Where Will Christians Really Spend Their Eternity?

rethinkingtheology

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Where Will Christians Really Spend Their Eternity?

James R. Aist

“And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, you may be also.” (John 14:3)

I don’t know about you, but somehow I got the impression years ago that when we Christians die and go to heaven, our permanent residence will be in heaven with Jesus, not here on this earth. It would be as if our death would amount to a one-way ticket from earth to heaven, somewhere out in the vastness of the cosmos. Perhaps singing “This world is not my home, I’m just a passin’ through” may have had something to do with this perception. Or maybe it was “Won’t it be wonderful there” or “I’ll fly away“; hymns about being away from this earth and with Jesus in heaven (somewhere…

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What Must I Do To Be Saved?

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What Must I Do To Be Saved?

James R. Aist

 “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.” (John 6:29)

Many different answers have been given when someone asks, “What must I do to be saved?” Jesus said that it all boils down to having faith in Himself, the Son of God, and, of course, He was exactly right. Paul elaborated a bit when he wrote, “… if you confess with your mouth Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved, for with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” But, I believe that there is more that can be said truthfully and gainfully about it in order to help a seeker know and understand more fully the answer to this question.

I love to hear detailed accounts of how God has saved different folks. The details vary, but there are some aspects that are apparently universal. Of course, God knows exactly how He is going to save every one of His chosen people, and He does whatever He pleases in order to do it. Nevertheless, He has chosen to reveal to us, in His written word, some of the universal aspects concerning how He goes about saving people.

Firstly, we must recognize that we are all born into a state of enmity and rebellion toward God (Romans 3:10-12).

Secondly, we should understand that God is in control of whom He will and will not save; salvation belongs to God (Psalm 3:8; Revelation 7:10; Revelation 19:1). In fact, God chose whom He would save before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4).

Thirdly, Jesus said, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who has sent Me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day” (John 6:44). No one can believe in Jesus of their own accord, apart from the Father’s influence. And all whom the Father influences in this way will be saved. One universal aspect of the Father’s influence in this regard is that He uses believers to tell unbelievers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Romans 10:14).

Fourthly, a person can think their way toward Jesus under the influence of the Father, but it requires a direct and singular act of grace by the Father to get them all the way to saving faith in Jesus: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not of yourselves. It is the gift of God, not of works, so that no one should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9).

And, finally, just as we are not in control of our initial salvation experience apart from God’s intervention, so also it is God Himself, not us, Who keeps us saved by His own power (1 Peter 1:4-5) and by the presence (1 Corinthians 6:19; 2 Timothy 1:14) and activity (Philippians 2:13) of His Holy Spirit in us. In fact, the Holy Spirit in us is God’s guarantee that we will spend our eternity with Him in heaven (Ephesians 1:13-15).

Thus, the mechanics of salvation can be summarized in this way: We are all born into a state of enmity and rebellion toward God. God is in control of whom He will and will not save. No one can come to saving faith in Jesus unless the Father draws him. Saving faith in Jesus is a gift from God, not a product of our efforts apart from God’s influence. And, just as it is God who saves us, it is also God who keeps us saved. So, perhaps a better question to ask is , “What must God do to save us?”

If you want God to save you and keep you saved, then purpose in your heart to end your rebellion toward Him, confess your sins to the Father, ask Him to give you the gift of saving faith in Jesus Christ and commit yourself to put your faith and trust in Jesus as your Lord and Savior. God is faithful and just to forgive your sins (cf. 1 John 1:9) and to grant you the gift of saving faith (Romans 10:8-10). Rest assured that He will do it (John 5:24; Romans 10:13), because He chose you for salvation before the foundation of the world!

Finally, remember Jesus’ words: “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent” (John 6:29). When God the Father has drawn you to the point that you believe in the One He has sent, Jesus, then you will already be “born from above” into eternal life with God in heaven. We have God’s word on it. Rest assured that God knows exactly how to save each and every one of His elect, so surrender to His influence, and let Him save you today!

If you are interested to know how God saved me, then click HERE.

What Are the “Greater Works”?

 

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What Are the “Greater Works”?

James R. Aist

“Truly, truly I say to you, he who believes in Me will do the works that I do also. And he will do greater works than these, because I am going to My Father.” (John 14:12)

During His ministry, Jesus performed many “miracles” that were evidence that He was a man sent from God. These miracles were works that were outside the realm of naturally occurring events, such as  healing the sick, restoring sight to the blind, raising the dead, and casting out demons. These were all works done in the realm of created things, and they were amazing to see. Nevertheless, these were not the greatest works that Jesus was doing.

In Luke 17-20, seventy of Jesus’ disciples had just returned from an evangelistic campaign. They returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us through Your name.” He said to them, “I saw Satan as lightning fall from heaven. Look, I give you authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy. And nothing shall by any means hurt you. Nevertheless do not rejoice that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”

Let me unpack this passage in Luke, and I will show you what Jesus was referring to when He said in John 14:12 that His disciples “…will do greater works than these.” The seventy disciples returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us through Your name.” They were amazed that this man, Jesus, was able to give them power to do miracles in the realm of created things. Upon hearing this, Jesus proceeded to explain to them that He was no ordinary man, but the very Son of God, and, as such, has innate power over all created things, saying “I saw Satan as lightning fall from heaven. Look, I give you authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy.” In other words, why were you surprised that I was able to give you power to perform miracles in the created realm, as I have been doing? There is an even greater miracle that you will have a role in: that is, the miracle of salvation. This miracle occurs in the spiritual realm and is a “greater thing” than the power I gave you over created things.

The take-home message is that miracles that manipulate the natural world, while impressive, are of lesser importance than the spiritual miracle of salvation. Remember, Jesus said, “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” Those are the “greater works.”

Sloppin’ The Hogs

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Sloppin’ The Hogs

James R. Aist

This episode happened when I was a Junior at Springdale (Arkansas) High School and a member of the Student Council. We were charged with the task of discussing current issues affecting the student body and making recommendations to the school administration on behalf of the students. A new member of the Student Council, let’s call him “Ricky”, was a well-respected, if a bit naïve, Sophomore growing up on a farm located in an outlying area of our Consolidated School District. Now, Ricky typically didn’t say much, but when he did it was straight and to the point, often with an element of country wisdom and flavor.

The year was 1961, the early days of the “mini-skirt.” These articles of female apparel were getting shorter and shorter, prompting some of the parents to press the school administration to come up with a new dress code that would prevent this trend from going too far…up. So, one day the Student Council was discussing just how short we reckoned the skirts should be allowed to get, while trying to strike a delicate balance between personal liberties and raging hormones.

About 15-20 minutes into the discussion, arguments both for and against shorter skirts had been batted around without any clear consensus. Just when it seemed that we were not going to be able to agree on just how much farther above the knee the skirts should be allowed to drift, Ricky just couldn’t hold back any longer and rose to speak to the issue. “If we let the mini-skirts get any shorter”, he said, “that’ll be like sloppin’ the hogs, and then telling ’em not to eat!”

Well, after a short pause to let his argument sink in, there was a brief outburst of spontaneous laughter that changed the atmosphere of the discussion altogether, as you might imagine. We weren’t so much laughing at Ricky as at the quaint, powerful, and humorous country metaphor he had come up with to get his point across. I don’t remember what we recommended to the administration, but I’ll never forget the wisdom that was wrapped up in such a simple, but effective, illustration that only an Arkansas farm boy could have come up with.

(To read more of my short stories, click HERE)