“Christ, the Source of Life” by Nathan Greene, ©, All Rights Reserved, Used by Permission

KEYS TO THE KINGDOM

“God, who is rich in mercy,
made us alive in Christ, even when we
were dead in transgressions—
it is by grace
you have been saved.”
EPHESIANS 2:4

Saul of Tarsus, a devpit Jew, born a first-century Roman, lived in the midst of the rule of an iron empire that fostered tyranny and persecuted worshippers of God. It was an era when wicked hearts, awash in sin, sewed crops of hatred and reaped massive harvests of betrayal and death. Without God at the center of the human equation, sin’s wages delivered an agony of violence, suffering and death.

Later, the same Saul, now the “born again” Christian, Paul, predicted an even bleaker future for all mankind.

But mark this: there will be terrible troubles in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God having a form of godliness but denying its power.II TIMOTHY 3:1-5

In the midst of a corrupted culture, our Creator put His own life on the line to transform the most broken-hearted, failed human being into a new identity of victorious goodness. Once invited into the life of the most-vile, debauched human being, our loving God will create within “a clean heart and renew a right spirit.” To the shock of peers, that is exactly what happened to Paul the Apostle.

While a brand name “form of godliness” may help point a person toward the truth about God, the simple beauty of this new-person Christian ID does not result from ritualized religiosity. A proforma, cosmetic mask of “godliness” doesn’t do it.

Isaiah exposed the paucity of ritualized religion.

“Stop bringing meaningless offerings!
Your incense is detestable to me.
New Moons, Sabbaths, and convocations—
I cannot bear your evil assemblies.

“Your New Moon festivals and appointed feasts,
My soul hates.
They have been a burden to me;
I am weary of bearing them.

“When you spread out your hands in prayer,
I will hide my eyes from you;
Even if you offer many prayers,
I will not listen.
Your hands are full of blood,
Wash and make yourselves clean.”
ISAIAH 1:13-15

It was Jesus himself who intervened in the life of Pau, reversing the trajectory of his life. The same Jesus, invites all humans to experience the same, miraculous “born again” transformation by asking the Holy Spirit to redirect and rebuild a shattered life. “For John baptized with water, but in a few days, you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” ACTS 1:5

Once the seed of faith planted in heart the miraculous identity transformation takes over: the “born again” Christian recognizes, with deep sorrow regret, genuinely repents a trail of ugly transgressions and asks God for forgiveness; senses a breathtaking relief that all past sins have been scrubbed from the record; and surrenders the new life to guidance by the Holy Spirit by taking that first step, walking in the footprints carved by Jesus Christ.

From that moment on, the Holy Spirit shapes the storyline, inspiring a victorious lifetime, growing in grace.

The new Christian life experiences a radical personality transformation that intuitively reacts with a lifestyle that shines with joy, “abundant” living and an unprecedented “peace that passes all understanding.” The new Christian’s presence astounds peers with its resume of goodness.

Paul, a living, walking, breathing example of a personal revolution, summarizes a resume of positive characteristics that revealed in his own persona.

“Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” GALATIANS 5:22, 23

“Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience…Forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” COLOSSIANS 3:12,13

A collateral dividend in the life of the new Christian is the likability factor displayed as the result of the radical character change. Family, friends and neighbors will notice a difference.

Heaven’s gates swing open wide, 24/7. As long as the core center of our “born again” future life continues in the footsteps of Christ, any shortfall, in word or deed, will be covered by Christ’s robe of perfect righteousness. It’s not the occasional misstep that determines destiny, but the direction taken.

Christ’s perfect life and sacrificial death, paid the penalty price for the wages of the sins of all humankind from every race, nationality and era lived on Planet Earth. Thanks to this gift of love, all “born again” Christians have been awarded the keys to the promised land waiting in God’s Everlasting Kingdom of Heaven.

“If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, the old has gone, the new has come.” II CORINTHIANS 5:17 “This calls for patient endurance on the part of the saints who obey God’s commandments and remain faithful to Jesus.” REVELATION 14:12

Jesus Christ, “the way, the truth, and the life,”
exemplifies perfect love and absolute morality in action.
His ministry, excruciating death on the cross, and miraculous
resurrection offers the prescription that replaces the sin virus,
with “abundant” living today and a forever life tomorrow.

Warren LeRoi Johns

Glorious Day, Concert Artist, Steve Darmody