Salvation is the most critical thing a man can realize. It is a must. It is that simple. While it may sound heretical to some, there is nothing that one HAS to do once saved. Heck, you don’t even have to be a nice person for God to save you… indeed, the initial part of salvation is realizing that you are NOT a nice person.
Jeremiah 17:9… “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?”
Allow me to get a little personal here. I came to salvation relatively late in life 7 years ago at age 47. This post may sound oddly counter intuitive at first but bear with me. We know Gods will for man is that he get saved and come unto the knowledge of the truth (1 Tim 2:3-4). Getting saved was such an incredible blessing to me. What a relief to finally understand, after years of thinking hopelessly “there is no way God is going to allow the likes of me into heaven no matter what I do”, that all the work was already done and God simply offered me salvation as a free gift.
The more I come to the knowledge of the truth however, the more I understand the condition of the world at large, the more at times I think, “God, what did I just sign up for?” Coming to the knowledge of the truth is far more than a wild ride. As the title of this post indicates, my life, now that I’m saved, no longer belongs to me. I’m not sure there’s a person alive that knows what he could be in for the day he gets saved. I surely did not! Paul is so funny sometimes in the ways in which he addresses people…
1 Corinthians 6:19… “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.”
Um, no Paul, actually, the day I got saved I had no idea! Such is a stunning realization especially with no covenantal law system commanding me to do a darn thing for God in return. It is the love, the longsuffering forgiveness, the beyond human grace shown to me which is my learned (over time, with study) motivator. And I readily admit that sometimes I am not near as motivated as I should be. Amazing as it is, Gods grace is easy to take for granted. We are so easily distracted by the goings on of daily existence.
2 Corinthians 5:14-15… “For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.”
At 54, I’ve lived the vast majority of my life in service to myself. I’ve always tried to be a “nice guy” but I know I’ve not always, or even usually, succeeded. I like to think that becoming a saved Christian helped that situation just a little, but that is for others to decide. I now find myself behind enemy lines in the greatest war ever fought. A war the vast majority of people have no idea is even being waged. The war between Absolute Truth and, well, everything else. Paul explains to Timothy:
1 Timothy 1:18… “This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy, according to the prophecies which went before on thee, that thou by them mightest war a good warfare;”
Most newly saved people likely believe their own lives are about to improve greatly; that being saved God will now bless their new “earthly” existence. The reality is actually far different. He has blessed us with all spiritual blessings IN HEAVENLY PLACES (Eph 1:3). Our physical blessings come when our old bodies are redeemed for new (Rom 8:23) in the ages to come (Eph 2:7). The “affairs” of this earthly existence fade (admittedly slowly) to black.
2 Timothy 2:4… “No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.”
God does not “bless” this earthly flesh (sorry tithers)… He killed it (spiritually). The “prosperity gospel” is utter nonsense (have these people read about Paul’s life?).
Galatians 2:20… “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”
Coming to the knowledge of rightly divided Biblical truth can honestly be somewhat shocking! It is being turned right side up in an upside down world. The world is literally wrong on all counts. It is anti-Bible. I readily admit that at times I find myself far more unprepared than I ought to be for the position God has placed me in. A saved man, whether he knows it or not, becomes a soldier the instant he gets saved. And no, we are not out there talking to people about salvation to try to construct an army (we are trying to keep people from spending eternity with themselves in hell) even though that is the result of our efforts. We ambassadors are however a fighting force.
We are not trying to “bring in the Kingdom FOR God” that Christ may return as many unsaved believers tend to think. God Himself will establish that Kingdom when He is good and ready (and it won’t be pretty when it comes).
Daniel 2:44… “And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.”
As soldiers, we are building a body of believers that God will someday use in the heavenly places for His own purposes. While not the subject of this post, members of the body of Christ will take up those positions vacated by the angels which followed satan in pride.
Never once did I imagine how difficult the battle would sometimes be. The true joys of seeing people saved are few and far between. Discouragement is real. I feel it. I’m sure each and every soldier experiences war in unique ways, but let’s face it, this is a war that we are in and war is never fun. It involves a fight. It begins with one person telling another that they are wrong. Of course a soldier of the grace of God should say what needs to be said as kindly as possible and in the spirit of truth and love. Most people do not feel “loved” when someone tells them they are sinners destined for an eternity in hell, even though such is quickly followed up with “God took care of this problem for us”!
I am personally very fortunate that my immediate family, my wife and two grown children, came to the saving knowledge of Christ soon after me. What a dilemma such a situation would present if that fight lasted years and years. Sometimes it does. Sometimes it doesn’t end at all and loved ones die without Christ. Even after years of witnessing to my elderly parents I remain very unfortunately unconvinced of their salvation. Apathy from my father and outright hostility from my mother when even attempting to bring scripture out into an open friendly discussion. Who would have thought it? Not me and I was an atheist for much of my youth and confused for much of my adulthood. And they call themselves “Christian”. So very sad, but they are grown sovereign individuals and will sleep in the bed they’ve made. I pray I am wrong about their spiritual condition and will continue to speak with them as I am able and pray for them.
“Christians” are some of the hardest people on earth to get saved, that they become actual Christians. After all, they go to church from time to time, they give to the charities of their choice, they might even do volunteer community service. Don’t tell them they are not “good”. They’ll beat you over the head with their “goodness”. What was it Jeremiah said about the human heart (see above)? What does God through Paul say?
Romans 3:12… “They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.”
Romans 3:23… “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;”
People in America may not yet be persecuted physically for their witnessing as in other parts of the world but make no mistake, talk of such persecution is only becoming more and more “fashionable”. Ever watch “comedies” on TV or in the movies? Late night talk shows? Ever try to have a rightly divided conversation with another “believer” on a blog? We Bible believers are not portrayed in kind light. Actions never remain too far behind thoughts. We are satan’s most ardent enemies and I’m very sure dark spiritual energy is expended trying to discourage and defeat us. True Bible believing Christians are scoffed at and ridiculed more and more here in America. They are killed elsewhere. Don’t make the mistake of thinking it can’t possibly happen here. This is a war we are fighting and we are the ambassadors of grace and peace in a world that is more and more wrathful, angry, deceived and thus opposed to truth.
While God does not force anyone to battle, He paid an exorbitant price for our admission to it. Men of older times paid many times with their own lives to to preserve Gods Word in many languages. Have you read Foxe’s “Book Of Martyrs”?
Does it seem that I’m trying to dissuade you from salvation? I said this post might seem somewhat counter intuitive at the outset. Rest assured, I am not.
While the war might be a tough one to fight, fight it anyway. While people might be sometimes extremely opposed to what you have to tell them, tell them anyway. The vast majority might be offended and angered by what you stand for. So be it. When a door of opportunity opens, stroll right through! Telling the truth is Godly love. The truth itself is a very precious gift we possess and as Gods own (not our own), He asks us to share it.
Perverted “bibles” call first Corinthians 13 the “love” chapter. It is not. It is the “charity” chapter. True charity toward our fellow men rejoices in truth.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7… “Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.”
We are doing what God our Creator and Savior would have us do. He does not force anyone to participate in the battle for men’s souls, but after the joy of getting saved and the inevitable let-down of your family and friends not following closely after, Gods Word really begins to work in a man, if he studies. Paul encourages believers that such tribulation builds patience, that patience builds experience and experience builds hope; all by way of realizing Gods love toward us.
Romans 5:1-5… “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.”
He continues, as the saved are literally made alive again from the dead. Upon salvation we are moved in an instant from eternal death to eternal life.
Romans 6:13… “Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.”
With eternity on the line and our lives, from eternities perspective, being so short (James calls our lives a vapor in 4:14) how much does it really matter what people think of us? If, during our short lives, we have opportunity to reach 100 or 1,000 people with a clear gospel presentation and a single person gets saved, it will have been worth all the trouble for that one eternal soul. In 10,000 years you or I will look back at what was once our temporal existence and think to ourselves, that was nothing what I went through compared to where I am now!
2 Corinthians 4:16-17… “For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;”
1 Timothy 6:12… “Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.“
There are rewards awaiting those who enter into the battle. Paul was the first “warrior” of grace. Read about his many tribulations in 2 Corinthians 11. The guy was battle tested. I cannot wait to meet him in glory just to say thank you for standing firm!
Colossians 3:24… “Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.”
Romans 8:16-17… “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.”
Christ is the Creator and thus the eventual inheritor of everything (he will take back the currently fallen heaven and earth which satan usurped). So too will be those who are saved. We are joint heirs with Him…!!! We are laborers together with Him, taking great care how we labor.
1 Corinthians 3:9-16… “For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building. According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire. Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?”
Note very carefully that he whose work (or lack thereof) is completely and totally burned up, turned into wasted ash, still remains saved for all eternity. How could one not try even a little knowing such grace and that such potential rewards are at stake? Note even more carefully that the saved ARE the temple of God on earth with the Spirit dwelling in us corporately and individually. If any are going to get saved anywhere it is because someone like us reached out with the truth of the simple gospel of grace and preached it to them. Salvation by “feeling” or “experience” is anything but.
All the world is the “mission field”. We don’t require a fully funded lifestyle in Tahiti to reach the lost. Your local church parking lot at 11:01 AM on Sunday morning will do just fine. I’m only half joking… reach out to anyone in your sphere of influence no matter how small, expanding it as you can. That is your mission field, the little corner of the world you live in. It is a sad and potentially discouraging reality that most will think you foolish. Know that it is not you they mock, it is what God says to them and they mock Him at their own peril.
1 Corinthians 1:18-21… “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.”
Run the race set before us as one who tries to win. This is a great physical and spiritual challenge.
1 Corinthians 9:24… “Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.”
Paul’s son in the gospel, Timothy, needed much encouragement. He was not the natural born warrior that Titus was. People are different. Paul encouraged him greatly because he required encouragement, as do we all. Some more than others.
2 Timothy 4:1-4… “I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.”
That time when few will endure sound doctrine began 2,000 years ago while Paul was trying to explain free grace to the world. Back then it was pretty bad. There’s been a lot of waxing worse and worse since then…
2 Timothy 3:12-13… “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.”
Deception is here in spades now! It is everywhere and pervades all things. Politics, science, religion… Get ready for a battle! satan is not yet going about as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour (he will be in the great tribulation to come – 1 Peter 5:8), he is currently transformed as an angel of light (2 Cor 11:13-15) telling people they are good. If that’s your pastor or “priest” he is a minister of the devil and not providing the truth you need. Let’s be able to say with Paul that at the time of our departure that we did what we could to advance Gods grace in the world, enduring the afflictions which will inevitably come. Here is encouragement! Do the work of an evangelist! It is why we are here in Gods stead. Our inevitable departure will come quickly enough.
2 Timothy 4:5-8… “But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry. For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.”
And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight… (magnificent lyric from, “It Is Well With My Soul“)
It is not my life anymore, nor is it your own if you are saved. Paul the Apostle beseeches (implores) us…
Romans 12:1… “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.”
While my everyday choices are still my own, I belong to God and ought to choose accordingly which means actively choosing Him. Sometimes it is very hard living in this crazy cursed world in this crazy cursed body, but I’m a bought and paid for child of God till the end, come what may. If all I do is pen this blog, it was something. This is my attempt to expand my sphere of influence. Some of you readers come from places I have never been nor likely will ever be. It is such a blessing to examine the blog “stats” to see evidence of your visits! I pray that what I write is somehow a blessing to you. I try to do more with those I meet in person. We all should. Write if you need some encouragement or just to say hi, knowing that your writing would, at the same time, be an encouragement to me. We ought to encourage one another as Paul so often exhorts.
God is not going to judge our results. Some plant while others water, God giveth the increase; people have free will to accept or reject what we communicate: He is going to judge our efforts however.
1 Corinthians 3:7-8… “So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase. Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour.”
Knowing what He’s done for us, He is so very deserving of our best. Rewards, while awesome, are the icing on the cake. Get you some while the gettin’ is good! Plant some seeds, water the seeds that someone else planted. We likely will not ever know the effect that our gospel presentations might have on another. If they have no effect whatsoever, God still ask us to sow it. It is the only way a lost sinner might be saved… by the foolishness of preaching.
Preach. It’s what matters most. It’s our job. We belong to Him.