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May the Lord fill your life with the fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).

If God is not first in your life, then something else is (Deut 6:4-5, Matt 6:24, 33; 10:32-38, Mark 8:34, Luke 11:23, 1 John 5:21).

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Salvation
"For no one can ever be made right in God's sight by doing what His law commands... our acquittal is not based on good deeds. It is based on our faith." (Romans 3:20; 27)
 
We live in a fallen world, separated from God by sin (Romans 3:10-18). To be free from our sins and reunited with the Lord our God takes one, single step! You must believe that salvation exists only through Jesus Christ (John 10:9, John 14:6, Acts 4:10-11, Romans 3:25-26 & 10:13, 1 Timothy 2:5) and goes far beyond doing good deeds (John 6:28-29, Galatians 2:21) and being an upright, honest person (Romans 4:1-3, 20-22; 11:6). Salvation means we have been rescued, renewed and restored. Most importantly, salvation is a free gift from God. This means it can never be earned or deserved, nor ever purchased by our means. The cost of our salvation was paid by the death of His son Jesus (John 3:16, 1 Corinthians 6:11 & 15:12-22, Colossians 1:13-14, 1 Peter 1:17-20). This gracious act of love reconciled us with God. There is no other act that can do this! We are saved only by God's grace (Titus 3:5).
 
We must understand that we could never work for God's salvation because then His salvation would become a wage rather than a gift (Romans 4:4-5). This ultimately would mean that God would be in debt for us and that is not possible. But what about good works? Don't good deeds and doing the right thing get us a "free pass" into heaven? If you were pulled over for failing to stop at a Stop sign but told the officer that you stopped at all the other Stop signs, do you think he would let you off? Do you really think that your good deeds offset your bad deeds? Looking at it another way, why are passengers always the better driver? Because of pride! Pride makes us think that our good deeds are great, not just good. In fact, they are greater than anybody else's deeds (Proverbs 20:6). Pride makes us think, that is, assume, we are entitled to "better salvation" than the next person (Matthew 18:1-11, Matthew 20:20-28). Sadly everyone has their own definition of good works. "My works are better than yours so I get to go to heaven and you don't." Well, no. Jesus Christ said don't be fooled, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me" (John 14:6).
 
You see, each one of us feel that we work harder than anybody else. This is evident in the story of the prodigal son told by Jesus (Luke 15:28-30), and this is clearly evident in our everyday actions. So, what makes your good works better than anyone else's? How do you judge fairness in good works? How does that make you feel certain? Don't you want to have absolute certainty in knowing you are going to heaven or do you just want to assume? Well, Jesus Christ takes away that uncertainty and gives you absolute certainty. He makes that option available to everyone so there's no question, no doubt that you are going to heaven! The sad truth about good works is that they are subjective and arbitrary. It is far too difficult to say whose works are better. Even our best is like filth to the Lord (Isaiah 64:6, Habakkuk 1:13) and our works have us condemned to Hell! Yes, rest assured that not only is death guaranteed for everyone but so is Hell if works are relied upon. Remember that His standards are so high and pure that hatred is like murder (1 John 3:15) and lust is like adultery (Matthew 5:28). Another sad truth about "salvation by works" is that it becomes self-defeating for so many because a lot of us tell ourselves that we are never good enough to be saved. This is a lie! We are all God's children and He has given each one of us the same opportunity to seek Him for forgiveness.
 
There is only one way to heaven, and He very simply leveled the playing the field so everyone can get in. Unfortunately not everyone will accept this truth and they will be left to perish (Matthew 7:21-23, 2 Corinthians 4:3-4). A pastor told me about working at this shelter. He said that the doors would be locked at a certain time. Well, you can imagine how many angry, frustrated people were left out in the cold because they were not ready and would not accept the terms of the shelter hours. Would you want to be left out (Luke 12:35-48, 13:22-30, 15:15-24, 21:36; Matthew 22:1-14, 25:1-13)?
 
So what keeps us from being prepared? We all think we plan for retirement, yet, when retirement creeps up on us most of us are unprepared. In fact, most people do not save enough money to buy a car, buy a television, or buy a vacuum cleaner! They have to put it on credit. Fewer and fewer people pay cash for anything anymore. So if most people cannot prepare for their basic needs how are they going to prepare for eternity? While the task of responsibility can easily be shrugged-off until another time, there is no better time than today to prepare for salvation. Fortunately it is much easier to prepare for than anything else. It just takes one, single step!
 
The truth is, everything He has is ours when we accept His gift and walk with Christ (Luke 15:7, 15:31). There is no question of being better or having more (1 Peter 1:17). And, as far as good works, they must always be done (Philemon 6). In fact, James boldly reminds us that our actions and our good deeds must come from our faith and that we, as Christians, must always "walk the talk" (James 2:17-26). Paul, then, cautions us when he wrote to the people in Galatia about trying to be perfect by human effort (Galatians 3:3). The concern is, are we serving ourselves while trying to please God? Most of our goodwill and charity is simply human effort and therefore self-serving (1 John 3:17-18). Read the story of Martha & Mary (Luke 10:38-42). Mary understood that it was better to be at God's side rather than just trying to please Him by her works. This is not unlike the same mistake that the church of Ephesus made when they put their service before their devotion to their first love (Revelation 2:4-5). Remember, all of our actions must come from our faith and the power of the Holy Spirit. This only comes from our complete and full acceptance of the Good News that Jesus Christ is our Savior. That His life was given to us with one purpose: so we can have eternal life with Him (Colossians 1:13-23).
 
God's grace and mercy comes from His unfailing love (Lamentations 3:22-25), a love that we are reminded to have with one another as expressed through His Commandments. We are told that without love everything is meaningless (1 Corinthians 13:1-3), and that His kind of love is the foundation for all relationships (1 John 4:7-21). It was this kind of love that He gave to us through His Son as a perfect sacrifice to cleanse our sins. If He loves us so much that He is willing to give up His one and only begotten Son to rescue us, how much love can you give Him in return? How about with one another?
 
The life, experiences and death of Jesus were clearly prophesied in the OT (Genesis 3:15b, Exodus 12:46, Numbers 9:12; 24:17 & 19, Psalms 16:10; 22; 34:20, Isaiah 7:14; 9:6-7; 11:1-5; 52:13-53:12; 59:20, Jeremiah 23:5-6, Micah 5:2, Zechariah 9:9; 11:12-13; 12:10). The Jews were repeatedly told that a Messiah ("Christ") would come to rescue everyone by giving a new life, but at a great cost. The sacrifice of His one and only begotten Son should tell us the mercy and grace that God has for His children. As a parent, would you sacrifice one of your begotten children? Abraham was indeed asked to do this (Genesis 22), and even Moses offered to have his name removed in exchange for the salvation of the Israelites (Exodus 32:30-35). But God does not want us to perish. In Genesis 3:22-24 God protected the Tree of Life from man by using the flaming sword and a mighty cherubim, the same kind of cherubim that was constructed to adorn the lid for the Ark of the Covenant (Exodus 25:22). When God deemed that everyone was ready for atonement, He placed Christ on the cross to die. That act allowed the veil in the Temple to be ripped (Matthew 27:51, Mark 15:38, Luke 23:45, Hebrews 10:19-22) and now everyone, both Jew and Gentile, have access to the Tree of Life known as Jesus Christ! It is a fact. He wants us to have everlasting life (Matthew 18:14, John 3:16, John 10:10, Galatians 6:8, 2 Timothy 1:10). Here's the best part. The price was paid (1 Corinthians 6:20). That's right. It's free! No cost. How many things are free nowadays? This is a true bargain. Salvation for free! Take it! But make no mistake. We do have to give something up; our ways, and instead focus our life on the Lord (Titus 2:11-14). Otherwise there will be a cost, and that cost will be our soul which will eternally belong to Satan (Matthew 10:28) because the wages of sin are death!
 
God tells us that the Kingdom of Heaven is for everyone, but we are reminded that the blood of Jesus was a covenant for many (Matthew 26:28) and only a few will find the narrow gate (Matthew 7:13-14, John 10:7). This is also reiterated in the parable of the Great Feast (Matthew 22:1-14). The problem is sin, and we are born into it. However, we have the free will to either thrive in it or repent from it (Acts 17:30-31, 2 Peter 3:9). Two examples of both choices that can often be overlooked for their significance are revealed in the life of Jesus.
 
The first is when he washes the feet of the disciples before the last supper. Notice that He washes the feet of the one that will betray Him and the one that will deny Him three times. What was the end result of the betrayer, and what was the end result of the one that denied Him three times? Judas chose not repent and solved his crime on his own by hanging himself out of grief and guilt, while Peter repented and turned his life over to Christ through faith. One chose eternal death while the other chose eternal life.
 
Another example of making a choice with our sins is when Christ was crucified between two thieves. One mocked the power and authority of Christ while the other asked for forgiveness. Again, we see two choices with two different results. Make no mistake about God's perfect plan because this was no coincidence. It was no coincidence that we hear about both Adam and King David who both tried to cover up their sin but realized that we all stand naked before God. He knows everything and nothing can be hidden. What choice will you make about your sins? Don't become like the invited guest in the parable who was not properly dressed for the wedding. Instead, be ready!
Greg Laurie, pastor at the Harvest Christian Fellowship, a Calvary Chapel outreach in Riverside (CA), has a terrific expression: "To be undecided is to be decided." So, what decision will you make? Today, right now (Isaiah 55:6-7, John 3:3, 2 Corinthians 6:2, Hebrews 3:7-19)?
 
Remember, the only key into His Kingdom where eternal life exists is by being reconciled for our sins through Jesus. Here are a few more scriptures related to salvation and changing your ways:
 
If you are ready ask God to forgive your sins, do it now. Don't wait until another time, for we do not know what the future holds. I would not want anyone to die without knowing for sure that they are going to heaven. Do you want to know for sure? Then you can do it right now, right where you are... God will meet you right there! God bless you!
 
 

 

Destroyed From Within (by Greg Laurie)
 

 

 

Created Monday, January 21, 2008