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Salvation

Q: Is Satan responsible for man's need to be saved?

No, Satan is not the one to blame; man is responsible for his choice to sin. Adam decided not to trust God. He turned his back on God's command to only eat of the tree of life, and broke a loving relationship with God. He humbled himself to the lying words of the serpent; therefore sin, unbelief, fear, lust and death passed upon the entire human race.

Satan is the tempter. He is also called the adversary, oppressor, deceiver, thief, accuser of the brethren, prince of the power of the air, destroyer, defamer, and father of lies. In these last days, we're told that "...some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils" (I Timothy 4:1).

The heart, the inside of man, is desperately wicked, and the Lord hates it, but He loves the sinner. God is not angry at you! He has desired a relationship with man ever since Adam failed in the garden. If you're not born-again, you must receive Christ into your heart to be free from your Adamic, sinful nature. You'll then become a child of God, having fellowship with Him, your heavenly Father.

The Bible says, "You used to live just like the rest of the world, full of sin, obeying Satan, the mighty prince of the power of the air. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. All of us used to live that way, following the passions and desires of our evil nature. We were born with an evil nature, and we were under God's anger just like everyone else" (Ephesians 2:2,3 NLT).

Q: Can you tell us more of what the Bible says about the condition of the heart of mankind?

When the Psalmist David repented of his sin of adultery, he said, "Behold, I was shaped in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me" (Psalm 51:5). We're born des-perately wicked in need of a Savior. Jesus said, "For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornication, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: These are the things which defile a man" (Matthew 15:19,20). Jesus said to the religious people of the day, "...outwardly you appear righteous unto men, but within, you are full of hypocrisy and iniquity" (Matthew 23:28).

I was my own worst enemy. Yes, I had yielded to Satan's plan for me, but my own sinful flesh, full of unbelief, pride and rebellion was the root problem. "But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed" (James 1:14).

It's easy for some of us to admit we're sinners, but for others it's hard, especially for those who have lived good lives. Whether we've lived good or bad lives isn't the problem, but that sinful nature we're all born with is the problem. The Scripture says, "For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). It's not about being good enough in order to enter the kingdom of heaven. The requirement is to be perfectly righteous, and we all miss the mark in God's eyes.

In the Old Testament, the children of Israel showed how totally helpless they were when it came to their ability to keep the law of God. They ended up breaking all of God's commandments and found themselves in bondage to the heathen nations around them. The inability to keep the law shows us our sinfulness and our need for a Savior. The Lord shows us the need and solution through the prophet Jeremiah saying, "...I will put my law into their inward parts and write it in their heart; and will be their God, and they shall be my people" (Jeremiah 31:33). For this to happen, we must be born-again.

Q: So you're saying man must receive Christ instead of continuing in their sin?

That's right, both the Old and New Testaments encour-age us to serve the Lord. Heaven is a free gift from God. We have nothing to lose and everything to gain by receiving Christ. We can't get to heaven without Him, and hell hangs in the balance.

The lyrics of one of Bob Dylan's songs goes, "...You're gonna have to serve somebody; well, it may be the devil, or it may be the Lord, but you're gonna have to serve somebody." In the Bible, Joshua said, "...choose you this day whom you will serve; whether the gods which your father served...but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord...God forbid that we should forsake the Lord to serve other gods" (Joshua 24:15,16). And the Apostle Paul said, "...behold, now is the day of salvation" (II Corinthians 6:2).

The problem is our desperately-wicked heart. It's not capable of choosing to serve God. It's God who gives us the ability to serve Him. The trouble is that the gods of this world have blinded the minds of them that don't believe. But God gives us the faith to believe in Him. As Christians, we call this saving faith. Without the Holy Spirit coming upon us to show us our unbelief and sparking faith and a desire for God, we would never make that choice. We owe it all to God for this salvation. He is merciful and doesn't want to punish man. But at the same time, He is a just God and will surely punish sin, for the wages of sin is death.

Q: Do you believe that anyone can be saved, regardless of the crime committed?

Yes, I am proof of this fact. If God can save me, anoint my life with His Holy Spirit and give me a ministry to the world, He can save anyone, no matter how bad. Listen, "We are made right in God's sight when we trust in Jesus Christ to take away our sins. And we all can be saved in the same way, no matter who we are or what we have done" (Romans 3:22 NLT).

The word salvation means to rescue from destruction, to deliver from sin and death and to liberate from the bondage of Satan. It also means being healed spiritually of our sin nature, being healed physically and to preserve and to give health. This salvation produces soundness and makes us victors in Christ.

The prophet Jeremiah talks about drinking out of two cisterns; one full of living water and the other broken, unable to hold water. The Apostle Paul talks of drinking out of two cups; the cup of the Lord and the cup of devils. All of my life I drank out of the devil's cup. I walked in the evil imaginations of my heart, but one day the Lord came to me and showed me the wickedness of my heart. It was clear that I needed to be rescued and He threw me a lifeline. I grabbed it and held on for dear life.

Remember, there are no failures in life except people who give up too soon. I have personally seen men come to Christ who have committed every crime in the book. They have taken all the bridges to Babylon on their way to destruction, but God's goodness brings them to repentance. In other words, they turn from their unbelief, to God, who is "...not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance" (II Peter 3:9).

Q: You spoke of the bridges to Babylon earlier. Can you refresh my memory on what that has to do with sin and judgment?

Babylon represents the world system. It is called "...Mystery Babylon the Great, the mother of harlots and abominations of the Earth" in Revelation 17:5. God will judge this world system of pride, confusion, lust, pleasure and sorcery.

In Revelation 18:23,24, the Lord says, "...for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived. And in her was found the blood of the prophets and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the Earth." At this time, God will avenge the blood of the Apostles and prophets. The purpose of the world system headed up by Lucifer has always been to kill, steal and to destroy the purpose of God on Earth.

All we have to do is read the end of the Bible and we find out that we win. In Revelation 21:7,8 the Lord says, "He that overcomes shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be My son. But the fearful, the unbelieving, the abominable, the murderers, the whore-mongers, the sorcerers, the idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake of fire." The latter are those who have rejected Christ's payment for their sins on the cross of Calvary.

Q: What must we do in order to be saved?

The Philippian jailer asked the same question. Paul and Silas replied, "Believe on the Lord Jesus and you will be saved…" (Acts 16:30,31 NLT). Our good works cannot save us, only believing can. The Word says, "For by grace we are saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast" (Ephesians 2:8,9).

We are given the gift of righteousness when we are born again. Our performance does not save us, but only the performance of Christ at Calvary. God loved us so much that He sent His only Son, Jesus Christ, the sinless Savior, to die on the cross in our place. We deserved death for our sin, but He paid the price instead, by His sacrifice. The Bible says, "For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ" (II Corinthians 5:21 NLT). The LORD is our righteousness (Jeremiah 23:5,6).

All we must do is embrace the cross. The Scriptures tell us, "But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name" (John 1:12). We must trust in and rely on what He did for us -- this is faith. We must have faith that His blood on the cross purchased us from being Satan's slaves. He cleansed us, and by His resurrection conquered sin, bringing us into God's presence. This is true revival, a renewal of life -- a supernatural rebirth.

Romans 10:9,10 says, "If we confess with our mouth the Lord Jesus and shall believe in our heart that God has raised Him from the dead, we shall be saved. For with the heart, man believes unto righteousness and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation." The word confession means "to say the same thing" as God says about our sin and about His solution for sin. As we declare Jesus LORD by acknowledging His death on the cross for our sins, and His resurrection from the dead to give us life, we'll be saved.

In other words, a great exchange took place. The wrath of God for sin that you deserved was put on Christ. God poured out all of His judgment on Jesus. He was judged and found guilty for us; crucified, died and buried. Our old man is dead, the new man in His righteousness is alive. The righteousness of God that only Christ deserved was placed upon you. You became right with God in the Spirit. In His death, the old you died and was buried with Him. In His resurrection, the new you arose and lives in and with Him victoriously. Salvation happens supernaturally by grace through faith, as God miraculously brings us to life, by taking up residence in our hearts. This is called the mystery of God, "…Christ in us, the hope of glory" (Colossians 1:27).

Q: Where does the blood of Jesus Christ fit into the salvation message?

God has always dealt with sin by a blood sacrifice. In the Old Testament it was by the yearly sacrifice of animals in the temple. Their blood only covered sin, but today, the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us completely of the original sin nature as the Holy Spirit regenerates our spirit. The writer of Hebrews says, "...without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins" (Hebrews 9:22 NLT).

The revelation of the blood of Christ is most important to the Christian life. We are the temple of God today; He dwells in us as born-again believers. Our voice is to speak of the blood sacrifice that forgives sin. In Revelation 12:10-12 (NLT), we hear a loud voice shouting across the heavens. "It has happened at last -- the salvation and power and kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ! For the Accuser has been thrown down to earth -- the one who accused our brothers and sisters before our God day and night. And they have defeated him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of their testimony. And they were not afraid to die. Rejoice, O heavens, rejoice! But terror will come on the earth and the sea. For the Devil has come down to you in great anger, and he knows that he has little time" (NLT).

Our voice is to ring loud with the testimony of the blood always upon our lips, overcoming the devil who seeks to destroy the Saints. I suggest confessing the blood Scriptures aloud. For example, "The blood of Jesus has purchased me for God's purpose, the price has been paid for my sin by the blood; therefore, I am redeemed by the blood. I have been declared righteous, just as if I had never sinned, and I have peace with God by the blood of the Lamb. I am washed, cleansed, and made a priest of God by the blood of Jesus. He has sanctified me and given me boldness to enter into His presence by His own blood. Therefore, according to Revelation 12:11, I overcome the devil by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of my testimony." This is the voice of God, His Word.

Q: So you're saying that our physical body becomes the Temple of God when we're saved, right?

Actually, the temple consists of more than just the body. We are a three-part being: spirit, soul and body. These three make up the temple. The spirit is part of the inner man that is regenerated by the Holy Spirit when we're born-again. We become participants of God's divine nature, and placed into His family. He now lives in us by the Holy Spirit. We are new creations, having received the sacrifice of Christ, empowered by God and given the ability to be renewed from the inside out.

The soul is the part of the inner man that needs renewal. It is made up of the mind, the will and the emotions. As the mind becomes renewed by choosing God's voice -- His Word -- our emotional life falls into place and the body is energized by the Spirit. The mind is where the battle with fleshly thoughts takes place. We are to cast down every demonic argument against the knowledge of God and bring every thought to the obedience of Christ.

The body is the outward part of man that houses the soul and the Holy Spirit. The life of the body is the Spirit. As Christians, we are the temple, or dwelling place of the Holy Spirit. The Apostle Paul speaks of our being in an "earthly tent" while earnestly longing for a heavenly house not made with hands. One day, Jesus "...shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body" (Philippians 3:21). But until then, we "...are being changed into His image from glory to glory by the Spirit of the Lord" (II Corinthians 3:18).

Q: What is the answer to living a successful Christian life?

A growing intimate relationship with Jesus Christ makes a successful Christian. We must trust solely in the strength of God's grace -- His sufficiency, not our flesh, works or keeping a list of rules. At the cross, God manifested his willingness to use His power and ability on our behalf even though we don't deserve it.

We are to embrace the cross at all times, experiencing the love of God, which brings healing and success. This means taking every painful situation to the cross. Instead of rising up in our flesh to handle grief and sorrow, we see ourselves joined to Christ and what He did for us. We let the peace that comes from Christ rule our hearts.

The Apostle Paul speaks of our new dignity and worth, "Since you have heard all about Him and have learned the truth that is in Jesus, throw off your old evil nature and your former way of life, which is rotten through and through, full of lust and deception. Instead, there must be a spiritual renewal of your thoughts and attitudes. You must deeply display a new nature because you are a new person, created in God's likeness -- righteous, holy, and true" (Ephesians 4:21-24 NLT).

Our thoughts and attitudes must be renewed to our new identity in Christ. We are righteous, holy and true. We know who we are, what we have and what we can do in Christ. We are children of God, a royal priesthood, new creations, made right with God and accepted totally by Him. We have a new love, new life, the light of God and power to live this Christian life. We can do all things in Christ who strengthens us. Our God supplies all our needs according to His riches in Christ Jesus.

As our thoughts stay lined up with the reality of God's promises, the Holy Spirit will bring forth wholeness. The Spiritual mind is life and peace (Romans 8:7). Through prayer and meditation on the power of God demonstrated at the cross, the realization of our victory in Christ produces the fruit and gifts of the Holy Spirit. The love and glory of God is free to spring forth to all those around us. We are seen as vessels of gold and silver, manifesting glory and honor.

Q: But first we must be born-again to receive all you're talking about, right?

That's right, we must be born-again of the Spirit by acknowledging we are sinners. Heaven is a free gift. It is neither earned nor deserved. God loved us so much that He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to take care of the sin problem with His blood. We must, by faith, accept His death on the cross in our place, His burial and His resurrection, which gives us new life. We must repent by now turning from our sin to God. It's as easy as telling God in prayer that you are trusting what Jesus Christ did on the cross of Calvary for you.

Remember, it's not a prayer that saves you, but it's trusting in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Would you like to pray now? If so, say: "Dear God, I know I am a sinner. I renounce the works of Satan and all his ways. I know my sin deserves the punishment of death. I believe in my heart that Christ took my punishment. He died on the cross paying the price for my sin, was buried and raised from the dead. I trust Jesus alone as my Savior and confess Him as Lord. I give You my life, Jesus, and ask you to cleanse me from my sins and come into my heart. Be Lord, boss over my life and make it pleasing to You. Make me a new creation and change me. Thank You for saving me. Amen."

Now begin to thank God for making you His child. The Apostle Paul wrote, "Give thanks unto the Father, which has made us able to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints of light: Who has delivered us from the power of darkness and has translated us into the Kingdom of His dear Son" (Colossians 1:12,13).

Our being changed on the inside affects the outside. We are changed from the inside out. If we desire our outside circumstances to change, we must first be changed on the inside. If we need deliverance from any sin, that deliverance starts by being born-again. As we spend time with God and listen to His voice, a new tomorrow will dawn. As we come to know who God says we are and what we have, we will provoke our destiny. A new vision for life will be birthed. We are to make the best use of our time because the days are evil. Our new purpose now is to bring forth the kingdom of God into every aspect of our lives.

Listen to the instructions of the Apostle Paul, "…be careful to put into action God's saving work in your lives, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. For God is working in you, giving you the desire to obey him and the power to do what pleases him. In everything you do, stay away from complaining and arguing, so that no one can speak a word of blame against you. You are to live clean, innocent lives as children of God in a dark world full of crooked and perverse people. Let your lives shine brightly before them" (Philippians 2:12b-15 NLT).

Q: You mentioned a problem with feeling accepted earlier in the interview. Has being born-again taken care of that problem?

Yes, it's much less important that people accept you when you know the Creator of the universe accepts you in Christ. His payment for our sins took away the barrier between God and us. We're promised that when our ways please God, it will even cause our enemies to be at peace with us. Because God accepts us, we can accept others unconditionally.

I have a totally new purpose in life: to love God with all my heart, mind, soul and strength, and to love others as myself. I fall short, but my purpose is to grow moment by moment toward the high calling of God. I am unconditionally loved, completely forgiven, totally accepted and given power to live this life with a divine hope.

According to Scripture, "God alone made it possible for you to be in Christ Jesus. For our benefit God made Christ to be wisdom itself. He is the One Who made us acceptable to God. He made us pure and holy, and He gave himself to purchase our freedom. As the Scripture says, 'The person who wishes to boast should boast only of what the Lord has done' " (I Corinthians 1:30,31 NLT).

Q: Do you think your crime was God's plan for your life?

No, what I did in my past was the devil's plan for me, and I cooperated. "People ruin their lives by their own foolishness…" (Proverbs 19:3 NLT). God has sure opened my eyes. Jesus said of the devil, "The thief's purpose is to steal and kill and destroy" (John 10:10 NLT).

Jesus told the unsaved, "For you are the children of your father the devil, and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning and has always hated the truth. There is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies" (John 8:44 NLT).

The enemy's plan always involves death and destruction.
But God came through Jesus Christ to give new life and "…life in all its fullness" (John 10:10 NLT). He has a wonderful plan and future for all of us who will receive Him. He pardoned us of our sins 2000 years ago -- past, present and future. He gave us power over the lies of the enemy, but we must wake up to the truth of this Good News. I experience the truth of my salvation daily, through a loving relationship with my heavenly Father.

Although I listened to the wrong voice in my early years, God's divine will is greater. He is forgiving, merciful, gracious, patient and abounding in goodness and truth. Even when I was dead in my sin, He made me alive, together with Christ when He raised Him from the dead. Salvation was God's plan for my life, along with telling the world about the testimony of Jesus Christ.

Q: Do you think what you are doing is your destiny?

My destiny was to fulfill my God-given calling in this life on Earth. God knew I would turn from Him in unbelief as a child, and where I would end up -- He is all-knowing. In spite of my gross error, God placed me back on His path. His calling upon my life as a preacher of the Gospel is now being fulfilled daily.

The Lord promises those in captivity, "For I know the plans I have for you", says the Lord. "They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope" (Jeremiah 29:11 NLT).

His plan was my salvation, not that I would do what I did. God forbid! I am now reaping the consequences. I was given a second chance to turn my life around, even though I didn't give my victims that chance. Humanly speaking, nothing can change the crime; it is still evil, tragic, senseless and unjust. God had great mercy upon my life. I don't fully understand why, but He did.

I rest on His promises: "But God is so rich in mercy, and He loved us so very much, that even while we were dead because of our sins, He gave us life when He raised Christ from the dead…For He raised us up from the dead along with Christ, and we are seated with Him in the heavenly realms… And so God can always point to us as examples of the incredible wealth of His favor and kindness toward us, as shown in all He has done for us through Christ Jesus" (Ephesians 2:4-7 NLT).

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