Colossians 1:6b-8 (NIV)
All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and understood God’s grace in all its truth. You learned it from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf, and who also told us of your love in the Spirit. It really is amazing that all that really has to happen for the gospel to bear fruit is for people to hear it and to understand God’s grace in all its truth.
These days we are so used to “programs” and “procedures” that I think we believe that the results of everything are totally up to us and our degree of cleverness. But I know in my own case, my salvation and the life change that was instantly wrought in my heart had nothing to do with my cleverness, or even on any program or procedure. Instead, as I read the book “There’s a New World Coming” by Hal Lindsey, I suddenly realized that:
a. I was hopelessly separated from God because of my having chosen to go my own way.
b. Despite that fact that I had for years made the decision to be my own god, I wasn’t a very good god at all, and had only gotten myself totally lost and alienated from the real God.
c. Because of the many, MANY decisions that I had made, sins I had committed, I was headed to the final destination that I had earned – hell.
d. I didn’t want to go to hell, but I was helpless to change the destination, because I couldn’t undo the past and all of the wrong decisions that had separated me from God.
e. Jesus said that He had come to earth to die, a sacrifice that would pay the penalty for the sins of everyone on the face of the earth (including mine).
f. If I admitted that I was a hopeless sinner, separated from God because I had chosen to go my own way; if I honestly repented, changed my direction away from my life of sin and toward God; if I received Jesus as my Lord and Savior, allowing His death to be for MY sins; and if I was willing to live the rest of my life for Him out of love and gratefulness; then He would save me.
When I realized all of this, I prayed the shortest “sinner’s prayer” in history: “Lord, save me!” And He did!!!!
None of this, as I said, was due to my cleverness or intelligence, or some kind of program or process. It was just having the truth clearly communicated to me, believing it, and acting on it. Simple. But the results were profound! God totally reworked me inside, which resulted in a reworked outside as well. He changed me in three totally amazing ways:
a. He completely expunged my record of sins, making me just as if I had never sinned even once (because he paid for all of my sins Himself). The theological term for this is “justification.”
b. He made my dead spirit alive again, breathing into me His own life. I had been physically born many years before, but had been spiritually dead. But now I was “born again.” The theological term for this is “regeneration.”
c. He adopted me as a child of God. John 1:12-13 says “Yet to all who received (Jesus), to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God–children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.”
These three things all happening at the same instant literally made me into a different person in an instant. From that moment on, I have lived my life for Him, and have never regretted it! He gave me a whole new life, a whole new destination, and a whole new forever. Hallelujah!!!
And all of that happened simply from clearly hearing the gospel, and understanding God’s grace in all its truth. The gospel did the work – all I did was believe it and act on it. A miracle!