SALVATION VS. IMMITATION

You can’t counterfeit God’s Love

Eph 2:8-10, 2 Cor 5:17, John 5:24, Rom 7:25-8:7 +

 

The epistle to the Galatians has been referred to as the Christian’s Declaration of Independence. A cursory reading will reveal how upset Paul became when Judaizers confused the believers in Galatia by insisting that they follow all of the Law of Moses as well as trust Jesus as their Christ.

To Paul they were giving up the freedom that we have in Christ… to become entangled and enslaved by a law that only condemns.

The written law described the lifestyle that was pleasing to God… but no one could live it!

Since God’s standard of holiness is far above our abilities… God sent Jesus Christ, who became sin for us… and who gave us his own righteousness…

  • So that we can be acceptable to God
  •  So that God can embrace us in his family forever.

When Jesus voluntarily died on the cross… and was resurrected on the 3rd day… he fulfilled:

  • The law that no one could keep…
  • The law that only condemned…
  • The law that heaped guilt upon us all…

Through faith in Jesus as our Christ… that law was, and is, internalized.

It no longer constrains from the outside.

It becomes love and power… and inspires from within.

It no longer condemns…because “there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” (Rom 8:1)

Please notice in Acts 16:31, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved…”

According to this… and many other scriptures… our salvation comes from simple faith in Jesus as our Christ.

This faith may be simple…but it is absolutely complete.

Saving faith is an investment of our whole life in the person and completed work of Jesus on the cross.

It means, that if Jesus is NOT the Christ… we’ve wasted our whole life on a fantasy.

Remember the parable about the 3 servants who were entrusted with their master’s money: 

  • Two of them invested all in faith and received much in return. 
  • One invested nothing—hoarded it in fear—and lost it all!

Ephesians 2:8-9 tells us that even the faith to invest 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.”

Saving faith is a commitment of our whole self to what the Bible describes as “the truth…the way… and the life”—like a commitment as in marriage where the two become one.

As believers … we are called the “Bride” of Christ.

That requires much more that just knowing that he is the savior.

It is, because you know he is… and you “bet the farm”—you invest all that you are, and have, in Jesus and what he has accomplished for us.

Notice in Romans 8:1… that Paul said, There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, {AND} who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

For faith to work… it, too, must be complete enough to change our basic motivation in life.

When Jesus told Nicodemus 'You must be born again' (John 3:1-21)he was pointing out that saving faith touches God the Father who then creates an entirely new you.

Paul explained it in 2 Cor 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

Literally, this means that God did not use any part of our old flesh nature in making us anew.

We are entirely new creatures—made of the stuff that God is made of.

 2 Cor 5:18 Now all things are of God, who has reconciled {brought us back} us to Himself through Jesus Christ

If we read on… we will see that this new birth gives us new responsibilities.

The chief responsibility of the flesh is self preservation—keeping the old body alive!

The chief responsibility of the Spirit is… as Paul pointed out… God…has given us the ministry of reconciliation,

 2 Cor 5:19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.

Please notice, as a new creature, God did not carry over any of our past sins and their penalties.

He wiped the slate clean!

We have been freed from them… and the guilt that accompanies them… because he used nothing of what we were… in making what we are in Christ Jesus.

Our only problem:  Our new nature… and our old nature… live in the same old body.

The body by habit follows the well-worn path of the flesh… until our new nature becomes strong enough to control the body.

That’s growing up in faith… maturing in the Spirit!

This new birth also changes our address.

My old body, was born in Lakeland, Florida.

I, in the Spirit of God, was born in heaven.

My old body belongs to Uncle Sam.

My Spirit-filled body belongs to Jesus as my Lord and Savior.

In my old life, I was a citizen… and resident of these old United States.

In my new life, I am a resident of heaven… on temporary detached duty as an Ambassador of Christ… here on Planet Earth.

All believers are!

That means that, we who are believers are the official representatives of King Jesus until he calls us home.

Everything that we say and do… the way that we say it and do it…not only reflects on our own character…but also on Jesus Christ.

For many people… we are the only Christ they see.

And, many people make up their own mind about how trustworthy… how valuable… how necessary… Jesus is to them… by watching at how important he is to us.

The Gospel is so simple: Just believe—trust Jesus as your Christ.

Yet it is so complete:

  • A totally new life based on God’s great love for us…and for all living souls.
  • A life in which we have all the assets of God—all the heavenly blessings—available to us.
  • A life, in which, Jesus takes all the blame for our badness…and gives us all of his goodness.
  • A life indwelt by the Holy Spirit.

Remember, in John 5:24, Jesus said… “I tell you the solemn truth, the one who hears{and does} my message and believes the one who sent me has eternal life, and will not be condemned, but has crossed over from death to life.

That is how simple the Gospel is.

When Paul addressed the Church in Rome, he did not stop with: … no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

He went on to say: 

Rom 8:2 For the law of the life giving Spirit in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death.

Rom 8:3 For God achieved what the law could not do because it was weakened through the flesh. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and concerning sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, {WHY?}

Rom 8:4 so that the righteous requirement of the law may be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

Now here is the proof of the pudding—proof of a saving faith… the righteous requirement of the law… is fulfilled in those of us who… do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

Simply put… the law is fulfilled in those who live in the new, Spirit-filled, life.

In Eph 2:10, Paul explained it: For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

In the new birth… we are created in God’s Spirit for good works…that is to do what the Spirit leads and equips us to do to bring honor and appreciation of Jesus as our Christ.

Back in Romans, Paul says, in…

Rom 8:5 For those who live according to the flesh think about the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit think about the things of the Spirit.

Rom 8:6 For the viewpoint {or mindset} of the flesh is death, but the viewpoint of the Spirit is life and peace,

Rom 8:7 because the viewpoint of the flesh is hostile to God, for it is not subject to the law of God, nor is it able to do so.

The point is: If we are trusting Jesus as our Christ, we experience…

  • A transformation that puts the Spirit of God within us;
  • A transformation that alters our interests… our goals… and our priorities—old things have passed away, all things become new;
  • A transformation that immerses us into the Body of Christ and creates within us new appetites for the word and work of God.

When we come to Christ…all of this is embryonic at first.

Our old nature still is our major frame of reference.

Ego drives all of our decisions… and sets our agenda.

Even in the new birth… as in the flesh… we start off as newborns.

The Life in the Spirit is all new… yet to be discovered and understood.

But, a spiritual appetite should drive us to explore… to study… and to learn about this new life.

The new birth gives us a new Love… a new curiosity to know about the God who gave up so much to make it possible to share his great love with us.

In short, we need to and are expected to grow up in understanding the word and wisdom of God.

Paul expressed his disappointment with the church in Corinth because they refused to grow up.

1 Cor 3:1 So, brothers and sisters, I could not speak to you as spiritual people, but instead as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ.

1 Cor 3:2 I fed you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready. In fact, you are still not ready,

1Cor 3:3 for you are still influenced by the flesh.

We can use Paul’s words to measure our own Spiritual growth.

1 Cor 3:4 For since there is still jealousy and dissension among you, are you not influenced by the flesh and behaving like ordinary people?

“Jealousy and dissension”, these are marks of spiritual babyhood—stunted growth.

If we were to boil down the whole Bible into its bare essence… it would be summed up in what Jesus explained as the greatest of the commandments:

Matt 22:37 Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

Matt 22:38 This is the first and great commandment.

Matt 22:39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.

Matt 22:40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

When asked by his own disciples about some badge of identification after He ascended, Jesus replied, a new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.

Just prior to his ascension, Jesus prayed for us…

John 17:20I am not praying only on their behalf, but also on behalf of those who believe in me through their testimony,

John 17:21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me and I am in you. I pray that they may be in us, so that the world may believe that you sent me.

Spiritual maturity brings us together as one—as family with God the Father and the Son.

Paul, himself, summed up his hope for us in his letter to the Ephesians:

Eph 4:4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you too were called in one hope of your calling;

Eph 4:5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism,

Eph 4:6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

Peter, in 1 Peter 1:22 said “…see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently {that is intensely and without ceasing}:

Then Peter goes on to say:

1 Pet 2:1 So get rid of all evil and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander{This includes all selfish, childish pettiness}.

1 Pet 2:2 And yearn like newborn infants for pure, spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up to salvation,

We are saved the moment we trust Jesus as our Christ.

But our salvation is not complete until we are resurrected or translated into Spiritual bodies at the call of Christ at the rapture of the Church.

1 Pet 2:3 if you have experienced the Lord’s kindness.

Peter carefully point out that Spiritual growth is contingent upon Spiritual birth—the Lord’s kindness.

If we can grow up in faith—trust 100% in Jesus as our Christ… that is trust him with every decision and every action—we will be drawn together in the oneness that both Jesus and Paul have prayed for.

We will begin to see the world as Jesus sees it.

We will begin to think with the mind of Christ.

We will begin to share God’s great love with any and all… without question… without qualification just as the Samaritan did on the Jericho Road.

He didn’t check the victim’s pedigree.

He didn’t do a background check.

He didn’t apply for welfare…

He just helped the man… while others passed by unconcerned… or excused themselves with some manner of self justification.

The way that we love in this life will be remembered in Judgment.

Matt 25:38 asks: 'When did we see you a stranger and take you in, or naked and clothe You?

Matt 25:39 'Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?'

Matt 25:40 "And the King will answer and say to them, 'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.'”

The way that we love is a dead giveaway to the level of our spiritual maturity... or our lack of it!

We are in the midst of the Thanksgiving Season.

It is a time to thank God for saving us.

It is a time to re-examine the price that God paid—that Jesus suffered—to redeem us… and make us acceptable in the family of God.

It is a time to reflect upon the few things that Jesus expects of us:

1.      Deny self—ego—follow Jesus as our Lord!

2.      Take up your cross daily…whatever your relationship with Christ demands, do it!

3.      As we go throughout the world, share the Good News—the Gospel… and make disciples of those who accept.

4.      Maintain the unity of our faith, and

5.      Love one another as Jesus has loved us. 

And how was that:

John 3:17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world should be saved through him.

John 3:18 The one who believes in him is not condemned. The one who does not believe has been condemned already,{WHY?} because he has not believed in the name of the one and only Son of God.

Rom 5:8  But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

God has done so much—giving us abundant and everlasting life.

And he wants to bless us beyond all that we can imagine… if only we will love him with all of our being… and love one another as he has loved us.

Such love will lead us to serve as he leads us.