- From the Cedar Street Times, Pacific Grove
What does God say about the path to Salvation?
What is the process that leads us from unbelief to Salvation? It begins when we open the door and sup with Him, Rev 3:20, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” His Word is His voice, and it is one of reason. His Word is also food for our soul, Matt 4:4, “But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” So, when we begin reasoning with Him, by feeding on His Word, we learn to discern the things in our lives that are leading us away from Him, Is 1:18, “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” We hear the truth and are led to believe, Rom 10:17, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” It is the truth of His sacrifice and resurrection, which delivers His justification to cover our sins and saves us, Rom 4:25, “Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.” It is the truth of His resurrection that opens our eyes to faith, 1 Cor 15:14, “And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.”
We thought He wanted our sacrifices, but He only wants us to return His love, for which He willingly offers His mercy, Matt 9:13, “But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” We tried to cover our sins with sacrifices, instead of returning His love with the fruit of our repentance. Jesus brought us the truth that His mercy delivers us from our sins, and He paid for them on the cross. We cannot earn His mercy, He offers it freely, Tit 3:5, “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;” When we choose to accept His love, it leads us to belief in the faith that saves, Gal 5:6, “For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.” For without faith, we cannot believe the truth He offers, Heb 11:6, “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” and without faith we cannot follow His path to righteousness, Gal 5:5, “For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.” a righteousness which only comes through faith, Rom 4:3, 6, 13 “For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness …Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith.”
Once faith is born in us, God’s grace is delivered by Jesus, Jn 1:17, “For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” Faith leads us to His grace and adoption into His eternal family, Tit 3:7, “That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” This hope of eternal life is the fulfillment of His grace, Rom 5:21, “That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.” Grace is God giving us what we do not deserve and certainly could not earn, it is grace freely given to us because we love Him and believe Him, 1 Jn 4:19, “We love him, because he first loved us.” Jesus endured the cross to finish our faith, Heb 12:2, “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” God, the Father, sent Jesus to bring us this choice of Salvation, Jn 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” His gift is freely offered to all, 2 Tim 1:9, “Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,” and Eph 2:5, “Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)” and Eph 2:8-9, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” and 2 Thes 2:16, “Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace,”
The hope Jesus brings was promised to us before He began creating this world, Tit 1:2, “In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began;” He had seen everything that would happen during the completion of His plan for Salvation. He saw our pain and sorrow, our suffering, and the endurance it would require. He saw our hope and the glory that would follow for those who would choose to believe. When we finally awake to the pains caused by our disobedience, we feel His sorrow over it and the aching of His heart, as He waits for us to repent from our sins, 2 Cor 7:10, “For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.” This Godly repentance builds until one day our thankfulness bursts through our reluctance and demonstrates the joy of the Salvation He offers, 2 Thes 2:13, “But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:” This is part of the process, which God calls sanctification, which leads us to His wisdom and righteousness, 1 Cor 1:30, “But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:” and 1 Pet 1:2, “Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.”
Some of us hate the word obedience; we seem to think it somehow diminishes us. But, God tells us that obedience to His Word merely means we finally understand it is the best way to live, in the long run. After all, He is God and has seen everything from the beginning and wants only the best for us, Jer 29:11, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” This expected end finds God wiping away all our tears and all of the reasons for those tears, Rev 21:4, “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” We are His children, why would we want anything else?
As we work our way through His process, we begin to see how it all fits together, even the tribulations we face in this life, Rom 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 allows these tribulations because He knows they are required for our repentance, Rev 3:19, “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.” He tells us He rebukes and chastens, which is His way of saying He allows us to suffer. He could step in and prevent those tribulations, but He loves us too much to do that. This is the same kind of love we can witness in our own lives as we watch our children falling while learning to walk.
Once we stop believing the lies this world promotes and begin seeing that joy does not come from riches or power, we gain His peace, Rom 15:13, “Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost” and a joy only attainable through the blood of Jesus. The hope Jesus brings us stirs the desire to help others overcome the lies of this world, 1 Pet 3:15, “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:” This great desire leads us to transform from fearful mortals to brave servants patiently following Jesus to the eternal life He promises, 2 Cor 4:16-18, “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; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.” God’s Word helps us learn that this life is but a moment when compared to all eternity!
Without hope, we slowly sink into a pool of fear and depression caused by the lies propagated by the devil, Eph 2:12, “That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world.” Without God, this life becomes tedious, or as Solomon puts it, vanity, Eccl 1:1-4, “The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem. Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity. What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under the sun? One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth for ever.” The lie, which tells us this life is pointless, has led too many to suicide.
It is our hope that gives us the strength we need to finish the race before us, Heb 12:1, “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.” Our hope in God’s eternal plan is what leads us to His Salvation.
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