Jesus Contact 19

The Only Way to Salvation

Jesus was leaving Jerusalem after the Feast of Tabernacles when He and His apostles came upon a blind man. Jesus heals him (on the Sabbath – horror of horrors!) and the man runs off to tell everyone he meets. When the Pharisees got wind of it, they excommunicated him from the Temple. Jesus found out and tracked the man down. When He met up with the him, he fell to his knees and worshiped Jesus.

[It’s important to see that Christ allowed Himself to be worshiped. We know that God demands that only He is to be our target of worship. (Ex. 20:3, 4.) Thus, it can only be explained through that special oneness that the Father and the Son share.]

A crowd gathers around them (including those nasty Pharisees). Jesus takes this moment to bring His mission into an all-or-nothing, black or white type of clarity:

I came into this world for judgment [as a Separator, in order that there may be a separation between those who believe in Me and those who reject Me], to make the sightless see and to make those who see become blind. Jn. 9:39 AMP

This bristles the Pharisees (obviously having had their pride admonished) and they call out to Him:

“Are we blind also?” Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you say, ‘We see.’ Therefore your sin remains.” Jn. 9:40, 41. NKJV

Christ is admonishing the Pharisees because they claim to be so knowledgeable regarding God’s word – including the Messianic prophecies found within. Thus, Jesus is saying that there is no excuse for their continuing rejection of Him. ‘Their sin remains.’ He continues:

“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.” Jn. 10:1, 2. ESV

“To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.” Jn. 10:3, 4. NKJV

Jesus see’s that the meaning of His metaphor sails right over the heads of the ‘knowledgeable’ Pharisees, so He hits them between the eyes with the message outright:

“Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.

The thief does not come except to steal, and kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep…I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd.

Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of myself. I have the power to lay it down, and I have the power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.” Jn. 10:7 – 11, 14 – 18. NKJV

Jesus has just revealed a powerhouse of salvation information / promises:

First, the ‘sheep’ are the children of God.

Second, Jesus is the only door to God; He is the Good Shepherd who guides the children of God into His Father’s presence. There is no one other than Christ who can bring you into the kingdom of God. Furthermore, those who say that they can (e.g. the Pharisees) are false shepherds – liars looking only to fulfill the agenda of their father (Satan).

Third, Christ has come to shower your life with abundance – filling it with the light of God.

Fourth, Jesus willingly laid down His life for your salvation. No one forced Him to do so; He chose to do so solely out of His loving obedience to His Father and because of His undying love for you.

Fifth, our Savior has the power of life within Him; and He used that power to resurrect Himself in order to complete our Father’s plan of salvation.

Sixth, Jesus came not only for the salvation of the Jews, but also for all of humanity throughout the ages (‘which are not of this fold’) who choose to follow Him – gathering a global flock that rests in the eternal protection of the Good Shepherd.

And you too can rest in that same eternal promise, that only way to salvation, when you make that Jesus contact…

Goodnight and God bless.

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August 20 2016 | experiencing god's love | No Comments »

Jesus Contact 5

Pursuing Your Salvation

Jesus was passing through Samaria with His apostles on their way to Galilee when they came upon a well. He sent His retinue to a nearby town to purchase food. After they left, a Samaritan woman approached the well and Jesus asked her to draw Him some water to drink.

The woman was taken aback because this Jewish man was speaking to her, a Samaritan, of whom the Jews normally held in great disdain because of their mixed-race (Jew and Assyrian) heritage. But Jesus doesn’t have a prejudicial bone in His body. He answers:

“If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.” Jn. 4:10 NKJV

What is Jesus doing here? He’s pursuing her salvation! This is the merciful love of God, pouring out His grace – a free gift that perfects and prepares us for eternal life. We were created for this heavenly ‘love call’ to come in union with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

The woman asks Jesus to tell her the whereabouts of this ‘living water.’ He ignores her question and instead begins to reveal the nature of it:

“Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.” Jn. 4:13, 14. NKJV

Now, the woman’s curiosity is piqued, and she asks Jesus for some of His living water. However, He keeps her off balance until she can absorb the entirety of the message He has come to share. Instead of responding to her request, He tells her that He knows that she has been married and divorced five times and is presently shacking up with another guy.

Christ does not condemn her. He is bringing the depth of her sin to the light for her examination so that she could perceive her need for salvation. Then Jesus leaves the subject of her sin alone.

Our merciful God confronts us with love even in our darkest state. He provides a Light (Jesus) to help us see that we are living in a misery of our own making, caused by our sins that punish us. Hopefully, when He compassionately brings us to that place, we can dispense with our will to continue in our old ways – in that sensual selfishness that blocks the charitable hand of God.

Because Jesus is able to reveal the Samaritan’s past, she thinks Him a prophet; and the woman asks what she believes to be a relevant question about which temple she should worship at – either the one in Samaria or the other located in Jerusalem. He replies in a way that plunges her into greater contemplation:

“Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews.” Jn. 4:21, 22. NKJV

Jesus is saying that worshiping God will no longer be limited to designated physical settings. He’s also telling her that the Samaritan type of worship is a bastardized conglomeration of Mosaic Law and Assyrian paganism. And He’s letting her know that He is a Jew and that the Messiah comes from the Jews. Jesus continues:

“But the hour is coming, and is now here, when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is a spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” Jn. 4:23, 24. ESV

The time for worship is now. God is a Spirit occupying all space and time (as well as transcending them). Thus, He can be worshiped anywhere at anytime. Jesus is opening the woman’s ears to hear that God is available to all sincere worshipers regardless of race or ethnicity.

How do we worship in the spirit? We begin in baptism when we allow our spirit to subjugate our flesh.

Jesus has worked His wonder. The woman’s spiritual eyes begin to open and she expresses her heartfelt yearning:

I know that the Messiah is coming, He who is called the Christ (the Anointed One); and when He arrives, He will tell us everything we need to know and make it clear to us. Jn. 4:25 AMP

In response, Jesus throws the doors of her salvation wide open. Turning to her in His infinite compassion, He says:

“I who speak to you am He.” Jn. 4:26 NKJV

The Messianic age begins.

God created every one of us perfectly. However, we all carry an Adam-stained soul, which given to its own desires will perpetuate a life of transgression. We cannot solve this problem by ourselves. We need God to wash that stain away and let our perfection shine by living out the loving grace of that God within.

We can only do that if we satisfy that innate thirst we have for Him that He placed in our hearts at birth. And that will only happen when we make our Jesus contact – allowing Him to pursue our salvation…
Goodnight and God bless.

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May 05 2016 | experiencing god's love | No Comments »

Jesus Contact 3

Reborn

The third example the Bible gives us for emulating Christ so as to facilitate our contact with Him, is when Jesus presents Himself to John the Baptist for His own baptism.

When John sees Jesus approach, he is stirred in his spirit, which reveals to him that this Man approaching him is the Messiah. John exclaims:

“Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is He on behalf of whom I said, ‘After me comes a Man who has higher rank than I, for He existed before me.’ “ Jn. 1:29, 30 NASB

John is referring to Christ’s prior existence as a pure Spirit being, because in the flesh, John was Jesus’ cousin and six months older than Him.

John protests at Jesus’ request, claiming that He should be baptizing John. Jesus replies:

“Let it be so for now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Mt. 3:15 ESV

Jesus did not need to be baptized for the same reasons we do. He was pure righteousness (sinless). He was showing us by example, the path that was vital for the procurement of our salvation.

For Jesus, His baptism marked the beginning of His earthly ministry through His Holy Spirit empowerment.

Later, (after Jesus confronts the devil, gathers His first five apostles, turns water into wine at Cana and drives the money-changers out of the temple), we become privy to a conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus (a Jewish theologian and member of the Sanhedrin), whereby Christ explains the significance of baptism for man:

I assure you, most solemnly tell you, that unless a person is born again (anew, from above), he cannot ever see (know, be acquainted with, and experience) the kingdom of God. Jn. 3:3 AMP

So, you cannot get into the kingdom of God in any other way – not by high standing in government or society, by riches, race, place of birth, good deeds or religious training.

Entrance into the kingdom is only granted to those who allow God to birth them anew by changing what’s in their hearts. One’s continued presence in God’s kingdom is assured when those same people do their best to live by those changes.

Jesus continues:

“Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” Jn. 3:5 NKJV

[Note: Some biblical scholars believe that Jesus is addressing the physical act of water baptism as well as the Spiritual one. Others think that the ‘water’ He is referring to, is that water God promised for cleansing the heart – prophesied by Ezekiel. (Ezek. 36:25 – 27.)]

Seeing as how we are talking about baptism, let’s explore the first interpretation. Water baptism is required by God as a public confession of our faith in His Son and what He accomplished on the cross. In fact, the resurrected Christ’s final words were these:

“Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved.” Mk. 16:15, 16. ESV

Earlier in His ministry, Jesus revealed His Father’s imperative regarding this act:

“Also I say to you, whoever confesses Me before men, him the Son of Man will also confess before the angels of God. But he who denies Me before men will be denied before the angels of God.” Lk. 12:8, 9. NKJV

Water baptism is also a way that we can help bring others into the kingdom of God by this external example of our faith. Without faith, the act of baptism would be worthless, the water just water. It is through making the connection of the water to the word of God by faith that fulfills our requirement.

However, water baptism by itself is not the way to salvation. It’s a declaration of one’s faith in salvation through the Spirit – a metaphorical demonstration of your being re-birthed as a newly cleansed child of God through the forgiveness of your sins.

You are making a faith confirmation that you’re old ‘worldly self’ has been buried (symbolized by the water immersion) and that your ‘spiritual self’ has been resurrected cleansed from sin (metaphorically by rising out of the water). We must die to the life we’ve lived and the meanings we brought to it so that we can live a new life whose meaning is revealed by the word of God.

Water baptism begins with your repentance of the actions of your flesh and ends with your declaration of faith in the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

True salvation (becoming righteous in the eyes of God through the blood of Christ) is fulfilled when you ask God for your Spiritual new birth. (Jn. 3:6 – 8.) Once baptized in the Spirit, you become a child of God – eternally related to Him in the most intimate way.

The spirit and the flesh are separate from one another. Our spirit animates the flesh. When we are born again, the Holy Spirit changes us inwardly, taking us from sinfulness to holiness so that we can enter into the presence of God. You are ‘born again’ when the Spirit brings the word of God to life in you. That rebirth is continually preserved through your obedience to that word. (1 Pet. 1:22, 23.)

It is vital that you be born again because prior to that act, you are spiritually dead, morally corrupt and living on borrowed time. There is nothing that you can personally do to change that other than to petition God, in faith, to access His free gift:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 1 Pet. 1:3 – 5. ESV

Thus, declaring Christ as our Savior is part of our water baptism public profession and our confession of faith to God as we ask for our Holy Spirit re-birthing. Jesus is why salvation is possible.

Our part is not to satisfy ourselves with an intellectual baptism. There is no strength or permanency in that. The flesh and its cravings are strong. We must yield our will to the Lord, allowing Him to mold us into His original intentions for us (Jer. 29:11), strengthening us to walk a godly walk even in the face of temptation. (1 Cor. 10:13)

When you truly own your baptism, sins (past, present and future) will become a reason to celebrate the love of God and His mercy as He pulls you out of them, giving you the opportunity to glorify Him.

We pay tribute to God for filling us with His life through the Holy Spirit, and to Christ for living that life through us (Gal. 2:20). We cannot walk our godly walk under our own power. Only through Jesus is that a possibility.

Because God loves you so much He made a way for you to meet the demands that His righteousness and holiness make upon you and to satisfy the punishment that He said would be meted out (death) when you violated that. He gave over His sinless Son to die a vicarious death for you so that His blood could make you free.

When we accept this gift, we are delivered from our obsession over the guilt we associate with our transgressions, which is a sin in and of itself because God never intended for us to mercilessly punish ourselves.

We understand that we are sinners, but it’s not about what we do but what Christ has done and continues to do for us. It’s our faith in God’s grace and mercy that makes them manifest – uniting our spirit with His. Our divine pardon is not based upon our feelings but on our trust in God.

Even so, we don’t want to focus on our transformation for assurance (setting up our transformed self as our savior) but must always return to Jesus in every moment for His mercy – clinging to His promise of forgiveness, a covenant that remains unshaken because God never breaks a promise.

Your baptism is a celebration of life, a tribute to your Jesus contact, and acknowledgment of God doing the work through Christ on the cross. We are initiated into the Church of Christ. We are free from the manipulated intentions of the devil and set upon the beginning of the path of our eternal spiritual fulfillment.

As we saw last time, to be about our Father’s business was to bring His salvation message (the very same message that we acknowledge in our baptism) to as many people as possible. But you cannot do that until you invite Christ to live in you and you look to find Him in everyone else…
Goodnight and God bless.

 

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April 20 2016 | experiencing god's love | No Comments »