Salvation

Fork in road 3

I.

There’s a word we use to describe a person who has never experienced the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ.  It’s a word that describes the human condition in primal terms – a reflection of something we once knew as a race, a description of how vainly we attempt to find it again.

The word:  Lost.

To be lost is to experience some temporary goodness in this life – comforts, pleasures, and the like – and be clueless as to their Ultimate Source.

To be lost is search in vain for ultimate satisfaction in those temporary blessings and find only emptiness instead.

To be lost is to live in a material world that values life by gain and gold, and be blind to the sources of greatest joy and satisfaction. [click to continue…]

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Stained glassI’d like to tell you how I became a follower of Jesus Christ.  But before I do, I need to tell you how I became a lost church member.  In my story, you can’t separate one from the other.

It was Easter Sunday at the church I grew up in, at least from the age of 4.  I was in the fifth grade.  During those days, my sister and I went to Sunday School and church about half to two-thirds of the time.  In the fourth grade we began having more personalized Sunday School teachers instead of being in the big class.  Several of my classmates had made professions of faith in Christ and been baptized.

Mr. Gregory, a kind, caring man and my Sunday School teacher, asked me then if I was ready to accept Christ as my personal savior.  I told him I wasn’t ready, and that I would know it when I was.  I don’t remember discussing any details of what people refer to as the Gospel.  But I’m sure it was presented. Somehow.

That was pretty much my stance through fourth and fifth grade.  On this day, however, something was different.  I felt a strange sensation in my chest.  My heart was pumping a little faster, I sensed something was about to happen.  This feeling in my heart told me today could be the day.

Our church was starting a revival that Sunday, with brothers BO and Dick Baker in to lead it.  That morning all the children were brought into the auditorium.  BO Baker spoke to us from Revelation 3:20 about Jesus “knocking on the door of our heart.”  He would knock on the wooden pulpit to illustrate.

Knock-knock-knock. [click to continue…]

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The Delivery Room

by Andy Wood on August 22, 2012

in Five LV Laws, LV Cycle, Principle of Increase, Waiting

It’s a busy place – a hubbub of activity as people move swiftly to their assigned places.  Timing is critical. Everyone must be ready at the appropriate time, and yet few would dare to hasten the process.  There is tension, mixed with great anticipation.  But above all, there is joy.

Host of a strange mixture of humanity, this place.  Highly-trained professionals and knowledgeable assistants mingle freely with ordinary folks.  Anxious fathers and burdened mothers await an event that can change their lives forever.  The brilliant and the simple, the wealthy and the poor, the veteran and the newcomer all watch with wonder as they witness the miracle of birth.  No matter how many times they’ve seen it, each time it’s new and fresh.  And there is great, great joy.

Make no mistake about it:  this is a work place.  In the midst of the video recording, the spectating, and the bystanders waiting in the wings, this is a place of… dare I say it?… labor. [click to continue…]

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Hey.  Glad you’re here for the tour.  I have something I want to show you.  Well, actually, lots of things I want to show you.  And it’s a little weird because you know more about this stuff than I do.  You see, this building – and all the rooms in it – is actually your life.

That explains why the upper floors are still under construction.

It also explains why many of the lower floors are being renovated.

Yes, it explains why some of the floor and rooms are dark, dark, dark – and why many others are very bright and festive.

Now before we begin the walk-through, I have some things for you to keep with you at all times.  First up – your hard hat.  Hey, it’s a construction zone.  Hard hats are required.  Sure, you can call it the “helmet of salvation” if you want.  I don’t care what you call it – just wear it.

Safety glasses are also a must.  It’s important that you protect your eyes, and also that you see clearly.  Some people say these are a rose-colored.  I like to think of them as shades of grace.

Also, keep this little container with you.  You’ll see why later.  Inside you’ll find some bread (unleavened, of course) and wine.

One more thing to notice is the inscription on your container.  After all, this is the Gratitude Tour…

always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father (Ephesians 5:20).

Finally, I have a bonus surprise for you. [click to continue…]

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I live because…

Jesus fought me. He was my holy enemy, mercifully blocking my stubborn rebellion.

Jesus bought me. He was my sacrificial redeemer, willingly shedding His blood for my pardon.

Jesus sought me. He was my desperate lover, tenderly calling me out of my hiding. [click to continue…]

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Dirty HandsYou read it right.  I need to be saved.  Not in the sense we church folk  usually toss the word around, but I need it nonetheless. 

Yes, I have repented of my sins, and I have trusted Christ as my Lord.  I know I’m going to heaven and that I’m a child of God, a joint heir with Jesus Christ.  But more than ever, I need the wholeness, the deliverance, and the healing that only He can offer.  I need to be saved.

Salvation is a three‑faced experience.  I have been saved; I am being saved; I will be saved.  Past, present, and future.  The Bible words:  justification, sanctification, glorification.  All of this is possible through the sacrifice of Christ on the cross and His victorious resurrection.  And all of it comes as a package deal. 

Sometimes we get the idea that we can be justified (forgiven of our sins) and glorified (taken to heaven) and bypass the sanctification (being conformed into Christ’s image).  But the fact is, there is no salvation without sanctification.  If you see no evidence of the Holy Spirit transforming you into the image of Jesus, you’d best check out whatever it is you call your “profession of faith.” 

How do I know I need to be saved?  Simple.  [click to continue…]

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Sorry to be the latest to assault your traditional Nativity scene.  But this isn’t just an exercise in historical trivia.  Something happened near Bethlehem that, in my 50 years, has gone unnoticed or ignored.

Have you ever had times when, for a split second, it seems that God has “parted the curtain” between the seen and unseen world, and given you a glimpse of the Larger Story?  You can find one of those in Luke’s account of the birth of Jesus.

Setting the Scene

Joseph and Mary, both descendants of King David, had returned to their ancestral home town for census and taxing purposes.  This shuffling of the population of Israel was a massive undertaking, and caused some serious housing shortages for months.  But somebody in Bethlehem (possibly a distant cousin, who knows?) offered them shelter in the place where they kept their animals.  This was probably a cave.  We don’t know how long they were there before Jesus was born, but it was probably a little time.  It doesn’t seem as though ol’ Joe was banging on doors at midnight, hollering, “My wife’s in labor!”

On the day (yes, day) Jesus was born, Mary and Joseph were still in the cave.  The animals’ feeding trough became the infant’s first bed.

Then the sun went down, and the drama began. [click to continue…]

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AnticipationSomebody gave a very large sum of money to a respected businessman to bless a poor pastor. Thinking that the amount was too much to send all at once, the businessman forwarded just a portion along with a note that said simply, “More to come…”  In a few days the pastor received another envelope containing the same amount of money and the same message:  “More to come…”  At regular intervals, there came a third, and a fourth.  In fact, they continued, along with those encouraging words, until the entire sum had been received.

In much the same way, the Holy Spirit has chosen to give us His blessing in “measured amounts.”  It’s staggering to realize the full extent of the salvation Jesus Christ has purchased for us.  It will take eternity to comprehend it all.  So as you receive good things from the hand of a good God, remember, there’s more where that came from.  And if you have ever thought of becoming a follower of Jesus Christ, here is a sampling of what He promises:

[click to continue…]

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Which Way Out?

by Andy Wood on May 27, 2008

in 100 Words

A Picture and a Hundred Words

Way OutIn a train station somewhere is a parable for our time.  Just count the arrows.

Don’t you wish sometimes there was just one way out? 

One way home?

Don’t you wish somebody – anybody – would make it plain?

Multiple choice is fine when you’re picking soup or paint colors.

But some decisions require a way – a truth.

When the “way out” only involves a map, any set of steps will do.

But when it’s real life you’re looking for, limit your choices to Someone who is willing to be the way – not just point. 

I AM,” said He. 

He is.

(Photo by liamvictor)

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