The Shepherd of Hope blog is here to serve you, to help you know Jesus better and to find hope in Him. This blog relies on the Spirit of God using the word of God to build people of God. All material has been prayerfully submitted for your encouragement and spiritual edification. Your questions and comments are welcome.

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Prime Essential of Salvation

There is one prime essential of salvation. A person can be religious, relatively good, and even believe there is a God and that Jesus is the Christ, and still be lost! The Pharisees were amongst the most religious people that ever lived and yet Jesus denounced them for their hypocrisy (Mat. 23). The Rich Young Ruler had apparently kept the commandments of God and yet “one thing” (Mark 10:21). Demons believe there is a God and that Jesus is the Christ, “the Holy One of God!” and are still destined for hell (Mat. 8:29; Mark 1:24; Luke 4:34; James 2:19). What is the one prime essential which separates these examples from eternal life and a place in God’s Kingdom? It is the Holy Spirit within.

Jesus told Nicodemus the religious Pharisee, “You must be born again” and explained that to be a spiritual birth (John 3:1-21). Just as a person is physical born, they need a second birth, a spiritual birth. They need to be born again. Until that happens a person is spiritually dead. Until the Holy Spirit comes to reside or indwell a person they are incomplete. God created humanity to have fellowship with Him. We are dependent on fellowship with God. We are created with an inherent design for fellowship with God. No matter what success or partial fulfillment we acquire in this life without God there will remain emptiness in us.

The apostle Paul wrote, “Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ he is not His” (Rom. 8:9). The context is speaking of the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit in the genuinely saved Christian. There are people who frequent churches, wear Christian paraphernalia, who do “good” deeds but still do not belong to God. Why is this so? Because they lack the indwelling Holy Spirit. Jesus referred to such people as “tares.” A tare is husk of wheat with no kernel inside. On the outside it looks like any other full husk of wheat. But on the inside it is empty. Jesus said there are tares among the healthy wheat (Mat. 13:24-30). This raises two questions.

First, how can I be born again and indwelled by the Holy Spirit? This spiritual second birth takes place when a person responds to the gracious reasoning and call of God (Is. 1:18). No one can come to God unless He draws them (John 6:44). Sin separates humanity from God (Ps. 66:18; Is. 59:2; Rom. 3:9-23), who is Holy (Ps. 5:4; Hab. 1:13). God will not simply dismiss or turn a blind eye to our sin; that would go against the foundations of who He is (Ps. 89:14). The Holy Spirit convicts the sinner of their sinfulness, that in their own strength they cannot attain God’s required level of righteousness for salvation, and that they are therefore destined for God’s just and righteous judgment (John 16:8-11). The consequence of sin is death; not annihilation but eternal separation from God in a place called hell (Ps. 9:17; Mat. 25:46; Rom. 6:23).

But God who is Love made a way for humanity to be justified, redeemed and forgiven their sin through faith in Jesus Christ (John 3:16; Rom. 5:1f.; 8:1f.). Jesus the just paid the death penalty on the cross for the unjust (1 Pet. 3:18). He “was made sin for us” that we might receive His righteousness put to our account (2 Cor. 5:21). That transaction takes place when a person puts their faith in Jesus as Savior (Eph. 2:8-9). This is not mere assent like demons. Saving faith by nature is repentant; a person turns from their sin to God. It also means they ask God’s forgiveness based on the atoning work of Jesus on the cross not their own efforts to be right with God.

When a person receives this salvation offered by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ God forgives their sin and gives them spiritual life (i.e. regeneration) by indwelling them with the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 3:16; 6:19). The work of the Holy Spirit is described as, “the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5). He washes away our sins and gives us spiritual life.

Second, how do I know if I have been born again and indwelled by the Holy Spirit? The Holy Spirit is the Third Person of the Trinity (one God; Three distinct Persons); He is God (Acts 5:3-4). Jesus described the Holy Spirit as “another Helper” which literally means, another just like Me (“another” = ἄλλος - allŏs, al´-los – another of the same of the same sort - John 14:16). Peter conveys this by using the words, “the Spirit of Christ” in reference to the Holy Spirit (1 Pet. 1:11). When we see references to Christ being in us it is referring to the indwelling Holy Spirit who is making the presence of Jesus known (e.g. Rom. 8:10; Col. 1:27). Therefore, when the Holy Spirit indwells a person there will be evidence of His holy work in that person and that holy work is conforming the indwelled person to Christlikeness (Rom. 8:29).

There are ten evidences of the indwelling Holy Spirit. These are the things associated with the regenerated life of the Spirit in scripture. They may be in degrees. They should be ongoing and growing. These evidence are:

1. A desire to be led by the Spirit of God not the flesh (i.e. self-will; self-reliance; self-promotion) – Rom. 8:1-14; Gal. 5:16, 25; 1 Pet. 1:22.

2. A personal relationship with Jesus via the indwelling Spirit – Rom. 8:10; John 15:26

3. A warm familial rather than harsh slave/Master relationship with God – Rom. 8:15

4. An assurance of salvation – Rom. 8:16; 1 John 3:24

5. A power of the Spirit to help overcome weaknesses – Rom. 8:26a; Acts 1:8; Zech. 4:6

6. A Spirit led prayer life – Rom. 8:26b-27; Eph. 6:18

7. A Spirit led insight – John 14:26; 16:13; 1 Cor. 2:9-14; 1 Tim. 4:1f.; Rev. 2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, 22.

8. A hunger for and submission to the God-breathed/inspired word of God which is the language of the Spirit - 2 Tim. 3:16-17; Eph. 6:17.

9. A holy love for God and people – Rom. 5:5; Gal. 5:22-24; 2 Cor. 5:14

10. A unity with other Spirit filled believers – Eph. 4:3

Do you see these evidences in your life? Paul was inspired to question his readers with the words, “. . . if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you” (Rom. 8:9). Have you been born again? Does the Spirit indwell you? Is there evidence of the Spirit’s indwelling in your life? The indwelling Holy Spirit is the prime essential of salvation. “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? – unless indeed you are disqualified” (2 Cor. 13:5). Do you not know . . . ?

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