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Change We Can Believe In… It’s Not Just An Election Slogan!

SIH STSTA ICONIn 2008, during the presidential campaign, the slogan “Change We Can Believe In” was brought to our attention… over, and over, and over, and over again!   It was the slogan chosen for the Obama presidential campaign in an attempt to capture the desires of the electorate.   Apparently, based upon the result of the campaign, the slogan had hit a nerve with the people.

The desire for genuine change applies to many, many people, cutting across all age, gender and race barriers.  Talk to almost anyone in today’s time… they are unsatisfied, and wanting change to take place in all aspects of their lives.  The problem comes when we impatiently demand change, any change, without considering its end results.  Many times this type of change leaves us worse off than we were prior to the change.

The Lord helps us to recognize the most important, beneficial change that a person can experience in their life.  Let’s see what type of change will always lead to our benefit and satisfaction…

THE SCRIPTURE:

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ,…  (2Co 5:17-18)

Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel. (Mar 1:14-15)

THE STUDY:

In 2 Cor 5:17-18 – we read about the greatest change a person can experience in their life… this change is brought about by God in the heart of man:

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature”  –  In other words, just as God created us at our conception by giving us our physical life; so too, He can also recreate us, giving us our spiritual life through the work of Christ.

“old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” – This change results in a transformation in our lifestyle and way of living.  What we used to love we now hate (sin and rebellion to God) what we hated we now love (Obedience to Him based on His word).

“And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ” – Finally, our first text reveals the creator of this great change… it is God (“all things are of God”). It is through His will and workings in our life that we experience this wonderful change.  He changes us and brings us to Himself (“reconciles us”), through the death and resurrection of His Son Jesus Christ.  When Christ died on the cross, He was paying the penalty of the sins of His Father’s people (John 17:9-13).  This payment results in the forgiveness of our sins and adoption into the family of God.

In our second text, Mark 1:14-15 teaches about our response to the Lord’s working in our heart…

“preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand:” – This message of Christ was spoken to prepare mankind for His death and resurrection  and the reception of a new life in Christ.   This message was good news (“gospel”) of Christ.

“repent ye, and believe the gospel.” (Mar 1:14-15) –  Here, our response to His intervention is described as belief and repentance.   Remember how we said that we become a new creature when God intervenes in our life?  We said that this change brought us a change of lifestyle and way of living.

The terms “believe” and “repent” reflect this change in our life as well:

“To repent” – means to change, especially to change our minds, to think differently about things.

“To believe” – has the idea of accepting something as absolute truth and relying on it.

Why are repentance and belief necessary responses to the Lord’s workings in our life?….

To become a new creature in Christ many of our old attitudes about sin, death, the Bible, and even the Lord Himself must change and we must come to believe a new set of truths.  This is what becoming a new creature is all about… it is a life changing experience that revolutionizes the way we look at many different spiritual issues.

THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION:

For those of us who are saved, as “new creatures in Christ”, we should constantly review and reinforce the truths we have come to accept.  By doing this, we are constantly reminding ourselves of the true nature of this world, our Lord, His Word, and eternity to come. (Roms 12:2).

For those who have never come to a saving knowledge of Christ, it is necessary to act upon the words of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ…  “repent ye and believe the Gospel”.

In other words.…

“Change your mind about your sin…. See your sin as harmful and an act of disobedience to the Almighty God, recognize your need to hate it and rid it from your life.”

“Change your mind about The Lord… See Him as your only hope of salvation, recognize He is the ultimate authority holder, who loves you and desires your worship.   Look to Him as your only source of spiritual life.”

“Change your mind about your eternal status before God…. See that without Him you have committed sin and the guilt of your sin remains upon you.  You deserve eternal punishment and, without Him, you cannot escape that judgment.  But, through His intervention in your life, you can escape that punishment and know that someday you will enter eternity with Him”

“Change you mind about His Word, accept the fact that His Word is true, it can be relied upon, look into its message and see the way of salvation clearly revealed to you.  Understand that His Word is a vital part of your daily walk of life and contains “His revealed will” to man in its entirety.”

And finally….

“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, rely on His death on the cross to pay the entire sin debt you have built up in your life.  Realize He suffered for you so you could escape the eternal suffering of hell.  Place your entire being at His mercy and accept that you can do nothing to save yourself… all you can do is rely on Him for your soul’s salvation.”  (John 3:14-18)

If you have any questions concerning this blog, or if you have a subject you would like discussed, please feel free to email me at settledinheaven@gmail.com.    I will answer all emails via my blog, email, or both.

Follow my Squidoo Instructional Lens “Presenting God’s Grace” “The Solemn Obligation To Present the Doctrines of Grace to the Lost and Saved Alike” http://www.squidoo.com/presenting-gods-grace

May the Lord bless your study of His Word.  Like God’s Word… may your soul’s salvation and your life’s faithfulness be “Settled in Heaven.”

I’m Saved! In Church I Walked Down The Aisle and Said A Prayer…

SIH STSTA ICONAs a Pastor of 15 years, I used to ask the question, “Have you ever been saved from your sins?”.  I have received many different responses to this question.  Here are a few of them…

“Of course, I was baptized as a baby in (church name)”;

“Yes, I am saved, I am a member of (church name)”;

“Yes, I have kept all the sacraments of my church”;

“Yes, I was born into a Christian family, we’ve been Christians for at least four generations”;

“Why yes, thank you for asking, I walked down the aisle of (church name) and said the sinners prayer back in September of 2001”;

and many, many more.

It has broken my heart to hear responses like this coming from those for whom I care.  If you notice, in every case, the above responses imply that our salvation is based on something we have done.  The Bible makes it plain that our salvation does not lie in what we have done, but what the Lord has done in us.  (John 6:44-45, 6:63-66, Eph 2:8-10, Php 2:12-13, Col 1:25-29, Titus 3:4-5)

So where did we get the idea that salvation is based on something that we have done?  Sad to say, in many cases, the churches of today must take responsibility for fostering this false belief.  Since I am a Baptist pastor, I will use Baptist churches for my example… my heart aches when I see other Baptist pastors, at the close of the service, beg and plead for people to “come down the aisle and be saved” or “repeat the sinners prayer after me and be saved”.

In many cases, this is done by well-meaning pastors who are trying to encourage those in attendance to make a commitment to Christ.   But, instead of bringing about commitment, they are encouraging others to trust in a work for their salvation.

Please remember, a person can be saved just as easily standing in the pew, or sitting in a chair, or lying in a bed etc etc.  The Lord can work in the heart at anytime and any place, not just at the altar in the front of the church.  Likewise, salvation comes through Christ creating faith into the heart of the faithless, not by us saying any prayer.

Whenever the gospel message is given out in the Bible, it is never accompanied with the instructions to walk an aisle, or say a “sinner’s prayer” (the same can be said for baptism, church membership, keeping the sacraments, or being born into a Christian family).   The gospel message, when given in the Bible, is accompanied with the instructions to trust in Christ and His work. (Acts 16:30-31, John 3:15-16 etc etc)

The only way we can be certain we are saved is by knowing the Lord has worked in our lives.  How can we know this for sure?  The Bible makes it plain….

THE SCRIPTURE:

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. … For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. (2Co 5:17-21)

What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way? For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.  (Jas 2:14-26)

THE STUDY:

In the Bible, a true salvation experience brings about change in the life of the believer.  When God intervenes in the life of a sinner and brings him to salvation, the newly saved person becomes a new creation in Christ. (2 Cor 5:17-21)  This “new creation” involves a new attitude about the Lord and sin.  (Eph  4:22-24)  The newly saved now sees Christ as their Lord and despises the sin in their life.  This new attitude then motivates the Christian to begin a life of service to their Lord and Savior.  This service is described as fruit bearing. (John 15:1-5, Gals 5:19-26)  This changed life is one of the reasons why God has saved us (Eph 2:8-10).

Also, this changed life is what gives us the ultimate assurance that the Lord has worked a work of saving grace in our lives. James clearly presented this principle in James chapter 2.  In verses 14-26, James refers to “dead” faith as opposed to a Godly saving faith.  How can we tell the difference?  James tells us the works that we perform will reveal the true nature of the faith we have within us.   The lack of a changed life shows us that the faith we possess is not of God but simply a work that we performed in and of ourselves (a dead faith).  A changed life brought about by our faith, shows us that our faith is a work of God in our heart. (Please read James 2:14-26 in it’s entirety to come to a full understanding of James’ teachings.)

THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION:

So let me rephrase my original question, “Have you ever exercised faith in Christ?  If so, has this faith produced a changed life within you?  Do you now love the Lord and seek to please Him with your life.  Do you now hate sin and strive to rid it from your life?”  These questions get to the heart of our spiritual condition.

If you can say, “yes” to all three, you can be assured that you have been forgiven of your sins and are a part of God’s family.  If you must say “no” to any, or all, of these then you must come to the realization you are yet in your sins.  If you are yet in your sins, please follow the dictates of God’s Word….

“And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.”(1Jn 5:11-13)

If you would like more information about salvation, please refer to my blog page entitled “forgiveness”.

Also, if you have any questions concerning this blog, or if you have a subject you would like discussed, please feel free to email me at settledinheaven@gmail.com.    I will answer all emails via my blog, email, or both.

Follow my Squidoo Instructional Lens “Presenting God’s Grace”  “The Solemn Obligation To Present the Doctrines of Grace to the Lost and Saved Alike”http://www.squidoo.com/presenting-gods-grace

May the Lord bless your study of His Word. Like God’s Word… may your soul’s salvation and your life’s faithfulness be “Settled in Heaven.”