Thursday, April 22, 2010

THREE STEP PROCESS

Three Step Process



“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” Romans 10:9. There is a three step process which all believers in Christ will ultimately traverse; two of those steps come after salvation. Many believe salvation is all there is, but not so, in all actuality salvation only begins the process.



Justification or salvation – is the act of God declaring men free from guilt and acceptable to him. When we first believe we become justified in God’s sight. Believing in the selfless act of the only begotten Son of God, Jesus Christ, who died for the sin of the world. Jesus is the propitiation for our sins.



The Bible teaches that only by the death of a perfect man, God Himself, could man ever hope to be justified. God had to place Himself in the role of Kinsmen Redeemer, as such He became the propitiation for mans rebellion. For this reason Jesus Christ, God’s only begotten Son, became a human with flesh and bones, to be the perfect sacrifice for sin and make atonement or “propitiation” for the entire world.



When we place our faith and our trust in Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord, in the blink of an eye we are born again, which means we are justified. It’s not difficult, or painful, or even costly. And God wants all to come to this realization, to believe, and by doing so to become His children (sons of God).



When we first believe we go through what is commonly known as a change of mind. This new mindset leads us away from our past reprobate life. The question that many ask is: “Is a person completely saved at the point when they first believe?” My answer is this, if that person truly believed in Christ’s atoning sacrifice on the cross and humbly confessed to God that they recognize that they are a sinner, then yes they are completely saved at the point when they first believed. “...no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.” 1 Corinthians 12:3b. It’s the Holy Spirit which always points to Jesus Christ and convicts the lost of their need for a savior. When we confess that Jesus is Lord it’s only by the Holy Spirit that that confession is possible.



Reading the account in Matthew 13 concerning the parable of the sower gives us an answer to the question above. The first soil that Jesus speaks of refers to those who hear the word of truth but don’t understand it. Those who fall into that category, or soil, make no commitment to Christ and have no revelation that they are sinners, they make no profession of faith in Christ, they do not refer to Jesus Christ as Lord, consequently there’s no repentance of sin. They’re not saved. This, by the way, is a weekly occurrence in our Christian Churches today. Many hear the message but never respond.



Once we become born again it’s not difficult to see a part of ourselves represented in all four soils (which should actually be the parable of the grounds). All believers spend a little time in all four soils.



Like the wayside, sometimes even believers allow the word no room in our lives. Studying God’s word becomes a chore and ultimately is relegated to an insignificant position in the believer’s life. Neglect Bible study and face a lack of understanding which can lead a Christian into defeatism.



Like the stony places, we sometimes have "hot flashes" of enthusiasm in receiving the word but which is quickly extinguished. The enemy takes away our joy and before long we can become apathetic even lethargic towards our faith.



Like the soil among thorns, the world is constantly threatening to choke out God’s word and our fruitfulness. The cares of living in the world becomes so burdensome that believers begin to get discouraged, or disillusioned. Our positive Christ-like attitude becomes diminished. God’s word takes another negative hit.



Like the good ground, the word becomes very important and we begin to bear fruit. Finally we get it. This new revelation leads to an aggressive pursuit of God’s will for our lives, and Bible study becomes a pleasure as God opens up more and more of its meanings to us.



Truly a believers security can be found in the following verse “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,” Ephesians 1:13. God has just made us a promise that none of us can deny. Once we believe and trust in Jesus Christ we are sealed with His Holy Spirit, which is a God sealed promise that cannot be removed, ever, by anyone or anything. Justification is complete.



Sanctification – looking at each one of the soils in Jesus’ parable as I’ve just pointed out indicates God’s participation in the three step process. This Godly involvement is referred to as sanctification. Believers go through all sorts of ups and downs and occasionally we might fall down some rather slippery slopes. But God is always there to lift us back up and give us His assurance that He will never leave us or forsake us. This is the ongoing process of sanctification, God initiated, God fulfilling, lifelong work of God in every believers life.



When I first accepted the Lord Jesus as my Savior and was baptized I felt nothing had changed in my life. Oh sure I went around bragging that I had been baptized all the while thinking that that experience was the pinnacle of my salvation and that I was now a member of some elite group. It wasn’t until a few years later that I realized I had actually been re-born, and knew precisely what that meant. I was a new creation “In Christ”. When that realization hit me, like a ton of bricks, I knew I was saved, (justified in God’s eyes). Before that I continually had doubts. And prior to coming to that understanding of my eternal security I made little or no effort to live my life differently than before I made my confession of faith, or at least I thought I hadn’t. But looking back I see God was and is totally involved in every aspect of my then, as well as now, new life in Christ.



What I’m saying is God takes control once we become new creations in Christ. Our eternal security is God’s responsibility. His hand is what moves us from the very beginning of our new life in Christ through that process of changing us into the exact image of His Son. We actually progress in our walk with Christ, through God’s intervention, right up to the point in time when we leave planet earth for our heavenly home.



There are, on occasion, times when we will look at another person with wonderment as to their position in that three step process. We may not see any fruit in another’s life. We can’t really see what God is doing in that person’s life, can we? Remember, God is in control of the sanctification process, not us. Each person is different and each person comes to an awareness of the undeniable importance of salvation (justification) at different levels of that sanctification. Eventually the fruit that comes after being saved will appear in every true born again believer’s life. If they are not really born again the fruit will never materialize, at least not until they make that true profession of faith.



If a person tells me they are born again, that they believe Jesus Christ is Lord, that they believe His Gospel, then that is good enough for me. Like I’ve already mentioned, the Apostle Paul tells us that it’s only through the Holy Spirit that we are able even to confess such a belief. Each believer is in God’s hands, as such, He is responsible for keeping each one saved, not me or my perception of another’s salvation.



Many people get confused when it comes to these two concepts, born again and fellowship with God. Two entirely different perceptions but they go hand in hand. We all want to be in fellowship with God but each time we sin we are removed from that fellowship until we repent. There are many very adept Bible teachers who are still confused in this regard. Being born again is not an on again off again state in a person’s life. Sin is an on again off again part of every born again believer’s life. Fellowship with God, as much as we’d like to think otherwise, is an on again off again relationship because of sin.



Justification – done deal once we become born from above, from God. Sanctification – ongoing for the remainder of our lives, this is God’s exclusive domain.



Glorification – this is the last part of this three part process. Glorification occurs at the moment a believer in Christ dies. “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs--heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.” Romans 8:16-17. We are called joint heirs of the Kingdom of God with Christ. Suffering is a part of being children of God. Even though our flesh may not want anything to do with any type of suffering, sooner or later suffering for Christ will become apparent.



Suffering for Christ is only a natural progression of things, like death and taxes. This will become even more evident as we get even closer to Christ’s return. For many around this planet suffering for Christ is nothing new. “Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience.” James 5:10. It’s important to remember we will be glorified with Christ at our immediate release of these earthly vessels. If we must endure a little suffering along that journey, then rejoice knowing you suffer for Christ.



Glorification, being the final stage coming just after death, should be looked forward to with a high degree of anticipation. While we’re alive, we go about our Fathers business, witnessing, and spreading the good news of Jesus Christ, but we are also eagerly but patiently anticipating our Savior’s imamate return.



There’s even a crown righteousness tied to that anticipation. “Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.” 2 Timothy 4:8. This crown of righteousness is given to all who love the idea of Jesus’ soon arrival.



When we go home to be with the Lord, at some point just after that homecoming we will receive our glorified bodies. And like Jesus after His resurrection, we too will have the ability to traverse all the different dimensions without hindrances.



“We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.” 2 Corinthians 5:8. It won’t be long now. Keep looking up.



God bless your all,



Ron Graham

twotug@embarqmail.com

All scripture is from the KJV

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