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, 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.”

Praying Glorifies God

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Praying Glorifies God

James R. Aist

“Let us then come with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)

In an earlier article, I presented biblical evidence for the understanding that the main reason God created mankind, and, thus, the reason for our existence, is to glorify God (click HERE). In this article, I will argue that the very act of praying, regardless of the outcome, glorifies God, and therefore, it helps us to fulfill the main purpose for which God created us.

In evangelical Christianity, we are used to the idea that we glorify God by our singing, preaching, serving and even our giving. But, in my experience, bringing our concerns, our cares and our needs to Him in prayer seems to have been relegated to more of a self-serving exercise, where any glory given to God depends on the answers, if any, to our prayers. Such an attitude can prevent us from praying, or, worse still, it can lead us to put God on trial, as it were, where we, in effect, demand that God give us an explanation for unwanted outcomes, or else! But God has shown me a better way to approach His throne of grace, an attitude that will always give Him glory, regardless of His response. I believe that this better way, when embraced and employed, will allay the fear of unanswered prayer that so easily can become a roadblock to praying at all.

This better way is really very simple, albeit not necessarily easy. Start with acknowledging that God is on His throne in heaven and does whatever He pleases (Psalm 115:3). The corollary to this fact is that you, on the other hand, are not God. And, God is still God regardless of the outcome of your prayer. These three things we must settle in our hearts, before approaching Him for help. Then, be prepared to accept and make peace with the outcome of your request as the best outcome possible, regardless of how it stacks up against your personal opinion or desire. Trust that God always has a good reason for His response to your request, and remember that He doesn’t owe you an explanation if you don’t like it! “Where is the glory in that?”, you might ask. Well, the glory is in the act of going to God for help, thus acknowledging both who He is and His great and everlasting love for us. The mere act of praying to God glorifies Him by acknowledging who He is, and it fulfills the very purpose for which He created us! There is no such thing as a fruitless prayer!

Finally, in this context, I want to leave you with a thought to mull over. Could it be that maybe, just maybe, praying is ultimately more about God than it is about us. If the act of praying, regardless of the outcome, glorifies God, and if that, in turn, fulfills our primary purpose for existing, then what outcome could possibly be more important than that?

(To find more of my articles with a biblical theme, click HERE)

God Still Makes a Way!

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God Still Makes a Way!

James R. Aist

“But the children of Israel walked on dry land in the midst of the sea. And the waters were a wall to them on their right hand and on their left.” (Exodus 14:29)

Sometimes God calls His chosen ones to embark on a mission that will put them in harm’s way, only to provide them a way out. Perhaps the parting of the Red Sea is the best-known example of God providing a way out for His people (Exodus 14:21-31). But, to further illustrate this point, here are a few more examples from the Bible of how God has made a way out, when it appeared that there was no way: 1) A prostitute named Rahab hid two Israelite spies from the King of Jericho and gave them a way of escape from certain death (Joshua 2); When King Herod had purposed to have baby Jesus killed in Bethlehem, God sent an angel to Joseph with a warning to flee with his family to Egypt until it was safe to return (Matthew 21:13-15); and 3) When King Herod had Peter put in prison and bound, God sent an angel to remove his bonds and walk him right out of the prison, in the presence of the guards, thus preventing Herod from having Peter executed (Acts 12:6-11).

With that backdrop, I have a story of my own to tell, in which God clearly revealed His hand in making a way for me to miraculously escape a cleverly conceived plan to put me in harm’s way. So that you can more fully appreciate the miraculous nature and extent of this escape, allow me to provide a brief backstory. In the early 1990s, while I was a Professor at Cornell University, I sensed that God was calling me to speak out about the gay agenda. Now, I was already quite familiar with the tendency of gay activists to use force and violence to bully their opposition into surrendering to their demands, even to the point of fire bombing a pastor’s home with his family still inside! Nevertheless, I agreed to embark on this project with the understanding that God would protect me from harm. With that understanding in mind, I did extensive on-line and library research to find out if there were scientific studies of homosexuality, as well as exactly what the Bible did and did not have to say about it. I found out that nobody was really born gay, that unwanted homosexuality could be overcome, and that the Bible repeatedly and consistently condemned homosexual sex acts as sinful.

With that information in hand, I began a local ministry (dubbed “AHA”, for Alternatives to Homosexuality Anonymous) to share these facts with members of the Cornell and surrounding communities. As expected, this ministry was met with outcries of bigotry, homophobia and gay bashing, along with threatening and lurid phone calls to my home phone number, hateful messages written on campus sidewalks and formal complaints to the Cornell administration seeking to get me fired. During the peak of these personal, public attacks against me, there was a clever trap set to corner me in my office and confront me face to face, with the local media invited to show up and publish explicit, front-page, pro-gay articles with me as the culprit. This trap set for me and how God provided a way of escape is the main focus of this article. Here’s what happened.

The Setup

I received a phone call in my office from a young woman by the name of Ariel, a Cornell student. She said that she wanted to meet me in my office to discuss my AHA ministry and help me understand why they wanted me to cease and desist. So, we agreed to meet in my Cornell office the next day at 1:30 p.m.

The “Mole”

About a half hour before the meeting was to take place, I received a phone call from a young man who was also a Cornell student. I had never even heard of him before. He said that he was a member of the Cornell Young Republicans Club. He also had signed onto the e-mail list of a gay activist student group, so that he could function as a “mole”, as it were, to monitor the group’s e-mails and upcoming campus activities.

The Plot

The Mole informed me that I must vacate my office before the 1:30 meeting with Ariel, because a group of gay activists was planning to gather at the lower campus, march straight up the hill to my building, trap me in my office and make demands to the College and Cornell administrators that they forbid me to speak out further concerning homosexuality. The appointment with Ariel was a set-up!

The Counter Plot

The Mole wanted to come to my office ahead of time and escort me surreptitiously to a safe location of my choosing on campus, circumventing the pre-determined route of the gay mob. So, I decided that the best place for me to escape to was the office of my best friend, Bill, a fellow Christian professor. When the Mole showed up at my office door, I immediately noticed that he appeared to be dressed and groomed more like a liberal gay person than a conservative Republican. He said he did that so he could join in with and spy on the gathering mob on lower campus without being outed as a mole! I also noticed that he was accompanied by a middle-aged gentleman dressed more formally, in a tan business suit. It turns out that the Mole had taken the liberty of informing the Campus Police of the mob’s intentions, and they dispatched this Detective to accompany me on my journey across campus to my place of refuge, just in case I was spotted trying to get away and things got out of hand!

The Escape

So, off we went, at about 1:20 p.m., to skirt around the route of the approaching mob and arrive safely at Bill’s office. Once inside, I thanked the Mole and the Detective for their help and protection, and they went on their way. Bill and I then settled in to chat about what just happened, and to wait patiently to learn what the mob did when they found out I wasn’t there. Later, I learned that they were demonstrably upset and surprised that their trap had been foiled. So, as to not be totally frustrated, they decided to invade and occupy the Departmental Offices instead, where, for more than six hours, they held the Department Chairman and his staff hostage while they made their demands to the higher administration, in my absence. Moreover, the gay activists failed to get me fired.

The Point

God still makes a way, when there seems to be no way out of the peril you are in! He will see to it that you are able to accomplish the task He has called you to do. And, in this case, He made good on His promise to protect me from harm as I conducted the AHA ministry.

Truth be told, my friend, we are all born into a world of great peril. “What peril?”, you may ask. The peril that the Bible refers to as the “law of sin and death”: “For the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23), and “all have sinned” (Romans 3:23). But God has provided a way out of this “sin problem”, and His name is Jesus. God ordained that the death of Jesus on the cross would pay the price for our sins (Mark 10:45), and we need only believe in Jesus to be saved from an eternity in hell (John 6:29). Now that is a way of escape that none of us can afford to pass up! Have you let God save you yet?

(To read more of my articles with a biblical theme, click HERE)