June 29, 2017

What happened?

(This post is late! I have devotions in the morning and post at night, However, our grandson's graduation kept us up late last night. Good to see him reaching this milestone in life.)

When I became a Christian, another Christian told me, “Salvation takes an instant, but you will spend the rest of your life trying to figure out what happened!”

That was nearly fifty years ago, and I still chuckle at the truth of his statement. Part of the process of trying to understand how salvation happens is because the Bible presents it in different ways, and people experience it varying ways.

Jesus encountered Paul on the road to Damascus. There was no New Testament then, no gospel preaching or churches, but Jesus confronted this man about his sin, sent him to another man who laid hands on him and he received the Holy Spirit and was saved.

An Ethiopian man had come to Jerusalem to worship. On his way home, he was reading a passage in Isaiah when a Christian explained to him that it was about Jesus. He believed and was baptized.

My conversion was a bit like Paul’s. I wasn’t persecuting Christians, but was reading a book on reincarnation when the Lord walked into my home and into my heart. My husband believed as he heard a sermon about Old Testament law that ended with a question, “If you died tonight, do you know if you would go to heaven?” He didn’t have that assurance and became a Christian.

Many Christians testify to believe in Jesus because He revealed His love for them through His people. (see 1 Thessalonians 1:8-10). Paul also wrote these words to the church in Rome:

“if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, ‘Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.’ For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For ‘everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’

He added to this the necessity of preaching . . .

“How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!’ But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, ‘Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.’”

This passage cites Psalm 19 to say that everyone has heard the voice of God: “But I ask, have they not heard? Indeed they have, for ‘Their voice has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world.’” (Romans 10:9–18)

God calls His people to tell others, adding a human voice to that still, small voice of the Holy Spirit. This is a major reason why I am to be filled with the Spirit — so I am saying what He is saying in the hearts of those who do not yet believe. Hearing with ears and hearing with the spirit produces results!

Hearing God is serious stuff, for God will not always whisper to people:

“Behold, the days are coming,” declares the Lord God, “when I will send a famine on the land— not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord. They shall wander from sea to sea, and from north to east; they shall run to and fro, to seek the word of the Lord, but they shall not find it.” (Amos 8:11–12)

Have those days arrived? It happened during the 400 years between the testaments. Maybe it will happen again. These days, many people ignore the Word of God and even mock it. The need for Christians to live like and talk about Jesus is increasingly important. Proverbs 29:18 says, “Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint.” Recent history can say it this way, ‘Remove the Bible from schools and public life and do not be surprised at the results.’

Jesus, Your Word brings new life and changes the lives of those who listen to it and do what it says. I am trusting You to speak also to the hearts of those around me. Help me to be faithful to listen, read, study, and wholeheartedly obey what You say, so that my words and actions match what Your Spirit is revealing to them. Enable me to focus on You and not let anything side-track me from Your will for my life.

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