Thinking Through the Process of Salvation :: By Gene Lawley

Throughout the Bible we are told believing is the key to a relationship with God. Abraham believed God and it was accounted to him for righteousness (Genesis 15:6). Habakkuk 2:4 says, “The just shall live by his faith.” It is repeated three times in the New Testament, in Romans, Galatians and Hebrews. Acts 16:31 summarizes the New Testament’s continual flow of challenges to believe: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.”

Have you tried that yet? I struggled for at least a couple of months, trying to reach out and grasp the peace of God that was offered in Jesus Christ. Finally, when I was made aware that I was the ungodly one for whom Jesus died (Romans 5:6), then that peace of God settled over me and in me.

Believing is a commandment, as 1 John 3:23 tells us: “And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment.”

And what does Romans 3:20 tell us about the law’s purpose: “Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.”

When a person tries to access the Lord by “keeping” the commandments,” he finds that he cannot do it and is convicted of his sinfulness.

The passage of Ephesians 2:8-9 then makes sense, for faith is a gift of God: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”

Just as specifically, John 6:29 declares the same thing in the words of Jesus: “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.” Truly it is that “no flesh and blood shall inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 15:50), that is, no human being born of Adam and not born again can enjoy the presence of God.

In that first covenant of the Old Testament was the agreement of the Hebrew people that they would keep the commandments of God, but they failed to do it. Actually, the truth of it is they could not keep the commandments. It appears that God’s underlying purpose in the Old Covenant was to convince them they were sinners at the very depth of their beings. The accounts of that period clearly show that truth, and people of this era of the New Covenant have to be convinced of that same problem—“All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23), for only then can a “son of Adam” realize his situation and respond to God’s invitation to receive the gift of salvation.

Paul explains how this dilemma is resolved in Romans 8:1-4:

“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”

In short, what mankind could not do, Jesus Christ did for us. Here are a couple of pictures of what that looks like:

The great commandment, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind…” (Luke 10:27) is exceedingly harsh, don’t you think? It is impossible to keep it. Yet, look then at 1 John 4:19: “We love Him because He first loved us.”

Here is another picture of Christ accomplishing for us that which is impossible for us to do:

It is conceivable that a person can repent of all evil practices they do—bad habits, devious activities, and all manner of immorality. But these are just symptoms of the real problem—the sin of Adam with which all mankind is born. (Because of Adam’s disobedience all mankind is born spiritually dead and physically dying.) How can a person repent of what he is? It is truly impossible! But God made a way!

The only solution is to be born again, spiritually, of the Spirit of God, as Jesus told Nicodemus, “You must be born again” (John 3:7). No one can repent of his physical birth.

It works out like this in the process of Scripture’s revelation:

The simplicity of the process in Revelation 3:20 affirms the simplicity of the gospel; and coupled with John 1:11-13, we can see a straightforward picture:

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come into him and dine with him, and he with Me.”

Then, John 1:11-13:

“He came to His own and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of man, but of God.”

In the Revelation 3:20 verse, we see Christ knocking on the door of a person’s heart and voicing a greeting, apparently, such as “Is there anyone home in there?” If anyone—and note that it reads “anyone”—responds and opens the door, Christ will enter into his life and live with him and he with Him. That corresponds to that great mystery Paul writes of in Colossians 1:27, “which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

Notice, too, that it corresponds to the statement in Matthew 22:14, “for many are called, but few are chosen.” God’s access to each person is through his conscience. That receptor is dulled with sin and self-centeredness, or if his “conscience has been seared as with a hot iron,” as Paul wrote of in 1 Timothy 4:2.

Those who do hear His voice and open the door do receive Him into their lives, believing on His name. They are born of God, not inheriting eternal life by blood, that is, family relationship, or by their own works of righteousness, or confirmations by religious authorities. It is a work of God, but He brings one to willing acceptance by the weight of the law upon his conscience.

Has the Lord been knocking at your door, even pounding upon it? Revelation 3:20 was originally told to the church at Laodicea, the lukewarm church (Revelation 3:14-22), but it is addressed to “anyone” and thus has eternal application. The questions we must ask ourselves, even as believers, are “how much have I shut Christ out of my life” or “what doors to rooms in my heart are shut to Christ” which make me lukewarm to His purpose for me…and you?

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