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What is salvation?


Understanding the Gospel is a prerequisite for understanding salvation, because the Gospel brings salvation. Therefore, review What is the Gospel? if you haven't already.

Briefly, the Gospel--the good news--is that each person, through Jesus Christ, can be forgiven of sin, brought back into fellowship with God, and filled with Godís Spirit for newness of life. Salvation is the bundle of benefits received by the person who believes the Gospel and entrusts his or her life to Christ. The "benefits" include forgiveness of sin, a totally right standing with God, heaven instead of hell upon physical death, new life (the Spirit of the life of Christ Jesus), awesome joy and contentment, and power to change bad habits.

A Christian is a person who has decided to trust in Jesus Christ for a right standing before God, and to turn the reins of his or her life over to Christ (see What is a real Christian?). After expressing this decision in prayer, the Christian receives salvation. The word salvation indicates that the Christian is saved from something. Saved from what? In short, we are saved from deathóspiritual death. More specifically, we are saved from the following:

1. Hell

2. Ourselves

a. Christ saves us from bad habits, destructive lifestyles, sinful tendencies, and poor character qualities

b. Christ saves us from self-centeredness and discontentment

c. Christ saves us from performance-based acceptance

3. Slavery to circumstances

4. Satan and his evil helpers

Further study of salvation

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1. Hell

Hell exists. Jesus spoke about it:

Mat 5:22 "But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, 'You good-for-nothing,' shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, 'You fool,' shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell.

Mat 10:28 "Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

Mat 23:33 "You serpents, you brood of vipers, how will you escape the sentence of hell?

Mark 9:43 "If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life crippled, than, having your two hands, to go into hell, into the unquenchable fire,

Mark 9:45 "If your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame, than, having your two feet, to be cast into hell,

Mark 9:47 "If your eye causes you to stumble, throw it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, than, having two eyes, to be cast into hell,

Those who place their trust in Christ receive mercy. Picture a court of law: Each of us is charged with sin. Each of us is guilty. We can plead either innocent or guilty. In pleading innocent, we are claiming to be righteous enough to be accepted by God on our own merits. But if we plead guilty and ask for mercy, the penalty is paid by Christ, we are declared righteous by God, and we are not judged with respect to heaven or hell:

John 5:22,23 "For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son, 23 so that all will honor the Son even as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.

John 3:16-18 "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. 17 "For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. 18 "He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

John 5:24 "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.

1 Pet 3:18 For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God

1 John 4:10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

John 14:6 Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.

Rom 3:23,24 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus;

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

Rom 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

2 Cor 5:21 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

Col 2:13,14 When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, 14 having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.

1 Tim 2:5 For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus

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2. Ourselves

a. Christ saves us from bad habits, destructive lifestyles, sinful tendencies, and poor character qualities

When we give ourselves to Christ, we exchange our unrighteousness for His righteousness. Our old self is crucified with Christ--buried. We get a new life--Christ's life--by way of the Holy Spirit. Therefore we are no longer slaves to sinful and destructive behavior (e.g. gossip, anger, lying, short temper, bitterness, immorality, impurity, greed, pride, boastfulness, foul language, homosexuality, adultery, fornication, child molestation, incest, irritability, quarrelsomeness). We will still experience temptation because we still have bodies with "fleshly" cravings, but we are able to live victoriously over sinful ways by trusting Christ to live through us:

Rom 6:1-14 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? 2 May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, 6 knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; 7 for he who has died is freed from sin. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, 9 knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him. 10 For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. 11 Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, 13 and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. 14 For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.

2 Cor 5:17 Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.

Gal 5:24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

1 Cor 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.

Eph 4:24 and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.

Col 3:5 Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry.

Bear in mind that we are saved from "ourselves" not by trying to change, but by trading ourselves for Christ. Christ gives us new life--His life. He completely transforms us. As we submit our will to His control, Christ manifests Himself through us--His thoughts, words, and actions become our thoughts, words, and actions. God is pleased and glorified to see His Son manifested through Christians. (See How can one change bad habits?)

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b. Christ saves us from self-centeredness and discontentment

Self centeredness, self indulgence, and discontentment stem from an effort to get "life" (value, identity, love, security, fulfillment, joy, contentment, inner peace) from anything tied to ourselves and how we compare with others (skills, intelligence, possessions, physical appearance, spouse, kids, friends, success) instead of from Christ. If we do not seek life from Christ, we will naturally, perhaps unconsciously, compare ourselves with others, searching for contentment through recognition, pleasure, power, or control--but without satisfaction.

It is impossible to be "selfless" without being filled and controlled by the Spirit of Christ. Self-centeredness cannot be overcome by the most diligent effort to be selfless. Self cannot simply be removed--it has to be replaced--and only Christ can replace it. Christ frees us from the slavery of comparison with others! He fills the emptiness of our heart with Himself. And He escorts us to the Father so that we can have joy in continual fellowship with Him. (See What does Jesus have to do with contentment? and Why do Christians experience discontentment and discouragement?)

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c. Christ saves us from performance-based acceptance

True Christianity is not a religion. Religions generally require that one live according to a set of standards. If one's performance is good enough, one will go to heaven or another desirable place after the earthly life, and will have a good life on earth. If performance is substandard, the person will be rejected by the higher being and go to hell or some other unpleasant place. Christianity, by contrast, is based on the work and life of Christ imparted to us, not on our performance. Christianity teaches that no person is good enough to be accepted into Godís kingdom and, therefore, we can be accepted by God only by Godís grace and mercy, which are possible through Jesus Christ:

Eph 2:8,9 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.

Titus 3:5 He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy

Put differently, our favor and acceptance before God is based on Christ, not us. We do not have to earn favor with God; indeed we can't. Christ saves from self effort by paying the penalty for our sin. We merely receive forgiveness of sin as a gift (see What is the difference between Christianity and other beliefs?): 

Rom 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Col 2:13,14 When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, 14 having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.

What's more, just as we cannot earn our way to heaven by doing good deeds, we are not burdened to earn favor with God by doing good deeds after we receive Christ. In fact, we can't. The Christian life was not intended to be a struggle to please God and pay Him back for forgiving us. God is pleased with faith, and only with faith. We cannot earn favor with God by trying in our own strength to be "good Christians." Just as we received Christ by faith for forgiveness of sin, we are to live by faith in Christ. We are to trust Christ to live an upright and holy life through us:

Col 2:6 Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him

John 15:5 "I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.

Heb 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please Him

God is pleased, not by our effort, but by our willingness to let Christ do His works through us. We can do nothing for God, except perhaps to say "Yes" to Him, submitting to Him and letting Him have His way with us, and then giving thanks for what He's done.

Rom 14:23 Öand whatever is not from faith is sin.

1 Pet 4:11 Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

In sum, there is nothing performance-based in Christianity. God has done it all through Christ. We can do no more than receive and thank. Only Jesus can make a person a Christian--neither works nor ceremonies can do it. And only one person can live the Christian life: Jesus Christ. We need only to let Him live His life through us. Thus Christ saves the Christian from the burden of self effort and performance-based acceptance.

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3. Slavery to circumstances

The Bible says that those who are in Christ overcome the world. Taken in context with all of scripture, this does not mean that Christians are given authority to rule over others. Nor does it promise Christians a life absent of struggles and disappointments. Quite the contrary, Jesus said those who follow Him would be persecuted and have tribulation. But the Christian overcomes the world by having, through Christ, perfect peace, joy, contentment, and inner rest in the midst of any and all circumstances:

2 Tim 3:12 Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.

Phil 1:29 For to you it has been granted for Christ's sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake,

John 16:33 "These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world."

John 14:27 "Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.

1 John 4:4 You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.

1 John 5:4,5 For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world--our faith. 5 Who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

Christians have struggles just as everyone else, but can have perfect joy, inner peace, and restfulness in the midst of them. Bear in mind that there are two ways to satisfy a want--whether the want is to have something or to be relieved of difficulty. One way is to get what we want. The other way is to not want it anymore. This is what Jesus offers--not to get everything we want, but to be content in all circumstances through our relationship with Him. Jesus does not remove all our struggles, but fills us with His perfect peace and joy in the midst of them. This is no small victory! It is true freedom. It is salvation.

See What does Jesus have to do with contentment? and Why do Christians experience discontentment and discouragement? 

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4. Satan and his evil helpers

Satan is all about death; God is all about life. Satan is full of hate; God is love. Satan is all lies; God is all truth.

God is more powerful than Satan. But Satan has power-- through sin, death, and hell--over an individual who has not entrusted his or her life to Christ. God, through Christ, offers salvation from sin, death, and hell. Those who trust Christ are saved from the power Satan because Christ has defeated Satan and removed his power.

Jesus Christ has crushed Satan's head. Jesus has won victory over sin, death, hell, and fear. Below are verses about Christ's victory over Satan. Stand firm on these verses. Choose to believe what the verses say. Say the verses out loud, declaring that you believe what is written. Don't boast about your victory over Satan; just give praise and thanks to God for Christ.

Col 2:15 When He [God the Father] had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him [Christ]. (The words in brackets were added for clarification.)

1 John 3:8 The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil.

Rom 6:9 knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him.

Col 1:13 For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son

Heb 2:14,15 Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.

As Christians, we reap the benefits of Christ's victory over Satan. We are victorious with Christ, because we are now in the family of God, on the winning team, covered by Christ Himself. Christ, whose Spirit lives in us, is greater than Satan:

1 John 4:4 You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He [Christ] who is in you than he who is in the world [Satan]. (The words in brackets were added for clarification.)

Mat 16:18,19 "I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. 19 "I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven."

Luke 10:19,20 "Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing will injure you. 20 "Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven."

Satan hates Christians. He is jealous of us because we possess the Spirit of God. He wants desperately to keep Christians from realizing the power that we have through Christ. Satan wants to blind Christians from knowing the authority that we have in Christ, and the power of Christ in us, because when we abide in Christ, we experience great joy, we love others with the supernatural love of Christ, and, as a result, those around us will come to know Christ. Paul prayed for the Christians in Ephesus, that their eyes would be opened to see this power:

Eph 1:18,19 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe.

Eph 3:14-21 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, 16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. 20 Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, 21 to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.

Satan also delights to see Christians engage in sinful behavior, because he knows that doing so hinders the power of Christ from working through us. Although Satan cannot make a Christian sin, he attempts to lead us into temptation and deceive us into thinking that we do not have the power to resist it. But if we abide in Christ, we will not be deceived. When we do face temptation, the power of Christ in us is able to resist it (see How can one change bad habits?):

1 Cor 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.

Heb 2:18 For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.

2 Pet 2:9 the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation

2 Th 3:3 But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.

1 John 5:18 We know that no one who is born of God sins; but He who was born of God keeps him, and the evil one does not touch him.

Gal 5:24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

We need only to be alert, submit to God, trust in the power of the name of Jesus Christ, and resist the devil. Satan will flee from us:

James 4:7 Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.

1 Pet 5:8,9 Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9 But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world.

2 Cor 10:3-5 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, 4 for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. 5 We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ,

Eph 6:10-13 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.13 Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.

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Further study of salvation

The word glory in the following verses indicates who God is--the sum of His awesome attributes:

Ex 33:18,21,22 Then Moses said, "I pray You, show me Your glory!" 21 Then the LORD said, "Behold, there is a place by Me, and you shall stand there on the rock; 22 and it will come about, while My glory is passing by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock and cover you with My hand until I have passed by.

Jn 1:14 And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.

1 Kings 8:10,11 It happened that when the priests came from the holy place, the cloud filled the house of the LORD, 11 so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled the house of the LORD.

The verses below indicate that God wants us to have His glory:

Col 1:25-27 Of this church I was made a minister according to the stewardship from God bestowed on me for your benefit, so that I might fully carry out the preaching of the word of God, 26 that is, the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations, but has now been manifested to His saints, 27 to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

2 Cor 4:4 in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

Rom 9:23,24 And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory, 24 even us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles.

2 Thess 2:14 It was for this He called you through our gospel, that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

God wants us to be filled with His glory, but this does not mean that man is God. Only God is God. And God does not share praise with humans:

Isa42:8 "I am the LORD, that is My name; I will not give My glory to another, Nor My praise to graven images.

Isa 45:5,6 "I am the LORD, and there is no other; Besides Me there is no God. I will gird you, though you have not known Me; 6 That men may know from the rising to the setting of the sun That there is no one besides Me. I am the LORD, and there is no other

Isa46:5,9 "To whom would you liken Me And make Me equal and compare Me, That we would be alike? Ö9 "Remember the former things long past, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me

Isa 2:22 Stop regarding man, whose breath of life is in his nostrils; For why should he be esteemed?

The above verses confirm that man is not to be praised, so having God's glory does not mean that God intends for us to be glorified or praised by other people. Just the opposite is true. True humility results from realizing our utter dependence on God; we see that only He is worthy of praise. When we transfer our trust from ourselves to Christ, we exchange all we are for all Christ is. As a result, we are filled--glorified--with the Spirit of Christ, God's glory. Our spiritual death is replaced by the Life of Christ.

Think of God's glory as electricity. We will become electrified--filled with electricity--if we put our finger into a high voltage electrical outlet. We did not generate the electricity. We did not earn it through hard work. And we did not get it by being smart or talented. We simply received it and became electrified by it. We deserve no praise for it.

We need to be filled--"glorified"--with God's glory in order to be complete, whole, and full.

As mentioned above, Paul's prayer for the Christians in Ephesus was that they would understand and experience the power of the glory of Christ in them:

Eph 1:18,19 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might

Eph 3:13-19 Therefore I ask you not to lose heart at my tribulations on your behalf, for they are your glory. 14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, 16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.

The following verses, written for Christians, tell of salvation to be received--apparently after conversion. Thus the verses indicate that salvation is not only the forgiveness of sin received by the new believer upon conversion, but the life of Christ that saves the Christian from "self" after conversion. It is salvation indeed to have our "self" flushed out by the Life (glory) of Christ:

Rom 5:9,10. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.

1Tim 4:16 Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you.

1 Pet 1: 6-9 In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, 7 so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 8 and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, 9 obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.

2 Thess 2:13,14 But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth. 14 It was for this He called you through our gospel, that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Salvation, then, entails not only forgiveness of sin that gives us a ticket to heaven instead of hell, but power--the Spirit of the life of Christ Jesus in us--to be whole in every way. The freedom referred to in the following verses applies not only to life after earth, but to life on earth through the power of Christ:

Rom 8:1,2 Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.

John 8:34-36 Jesus answered them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin.35 "The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son does remain forever. 36 "So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.

Humans were designed to function with Godís Spirit in them. Without Christ, man is dysfunctional within himself and in relationships, like a car without an engine, or a table with only two legs. No wonder itís called salvation--Jesus Christ not only saves us from hell, but is the cure, the only cure, to all dysfunction experienced by the human race.

Contentment, joy, inner peace, the manifestation of the supernatural love of Christ, and other aspects of wholeness through Christ, will be experienced only as the believer is abiding in Christ. Although Christians have been given the Spirit of Christ to meet all our real needs, we still tend to seek life apart from Him. Like Adam and Eve, we pick from the tree of "independence and self sufficiency." This is what the nation of Israel did in the Old Testament era; God had chosen them and filled them with His glory, but they wanted to be in control of their own lives instead of letting God take care of them. They exchanged the glory of God for "self":

Rom 1: 21-25 For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures. 24 Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. 25 For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever.

Ps 106:20 Thus they exchanged their glory for the image of an ox that eats grass.

Jer 2:11,13 "Has a nation changed gods when they were not gods? But My people have changed their glory For that which does not profit. 13 "For My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, to hew for themselves cisterns, broken cisterns that can hold no water.

Just as God wanted to fill the nation of Israel with His glory, and for them to enjoy Him, He wants to fill Christians with His glory--the Spirit of Christ. And He wants us to enjoy His presence. But we Christians are often deceived into loving the glitter of the world instead of the glory of God, and to seeking control over our circumstances instead of living by faith in Christ. Thus the awesome paradox given in John 12:24,25: If we don't let go of our life in this world, and allow Christ to become our identity, security, joy, and contentment, we will never bear fruit because Christ will be hindered from pouring His Life in and through us.

Jn 12:24,25 "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25 "He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal.

Trials and suffering, therefore, can indeed bring great blessings for the Christian. In love God may deny us the security, comfort, control, pleasure, power, and riches that we seek in this world, at least for a time, to turn our eyes from our circumstances to Christ, the real Bread of Life, who wants to fill us with His joy and love, and bless others through us:

John 15:5 "I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.

 

Related topics:

What is the Gospel?

What is the difference between Christianity and other beliefs?

How can one change bad habits?

What does Jesus have to do with contentment?

Why do Christians experience discontentment and discouragement?

 

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