Monday, December 24, 2012

A Serious Discussion About Salvation


TIME FOR A SERIOUS DISCUSSION
ABOUT SALVATION

II Cor.13: 4 For though he was crucified through weakness, yet he liveth by the power of God. For we also are weak in him, but we shall live with him by the power of God toward you.
5 Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?

In March of 1975 I climbed the face of Garrett Mountain in Wayne, New Jersey at night. God had been dealing with me, but as of yet I still had not fully surrendered to the drawing of the Spirit. I was still in the curiosity stage, although I was very curious. Sitting on that mountain and gazing at the Manhattan skyline on a crystal clear and cold night, I again asked God some questions. Yes, I spoke out loud as if I was speaking to Him directly. To me, the whole thing hinged upon Jesus. If Jesus was indeed real, and if He was who He Himself had claimed to be, then nothing else really mattered. If that one fact could be established, then everything else would take care of itself.

On that night, somehow the Spirit of God revealed to me in a way that was more penetrating and real than audible words that Jesus was the Son of God and that by faith in Him alone could I receive eternal life. And I came to faith that night. I climbed up the mountain a lost seeker and I climbed down a saved sinner. Yes, I would never be the same. I could hardly sleep, and in the morning as I left for work I drove up into the park at the top of Garret Mountain and for the first time I not only met Jesus, I met my Savior. I can still remember those former days when I was first illuminated. Everything was different. Everything.

Now I realize everyone’s salvation experience is different than mine. There are different circumstances, and different time frames, and different locations as well. But there must be one thing in common. In order to be saved and become a follower of Jesus, you must be born again. This is the one common and immutable thread which runs through every legitimate salvation experience. Regardless of the particulars of your experience, if you are not born again, your experience was only that, an experience. And just as when Jesus said those words to Nicodemus, people today do not realize what they mean or their significance. In fact, the church at large hardly ever refers to them.

But therein lies the eternal line of demarcation. With all the talk of guns and violence and abortion and marriage, it all pales in comparison to the discussion about being born again. A person can espouse and even vehemently defend all these moral and social issues, but if that person is not born again he will never have eternal life. He will inherit eternal death. That fact alone should reveal in no uncertain terms the importance of being born again and the dire consequences of being moral and religious but not being born again by the Spirit of God.

Issues cannot save; being conservative will not save; feeding the poor will not save; being pro-life will not save; espousing traditional marriage will not save; being baptized will not save; being an active church member will not save; and being a good and caring person will not and cannot save. Only true faith in Jesus Christ can save. And that is the one issue that Satan has fought against most. If the evil one cannot get you to neglect or ignore your eternity, then he will get you to believe a lie. Many have erroneously placed their faith on other things and in so doing they are religious without question, and they even claim the moniker “Christian”, but they have never been born again. They are helping Martha in the kitchen but they have never truly met Jesus.

That is the pinnacle of spiritual discussion. Throw out the founding fathers or the moral crusades or the doctrinal battles. Who do you say Jesus is, and has that confession ever become a miracle in your life? Have you been translated from darkness to light, and if so, when? How can a lost sinner walking in chains of darkness be set free and walk into the glorious light of Jesus Christ and His kingdom and not know when that took place? I suggest that is preposterous. I realize, as my children did, that many make a profession of faith as children. But I also suggest that when that happens there will be a substantiating epiphany later that brings to life that profession and reveals its authenticity. If you are born again by the Spirit, your revelation of Jesus will not only be glorious beyond the natural, but it will be profoundly personal. And you will thirst to know more of Him.

And that is a curious and troubling issue. In today’s evangelical community millions of bone fide church members do not seek Christ and show no discontent about their lethargic spiritual condition. Yes they show interest in religious activity and political issues that seem religious. Yes they are active in their local church and support it financially. Yes they have been baptized and give lip service to church doctrine. But they show no compulsion to learn of Jesus through deep prayer, personal contrition, uncomfortable humility, and seeking Christ has never been a driving force in their lives. And the ultimate question is “Why not?”

In the movie “Star Trek Generations” some people get caught in what they call a “nexus”. It was a place of utter ecstasy which seemingly cannot be duplicated. But they are released from this place, and have returned to a normal environment. But they can never forget. In fact, they would return if given half the chance. And one man commits his entire life just to return to that place. He is obsessed to say the least. But let me ask ourselves this question: If we indeed have met Jesus, how can we be so ambivalent about meeting with Him again and seeking to know and experience Him deeper and with more fullness? How can anyone who has met the Risen Christ go on with their lives and live them in such a way that they bear little difference with those who never claim to know or care about knowing Jesus? How can a person who says they have been born again live contented with a life that has no thirst for Jesus?

There is a disturbing and awful answer for those questions. And when I think about the implications of those questions I shudder. Can it be that millions upon millions of people who say they are on their way to heaven are in reality not headed there at all? I do not profess to know who is or who is not born again, but I do know what the Scriptures teach. And I do know that when I have been cold toward Christ I know it. And I do know that before I met Jesus I was lost and walked in darkness, and that after I believed my mind, heart, and life changed. And like the blind man I do not have all the answers, but I do that once I was blind but now I see!

But there is a glory and a revelation that cannot be known apart from being born again. In fact, Jesus cannot be known without this new birth. You can know about Him and you can even defend Him, but you cannot know Him unless you have been born again. Without the transforming and illuminating power of the Spirit no one can know Jesus. It is freedom that allows the soul to breathe and sets the captive free. Before being born again, we do not even realize we live in captivity. Walking as prisoners we think we are free. But when the Spirit opens those prison doors, and when we have been transformed by that power, and when we look into the face of the Redeemer for the first time, we are changed forever.

Still imperfect? Oh yes. Do we still sin? Of course. Make mistakes? To be sure. But we have fallen upon the Rock and we have been crushed by the weight of its holiness, and in a miracle of eternal proportions, that holiness has been given to us as a gift of grace. Oh my, how can such a thing be? How can the unholy become holy? How can the profane be a partaker of that which is sacred? How can evil be consumed in good? How can God’s enemy become God’s child? The answer is and always has been, “You must be born again”.

And we who have been born again and know the Lord Jesus Christ must walk in wisdom toward those who are outside of Christ. That means most arguments with unbelievers are not only pointless, but they do harm to the gospel. God did not argue you into faith. He wooed you through the Spirit and He may have used human instruments to accomplish His mission. Let us be those human instruments. The debate rages around the nation and even in pulpits. Choose the issue and you can find a forum for discussion. Some are light while others are vicious. But while we may take a stand on some issues, we must never be distracted from our ultimate and singular mission. We are servants of Christ, and we have been sent in the likeness of our Master who came to seek and save that which was lost. We cannot do the saving, but we can bear witness of Him who alone can. Salvation has been kicked aside and has been made subservient to any number of issues. But one day eternity will reveal that most were fool’s errands and did nothing to promote the kingdom of God.

And in my theology, souls that might have been reached were not. And some western sinners were deceived into believing that morality, patriotism, and a form of Christianity was enough to secure heaven for them. It is not, nor will it ever be. This is not some pragmatic approach to make men moral. This is not a religious system wherein sinners can be made more acceptable within the culture. This is not the utensils of earthenware which helps serve sinners with the temporal.

This is the finest china of the eternal covenant. This is the invisible workings of Him from whose face the universe fled. This is the glory of the only Begotten. This is the ministry of the Paraclete, the everlasting Spirit of Holiness. God is not searching for more religion; He is now searching for a bride to be betrothed to His Only Begotten Son. Away with all these practical “how to’s” and success oriented falsehoods which bear Him in name only but not in Truth. When a soul is born again, and when that souls is whisked out of the darkness and ushered into the light, it is the miracle of miracles.

But it was not done through might or power as men would define such. Cast your eyes and hearts back and see a little hill just outside of the City of Peace. Look around at all the blood and gore. Gasp at the horror of the wounds. Smell the sweat, smell the death. See the pain; hear the pain. Allow your entire being to be enveloped in the scene and in the event itself. God is dying; God has died. Now are you willing to believe and fall in worship in front of that dying frame? Are you willing to see Him as God and you as His sufferings? If so, and if you are willing to leave that which is behind and surrender to whatever He desires and wherever He leads, then you are born again. But if you have your own agenda then you are still in love with yourself and not Him. And in that condition you still stand condemned and you have only been born once.

That is as serious as it gets.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Blessings Brother,
How very truly and accurately penned. As literally millions of people scramble about today and tomorrow preparing for this most special “holiday” observed around the world, I too agree, [this is a serious as it gets]. I have met very few in my life, no matter what their true beliefs may be, that don’t anxiously await celebrating “baby Jesus” each year, regardless of their profession. I remember very well when I was intimately involved with the “institutional” church all the gala celebration involved with “family and friends”. But when asked by others how I can call myself a “Christian” today, and not celebrate this joyous occasion, I usually reply “baby Jesus cannot save you”! This is typically followed by a “deer in the headlights look”. Oh, to know and live for Jesus the risen King Of Kings and Lord of Lords. But then to comprehend with my whole being, that He the Son of God, knows me is beyond words written or spoken. How this can be, I cannot explain. But it gives me hope and strength to love and follow Him, daily taking up my cross and losing my life, even in my feeble state.

Shalom,
The least brother

Rick Frueh said...

Many who realize that "Christmas" is a man made concoction stll believe celebrating it is benign. But I contend it dilutes the gospel and compromises our faith in many overt and clandestine ways. Thanks for your comment.

Cherie c. said...

God Bless you both.

Not hard to give up the temporal for the awesome. May we who are the unchurched be blessed with abundant Grace to get through these days. Not hard to give up the "Christmas" for the CHRIST. Praying for others to do the same. Thanks again Pastor for the teaching to the Body of Christ.

Psalm 133:1
Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!

What a true Blessing and a rare find to hear two Godly men. Thank you Lord. May God continue to Bless both you gentlemen.


Cherie c.

michael said...

Rick,

I like that last bit about having your own agenda!

I deal with that daily!

I struggle daily putting down my own agenda.

Like you, I came into that revelation by the Spirit of Grace and Truth in 1975, July 21 to be exact.

Being born again is something I had no say in or part in except My Creator by His Own Will brought me forth by His Spirit of Grace and Truth.

At that moment I realized I was lost. He found me. That is what is so amazing to me and is daunting daily in my life. It is what holds or anchors me to Christ Jesus, the fact that He found me.

To be born again is to be made alive in Christ in a unique way as you have laid out.

I would just touch on a Greek Word found only twice in Scripture and used by the Apostle Paul only. There are many times in Scripture were being made alive is used.

This particular Word has a peculiarity to it that makes being born again such a powerful Truth.

Paul says in Ephesians and Colossians this:

Eph 2:5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ--by grace you have been saved--

...

Col 2:13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses,


In both instances it is God doing the making alive.

To come to that Greek Word in such a way to convey the understanding the Lord has given to me I would contrast it with a similar Word used many many times.

This Word is used many times (12) and is similar but is not the Word I will highlight in a moment that can best be understood by this verse:

1Co 15:22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.

This Greek Word "made alive" used there is:
ζωοποιέω
zōopoieō
dzo-op-oy-eh'-o
From the same as G2226 and G4160; to (re-) vitalize (literally or figuratively): - make alive, give life, quicken.

It is used twelve times in the New Testament.

Next I will focus on the other Word:::>

michael said...


The Word I want to focus on which highlights your post about being born again is this one used only twice cited above:

συζωοποιέω
suzōopoieō
sood-zo-op-oy-eh'-o
From G4862 and G2227; to reanimate conjointly with (figuratively): - quicken together with.

The point I will make comes from that phrase in the definition "to reanimate conjointly".

Maybe you or others reading this have seen or read about "conjoined" twins? In this world naturally the medical world wants to "separate" conjoined twins. Although, I did see a Discovery program once where the parents allowed their daughters to grow up conjoined together. These girls are fully matured young ladies that can drive a car or go out for shopping or for other reasons. It is amazing that these girls are very intelligent and active emotionally able to live a life together sharing the same lower body. Each has their own heart and brain. One has a left arm and the other a right arm. It was quite amazing to watch this program about this conjoined twins!

This is exactly what God means to do to us that we are born again conjoined to Christ! God "conjoins" us to Christ so that we are no longer separated from Him or the Eternal Life we are born again too, that invisible spiritual LIFE you write about above.

It is God's work that we are born again. That in and of itself if emphasized enough will bring peace to a troubled soul whom the Law of Righteousness has now come alive within so that their utter sinful nature becomes apparent to them personally and they, too, as the Apostle Paul exclaims about himself exclaim "oh wretched man that I am"!

I don't for a minute believe a person to be born again if that reality is not a vivid concern and daily a struggle to them?

One must be born again. But the reality is no one is born again by their own efforts. No. Whether you come to a revelation being born again from a very ungodly family such as I was or you were born into a very religious pious godly family such as some, then born again, you are no part of Him unless and until you are by God Himself conjoined reanimated to the Life of Christ Who is the only source and soul of Eternal Life for those born again, the Church!

Steve said...

As Michael said: the insight that having your own agenda is being in love with yourself, not Jesus was exactly on the mark.

This one also: "How can a person who says they have been born again live contented with a life that has no thirst for Jesus?"

It hit me recently in meditation, as a question for my own heart: "Don't you just want more of Jesus ?" It's become my way to test if I TRULY love Jesus.

It might be a relevant question for the Church at large. But realistically, in the "good" church I attend, probably most people would be puzzled...maybe even insulted...by the question. Only a few would "get" it, or understand why it should be asked.

Where is the American Church we live in ? I'd agree with Rick: stagnant in spirit, seeking its own agenda, self-satisfied. Praise God's patient mercy, that He still strives with us; but for how much longer ?

In Jesus, Steve

Cherie c. said...

Pastor Rick,

What about Christians who follow the Sabbath? Should we observe the Sabbath? Paul wrote of falling from Grace by observing the law, can you help me understand it better? Someone I know says I should, and some say I shouldn't. I don't but worry about being in error. From what I read, we are not required too. God Bless.

Cherie c.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the wake up call to Laodicea. As you said, "Salvation has been kicked aside and has been made subservient to any number of issues. But one day eternity will reveal that most were fool’s errands and did nothing to promote the kingdom of God." Thank God there is help for our fallen condition.

Rick Frueh said...

Christ is our Sabbath, our rest. It is a weaker brother who adheres to a day and we should not hate them, but Paul calls those kinds of outward shadows of the law the "beggerly elements".
Christ is the end of the law to all who believe!

Anonymous said...

Pastor Rick, I used to be a legalist that tried to keep all ten of the commandments until I was transformed by the true meaning of salvation by grace and not by works. It is possible to enter that Sabbath rest in Christ and embrace physical rest and intimacy with Christ on the Sabbath Day. I think it is one of the greatest blessings given to mankind and I do take issue with being considered a weaker member of the body of Christ, unless you referring to the mindset that keeping the Sabbath is a vehicle for salvation.

Rick Frueh said...

Either God wants us top observe a day or He does not. If He does than we all should observe it. If He does not than no one should, however to observe one day over another does not make one unsaved. But it does mean you are embracing an Old Testament principle which was done away with in Christ.

Anonymous said...

Pastor Rick: You mention Garrett Mountain in this and other posts. I also came to the Lord initially in 1975, and, though I have never been to Garrett Mountain, I grew up near there and know where it is. (You say it's in Wayne, I always thought it was in West Paterson, also in Passaic County.) God bless.

Ruben Mendoza said...

Salvation is the most difficult discussion in all Christian religion. All congregation claims they're the right one and will be save. As far as I read and understand about God, all of us will be saved. To know about salvation I think the best is to know God first, if you know your God's desires and passions surely you will know if he will condemn you or not. God is merciful and loving father he will not condemn no one even the most sinful man in the history of mankind. Try to compare our being earthly father to his being Godly father, surely no one will be greater than God. If we are truly loving father to our worst son even if he doesn't asked forgiveness definitely we will forgive him because he is our son, if we are truly loving father to him. The question is if we can do this to our son what more God, we cannot exceed the kindness of God. That's why God strictly forbid us to judge each other because he will condemned no one. His great love and immeasurable mercy will be given to us, that is his plan. Read about the new testament he made for us because God mysteriously predicated the "New Testament" to make those word obscure to us