Versión en Español: Ese Momento Preciso
There is a certain moment in time when everything changes, when a mere human is transformed by God into a completely different type of human. It is that life changing moment when a sinner accepts God’s free gift of forgiveness, bowing before God in repentance, acknowledging Christ as Lord of all.
That moment changes everything for that person. Nothing is the same anymore. A new creature has been born – really and truly “born again” into new life in Christ. This magic moment!
Thief On The Cross
According to Scripture, a whole lot of change is going on at that moment in time. An excellent example of this is the thief on the cross hanging with Jesus, with another thief.
39 One of the criminals who were hanged there was hurling abuse at Him, saying, “Are You not the Christ? Save Yourself and us!” 40 But the other answered, and rebuking him said, “Do you not even fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41 And we indeed are suffering justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 And he was saying, “Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!” 43 And He said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.” –Luke 23:39-43
Nothing religious was done by the thief. He merely (1) confessed his sinfulness, and (2) acknowledged Jesus as “the Christ”. And on the basis of that alone – Jesus Himself said,
“Truly I say to you,
shall be with Me
In that moment in time, that thief became totally acceptable to God and was welcomed into His Kingdom. He did not “do” anything. He confessed and acknowledged.
THIS is what happens in that moment when one accepts Christ as Lord.
17 Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. – 2 Corinthians 5:17
Mere humans are verily created by God, but they exist as creatures in a fallen state rejected by God because of unforgiven sinfulness. When a person confesses his sinfulness and acknowledges Christ as God, that creature is born again into a newness of life as a child of God destined to reign and rule with Christ in the universe. As the Apostle Paul wrote, we become “a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”
Other Bible translations say the same thing but put it in different words: 2 Corinthians 5:17
New Living Translation: 17 This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!
The Message: anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons!
Contemporary English Version: 17 Anyone who belongs to Christ is a new person. The past is forgotten, and everything is new.
Amplified Bible: 17 Therefore if any person is [ingrafted] in Christ (the Messiah) he is a new creation (a new creature altogether); the old [previous moral and spiritual condition] has passed away. Behold, the fresh and new has come!
Life after accepting Christ as Lord is “fresh and new”! The old is gone – forever. The new is started. Hallelujah! So, what are the implications of this truth?
What has God done to us – in that moment of time? Other Scriptures go on to state:
1. We are never again under God’s condemnation.
“Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” –Romans 8:1
“…he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life. –John 5:24 (present tense verbs: we have it now!)
2. We are to begin seeking to follow Christ.
“Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above….” –Colossians 3:1
3. Nothing can separate us from God – ever again.
38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. –Romans 8:38
There is a certain exhilarating freedom and fearlessness that accompanies salvation in Christ, a confidence that God has us in His hands and nothing can separate us from Him, and nothing that happens to us in this life will ever be a surprise to Him. We have nothing to fear from God – and everything to gain in Him!
28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. 29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; 30 and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified. –Romans 8:28-30
We will someday leave this earth and all its limitations and death, but until then, we are totally secure in Him because it is His arms that hold us to Himself, not our weak, clinging hands. His grace is greater than all our sins. Becoming a new creature was something He did to me by His grace. I did not do it. He is the One that changes us into His eternal sons and daughters – not we ourselves. And what He has done, nothing can change. (Read Romans 8:38.)
We are not flying through thin air desperately clinging to the fingers of God lest we fall into the fires of Hell below. That is not the true picture given by the doctrines of Scripture. But rather, we are IN Christ. It is like we are walking hand-in-hand with Christ, Lord of all, and it is His hand that holds us firmly so that nothing can separate us from Himself. He has saved us – not we ourselves (Ephesians 2:8), and so it is He who will keep His promise to keep us to the end.
“…for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day. –2 Timothy 1:12
Saved, or Not? The question is ever that tough one, which only you can determine: Have you truly been born again? If you have, then, on That Day, you will hear Christ say, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.” If you were never born again, you will hear Christ say, on That Day, “I never knew you: depart from me….” Scary!
21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. –Matthew 7: 21-23
There are many who know they are not “saved”. But there are also many who have deceived themselves into thinking they are. Only you can know for sure. Just as being in a garage does not make you “a car”, going to church does not make you a Christian, acceptable to God. It does not save you – to call yourself a Christian, or to be in church, or to really, really like being involved in Christian worship or fellowship. It does not save you when you raise your hand or go forward in an evangelistic service.
This is referred to in several passages like this one in Hebrews 6:4-5…
“…the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come….” –Hebrews 6:4-5
It is saying here that there are people in the church who know the Truth, have personally had a taste of what salvation is all about, and have even vicariously experienced the intimate movement of the Holy Spirit, and have seen the realities of the Word of God in Scriptures, and thus are aware of some of the prophecies of the age to come – yet have never personally given their life to God through repentance and acknowledgment of Christ as their Lord and Savior. On That Day of Judgment, Christ will say to them, “I never knew you: depart from me….”
That is why Christianity is often called a “relationship”, not a religion. It is not a matter of knowing or liking or acting like or adhering to a creed…, but rather a matter of the heart – of actually making a choice to humble one’s self in repentance towards God, acknowledge Christ as Lord, and follow Him in your daily living.
The thief on the cross with Jesus did not DO a heck of a lot! Salvation is not about doing or acting or looking like anything. It is about personally accepting Christ as your Savior, saying to God in prayer something like,
“Jesus, I acknowledge to You that I am a sinner in need of your forgiveness.I repent of my past and ask that You will forgive me. My desire is to follow You for the rest of my life.”
Then, learn more about God by reading His Word to us, the Bible. Daily, talk to God. Keep your relationship with God fresh. Pray something like,
“Lord God, you are so good. Thank you for your love, your forgiveness and acceptance…. I confess my sins to you this day…. Thank you that you have forgiven me. I am so totally excited about someday being with you in Heaven. I want to please you! So I yield myself to you anew right now. I really want you to empower me this day with your Holy Spirit that I may become more and more like Jesus in all I think and say and do. I look to you for Your leading and guidance this day. I say this all in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.”