Understanding Christian Terms about Salvation and Jesus Christ
- Tuesday, November 05, 2002
A true gift isn't earned, only accepted. Salvation is an unearned gift from God that is received by believing in Him.
Faith is placing your trust in what you can't necessarily see or prove. Faith is essential to eternal life. When we receive Jesus Christ as Savior, we are exercising faith that He is the way to heaven, the one who makes us God's child. Because we cannot see God now, we live our lives by faith. Your faith is enough if your faith is in Him.
"Born again" describes an individual whose spirit has been brought to life by belief in Jesus Christ. First we are born physically, then we are born again spiritually. Our spirit lives on for eternity even when our physical life ends.
To confess can mean either to admit a wrong or to agree that something is right. In our relationship with God, both must happen. God has promised that if a person acknowledges the truth of Jesus Christ's deity, then God will forgive his or her sin.
To repent is to stop doing wrong, turn the opposite direction of the sin, and move our heart, mind, or body in the direction that the Bible tells us is correct. It's changing from self-rule to God-rule. Repentance is turning away from the sin that separates us from God and reaching out, instead, to receive God's forgiveness and the new life He offers.
If we admit to God that we have sinned, believe that Jesus Christ died for our sins, and ask Him to take control of our lives, God will forgive our sins. That means our sins are wiped out, gone forever. It is true that we will still sin in this life, but God will continue to forgive us if we are truly sorry for our sin and desire to change.
In the Bible "hope" is not just wishful thinking. When we belong to Jesus Christ, our hope of eternal life is certain-it is an unseen reality.
People get converted all the time-that's what soft-drink marketing wars are all about. But conversion to Christianity is a radical shift in spiritual understanding, placement of faith and reorganization of life's priorities. We stop pursuing money, power, or pleasure to embrace the teachings of Jesus Christ, who calls us to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength and to love our neighbors as ourselves.
True religion is not a set of rules. It is a life lived to please God, overflowing and affecting everyone around us. God's Word says that religion is worthless unless it is based on a relationship with Jesus Christ that compels us to reach out to help others.
The church isn't a building, per se. The church consists of all the followers of Jesus Christ around the world.
God demonstrates that He values choice because He created human beings with the capacity to choose. We may choose to accept or reject His gifts, commands and promises. Scripture is filled with admonitions to choose wisely, to choose to obey, to choose to serve God. We are responsible for how we choose to live -- and accountable for the consequences.
Luis Palau is an evangelist, broadcaster, and contributing author of the new Starting Point Study Bible (Zondervan, www.zondervan.com/startingpoint). He and his wife, Patricia, are the parents of four grown children and live in Portland, Oregon. Copyright (c) 2002 Luis Palau, PO Box 1173, Portland, OR 97207, www.palau.org, firstname.lastname@example.org.
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