By the Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is new creation. The old has passed away; behold the new has come.” 2Corinthians 5:17
So, what’s new? God gives everyone He raises from death to life new desires, desires for Him!
My new desires began on January 29, 1986. On that day, God snatched me from the pit of hell. It was a normal day. But, on my way to my office that day, I was broad sided by a semi-truck. The paramedics had to cut me out of my car. I awoke four days later in a hospital in Gainesville, FL with one desire and many broken bones. My one desire was for Jesus, the Jesus of the Bible. The God of truth and grace opened my eyes to see the beauty of Christ. My only thought was to run to Him. I testify that God did not drag me into His Kingdom. No, the thought of running from Jesus never entered my mind. My desire was and continues for Him! The words of Jesus burned into my heart. “UNLESS one is born again he CANNOT see the kingdom of God.” John 3:3 (ESV)
Before that day, I had no such desire for Jesus. Oh, I thought that I was a good person, most people do. I believed, as long as I was better than most, surely, God would welcome me. After all, doesn’t the Bible say that God is love? (1John 4:8) Yes, but the Bible also says that God is holy, holy, holy, Isaiah 6:3. I never thought about the justice of God. He never sets aside His justice. He only extends mercy on the basis of the merit of Jesus Christ, His perfect life and perfect sacrifice.
Before my “accident,” I never knew the one true God. I was dead in my sin. Before God’s act of free grace, I thought all this “born again” stuff was for the weak minded. God pierced my heart with the truth that spiritually dead men live for themselves. After the accident, I was unconscious. I couldn’t have saved myself. I couldn’t even get out of my hospital bed. Before God’s action, I didn’t know I was lost and headed to hell. God had to act. He did and I look back in amazement that He chose me! Yes, I responded to Him. But I was only responding to His action.
Beware, there is a persistent false teaching that if one believes he will be born again. How foolish! Worse, it is the height of manipulation to tell people that we are made new creations by our own wisdom and ability. How can a dead person believe? The truth is “Ye must be born again” in order to believe! The Bible says: “… while we were still sinners, Christ died for us,” Romans 5:8. Every person is born spiritually dead. We are unable to reach out to God and live, Genesis 3:22-24. God alone acted and saved me!
As I look back through the lens of God’s word on His action in saving me, I realize every aspect of my life is a part of God’s sovereign plan. Even when I didn’t know God, He was directing my path in accordance with His will. I thought that I was making choices. And I was, but my choices had already been planned by the Sovereign God. Think about this when you are wondering how you got to where you are: “The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.” (ESV) The words of Jesus, John 6:44, make perfect sense as I look at my life in Christ. “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him.” (ESV)
May I suggest a principle for life that may bring you comfort and assurance? I have been saved by God from God for God.
In writing this, I am declaring my total reliance upon God. I believe the God who saved me has spoken and continues to speak in His word. I believe His word is without error and absolutely reliable because He is. I believe that His word is clear because He desires to be known. I believe that His word is sufficient for all faith and practice. God’s word revealed how He saves His people; how He continues to save His people; and that He has promised that He will bring His people to glory!