How do I stay saved? #23

For me to stay saved means to stay and live in “grace” and practice “grace” in my daily living. It also means to live in Christ and do what He has commanded. One of Christ’s Commands was that if I do not forgive I forfeit my right to be forgiven. Forgiveness itself is a life-long task and so is staying saved. Jesus says:  

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch of mine that bears no fruit, he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. You are already made clean by the word which I spoke to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If a man does not abide in me, he is cast froth as a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you will, and it shall be one for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full” (John 15:1-11). 

What kind of Fruit will keep me in Christ?

My fruit is summarised by two words: “Grace and Truth.” I must guard against being a disciple of Christ by misrepresenting Him with my deeds, my behavior, and my presumption what God will do for us. We have far too many prophets who predict what God will do in our time when history records the exact opposite of what the prophets in the past predicted (Deuteronomy 8:20-22). Hence, Jesus gave us this warning that we can use to judge ourselves:

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles? So, every sound tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears evil fruit. A sound tree cannot bear evil fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will know them by their fruits.

Not every one who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you evildoers.’

“Every one then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house upon the rock; and the rain fell, and the floods came,and the winds blew and beat upon that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And every one who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house upon the sand; and the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell; and great as the fall of it.”

And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes (Matthew 7:15-28)

How will my Life (house) hold up in a Storm? 

In Christ’s Kingdom, there are no “lords and ladies.” There are only brothers and sisters, slaves and servants, where the least among us is equal to the highest among us. It is a community in which we

are good at saving others, but not so good at saving ourselves. That was the issue Jesus was accused of (Mark 15:31-32). While Jesus, the Son of God was in the flesh, the people who hung Him on a cross also had to take Him down and so it was with Jesus’ followers. What must I do to stay in the race for being crowned with the cross? How did the Apostle Paul perceive himself? Paul also remembered the time when Moses People tested the Lord:

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners compete, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we for an imperishable. Well, I do not run aimlessly, I do not box as one beating the air; but I pommel my body and subdue it, lest  after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified” (I Corinthians 9:24-27).

“We must not put the Lord to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents; nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer. Now these things happen to them as a warning, but they were written down for our instruction, upon whom the end of the ages has come (the end of Israel – Judah as nations). Therefore let any one who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and He will not let us be tempted beyond our strength, but with the temptation will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it” (I Corinthians 10:9-13).

What must I do to stay in Christ?

I already know that God has made me with physical strength to compensate and replace the loss of my hands and looks to enable me to live past four score and ten years. But how did I deal with the moral and spiritual hurdles and obstacles, during this long period of time? What can I recommend to those who are on a similar spiritual journey? I am not as certain as Paul was, who said, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ” (I Corinthians 11:1). Paul did not have the “Four Gospels,” but he had his own Gospel that could not be compared (Galatians 1:6-9). He did not even have his own writings codified. He lived in a dual world of Jews and Gentiles. I live in a world where there is goodness and kindness among the believers and the unbelievers in God. Had I lived in Jesus’ day the Jewish priest and the Levite could not save me from drowning, from the fire, or from cancer because I was not of their race (Luke 10:29-37). The people that saved my life were total strangers, without identifying themselves, they saved me because of their attitude to do what is right, regardless of who I was. To me, these people were like the Good Samaritan and the sheep who did what was needed out of the goodness of their hearts (Matthew 25:34-40).

The examples Jesus used were “applications of grace” that qualified these people for His Kingdom. Their “deeds of grace” kept them in the race for earning the prize. Even a cup of water to a thirsty straggler will not escape notice (Mark 9:41). When I began my ministry, it was in small Churches and my ministry ended in small Churches. I retired twenty-eight years ago, without any notoriety. In retrospect, I could have been the one pound man, who buried that one pound, afraid of losing it (Matthew 25:24-30). Then PMR hit my muscles with pain and made me immobile. To add insult to injury, cancer scared me of death in the middle of my sixties with 129 PSA counts. To say the least, I became very depressed and defeated! And as I sat in the urologist’s office, I was being entertained by a cheerful ninety-year-old Christian talking about going to heaven. 

It was right there and then, that I realized that I was not behaving like a Christian, and that I had to change my attitude, by driving out those evil spirits that were robbing me of my hope and my joy (Luke 11:24-26; Matthew 12:43-45). I did clean the house (my life) from time to time, but I never really understood how to fortify me, on my inside. God, the Son, and the Holy Spirit existed and lived outside of me, and they were available only to people with divine function. So, like most of us human beings, I too sang along, begging the Holy Spirit to fill my life, my Church, my home, my country, and much more. Yet, my prayers and wishes were not answered because there is no one out there to respond. God, the Son, and the Holy Spirit do not live in material structures and in man-made idols, or even in faith that is supposed to move mountains. Where does the Trinity live? The Trinity lives in my inner being, we know as spirit, soul, heart, and mind. My body is only a housing and to be a temple it too has to be sanctified. And what is made holy must not be trampled on. This is what Jesus Himself told his disciples:

Judas (not Iscariot) said to Jesus, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?” Jesus answered him, “If a man loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him” (John 14:22-23).

Do not give dogs what is holy; and do not throw your pearls (life) before swine,lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you (Matthew 7:6).

Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If any one destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and that temple you are (I Corinthians 3:16-17).

But he who is united to the Lord becomes one Spirit with him. Shun immorality. Every other sin which a man commits is outside the body; but the immoral man sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God? You are not your own; you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body (I Corinthians 6:17-19).

So then you are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and the members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are built into it for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit (Ephesians 2:19-22).

Chosen before I was born to Glorify God on Earth

My life has been so bombarded, that I should not have survived and lasted that long. Some one had to have a hand in pulling me through the many intrusion I faced. I was preserved for a reason — and I did not arrive here via an accident. The Apostle Paul has shown me why:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. He destined us in love to be his sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace which he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace which he lavished upon us. For he has made known to us in all wisdom and insight the mystery of his will, according to his purpose which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fulness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.  

In him, according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to the counsel of his will, we who first hoped in Christ have been destined and appointed to live for the praise of his glory. In him you also, who have heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and have believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Sprit, which is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory (Ephesians 1:3-14).

So, I am not saved to stay saved—I am saved to do God’s good work in this world. The Greek writer used “peripatesomen” and it means that we are chosen to carry out God’s Purpose and God’s Will. We are not just here to be saved, but we are here to implement “Christ’s Salvation” on earth.

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them (Ephesians 2:10).