Salvation: It’s a free gift.
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”< Romans 3:23 KJV> The Bible says that all have sinned. That is you and me and everyone else. We sin in thought and deed. I know that we as humans don’t like to think of ourselves as sinners but we have all done things we know we shouldn’t have. The Bible says that there is no one who is righteous not even one person. To lie once makes us a liar. To steal once makes us a thief. To commit adultery once makes us an adulterer. To sin even once makes us a sinner. The Bible even takes it a step further. It says to hate your brother is to be guilty of murder. “He who is so much as angry with a brother or sister is guilty of murder.”<Matthew 5:22 Message>. I don’t know about you but I have been angry with my brothers plenty of times.
I have never understood how God could say that David was a man after His own heart. Even when choosing him to be the king of Israel, God admonished Samuel that “Man looks at the outward appearance but God looks at the heart”. <1Samuel 16:7b NIV> I think God said this because this is how He truly sees us. He doesn’t see the outward things that we hate or love about ourselves but He sees our heart. He sees our intentions and our attempts at righteousness. I think God called David a man after His own heart because David had a repentant heart. He was guilty of adultery and murder and at times of being a bad father and yet God still said this of him. In each instance of his sins, he showed deep and true repentance and a turning back to God. The life of David is an excellent example of the great love of our God. The Psalms are full of passages where David cried out to God for protection, mercy, and forgiveness. He writes beautifully of how our heart yearns for something that this world can’t supply. Once we recognize our sinfulness we must repent and ask God for forgiveness. We must humble ourselves before God and simply say “I am sorry. With Your help I want to live a life that pleases You”.
A good book if you are struggling with your faith.
And now we come to free will. God didn’t design us to be puppets that do what He wants when He wants it. He gave us free will. Everyone at some point in their life will make a choice. They will deny God and His Son Jesus or they will accept Jesus as their Savior and live a life that brings glory to God. Some decide very young and some wait till their death beds to make this decision. Some simply say ‘No thanks’. It is our choice. It’s not complicated and you don’t need a theology degree to understand. You simply need faith and you simply say, yes or no. I think this is what is so hard for so many people. To just accept a gift and not do anything to earn it is unthinkable. To further add that we don’t deserve anything from God makes it all the harder to accept. The Bible states over and over that God is just and merciful. <Ezekiel 18:30-32 NIV>.
“For God so loved the world that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” <John 3:16 KJV > I have learned this verse from childhood but just recently did it sink it. He loved us. God doesn’t sit in heaven with a big stick with which to whack us on the head and then sit back and laugh. He loves us-NO MATTER WHAT-. That means I could say horrible things and take His name in vain and curse Him and yet He still loves me. I think this finally set in when I had kids. My kids don’t always do things that I like but I still love them. I want what is best for them and I try to help them and sometimes they listen and sometimes they don’t. They have free will just like me. No matter what I still love them. That doesn’t mean that their choices don’t bring me pain just as our bad choices bring God pain. It just means that I want the best life possible for them because I love them.
We deserve to go to hell because we are sinners. We don’t deserve to go to heaven. That is why God sent His Son Jesus to die in our place and make a way for us to go to heaven. Jesus lived a perfect life on earth and died as an innocent man on a cross He didn’t deserve and on the third day was raised from the grave. He beat death and made a way for us to enjoy fellowship with God. Jesus’ teachings were all about love. He spoke of God’s love for us and He spoke of how we should love each other unquestionably. He even spoke of loving those who hate us. He didn’t just speak it He lived it. His whole life was about love. “Greater love hath no man than this but to lay down one’s life for his friends.” <John 15:13 KJV> He died for us because of love and asks only that we believe and follow His example of love.
Francis Chan Think Hard, Stay Humble
It's not by our own works.
The way to salvation is not through our works. One of my favorite verses is Ephesians 2:8-9 which states, “For by grace are you saved by faith and that not of yourselves. It is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” There is nothing we can do to earn our place in heaven. If we could earn our own way than Jesus didn’t need to die. If we could earn our own way than we would have to live a perfect life. I don’t know about you but I am not up for that. Perfection is exhausting and unattainable. Only Jesus lived a perfect life. Good news! You don’t have to be perfect.
One of my favorite stories in the Bible is the story of Nicodemus. He was in the priesthood and they were not especially fond of the teachings of Jesus. They liked outward appearances of goodness but Jesus taught of inward change. Nicodemus was so afraid of what others thought that he came to Jesus at night to talk. He told Jesus that he knew he was from God because of the miracles he had performed for no one could do those things unless God was with him. Jesus replied that no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again. This confused Nicodemus and he asked if that meant he had to go into his mother’s womb again. Jesus said that He wasn’t talking of a physical birth but of a spiritual birth and then He quotes an awesome verse. ’”The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going.” <John 3 NIV> I love this! The wind is invisible but coming from someone who lives in Oklahoma, the wind is real. God is real and He is a spiritual being. Salvation is a spiritual choice. It involves the soul. It is not an intellectual choice of the mind but a knowing deep in your soul that without Christ you are nothing.
I honestly think that this is also what is hard for many people. It is a deeply emotional choice in our innermost being. That’s where our secrets are. We think God doesn’t see the grudges we hold or the pain we have endured. We don’t like to look to the soul. The mind is a much easier place to deal with in comparison to the soul. The beautiful thing is when we make that choice to accept Jesus as our Savior, we realize that God sees into our soul and still loves us. What, in our mind, we thought would be horrible is, in fact, freeing. The Bible says, “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free.”<John 8:32 NIV>
It is as simple as all that. We recognize our sin. We repent and ask for forgiveness from God. We believe that Jesus died for us and was raised on the third day. We are grateful for our life and we walk in love.
Real Women of the Bible
Walking in Love
The last part is going to take God’s help because it is hard to love everyone. Thankfully, that is what prayer is for. God loves to talk to us and hear from us. He loves us. Nothing is too shocking for God and we are allowed to come to Him any time day or night.
I guess all of this would be meaningless if I didn’t tell you my story and in order to properly tell my story I will start with my parents. My dad grew up in the church world as did my mother. They grew up in different religions but I don’t think that part is important. My mom stepped away from her church when she moved out on her own. She had no intention of going back because she didn’t get anything out of it. My dad, on the other hand went into an open rebellion against God. He wanted nothing to do with it. My parents met in September, married in December and had me by the next November. This caused some problems to the point of thinking of divorce. My dad decided to go back to church. That night at the church my dad gave his life over to God and my mom accepted Christ as her Savior. I was brought up in this family. My parents lived by faith. My parents taught me to love the Lord. When I say they lived by faith, I mean sometimes they didn’t have money for food and food would show up on their doorstep. When I say they loved the Lord, it is because He saved their marriage. They have been married now for 38 years. I accepted Jesus as my Savior at a very young age. At the age of 13 I rededicated my life to the Lord because I was so young before. I knew I was saved at 4 but I wanted to really, in my own heart, know that my feelings for the Lord had not changed. I know that I was extremely blessed in my childhood but still I knew my need for a Savior. Now that I am older, I truly understand how much God has given me and am just so grateful that He sent His Son to die for me because I am so undeserving. I am not saying that every day is perfect or that God always answers my prayers the way I want Him too but I know that He loves me. When I ever doubt, I look outside to the trees and I see the wind move the leaves and I know in my heart that He is here and He is real. I know that His word speaks the truth and it gives me hope for a better tomorrow and a hope that one day I can love as He loves. He loves completely. Salvation is simple. It’s just about love.
Third Day's Lift Up Your Face..Salvation is Calling
Other Verses that may be helpful to you.
Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
John 11:25-26 “Jesus said to her, 'I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?'”
Hebrews 11:1 “'Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”
John 14:1-6 “Let not your hearts be troubled. You believe in God believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto myself that where I am you may be also.' And Thomas said unto him, 'Lord how can we know where you are going, and how can we know the way?' Jesus said unto him, ' I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father except through me.'”