Part 2: Salvation Present, How To Become More Like Jesus

Part 2: Salvation Present, How To Become More Like Jesus

 

Last week, we looked at the basic beliefs in becoming a Christian. That is our salvation past. Today we come to Part 2: Salvation Present, How To Become More Like Jesus.       As we grow up from childhood, through our teenage years and into adulthood, there is something surprising that happens. We tend to become more like our parents. The characteristics of our parents that we have liked and disliked are now being seen in us as we grow up. We open our mouth and we hear mom’s voice or dad’s voice. We look in the mirror and there stands our dad or mom. We are surprised and shocked when it happens.

Without realizing that it is happening, we tend to take on the characteristics of the people around us. We take on the characteristics of our parents and our role models. It doesn’t matter if the characteristic is good or bad, we begin to follow and imitate our role models.

On a spiritual level, this is exactly what we are supposed to do with Jesus as our role model. We are to grow and become like him. We are to take on his characteristics. This is what we call salvation present or spiritual growth. However, we must be intentional about it. It doesn’t happen by accident or haphazardly. If I am going to become like Jesus, then I must spend time with Jesus. If I am going to take on his characteristics, then I must know and learn those characteristics.

There are many ways to participate in discipleship. There are many methods of growing spiritually. Here are three specific ways to become more like Jesus. This is not an exhaustive list, but I pray it will help you.

  1. In order to become more like Jesus, I must trust God to escape temptations.

Salvation past is a time when Jesus sets us free from the penalty of sin. Salvation present then is a time when Jesus sets us free from the power of sin. With the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives, we have the ability to overcome the power of sin. Look at what 1 Corinthians 10:13 says. “You are tempted in the same way that everyone else is tempted. But God can be trusted not to let you be tempted too much, and he will show you how to escape from your temptations.” 1 Corinthians 10:13 (CEV) God doesn’t tell us that we will never be tempted; instead, he tells us that we will be tempted just like everyone else. He allows us to be tempted every day. His promise is that he will never allow us to be tempted to such a point that we cannot handle it. And how do we handle it? We look for the way of escape. This also is his promise. He will provide a way for us to overcome temptation. So trust God for his escape from temptation.

  1. In order to become more like Jesus, I must look for opportunities to share my faith.

Jesus made us this promise in Acts 1. “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8 (NIV) Jesus promises us here that he will empower us with the Holy Spirit so that we might witness about him to others. Not only does the Holy Spirit give us the ability to overcome the power of sin, he also gives us the ability to share our faith in Jesus. Sharing our faith in Jesus is simply telling other people what Jesus means to us, what he has done for us, and what he is doing for us.

A second scripture from Colossians encourages us make the most of every opportunity in order to share our faith. “Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone.” Colossians 4:5-6 (NLT) So we have the instruction from Jesus to witness. We have his Holy Spirit to empower us. And we have the encouragement to look for opportunities to share our faith with those who are not believers.

  1. In order to become more like Jesus, I must work out my salvation.

Once we are saved, the Bible instructs us to work out our salvation. “Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.” Philippians 2:12-13 (NIV) The idea to work out our salvation means to carry salvation to its ultimate conclusion, which is to be like Jesus. We are to make progress toward being like Jesus. It is similar to the way a math student works out a math problem. The math student carries the math problem out to its conclusion. So we are to carry out our salvation each and every day to its ultimate conclusion to be more like Jesus. And we are to do that with fear and trembling. This simply means that we are to rely on the help of the Holy Spirit. The verse says, “for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.” We are to give completely of ourselves to the control of God so that he can work in us, molding us, and shaping us more and more like Jesus.

Will you become more like Jesus?

Next week, we will look at salvation future.

 

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Part 1: Salvation Past, How To Be Saved

Part 1: Salvation Past, How To Be Saved

 

One of the classic Christmas movies that some of us watch is A Christmas Carol. You remember that in this story a man named Ebenezer Scrooge is visited by the ghost of his former business partner Jacob Marley, as well as by the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Yet to Come. By the end of the story, Scrooge is no longer a scrooge. Because of taking a different look at his past, present, and future, Scrooge changes his attitude and his life. I hope that by looking at your salvation past, present, and future, you too will change to be more like that of Jesus.

Let me begin with the obvious question. Do you have a salvation past? Is there a point and time in your past where Jesus saved you? If not, then after reading this article perhaps you will believe in Jesus and be saved. In John 3, there is a conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus on how to be saved. Here are four beliefs from their conversation that will help you to be saved.

  1. In order to be saved, I must believe that Jesus came from God.

John 3:1-2 says this. “Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, ‘Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him.’” John 3:1-2 (NIV)

This man Nicodemus is the same one that is mentioned later in John who helps to prepare the body of Jesus for burial. As a Jewish leader and Pharisee, Nicodemus says, “We know you are a teacher who has come from God.” Nicodemus was confident that Jesus came from God. His confidence was based upon the teaching of Jesus and the miracles Jesus performed. His confidence led him to seek out Jesus. The Bible teaches us that Jesus came from God. So what do you believe? Do you believe that Jesus came from God? If order to be saved, you must believe that Jesus came from God.

  1. In order to be saved, I must believe that Jesus is God’s Son.

In John 3:16, Jesus says this. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 (NLT)

This verse is foundational to our understanding of God, his love for us, and what Jesus has done for us. God gave the ultimate sacrifice, his only Son, out of his love for us. God did this so that Jesus could pay the price for punishment against sin. The Bible teaches us that Jesus is God’s Son. Do you believe that Jesus is God’s Son? In order to be saved, you must believe that Jesus is God’s Son.

  1. In order to be saved, I must believe that I am guilty before God.

In John 3:18, Jesus says this. “People who believe in God’s Son are not judged guilty. Those who do not believe have already been judged guilty, because they have not believed in God’s one and only Son.” John 3:18 (NCV)

John 3:16 above states that we will not perish if we believe. So why are we perishing to begin with? The reason we are perishing is that we are guilty. We are guilty of sinning against God, breaking his commands, and not keeping his instructions. Even if we only sinned one time in our life, we are guilty. Every human is guilty before God. If we refuse to believe in Jesus, we remain guilty. Our refusal to believe in Jesus brings God’s judgment against us. Do you believe that you are guilty before God? If you don’t believe that you are guilty before God, then believing in Jesus will not make sense to you. I encourage you to accept the truth that we all are guilty before God. This belief causes us to seek out help in Jesus. In order to be saved, you must believe that you are guilty before God.

  1. In order to be saved, I must believe that Jesus died for my sin.

As Jesus was talking with Nicodemus, he gave Nicodemus an illustration from history. In John 3:14, Jesus says this. “And as Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness, so I, the Son of Man, must be lifted up on a pole.” John 3:14 (NLT)

This refers to the story of Moses leading the Hebrew people through the wilderness. At one time, God sent a plague of poisonous snakes to punish the Hebrews for their rebellious attitude. But God also gave a rescue from the poisonous snakebites. The rescue was for Moses to make a bronze snake and place it up on a pole. Then anyone bitten by a snake could go look up at the bronze snake, and believe that God would heal them.

Jesus used this story to say that like the snake on a pole, he too would be placed on a cross and die there. Later, Jesus was placed on a cross and he died. Nicodemus along with Joseph took his body down from the cross and buried him. Three days after his death, Jesus came back to life. If we believe in Jesus, his death on the cross, and his resurrection from the grave, then we will be healed of our guilt and sin.

Do you believe that Jesus died for your sin? Do you believe that he arose from the dead? In order to be saved, you must believe that Jesus died for your sin.

These are the beliefs we must agree to in order to be saved. And here are three benefits of being saved.

  1. I am rescued from my guilt and sin.

“God did not send his Son into the world to judge the world guilty, but to save the world through him.” John 3:17 (NCV)

  1. I become a child of God.

“Humans give life to their children. Yet only God’s Spirit can change you into a child of God.” John 3:6 (CEV)

  1. I have eternal life.

“Everyone who has faith in the Son of Man will have eternal life.” John 3:15 (CEV)

My invitation to you is this. Will you be saved by believing in Jesus? If you don’t have a salvation past, then I invite you today to believe in Jesus. Will you believe in Jesus?

Next week, we will look at Salvation Present.

Walking Through Difficult Times With Jesus Part 3: Walking Through Death With Jesus

Walking Through Difficult Times With Jesus Part 3: Walking Through Death With Jesus

April 15th is tax day. There is a proverb that goes like this; “There are two things that are certain in life, death and taxes.” Someone gave me a new proverb recently: “These tax forms will be the death of me.” Our pay day for taxes is April 15th. But when is our pay day for death? Do you know when you will die or how you will die? We can’t answer these questions. But are you afraid of death or how you may die? Jesus has already walked through death and came out victorious on the other side of death; therefore, he can help us walk through death as well. Because of what Jesus did, we no longer have to fear death. Here are three ideas about death we no longer have to fear.

1. We no longer have to fear the pain of death. Death by crucifixion was a common form of capital punishment in Jesus’ day. So the Gospels don’t offer much explanation about how it was done. Mark simply says, “They brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means The Place of the Skull). Then they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it. And they crucified him.” Mark 15:22-24 (NIV)

Different articles I have read give this description. The arms would be stretched out and a nail placed into the wrists. The nail or spike would crush the large sensorimotor nerve which would produce bolts of fiery pain in both arms. The feet also would be nailed to the cross. The weight of the body pulling down on the outstretched arms would fix the intercostals muscles in an inhalation state and hinder exhalation. In order to exhale, the person on the cross would lift the body by pushing up with the feet and flexing the elbows. The movement placed more weight on the feet producing a searing pain. The flexing of the elbows would also produce the fiery pain in the arms. The movement of the body along the wooden cross would scrape upon the open flesh and muscle tissue. Each breath would become agonizing, tiring, and eventually lead to asphyxia. Sometimes, the legs were broken to ensure a quicker death.

Crucifixion was used to cause the greatest amount of pain to the criminal before the inevitable death. Jesus suffered the most painful death anyone could ever suffer. He gave of himself to endure this painful death for each of us. The soldiers did not have to break his legs. Jesus gave up his life willingly. Therefore, he knows how to comfort us if we should encounter a painful death. So we can let go of our fear of the pain of death.

2. We no longer have to fear the humiliation of death. While on the cross, Jesus suffered the humiliation of being stripped of his clothing, mocked as a king, and insulted for his promises. Mark describes it this way. “Dividing up his clothes, they cast lots to see what each would get. It was the third hour when they crucified him. The written notice of the charge against him read: THE KING OF THE JEWS. They crucified two robbers with him, one on his right and one on his left. Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, ‘So! You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, come down from the cross and save yourself!’ In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him among themselves. ‘He saved others,’ they said, ‘but he can’t save himself! Let this Christ, this King of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe.’ Those crucified with him also heaped insults on him.” Mark 15:24-32 (NIV)

Ironically, Jesus was the temple being torn down that would rise again in three days. Had Jesus come down from the cross to save himself, he could not have saved anyone else. In order to save us from the judgment and penalty of sin, he willingly stayed on the cross, even through this humiliation.

If you have a fear of humiliation in death, then I ask you to look at the cross today and see Jesus as one who has already been there. He suffered in complete humiliation in his death. That doesn’t mean that we will escape humiliation in our death, but it does mean that Jesus will be there to walk with us through that experience.

3. We no longer have to fear the loneliness of death. Mark describes Jesus’ death in this way. “At the sixth hour darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?’–which means, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ When some of those standing near heard this, they said, ‘Listen, he’s calling Elijah.’ One man ran, filled a sponge with wine vinegar, put it on a stick, and offered it to Jesus to drink. ‘Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to take him down,’ he said. With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last.” Mark 15:33-37 (NIV)

This is a difficult passage to understand. Even the people there were uncertain what Jesus was saying. It’s obvious he was speaking in Aramaic, and it is obvious to us now that he was quoting from Psalm 22:1. But why did Jesus say this with such a loud cry? After studying this passage and looking at many different thoughts, I have come to the conclusion that Jesus was suffering the physical, emotional, and spiritual pain of being God-forsaken. On the cross, Jesus who had no sin took upon himself the sins of the entire world. Therefore, God as Father separated himself from God as Son. Jesus not only suffered the physical pain of being tortured to death, but also he suffered the emotional and spiritual pain in his soul of being alone, apart from his Father. Jesus was given no comfort, no help from God, and no strength from the Holy Spirit. He died alone, without the Father. Because Jesus suffered in death without God’s help, no one else will ever have to suffer in death without God. No one has to go through the loneliness that Jesus went through. No one ever again has to suffer without God’s help, God’s strength, or God’s comfort. Sadly, many people choose to suffer without God because they refuse to believe in what Jesus accomplished for them.

Perhaps you have a fear of dying in loneliness. You can let go of that fear today by taking hold of the hand of Jesus. Believe in Jesus as your rescuer from sin and from the fear of death. Call upon him right now and he will come into your life to save your from your sin. I encourage you to let go of your fear of dying a lonely death; instead, take hold of Jesus who has already died alone so that you don’t have to.

Rather than fear death, walk through it with Jesus.