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God's Plan of Salvation

separated from God --> separation removed through faith in Christ --> relationship with God

We are born with a kind of spiritual disease called sin (Romans 5:12). We might be relatively good people, but in God’s eyes everyone is sinful (Romans 3:23). God gave us the moral law not so we would follow it perfectly but to show us that we can’t follow it perfectly (Romans 3:19; Galatians 3:24).

The spiritual disease of sin is the ultimate cause of death (Romans 5:12). It is a law of the universe – “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). Not only does sin cause physical death but also the “second death”, which is eternal separation from God (Revelation 20:11-15).

When the disease of sin infected the human race, God could have simply destroyed all of creation and started over, but He didn’t. God loves us and took drastic steps to cleanse us from our sins and save us from the eternal consequence of our sins. Before exploring how He did this and what it means for us on a practical level, it is helpful to look at how we are similar to God and different from God.

When God created mankind, He said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness...” (Genesis 1:26). God isn’t some impersonal, nebulous force that we can’t see. Notice how He used the plural pronoun Us when He referred to Himself. Just like we have three parts to our being – body, soul, and spirit – God also has three parts to His being, often referred to as the “Trinity”. The “Son of God” is the body of God. “God the Father” is the soul of God. And the “Holy Spirit” is the spirit of God. God is also profoundly different from us. One of the most important differences is that God is sinless.

Every part of our being – body, soul, and spirit – is naturally infected with the disease of sin. Because God is perfectly sinless, He was able to “bear our sins in His own body” (1 Peter 2:24) and literally die in our place so that we can go to Heaven after our body dies rather than go to the second death (Isaiah 53:5; Hebrews 2:9; Revelation 2:11, 20:6).

How God bore our sins involves dimensions of reality beyond our comprehension, but to grasp the basic concept you could compare the disease of sin to cancer. When people are treated for cancer, chemotherapy is often used to kill the cancer cells. The amount of chemotherapy that people can withstand is limited because it kills both the cancer cells and healthy cells. Too much chemotherapy would kill not only the cancer but also the person. Imagine a child being diagnosed with cancer and being told that their body is not strong enough to endure the amount of chemotherapy needed to kill the cancer cells. Now imagine their father saying, “I love you more than my own life. If it was possible for all your cancer cells to be transferred from your little body to my body, I would do it so that I could endure the chemotherapy in your place.” That is a picture of what Jesus Christ did for us; but unlike cancer, it is possible for our sin to be transferred to Jesus Christ! When you take His hand in faith – also refered to as “trusting” in Him (Ephesians 1:13) – Jesus Christ bears your sin and dies in your place nearly 2000 years ago so that you don’t have to die the second death in eternity. God left eternity and died in a moment of time to save you from death in eternity!

God's Plan of SalvationYou might think, if He cleanses us from our sins then why do we still sin? In order to understand the answer it’s important to distinguish between the body and the spirit. The very moment we trust in Christ, our spirit is immediately cleansed from the disease of sin, but not until we get to Heaven will we have a new body that is free of sin. The Bible refers to the instantaneous change in our spirit as being “born of the Spirit” (John 3:8) and becoming “a new creation” in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17); after this happens, when God looks at us, He sees the sinless perfection of Christ in our spirit instead of seeing the sinful actions that originate from our body (2 Corinthians 5:21; Colossians 1:19-23). Once our spirit is instantaneously cleansed from sin, our soul (mind and emotions) becomes the battleground between the desires of our spirit and the desires of our body. When we get to Heaven there will be perfect peace in our soul as our new body and spirit will be united in the sinless nature.

Right now we can’t see God with our eyes, but the very essence of Heaven will be life in the visible presence of God. The Bible states that there will be no need for sunlight in Heaven because “the glory of God illuminates [Heaven]” (Revelation 21:23). While God the Father (the “soul” of God) and the Son of God (the “body” of God) are in Heaven right now, the Spirit of God is on earth right now. Before Jesus returned to Heaven He said that He would send His Spirit to take His place on earth (John 16:5-11). Jesus Christ not only bore your sins and died in your place for you to spend eternity in relationship with God in Heaven but also for you to spend the rest of your life on earth in relationship with God through His Spirit. When Jesus lived on earth for 33 years, He could only have a close relationship with a select few; but now that He has returned to Heaven, He can have a close relationship with anyone, anywhere in the world, through His Spirit! (John 4:21-24)

While talking to a person at a water well, Jesus compared the things of this world that can’t give us lasting satisfaction to water that only temporarily satisfies our thirst. Then He spoke of the lasting satisfaction that we can find through God’s Spirit: “Whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life" (John 4:14). Our relationship with God begins in this life and continues for eternity.

We automatically enter a relationship with God the moment our spirit is cleansed from sin through faith in Christ. It happens in a moment because it is the power of God that cleanses us, not our own power (Ephesians 1:19). The Bible speaks of being cleansed from sin and Christ’s payment for the consequence of our sin as a “free gift” from God that we can never earn (Ephesians 2:8; Romans 5:15).

All we have to do is simply ask Him by faith to cleanse us from our sins so that we can have a relationship with Him both in eternity and here on earth through His Spirit. We will struggle with sin until the day we die (Romans 7:21-25); but when we enter a relationship with God our attitude towards sin changes, and this change in attitude translates into a decreasing pattern of sin in our lives (Romans 6:1-2). It’s important to remember that once we enter a relationship with God, when He looks at us He sees the sinless perfection of Christ in our spirit, in spite of the sin that plagues our body and the struggle that results in our mind (2 Corinthians 5:21; Philippians 3:9). When we lose the battle in our mind and give into sin, God is there waiting for us to ask Him for help in overcoming that sin (Romans 8:15; Hebrews 5:16). The key to overcoming sin is developing a close relationship with God (Galatians 5:16).

The essence of a genuine relationship with God is love... “we love Him because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19). As with any relationship, communication is at the center of relationship with God:

God's Plan of Salvation