QUESTIONS and ANSWERS
What Is Salvation?
Salvation in Jesus Christ is a very simple doctrine yet profound in its depth of meaning. At one time in my life I thought salvation was to be saved from God's wrath or to be saved from going to hell. The salvation God offers is salvation from sin.
Let me begin by describing one of the major differences between man and God. God does not make a record of sin...but we do. God has never kept a record of the wrongs we have done. How do I know this? Because God is love (1John 4:16) and love imputes not evil (1Corinthians 13:5). The only record made of sin is recorded and kept in the human heart.
There are two types of sin we carry in our heart. The sins we have committed against others (that have caused guilt and shame), and the sins others have committed against us (which have created anger, resentment, and bitterness). When we experience salvation we allow God to cleanse us from all the sin we carry in our own heart. When we understand the cross we will be released from our guilt and shame, and be able to forgive what others have done to us, which releases us from the wounds they have caused.
Salvation is not God allowing us to come to heaven because we believe in Jesus, but rather, a deliverance from all sin that we carry inwardly.
How do I know God loves me?
God does not forgive us because Jesus died and paid our penalty. If that were true then we would be saying God needed a human sacrifice before He could forgive sin. That is paganism. God allowed His Son to die that He could manifest to the world His longsuffering, patience, kindness, and love toward those who put His Son to death, thus, manifesting to the world His willingness to forgive even the men who literally crucified His Son. If we can see God forgive them then we should most assuredly be able to believe He can forgive us.
For God so loved the world He gave His only begotten Son...if God was willing to allow His only begotten Son to die for the world then He must love the world as much as He loves His Son. The Son of God was the price the Father was willing to pay to manifest His love. This truth enables us to know the value God puts on the people of this world. Because I am part of this world I can know the value God puts on me. Even when we were sinners God showed His love for us through the death of Christ. There is nothing a person can do that would equal the literal putting to death of the Son of God.
What are the mechanics of salvation?
In John 3:14 -15 Christ stated, "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life".
Why would He equate His death to a serpent on a pole?
On the cross Jesus became sin (2Corinthians 5:21). He became the outward expression of our inward truth. We were sin. The crown of thorns pictured how our guilt and shame prick our conscience. The lashing He took pictures the wounds we have received from others throughout our lives. His nakedness symbolized our own nakedness of manifesting self when we choose to go our own way, and the darkness of the land was a type of the darkness that covers our understanding before coming to know God through Christ. In other words, what happened to Him at Calvary's cross was not what we deserve but what has already happened to us throughout life. When we see Him on the cross we see the serpent on the pole...ourselves.
Knowing we are in this condition we begin to realize God loves us just the way we are. He knows we have been functioning from the wounds received, living in a state of darkness. He does not condemn any one for what they have done. Remember, He has never made a record of your sin. He does not condone it but He understands you did not know how to not do the things you have done. A just God cannot condemn a crippled man for not being able to walk and we have been spiritually crippled all of our lives. Knowing He doesn't condemn us releases us from our guilt and shame. Knowing He doesn't condemn us also tells us He doesn't condemn any else either. Therefore, we can let go of our anger and resentment toward those who have hurt us. How can we condemn those He will not condemn? We can begin to work out our salvation with fear and trembling in the love of our heavenly Father and His only begotten Son.
What is the sin nature and how do I overcome it?
The sin nature is our disposition to trust ourselves before we trust God. It is extremely difficult if not impossible to trust someone you don't know and contrary to popular belief Adam and Eve did not know God. Yes, they believed in God but the fact that they hid from Him because they were naked and afraid speaks volumes.
1John 4:16 And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. 17 Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. 19 We love him, because he first loved us. Had Adam and Eve known God's love they would have had no fear.
The cross displays God's love for us all. If we can stand at the foot of the cross knowing who Christ is (the only begotten Son of God) and why He is dying (to manifest God's love for this world) then our natural way of perceiving God (the old man) dies and we can render inactive our disposition to not give Him our trust. This is stated in Romans 6:6 Knowing this, that our old man (believing God is angry with us) is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed (rendered inactive), that henceforth we should not serve sin (or the sin nature).
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