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COLUMN: Salvation up close and in person
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COLUMN: Salvation up close and in person

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Mike Ruffin

Mike Ruffin

“I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.” (2 Corinthians 6:2)

When we lived in Georgia, our church hosted a crusade. I was asked by one of its promoters to encourage the unchurched - as well as the churched - in my community to attend.

Truth be told, the real value that comes from crusades manifests itself long after the evangelist has left and the crusade expenses have been paid. There were many during this particular crusade that rededicated their lives to Christ and there were several that accepted Christ at every service. However, none was more special than the son of some of my best friends.

What a joy it was to watch the conviction of this young man. He and his family didn’t attend the crusade with the thought that his salvation was eminent. They went to the crusade because they love the Lord, believe in the need to worship, and to support their church.

Well, apparently God had other plans because He spoke to the heart of their son, Scott, and he responded to God’s call. What really touched my heart and many of their fellow church members was the privilege to watch his mom and dad as they went to the altar with him and shared this special moment in their owns life - together as a family. The blessing was that those of us who love them were also able to share that moment with them, too. After all, we are all brothers and sisters in Christ.

Something else happened that night when Scott chose to follow Christ. I thought about my salvation experience as well. In fact, many of us that night could not help but to think back and recall our own salvation experience. You see, our own salvation is never out of mind. The memory of it never wears. It’s always fresh in our minds and it never gets old.

God does some very special things for us when we get saved - two in particular that I think are important to understand. The Apostle Paul tells us that salvation brings spiritual gifts that as Christians we are supposed to use to serve God. “Now to each one the manifestation of the spirit is given for the common good.” (I Corinthians 12:7) These gifts include knowledge, wisdom, faith, healing, prophesy, speaking and interpreting in tongues, to mention a few, and are “the work of one and the same spirit and He gives to each one, just as He determines”. (I Corinthians 12:11)

We are also told by Paul in Galatians 5 and 6 that we possess the “fruit of the Spirit - love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control”. (Galatians 5:22-23) No Christian has all of the spiritual gifts, but all Christians possess all of the elements of the fruit of the Spirit. In fact, Paul challenges us to live by the Spirit, and not by flesh. “Since we live by the Spirit let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking, and envying each other.” Instead, he tells to “carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ”. (Galatians 5:25-26, 6:2)

We so enjoyed watching our young friend grow in Christ. But you know what? We are also called to help his parents disciple him. That’s right. My responsibility as a Christian is to pass my Master’s teachings on to the next generation, so it too can be passed. Jesus said: “And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of the little ones, because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward”. (Matthew 10:42)

Scott’s salvation experience reminded me of my own. But it also reminded me of my responsibility to a fellow brother in Christ, to use the gifts and the fruit with which I have been blessed. We are all responsible to each other. That’s why Jesus said: “Love your neighbor as yourself”. To those who put into practice this commandment from our Lord, he promises: “You are not far from the kingdom of God”. (Mark 12:33-34)

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