Here's a radical concept for you.
Salvation is an "exchanged life" in which we change kingdoms. We go from the kingdom of darkness where we did our own thing to the kingdom of God where we do His thing.
He exercises His Lordship in our life and we become His servants , or co-laborers, in His kingdom. Salvation comes from obeying His command to repent and then submitting to His loving Lordship. When we acknowledge Him as Lord we do so because we know He loves us and we have chosen to believe the gospel that His kingdom is at hand. This is demonstrated by the incredible grace and life He died to give us. He restored us to our position in relationship with God the Father and He redeemed us from the penalty for sin. Through what He did for us we are to reign in this life through Him. In exchange for all He has done for us, we simple do the things He asks us to do. This is the essence of being in covenant with someone. IT IS AN EXCHANGED LIFE.
Let's take a look at the Scriptures to see if what I am saying is true. OK? After we are through, you will understand why the concept of being "saved" is such a "radical" truth.
Matthew 11:28-30 -- "Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My load is light."
When we talk to people in the church about their relationship to Jesus a great many of them refer to Jesus as their "personal Savior". When someone makes that statement it is a good indication they have believed a partial truth about what it really means to actually have salvation. They have probably heard the "man-centered" gospel and repeated a little prayer after someone and never really had a life altering encounter with the Christ of the Bible. Jesus doesn't become your "personal Savior", He becomes your Lord and King. As a result of this encounter they have instantaneously become "yoked" with Jesus and have begun a journey of learning to live a new life in a new way as a new creation "in Christ". In return Jesus gives them deliverance from the judgment for their sin -- they are "saved" from the penalty of "eternal death" and delivered from the kingdom of darkness.
Notice in the Scripture above that Jesus is indeed ready to take your burdens, woes, and weariness and is willing to give us rest for our souls. But also notice, that in order to receive those benefits we have to take His "yoke" upon us in "exchange". A "yoke" is a large wooden neck harness that goes over the neck of two oxen so that they will work together instead of as individual workers. A "yoke" removes the opportunity for the two oxen to do their own thing and be independent, they are now bound together. He said that we are to "learn from Him". If we are yoked together with Him and learn from Him how to do the what He wants done, it is a picture of a huge ox yoked with a little puny ox. The weight of the yoke is upon the shoulders of the huge ox and hardly any of the weight is on the small puny ox's shoulders. Therefore, it is as though the yoke is very light and easy to the smaller ox, but the two are still yoked together as "co-laborers" and the smaller ox is not free to simply do its own thing.
Most people that respond to an altar call, or call to get "saved", have responded to an "invitation" to receive Christ as "their personal savior". They were told that God loves them (John 3:16) and is knocking at the door to their heart (Revelation 3:20) begging to come in and save them from hell. Or maybe they were told that if you accept Jesus, He will give you joy, forgiveness, riches, deliverance from your problems, etc. Many times someone will use a canned presentation of the Gospel such as "The 4 Spiritual Laws" or "The Romans Road to Salvation" or using John 3:16 as a presentation model. These type of promises definitely appeal to us because they promise something that really sounds good to us as a benefit to our lives. When we respond, we are asked to simply repeat a little prayer, asking to be "forgiven of our sins", then Jesus would come in to their heart or life, and that as a result of saying that prayer they are saved. The main problem with this altar call is that it is dealing with our "sins" ( which are sinful actions ) rather than the real issue which is "SIN" - our nature that rebels against God's right to rule in our lives. To feel sorry for our "sins" is much easier than turning away from our very nature of rebelling to God's rule in our lives. None of us want anyone to tell us what to do, or not to do. Have you either experienced this, or seen someone else experienced this?
The problem with this scenario is that it only presents half of the truth of salvation. There is truth in all of the above scenarios, but it is a partial truth not the whole truth that is necessary to receive true salvation given through Jesus. Jesus said, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father but through Me." Salvation is in the person Jesus alone and only comes through Jesus and if we are sincere about receiving His salvation we need to understand exactly what He said concerning it, not what some person or preacher told you. Are you willing to trust your eternity to anyone other than the Source of the "TRUTH"? Let us examine the Scriptures to see what was REALLY said.
THERE ARE SEVERAL ISSUES WE NEED TO ADDRESS BEFORE WE BEGIN
First, we need to clear up a misunderstanding
Salvation is free, but it costs you everything! I'm sure someone will bring up Ephesians 2:8-9 and say that "For by grace we are saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast". They will say that grace is God's unmerited free gift or unmerited favor. I will absolutely agree. God's grace, or gift of unmerited favor, is absolutely free. It is the gift of Jesus Christ. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life." John 3:16. You are saved as a result of exercising faith in Jesus, God's unmerited free gift. The redemption of being saved is the byproduct of your relationship, by faith, with Jesus the Lord and King of the universe. Salvation cannot be separated from the Kingship and Lordship of Jesus, who is the greatest gift the world has ever known.
When we humble ourselves before God by bowing our knee to King Jesus and submitting our life to His Lordship, God gives us the gift of His love in the person of Jesus and we receive eternal life as a result. Salvation is not a thing to be grasped and possessed; it is the relationship with the living God in Jesus Christ. We become one with Him in a union called covenant. THIS UNION WITH GOD THROUGH JESUS IS OUR SALVATION.
Second, is the issue of faith.
Bible faith in its simplest understanding is our response to His words. In order to receive ANYTHING from God we must use faith. Faith is something that was part of us at birth because we are created in the image and likeness of God. He uses his faith every time he creates something because he simply speaks words and believes that what He says will happen. Faith is a function of a spirit being which is what we are. We are a spirit that possesses a soul and is housed in a body, but the real "US" is a spirit being. Faith can be exercised in acting upon words from either God, satanic spirits, other humans, or even our own words. We will further develop this concept in the section of this website that is entitled "Faith Works". For now, let us just say that in order to receive salvation we must exercise our faith towards God by believing what he says concerning salvation.
Hebrews 11:6 --"And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him."
Third, is the issue of the Lordship of Jesus
Romans 10:9-10 -- "that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved; for with the heart man believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation."
Notice that in order to receive salvation there are two things that must occur: (1) You MUST confess, or speak out, that Jesus is your Lord, and (2) you MUST believe in your heart that He is alive and risen from the dead--this results in your right standing with God, or righteousness.
There is no salvation apart from the yielding of your life to the Lordship of Jesus Christ!!!
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"Declaring the New Covenant and that the kingdom of God is at hand"
Rob Board Ministries
Christiansburg, Virginia 24073