2 Corinthians 5:20-21 ESV
“Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
Salvation is a Process
A lot of people have come to believe that once they “pray the prayer” to receive Jesus into their hearts that they are now guaranteed forgiveness of sin, salvation from sin, and heaven as their eternal resting place. Yes, we are to receive Jesus into our lives, but it is not via some words we repeat after someone else, especially if it does not include being humbled before God in genuine repentance, thus involving us turning from a life of sin to follow Jesus in obedience to his ways and to his commands (New Covenant).
Now, I am not saying that no genuine salvations have resulted from such a prayer, but that the process described above is not biblical. The biblical process for salvation, according to the Scriptures, involves us humbling ourselves before God in true repentance, dying with Christ to sin, being reborn of the Spirit to walk in newness of life in him, and us now walking according to the Spirit and no longer according to the flesh. And our salvation is a process of sanctification which won’t be complete until Jesus returns for his bride, i.e. for those who have continued in him to the end.
[Jn 8:31-32,51; Jn 14:15-24; Jn 15:1-12; Rom 2:6-8; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-14,24; Rom 11:17-24; Rom 13:11; 1 Co 1:18; 1 Co 15:1-2; Col 1:21-23; 2 Tim 2:10-13; Heb 3:6,14-15; Heb 5:9; Heb 9:28; 1 Pet 1:1-5; 2 Pet 1:5-11; 2 Pet 2:20-22; 2 Tim 1:8-9; Matt 7:21-23; 1 Jn 2:3-6,15-17,24-25; 1 Jn 3:4-10,24; 1 Jn 5:2-3; 2 Jn 1:6; Jas 1:21-25; Eph 4:17-24]
So, to be reconciled to God is not just praying a prayer to invite him into your heart. It is also not just a verbal confession of him as Lord, nor is it a mere profession of faith in Christ, nor a formal acceptance of his grace and forgiveness. Nor is it a mere acknowledgment of who Jesus is and of what he did for us on that cross in dying for our sins, especially if the ones confessing such are believing lies and not the truth. For, we must deny self and take up our cross daily and die with Christ to sin and walk in obedience to him.
For our sake, as the Scripture here reads, God made Jesus, who knew no sin, to be sin for us on that cross, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. But if we go back up to verse 15 (not quoted above), we read that Jesus died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. And then in other Scriptures we read that Jesus died that we might die with him to sin and live to his righteousness and that we might honor God with our bodies.
And then we read that by faith in Jesus we are delivered from our slavery (addiction) to sin so that we will no longer be slaves to sin, no longer living under the control of sin, but so we might now be slaves of God and of his righteousness. So we are to not let sin reign in our mortal bodies to where we obey its lustful desires. Now we are to walk according to the Spirit so that we do not gratify the sinful cravings of our flesh, for the flesh is opposed to the Spirit, and the Spirit is opposed to the flesh.
[Lu 9:23-26; Matt 7:21-23; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Pet 2:24; 1 Co 6:19-20; 2 Co 5:15,21; Rom 12:1-2; Tit 2:11-14; Heb 12:1-2]
2 Corinthians 6:1-2 ESV
“Working together with him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain. For he says,
“’In a favorable time I listened to you,
and in a day of salvation I have helped you.’
“Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.”
Faulty Perceptions of God’s Grace
It is important that we get what this is saying here, for it is saying that it is possible to receive God’s grace in vain to where it has no effect in our lives, thus to where our receiving of it is abortive, unsuccessful, unproductive, and thus useless. But it isn’t as though God’s grace has failed. It has not. What fails is people’s perceptions and understandings of what God’s grace is all about. And so they have this notion that they have now received Christ and so they are now bound for heaven, but their understanding is faulty.
Basically and Scripturally, God’s grace, which brings salvation, instructs (trains) us to say “No!” to ungodliness and fleshly lusts and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives while we await our Lord’s soon return. God’s grace to us sent Jesus to the cross to die so that we might die with him to sin and live to him and to his righteousness, and so we would be freed from our slavery (addiction) to sin so that we will now be slaves of God and of his righteousness, for the glory and praise of God.
God’s grace to us is not just forgiveness of sins and the hope of heaven when we die. God’s grace frees us from our bondage of sin so that we will now walk in obedience to our Lord and to his commands in holiness and in righteousness. And God’s grace equips and trains and empowers us to live godly and holy lives and to resist Satan and to flee temptation. And it teaches us that if we continue living in sin and for self and if we do not obey our Lord and forsake our sinful practices that we don’t have salvation from sin, and we don’t have eternal life with God. For God’s grace speaks truth!
So, if we make claims to have received God’s grace but then we continue in deliberate and habitual sin against God, we have received it in vain because the grace we received or thought we received was a false grace that did not train us to say “No!” to sin and “Yes!” to righteousness and holy living. It was a false grace that just coddles people in their sins so that they don’t feel guilty about continuing in deliberate sin against God and which gives them a false hope of salvation and of eternal life with God based on a lie from hell.
So, the appeal here is for you to be reconciled to God in truth by dying with Christ to sin, not just once, but daily, by the Spirit, and by you walking in obedience to his commands under the New Covenant, as a matter of practice. Surrender your lives to Christ. Humble yourselves before him. Turn away from living in sin and for self, and follow Christ in his ways and in his truth. Walk now in holiness and righteousness according to the Spirit, and walk (in conduct, in practice) no longer according to your flesh. Let Jesus be ruler of your lives and submit daily to him and to his will for your lives.
[Lu 9:23-26; Jn 6:35-58; Jn 15:1-11; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Pet 2:24; 1 Co 6:9-10,19-20; 2 Co 5:10,15,21; Tit 2:11-14; Jas 1:21-25; Rom 12:1-2; Php 2:12-13; Col 1:21-23; Col 3:5-10; Gal 5:16-21; Eph 5:3-11; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 2:6-8; Heb 10:26-27; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Matt 7:21-23; Ac 26:18; Rev 21:8,27; Rev 22:14-15; Eph 2:8-10]
Lead On, O King Eternal
Lyrics by Ernest W. Shurtleff, 1888
Music by Henry T. Smart, 1836
Jeremiah 10:10; Romans 14:17
Lead on, O King Eternal,
The day of march has come;
Henceforth in fields of conquest
Thy tents shall be our home.
Through days of preparation
Thy grace has made us strong;
And now, O King Eternal,
We lift our battle song.
Lead on, O King Eternal,
Till sin’s fierce war shall cease,
And holiness shall whisper
The sweet amen of peace.
For not with swords’ loud clashing,
Nor roll of stirring drums;
With deeds of love and mercy
The heav’nly kingdom comes.
Lead on, O King Eternal,
We follow, not with fears,
For gladness breaks like morning
Where’er Thy face appears.
Thy cross is lifted o’er us,
We journey in its light;
The crown awaits the conquest;
Lead on, O God of might.
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