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A common experience for those of us who grew up down south in the Bible Belt was to be accosted on the street with the question,
“Are you saved?”
YES was not a satisfactory answer.
How do you know you are saved? would be the follow-up question.
One would think that if you responded with something along the lines of “I have trusted Jesus” that would have been enough; but it wasn’t.
WHEN were you saved?
In the beginning of my journey, this question haunted me, and often caused me to doubt the veracity of my own belief.
I could not put a date on the event, which fact was being used to verify the truth of one’s profession.
However, as I started learning the Bible and could find no biblical support for knowing the exact moment, my response would stop them, because they had not been trained in how to respond to the biblical reality.
I would tell them I was saved 2,000 years ago.
I have been crucified with Christ.
When Jesus died, I was with Him; you were with Him.
When Jesus died, God’s plan for man was complete.
However, even that is not the full truth of it all.
I was saved before Adam & Eve appeared on the earth.
even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world,
that we should be holy and blameless before him.
We were chosen to be in Christ before the world was established.
We were saved from before the foundation of the world.
Therefore, the better question is not when were you saved, but when did you become aware of your salvation?
This is what Paul explained in his letter to the Galatians.
But when he who had set me apart before I was born,
and who called me by his grace,
was pleased to reveal his Son to me,
Even though God is eternally self-existent and is not bound nor limited by time, there is an appointed time for each of us.
I am quite sure that Paul never forgot his initial encounter which brought about his awareness.
However, like me, you may not be able to put a specific time frame on your initial awareness, but that is not critical.
It is your awareness which is of critical importance.
And I am sure that was what those boys on the streets were trying to accomplish.
Their methods may have been disastrous, but hopefully, their motivation was pure.
For those who are called into evangelistic work, the only thing they need to do is to encourage people to lay down their animosity towards God.
All this is from God,
who through Christ reconciled us to himself
and gave us the ministry of reconciliation;
Not everyone is called as an evangelist, as someone who is to go out and tell everyone they meet about the good news which is in Christ Jesus.
That is a special ministry gift which God gave to the church.
And he gave the apostles,
the prophets, the evangelists,
the shepherds and teachers,
However, we all have opportunity from time to time to talk with someone about the Lord.
When we meet someone who is not a Christian, not a believer, we should be prepared with this message of reconciliation.
Paul explains what the message of reconciliation is in the next verse in 2 Cor.
that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself,
not counting their trespasses against them,
and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.
The world was reconciled to God through Christ by His death on the cross.
Notice that this is a done deal.
It happened without our having given anyone permission, or needing our acceptance.
It happened while the world was in its unlovable condition, as we learn in Jn. 3:16.
We were reconciled to God while we were enemies of God.
For if while we were enemies
we were reconciled to God
by the death of his Son,…
How were we enemies of God?
Enemies are usually depicted as being at war with each other.
Was God at war with us?
Has God ever been at war with us?
If so, where is the battlefield?
The battlefield for this warfare is in our mind.
who once were alienated
and hostile in mind,
doing evil deeds
Notice that the enemy status was in our minds, and that is what caused us to live on the other side of good doing evil.
Any alienation, any separation from God occurs only in our minds.
It is, in fact, a figment of our imagination to suggest that God is mad at us.
Remember, it was Adam who separated himself from God, not the other way around.
And he said,
“I heard the sound of you in the garden,
and I was afraid, because I was naked,
and I hid myself.”
When God asked Adam where he was, the Lord was only getting Adam to wake up to where he was.
God knew where Adam was.
It was Adam who decided he was out of God’s favor.
The knowledge of being loved does that, doesn’t it?
When we were kids and messed up, the worst thing our parents would do to us is give us that look of disappointment.
We would rather take the whipping than to endure that look.
We may have thought they did, but, they hadn’t stop loving us.
Neither has the Father.
Not only did He never quit loving us, He fixed it so that we won’t have that experience of being ashamed.
(You) he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death,
in order to present you holy and blameless
and above reproach before him,
It is this failure to recognize that God loves us which caused us and causes anyone to live outside the grace and love of the Lord.
Once we are brought into this awareness, though, our lives begin to change.
We no longer think we are enemies or that God is mad at us, so we find it much easier to live righteously.
And we desire that others have this same experience.
We may look to things in the natural to try to encourage others.
We recommend books, or a church, or a program for them to become involved in.
Any of these things are good, but not until they realize they are already accepted by the Lord.
Have you ever made an invite to church and they respond with something like, “I’m not ready to quit…(whatever)?”
We know the many reasons for that type of response, but it is the result of giving them the wrong—or at least incomplete—message.
When all is said and done; when we realize that everything that needs to be done has been done, then there is only one thing left to do.
we are ambassadors for Christ,
God making his appeal through us.
We implore you on behalf of Christ,
be reconciled to God.
Quit being upset with God.
The Lord is waiting for you with open arms.