Sunday, March 20, 2016

Gaining Salvation?

The other day I was thinking about salvation, and how hard some people make it. The thought came to me of how simple God made it for us to receive salvation.

I pictured myself on the day of judgement, standing before God.
God “Do you believe in my Son Jesus?”
Me “Yes.”
God “Do you believe He died for your sins?”
Me “ Yes!”

Luke 23:39-43
39Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, “If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us.”
40But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, “Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? 41And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong.” 42Then he said to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.”
43And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”
Quite simple when you think about it. Why do you think God made salvation so simple? I believe it is because He knew that we wouldn't be able to live our lives in complete obedience to the laws that He had sent down.

How many of you think you haven't gained salvation because of things you have done wrong? I know that was a trick question, because we can't gain salvation, it is a gift given to us. On another note, how many think they have lost their salvation because of something they have done? If it were up to us to gain, or lose salvation, we would all have to start working on our cool down plans. But seriously, how many of you feel lost because of mistakes you have made?

I know one of the things I was worried about, because of the denomination in which I was raised, was backsliding and failing after I had been saved. I accepted Christ as my Savor in March of ninety-one, but thought I had lost my salvation because of the things I had done after I was saved, in fact that was one of the reasons I had waited, as I thought you only get one chance and I didn't want to mess it up. I know many people that think they have to clean up their act before coming to God for forgiveness. It is like waiting until you are healed to go to the doctor. That isn't how God looks at it, He wants our brokenness. It is when we realize that we can't do it on our own, that we can truly be open to accepting what God has for us.

John 14:5-7
5Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?”
6Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.
7“If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him.”
I am not saying accepting Christ gives us a license to sin, far from it, but we will fail, and we will mess up, and continue to make some of the same mistakes. We will give in to the same temptations we had before accepting Christ into our lives.

I will explain it the way Brother Flora explained it to me in March of ninety-one, paraphrased slightly for modern context. Accepting Christ is like going to court with Perry Mason as your counsel, only instead of just representing you, like Perry Mason, Christ not only pleads your case, but takes your place on the stand, and accepts your judgement and penalty.

When God looks at us on the day of judgement, He doesn't see the us that we see, He sees the us that confessed Christ as our Savior. I am so glad that God isn't the god of just payment as our society demands, as none of us would be saved, no not one, as we all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

Romans 3:21-26
21But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; 23for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, 26to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
It is our faith in God's word, and what He has done for us that assures us of our salvation.

Stay tuned as we will go deeper on this subject next week.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

New Year, a New Focus!

As we start a new year, many people have put their focus on resolutions that they know they will never keep. I too have set a few goals for myself, and a few of them, I know I will probably squander, as I only have so much time, but lofty thoughts of grand accomplishments.
One of the goals I have set, that will be the first on my list, as to keep my focus on accomplishing it, is to be more focused on God's word. The first book that I have started studying is the book of Romans, and it is a bit ironic, as most of the book of Romans is about change, which is what most people are after with resolutions. I know when most people think of Romans and change, they think of the passage from Romans 12.
Romans 12:1,2
1I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
But this passage is the very starting point of the book of Romans, as first we must have faith that a change can be made in us, before we go about making that change.
Romans 1:16,17
16For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. 17For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.”
How many weight loss programs did you hear advertised this past week? How many different gyms had discounts for memberships over the holidays? How many emails did you receive from self help gurus, promising to change your life if you would just sign up for their three month course?
Why because unless we are lifted up, and believe we can do something, we usually give up before accomplishing our task. Around the end of the year the airways are flooded with every motivator know to man. But where do we find true motivation, in the one who made us, God our creator. When we put our trust in what He has done in us, and have faith that the work He began in us will be carried out, we find it easy to find our focus.
So quit looking to outside motivators, while seeking to accomplish your goals for this new year, but be not ashamed of the Gospel, and look to the righteousness of God that is revealed in us, from faith to faith, as “The just shall live by faith.”