The Palestine Herald, Palestine, Texas

Opinion

November 9, 2013

Instant Message: The mystery of salvation

PALESTINE — John 3: 3 - 8 (NIV): 3 In reply Jesus declared,"I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” 4 "How can a man be born when he is old?" Nicodemus asked. "Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother's womb to be born!" 5 Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. 7 You should not be surprised at my saying, 'You must be born again.' 8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit."

There's a mystery to salvation. It happens in the spiritual realm, but it changes the physical world. Jesus uses the illustration of wind -- it can cool your face or pick up a leaf or knock down a tree, but it is invisible. In the same way we cannot see the spiritual world that encompasses us, but we can see its effects. We can see changed lives, and we can feel God's comfort and peace, but the spiritual power itself is hidden from our eyes.

So Christians are born twice, first physically, then spiritually. Our physical birth gets us here and we can experience life through our senses, but the spiritual birth is more mysterious. No one can see the act of salvation itself, just as we cannot see the wind. But we see the transformation of life that results. I can't see my faith, but I can see the results of having it. I can't see God himself, but I can feel his Spirit in my own.

How are we born again? Jesus goes on to say we are given eternal life when we believe in him. Is it really that easy? James reminds us that the demons believe but are not saved (James 2:19). So it is more than head knowledge, more than mental ascent. It means we put our trust in him for salvation. We believe we need him to save us and that he will if we ask. It happens at the junction -- the crossroads -- of the physical mind and the spiritual universe. Again, it's a mystery.

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Autographed copies of Craig's fiction novel “The Dead Peasants File” are for sale at Blaser's Books in downtown Palestine. Harris is the pastor at Brushy Creek and Mt. Vernon United Methodist churches.

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