Sunday, November 16, 2008

Why Did I Come To Jesus Christ In Faith? (Part 1)

Note: Please remember that the Scripture can be viewed in a separate window by placing the "glove" or "hand" over the reference.

For a long time it was never clear in my mind why, as a 9 year old boy, I believed in Jesus. Was it because a human being convinced me that was what I needed to do? What part did my will or the will of man have in my salvation? Over time there were more questions; but I basically just accepted the traditional views about salvation without ever having a clear understanding about why I believed. Regrettably, most of what I understood was a mixture of different teachings, opinions and inferences of others. I realize now that a lot of those ideas did not square with the plain statements of Scripture. They didn't seem to start with Scripture.

I am thankful that in the midst of my "amen journey" of discovery and some deep spiritual struggles that I have experienced this past year, God has caused me to ask this question and seek answers. As a result I have gained new and fresh understanding about my salvation. It is not new truth; but it is new, clear and personal to me. One of the most welcomed things that happened was being able to separate the exercise of faith in Jesus Christ from the act of openly expressing that faith during the invitation time of our church that Sunday morning in 1946. Some time before that open expression, I began to see Jesus and the truth of my "salvation verse," John 3:16 in a totally different way. I have not been able to express that difference adequately until just recently. It has been only after God continually confronted me with 2 Corinthians 4:6. I know now that God, at a critical moment in time, spoke these words into my life: “Let light shine out of darkness.” That sovereign and supernatural act brought "the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ" to my heart. In that moment a number of awesome things happened in my life, one of which was that I went from just knowing facts about Jesus to seeing for the first time something of His beauty, loveliness and worth - in other words, His glory. I would not have used these words then to describe that time in my life - mainly because I didn't have the understanding that I now have. In retrospect, they do describe what I felt and thought. As I recall those days and moments leading up to my public declaration, I realized something had noticeably changed in my thinking about Jesus and His words in John 3:16. I also began to experience a battle like I had never known. I mentioned this in an earlier post. It would mark the beginning of a life long warfare that is the lot of every Christian. Much of the battle has centered on the matter of my salvation and acceptance by God. It has been a battle that I have run from; but no longer. This "amen journey" is, in essence, a counter-offensive and with God's help His victory will be my victory. The battle has already been fought and won. I just haven't lived from that perspective.

I also understand now that what I saw in that salvation moment was just meant to be the beginning. I missed the fact that my whole life was to become one of constantly seeing in a deeper and deeper way the beauty, loveliness and worth of Jesus - that Jesus was supposed to become the devotion of my life; that I was to see and live upon the basis of His total sufficiency for my life; and that I was supposed to see Him through the eyes of faith. I know there were times that I did see Him in this way. I just did not fully understood the significance of what I was seeing and why it was so critical to the purpose of my new life in Christ - to know and enjoy the glory of God; and to make the most of Him in all things. Much of this struggle has been directly related to the fact that I did not have a clear, personal understanding that Jesus alone is the Lord of my salvation. Had that been true, I would not have wasted years living on the basis of the weakness of human understanding and explanations. I would not have been so earth bound when it came to the source of faith and the exercise of faith. I would have experienced the truth of 2 Corinthians 3:18 in a totally different way.

This journey of discovery has been a gift from God. So have the messages that I have heard over the last year and a half at The Village Church - messages that have caused me to focus on the beauty, worth and value of Jesus and the need to press hard after Him. I have learned some awesome things about God's sovereignty - especially as it relates to salvation. I am beginning to understand in a much clearer and personal way why God has accepted me. Over the years I have been beaten down as I have focused on "my worth" and on the validity of "my faith." I should have focused on the person of Jesus, His righteousness and worth and upon Him as the Lord of my salvation.

As I began to think about the question expressed in the title of this post I had intended to get right to the point. I was not sure why my focus turned to Jesus; but then I should have known especially after I read these words by Jonathan Edwards. He said, "This sense of the beauty of Christ is the beginning of true saving faith in the life of a true convert." My first question was "How can this be?" I then came to realize that the answer lies in the source of the new sense and awareness of the beauty of Christ. It means something dramatically happened in my life - like the truth of 2 Corinthians 4:6. As I reflect upon what is now happening in my life, it is like a door has been opened. It is also like there are a number of doors waiting to be opened and I am not sure which one the Lord will open. One that has been opened has led me into a room of thought where I have found reason to rejoice in God alone when it comes to my salvation. Here I have found an answer to the question of why I came to Jesus in faith. It is here that I have finally been able to deal with the issue of human cooperation in salvation. It is a room devoid of a lot of ideas that held sway in my life that clouded the truth that "salvation is of the Lord" and things that kept me from experiencing peace, assurance and security. I pray that I will be able to explain in more specifics what I have I discovered for my life that has finally brought a large measure of peace, assurance and security to my soul.

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