Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Salvation 101 - Part II - Exchanged nature

 5-6Jesus said, "You're not listening. Let me say it again. Unless a person submits to this original creation—the 'wind-hovering-over-the-water' creation, the invisible moving the visible, a baptism into a new life—it's not possible to enter God's kingdom. When you look at a baby, it's just that: a body you can look at and touch. But the person who takes shape within is formed by something you can't see and touch—the Spirit—and becomes a living spirit."
(John 3:5-6)

Yesterday we began to look at the question, "Is a person saved once and then always eternally secure?" (better known as Once Saved, Always Saved).  Today, we will develop a better understanding of what happens once you have accepted the Lord as your personal Savior.  We have a whole lot of terms for this action - inviting Jesus into your heart, making him Lord of your life, being saved, etc.  We looked at the fact that our "salvation experience" is a one-time experience that involves an "exchange" of our sinfully selfish nature for the holy nature of Christ. This happens both instantly and it takes time!  Nope, I didn't just talk out of both sides of my face!  Our exchanged life is instant when we ask Jesus to forgive us of our sin - our exchanged life is also something that is worked out in our lives each and every day.

Our life is supposed to change once we accept that awesome gift of Christ's death on the cross on behalf of us.  We call that one time experience "rebirth".  It is where we get the term "born again".  The passage above gives us a little insight into what happens at that moment in time - the person who takes shape within us is formed by something we cannot see or touch - we become alive within our spirit-realm.  Don't miss the fact that this verse states clearly that it is by no action of our own that our spirit is reborn - it is by the work of the Holy Spirit within us.  When we have a mindset change - believing that Jesus is the provision for the forgiveness of our sins - God does the rest!  The exchanged life begins.

The exchanged life is really the changing of desires.  Through the work of the Holy Spirit, we develop a desire to love God.  We don't possess that naturally. In fact, we don't possess the desire to love unconditionally at all!  That is a learned thing - the closer we get to God, the more we understand love without strings attached.  The Holy Spirit is also responsible for helping us to serve God with our whole being - body, soul, and spirit.  It is that "help" that actually makes us act and appear "different" than we were prior to that rebirth.  

7-10Now God has us where he wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus. Saving is all his idea, and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. It's God's gift from start to finish! We don't play the major role. If we did, we'd probably go around bragging that we'd done the whole thing! No, we neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and saving. He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing.
(Ephesians 2:7-10)

Wow!  Look at those verses again.  God has us where he wants us - right next to his bosom - close to his heart.  That is the direct result of the salvation experience.  In that position, he is able to shower upon us his graces - all through the Son, Jesus.  Then, don't miss the next sentence:  SAVING is all his idea, and all his work.  That means that we don't even desire to have an exchanged life until he places that desire there within us.  It also means that we do absolutely nothing from start to finish to accomplish that exchange!  

If you have ever wondered who is more powerful - God or Satan - that passage should settle it!  God is supreme - he is sovereign.  Satan operates ONLY within the boundaries God allows for him.  Sometimes we don't understand why God allows for Satan to have any "reign" at all - but we have to trust God's design in even that fact.  It is important to recognize that God will not allow Satan to do anything at all that could alter our position in Christ.  It is impossible for Satan to "take us away" from God!  We are his!  He watches over us and he cares for us - each one in an intimate way.  

That should give us enough to think about today.  We do NOTHING to gain our salvation - it is a gift of God, plain and simple.  We cannot be "stolen away" from God by a crafty act of Satan.  We are secure in his care - although we may be a target of Satan's attacks, we are not subject to his winning those attacks!

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