Salvation: Who Is Inviting Whom?

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Salvation: Who Is Inviting Whom?

James R. Aist

On the last and greatest day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink.” (John 7:37)

Different Christian “traditions” have developed their own “catch phrases” to represent biblical truths with simplicity, and, as such, they can be useful tools of communication in the Christian “world.” But some catch phrases do not accurately convey sound doctrine or theology, however well-intended. This article addresses an important example of a popular, yet misleading, catch phrase.

The catch phrase I have in mind occurs at the end of a “salvation message”, when the evangelist encourages the congregation to “ask Jesus into your life”, or something equivalent in different words.  As I was meditating briefly on this particular invitation – which I have heard on several occasions – a red flag went up. So, I paused to meditate further to try and identify the reason for the red flag.

Then it dawned on me: Do we really want to ask Jesus to join us in our sinful, worldly lives? Is that what it means to be born again? Of course not! When salvation comes, it is not us inviting Jesus to join our lives; rather, it is Jesus who is inviting us to join Him in His life, that is, eternal life.

And, these two kinds of life are of a fundamentally different nature. The life we are born into is a temporary, physical, biological life in which we are separated from God. The life that Jesus invites us to enter into is a spiritual life in which we are connected to God forever, just as He originally intended when He created mankind. Being “born again” produces a truly “new life” in our experience, and it can be ours only when we stop resisting God and let Him save us.

That said, there are surely very important ways in which Jesus does want to bless and change us during the remainder of our biological life. For example, He insists that we let Him become our Lord by being obedient to His teachings and to all of the other moral laws contained in the written word of God, the Bible. This means that the true born-again experience will result in a life that is characterized by the forsaking of evil works and the practice of good works. If these signs of a true believer are absent, then we have not yet received the gift of “saving faith”, but instead, we have received “dead faith” (James 2:14-17). Such faith is worse than worthless, because it leaves us believing that our sin problem has been taken care of, when it has not!

Revelation 22:7 says, “The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” Let him who hears say, “Come.” Let him who is thirsty come. Let him who desires take the water of life freely.” This is an invitation from God for you to become connected to Him, sharing His life forever. The “Spirit” is God’s Holy Spirit, the “bride” and “him who hears” is the company of born-again, true believers in Jesus Christ. All of these are inviting you to enter into God’s eternal life. Those who desire to accept this invitation may take the water of life freely. So, if this is you, I strongly urge you to say “yes” to this invitation now, because everlasting life with God in heaven depends on it! There is no other way (John 14:6).

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

Jesus Is My Co-pilot…Or Is He?

Jesus Is My Co-pilot…Or Is He?

James R. Aist

Its not as common as it used to be, but do you remember when lots of Christians proudly displayed this message on the rear bumper of their car: “Jesus Is My Co-pilot”? That’s a catchy phrase alright, but is it good theology? Let’s look more closely and find out.

One need not think very deeply to realize the theological implications of this bumper sticker. If Jesus is my co-pilot, then who is my pilot? That would be me, of course. In this scenario, I would be in charge of my life, and Jesus would, in effect, function as my assistant. I would want Him right there by my side to steer my life away from trouble and into prosperity. But, heaven forbid that He would ever even think that He’s in charge! After all, its my life, isn’t it?

Or, is it? The Bible says that our life is not our own now, because we have been redeemed; that is, we have been bought by a price (1 Corinthians 6:20). It goes on to say that, as Christians, it is not we who live, but Christ who lives in us (Galatians 2:20). Before God saved us, we were living as “pilots of our own planes.” God did not even appear in the equation of our lives at that time. We were without God and without hope in the world (Ephesians 2:12). But God the Father drew us all the way to Jesus (John 6:44) and gave us the gift of saving faith so that, from that moment on, God had a rightful claim on our lives, to the point that He has a right to do anything with our lives that He wants to; we now belong to Him (Mark 9:41), not ourselves.

It can be a long, hard struggle for us to get to the point in our Christian walk that we are really and unequivocally surrendered to God’s will for our lives, no matter what that may look like. But when we get there, it will begin to show. Our friends and family will begin to see outward signs that we are no longer living for ourselves, but for Christ. At that point, we will be fulfilling the chief end of man, the main reason that God created us in the first place; that is, to glorify Him and enjoy Him forever.

(To read more of my articles on biblical topics, click HERE)

 

The Promises of God Are “Yes,” and “Amen” – Part 2

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The Promises of God Are “Yes,” and “Amen” – Part 2

James R. Aist

“I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6)

In a previous article , I gave an account of how God was miraculously fulfilling a prophecy given to me that all of my children would be saved (click HERE). My second daughter, Liesel, was visiting me from Norman, OK, and she asked me an amazing question that confirmed to me that God was at work in her, confirming the gift of saving faith that He had given her as a little girl. But, she was not yet ready to profess that faith again.

Liesel returned to Norman, and several months went by with just the usual “visits” by phone and e-mail; she did not reveal to me whether or not she was professing her faith in Jesus again. The only evidence I had at that point that God had saved Liesel was her earlier professions of faith and His promise that He would save all of my children. Liesel was now 20 years old, and it was late April of 1997. That’s when I got a phone call from the hospital in Norman with the shocking news that Liesel had been struck by a car while walking across an intersection. She was in critical condition with little hope of surviving severe head injuries. She was in a coma, and we were told to get to the hospital as soon as possible. So, we flew to Norman fearing for her life and not having any tangible evidence that Liesel was, again, professing her faith in Jesus.

Let me share with you now three independent testimonies that week in Norman that re-assured me that Liesel was saved. The first of these three testimonies was shared with me in the hospital by her Christian co-worker, Rocky, who used to talk with her privately during work breaks and witnessed to her frequently about Jesus. Rocky told us that, not more than a couple of days before her accident, Liesel had confided in him that she does believe in Jesus. That was a very encouraging testimony, indeed! But, God did not leave it at that. At God’s direction, I testified at the funeral of Liesel’s faith in Jesus, based in part on Rocky’s account. Then, as we were driving to the cemetery after the funeral service, Liesel’s boy friend, Joe, who was riding in the seat behind me, spoke up and told me that, after hearing about Rocky’s testimony, he wanted to tell me that a friend of his (not Rocky) had told him 2-3 weeks earlier that Liesel told him she believes in Jesus. Moreover, Joe had just found a letter that Liesel had recently written to Jesus asking Him to help her with a problem. She would not have prayed for help to a Savior that she did not believe in!

Upon hearing that, I was ecstatic and knew full well that when Liesel died, she was professing her faith in Jesus. I now had three, independent and credible witnesses to that effect! God not only kept His promise to save Liesel, but He also provided me tangible evidences of it. To God be the glory for demonstrating that He was at work making good on His promise to save my children, by saving Liesel. I can’t wait to be with her again, in heaven!

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

The Promises of God Are “Yes,” and “Amen” – Part 1

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The Promises of God Are “Yes,” and “Amen” – Part 1

James R. Aist

“For God is the One working in you, both to will and to do His good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:13)

My second daughter, Liesel was a beautiful, musically talented, athletic, sweet and endearing little girl with a special sense of humor. I called her my “Lee-Lee Bell.” She had already professed her faith in Jesus at an early age, before she was 10 years old: in a Sunday School class, she told the teacher that she had accepted Jesus. Then, when Liesel was 10 years old, I had the precious opportunity to lead her in a prayer to receive Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior. Here’s what happened. Near the end of a sermon at church on a Sunday morning, Liesel leaned over and asked me, “When did you make your decision for Jesus?” I replied “When I was 8 years old.” “Is it too late for me to do it?” she asked. I replied, “No, you can do it any time before you die. Do you want to do it now?” After further discussion, we agreed that I would help her do it at home, after church. So, after we had lunch, I asked her if now was a good time, and she said it was. So, that’s when we prayed, and Liesel confirmed, by her profession of faith in Jesus, what God had been doing for! And she said, “This is the biggest day of my life!”

Unfortunately, in the ensuing years, as Liesel passed through her teens, she became unsure of her faith in Jesus. But, like the one sheep that had gone astray (Luke 15:3-6), Liesel already belonged to Jesus, and God was not done with her.

The following encounter that I had with God is not only pertinent, but essential, to the rest of the story. I was attending the Full Gospel Businessmen’s Fellowship International Men’s Advance at Lake George in upstate New York. One day when they were immersion baptizing in the lake, I stepped forward to be immersed by Pastor Don Yarborough. We had never met, and he knew nothing about me. As I approached him in the water, he just stared at me straight in the eye with a blank look, and kept staring. I thought to myself, “That’s strange; he doesn’t seem to even see me coming.” Finally, as I drew near to him, he reached out his hand to me, we shook hands and I introduced myself. Then he said that something very unusual had just happened; it had happened only once before in his ~20 years of baptizing people. He said that as I was approaching him in the water, he received a prophecy for me, in the form of several Bible passages from both the Old Testament and the New Testament. They all had to do with the head of the household being saved and all of his family with him. He then proceeded to share with me all five of those Bible verses. When he had finished with that, he gave me the interpretation of the message: God wants me to stand on and hold fast to these promises, which he is confirming to me and my children. Wow! Through this prophecy, God had just told me that all of my children will be saved! Needless to say, I was a “happy camper” the rest of that afternoon. But, I didn’t say anything to any of my children about this glorious promise at the time.

In August of 1996, Liesel had just turned 19, and it was time for her annual visit with me in Ithaca, NY, from her home in Norman, OK. As was my custom, I brought up the matter of her current position regarding her faith in Jesus, and we talked about that for a while. It was clear that she had a good understanding of what the Gospel of Jesus Christ was all about, but she said that she didn’t want to profess faith in Jesus again unless she was absolutely sure of it. I was OK with that. Now, I had not yet said anything to Liesel about God’s promise to me to save all of my children. Nevertheless, she looked at me and somehow knew to ask this amazing question: “Daddy, have you ever received any indication from God as to whether or not I will someday become a Christian?” Well, this question blew my mind. I was so overwhelmed by it that, for a few seconds, I was unable to respond. How did she even know to ask me such a thing at that time? I had to conclude that God must have given her that question, and so I haltingly, but eagerly, proceeded to tell her about God’s promise to save all of my children. When I finished, Liesel was visibly pleased and very encouraged by this good news.

God had revealed, in a miraculous way, that He was continuing the good work that He had begun in Liesel when she was a young girl! That was one of the most amazing days of my life. Click HERE to read Part 2, the rest of this story.

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