Do you know what salvation is? You hear people talk about salvation but many do not understand it. People come into a spiritual meeting, feel the conviction of the Spirit of God in their souls (and the wooing of the Holy Spirit, drawing them into the Kingdom of God) but never really understand what happened to them so that they can express it to others. Isn't that right?
SALVATION IS THE SUPREME MANIFESTATION OF GOD'S GRACE
The crucifixion of Jesus Christ is the focal point of world history : God's plan for the salvation of mankind was complete. Whether you choose to call it atonement, a ransom paid to redeem enslaved man, acquittal before the divine bar of justice or victory over sin and death — it is clear that the effective power in salvation belongs to God and not to man.
Salvation is a free gift of God granted to lost and undeserving men who trust in the righteousness of Christ and humble themselves to the submission of His will. Romans 4:5 states: "To him that worketh not but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly his faith is counted for righteousness." These are wonderful words. He makes those "just" that are unjust and forgives those who deserve no favor.
MAN IS UNIVERSALLY IN NEED OF SALVATION
Everybody needs Christ. Every soul born on this earth is lost at birth and comes into this world under the sin of Adam, our first parent. Adam submitted his will to the devil, sinned, and therefore lost eternal life. His lost condition may be described as falling short of the glory of God, being trapped — alone and afraid — in a world he never made, and releasing corruption, disease and poverty into that world. The bondage of sin and its consequences creates an alienation from one's fellow man and God. Human being's own unaided efforts to solve their problems through intellectual, economic, political, social or psychological skills are doomed to fail.
SALVATION IS A FREE GIFT FROM GOD
It is a work of God in which He rescues man from eternal ruin and the doom of sin, and bestows on him the riches of His grace, even eternal life beginning now and eternal glory in heaven forever more. From the moment a person is saved, if he will let God do it in his spirit, he will begin to enjoy the fruits of salvation. The salvation of God is for those who do not deserve it and have no preparation for it.
WHAT IS A PERSON SAVED FROM?
You are saved spiritually, morally and physically.
You are saved spiritually because of what Christ has done for us on the cross. II Timothy 1:9 states: "Who hath saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ before the world began." I Corinthians 1:18 says: "For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God." And in Romans 5:11 we find: " . . . We have now received the atonement." So, when you ask Jesus to forgive you, He saves you spiritually.
Actually, your spirit inside of you becomes alive! Before Christ walks into your life, your spirit inside of you is dead. What does this mean? It means that your spirit is dead to God. You don't know God. You have no communication with Him and therefore you are cut off from God and that means spiritual death. "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned." (Romans 5:12).
WE ALL MUST LEARN TO WALK IN THE SPIRIT AFTER WE RECEIVE SALVATION
Salvation, my friends, saves us morally because of what Christ is doing inside of us spiritually. Jesus Christ lives in me Galatians 2: 20 and therefore I walk in Him. If Christ is in you, you should be able to bear the fruit of the Spirit and reflect Christ in you. "This I say then, walk in the spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lusts of the flesh." Galatians 5:16. Also, see verses' 22-55. "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance; against such there is no law. And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the spirit."
Christ is very, very powerful and as you yield daily to His Spirit He will enable you to live a moral, sinless life.
AFTER SALVATION A PERSON IS SAVED PHYSICALLY
This physical salvation is what Christ will do when He returns, Philippians 3:21 states: "Who shall change our vile body" So, when Jesus returns, praise God, we are going to have a new body. "For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord that we, which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them, which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall we ever be with the Lord." (II Thessalonians. 4:14-17).
These Scriptures show Jesus coming back for His saints, both dead and alive – the Rapture of the Church, which most Bible scholars believe is very near. Did you hear it? THE DEAD IN CHRIST! Do you realize that those graves are going to open up, that the believers who have died in Christ, who were looking for His return, will come out of those graves and that their bodies are going to rise and be with their spirits? The spirit part of man goes to be with the Lord at death and then his body will meet with his spirit and go to be with Christ forever and ever. You cannot run from things in this life through death or suicide, because you are going to live forever. It doesn't matter if you believe this or not: it is a fact. It is true.
RETURN FROM DEATH
In the last years we have seen many people return from death, due to more modern equipment and the latest techniques that are used in our hospitals. We have heard of many people that have died and that doctors have brought them back to life and they give testimonies of what happened to them at the point of death when their spirits left their bodies and again, when their spirits returned to their bodies.
Down through history, God has shown Heaven to many of His saints. In modern times He has allowed
others glimpses of the heavenly realms, which help fill out the picture painted by the apostles.
General William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army, saw a portion of Heaven which changed his life. "No human eyes ever beheld such perfection, such beauty. No earthly ear ever heard such music. No human heart ever experienced such ecstasy, as it was my privilege to see, hear and feel in the celestial country. Around me was an atmosphere so balmy that it made my whole frame vibrate with pleasure. The bank of roses on which I found myself reposing had, flowing by it, the waters of the clearest, purest river that seemed to dance with delight to its own murmurings.
The trees that grew upon the banks were covered with the greenest foliage and laden with the most delicious fruit – sweet beyond all earthly sweetness - and by lifting my hand I could pluck and taste; while in every direction above and around me the whole air seemed to be laden with the sweetest odor coming from the fairest flowers."
Some who have died have reported seeing Jesus. They have seen beautiful gardens, walked along a beautiful river and many other marvelous things. But then there are some who come back but don't have such comforting testimonies to give you. I'm one of those who had a bad death experience.
When I was 23 years old and in a lost condition, I died, I was in the hospital and bleeding internally. My spirit left my body. I was pulled through a dark tunnel and then suspended in an outer dark place, the darkness place I've ever seen in my life.
I retained my physical senses, seeing, feeling, hearing, and thinking. In the distance there was a great beam of light and I knew God was at the end of the light. I could understand that my soul condition was black and that there was no way that I could ever go and be with Him. Beyond any shadow of a doubt, I knew that I was doomed forever.
My soul state was exposed and I didn't like what was revealed. I was not religious and didn't know anything about Jesus either, but just seemed to know all those other things I saw myself to be so horribly guilty that God should punish me for my sin. All of the lust and hate from years on earth filled my consciousness. "How could I have been so evil?" I wondered incredulously, I sat on the judgment seat and condemned myself to perish. Like the rich man in Luke 16:22, all my physical senses were alive and supersensitive.
Let's look at that passage in Luke; "The rich man also died and was buried; and in hell he lifted up his eyes, being in torments and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. As he cried and said, 'Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed; so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.' Then he said, 'I pray thee therefore, Father, that Thou wouldest send him to my father's house: For have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment.'"
That man died and went to hell but had all his physical senses, too. He could see the poor man in Abraham's bosom and recognized him as being the poor man he walked past every day.
He was thirsty. He had said, "Let him come and give me a drink."
He was tormented. He was worried about his brothers still alive.
He could talk, feel, see, hear and think. He said, "Let the poor man go back and tell them about this place of torment."
My friends, there is a life hereafter! I know it beyond any shadow of a doubt. After that death experience happened to me, I woke up in the hospital. I had a Jewish doctor and tried to tell him what had happened to me. I was very disturbed mentally because of it. The doctor said, Oh, don't' talk about it. Nothing happened. It's just your imagination." He didn't want me to discuss it with him.
In hell, one comes to the blood chilling, terrifying realization that the final line has been crossed. God's last overture of mercy has been rejected one time too many. Now, beyond the reach of grace and pardon, the soul is finally and utterly lost. You must be born again!
I remember being suspended in the darkest place in the universe, as a captive. I couldn't move, and was just hanging there in topological space. It was as though I was in a vacuum, a outer space prison. After returning to my physical body, I could never reconstruct everything that my spirit witnessed. It was all too dreadful and frightening to remember. It was one of the worst things I had
ever experienced in my life. I remember screaming in great agony and saying: "My God, don't let me live throughout eternity like this!" I suddenly knew that all the Biblical knowledge that I had received as a child was true. There really is life after death and heaven or hell is waiting for you when you die! God heard me and with a tremendous tug, my spirit returned to my body!
I didn't curse God because I know beyond any doubt that because of my sinful lifestyle, I was where I deserved to be because of my soul state. I was very much aware of how filthy I was. How could I step before the throne of God and ask him to accept me when I had lived my entire life for myself, lived it in the pit of sin, just satisfying my flesh?
After death you don't go before the Throne of Grace and stand before a holy God in a sinful condition. It can't be done. All of us will face God in Judgment and bring our meager accomplishments before His infinite justice. Hell's torment will be terrible but the most horrible thing a person will suffer is being forever apart from the Love of God. What you do with your life on earth will determine your eternal position. The average person is not given a second chance. At the moment of death it is too late to change; the course set on earth continues forever: the decisions made in this life count for eternity! The Bible says, "The smoke of their torment ascendeth up forever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night . . ." (Revelation 14:11).
DEAD TO THE SPIRIT, ALIVE TO THE FLESH
We see in the Garden of Eden that God came every day and walked and talked with Adam, in the cool of the day. When Adam sinned, he hid from God. Why? Because sin separated him from the Spirit of the living God. He could not stand in the presence of God in that state. Not only did it separate him from God but also it opened his eyes to good and evil. For the first time in his existence, Adam knew there was evil and ran to hide his nakedness from God. He was alive to the flesh, dead to the spirit!
"Adam! Where are you?"
"I'm hiding because I'm naked."
"Who told you that you were naked?"
Adam was separated from the Spirit — dead to the Spirit and alive to the flesh! Until the sin, Adam was not aware that he had been nude or that anything evil could result from it, because he stood sinless and holy before the Lord. God had made him perfect. Adam had left his spiritual state and entered into his flesh state. He was willingly separated from God.
When I returned to my body from that tormenting place of darkness that God had sent my spirit, it shocked me and I decided to do something to try to return to God. He existed after that, for sure! I began to attend the Catholic Church every Sunday. After church on Sunday, before the day was over, I'd return to the same sin again! That's the truth. By the next Saturday, I'd have enough of a sin load on my back, to keep a priest busy for an hour in the confessional! If you've ever known anyone who knew how to sin, you are reading about her now! I'd go to church feeling so bad and think, "This is stupid, going to church every Sunday and then living it up the rest of the time. If there's a God, I thought. How could accept a hypocrite like me. I'm giving this church up and I'm not ever returning to it. I just can't be good. But I did go to a priest and counseled with him before turning away. I said to him, "Look, I CANNOT BE GOOD. I've tried to be good and the harder I've tried, the worse things seem to have gotten."
He didn't know how to tell me that it was good that I recognized my soul condition. (That's why Jesus came to die on the cross for me — so that I could live right.) I walked away from church and into some of the darkest years of my life. I did everything in the book. If it could be thought of, I did it. I'm not proud of it. I wish I had met Jesus when I was a child, but I didn't.
The only good that my past has done for me is this: it has shown me that no matter what anyone does, the blood of Jesus Christ can wash him clean. God is merciful. There is no sin that His holy blood cannot wash clean!
There's no sin that you have ever committed that, today, Jesus will not cleanse from your life and lift from you the burden of guilt that accompanies that sin, and make you a new creature in Him — alive to the Spirit of the living God. When God calls you, you can say, "Here I am, God. Send me. I'm ready to go because I'm washed in the blood of the Lamb." You don't have to walk around with that great burden of sin because God in His mercy sent His only begotten son to die in your place so that you can live forever.
Think of it --- there I was in death, lost, and didn't know that Jesus came to free me from the bondage of spiritual death. If it had not been for the mercy of God I'd be in the pit of hell this very day! Don't think I don't know it! I praise Him for the gift of salvation every day for my new life.
Let's look at what the Bible has to say about God's mercy. "But God who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved) and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come He might shew the exceeding riches of His grace, in His kindness towards us, through Christ Jesus. 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, For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained, that we should walk in them.," Ephesians 2: 4-10.
You become born again because God loves you. He reaches out and gives you unmerrited favor. That means that you can never work your way into heaven. You'd never make it if you tried. The only way that you can get there is through God's mercy pulling you by His Spirit into the Kingdom through the blood of His Son, Jesus Christ. He died for you! I didn't know that truth in my life until 1973. I was a middle-aged woman when I found Him. But from this until the very instant that I knew him as the Truth and the Way and there was no other way to get back to God. I had tried everything but Jesus,. Yes had tried them all: the occult scene, world religions. I had done everything and discovered there was no way back to God except through Jesus Christ! You can be saved too. All you have to do is submit your will to Him. Salvation is by Christ. Matthew 18:11 states: "For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost." John 3:17:
The Bible says in John 3:16, "For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world though Him might be saved." You see Jesus is not condemning you in your sin state. He loves you. He died for you!
We see it in the Bible where the woman was taken in the sin of adultery. Those self-righteousness men brought her and threw her at the feet of Jesus: "Should we stone her to death? We caught her in the act of adultery. Jesus stooped, wrote something on the ground, and said: "He that is without sin, let him cast the first stone." One by one, they left the scene until Jesus was left alone with the sinner woman. "Neither do I condemn thee," He said, "go and sin no more." (John 8)
Now listen, friends. We are not placed on this earth to judge what other people do. We are simply to show them the way to salvation. We must love the sinners into salvation; we must tell them that Jesus loves them. He can change them. If He can change me, he can change anyone: homosexuals, prostitutes, dope addicts, if they will let Him. Our job is to point them to Jesus and let Him do the work in them, bring them back and make them alive in Him.
"Neither is there salvation in any other; for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved." (Acts 4:12) Jesus is the only way, the Door to the Father that you may live forever. Jesus loves everyone and wants him or her saved. We, as His born-again believers must exhibit His love through our lives that people will be drawn to Him, to see that through the cross, through his death, and then through their faith (just simply believing that He died for them, in their place;) they can have that acceptance of the Father.
If we don't get the Gospel out, as born-again Christians, who is going to do it? God saved you that others can see Him in you. You are supposed to be full of love.
DEAD TO THE FLESH, LIVING IN CHRIST