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There are three ways most church going people view salvation. These are:
1. The pardon and forgiveness of sin.
2. Sanctification and holy living.
3. The escape from hell and the glory of heaven.
These are all true but salvation itself is the very life and essence of the triune God. This life is not something that God gives but is Himself, Christ and the Holy Spirit living and dwelling within the believer.
There is no true life or salvation outside God or without Him. A selfish person is dead because he has cut himself off from the life of God. The life and operation of God living and working within a person produce all that is grace, redemption and salvation. A person will never experience this life without having God's rule and reign continually over him.
Many make a fatal mistake about Christianity by taking, receiving and embracing the outward teaching of spiritual things as the truth and essence of religion. They perform religious activities and form ideas and opinions about Christ and religion. By doing this they reject Christ as their Savior and only true source of light, love, truth, life and salvation.
Salvation consists totally in the life of Christ which saves one from the life of self. Some workings of selfishness are:
Selfishness is the life of self, of earthly wisdom, vanity and pride. Either God or self rules a person. There is no middle ground. No one can have both powers ruling at once.
A person is totally under the power of selfishness if he trusts and relies in his own reasonings and opinions. He disregards Christ and chooses to have a religion of self, made up by his own learning and wisdom.
Salvation takes place when the real birth of God's divine nature becomes a living reality within a person. The believer becomes a new creature in Christ and has life in and from Him. It is Christ within the believer that is his whole salvation, justification, and redemption.
A frequently asked question is, are you saved? Deception occurs here when a person just thinks he is saved from hell. Christ came to save people from sin and to bring man to the dwelling in God and God in him. Sinners do not go to heaven.
There is no salvation from hell unless there is an actual salvation from selfishness. Either a person is truly experiencing salvation from sin or he is living in sin. Nowhere in the scriptures does it represent the true believer as continuing in sin and rebellion to God.
Let us examine some reasons that there are so many people who claim to be Christians but fail to experience actual salvation from sin.
1. They are not living for God but for themselves. They are unwilling to give up their sins and refuse to pay the price needed to get salvation. If a person will not give up and renounce all sin he will never be saved.
2. They seek forgiveness while they do not forsake their sin. They want pardon while they keep indulging themselves in sin.
3. Some are waiting for God to fulfill their own responsibility. Repentance is a free act of the will. God will neither repent nor believe for anyone.
4. There are many people that consider themselves born again who do not see any need to be holy or sanctified for they think they will go to heaven. Unless a person is experiencing the life of Christ and the work of sanctification now, he never can have any true hope of heaven. Do not be deceived. If you are not holy, sanctified and free from present sin because of Christ's presence then you are not saved.
The new birth only brings a person into a place where he sees what perfection in Christ is. Christ then teaches him to desire and strive after it. Then Christ leads him on to expect and receive it. This is a preparatory and fragile stage that cannot be rested in. Many people make a deadly mistake by being content with this state.
They fail to realize that when they do not move forward in grace and faith, they will be subject to backsliding and eternal condemnation. Holiness is not an option but is the requirement of salvation. The believer must be brought out away from all the life and lust of self into a full life in God.
5. Many people do not think it is possible to be free from sin to live a holy and godly life.
The end for which each person lives decides his character. Any person who lives entirely for any form of self-seeking or self-pleasure cannot be a Christian. The true Christian totally devotes himself to God and lives for the same end He does.
The gospel of Christ provides fulfillment for the whole law. Some church going people think that the design of the gospel was to save men from the punishment of sin. This is not true. The real design or object is to deliver men from their sins and to bring them into a relationship with a loving and righteous God. The aim of the gospel is to break the power of selfishness and then fill the believer with God's fullness. If a person is not fulfilling the law through Christ then he is breaking the law and subject to its penalty.
The gospel has made full provision for overcoming the world, the flesh, the devil and all temptation.
1. The world. I John 5:4-5 "This is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcomes the world, but he that believes that Jesus is the Christ."
2. The flesh. Gal. 5:16 "Walk in the Spirit and you shall not fulfill the lusts of the flesh."
3. The devil. Eph.6:16 "The shield of faith shall quench all fiery darts of the evil one."
4. All temptation. I Cor. 10:13 "There has no temptation taken you but such is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that you are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape that you be able to bear it."
The grace of the gospel fulfills all the requirements of the law. God promises to give what the very law requires. Deception occurs when a person thinks he has to sin until the day he dies. If this was true, death would do more than God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit could do together. The Bible does not show that death is the end of sin. Sin is not the greatest force in the universe. By receiving God's provision, one can be free from all sin. We do not have to sin every day in thought, word or deed.
Some characteristics of a true believer are:
1. He has a pure love to God. I John 5:1,2 "Whosoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loves him that begat loved him also that is begotten of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments."
2. He practices righteousness. I John 2:29 "If you know that he is righteous, you know that every one that does righteousness is born of him."
3. He keeps all the commandments. I John 5:2,3 "By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous."
James 2:8-10 "If you fulfill the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself, you do well: But if you have respect to persons, you commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors. For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all."
4. He does not practice sin. I John 3:2-8 "Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.
And every man that has this hope in him purifies himself, even as he is pure. Whosoever commits sin transgresses also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. And you know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin. Whosoever abides in him sins not: whosoever sins has not seen him, neither known him. Little children, let no man deceive you: he that does righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous. He that commits sin is of the devil; for the devil sins from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil."
5. He has a love for others. I John 4:20 "If a man say, I love God, and hates his brother, he is a liar: for he that loves not his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?"
6. He is a doer of the Word. James 1:22-25 "But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholds himself, and goes his way, and straightway forgets what manner of man he was. But whoso looks into the perfect law of liberty, and continues therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed."
7. He overcomes the world, the flesh and the devil. I John 5:4 "For whatsoever is born of God overcomes the world: and this is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith."
One reason there is so much sin in the church is the teaching to expect sin as a natural fact or that we cannot help it. What good is religion that does not overcome sin or a Christ that offers no true deliverance from sin. The devil must enjoy that doctrine.
Matt. 5:48 "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect."
I Peter 1:16 "Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy."
We can fulfill this command because God never gives impossible commands. Christianity is not a do it yourself kit. It is not just believing doctrines. It is not just applying principles. Jesus is not something you add to self nor is He to be applied by self. Many think that Christianity is just following the teachings and doctrines of Christ. This is not true, for a person can apply the principles in the Bible without ever becoming a Christian. Christianity is not the keeping of a list of laws or rules. It is not a philosophy of living. It is a living relationship with the living Jesus Christ, God and the Holy Spirit.
I John 5:11-12 "And this is the record, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his son. He that has the son has life; and he that has not the son has not life." It is as a result of this relationship that true holiness, righteousness, and good works flow.
The word Christian was first used in Acts 11:26b "And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch." It was the unbelievers who called them this because they were so Christ like. Today we have multitudes claiming to be Christians but have no true fruit or works as proof. I would rather have others call me a Christian because of what they saw, than to call myself a Christian.
The following verse warns that everyone receives payment for his disobedience. If you do not fully obey God you can never expect to get to heaven.
Heb. 2:2-3 "For if the word spoken by angels was steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward; How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him."
The word "if" occurs 1595 times in the King James version of the Bible. Every time the word "if" is used there are certain conditions that a person must fulfill before experiencing any result. Here are just two examples:
John 8:31-32 "Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If you continue in my word, then you are my disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."
Col. 1:21-23 "And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now has He reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblamable and unreproveable in His sight: If you continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel."
A true Christian must keep doing God's will. Any person who starts to follow Christ can turn back again unto his own selfish way. The Bible is full of threats and warnings for these type people. Heaven is a place reserved for the holy and righteous. The only guarantee of heaven that any person has is if he follows Christ and keeps obeying Him each day.
Faith is not just a one time act. It is a constant and continual requirement. The Bible says that the just must live by faith. Faith must be a vital and living reality always within the true believer. True faith is not just knowing the right facts. A person's head knowledge of biblical facts does not please God. A person may know all the necessary facts but unless he uses his knowledge in faith he can never receive any Spiritual benefit.
Remember that without faith it is impossible to please God and that whatever is not of faith is sin. True faith takes what is needed to achieve the desired result. Christ offers salvation and victory over all sin. Having this knowledge will not get you to heaven but receiving what is necessary and using it to overcome sin will. True faith always will take and use the grace of God for Spiritual success.
You may say you believe in the grace of God. This belief accomplishes nothing if you do not receive the grace needed and use it to fulfill all the requirements of the law. Do not deceive yourself; if you really believe, you will experience the results.
Matt. 7:13-14 "Enter ye in at the straight gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leads to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because straight is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leads unto life, and few there be that find it."
God brought many thousands of people out from Egypt in the old testament. Of all these people only two received all that God had prepared for them. God works with millions today and only a few will receive the salvation that He has for them. God warns us not to follow their example of disobedience and unbelief.
Heb. 3:15-19 "While it is said, today if you will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation. For some, when they had heard, did provoke: howbeit not all that came out of Egypt by Moses. But with whom was He grieved forty years? was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcasses fell in the wilderness? And to whom sware He that they should not enter into His rest, but to them that believed not? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief."
A person hardens their heart when they hear the word of God but resist it. You must not only hear the word but obey it from the heart. Each person is surrounded with all the needed grace they need to meet all of God's requirements. Each person must actually receive this grace and use it for God's glory.
Heb. 4:1-2 "Let us fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them."
Heb. 4:11 "Let us labor therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief."
Heb. 2:1 "Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip."