Salvation

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away;

Behold, all things have become new.

-2 Corinthians 5:17

“Evil prospers when good men do nothing.” 

            This is the quote I saw from Edmond Burk as I drove down the highway one day; it was on one of those big black billboards with large white letters.  For some reason this quote has stuck with me for several years now.  Its simple, yet overwhelming message rings true on so many levels of my reasoning and beliefs.  It is a cover all action statement behind Christian’s reasoning.  It is introductory to the basic thought towards salvation.

            First we must understand, evil is only evil if there is the presence of good, so it’s assumed everyone knows what is or is not evil and what is or is not good.  On the other hand, it’s assuming an equal portion of good merely has to act upon its true nature to overcome the position of evil; that good will always overcome evil as long as good acts.  If this is true then in the absence of good all that is left will be evil; if we fail to do good then we must be doing the work of evil.

            It is our thoughts about what is right and wrong, and the decision to act upon our convictions that reveal where we’re at in Christ throughout our life.  This is the message every preacher, pastor, priest or teacher of the Word has struggled to convey to the saved and lost of this world.   If God is all that is good, then how do I teach others about God and Jesus and His offer to rescue us from the destruction of evil.  God is offering us rescue from the evil that wishes to destroy us; God is offering Salvation.

            Salvation is the offer that God puts on the table; it comes to us at no charge, but it was bought for us by the work of Jesus Christ on the cross.  There is no payment man can offer to purchase this gift, no works or sacrifice could ever be enough.  If we start to tie our own abilities or efforts to salvation, then the gift would no longer is a gift.  It comes to us freely by grace and grace alone.  Should grace require anything in return, then by definition it would no longer be called grace.  Paul says:

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-- not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9

We can not earn the salvation that Christ paid for, but there are a few conditions that must be in place for personal salvation to occur.

            First there must be a spiritual awakening.  We walk in a spiritual death, unaware that unless we change our direction we are doomed.  Like a child who wonders into the woods alone, the deeper he goes into the forest the further away he is from the hope found in the safety of his home.  Before long he’s so far into the woods that he’s lost sight of where he came from.  Try as he might he desperately makes attempts to feel safe and secure.  He hums a song, pretends to be tough and strong, he may even talk to an imaginary friend, but nothing short of returning home will save him.  Aimlessly walking around he becomes dehydrated, hungry and cold until eventually he’s claimed by the forest, never to be found…he is lost.  The moment he stepped into the woods without a guide he was forever condemend to this fate.

            Without God in our lives, we risk becoming lost for ever in our sin.  Our hearts become hardened to the point we can’t recognize salvation even when it’s right in front of us.  Hebrews 3:13 says when we turn away from God’s offer of salvation with a sinful unbelieving heart; our heart is at risk of being hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.  We must have a spiritual awakening and be made aware of our predicament.  Hebrews 4:12-13 tells us the word of God will pierce our hearts to the point we bare our entire being; opening our eyes to our need for change- 

For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.

Through the work of the Holy Spirit, God’s word will be revealed in our hearts.  Our understanding of right and wrong will be illuminated in our soul and we will come to a crossroads.  Our spirit will awaken and come to the realization that something is wrong with our current condition and that we are doomed if we stay where we are at.

            Second; after the awakening there must be a desire and a decision to change.  “What must I do to be saved?” asked the Jailer in Act 16:30; there must be a desire to be saved, a willingness and a desire to get out of our dire situation and find the LORD.  We must act on our aspirations of a new life and change our hearts desire from self-centeredness to Christ centeredness. 

            Then with this change there must have been Godly sorrow.  We’ll no longer look at the actions of our life the same as we did before.  We must feel a sense of sorrow for what we have done to others and to the Lord. 

For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.”

( 2 Corinthians 7:10)

            We then must seek repentance, the sense of personal guilt for the wrongs we have committed.  We must look at our sin and hate what it is and what it does.  When this and the other conditions are in place then we’re on the road to salvation.  When we combine our confessions to God and man, seek restitution for our sinful gain, forgive others and live our life by walking in faith with Christ, we have come into venue of salvation.  These are not requirements but they are the conditions that naturally occur that lead up to salvation.  

            The free gift of salvation is by the grace of God alone through faith in Jesus.  Nothing else can bring us into this deliverance from our sin against God.  Even if it were possible to be born and live a pure life, we are still born with the systemic sin.  Man can not sufficiently provide a sacrifice for the redemption of the sinful nature and rebellion we naturally have toward God.  God alone, as a deity, had to satisfy this requirement of righteousness, this is why Jesus had to die for our sin.

            When we come into salvation, we’re delivered from the punishment that sin offers.  This is not just a feel good prayer, but a complete change of heart and mind; a change in our spirit.  We are completely changed and no longer wish to have sin in our lives.  Things that used to humor and amuse us now are revealed as ugly and hurtful.  What used to be innocent fun is now seen in a new light as condemning and painful.   True salvation is a change of the heart. 

            Scripture describes salvation in different ways; Justification, Conversion and New Birth.  Justification is to absolve or make right.  Our righteousness comes freely from God and we are absolved, made pure again in His sight.  To justify something is to accept it.

            But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

(NIV) Romans 3:21-24

            When we are justified we’re also changed or converted.  Changing from a heart that seeks only to please itself, we now have a heart that only seeks what Jesus wants.  Jesus said that unless we change we will never see heaven.  [1]  We must be willing not to just set aside our desires for the flesh (our personal wants), but completely transform our lives so as to never return to our previous existence.  We will be made new. 

            When this happens we are made new, we are born again.  We have come to God and are now sons and daughters of the most high.  Much like an infant who can’t deliver themselves, we are born into God’s family by no effort of our own.  The Apostle John wrote:

Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God-- children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God.(NIV) John 1:12-13

            In Salvation, we are justified in the sight of God.  Delivered from the life we once had and made into something new that seeks the will of God.  We are now part of God’s family, born again with a new perspective and free of the bondage of sin

      

 

                                                                                                                                                                                          Pastor Shannnon Skinner

 

 

 

 

[1]Matthew 18:3   And he said: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.(NIV)

Contents © 2018 First Steps Church of God | Church Website Provided by mychurchwebsite.net | Privacy Policy