Two-Sided Salvation

I don’t mean that salvation has a double meaning. You are either saved or you’re not. What we will examine here is the state where you find yourself before you are saved (that which may drive some to finally seek salvation), and the transformed reality we step into once we receive it.

We are all born into sin:

…sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, so death spread to all people [no one able to stop it or escape its power], because all sinned. Sin was [committed] in the world before the Law [was given], but sin is not charged [against anyone] when there is no law [against it]. Yet death ruled [over mankind] from Adam to Moses [the Lawgiver], even over those who had not sinned as Adam did. Adam is a type of Him (Christ) who was to come [but in reverse – Adam brought destruction, Christ brought salvation]…through one trespass [Adam’s sin] there resulted condemnation for all men…through one man’s disobedience [his failure to hear, his carelessness], the many were made sinners… Rom. 5:12 – 14, 18-19. AMP

Adam’s sin thrust itself generationally upon all of us. Its grip takes hold as soon as we become aware of the Mosaic Law (the foundation of which is the Ten Commandments), when we become of an age where we can grasp right from wrong, at that moment when we tap into that same Law that God put in all of our hearts:

“I will put My law in their minds and write it upon their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people…for they shall all know Me…” Jer. 31:33, 34. NKJV

Just how important is that Law?

“For it is not an idle word for you; indeed it is your life. And by this word you will prolong your days…” Dt. 32:47 NASB

We are born in sin, born in and bound by the Law until we receive the grace of God’s salvation through Christ; and we have this Law divinely implanted and innately available. Our obedience to this Law is tantamount to the quality and length of our lives.

Furthermore, add this to the mix:

“…it is He who gives to all [people] life and breath and all things. And He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times…This was so that they would seek God, if perhaps they may grasp Him and find Him, though He is not far from each of us.” Acts 17:25 – 27. AMP

“…God overlooked and disregarded former ages of ignorance; but now He commands all people everywhere to repent [that is, to change their old ways of thinking, to regret their past sins, and to seek God’s purpose for their lives], because He has set a day when He will judge the inhabited world in righteousness…” Acts 17:30, 31. AMP

So, God put an innate hunger in us that leads us to seek out our Creator. Further, He asks us to line up with Him, in order to be saved from His judgment that He will serve upon those who don’t.

Our hunger for answers show up as, ‘Who am I? What am I? Who created me? What is my purpose? What happens after I die?’

You can see how our ‘unsaved experience’ can cause one an enormous amount of consternation.

Our initial instinct, (thanks to Adam) is to seek out answers through the flesh, adding more sin to our dilemma. We feel condemned because of the Law God placed in our spirit that revealed our sin nature. We sin some more to assuage the feelings we endure, because of our condemnation, and we draw into ourselves to hide from what we may assume is an avenging God.

The Law was a gift of mercy. It showed us what was right and wrong. All we had to do was obey it, perfectly. Unfortunately, that has proved to be humanly impossible. So, the Law condemns us to death for disobedience. It promises us an eternal life yet doesn’t reveal a workable path to get there. But what God was trying to get us to see through the Law, was our immediate need for salvation – forgiveness to deliver us from the hopeless condition created by our Law-breaking.

I say ‘immediate need’ because we have no idea when we will depart from this earth; and if we haven’t embraced Christ before that time, we don’t get to ride that heavenly bus.

What God is doing through the conviction of the Holy Spirit is to reveal these things, so that we might be led to a genuine repentant state and take on a humility of the heart.

God sends His children out into the world with the gospel message, preaching His grace and loving-kindness in sending Jesus to save the hearers from condemnation through their having faith in who Christ is and what He’s done. And who is Christ? Is He not the author of our faith? (Heb. 12:2) He freely supplies the faith that you need.

The flesh has a far greater tendency to cling to the Law and reject God’s promise through Christ. Thus, we grab hold of the faith in our spirit and declare that our sin-debt, our death-debt, has been paid by the Son of God: “I have forgiveness of sins through Christ, having faith that He has transformed me from within.”

On the other side, when we receive our salvation, been forgiven our sins, we also have to take on living in a godly way to the best of our ability. Jesus will then bridge the gap where we fall short. In addition, we need to stay connected with God through His word, prayer and meditation so that we can know His will and realize what actions we need to take.

We need to take our minds off of ourselves and live a loving life of servitude. Our spiritual perfection only comes when we forget about perfecting ourselves, amassing possessions and follow in the footsteps of Christ.

We can then release ourselves from the concept of ‘mine,’ knowing that everything belongs to God in Whom we rest; thus, everything is ours without having to fret over the ‘rightful ownership’ of it.

Indeed, we are at our most free when we love God and accept His love and peace, even if we don’t see it manifest in the world. It is there in our spirit. God facilitates our reconciliation with ourselves, so that we may return to that wonderful person He made us to be. When we achieve this reconciliation, we are also one with Him. Then our old battles within can cease…

To be continued.

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.