So very excited to have Jay Carty as our Guest Blogger this week. Jay, a personal family friend and co-laborer in Christ, was diagnosed with cancer several years ago. In a recent "update letter" Jay talked about how God has and will continue to work out His plan in our lives...even in the midst of cancer or any other difficult circumstance. I pray that you are blessed and encouraged by God through Jay's blog.
I continue to ask God to heal me, if it is His will. I covet your prayers as well. Either way the answer goes, I know God will use me. He has for the last forty-four years and there is no sign of let up.
Recently I took part in baptizing one of my cancer buddies who came to Christ. We met some months ago at our infusion center in West Hollywood. He is a retired fireman and a surfer. The ocean seemed like a good place to do it.
I wanted to prepare a few remarks and discovered that the early church used Romans 10:9-10 for baptisms. So, I talked about those two verses as we sat in the sand by the water behind the Shoreline Cafe in Santa Barbara.
“. . . because if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and thus has righteousness and with the mouth one confesses and thus has salvation.” (NLT)
For the Jew in Jesus’ day the heart was the center of the person. You could believe something intellectually, but it was superficial until it settled to the core of the person, the heart. You can say it with your mouth from your head but it doesn’t reflect the real you until it comes from the heart.
So, does Jesus have to be Lord to be Savior? Can I confess with my mouth and have salvation without my heart being involved? It’s a big, controversial question. My answer is “no,” but you can’t deal with any more than you know. Let me explain.
As has been previously stated in previous reports, sin is saying “no” to God. In other words, I choose to be a little god who disses “thee” God when I do what He tells me not to do or don’t do what He asks. As a little god I am walking away from God doing my own thing.
I was fourteen when I asked Jesus to be my Savior. I responded to God’s prompting in me and went forward at a church meeting. I confessed with my mouth Jesus as Lord and I believed God raised Him from the dead. But, I knew nothing about lordship. It was never explained. However, I responded to what I knew at the time. I honestly do not know the depth of my decision because I backslid in college and for ten years thereafter. Was I saved?
I was thirty years old, thinking about getting a divorce, walking away from God playing little god, when the Father smacked me up along side the head, got my attention, and posed a question. “Will you turn from going your way and go mine?” I responded with a “yes” and turned. That was my lordship decision from the heart sixteen years after salvation, forty-four years ago and that decision has influenced all of my decisions since. But by then I knew more and I responded to what I knew.
After salvation, life becomes a series of progressive lordship confrontations that deepen our faith-walk and further our use by the Father in ministry. Our relationship with God, His Son, and the Holy Spirit should become more and more meaningful throughout our lives and short of a loss of mental capacity, should continue right up to the end. Confession is a point in time resulting in salvation. Lordship decisions last the rest of our time on earth and result in righteousness. That’s what our verses say. All God wants us to do is respond to what we know to be true at the time.
As has been previously stated, I have counted nine significant lordship confrontations since that first big one when I was thirty. I have submitted to God’s will in each. In my case, the latest was, “Will I allow God to use my cancer to draw me nearer to Him and allow Him to use it for ministry.” Getting cancer has been hard but the decision to let God use it according to His will wasn’t. I made that decision when I was thirty. I just reconfirmed it when it was time to do so according to what I knew at the time.
So, when was I born again? Fourteen or thirty? I believe I was saved at fourteen. Although mine wasn’t a complete lordship decision at the time, when is it ever complete? When we die! And not until then. No, I responded to what I knew at the time. And that is as much as anyone can do. I was born again. I didn’t die during the following sixteen years so my decision wasn’t put to the ultimate test. But I have the promise of God’s Word, “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.” (John 10:28-29)
Now if you prayed a prayer of salvation sometime in your past and you haven’t progressed in your relationship with each member of the Trinity, you do have cause to pause. Perhaps it’s time to turn and drive a singular nail upon which you will hang the rest of life’s important decisions. Turn. Make Jesus Lord. Quit being a little god.
Let’s go back to the beach.
There were four of us: My fireman friend Phil, his wife Susan, and their friend Bill. Bill is the neighbor God used, along with me, as a tag team to lead Phil to Jesus.
I quoted the two verses from Romans 10 and unpacked them talking about the meaning of each word. Then Phil confessed with his mouth Jesus as Savior. I asked him if Jesus wanted something of him, would he do it? He said he would and by saying so confessed Jesus as Lord. I asked if he had any doubt Jesus arose from the dead. There was none. On that score Phil had done His homework.
For good measure I mentioned repentance. When I explain lordship I actually cover repentance but can do so without using the word. You see, when we turn from going our way to go God’s way we repent. There is a change of mind followed by the confirmation in a change of direction. We turn to God and away from being a little god. Phil understood.
Finally, I made two statements directly to Phil:
“Myeloma may be the best gift God ever gave you. God knew what it would take to get the Apostle Paul’s attention on the Damascus Road and He knew what it would take to get yours. Better to be born again with myeloma and spend eternity with God than apart from Him.” Phil agreed, but like us all, he would like to have some more years with his beloved wife, family and friends. Don’t we all? Everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die. However, Phil can face the future knowing he can have life more abundantly now and have the confidence in his destination later.
Then I said the following, “I have some understanding of the value of life and the value of a soul. I wrote a book about it. A soul lasts forever and therefore has infinitely more value. Jesus said souls are worth giving our lives to save. So, eternity certainly trumps losing a few years of my life to myeloma, if I lose them. You coming to Christ makes me having myeloma worth it.” And I meant it with all my heart. Still do.
Then the men walked into the water and Susan observed Bill and I as we baptized Phil in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. In obedience to God’s will Phil identified with the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Glory to God!
Afterward, we changed out of our wet swimsuits, went to the Shoreline Cafe, and celebrated over lunch. It was a very good day.
The Adventure Continues…