AFM Ministry's David Shelton

David's Life applications of God, his Word and his calling

Month: September, 2013

When is a person truly saved? What does saved really mean?

At what point does a person cross over from death to life? Salvation can be defined biblically in many ways, but in it’s simplest terms reduces down to one thing, no longer being an object of God’s wrath but now an object of his eternal love and filled with his very own life forever.
While many people want to be right with God, many are not sure God is 100% for them. As Holy Scripture tells us, we are all born into sin, inheriting our parents sin nature and are all under God’s wrath and the curse of sin and death from the start.  So when can you and I know we are no longer subject to God’s Holy justice for our sins past, present and future?

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According to Christ Jesus it happens at some point in this life, never after we physically die. Hebrews 9:27 says,”And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.” So there is no choice to be made after death, it is too late. In John 5:24-25 he says, “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life. Very truly I tell you, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live.”
The dead? Well certainly he was not talking about the physically dead. In the parable Christ told about the rich man and Lazurus the beggar, he illustrates that the dead have no visibility or connection to the physically alive, just memories, as they await their time of final judgment, or resurrection as in the case of the saved. So who are these  “dead” Jesus is speaking about. In context of Jesus speaking, he is addressing this message to the disciples and crowds listening to him teach. He says when someone referring to those listening hear his words of Truth and by faith, believe he is from God the Father at that point they cross over from death to life. So the dead he is referring to is people alive right then, people alive right now; all who can possibly hear his message salvation in him from your dead in your sins judgment, not the physically dead. Their destiny is sealed.
So if I share the glorious Gospel message with a person and ask them to bow their head and pray to Christ by saying a simple prayer or repentance and faith in him, are they saved at that moment?

Well for some yes, and some no. Why you ask? Simple.  We are not saved by knowledge of the truth, nor are we saved by saying a confession of faith or voicing a particular prayer.  No, we are saved at the moment we truly see and Believe in our heart we are worthless apart from Christ and we need need him to save us. The moment our heart cries out to Christ, “Jesus, Son of God, save me!”… And when your heart cries out that vision of trust in him, so too does your outward action and lips. This is why in Romans 10:9 it says, “if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved”.
Notice the confession with mouth must include the faith, the belief.
So when is God seen as 100%for you and you are saved and given his Spirit for eternity? At the moment of true humble  Faith. As the saying goes, you can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make him drink, so too with the Gospel message. It takes the Holy Spirit to give them an thirst for the living water of God that only Christ can give. This is why prayer is so very important. We must pray for supernatural thirst for God to draw people to Jesus the Life.

I like how John Piper describes this moment of saving faith, Even though a new Believer may not be able to eloquently say it in such words, this described well saving faith.

” What the Bible teaches is that God becomes 100% irrevocably for us at the moment of justification, that is, the moment when we see Christ as a beautiful Savior and receive him as our substitute punishment and our substitute perfection. All of God’s wrath, all of the condemnation we deserve, was poured out on Jesus. All of God’s demands for perfect righteousness were fulfilled by Christ. The moment we see (by grace!) this Treasure and receive him in this way his death counts as our death and his condemnation as our condemnation and his righteousness as our righteousness, and God becomes 100% irrevocably for us forever in that instant.”

At the moment of justification we are saved, which happens at the moment we receive him as our atoning sacrifice by faith through the grace of God filling our dead souls with his eye opening Spirit of Life.

Some still doubt if they really have that kind of saving faith or ever did. They just are not sure. Well ask yourself these questions. Do I really love Jesus as he really is; how he is revealed in the Bible?
Do I see him as hating my sin so much and loving me so much that he was willing to do the unthinkable for me, spilling his own life-blood for my soul? Does it bring a tear to my eye to think of how my sins are an unholy shameful thing before his glory as Holy God? Does it drive me to my knees to cry to him often to rescue me and wash me and hold me up, as I stumble and fall? Do I really see him as my daily life and reason for living? If yes, then you are saved, you have the Holy Spirit living in you…. and not some phoney emotional hyped up human attempt to emulate the Holy Spirit yet not be willing to die to sin and self daily. There is a deceiving spirit in this world that dresses up as an angel of light and loves to delude people with drummed up sensationalism. It happens in Churches and many pagan faiths, but is demonic.  The presence of the Holy Spirit in you draws you to your knees in humble adoration to Jesus the Holy One. Yes he is our seal of redemption and he always leads us to daily struggle to take up our cross and to die to sin and self as as we seek to obey our Lord in passionate love.

Then you are truly born again, crossed over at that point from death to life. And keep your hope in this,  that which God starts he finishes, and he will complete you in Christ Jesus.  Amen.

Pleasing God living our destiny

So let’s continually offer up a sacrifice of praise through Jesus, which is the fruit from our lips that confess his name. Don’t forget to do good and to share what you have because God is pleased with these kinds of sacrifices. -Hebrews 13:15-16

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No matter the pain and suffering you face in this life, we know in Christ it is all temporary. In the midst of it we can still find much joy serving God, giving to others. Fulfilling our purpose, even in a broken world and broken life is the only way to deep joy and peace.  As prior verses revealed in Hebrews 13, we can hold on with hope and joy because we know God is not forsaking us, just because we have trouble and difficulty.  Our Lord suffered for righteousness sake, and so should we expect to suffer for doing good. There is a sacrifice we must pay because the current ruler of this world is not good. Satan who has limited rule is yet still under God’s control but he fights against It and seeks to destroy all God’s glorious ones here on earth. So we are encouraged to praise God in Christ through it all. In praising him our hearts are set upon Christ and this focuses us on the joy of living in the hope we have for our greater glory and forever home with God. Yes but even among our personal struggles and times of worship, God’s word reminds us here that we need to focus on sharing with the needy and doing good to others, and this pleases him, because it reveals his glory that we are over-comers in this life. After all we are royalty, bride of King Jesus! So let us live in such a manner and keep doing good and sharing with others at any cost. This is our created destiny. You have the power of his Spirit to enable you. Use is wisely and see the smile of God in your life.

Justification, Sanctification and the Law

God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do…For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.  – Romans 8:3,7-9 ESV

This passage is spoken in context of the famous memory verse of many Christians over the centuries Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus   The law was given to illuminate the depravity of our sin nature and impossibility to be pleasing to God in the flesh.

Indeed it is by Grace we are saved and by Grace that we stand.
The commands of God never made anyone good, only faith in his provision has ever made anyone good and right before God.

In regards to the law and the New Testament commands, I think where our confusion lies at times is in the difference in keeping the law for salvation (Justification) or following and obeying the commands of Christ and the principles of the law out of pure love and desire to be like God (Sanctification). These are quite opposite, one is outer self-preservation motivation and one is inner spirit motivation.  If you are in Christ you will strive to follow and obey, but if you are not, you will continue in sin avoiding following him. Keeping New Testament “commands” are not our means to purity, but a result of it…evidence of it.  I understand people’s desire to preach holiness and greater commitment to follow Christ and his commands, because so many people who call themselves Christians do not seem to be concerned at living in sin. So audience and context is important.  It may be that these people are the “goats” or the “tares” that Jesus warned us about among the “sheep” or the “wheat” (Matthew 25:31-46, Matthew 13:24-30).  As well we should preach and teach and encourage fellow Christ followers to walk in the light of obedience, for Christ himself said whoever keeps my commands, he it is who loves me (John 14:21). But we must remember this is the result of the Gospel not a way to salvation. Loving God and Jesus as Lord, our master and leader is fruit of the Spirit in us, not the other way around.

For instance murder was and still is wrong.  Under the Law it brings me death and condemnation because evil hateful, careless, or reckless thoughts violate its principle of loving your fellow man, so that sin of that must be dealt with. But since Christ paid the price for my crimes of those thoughts and deeds, through faith in him, I am now justified as clean and pure.  But yet even under grace, God still wants me to love my fellow man and not think or do hateful things towards him, so Christ has emphasized the greater underpinning command to love neighbor as yourself. The holiness of God and his plan for us to be like him has not changed. Once justified and accepted into the family of God, (not acceptance of our sins, but our souls) we have Holy Spirit inner motivation to be more like our Holy Father God. This is what sanctification is all about, in the setting of us apart for God as a holy people. It is a process in this life. This is our new desire. Before salvation, we just “tried” to not get caught and punished. We really were in hiding from God and tried to avoid his ominous Holiness. Now in Christ we are drawn to it.  So we still have rules of living and for holiness in practical life, but these are not for our justification, but for our sanctification.

John Murry said it well… “Indeed, the more sanctified the person is, the more conformed he is to the image of his Savior, the more he must recoil against every lack of conformity to the holiness of God. The deeper his apprehension of the majesty of God, the greater the intensity of his love to God, the more persistent his yearning for the attainment of the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus, the more conscious will he be of the gravity of the sin that remains and the more poignant will be his detestation of it.”

The “Law” is fulfilled in Christ so its demands for making us holy are no longer needed for our purification and legal righteousness before God.  As the Bible says it’s a school master to show us the need for the Savior. When we as born-again children of God fail and sin, which we all do more often than we realize, we are never condemned by God or by the law of sin and death, but are now free from that curse. Yet we as God’s beloved will face difficult chastisement and correction if we don’t repent from known sin that the Holy Spirit reveals to us, which many times come to us from other godly Believers in accordance with his Word.

These commands of the New Testament are unlike the Law fulfilled by Christ. These were not given by Christ for making us righteous; we have that imputed into us without anything we have done to earn it. But the commands of Christ are our “marching orders” as in military terms for war, on to how to live for Christ as we were redeemed and created to do. We are at war with the lies of Satan and his darkness.  We don’t preach the commands of Christ to the unsaved, but to the saved to help them follow their Master.  We don’t do it in a condemning way, but soberly and with all seriousness because our God is our Father and he does demand of us to walk in his light and will bring correction to us if we do not, but never is the true Christian under condemnation (Rom 8:1) . Just like when one of my children does wrong, I am displeased, but never will I forsake them or abandon them, but I will bring correction and do what must to help draw them towards goodness in their heart. They never need worry that I will cast them out from  my love or family, as neither does a child of God never need to worry about being cast out into the utter darkness from which they came. No we are forever his.  After all his Spirit birthed in us new life and God will not kill that new life, any more than I will kill my baby.  The thought is absurd. But I will demand that my children live upright and do everything to ensure they do.

The Gospel is about salvation and bringing one across from death and condemnation into life, the commands of Christ are unlike the Law of old, they are simply instructions on how to follow him now that we have ability with His Spirit living in us. For those who refuse to obey Christ and live in sin, after loving exhortation to turn from sin(not condemning),  we are told to treat them as outsiders.  But only God knows really if they are a one of his sheep or a goat. They too should know, if they really have the Spirit in them. Yet wallowing in sin will blind them to even God and their security of salvation. This is why we see so much tension in Scripture, even the New Testament warning that our God is a consuming fire.  Sometimes even a wayward backslidden Christian, like I once was,  needs a little fear of the Lord restored back into their heart. Truly the fear of the Lord is the beginning of Wisdom, but perfect love, that of walking in his light, casts out all fear as we cry out Abba, Daddy, Father and climb into his holy loving arms to feel the warm hugs of his love!
For years as a child of God I walked in sin, I was a prodigal, never climbing in his arms of love, feeling so distant and ashamed of my life before him, but always knowing I had to do something and repent before his strong arm of correction destroyed my life totally. God will even take the life of a wayward child if that is necessary to keep us from polluting his people, but never ever will he forsake us. Never! For he has spoken, “Never will I leave you, nor forsake you.” (Heb 13:5, Duet 31:6)  And by the grace of God, I am here today restored, because he finally got through to me by reminding me that he is a consuming fire and will bring serious correction, so never again will I return to that vileness of living unrepentant in sin.  He has given me a second chance at living for Jesus, and I plan on using every day to proclaim the amazing grace and love of God in Christ!  Truly this is what keeps me wanting to follow every single command of God and making progress towards that.

The Great Discovery, adapted from Valley of Vision, Puritan prayers

Glorious God,

I bless you that I know you!

I once lived in the world, but was ignorant of its Creator,

Was partaker of your good will, but did not know the Provider.

I was blind while enjoying such light,

was deaf to the spiritual, with voices all around me,

I understood many things, but had no knowledge of your ways,

I saw the world, but I did not see Jesus.

O happy day! When in your love’s sovereignty you did look on me, and called me by grace!

Then did my dead heart begin to beat,

My darkened eye glimmer with light,

My dull ear catch the echo of your voice,

And I turned to you and I found you…

A God ready to hear and willing to save!

100_0420Before, I did find my heart at war with you, cursing my own spirit,

Then did I fall at your feet and hear the thunder of your law,

‘The soul who sins must die’,

But when grace made me to know you,

And to admire a God who hated sin,

Your terrible justice held my will submissive.

My thoughts were as knives cutting my mind…

But then you came to me in silken robes of love,

And I saw the Son dying that I might live!

In that death I found my all!

My soul does sing at the remembrance of that peace;

The gospel melody brought a sound unknown to me before…it reached my heart…and I lived…

Now never to lose hold on Christ or his hold on me.

Grant that I may always weep at the glory of mercy found,

and to tell others as long as I live,

That you are a sin pardoning God,

Taking up the irreverent and the ungodly, and washing them from their deepest stain of sin.

O glorious God; Father, Son and Spirit, thank you for in me giving freely your salvation!  I owe all to you. Amen.

About-Face Missions

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Jim Ball and I started About-Face missions as a way to help us better organize our passions to follow Christ in our lives. He and I met while both recently having a fire put in our bones by God to change our lives and start doing more to see the Gospel proclaimed and people saved all over the world. Being small budgeted middle class Americans, with very limited means, we asked God to use us and send us where ever he wanted us to go. He showed us through some short term mission trips that we can affect much in poor undeveloped countries even with very little financial resources compared to what we Americans had come to expect.  Even a single person like me or Jim can do much for the kingdom of God around the world, if only we are willing to sacrifice some of our “American” lifestyle and go and give. We saw so many needs in Africa, India, Pakistan, Philippines and all around the 10/40 window being unmet, that we could not simply do nothing any longer. God clearly called us  to go and be his ambassadors of Christ and to help encourage and inspire others to partner with us and take average every-day people who love Christ, and organize them into a connected and involved support system to those  indigenous followers of Christ, whom God is using to do his ministry work of helping others find Christ and meeting many of their human needs along the way.  Our goal is to be obedient to Christ in making disciples of all people groups, teaching them to obey all he has commanded as we know this is our job as the Church, God’s collective saved in Christ people.  God choose to task us with reaching all people groups and as Christ said, then the end will come. The Church age will end and Christ will return in his full glory as Judge and Ruler of righteousness!  Our desire to see this happen is burning strong in us as we don’t want to be people who just say we believe, but live as we really do believe. So this is why both Jim and I press on hard to focus on what more we can do to reach the unreached peoples as much as possible, while not forsaking the obvious places where the Holy Spirit is greatly working and calling us to go even outside unreached groups. All people need Jesus so our mission is to reach all to become fully devoted followers of Christ.
For now, God has provided me a great career that provides me plenty of income and up to 6 weeks of vacation, so it works well for me to fulfill my job as Missionary for Christ and Co-leader of About-Face Missions.  While I would love to go work with our partner ministers more than 3 trips a year, for now this is what God has me doing.  Yet for Jim, it seemed clear to both Jim and I that his job was really limiting his ability to server God effectively as Missionary and Co-leader of AFM and so we both agreed God was calling him to step out from his corporate career and move full time into missionary support and work.  As of this month of Septermber 2013,  Jim Ball has done just that. By the provision and grace of God we have acquired enough support for him to make the move. Yet his monthly pledge base is still needs a significant more percentage, God has provided enough of a cushion of one time donations to fund him for a while.  Yet moving into the less familiar ways of relying on God to provide more directly ones income is always a step of greater faith.  So pray with me for great blessings on our President of AFM Jim Ball as God works among our ministry and our strategic partnerships with our supported ministries overseas and our supporting foundations and ministries here to help us!  Pray for  the last of Jim’s support base to commit to being his and About-Face Missions partner.
We all are the universal family of Christ working all together for the common goal of living for Jesus and bringing as many to faith especially giving those who never really had opportunity to have it.  God loves all peoples, and so do we.   When I see that we have Churches, supporting ministries like MLE Ministries, and Showers of Blessings Foundation and so many individuals coming alongside us to help us carry out the missions of Christ it brings such great joy to my heart!  In turn we are able to share these blessing to our supported pastors and evangelists who are leading thousands upon thousands to faith each and every year and  feed the hungry, help the sick and care for the hopeless and hurting.  God is good indeed.

To learn more about About-Face missions visit our website  http://www.aboutfacemissions.com/ or help support our work with your loving offerings to God.  Our donation page and sign up form is here also.  http://www.aboutfacemissions.com/Donate

Always your prayers and interaction with us and our pastors is welcome live or via messaging on Facebook, among our pages and groups.  Start by visiting our Facebook public page and there you will see links to our private AFM group for those who are serious about being a prayer or financial partner and want to see more of what God is doing.  Here is that link. https://www.facebook.com/AboutFaceMissions
Lastly, if you want to do more towards helping with the great commission to reach the unreached and to support Missionary Jim Ball in the process, even if all you can sacrifice is about $10.40 a month, we highly encourage you to commit to do just that.   Be a part at least at this level and help us really get the message out to those who never had real opportunity to receive the life saving message of the Gospel.  Our partner ministry has set up a $10.40 monthly online donation auto charge option for you to join us called the 10.40 priority.  We call it this because the 10/40 window of the world is where most these unreached people groups exist.  Visit the 10/40 site here.  http://www.mleministries.org/1040Priority

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Left to right, Randy Ryel- MLE Ministries, David Shelton- VP About-Face Missions and Jim Ball- President About-Face Missions at MUP offices in Plano Texas.

God be glorified in all we do as we make much of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior!  Amen

Love money?

Your conduct must be free from the love of money and you must be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you and I will never abandon you.
So we can say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper, and I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” -Heb 13:5-6

The original sin of mankind of pride and to want to be our own independent God is a perversion of the Devil, and today is still his primary way to lure us away from God. The love of money is our desire to be self sufficient, not in need of dependence on God and trusting him for our daily needs. Our flesh nature wants to not be controlled or told what to do,even if for our own best interest. We would rather suffer immeasurable in our stubborn pride than accept God’s loving provision for us and learn to trust in him as our provider and our complete sufficiency much of the time. The love and lust for money is based in our not wanting to really live by faith. Even for us who mean well and are striving to live for God, money dependency fights against our God dependency. This is why Jesus said humanly speaking we cannot be both rich and enter into God’s kingdom. But praise be to God he can save even a rich man. If you are poor and have little, Bless the Lord for your lowly estate and trust in him for your needs, for if you do, you will see his glory! Don’t seek riches. Seek Jesus. If you happen to find yourself “relatively” rich as most Americans are compared to 95%of the world, then work hard to use it all for God’s glory in serving Christ. Work to share it away and you to will see God’s glory! What you put your dependence in, is your god.

Happy kids

Here the youth minister at Kennedy’s Tulumba village Church was a time of much excitement among the children. AFM’s first group mission to Kenya, Africa last year in May seems like a thousand years ago, but was just last year. As I think and plan more intently on God’s will for myself and our AFM […]