By Pat Fraher
In preparation for our upcoming Referees Embracing Faith Conference, where this year's focus is 'Salvation: A gift and a call', we are doing some serious thinking about salvation. We are studying five different aspects of salvation, and doing some critical, honest thinking about where each of us stand.
In week one, we reflected on just how aware we really are of what God did for us by sending his only son Jesus to be sacrificed in our place.
In week two, we examined salvation through the metaphor of a courtroom, with each one of us as the defendant, and Jesus as our defense attorney,
In week three, we discussed the question, "how do you become saved?"
This week, we will look deeper at what it means to be 'in Christ'. Before we begin, let's watch the following short video.
When we surrender to Christ, a chain reaction occurs.
"Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." -Acts 2:38.
What Peter is talking about in this passage, is the chain reaction that takes place once we surrender to Christ. Our repentance; which we have defined in recent weeks as turning away from your life of sin, and returning to God and his will, opens the door for the Holy Spirit to enter your life. Another name that Jesus uses for the Holy Spirit in John 14:26 is the Helper, or the Advocate -translation depending-. God’s gift of the Holy Spirit starts the necessary work of regeneration in us.
"Jesus answered him, 'truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God,” - John 3:3. Jesus was referring here to a spiritual rebirth, and this transformation comes only through the work of the Holy Spirit.
When we repent and surrender, or ‘die to ourselves’, and that spiritual rebirth has taken place, the Holy Spirit sets us free from sin, as explained in the following scripture. “For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— because anyone who has died has been set free from sin," -Romans 6:6-7.
Further, through the Holy Spirit's entrance into our lives, God changes our heart, (“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh," -Ezekiel 36:26.) and once we receive our new heart, we are a new person in Christ.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come; the old has gone, the new is here!” -2 Corinthians 5:17. This new person is now a ‘slave to Christ’, and lives in genuine obedience out of love for Him. Romans 6:16-17 says, “don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance.”
From the previous scripture, we can take away that we have a choice which way to obey; the way of sin, which leads to death, or the way of obedience to Him, which leads to righteousness. It's a decision we all must make, and will make.
Let us also read Romans 6:22-23, which says, “but now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Notice that once you surrender as a slave of God, regeneration by the Holy Spirit leads to holiness. It is the work of God, not you. Further, Ephesians 2:10 says that "we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
Our ‘job’ in the process is to surrender ourselves entirely to God, permitting Him to do His will in and through you. He does the work; we’re just the instrument. This is illustrated in Romans 6:13: “Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness.”
How much time and mental energy have you spent fretting about how you are going to change? Well, what what we just said is great news. It is our job to simply offer ourselves as an instrument for God's will. It is HIS 'job' is to change us. Once HE changes us, all we have to do is to remain 'in Him'.
John 15:5-6 speaks to this: “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.”
Everything comes from surrender. Surrender triggers the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit changes our heart, transforms us into new creations, and leads us to holiness. This is how you are born again. This is how you obey God out of love. This is how you bear fruit…
...by abiding ‘in Christ’.
Referees Embracing Faith Conference is now less than TWO weeks away!
Register today at: https://www.sportsofficialssurrendered.org/events-1/referees-embracing-faith-conference-2019. There is no registration deadline, and registration will be available at the door, but we do encourage advanced registration if you are able.
The first 200 people through the doors of Prasco Laboratories on the morning of August 17 will recieve a free REF Conference 2019 t-shirt, courtesy of Prasco.
Lunch will be provided by Chick-fil-A.