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What Is Salvation? Ephesians 2:1

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Last Wednesday my family celebrated Buddy’s 11th birthday. I don’t know his true birthday, only that he was a summertime puppy. However, a little over 8 years ago on August 21st, 2011, I picked up Buddy from Barbara, who was working with Silky Terrier Rescue as a foster mom, so that’s his unofficial birthday. He’s been a great little pal and I’m very thankful to them both for rescuing and fostering Buddy till he came into my life. And am praying that Buddy will have many more happy and healthy years.

It’s my belief that many people don’t understand what salvation is, not only nonbelievers, but also many people who claim to be Christians. I agree with the Basic Gospel ministry that many preachers teach only “half a gospel”, i.e. that to become a Christian you repent of your sin. True enough.

But the problem with humanity is not that we sin, but that we are sinners. We sin as a result of who we are: fallen humanity. Whether you believe in Adam or Eve or not, the point of the story is that humanity chose to believe satan, rather than God. They chose to be their own gods and choose for themselves right and wrong, rejecting God as their Lord Who defines right and wrong.

We were created in God’s image (Genesis 1:26). God is a triune being–Father, Son and Holy Spirit. So, we too, were once triune beings–body, soul and filled with God’s Spirit. When our human ancestors rejected God, the Holy Spirit left the human race. As a result, we are all born incomplete: body and soul only. Everyone is born spiritually dead. That is why everyone feels incomplete and tries to fill that emptiness with food, drugs, alcohol, pleasure, sex, whatever, to make that wrong feeling go away. But it never works because that hole in your soul was meant to be filled with God’s Spirit only. Nothing else will satisfy and make you feel complete.

What that means is that, as Apostle Paul explained to the Ephesians who lived in a culture steeped in the occult:

“You were dead in your trespasses and sins,…” Ephesians 2:1

Doing good works or being good or knowing enough or being wise isn’t going to give you life. The problem isn’t just that you are bad and God is good; the problem is that you’re dead in your sin and need spiritual life.

And only Jesus Christ can give you life.

That’s the problem that unbelievers don’t understand. And what many Christians don’t understand, either. It’s not about a list of rules to obey. Christianity isn’t just a religious system: It’s about your soul being resurrected spiritually from the dead so that you can interact with God. Only spiritually alive people can enter heaven; only spiritually alive people can relate to God the Father.

It is the reason why, after Adam and Eve listened to satan and rejected God’s authority, that they ran and hid from Him. And God was walking around asking, “Where are you?” It wasn’t that God isn’t omniscient and didn’t know where they were physically; it was because they were no longer connected to Him spiritually (Genesis 3:9).

Jesus died for our sins; He took the punishment we deserved to satisfy God’s wrath for our sinful behavior.

But Jesus was also resurrected from the dead, proving He was God in the Flesh (Immanuel, Matthew 1:23). When we put our faith in Him, we are also resurrected from the dead with Him and seated in the heavenly places with Christ. Which is the symbol of baptism: having our sins washed away and then resurrected to a new life.

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surprising riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.”–Ephesians 2:4-9

So the main point I’m trying to get across is: your works don’t make you right with God because you’re spiritually dead without the Holy Spirit indwelling you. You have to become spiritually alive and trying to be good doesn’t cut it. You can never be good enough to earn the Holy Spirit. You receive Him by asking in faith, admitting that you are sinful, i.e. cannot meet God’s standards and need Him to change you through His resurrection power.

It takes away all boasting before God because you cannot stand before Him and say, “Look how good I am. God is really pleased with me.” That’s what Christians call “legalism”: thinking that you can follow God’s rules to be right with Him. And those people are usually mean and judgmental. It may not be that they are not saved but that no one properly explained to them what salvation is after they accepted Jesus by faith.

Jesus said, “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?”–Luke 11:13

After accepting Christ, you’ll once again be whole: body, soul and Spirit.

Much love from Dawn and Buddy

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There is much more that could be said to clarify, but, hopefully, I’ve laid the foundation for a greater understanding of why we need Jesus in our life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Zombie Apocalypse, John 10:10

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Buddy can sleep contentedly without fear of harm, knowing that he is loved by his human family. But before I adopted him through Silky Terrier Rescue, he lived but did not have a real life: He was mistreated and miserable. I thought he’d be thrilled to have a new owner. But when I put his new leash onto his brand new halter and started leading him to my car to take him to his new home, he bucked and kicked and struggled against me like a wild horse. He didn’t realize there was something far better awaiting him, a much better life. Once he realized that he was adopted into a new family with people who loved him, he began to relax and really enjoy life. (In other words, he is now spoiled rotten.)

This current generation of youth appear to be obsessed with zombies, whereas the prior generation was smitten with vampires (I think maybe because of Anne Rice’s novels about the Vampire Lestat which led to the Twilight craze). Subconsciously, they are onto something: I believe they sense that there is something very wrong with their generation, that something that truly gives a person life is missing. They live but perhaps sense an emptiness inside.

They are the Zombie Generation, the first generation of kids raised with zero knowledge of Jesus, God and the Bible. They walk and move about, but they don’t truly live.

When I was growing up, Christianity did not exist in a TV ghetto, confined to Christian cable shows. Bible-based or Christian tales like Ben Hur and The Ten Commandments were frequently on the major networks and on Easter, movies about Jesus would be televised.The Billy Graham Crusade would rent time on the local TV networks in prime time. There were Christmas pageants in school and history teachers weren’t forbidden to acknowledge that the United States had a Christian heritage.

“I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”–Jesus, John 10:10

As Bob Christopher and Richard Pfeiffer like to say in their radio ministry, Basic Gospel, the problem with humanity is that we are dead spiritually. We’re walking zombies: We have souls and bodies but our spirits are dead.

Many people sense this emptiness and try to fill it with things that never satisfy. My pastor, Ben Davis, likes to quote about those who don’t know Jesus, “They have forsaken Me, The fountain of living waters, To hew for themselves cisterns, Broken cisterns That can hold no water.” (Jeremiah 2:13, Old Testament prophet) They try to fill their empty cisterns (their incomplete souls) with food, or drugs, or parties, or sex, or serial romantic relationships, or books, or exercise, and after exhausting themselves physically or mentally, wonder why they still fill empty inside.

It’s because only One can fill that emptiness: the Spirit of God.

We are all created in the image of God, and in a sense, were also meant to be triune beings just like He is. He is Three Persons yet One God, called the Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We were meant to have bodies, souls and spirits. But we are all born incomplete: body and soul only, lacking the Spirit of God.

Jesus referred to Himself as water, when He invited people to come to faith in Him, crying out to the crowd attending a great festival in Jerusalem:

“Anyone who is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.'” But this He spoke of the Spirit…John 7:37-39a

I wasn’t raised Christian, so I had no idea what being “born-again” meant and the Christians I knew in college never explained it. Born-again means that you are indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God, Who gives you eternal life. This occurs when you believe that Jesus is the Christ, God in the Flesh (Emmanuel, Matthew 1:23), that He died for your sins and was raised from the dead, so that you can be declared righteous in His sight. The Holy Spirit comes to live within your spirit, giving you spiritual Life. Where once you were dead spiritually, incomplete and broken, you are now alive in Christ. And once you are born-again, it is forever, for He “will never leave you nor forsake you (Hebrews 13;5)”.

You become a triune being: body, soul and spirit.

You are no longer a zombie.

“But these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have LIFE in His name.”–John 20:31 (emphasis mine)

Please come to Jesus and be filled with His Life.

God bless you.

From Dawn and Buddy

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If you realize that you’ve been spending your entire life feeling broken, empty, that something is missing, then please ask the Spirit of Life, Jesus Christ, to be your Lord and Savior:

Dear Father, I believe that Jesus is God in the Flesh. He lived a sinless life and died for my sins on the Cross so that I don’t have to pay for my sins. I believe that He was resurrected from the dead. I don’t understand much about Christianity, but I want Your abundant Life and Your guidance. Please forgive my sins. I invite You into my life and heart.

If you prayed sincerely, congratulations for entering into the abundant life that Christ gives. It is not an easy road, but it is a path that leads to everlasting life. I recommend finding a good Bible-based church and getting a good translation of the Bible. I use the NASB and many recommend the New Revised Standard version. The Bible was originally written in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek, so there are different organizations that translated the Scriptures into English, which why there are various versions. Once you obtain a Bible, I recommend learning the 23rd Psalm and meditating on the 139th. These will both assure you of God’s great love and care for you. Then please read the Four Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, to learn about who Jesus is and what He taught. But always pray to the Father that you are led by God to understand.