Drawing From God’s Well

“Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song; He also is become my salvation. Therefore, with joy you shall draw water out of the wells of salvation. And in that day you shall say, Praise the Lord, call upon His name, declare  His doings among the people, make mention that His name is exalted. Sing unto the Lord; for He hath done excellent things: this is known in all the earth. Cry out and shout, thou inhabitant of Zion: for great is the Holy One of Israel in your midst.
(Isaiah 12:2-6).

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In this chapter of Isaiah, the Lord is encouraging Israel — and the church (by virtue of our Jewish lineage through Jesus Christ.) The promises in this particular chapter look forward to Jesus and all that He would bring to earth for the human race. Although the Lord is referring to a specific day of deliverance for Israel from her physical enemies, this passage, like so many in the Old Covenant, also foresees the ultimate deliverance of God’s people through the finished work of Jesus Christ.

What this passage offers one nation — on a small scale — it also offers the heirs of that nation (the church of Jesus Christ)  on a much larger scale. So if behooves us to look very closely at exactly what is being promised and offered here, so that we know what God has made available to us through our Lord’s finished work.

The most important word in this entire passage is “salvation.” Now, unfortunately, to English-speaking people, that word tends to turn our minds to a very limited, somewhat atrophied definition. For many, “salvation” represents some rather vague state of being resulting from the fact that God has forgiven our sins and that we are now in a position to be able to go to Heaven when we die. And, of course, it does mean that, but that simple definition is so far from the true meaning of the word in the original texts of Scripture that it leaves us in ignorance of all that Jesus has done for us.

The word which we translate “salvation” in the Old Testament comes from two Hebrew words — each of them used in different O. T. passages, but both of them having the exact same definition.  The really interesting thing is that the word we translate “salvation” in the New Testament comes from one Greek word which also has exactly the same definition as the two Hebrew words used in the O. T.

Every one of those root words means the following:
“To set free, deliver, aid, heal, prosper, protect, make whole, provide for one’s welfare.”

Now, if you are reading this article and you did not know that definition previously, you need to read through it again — maybe two or three times — because until we have all of those parts clearly embedded into our mind, we do not understand the word “salvation.” We also need to understand that when the Scriptures use other forms of that word (such as “save” or “saved”) they are still using the same root word with the same definition.

So what Scripture really tells us is that when Jesus took our sin and the curse for sin upon Himself, died with it, and rose from the grave with all the debt paid in full, He bought, not only forgiveness for the sin, but also deliverance from all the aspects of the curse that was in effect for breaking God’s laws. (For a quick list of the things included in the curse of the broken law, you can read Deuteronomy chapter 28. The first 14 verses list the blessings for walking in covenant and obedience with God, and the whole rest of the chapter lists the punishments for disobedience.)  Galatians chapter 3 explains how Jesus took that whole curse for us and left us free to inherit  the promises given to our forefather in the faith – Abraham.

So when we read that word “salvation,” we need to stop and include all the words in the definition of that word. If we never give correct meaning to it, we will never be able to appropriate the wonderful things it offers us, and we will not be grateful to the Lord for having bought those blessings for us with His own suffering and death.

Just begin with this passage in Isaiah and when you come to the word “salvation,” stop and read “freedom from sin, deliverance, aid, healing, prosperity, protection, wholeness, and welfare.”  If you’ve never done it, you will find that it will change your life — and your relationship with God.

Let’s go one step farther into the New Covenant. The name “Jesus’ is actually derived from a Hebrew root (and is sometimes translated Joshua as well as Jesus.) But the point we need to zero in on is  the fact that the name is derived from a combination of the Hebrew words that mean “Jehovah saves — heals, delivers, sets free, prospers, protects, etc.”  Wow!  No wonder there was unqualified joy in Heaven and among groups of people who were looking for the Messiah when word came that “Jesus” had been born.

Now, let’s return to Isaiah 12 for one more thought. In the last sentence of that chapter, we are told that the inhabitants of Zion  are to shout for joy because the Holy One of Israel is great in her midst. Now,  this “Holy One of Israel” is the same God who came down in fire and burned up Elijah’s sacrifice, along with his altar, and then licked up the water. He’s the same God who slew Goliath when David through his rock. He’s also the same God who went before the army of Jehoshaphat and destroyed three whole armies without Israel even having to get sweaty. If that God is in the midst of Zion, she has nothing at all to fear.

It’s interesting to note that Zion is also used in Scripture to look forward to the church, and in the New Testament book of Hebrews we are told that believers have come to Mt. Zion, to the Heavenly Jerusalem, to the general assembly and church of Jesus Christ.  Does that mean that the “Holy One of Israel” is also in our midst? Well, let’s take a look at 1 John 4:4 — a letter written strictly to the born-again believers who make up the church of Jesus Christ: “You are of God, little children and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.”

And not only is HE (the Holy One of Israel) in us, but so is His Kingdom. Jesus said the Kingdom does not come with outward observation, but that it comes to us internally. (Luke 17:21). He also insisted that it is our Father’s good pleasure to give us His Kingdom. (Luke 12:32). And how does Jesus describe the Kingdom of God?  Well, it includes God’s righteousness, of course (Matt. 6:33) but it also includes healing the sick, casting out demons, raising the dead, and giving out the things of God freely.  Throughout the Gospels, Jesus tells people that when He or His disciples minister the delivering and healing power of God, the Kingdom of God has come to those people. All of those things are inside of our born-again spirit.

So, dear believers, it’s time we stirred ourselves up to go draw the water of life that we need from the wells of God’s “salvation” — the wells of “Jesus” — the wells of “freedom, deliverance, healing, prosperity, protection, and welfare.”

It’s time to cry out and shout for joy — regardless of how things look or feel in the natural. Because those things that have come against you — those enemies — those giants that threaten your survival — those multiple armies of deadly problems that have encamped against you — all of them have one thing in common: they are no match for the Holy One of Israel — for Jesus, who forgives, delivers, heals, prospers, and protects you. Great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.  Believe Him and let Him work for you.

 

 

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Dead In Christ — Part 1

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If then you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.”   (Colossians 3:1-4).

Walking in the likeness of Christ on this earth stops being some vague, mysterious idea when this scripture becomes real to us. I like the translation of verse three in the Living Bible. Although the Living Bible is actually a paraphrase, and, in some places, lacks accuracy, on this verse it hits the bull’s-eye in translating God’s intention in these words. Verse three in that translation says, “You should have as little desire for this world as a dead person does.”

Brothers and sisters, when we move into complete surrender to Jesus, we truly recognize that we have been crucified with Him – we have died to this world, to sin, to the pull of our flesh. And we have been raised, but not given our own life to live. Rather, we are raised with Jesus in us – prepared to live out His life, His plans, His purposes, His goals through our bodies and minds. According to this passage of scripture, our own life is hidden away safely in God. When Jesus comes again in glory, then our life will be released to us so that we may live it out in glory and perfection with Him. But, in the meantime, we are not our own.

Let me use myself as an example. Since Sandra Conner is dead and her life is no longer to be lived out on earth, but rather is tucked away in God for the time being, the only life she is to live here is Jesus’ life. Sandra no longer has rights and privileges for herself personally. Rather, Jesus in her has all the rights and privileges. Sandra no longer calls the shots in making plans or determining how she will act or react in any situation. Jesus does. Sandra no longer has the say in how she spends her time, her energy, or her money, because she isn’t living out Sandra’s life anymore. Jesus is using Sandra’s body, mind, and heart – and her material goods — to continue to live out His life here on earth, so that His love, His truth, and His power can be offered to all the people Sandra comes into contact with.

Needless to say, Sandra Conner no longer has a right to indulge in offended feelings, hurt feelings, self-defense, self-indulgence, or self-promotion. Jesus has all the rights, and if He does not have His feelings hurt, Sandra certainly can’t express hurt feelings, because she is dead, and her new life is tucked away in God and cannot be reached with offense. If Jesus doesn’t give in to the temptation to indulge the flesh instead of spending time in the Word and prayer, Sandra certainly can’t feel free to do so, because she isn’t the one living now.

Do you see how it works, church? Please don’t misunderstand. Sandra Conner is not perfected in this walk by any means. But by using myself as a real-life example, I can better explain what our understanding and attitude should be. Does it seem far-fetched? Remember that the Lord calls us to renew our minds through His Word so that we no longer perceive and judge things according to the natural ways of the world. Does it seem impossible? Well, for the human part of us, it surely is impossible. But we do not have to accomplish this feat. Jesus has all the ability to live out His life through us. All we have to do is get so absorbed with and full of His Word that we become pliable enough to be used.

When we truly see that it is to be Jesus living His life His way through us – that we’re just the carriers, so to speak – then our perspective of life will change dramatically. We will see life from an eternal perspective. Our goals will become eternal goals. We will begin to judge everything we do and say on its ability to accomplish something lasting for God’s kingdom.

So how do we live out being “dead to the world” practically? We will talk more about the “how-to’s” in Part 2 of this lesson.

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What Is This Thing Called ‘Salvation’?

CROSS - PLAIN, THICK - QUESTS.Therefore, if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature (Greek: new species); the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. Now all these things are from God who reconciled us to Himself through Christ, and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. … Therefore, we … beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” (2 Corinthians 5:17-19).

What’s it all about? This “being saved”? This being “born again”? What’s it all about? I just don’t understand it. And I could never get my life straightened out enough and cleaned up enough to fit in with Jesus Christ anyway.”

Ever felt that way? Have you ever felt that you might really like to turn your life over to someone stronger and wiser, who could get it straightened out and make some real sense out of it – give it some lasting purpose and value? But you just don’t think you measure up to God’s standards enough to come to Him?

Well, the good news – shouted loud and strong – in the scripture passage above is that you do not have to measure up to God’s standards – or anyone else’s. You don’t even have to get one little thing about yourself or your life made right before you come to God.

That’s right. I mean what I said. And I can say it with absolute confidence, because God Himself said it first. And He said it over and over again. The passage at the top of this article is just one instance, but, to me, it is one of the most important of those instances. I have two other favorite passages like it in importance: Romans 5:6: “Christ died for the ungodly.” 1 Tim. 1:15: “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.”

Now, of course, if you don’t think you need a savior – if you believe you are holy enough to live in the presence of the holy God of the universe, nose to nose, eye to eye, breathing the same air He breathes for all eternity, without being cleaned up at all – then I’m not talking to you. But if you realize that you are not on the level of that holy God – that you are not righteous and pure enough by your own merit to live with Him – then I am talking to you – and so is He!

The simple truth is that the work has already been done for you. Jesus did it all. He gave up the privileges of being on the throne of Heaven, came to this earth as a man, and lived a perfect life for you. Then God laid all of the sinful nature (to which you are heir) and all of the rebellion, disobedience, ugliness, and hatefulness of all the sin in the human race on Jesus (2 Cor. 5 21), and put all the punishment for that sin on Him as well. He bore it all for you, and after His death on your behalf, He came up out of the grave – also on your behalf – with eternal life and the right to bestow that new life on you. We have “been crucified with Christ,” (Gal. 2: 19-20) and “even when we were dead in our transgressions, [God] made us alive together with Christ … and raised us up with Him.” (Eph. 2:5-6).

But when we decide we’d like to have that salvation and that new relationship with our Creator, we often hold back because we feel powerless to separate ourselves from sin or the world’s way of life – or even from our own selfish nature. We feel powerless to make ourselves “worthy” of Jesus’ sacrifice for us. Well, if you feel that way, rejoice! Because that means you know the truth: We are powerless! But that is okay. Because the work of saving us is His  and His alone! And it’s already been done.

That’s what our beginning scripture is telling us. When God raised Jesus from the dead, He raised Him up as the head of a body – which would be made up of believers – everyone who would believe in that finished work. That’s what the verse in Ephesians means when it says He “raised us up with Him.” And that’s what the passage in 2 Corinthians means when it says that God was – in Christ – reconciling the world to Himself. That word reconcile means to bring back into original or proper position and make the relationship right again. That’s what the Word says God was doing when He crucified Jesus Christ and raised Him up again and seated Him in power and authority forever. He was bringing “the world” back into right relationship with Himself.

Now look at the rest of that verse: “not counting their sins against them.” Who is the pronoun “their” referring to in this verse? The church? The “good” people? The people who call themselves Christians? NO! The only plural noun in that whole verse that the pronoun “their” can refer to is the word world.” Do you get it? God was – in Christ – not counting the world’s sins against them any longer. God was – in Christ (only in Christ) – forgiving all the people in the whole world for every sin counted against them. Can you grasp that exciting truth? In the mind and heart of God, it is already done. In the mind and heart of God, all of your sins are already forgiven – in Christ!

You see, that’s why there is no other way to salvation and eternity with God. There is no other religion, dogma, or program that has inherent within it the forgiveness of all sin and the eternal life granted by God. That forgiveness and that life are only in Christ – because He’s the only one who paid the horrible price of suffering and separation from God that was complete enough and perfect enough to buy freedom for the whole human race.

So, your next question is probably going to be, “Well if it’s already done, then what is my part?” Our part is believing and receiving. Even before Jesus’ crucifixion, when His disciples asked Him, “What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? Jesus told them, “This is the work of God, that you believe on Him whom He hath sent.” (John 6:28-29).

Now, I do need to explain that the word “believe” from the original language means much more than mental assent. It means yielding or surrendering to and obeying.” To truly “believe” means that you give yourself to it completely. But that is the beauty of it all. We do not have to do the work of salvation. We just have to surrender to that work and let it produce its fruit in us. How do we surrender? We simply pour out our hearts to this great, loving Jesus, who has done all the work. We simply tell him in our own words that we know we need what He offers and gladly give Him control in our hearts and our lives. (That’s what it means to make Him our “Lord.”)

Once we totally surrender, Jesus comes to reign on the throne of our hearts. From that position, He can begin to clean up everything else about us that needs cleaning up. You need never fear. Once He has the position of authority, willingly given to him by you, He knows how – and is well able – to do the rest of the work.

So what about that term “born again”? Well to start with, we must remember that man was created by a spirit God and therefore is primarily a spirit being, having a soul and living in a body. Now go back to our original verse: “Therefore, if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature (Greek: new species).” When Jesus Christ comes in, our real man – the spirit man — is literally born again. A brand new species (the God-man species of Jesus Christ) comes in and generates its life in our spirit. Therefore, the Word tells us again and again that, once this happens, we are to be aware of the fact that we are now “children of God.” (Romans 8:16, 1 John 3:2).

Now all of this work is done – finished. In God’s heart and mind it’s a “done deal.” But remember: it is done ONLY IN CHRIST. Therefore, it is only when we make the decision to yield ourselves to Jesus Christ and receive Him into ourselves and our lives that we get the benefit of this finished work. Although it is done, if we choose not to access it, we get no results from it in our personal lives.

You might compare it to the process of getting data from the Internet. You know there is data out there covering the subject about which you need information. But that data will do you absolutely no good at all unless you sit down, turn on your computer, take yourself to that site, open up the channel, and deliberately download that information. So — you must open up yourself to Jesus Christ and all He has done for you, and by believing (yielding, surrendering) download every single bit of it. It’s all yours. It has your name on it. But you have to hit the download (I Believe) button to receive.

So what is salvation? It is the free gift of a loving Father who has paid the deepest, truest, most sacrificial price to restore His rebellious children to Himself. It is the free gift of the brother Jesus, who has given Himself in our place and paid the full price, receiving brand new life to pass on to each one of us. The work of salvation has absolutely nothing to do with us. Our only work is to believe what He has done and surrender to it.

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved.” (John 3:16-17).