What Is Salvation?

SavedThe thief comes not, but to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. (John 10:10 KJ2000)

Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believes in [Grk. eis – into] me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: John 11:25 KJ2000)

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can you, except you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches: He that abides in me, and I in him, the same brings forth much fruit: for without me you can do nothing. (John 15:4-5 KJ2000)

Let that therefore abide in you, which you have heard from the beginning. If that which you have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, you also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father. And this is the promise that he has promised us, even eternal life. These things have I written unto you concerning them that deceive you. But the anointing which you have received of him abides in you, and you need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teaches you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it has taught you, you shall abide in him. And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming. (1John 2:24-28 KJ2000)

What is Salvation? It is being translated from one temporal kingdom into the one which is eternal. It would be good if we take the time to think on this issue call “life.” On the earth there is much life. But because of the fall of Adam spiritual life, which is often not as tangible as animal and plant life, is much more rare and it is this life with which we are concerned in this writing.

Notice in the above verses that there is a progression from spiritual death into spiritual life. A person starts out in this world spiritually dead. The things of God are a mystery to him and he has no spiritual eyes or ears with which to perceive Him. God has to do a miracle in a person’s life for this to happen and that miracle is often called “salvation.” Salvation is not just a method of belief being saved from hell, but it is so much more. Like Jesus said to Nicodemus, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God… That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:3-6 KJ2000). In the eyes of God we are born dead. We are so many walking automatons, zombies if you will.

So what must be done? God has sent His Son into the world so that we might become living spiritual beings. And how is that done? We must believe into Him. True God given faith allows us to leave this realm of death and pass into the very Son of God and acquire HIS spirit life as ours! It is then that we also become sons and daughters of God. What an all encompassing gift. We receive LIFE to its fullest extent possible. This is what Jesus was and is all about.

So now let’s read further in chapter three of John in the way it was originally written by the apostle…

And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believes into him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes into him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into [here eis is properly translated] the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believes into him is not condemned: but he that believes not is condemned already, because he has not believed into the name of the only begotten Son of God. (John 3:14-18 KJ2000)

The initial act of believing is a result of the Light of God being shown into our hearts. Jesus goes on to say, “…light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone that does evil hates the light, neither comes to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he that does truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are worked in God” (John 3:19-21 KJ2000). John went on to explain this further in his letter saying, “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us from all sin” (1Jo 1:7 KJ2000). Our deeds might be evil, but the nature of light is that it purifies. Men use ultra-violet light to kill death causing bacteria. So what must we do to be saved? We must expose our darkness to the light of God that it might abolish sin caused death that dwells in us and come into His marvelous light, the Light of Life in Jesus Christ. The Light of God in Christ and His blood cleanses and free us from sin and death.

Once we have come to the Light that is in Christ and abide in the Light we now are made new creatures not after the first Adam, but after the Last Adam, the Son of God. “The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a life-giving spirit.” (1Cor 15:45 KJ2000). We become a new creation in the hands of God. Paul wrote, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God has before ordained that we should walk in them” (Eph 2:10 KJ2000). We first believe into Christ and then we are re-created in Him as His workmanship. It is only after this happens that we can do any works that are pleasing to God for the works HE has for us to do have been foreordained by Him for us to walk in them. They are not something that we can generate from our own creativity and intellect. Those kinds of works are called “dead works.” All we can do as we abide in Christ’s rest and let Him re-create us and then wait for the Father to do His works in and through us. Jesus said, “Come unto me all you who are burdened and heavy laden and I will give you rest.”

So once we have received the life of Christ all we have to do is abide in Him for we have already believed into Him. Jesus said, “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can you, except you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches: He that abides in me, and I in him, the same brings forth much fruit: for without [Grk. choris– separated from] me you can do nothing. (John 15:4-5 KJ2000 – emphasis added). Jesus is now our Life source. We can not survive any longer apart from Him. As a branch gets its life form the grapevine so it is with us in Christ. As a branch produces fruit by abiding in the life giving sap of the vine, so will we as we abide and rest in Him.

We who are His branches also have His words abiding in us. John wrote, “Let that therefore abide in you, which you have heard from the beginning. If that which you have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, you also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father.” The very words of the Word of God abide in us. He still speaks and we can hear His voice as we abide in the Father’s Spirit life. Yes, the Bible contains the recorded words of God, but how did we get them? They came through men who had the Word abiding in them and who spoke and wrote down what they heard. This was not a special class of people compared to those who abide in the Son. To the world, yes, but not to the sons and daughters of God for John went on to write, “But the anointing which you have received of him abides in you, and you need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teaches you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it has taught you, you shall abide in him.” All our Light and Life are wrapped up in our abiding in Christ. He is our sufficiency in all things pertaining to Spirit life.

Other verses to contemplate in the light of all we have written so far…

In him was life; and the life was the light of men. (John 1:4 KJ2000)

For as the Father raises up the dead, and gives them life; even so the Son gives life to whom he will. (John 5:21 KJ2000)

And this is the witness, that God has given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that has the Son has life; and he that has not the Son of God has not life. (1John 5:11-12 KJ2000)

Empowered by Love

pardonwomanJesus said, “A new commandment I give unto you, That you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” (John 13:34 KJ2000). In Hebrews chapter seven we read that Jesus is our great High Priest after the order of Melchizedek, not Levi. It also say that where there is a new priesthood there must be a NEW law. The old law was filled with commandments like, “Thou shalt” and “Thou shalt not..” But we have something all together NEW in the New Covenant. In Hebrews the writer continues,

“For finding fault with them [the Hebrews under the Old Covenant], he says, ‘Behold, the days come, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, says the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:” (Heb 8:8-10 KJ2000).

God knew that sinful man could not keep His commandments so He sent His Son to not only be our propitiation for sin, but to empower us by removing from us our hearts of stone and putting in us a new heart with His New commandment written in them. In Ezekiel we read,

“A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and you shall keep my judgments, and do them.” (Eze 36:26-27 KJ2000)

God sent forth His Son to do it all for us and in us. All we need to do is yield to His wonderful grace by faith and be empowered anew from above. Walking in His love fulfills the whole law of both the Old and New Covenants (see Gal. 5:23 and 1 Tim. 1:13-14). First Jesus did this among the worst of sinners and then He empowered us to do the same. It is no longer an outward straight jacket of law keeping, but an inward motivation from a new God given heart that enables us to walk out His love in this dying, love starved world just as He did. We are so blessed.

Will the Real Church Please Sit Down?

pregnant-womanToday there is much activity that is generated and perpetuated by the visible “church.” But is “doing church” being the real church? Does God need OUR creativity and action to accomplish HIS plan? “The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that you build unto me? and where is the place of my rest?” says the Lord. Yes, where IS the place of His rest?

I recently have been communicating with a brother in the north-eastern U.S. about what it means to be the church and he wrote:

“there are a whole bunch of folks out there now… all  somewhere along on the journey… and He is doing the connecting… encouraging us all that this is how it will be… your life touches mine… mine touches yours… and all of it encourages  us to keep pressing into Him…. it’s real… it’s His way… He will do it… just need to keep my hands off of it”

 It is as simple as LIFE IN Christ. Those who live IN and draw their life from Him are Christians (Christ ones). This is what the Gospel of John is all about. Jesus is the True Vine and we who abide in and obtain all our sustenance from Him are the branches, members of the Vine. Once we are abiding there, the fruit bearing is automatic… not something we do, but something that HE makes happen as we rest IN Him. Does a woman make a baby in her womb grow by giving thought to it and striving? Many women are barren because they are trying too hard to have a baby! No, a woman has an intimate relationship with a man in a position of rest and a child is conceived and grows until it becomes a living manifestation of that union. The Church that abides in Christ is that woman and Jesus Christ is the man. Jesus said, “Abide in me and I will abide in you and you shall bring forth much fruit.” It is all about abiding– making Jesus our abode. He also said, “Apart from me you can do nothing.” We rest IN Him. “Labor therefore to enter into that rest.” That is when God moves. What is the church? It is where two or three are gathered who abide in His name, IN His personage.

T. Austin-Sparks wrote:

When you touch these things, human language is a vain instrument for expression. “The exceeding greatness of His power” – the superlatives in this realm! Oh, for this enlargement by a new apprehension of the greatness of Christ in His Person, in His death, in His resurrection! Well, then, the supreme thing the New Testament shows is that the Church on its true, spiritual basis corresponds to Christ risen. Not “the Church” that we know here on earth, for it does not. But God’s thought about the Church is not an impossible and merely idealistic one. It is a practical thing. Two saints, simple, humble and unimportant in this world, but really meeting together in the Spirit, can be a functioning instrument of Him to whom has been committed all authority in heaven and on earth. With them all these old limitations can be dismissed and they can at one moment touch all the ends of the earth. Do you believe that? That is really the meaning of our glorying in Christ risen. It has to be something more than emotion, and more than glorious doctrine; yes, more than a truth to which we give some assent…. If it is true that we are one with a risen, enthroned Lord, it ought to have tremendous repercussions. May it be so!

Going on Without the Camp

Crowded CampingNow Moses used to take the tent and to pitch it without the camp, afar off from the camp; and he called it, The tent of meeting. And it came to pass, that every one that sought Jehovah went out unto the tent of meeting, which was without the camp.
(Exo 33:7 ASV)

Have you ever gone out on a weekend camping trip to experience God’s undefiled creation only to end up at a camp sight that is soon crowded with other campers, their screaming kids, barking dogs, blaring boom boxes, roaring dirt bikes and ATV’s, etc., and you end up wondering what it means to “get away from it all”? Well, for may of us our first attempts at following Jesus Christ was not much different. In our pursuit of God’s created church there was soon so much noise and confusion among other Christians that we could no longer hear the voice of the One who had drawn us away from the world unto Himself.

The following is from T. Austin-Sparks and I couldn’t have said it better about what it means to go on without the camp…

Let us go out to Him, outside the camp, and bear the disgrace He bore. (Hebrews 13:13 NLT)

We can organize our movements, lay our plans, and draft our schemes. We can lay it all out according to the New Testament and it can be dead, ineffective…. You see the difference between a traditional system, whether it be Judaism or Christianity, and a living thing coming all the time in a living way out from the Christ Himself by the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit Himself doing it. Well, this is going to cost something. See what it meant for these people. At the end of this letter you come on this: “Wherefore, Christ also… suffered without the camp. Let us therefore go to Him without the camp, bearing His reproach.” The camp was Judaism, and He suffered without the camp because He repudiated Judaism and stood for the realization of all God’s thoughts as in Himself personally. He gathered up everything into His own person, “I am.” It is the Christ who is the full sum and embodiment of all God’s thoughts and ways, and that take s the place of Judaism, and He, therefore, repudiated Judaism and suffered without the camp. “Let us go to Him without the camp.”

What is the issue? If you are going to take this line you are going to repudiate organized Christianity, going to repudiate Christendom as a traditional system, going to repudiate that order of things which is made, and going, therefore, to suffer reproach and be outside of the camp suffering His reproach. In other words, we are immediately going to come up against that force of antagonism to stop what has come in through the death and resurrection and exaltation of the Lord Jesus, the heavenly thing. Is it not sad that these people met it through God’s historic people, the people who claimed to have the oracles, to be the elect, to be the favored of the Lord? It is always like that. “A man’s foes shall be those of his own household.” Do not narrow that down to the limits of a family where one is a Christian and all the rest are not. That is not the point at all. It is his own household, the Christian household. You will meet the antagonism to what has come in from heaven as a heavenly thing; you will meet the antagonism amongst those who are the traditional people of God in this dispensation. That is how it will be. That is going to be the cost of a walk in Life with the Lord and not with man, knowing the Lord for yourself.

By T. Austin-Sparks from: The Kingdom That Cannot be Shaken – Chapter 2