Daily Discipline #113
By Colleen Donahue
We learned in our last study that Jesus was born to be the Savior of mankind. To do this meant that He was born to die. You and I are part of mankind. He died to save you and me. Christ has experienced death for every person. (Hebrews 2:9).
Jesus Christ has accomplished with His death reconciliation between our Creator and every one of us. To do this, Jesus had to pay the penalty for all our sins, and those of the whole world. Because Jesus has taken the penalty of our sins onto Himself, there is the possibility of eternal life with God after this life.
Perhaps you aren't concerned with what comes after this life. You have today to live. Jesus did not just save us from the past so that we could have a secure future in Heaven. His salvation extends especially to the present in very practical ways. We saw also in our last study that salvation can be translated "deliverance". He delivers us from those people, things, or circumstances that would try to crush and defeat us. We are delivered to live without fear. We are delivered from being slaves to habits that we think we might never be able to break. We are freed from having to sin, so that we can serve God. This is what we were created to do. Our lives can only find true fulfillment and happiness when we are living life as our Creator intended.
But how does this salvation that is already accomplished in Christ become mine? This is what we started to answer in the last study. While we may not have made the connection, our problems often result directly from living independent from God.
Let's say you were created to be a car. But you decide instead that you'd rather be a tractor. It's harvest time and you attach your heavy equipment to the car and head for the fields. The car can barely move with the attached machinery. Then it is too low to the ground and gets stuck in the ruts. It is too low to clear the rows of the crops and pretty soon you have a broken down vehicle and a crop that has been trampled rather than harvested. This is what happens when we live by our own will and way rather than by God's who made us.
This independence in deciding how we are going to live our life is sin. Sin is knowing what is right to do but then not doing it. (James 4:17). Sin does not always look "bad". For example: you sense that you should go home after work to talk with your wife and enjoy her company. But, it's a nice day and you decide to go golfing with your buddies at work. No, that doesn't look "bad" on the outside. But you knew what was right to do and you didn't do it. That is sin.
The subtle thing about sin is that often it doesn't look bad to others, or even yourself. But you and I know what is behind our actions. It is sin that has severed our relationship with God. Sin makes us like dead men in God's sight. Sin blinds us from seeing the truth about ourselves and the lives we live. Sin keeps us from living our lives for the purpose that God had planned for us.
Let's continue answering the question.......
How Does Salvation That is Already Accomplished in Christ Become Mine?
I'd like to open this study with one of the same thoughts at the close of the last study......
Day 1- God, through the Holy Spirit is always at work in every person, trying to bring us to Himself.
The truth of the Word of God (i.e. what is recorded in the Bible) about man's condition and God's remedy is what the Holy Spirit uses to show us things. This is why a man or woman might be enlightened through God's Word used in a song, a sermon, a believing friend, or through reading the Bible directly.
Hebrews 4:12 / John 8:32
Day 2- Enlightened about what you ask? God wants us to see the truth about ourselves --- that we are living independent of Him. We live doing what is right in our own eyes and that is sin. This bent toward independence and selfishness is our inheritance from Adam and Eve, and their choice to disobey God. From that time until this, all of us are born with a corrupt nature.
Psalm 14:1-3 / Romans 3: 10-12, 23
If we can see our spiritual self the way God sees us then our salvation is very near.
Day 3- Once we see what our condition is, then we naturally ask what is the cure? Just as chemotherapy might be the treatment for cancer, so Jesus' death on the Cross is every man's hope for life lived as the Creator intended.
Romans 5:6/ 1 Corinthians 15:3 / 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 / Revelations 5:9
Day 4- Jesus and His death in place of ours was God's plan (or remedy) for the sins of the whole world.
Isaiah 53:5/ Hebrews 2:9/ Hebrews 9:28/ 1 Peter 2:24/ 1 Peter 3:18
Day 5- This "cure" for man's sinful nature is totally God's doing. Man cannot help things along by doing good, saying prayers, or going to church.
Ephesians 2: 4-5, 8-9
Day 6- There are many of us that wish we could start life over. We have a rough past, a tangled present, and no hope for the future. Or we may have had a good life but now feel an emptiness as we come to the end of life. There is good news for us because Jesus says, "we must be born again." He wants us to start over!
John 3: 3-7
Day 7- Being born again means that we are completely made NEW --- not just reformed. It is more than a fresh start.
Ezekiel 11:19 / Romans 6:4-6 / 2 Corinthians 5:17
Day 8- To be born again is God's plan for everybody and no one is too far-gone in sin to start over. Salvation through Christ is for all of us.
Romans 5:18/ Romans 10:13/ 1 Timothy 2:4 / 2 Peter 3:9
"How Can A Man Be Born When He Is Old?"
Day 9- This is the question that Nicodemus, a leader among the Jews, asked Jesus as he puzzled over Christ's statement: "....unless a man is born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God." (John 3:3-4) What was the Lord's answer?
John 3: 5-7
Day 10- The phrase: "Unless one is born of water....", indicates the pardon for our sins. John the Baptist was a forerunner to Jesus coming and he baptized people with water. This baptism was a symbol of what was happening in the heart - i.e. the washing away of sin from the soul. Those that submitted to this baptism had to start with the confession and repentance of sin.
Matthew 3: 1-3 / Acts 3:19
Repentance involves our mind, emotions, and will. We must have a knowledge of our sin, a genuine sorrow for that sin, and a will that changes its attitude towards sin.
Day 11- When confession and repentance are real, what happens?
Psalm 130: 3-4 / Ephesians 1:7 / 1 John 1:9
This is the first great event of the new birth: the pardon and cleansing of sin.
Day 12- The second great event of the new birth is the communication of life by the Spirit of God which fits us for the present and future. This is what Jesus meant when He said, "unless one is born of water AND the Spirit." The Kingdom of God is spiritual and only a man born of the Spirit can enter it.
John 3:6 / 1 Corinthians 15:50
We are born with a certain nature, which fits us to do certain things and makes others impossible. For example a mole naturally digs in the ground but if it is going to fly like an eagle it is going to have to be remade with a very different nature.
Human nature is attributed to all of us -- even those who do not know God. Therefore the acknowledgement and love of God which give us entrance into His kingdom are not part of our human nature. But the real dignity of man (distinguishing us from animals) is that we has a capacity for God and for eternity. There is in us a dormant capacity, which nothing but contact with God and the touch of the Holy Spirit can bring into life.
Day 13- Man is born spiritually dead and needs to be quickened by a higher power before we come alive spiritually to God. We see this dormant capacity all throughout nature. For example: most caterpillars will die. But with the correct circumstances some will transform and become butterflies. The Bible gives the example of a kernel of wheat.
John 12: 24
Day 14- So the capacity to be a child of God lies within man but the development of this is with God. We can't command the Holy Spirit but we can do more than wait. We can let Him know (through prayer) that we want this new nature and then put ourselves in line with the Spirit's operation. It is just the same with sailors who can't command the wind but they can prepare the boat and set their sails to catch what wind there is.
Luke 10:39 / Acts 16:30 / 17:11/ James 1:2
Day 15- With a cleansed heart and a will that desires this new nature, we find God more willing for us to have it than we are to receive it.
Zephaniah 3:17 / Romans 10:9,13 / 1 Timothy 2:4 / 2 Peter 3:9
Day 16- We reach out to take hold of our new nature by faith. The Bible defines faith as ......
A. The assurance of things hoped for and conviction of things not seen. (RSV)
B. Being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. (NIV)
In other words, we cannot see God the Father or His Son Jesus but we now know that they exist and want to abide within the temple of our body through the third unseen member of the Trinity called the Holy Spirit.
By faith--this is the only way we can approach God.
Ephesians 3:12 / Hebrews 11:6
Day 17- To be able to approach God in faith we need to have a knowledge of what God has said. That's why it is so important to read the Bible, which is His word to us.
Day 18- Two other aspects of faith besides knowledge involves our emotions and will. When we fall in love with Jesus, our emotions are stirred, and we set our will to do what He asks of us.
John 14:15, 23 / 1 Peter 1:8
Day 19- It is ultimately our will that makes the decision to call Jesus Christ Lord and to receive the salvation and new nature He offers us through His death on the Cross. Notice in these verses what God does when we believe an declare that Jesus is now OUR Lord.
Day 20- When we invite Christ to reclaim His property (i.e. our own life), we need to burn every bridge behind us and not look back.
Day 21- How much faith do you need to be able to approach God to receive your salvation?
What if you have just come to God to confess and repent of your sins. You thanked Him for sending His Son Jesus to die for your sins and unite you to God. You invited Jesus to reclaim your life by being Lord of it and sending the Holy Spirit to abide in your spirit. But.....you don't feel any different and you wonder if anything has changed.
HOW CAN WE BE SURE?
Bill Bright, the founder of Campus Crusade for Christ, wrote a little booklet about how to be born again. (It is called "Have you Heard of the Four Spiritual Laws?") This little tract was a great help to many of us as students because of a train illustration that he used. The engine is at the start of the train followed by the other cars and finally the caboose ends the long train of cars.
Day 22- The engine of the train he called FACT. To become a Christian, we must know the facts. The work of Jesus Christ: His death, burial, and Resurrection are the facts of the gospel. They are true whether you believe them or not.
1 Corinthians 15:1-9
Day 23- The middle car he called FAITH. Each of us must do something with the facts in order for them to become real to us. Jesus must be the object of our faith in this matter of salvation. We believe in Him and that He has done for us what He said He would do. Faith demands believing and then acting.
Hebrews 11:1 / James 2:17, 24, 26
Day 24- The caboose he called FEELINGS. When we commit ourselves to Jesus Christ we will have feelings of joy, love, gratitude etc. But feelings come and go. A train can run without the caboose but it can't run without the engine. Our commitment is made whether we feel it or not. If salvation is no deeper than our feelings what will happen?
Mark 4: 14-19 / Luke 6:49
Day 25- The importance of solidly knowing the facts cannot be stressed too much. Jesus wants us to know the facts and then what it is going to cost us. We dare not enter into salvation lightly.
Luke 14: 25-33
Day 26- But when we have counted the cost and allowed Jesus to take rightful ownership of our lives then we can be sure that we have our sins forgiven, a new nature inside, and the promise of eternal life. We can be sure because Jesus Christ is faithful in keeping His promises.
Hebrews 10:23 / Revelations 1:5
Day 27- Salvation does not depend upon us but upon the faithfulness of God.
Deuteronomy 7:9 / 1 Corinthians 1:9
Day 28- Salvation is God's work that we accept just like we would a gift.
Day 29- How can we know for sure that our sins are forgiven?
1 John 1:9 / 1 John 5:13
Notice the phrase in 1 John 5:13: "...so that you may KNOW you have eternal life." God wants us to be certain of our acceptance by Him through His Son.
Day 30- How can we know that the Spirit of Jesus - i.e. the Holy Spirit, has taken up residence in our life?
1 John 3:18-24 / Revelations 3:20
Day 31- What will you see changing in your life as a result of Christ's work?
1 John 2: 3-6
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