belongs to God.)

In this final attempt, Satan is trying to get Jesus to choose riches and power over the will of God, to satisfy the ‘lust of the eyes.’ Thus, we see that a craving for these things amounts to devil worship.

Jesus is not swayed. He rides this altercation to victory with God’s word – quoting Dt. 10:20:

Begone, Satan! For it is written, You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him alone shall you serve. Mt. 4:10 AMP

The word of God is our life. The devil will attempt to steal it away at every opportunity. Look and see how effective he’s been at doing that around the world. That’s why we need to marinate ourselves in His word daily, so that we own our salvation – rising above the ways of the world with its lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes and the pride of life.

Thankfully, we’ve got Jesus on our side:

The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil. 1 Jn. 3:8 NASB

The devil wasn’t done with Christ however. He invaded the mind of Judas Iscariot so that Jesus would be betrayed and crucified. (Jn. 13:2) Yet, he didn’t foresee Jesus’ resurrection. Another BIG victory for us:

In the world you will have tribulation and trials and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage, be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.] Jn. 16:33 AMP

Eventually, near the end of time, Jesus will vanquish all of Satan’s followers with the word of God again (…the sword which proceeded from the mouth of Him… Rv. 20:21.) and ultimately tosses the devil himself into the abyss for all time. (Rv. 20:10).

Until then, we know that with regards to his attempts to sabotage our lives, he is beatable. He looks to exploit the weakest chink in our armor. However, the devil cannot make us do anything. He only has the power that we give him. We have the free will to choose God or Satan. There is no in between.

When you wear the word of God, clinging to your Jesus contact, you are invincible to the devil’s machinations:

Yet the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen [you] and set you on a firm foundation and guard you from the evil [one]. 2 Thess. 3:3 AMP
Goodnight and God Bless.