Saturday, February 23, 2013

Salvation’s Instant Rewards Program

At the moment we call out to Jesus in prayer, realizing that we are a wretched sinner in desperate need of Him as our personal Savior, and we place our faith in His death, burial, and resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) as the only way to Heaven (John 14:6), we are automatically enrolled in an instant rewards program beyond compare!

We are positionally justified in Christ.(Romans 3:24,25,28; 5:1,9; 8:30; Galatians 3:11,24) All our sins, past, present and future, are forgiven and paid for by Christ’s death on the cross (Psalm 103:12). When God looks at us, He no longer sees our sins, but only the perfect righteousness of His Son (Ephesians 4:24; 1 Peter 3:14). In His eyes, it is “just as if” we had never sinned (1 John 2:2;4:10).

We are adopted as a child of God the Father, and a joint heir with Christ, through our relationship to Our Father and as the betrothed of God the Son (Romans 8:16-17). When we are born again, we become part of the church, which is the bride of Christ. (Revelation 19:7-9). Just as an earthly bride gains access to the family, legal, and financial heritage of her husband, every believer is elevated to heavenly places in Christ (Ephesians 1:3; 2:6) and entitled to live, rule, and reign in His kingdom (Romans 5:17; Revelation 20:6).

We are a new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). This doesn’t mean that we will never sin again, because we still have our sin nature, but we will no longer want to sin (Romans 7:14-25). We will want to yield to the Holy Spirit, pleasing Him with our life, choices, habits, words, and thoughts (Romans 8:1-5). Others recognize that we are different from what we used to be and different from the world (1 Peter 1:14-16), because we are sealed with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13).

We are indwelled by the Holy Spirit (John 14:17).  He enters our heart and remains there throughout our earthly life, guiding us, teaching us from God’s Word, convicting us of sin, comforting us in difficult times and giving us wisdom. He is our constant Comforter (John 16:7), Companion, and Guide. How can He leave us, for He inhabits our very body as His temple! (1 Corinthians 3:16).

At the moment of salvation, the Holy Spirit give us at least one spiritual gift to be used to tell others about Jesus, to encourage and teach other believers, and to glorify all that we do (1 Corinthians 12:13-28).

We have immediate, continuous access to God the Father on His throne 24/7, because Christ is the perfect sacrifice and the Great High Priest Who tore away the veil separating sinners from Holy God (Hebrews 10:5-20). We never have to make an appointment or worry that His line is busy, for we can boldly approach the throne of grace! (Hebrews 4:14-16). The Spirit makes our prayer requests clearly known to the Father when we don’t even know how or what to pray! (Romans 8:26).

We have abundant life (John 10:10) beginning at the moment of salvation. Life is richer and more meaningful because the Holy Spirit leads us, and we are never alone, because He will never leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).He is the Friend Who sticks closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24).

We have the assurance of security that nothing can separate us from God’s love. We did nothing to earn our salvation, and there is nothing we can do to lose it (Romans 8:35-39), for we are held securely in the double grip of Jesus’ hand clasped tightly in the Father’s hand (John 10:28-29).

All this is just the beginning! From the moment of salvation, we begin our Christian journey of progressive sanctification – of becoming more like Christ as we yield increasingly to the Holy Spirit – as we shall see next week!

© 2013 Laurie Collett
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Saturday, February 16, 2013

How Does God Love Me? Let Me Count Three Ways.

Valentine’s Day started me thinking about perfect Love, the Supreme Lover, and the ultimate Loving Gift. God’s love for us is infinite, eternal, and unconditional, for it has no limits, transcends all time, and requires nothing in return.

His infinite love reflects His almighty power (Genesis 17:1, 18:14; 28:3, Jeremiah 32:27; Colossians 1:16) to give us all good things (Matthew 7:11; Luke 11:13); His perfect wisdom, to know and do what is best for us (Psalm 139; Romans 8:28; 11:33-36); and His omnipresence, to protect, embrace and comfort us no matter where we go (Psalm 139; Revelation 1:8).

He alone is love itself (1 John 4:8), the source of all blessings (James 1:17), and the light that overcomes all darkness (2 Samuel 22:29; Psalm 112:4; Isaiah 9:2; Matthew 4:16; John 1:5; 8:12; 12:35,46; 1 John 1:5). He made His loving plan for us (Jeremiah 33:2-3) from the foundation of time (2 Timothy 1:9; Ephesians 1:4); He loved us from before we were even conceived (Psalm 139:16;Jeremiah 1:5); and His love is everlasting, continuing throughout eternity (Jeremiah 31:3). We love Him because He first loved us (1 John 4:19).

We know His unconditional love through His grace, as He gives us blessings we don’t deserve (Ephesians 2:8); His mercy, as He spares us from the punishment we do deserve (Psalm 109:26; 136:26; Isaiah 30:18; Romans 11:30; Ephesians 2:1-7) and His universal acceptance of all who have faith in His Son’s death, burial and resurrection as the only way to eternal life (1 Corinthians 15:1-4; John 14:6), regardless of their race, sex, or religious heritage (Galatians 3:28).

Because His love is unconditional, it is self-sacrificing to the point of death (1 John 3:16), it flows from a servant’s heart (John 13:5-14), and it is unmerited, for there is nothing we can do to earn it (Ephesians 2:8-9). He gave us the perfect Gift of His sinless Son, Who willingly laid down His life for us (John 15:13), empowered by the Holy Spirit (Hebrews 12:2-4). And He did all this while we were yet sinners (Romans 5:8; Ephesians 2:5), rebels against His truth (1 John 4:3), and His enemies (Romans 5:10).

The incomprehensible richness of this love is possible only because He is One in Three Persons: our Father (Matthew 6:9); Jesus, our Bridegroom (Matthew 9:15); and the Holy Spirit, our Comforter (John 14:16). Each Member of the Trinity not only exemplifies what each of these relationships should ideally be like with their earthly counterparts, but each is perfect, complete, and ever present to sustain us.

God the Father sits on His throne in Heaven (Psalm 45:6; 47:8; Matthew 5:34, from which He rules all things, everywhere, throughout all time, commanding all matter, space and time. Yet He is our Abba Father (Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:6), our Daddy Who loves for us to come running to Him for reassurance, forgiveness, and encouragement (Luke 15:20). We can boldly approach His throne (Hebrews 4:16) with our requests because when our Holy Father looks at us, He does not see our sins, but only the perfect righteousness of His Son Who was the perfect sacrifice reconciling sinners to Holy God (Romans 3:25: 1 John 2:2).

Not only was Jesus that perfect Sacrifice, and now the High Priest Who intercedes for us while sitting at the right hand of God the Father (Hebrews12:2), but He is also our Betrothed, for the church of born-again believers is His bride. He is our Bridegroom (Matthew 9:15), Husband (2 Corinthians 11:2), and Beloved (Song of Solomon 2:3,8-10,16,17), as we saw in an earlier post..

According to the Jewish marriage custom, a man seeking to marry breaks bread with his beloved and her father, and if she accepts his proposal, she drinks from the same cup that he does. He then returns to his father’s house to build an addition for himself and his bride, and when his father decides the new home is ready, the groom returns unannounced to claim his bride, carrying her off with a great shout in the middle of the night. Therefore, the bride-to-be must keep herself pure and ready, for she knows that he will come back for her, but she doesn’t know when.

When we place our faith in the power of Christ’s shed blood, it is as if we drink of that cup of suffering with Him, and during the remainder of our earthly life we become more conformed to His image through those sufferings and through the power of His resurrection (Philippians 3:10). We are the bride awaiting Christ’s return, and only the Father will determine when the mansion He is preparing for us is ready (John 14:2-3; Matthew 24:36; Mark 13:32). Without warning, at the sound of the trumpet, He will snatch us away to meet with Him in the air (1 Corinthians 15:52; 1 Thessalonians 4:16) and take part in the marriage ceremony and feast (Revelation 19:7-9).

We must therefore be like the wise virgins awaiting the Bridegroom’s return, keeping our lamps trimmed and filled with oil, symbolizing being filled with the Holy Spirit (Matthew 25:1-13). Only through the Spirit is it possible for us to remain separated and holy as His bride, preparing for His return.

Meanwhile, the Holy Spirit, Who indwells each believer at the moment of salvation (John 14:17), is our constant Comforter, Companion, and Guide (John 16:7). At the moment of salvation, He gives each of us at least one spiritual gift to use to grow the church by sharing the Gospel, to fortify the church by helping, exhorting, and teaching fellow believers, and to glorify God in all that we do (1 Corinthians 12).

Throughout our Christian walk, the Comforter enables us to bear the fruit of the Spirit, described in three groups of three (Galatians 5:22-23): the sweet fruit we enjoy of love, joy and peace; the fruit governing our relationships with each other (longsuffering, gentleness, and goodness), and the fruit of self-control (faith, meekness, and temperance).

As our Companion, He is the Friend Who sticks closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24), for He will never leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). How can He leave us, for He inhabits our very body (1 Corinthians 3:16) as His temple! As our Guide, the Spirit constantly draws our focus to Jesus Christ (John 15:26; 16:13-14), teaches us to understand the Scripture (John 14:26), and allows us to know that we belong to God evermore (1 John 4:13-16).

Praise Him that He allows us to be children of God the Father, joint heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17) through our relationship to Our Father and as the betrothed of God the Son, and His ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20) through the work of the Holy Spirit!  What greater love could there be?

1 John 4:7 Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. 8 He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.

© 2013 Laurie Collett
Photo by Wingchi Poor

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