Summary: What a person believes about God is the most important thing contained in their mind. It affects everything about them. Specifically, what they believe about God shapes them spiritually, emotionally, and physically.

Far too many people feel God is remote, impersonal, and unknowable. Because of that, many Born-Again Christians suffer from an inability to feel forgiven, and live with nagging doubts and fear about their relationship with God. Failure to love and trust God often comes from picturing Him as unlovable and untrustworthy.

In the 50+ years, since I gave my life to Jesus and became Born-Again, I have come to understand experientially that a person's theology is shaped by the way they picture God. A dysfunctional picture of God results in a dysfunctional way of relating to Him and studying His Word, the Bible.

Jesus revealed this truth; "Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead?" asked Jesus. "Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in Heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him" (Luke 11:11-13 NIV).

Those that had a father who was never around when they needed him, or has experienced trauma, abuse, or extreme discipline, will have a challenging time preaching about - and pursuing - an intimately loving and trusting relationship with the Heavenly Father. They will see God as a vengeful judge - spewing out wrath and retribution when saved sinners do by nature, what they do best - sin!" The message of super-abounding grace and God's unmerited favor is very difficult for them to accept.

No one can come to Jesus unless it is granted by the mercy of the Father who chose them as the firstfruits to be saved and sanctified by the Holy Spirit to obtain the glory of Jesus (John 6:65; 1 Peter 1:3, James 1:18; Titus 3:5; 1 Thess 2:13-14). The Holy Spirit sovereignly draws dead people and makes them alive because no one can come to Jesus without Him, and He will raise them up on the last day (Eph 2:5; Col 2:13; John 6:44; Acts 16:14).

Saved by the Faith of Jesus

After a person moves from being just a believer in God, like the demons in Hell, and chooses to receive Jesus as their Lord and Savior, they become Born-Again according to His great mercy, and not by any work they could ever do, because He takes up residence within their spirit, mind, and body as the new Holy of Holies – His dwelling place, and changes their sinful heart of stone by giving them a heart of flesh, and sets them free from sin so they can love Him with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength, and love their neighbor as themselves, because they are a new creation and have been blessed with every spiritual blessing by becoming holy and blameless as partakers of His divine nature (John 3:16, 36; Acts 2:38-39; Rom 6:22; 1 Cor 3:16, 6:19; 2 Cor 5:17, 6:16; 1 John 3:24, 4:13; 1 Peter 1:3; 2 Peter 1:3-4; Eph 1:3-14, 2:8; Col 2:13-14; Titus 3:5; see also Deut 30:6; Ez 26:25-27, 36:26; Jer 17:9).

Salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, and not of any self-effort (Eph 2:8). Those who seek to be justified by the keeping law and working their way to Heaven will ultimately fall from grace (Gal 5:4). Continuous good works that result from genuine conversion proves that the Holy Spirit lives within them, and their faith is indeed alive and not dead (James 2:26; 2 Cor 1:22, 5:5).

The Born-Again Christian doesn't need to work for or work up their salvation. However, they must continually work out their salvation by doing the things that accompany salvation because they abide in Jesus. God has given them eternal salvation as a free gift in Jesus Christ, and it is His will that they obey Him, not to save themselves, or to help God save them, but because they are already saved. It is God who provides the complete salvation (Phil 2:12-13).

The Power of the Christian Life

The Christian life is a miracle of God that is formed from within. The power of the Christian life is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, but the Born-Again Christian is not to be passive. They are to be controlled and led by the Holy Spirit and walk after Him so they can mind those things He desires. Otherwise, they are just spiritual infants who refuse to wean themselves off of spiritual Pablum because they can't handle the solid food of God's grace through faith that saved them (Eph. 5:1; Rom 8:4-5, 14; Gal 6:25).

It is the hideous sin of pride, which God hates, that causes a person to imagine that they have some part in their salvation and then must maintain it as if they are the author and giver of the free gift of salvation from the one who willingly chose to leave the glory of Heaven and die a horrifying death on the Cross (Prov 6:16; Phil 2:5-8). Salvation comes by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ and not on the basis of works otherwise grace would no longer be grace (Rom 11:6).

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