Two-Sided Salvation – part 2

We were talking about the two states that we find ourselves in, with regards to salvation: the predicaments we can experience prior to salvation, versus the position that we hold after having been saved.

There are many obstacles that prevent us from reaching out for salvation. One may be ignorance, i.e. not having heard the gospel. All the other obstacles are things that we put upon ourselves.

Aside from sin, the most formidable of these is the practice of living in the past. When we occupy that timeframe, we subconsciously indulge our wounded child within, who, constantly begs for our attention with regards to its unhealed miseries.

We try to oppress those hurts with busyness, distractions or addictions, rather than open them up for the healing of Christ; and we become mentally and / or physically sick in the process.

We yearn for connection, all the while living out a life from an illusion of being separated from God, other people and our true selves, that we concoct through self-judgment over our roles (actual or perceived) in past events. That illusion gives birth to thoughts and actions that are derogatory to both ourselves and those around us – making the separation real.

This ultimately leads to a life wasted in a flurry of unfulfilling exertions to still the fear of abandonment and to attempt to survive in a world of our own making. So, we suffer. But, it is in our fleshly nature to look for pleasure and avoid suffering. That keeps us trapped in a place that prevents us from understanding, accepting and loving ourselves. Furthermore, the incessant search to soothe the flesh gnaws away at the joy in our spirit, which is toxic to the soul.

Sounds grim, yes? And that’s exactly the way our adversary wants to keep us:

Be sober [well balanced and self-disciplined], be alert and cautious at all times.  That enemy of yours, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion [fiercely hungry] seeking someone to devour. 1 Pt. 5:8 AMP

Everyone suffers from this dilemma at one time or another; it’s only a matter of degrees.

We see then, why it’s so important for those who have been blessed with salvation to reach out to everyone sitting on the unsaved side on the fence, and show them the way of God’s grace towards their own healing. Of course, to be the most effective at the ‘Great Commission,’* we must have submitted ourselves for His healing as well.

* “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” Mk. 16:15 NKJV

So, going back to 1 Pt. 5:8 above, we see that to ‘be ‘sober, alert and cautious at all times’  (emphasis mine), demands that we live in the present moment rather than die in the ways of the past. We cannot connect with God or receive His gifts of salvation (healing, peace, revelatory guidance and eternal life but to name a few) unless we are living in the ‘here and now’ with Him.

No one knows us better than our Creator. That’s good because so many times we bury the past that drives us under many layers of unconsciousness. So, we can ask our blessed Mediator (Christ) to search our hearts and help us see the sources of our suffering and sorrow that robs us of the life He came to bring us.

“…know the God of your Father, and serve Him with a loyal heart and with a willing mind; for the Lord searches all hearts and understands all the intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will be found by you; but if you forsake Him, He will cast you off forever.” 1 Chr. 28:9 NKJV

…the Spirit [comes to us and] helps us in our weaknesses…[knows our need and at the right time] intercedes on our behalf…And He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because the Spirit intercedes [before God] on behalf of God’s people in accordance with God’s will. And we know [with great confidence] that God [who is deeply concerned about us] causes all things to work together [as a plan] for good for those who love God, to those who are called according to His plan and purpose. Rom. 8;26 – 28. AMP

We’ve got to grab a hold of God while we still draw breath, praying for revelation about the strategies that we’ve constructed that keep us in the world of the past. And then we can pray with exactitude about how to take on godly characteristics to thrust that construct from our lives. Then, we will be free to serve God in freeing others with the same afflictions by leading them to His salvation.

It is in the telling of that redemption where we’ll find that the truth about salvation sells itself.

Salvation is that where God gives the breakers of His law another opportunity to reach righteousness through the gospel of Christ Jesus – freeing His children from His wrath of judgment, filling them with peace and joy of the Spirit.

It changes the recipient by filling his or her heart with love, saving them by freely granting them the righteousness the law demands that they could not possibly fulfill on their own.

For Christ is the end of the law [it leads to Him and its purpose is fulfilled in Him], for [granting] righteousness to everyone who believes [in Him as Savior]. Rom. 10:4 AMP

God loves everyone:

Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. 2 Pt. 1:2 – 4. NKJV

The Lord does not delay [as though He were unable to act] and is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is [extraordinarily] patient toward you, not wishing for anyone to perish but for all to come to repentance. 2 Pt. 3:9 AMP

He is willing and waiting to bring everyone into His everlasting kingdom.

The only ones who will not gain entrance are those who steadfastly refuse to be saved. God will not violate free will, He won’t compel.

Indeed, this is why we must first teach others the Law of God so that they can see their utter helplessness to save themselves without His mercy. They must understand the deathly consequences of the contamination of sin. Then, the hearer can understand the need for Christ – first by gaining the knowledge of the gospel and then accepting it wholeheartedly by faith, whereby we receive and live under His grace and find our satisfaction in Him.

God wants you to rise above your worldly misery and accept His merciful gift of His Son’s work on the cross. He will never refuse you. He wants you to come to Him as you are, not as you wished you would be:

My [only] sacrifice [acceptable] to God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart [broken with sorrow for sin, thoroughly penitent], such, O God, You will not despise. Ps. 51:17 AMP

God is ready and willing to work with you – because He loves you so much…

Goodnight and God bless.

God Yearns for Your Return

Return from what? Your foray into the ways of the world.

God loves you, and He yearns for your love in return. That’s why He gave you free will. If love isn’t freely given, it’s not love at all.

We were born into a love relationship with God; but as we grew older, we got sucked into the maw of worldly enticements from the adversary who walks this world and creates the mayhem within it. We fell into lockstep with the example set before us long ago by Adam and Eve.

They stepped into the ways of the world when they accepted the devil’s lie, essentially turning their backs on God, calling Him a liar in the process. And man’s behavior has gone south ever since.

During the time of Moses, God stepped in and left us a signpost, a way to prepare for the salvation through Christ. Why? It’s because God loves despite our sin. He wants to save everyone.

This signpost was the Law (outlined in the Ten Commandments). Not only did He send it’s dictates through Moses, He imprinted it upon our consciences:

“But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may do it…I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; that you may love the LORD your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life…” Dt. 30:14 & 19, 20. NKJV

I bless the LORD who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me. Ps. 16:7 ESV

In other words, God imbued the rules for ‘right living’ upon our souls. Unfortunately, the Law was grossly corrupted by man over time, so that he could feel justified as he lived according to the desires of his flesh.

The Law and the Gospel are two entirely different doctrines. Yet they are equally necessary. You cannot understand the Gospel without knowing the Law; and without the Gospel, the Law brings no blessings.

Both are required for salvation. The Law gives us the understanding of why we need the Gospel, and the Gospel leads us to salvation. The Gospel makes no sense if we don’t understand the Law and how breaking it brings us such dire consequences that we cannot undo by ourselves.

The Law (the Old Covenant) reveals both the nature of sin and convicts us when we have taken it upon ourselves to engage in sinful activity – so that we become aware of our need for salvation. Yet, the only thing the Law offers for a path to redemption, is a dictate to follow it to the letter. That is not humanly possible. Until we accept Christ as our Savior, we cannot reach that perfection.

The Law convicts the Law—breaker,  not out of malice, but to nudge us towards the gospel. Until we make that journey to be perfected in the grace of God’s salvation, that conviction will bring with it guilt and shame. And that’s what keeps so many people from returning to their Father.

So we suffer; and we try to insulate ourselves from more suffering by pushing our misdeeds into our subconscious, with busyness, distractions and addictions – all the while engaging in self-flagellation. We yearn for love, but we cannot give it to ourselves because we’re too busy running from our guilt, which only leads to more sin as we try to insulate ourselves against our hurts. In other words, we keep digging a deeper hole.

If we continue to repeat these patterns, we will become both mentally and physically sick. This is not God’s plan. We have to recognize that we cannot work our way to salvation (by living in perfect adherence to the Law), and instead open ourselves up to the grace of God.

It’s hard because we think that we are unacceptable in God’s eyes. Nothing could be further from the truth. God yearns for and works at everyone’s return:

The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient towards you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. 2 Pt. 3:9 ESV

God is in the business of reconciliation. Other than perpetually denying Christ, there is nothing that He will not wipe from your earthly slate if you come to Him with sincere confession and repentance.

We can bring our offenses before God so that He can remove them from His memory through the blood of Christ.

Sometimes however, we bury our deeds so deep in our subconscious that we need to ask Him to help us learn to be still (i.e. to meditate in His presence) so that He can reveal the wound we’ve been trying to hide from ourselves. Furthermore, we can ask Him to help us give to ourselves understanding, compassion and the insight to rise above our old self – giving ourselves those same things that He does. When we do that, we can forgive ourselves as well instead of making the work of the Cross for naught.

We are at cause for how we live out our lives and for the future that we create. Many times, those do not turn out as we had hoped because of the persistent thorn of our transgressions. Again, we suffer; and happiness is not possible in an environment that lacks understanding, love and compassion.

Yet suffering is the path that goads us to seek God. It also brings us compassion for ourselves and others when He helps us overcome it.

It is vital that we seek healing from the Lord. Avoiding our hurtful situations will never put us in a place where we can receive the heavenly balm that we require. The joy we seek comes when we let go of our own efforts, and give our burdens to Christ. (Mt. 11:30)

As we saw, the Law leads us to the salvation of the Gospel, and what a salvation that is! It is the saving perfection that God gives you through the blood of Christ – not something that you attain by yourself, but is a continual gift of His doing. (2 Cor. 3:18)

That doesn’t mean that you won’t keep making mistakes. There are still revelations to take in, faith to build, strengthening to make us more aware and formidable (by letting Christ fight our battles).

We make our greatest acknowledgment of the gift of God’s salvation when we fully accept that it’s about His doing at the Cross, His work through each of His children through Christ’s sacrifice and completely disregard our self-importance – looking to the Godhead for our purpose and joy.

God transferred every sin in the past, present and future of every person who accepts His Son, upon Jesus. Christ paid the total price for your transformation. He laid himself down willingly to face your punishment so that you might spend eternity with Him. He gave you life when all you had coming was death.

When you make that free-will decision to accept Christ for who He is, what He’s done, and what it all means, every obstacle that stands between you and God crumbles for good. It’s done. That’s all He has been asking of all peoples.

In fact, upon your salvation, God sees you as if you were His Son; and indeed, they have both taken up residence within you. You are a new creature in Christ:

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 2 Cor. 5:17 NKJV

So, what is your part in all of this? Thomas Merton said it best: “My job is to press forward, to grow inwardly, to pray, to break away from attachments, to defy fears, to grow in faith, to seek an entirely new dimension and perspective in my life, and let the Holy Spirit take care of the rest – to really desire this and to work for it.”

You are Christ-made acceptable to God, a true child of the Father.

Isn’t that exciting? After all, Jesus is the reason for this season, yes? MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Goodnight and God bless.