God Made It Simple
By Nathele Graham
According to Scripture, salvation isn’t complicated, but humans have complicated it. Justification happens at the moment of true faith in Christ, sanctification takes a lifetime, and glorification comes when we finally are Home with Jesus. God made salvation simple. You only need to realize that you’re a sinner and believe that only Jesus can forgive your sin. Your faith should result in a changed life, and that’s the sanctification process. We all sin, but a true Christian will ask for forgiveness and learn from mistakes. One evening a Pharisee came to Jesus to ask about some important truths, and the conversation is very enlightening.
“There was man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: the same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God; for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.” – John 3:1-2.
Nicodemus had some understanding, but needed to hear the truth from Jesus. He could have listened to the gossip on the street or the prejudice and misinformation among his fellow Pharisees, but he did the right thing, Nicodemus went directly to Jesus for answers. Jesus didn’t beat around the bush. He knew why Nicodemus was there. Eternal life is something most people have questions about, and there are many complicated, and wrong, answers to that question. For instance, the Sadducees didn’t believe there was life after death. Today we have some people who think there’s a place called purgatory where sinners go after death, but it’s not permanent. That’s not Biblical. God made it simple.
“Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” – John 3:3.
Born again. Now there’s a phrase which has stumbled many well-intentioned people. Nicodemus was a man who was searching for truth. He knew the Old Testament and had enough head-knowledge to recognize Jesus as a “teacher come from God”, but he didn’t have the heart-knowledge to recognize that Jesus was God incarnate. Without that heart-knowledge, he was blind to the fact that he was speaking with the Messiah. All who seek Jesus need to have more than an intellectual knowledge of Him. Nicodemus asked many questions that night, and Jesus was patient to answer. Being “born again” was an idea that confused Nicodemus, and Jesus explained:
“The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth; so is every one that is born of the Spirit.” – John 3:8.
Jesus wasn’t talking about a physical re-birth, but a spiritual one. The word “wind” is the Greek word “pneuma”, which appears 385 times in the New Testament, and is often translated as Spirit. Neither the wind nor the Holy Spirit can be seen, but both can be felt.
Without the Holy Spirit we cannot know the things of God. Nicodemus was smart to seek answers directly from Jesus, but what do we do today?
“For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? Even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” – 1 Corinthians 2:11-14.
Is it complicated to receive the Holy Spirit? No, God made it simple. When a person truly and honestly accepts the free gift of salvation only found through Jesus, the Holy Spirit is sealed within that person.
“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, which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.” – Ephesians 1:13-14.
People like to complicate this, and try to convince you that you need to do something aside from believe in order to receive the Holy Spirit. People might tell you that you aren’t Spirit-filled if you sin again. Scripture says we only need to believe. The Holy Spirit will never guide us into sin and will help us to understand Scripture. It is possible to ignore this gift, and that’s where trouble comes from. We can choose to live contrary to God’s ways, but that isn’t God’s desire for us.
“And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: and be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” – Ephesians 4:30-32.
Godly character should follow your belief, so listen to the prompting of the Holy Spirit and study Scripture. Apply God’s truth to your life. If you continue to hold tightly to sin and ignore the Holy Spirit’s guidance, you will have little joy in your life.
Nicodemus questioned how a man could re-enter his mother’s womb, but as the conversation went on, Jesus explained:
“That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” – John 3:6.
Being born again is something that happens inside a person after faith in Jesus. No human has the ability to judge another person’s faith in God, but our faith should be evidenced by changes to our lifestyle and attitude. The Apostle Paul was a man who allowed his faith in Christ to govern his life. His heart was changed and his way of life was evidence of the inward change. He stopped hating others, and he shared the Gospel with everyone he met, even if it meant his life was in danger. He chose to praise God in even the most perilous situations. Paul and Silas were once asked by a jailer in Philippi what he could do to be saved.
“And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.” – Acts 16:31.
Paul could have told him to be baptized, or to perform community service, or say certain prayers, or any number of other “works” related “evidences” of salvation. Instead, Paul and Silas shared the Gospel.
“And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house.” – Acts 16:32.
Nobody can be born again unless they hear the Gospel.
“How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?” – Romans 10:14.
If you have truly placed your faith in Jesus for salvation, you are a born-again Christian and you need to share your faith with others. My grandmother always said “You can preach a better sermon with your life than with words.” That means we can say “I’m a Christian” all we want, but our actions will speak louder than words.
“Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.” – James 2:18.
We can’t work for our salvation, but we can let others see Christ in us by doing good works.
God made salvation simple for us, because He loves us. If you claim to be a Christian, that means you’ve repented of your sin and asked Jesus to forgive you. Repent means you’ve changed your mind about sin. Don’t stay in the sin that once separated you from God. By faith you’ve become a new creation in Christ.
“But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” – John 1:12-13.
Being born again is a personal choice. Nobody can make that choice for you. It’s been said that God has no grandchildren, we all have to make our own choice. If you think you’re a Christian because you were baptized as an infant, think again. A baby can have no understanding of his or her need for salvation and the parents made the choice. Baptism is outward evidence of a choice you personally have made, but it doesn’t bring salvation.
“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. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” – Romans 10:9-10.
An infant cannot make a confession of faith. Notice, too, that this verse says nothing about adding works to belief. God has made salvation simple, but all the many Christian denominations have complicated it.
The important thing for you to do right now is be sure that you have believed upon Jesus When my husband and I were married, he wasn’t a Christian. He thought he was because he lived in the United States and it was a Christian nation. That really bothered me and I spoke to him about it and I also prayed and prayed. One day, he was talking with a Christian friend, and the Gospel suddenly made sense. Ron accepted Christ and I was amazed as I watched the Holy Spirit work in him and change him into a man who was a fearless witness for Christ. Ron died ten years ago, and my greatest comfort is knowing that he is with Jesus. If he had continued thinking he was a Christian because of the nation where he was born, he would have been eternally lost. That’s as wrong as thinking you’re a Christian because you’re a Baptist, a Catholic, or any other man-made denomination. Only faith in Jesus brings salvation. What about you? Are you born again? The Rapture is very near and that means all Christians will be taken from earth prior to the time when God’s judgment falls upon all the unbelieving world who will be left behind. Some people like to complicate things by judging who is a Christian based on works. Mostly those who judge another’s salvation, set themselves up as the standard to aim for, forgetting that they, themselves, fall short of God’s standard.
“Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: for all have sinned, and com short of the glory of God’ being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forebearance of God; to declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.” – Romans 3:22-26.
One interesting idea is saying only born-again Christians will be Raptured. That’s true, but it’s belief in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ that makes us a born-again Christian. If you just attend Sunday morning services but have no faith in Jesus, you aren’t a Christian. Being baptized doesn’t make you a Christian. Being a very nice and kind person doesn’t make you a Christian. Only Faith in the finished work of Christ on the cross makes you a Christian.
God made it simple.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” – John 3:16-18.
Yes, it’s that simple.
God bless you all,
All original scripture is “theopneustos” God breathed.
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