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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 #1 Error NonChristians Make, Genesis 3:9

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My first sight of Buddy was at pet fair in Enumclaw, Washington. He sat in a cage stacked on top of other cages housing Silkies that his foster mother was exhibiting at the show. I took one look at Buddy and thought, “Well, I don’t know you now but I’ll learn to love you.”

The number one mistake nonChristians make is believing that Christianity is just another religion. Therefore, it doesn’t matter what religion you believe in if it teaches wisdom and how to be a good person.

Christianity is not just another of many religions teaching right living and how to treat others or a self-improvement program. It is about reuniting in a love relationship with the living God Who created us.

Five thousand years ago, Adam and Eve had a perfect love relationship with God. He would walk about in the garden of Eden and fellowship with them. Their lives, gorgeous environment, nutritious food and animals as friends were freely given to them to enjoy. When they rejected God’s authority by believing Satan’s lies that God didn’t really loved them, didn’t have their best interests at heart and was holding out on them, their relationship with God fell apart.

By rejecting God’s authority, the Holy Spirit left the human race.

So we all become incomplete beings at birth, souls and bodies but no Spirit of God indwelling us.

In Genesis 3:9, you can almost hear the anguish in God’s voice as He walks the garden, looking for His companions, “Where are you?” He cries out.

But Adam and Eve are hiding from God. “I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid…so I hid myself,” Adam answers in verse 10.

Humankind has been fleeing from God’s presence ever since, making up their own rules of how to get back into relationship with Him. Most people sense that something is wrong, that they are incomplete, but, just like Adam and Eve, they don’t want to approach the God of the Bible because they know that they fall short of His expectations, His standards. Humanity’s solution is religion, a system of reaching up to God.

Christianity is about God reaching down to us, the second part of the Trinity becoming flesh and dwelling among us (John 1:14). Not us reaching up to Him. When Jesus came to earth to live among us, He didn’t sit on a throne in the temple of Jerusalem (aka Herod’s temple), announce His deity and demand that people approach Him with fear and trepidation, present gifts and bow down to Him. No. He sought out people and showed that He loved them by healing them, encouraging them, feeding them, comforting them and even resurrecting their loved ones from the dead. Jesus likely walked over three thousand miles during his three years of public ministry, seeking and saving His lost sheep, inviting people to follow Him and enter into fellowship with the Triune God.

Jesus explained why He came to earth: “For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost. (Matthew 18:11) Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13) No one has ascended into Heaven, but He who descended from heaven: the Son of Man…For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. (John 3:13, 16-17)”

My pastor, Ben Davis of Hope Fellowship, frequently quotes this verse from the last book of the Bible, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.”–Revelation 3:20

If you don’t have a relationship with Jesus, He is knocking at the door of your heart, waiting for You to invite Him into your life. Why not ask Him now? Tell Him you’re sorry for your sins, for falling short of His holy expectations, and want Him to guide Your life and open up your eyes and heart to understand how much He loves you.

“Casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.”–Apostle Peter, 1 Peter 5:7

And enter into the greatest love relationship you will ever experience with the true and living Triune God who created you, loves you and wants you to know that you are special. You are not an accident of the universe: You were planned (Psalm 139), your life has a purpose, and He wants to be your Lord, Wonderful Counselor (Isaiah 9:6) and best friend.

“If you 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?”–Jesus, Luke 11:13

Love from Dawn and my best little Buddy