Understand the Plan of Salvation

Understand The 'Plan' Of Salvation

Chapter Two

Understand The 'Plan' Of Salvation
God Bends Down 47 You Must Be Born Again 57
Meditate On Who Jesus Really Is 49 The Call To Repentance And Confession 59
Jesus – 'The Focus Of Life' And 'The Water Of Life'! 51 Discussion Questions 61
Every Sinner Is 'Saveable'! 53 Discussion Questions (Continued) 62
Christ At The Heart's Door 55    

Hosea 11:1-4

God Bends Down

Briefly, in Hosea Chapter 11, the prophet portrays actions of God as they relate to people of each generation. In the picturesque view, we see a father's loving actions toward his son, a son that later responded with a deaf ear and a callous heart. The father's reaching out to his son is evident in such phrases as:

"I loved him" "I led them"
"I called my son" "I became to them as one who eases the load"
"I taught Ephraim to walk" "I fed them"
"I took them up in my arms" "I bent down to them"

The reaction of the people to God's condescension was "my people are bent on turning away from me."

"I bent down to them" …. "my people are bent on turning away from me." Historically, through the prophet Hosea, God is word-picturing what He has done for Israel in previous centuries. Their rebellion has eventually brought them to the point of captivity by the Assyrians.

Through the centuries God has been bending down. But who is this God who bends down? What is He like? Then one day an announcement was made to a young girl that she would "conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus." He would also carry the title – "Emmanuel- God with us." God bent down – God with us in His own Son, Jesus Christ. There in the village of Bethlehem long ago, God bent down in what is known as the "Incarnation." Now, we know what God is like as we come to personally know Jesus Christ. God bends down to –

Untie the chains of destructive habits that bind; Cleanse away the accumulated increments ofsio's defilement; Remove the masks of hypocrisy which have covered resentments,
bitterness, and pride;
Bring satisfaction and refreshment to the parched lips of the soul;
Encourage repentance
and to offer forgiveness
and to implement the process of restoration from sin's blight.

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God bends down to those burdened with questions and insecurities and aimlessness and the unknown. He is not on vacation, minus an unreachable number – but He is near!

He can pour the oil of gladness into a sorrowful heart. 
He can apply the balm of Gilead to the hurts of life. 
He can put a song of praise where there has been none. 
He can bear the yoke with you in life's duties. 
He can grant strength in the place of weakness. 

Wherever you are in life's journey, look up, God is bending down to you.

"Praise to you, O God our Heavenly Father, that you are with us – Emmanuel! You are not faraway. You are bending down to me. Amen."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: If I draw near to God, He will draw near to me. In various moments of this day I will acknowledge that God is near me.

– Floyd Cooper –

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Galatians 5:22

Meditate On Who Jesus Really Is

In the midst of all the turmoil, war, earthquakes, tornadoes, road rage, school shootings, bombings and dishonesty in government, the world today is crying out for peace. When Jesus rode into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday on a donkey, the people cried out, "Hosanna, save us now". They were looking for a political leader to release them from Rome and give them peace. Today, we look for a great general, a powerful president, or a mediator to bring peace to the world.

Luke 2 states that an angel appeared to shepherds, saying, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people." When we are told as the shepherds were, "You will find a baby," our natural response is, "You've got to be kidding." A BABY? A helpless, defenseless, dependent infant? How can a baby bring peace to the world? However, the secret lies in knowing whom the baby is. The angel explained, "A SAVIOR has been given to you; He is Christ the Lord." That makes as much sense as trying to explain to an ant couple that their new offspring is really a human being who has become an ant. We cannot comprehend the fact that a holy, righteous God, the Creator of the Universe, would come to earth as a helpless baby. We must accept it by faith. Ponder that!

John 3 tells us that God loved the world so much that He sent his Son to redeem us. Jesus was fully God and fully man. He hungered and thirsted as we do. He rejoiced and sorrowed as we do. But he had power to walk on water and calm the raging sea. When he commanded the storm, "PEACE, be still," the wind and the waves subsided. Meditate on that miracle! Do you know a general, a president or mediator who can do that?

The story is told that $1000 would be given to the artist who could best portray Peace. Serene pastoral scenes, mountains with lakes and sunset pictures were all entered in the competition. However, the painting that won the prize was of a violent storm with dark clouds and flashes of lightning. In the midst of the storm set a tiny bird in a tree, singing his heart out. That bird depicted genuine peace. Oh, we need such peace today!

However, we have missed the last part of the angel's message: Glory to God in the highest, and on earth PEACE to men of good will: Peace is a gift received from God by one person at a time, a deep abiding peace placed deep within the soul. When a person

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accepts Christ as his Savior, the spirit of God produces His fruit in that beart. The fruit of the Spirit includes LOVE, JOY, and PEACE.

Before returning to heaven, Jesus said PEACE I leave with you; my PEACE I give unto you. Each individual has the opportunity to accept this peace by faith.

Government cannot legislate peace. Armies cannot enforce peace. Money cannot purchase peace. Good works cannot earn peace. PEACE is a free gift from God. It is a peace that the world cannot give and the world cannot take away.

"Father, thank you for sending Jesus to the earth to bring Us peace. Help me meditate daily on your Word and accept your free gifts. Show me how to utilize the peace that can only come from you."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: Peace must be experienced in the heart before it can be demonstrated in the world.

– Laura Drewer –

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Matthew 6:33

John 4:14

Jesus – 'The Focus Of Life' And 'The Water Of Life'!

While traveling in British Columbia through the awesome beauty for the national parks, my husband and I saw what appeared to be a white ribbon running down the side of a high glacial mountain. There was a lake between us and the mountain. The lake was a beautiful color, which was a vivid bluish green. We were told that the color came from the melting glaciers. Focusing our camera, with its high-powered lens, on the white ribbon, we discovered it to be a beautiful tumbling waterfall. The camera lens had magnified it so much that it awakened our senses to the point of making us believe we could hear the thunder of the falls as it cascaded downward over the rocks. The sight was so amazing that we thought we would almost 'feel' the spray of the mist on our face and even smell the freshness of it. As the sun shone on the mist, a beautiful rainbow appeared, leaving us with a magical moment still felt today when we recall it.

So it is when we allow God to work in our lives, when we see life through the powerful lens of his love. Often we miss the obvious, until we let Christ direct our thoughts and our visions. When we allow Christ to have His 'way' in our life, then we see, not only the physical beauty and power of His creation, but we see also the beauty of His re- creation in our life! Where the SON is allowed to shine, there the rainbow of hope and joy will appear! It took the powerful lens of our camera to reveal the waterfall in all its splendor. So it is with those who have never experienced the power and the revelation of Christ in a personal relationship. They remain blind to eternal truths and to the wonder of the Saviour, Jesus Christ! Until they are 'focused' on Christ (spiritually transformed), they cannot see or appreciate the splendor and awe of Almighty God! Neither can they begin to understand His blessed Word (Bible).

The high plains of Ogallala Aquifer are said to be one of the largest fresh water aquifers in the world. Water has been accumulating beneath the heartland for a long time. It underlies about 175,000 square miles, but much of it is in trouble due to the fact that many ranchers are irrigating these areas of the plains. Water is pumped out of the Ogallala ten times faster than it is being restored. It is said that the center pivot irrigation systems are pumping 900 gallons of water a minute out of the aquifer. After the Civil War, farmers in Wyoming and Colorado found that they could raise forage for cattle by capturing water from the Platte River. It was determined that, at one time, 3 ½ million acre feet of water flowed past Grand Island, Nebraska, each year, but dwindled to one million acre-feet. I have become acutely aware of the great importance

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of water this year, due to the high temperature taking their toll on gardens and lawns. As I water the flowers in the early morning, I am reminded of David's petition when he was in the wilderness of Judah, as he thirsted for the living God (Psalm 63:1; Psalms 143:6).

"Jesus, be thou the 'Focus' of my life, that I might find meaning and purpose. Be thou the 'Water' of my life, that my deep spiritual thirst might be quenched and that I might find lasting soul satisfaction!"

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: The 'water' which Christ gives to me becomes a perpetual spring within me, watering me forever with eternal life! (John 4:14, Living Bible)

– Joyce Calkins –

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Romans 5:18-19

Colossians 1:18-23

Every Sinner Is 'Saveable'!

Paul wrote: "It was through what his Son did that God cleared a path for everything to come to him – all things in heaven and on earth – for Christ's death on the cross has made peace with God for all by his blood." (Colossians 1:20, Living Bible) "For God was in Christ, restoring the world to himself, no longer counting men's sins against them but blotting them out. This is the wonderful message he was given us to tell others." (2 Corinthians 5:19, Living Bible) "He (Jesus) is the one who took God's wrath against our sins upon himself, and brought us into fellowship with God; and he is the forgiveness for our sins, and not only ours but all the worlds." (John 2:2, Living Bible)

If God loves all persons, and if God is not willing that anyone should perish, and if Jesus' death on the cross provided a perfect atonement for every human being who has lived or who will ever live, and if God through Christ's death on the cross is now (objectively- speaking) reconciled to every person (sinner) in the human race, then we can state with great confidence that the Holy Spirit beings conviction for sin to all persons, and that the Spirit seeks to bring all to a place of repentance. Every person everywhere is commanded to repent of his sins. (Acts 17:30) The offer of eternal life is offered to everyone. None need perish in his sins (John 3:16-17). "Jesus shouted to the crowds, 'If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. For the Scriptures declare that rivers of living water shall flow from the inmost being of anyone who believes in me." (John 7: 3-38, Living Bible)

All persons are created in the "image of God," and, as such, have within them a free will. Therefore, all persons are capable of choosing to accept Jesus Christ, and all persons are offered eternal life. The HOLY SPIRIT calls all persons to repentance and to new life in Christ; therefore, all persons are saveable. "And the Spirit and the bride say, come. And let him that hearth say, come. And let him that is a thirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely." (Revelation 22:17) Because God has given the gift of saving faith to all persons, all persons have the potential of exercising that saving faith to become a committed follower of the true God. As has been said: "As long as there is breath, there is hope." One 78-year-old woman, with whom I shared the 'born again experience' (John 3), repeated after me the 'sinners' prayer'. Just four weeks later she died! This woman (Rosalie Trindle) manifested such glory and joy in her countenance the last moments before she died, that her two 'unsaved' children (who witnessed her death) both testified that they believed the holy angels came and carried away their

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beloved motber! Said ber son: "If I ever doubted that there is an after life, I no longer doubt it now, after seeing the peace and joy on my mother's face as she died!"

"Loving Father, I thank you for the 'Hound of Heaven' – the blessed Holy Spirit – who pursues each sinner with the persistence of divine love, rescuing many from the 'pit of destruction' even in the last moments of earthly existence. Such compassion!"

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: Because God's saving love is universal and Christ's atonement is unlimited, I know that I am not 'too wicked' to be saved!

– Ron Christian –

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Revelations 3:20

Christ At The Heart's Door

Do you have a copy of Salim an's painting of "Christ at the Heart's Door" in your home? Have you ever studied the objects and the lighting?

Jesus, God's very Son, is robed in white, which represents His purity and His holiness. He stands, gently knocking, not pounding, demanding entrance.

Around his feet, long, ugly sharp thorns have overtaken the pathway. The crown of thorns which was placed on Jesus' head probably came from this bush.

The nest above the door to the left may be a bat's nest, symbolizing darkness. The owner has allowed it to be built and remain at the entrance to his home.

Point to the light curved around the top of the door. Follow it around to the right, then slant down to Jesus' feet. It then angles to the left and up, finally forming a curve near the nest, then reuniting where you started. This light forms the shape of a heart, symbolizing the door to a person's heart.

Examine the solid door which defies entrance. The window is too small to admit any sunlight. The most peculiar thing is that there is no doorknob on the outside ofthe door; it can only be opened from the inside.

Now imagine what it must be like on the other side of that door. Does the owner cower in fear, afraid to answer the door, lest his hoarded life savings be stolen from him? Does he fear death at the hands of one who might enter there? Does he pull his shroud of shame tighter about him, or freeze in his spot for fear of being found? Does he cower in the corner from confusion, or utter a scream of shock?

If he finally musters enough bravery or curiosity to open the door a bit, the brightness of the sun would temporarily blind him. He would be overwhelmed by the radiance of God's Son as he waited there. The warmth and brightness of the sun and fresh air would penetrate his home.

And he would look into the eyes of Jesus, the holy Son of God. Those eyes would not burn with the fire of judgment but with the care of compassion. His attitude would not be that of repulsion at the sight of the owner and his living quarters; it would have joy at the sight of a long lost friend.

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I think at this point, Jesus would smile and call out the owner's name in such acclaim as at the reunion of best friends. Didn't Jesus say to his disciples, "I have called you friends?"

A true friend overlooks a messy house, in fact, he may help you tidy up, or even remodel if you ask him.

Revelations 3:20 says: "If any man open the door, I will come in and will sup with him, and he with me." A little chorus says, "One door, and only one, and yet its sides are two. Inside and outside, on which side are you?" It may be that today you are on the inside in darkness and Jesus is on the outside, patiently knocking. Will you answer the door and join Him in the sunshine? Then will you invite Him into your heart's borne and experience His wondrous love and joy? The decision is yours. He is standing there, gently knocking.

"Into my heart, into my heart, come into my heart, Lord Jesus. Come in today, come in to stay. Come into my heart, Lord Jesus".

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: My heart is Christ's home.

– Laura Drewer-

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John 3:1-21

You Must Be Born Again

Nicodemus, a Pharisee, visited Jesus one night. To understand that interview, we need to know who Nicodemus was, and what he wanted to learn. More importantly, what Jesus did want Nicodemus to learn about Him.

The Pharisees defined and interpreted the Mosaic law and personally conformed to it and the traditions of the elders in the strictest manner. What more could be needed?

In greeting, Nicodemus identified Jesus with the religious leaders, "Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him." Evidently Nicodemus longed for God's power for himself.

Jesus informed him that the signs and miracles were simply His calling card. He wanted Nicodemus to know that he had come into the world to communicate God's truth to man, "Unless a man is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God."

Nicodemus was cut to the quick when Jesus insinuated that he didn't understand what the kingdom of God is. He considered himself on the inside, now he found himself on the outside. Jesus informed him there was only one way to get on the inside, to be born again.

Nicodemus' question "How can a man be born when he is old?" does not appear to be a quest for the truth, but a sarcastic put down. Jesus used the illustration of the wind which cannot be seen but is believed because it is experienced, then stated, "So it is with everyone born of the Spirit."

Nicodemus declared that he was confused, "How can this be?" Jesus wants Nicodemus to know the truth. He starts talking about a man, then he talks directly to Nicodemus, finally he includes all mankind in his invitation. "I tell you the truth, unless a MAN is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. I tell you the truth, unless a MAN is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. I tell you the truth, YOU must be born again. WHOEVER believes in God's Son shall have eternal life." The word MUST is emphatic. It is not you should be or you can be.

Then Jesus stated that he must be lifted up as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert. EVERYONE who believes in Him may have eternal life.

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Nicodemus learned Jesus is more than a religious leader. Jesus is the one who understands heavenly concepts because He came down to earth as the Son of Man to communicate God's love to mankind, to save the world by giving eternal life to WHOEVER believes in him.

Many people today think they are on the inside because they come from a Christian family, or because they attended Church all their lives. Some think that being a good person and loving their neighbor makes them a Christian. Jesus'statement, "You must be born again," and his invitation that "whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life," are just as meaningful today.

What will you say to Jesus as He looks you in the eye and says, "You must be born again"?

"Father, I believe Jesus is the Son of God and He gave his life for me. I accept Him as my Savior. Thank you I know that, because I am born again, I will enter into the kingdom of God."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: Being born again may be as mysterious as the wind but is the only way into the Kingdom of God.

– William Drewer –

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2 Chronicles 7:11-22

The Call To Repentance And Confession

Everyone these days seems to have an agenda. We have the Christian agenda, the homosexual agenda, the Republican or the Democrat agenda, and the list goes on. Unfortunately, it all falls under one category: the political agenda. It is especially prevalent during an election year. I have already had too many political Dyers given to me telling me why I need to vote for certain people in the upcoming primary elections. I feel trapped in another agenda: do I vote for the person who strongly agrees with my own personal agenda, even though that person has no real chance of becoming elected, or, do I vote for the most likely candidate to win, knowing that some of my personal agenda is reflected by that candidate, although I disagree on some of that person's platform? What a dilemma!

Perhaps before we start shouting for our political agendas, we need to ask ourselves, "What is God's agenda?" What I have to say today may not be very popular. But what I have to say just may make a difference.

First of all, God has no political agenda. Jesus is neither Republican nor Democrat. He did not come to win an election. He came to win souls.

Secondly, God never intended for politicians to be prophets. He did not intend for governments to take His place. God speaks for Himself and He is Sovereign.

Thirdly, God has already expressed Himself regarding nations in turmoil. His words would give our nation great relief if we, the Christian community, would only obey Him. " … if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land." (2 Chronicles 7:14)

The time has come to listen to God's agenda. We are responsible for our actions. We, who are His people, must fall to our knees, humble ourselves before the Almighty God, seek His face in prayer, and turn from our wicked ways. It is our sins which must first be acknowledged. When we do this, God has promised to forgive our sins and then heal our land. If we truly want to see positive values portrayed by our nation, the Christian community must do as God is commanding. It is not a matter of voting. It is a matter of obedience.

"Lord Jesus, it is easy to claim You as Lord, but honestly, I have not always lived this affirmation. Forgive me for looking to the world for solutions when I only need to turn

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to you. Forgive our nation as well, Lord, for we have not followed Your ways. May we see Your heart in all we do? Amen."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: A changed nation begins with me.

– Thomas Duckworth –

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Discussion Questions

  1. Historically speaking, share ways in which God has "bent down" to communicate to and to "reach" the human race. From your own personal experience, share how God has been "bending down" to communicate to you, to "reach" you, to "save" you, to "change" you. Tell if you agree with the following statement: "If I take one step toward God, He will take a thousand steps toward me!"

  2. If government cannot legislate peace, and armies cannot enforce peace, and money cannot purchase peace, and one's good works cannot earn peace, where does a troubled (guilt-ridden) person find peace? (Note John 16:33; Philippians 4:7; Galatians 5:22; John 14:26-27)

  3. Is Jesus and His Kingdom causes the "focus" of your personal life, or are you "focused" on something less than Jesus – like money, power, position, fame, pleasure? In what ways is the indwelling Christ like a "perpetual spring of water" within the life of a true (surrendered) believer? (Note John 4:14)

  4. Put an 'A' if you agree or a 'D' if you disagree with the following statements (to reflect your personal understanding of God's provision for Salvation):

    1. ____ Through the shedding of Christ's blood, Christ's death on the cross has made it possible to cleanse away the sins of every sinner (past, present, future).

    2. ____ God was in Christ, restoring (reconciling) the world of sinners to Himself, no longer counting men's sins against them, but blotting out all sins.

    3. ____ Christ's atonement is limited, for Christ died on the cross only for those sinners whom God had previously chosen or elected before the creation of human beings to be "saved."

    4. ____ Because Christ died on the cross to save everyone, all persons are _ "automatically" saved.

    5. ____ Although Christ died for all persons (i.e., Christ's atonement was unlimited in its power), and although God is (objectively-speaking) "reconciled" to every sinner because of what Christ accomplished on the cross, it is nevertheless necessary for a person to actually experience reconciliation (peace) with God through personal repentance of sins and personal surrender to God.

    6. ____ Because God loves all persons (sinners), it is not His will (desire) that any sinner should die in his sins and be eternally lost.

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      Discussion Questions (Continued)

    7. ____ The Holy Spirit brings conviction for sin to all persons, and the Spirit seeks to bring all persons to a place of genuine repentance.

    8. ____ God has created every person with a free will, and God has given the ability to all persons (sinners) to repent of sin and to call upon God for forgiveness of sins and for eternal life.

    9. ____ God offers the gift of eternal life to all persons, and only those who refuse to accept this God-given gift are excluded from entering heaven at the time of physical death.

    10. ____ God has chosen (elected) to save some persons and to damn (exclude) other persons from experiencing forgiveness of sins and enjoyment of a heavenly existence. That is to say, some sinners are 'saveable' and some sinners are not 'saveable'.

    11. ____ God has said that "whosoever" may come to Him for salvation, to take the ''water of life" freely.

    12. ____ Because God has given the gift of "saving faith" to all persons, all persons have the potential of exercising that saving faith to become a committed follower of the true God.

    13. ____ Because God's saving love is universal and because Christ's atonement is unlimited, there is no person who is "too wicked" to be redeemed (saved).

    14. ____ It is never "too late" in life to accept Christ as one's Savior, for God's grace includes even "deathbed repentance" (like the thief on the cross).

  5. When Christ "knocks" on your "heart's door", what is your personal responsibility? What "benefits" will you personally enjoy when you properly respond to the "knock" of Christ on your heart's door?

  6. According to your understanding of John 3:1-21, what does it actually mean for a person to be "born again"? Why is it "proper" to compare certain activities (actions) of the Holy Spirit to the actions (movements) of physical Wind?

  7. According to 2 Chronicles 7:14, what does God require of "professing Christians," and what does God promise to do for those persons who accept those requirements?

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