Category Archives: Salvation

Stop, in the Name of the Law!

Colossians 2:20-23 If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations— “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch”  (referring to things that all perish as they are used)—according to human precepts and teachings?  These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.

What is Christianity all about?  Have we vowed to follow Christ only to replace the Old Testament law with new law?  Is this new life just about more rule-following?  Observing some of today’s churches, you would think so!  Sermons so often focus on behavior modification or bettering the life of the Christian through specific actions. Congregants lack the joy of Christ because they fail to keep up with all of the things they are “supposed” to do.

The truth is that no formula for behavior modification will ever work because the root of sin is in our hearts.  No amount of keeping up with strict law or disciplines or rituals will keep us from being what we are: fallen and sinful.  Religion seeks to justify the believer through their actions. True justification comes from Christ (Romans 4:25). Only He can liberate us from sin.

It can make us feel good for a while to try to earn our own merit, but in the end we will always fall short (Romans 3:23). We’ll never be good enough, do enough, deprive ourselves enough to be free from sin. If we fully rely on Jesus it means we trust that His sacrifice was good enough, that we don’t need to be under the law in order to receive forgiveness from God for our transgressions, that He died once, and for all. (Hebrews 7:27-28).

More on this next week…

In Christ alone

I Timothy 2:5  For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.


Many and varied are the ways that man tries to get closer to God.  New religions spring up all the time, each seeking to find the right way to become whole.  Hundreds of self-help books are shelved at each book store, none quite adequately fulfilling our quest.  None quite bringing us into that place where we stand in right relationship with our Creator.

It’s sad that we spend so much time searching when the answer our souls seek has already been given.  We don’t attain enlightenment by searching within ourselves.  We don’t achieve entrance into heaven through doing enough good deeds.  There is one way to God and He is Christ Jesus.  He is our Savior, our King, our friend. From Him and through Him and to Him are all things (Romans 11:36) and not one thing was created that was not created by Him (John 1:3). He is the image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15) and only He qualifies to mediate between God and man (John 14:6).We can try to fix ourselves, try to gain knowledge, or try to work our way to righteousness, but in the end it’s all in vain.  Only Christ can save us.  Only He can set us free (John 8:32).

By the grace of God

Romans 3:23-24  for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus

Some ask how a loving God could allow anyone to go to hell.  Could this be the wrong question though?  A better question is how a just God could allow any of us to go to heaven.  Even at our best, we still fail to live up to God’s standard for “good”.  Our very best attempts at righteousness are just filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6).  This is true of every one of us.  The question then is not how God can send some of us to hell but how He can allow even one of us to enter into fellowship with Him.

Two words come to mind: love and grace.  God is all-knowing.  It was not a surprise to Him that man would fall short of the plan.  But even in spite of this, God created a way.  Through His Son we can know Him.  By His grace we have been delivered.  Only someone who is full of love could even conceive of forgiving His enemies and allowing them a place that only friends deserve.

God does not send people to hell, we’re all headed there on our own from birth.  Our loving God provides a way out, a way to Him.  We can never earn this.  It’s by grace alone.

 

Faith alone

Romans 3:28  For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.

There was, even in the time of the first century church, controversy surrounding the subject of whether one is justified through faith alone or whether that is not sufficient on its own.  Many Christians of Jewish heritage believed that one must first become a Jew (come under the Jewish laws) before becoming a legitimate Christian.  Today we have similar sects within the church that believe justification comes though a combination of faith and works.

There is no biblical support for this view.  To the contrary, the Bible tells us that Jesus died once and for all (Romans 6:10).  To add requirements for salvation is to cheapen the cross.  James’ argument in the New Testament (James 2:14-26) is not that works are a requirement for salvation but rather that salvation through faith in Christ results in good works.

The bad news is that there is nothing you or I can do to get into a right relationship with God.  The good news is that because of Christ Jesus we don’t have to earn our way into God’s favor.  Justification is found through faith in Christ alone.  This is a wondrous, glorious truth.  God loves us so much that He sent His Son because He knew that otherwise we could never be good enough (Romans 5:8). We just need to put our faith in Him.  What an awesome God we serve!

 

He spares no gift

Romans 8:32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?

Are you in need of convincing that God is on our side?  The One who was before all creation cared so much about you and me that He didn’t spare His own Son.  He could have.  God could have chosen to keep Jesus in heaven.  Who could have questioned Him?  He’s God!  But He sent His real Son in order to give us a chance to become sons through His sacrifice.  Does that sound like someone who isn’t going to take care of His people?

In my experience, the richness of the gospel really became real to me when I began to better understand how God adopts us as His children once we’re saved. The inheritance we receive as sons and daughters of the great I AM are innumerable and indescribable.

If He would give us the greatest gift possible to give, why would He not also give us all things through Him?  Why would He not meet our needs, not answer our prayers or not stand by us in times of trouble?  Our loving God is faithful and stands by His people.  He leads us and guides us, provides for us, prepares us and equips us.

Seeing salvation

Luke 2:30-31 for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples

What must it have been like to wait for years and years with the promise of a Messiah to come, never knowing quite when He would arrive?  Oh the faith of Simeon, to keep believing even into old age that God would keep His promise.  Simeon is a good example of faith rewarded.  He waited and he waited for the Promised One and then a day came when God allowed him to see Him with his own eyes.  What a day that must have been for Simeon.

We know that he rejoiced and gave praise to God over the joyous occasion, but he also revealed that at this moment his life was complete.  He had been promised that he would not see death until the Lord’s Christ had been born and there He was in front of Simeon, being presented at the temple.  Simeon could die in peace.  Are you so content with encountering Christ that you’d say you can die in peace right now because you’ve seen Him?

It’s a great occasion any time we get a taste of the Lord’s goodness.  His salvation is a free gift that we can never earn and it comes only from Jesus Christ, and to experience this is something to sing about, to make a fuss over.  But do we look at this as enough?  Is your life complete now that you’ve seen the Lord’s salvation?  For Simeon it was enough.  There was nothing more that the world had to offer him that could even come close to meeting Jesus face to face.  Somehow for us there is still a lot competing for our affections in this world, but the reality is that Jesus is enough and we should be content with Him.  He’s all that we need.

The true Light

John 1:12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God

God sent His light into the world in the form of His Son, Jesus Christ.  Jesus was the radiance of the glory of God, the exact imprint of His nature (Hebrews 1:3), and yet when He ministered here on earth people rejected Him.  Even though He had existed since before time (John 1:1) and created the world (Hebrews 1:2), the people didn’t see Him for what He was and many made the wrong choice by not following the true Light.  They chose darkness.

You and I are given the same choice today – to receive the light, Jesus, or to reject Him.  To those who receive Him, that is not only to believe in His existence but to believe that He brings life through salvation by His death and resurrection, God promises the right to become His own children.

He will bring you into His family if you believe that God became a man and lived a perfect, sinless life, one you and I could never live, and that Jesus died to take the penalty for our sins and He raised back to life so that we can have life.  Do you believe this?  Have you chosen the Light over the darkness?  Now’s your chance.

 

That you may know

1 John 5:13-21   I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life. And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.  If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask, and God will give him life—to those who commit sins that do not lead to death. There is sin that leads to death; I do not say that one should pray for that. All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that does not lead to death.  We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him.  We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.  And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. Little children, keep yourselves from idols.

What do you believe?  Where do you put your trust?  You may say that you believe Jesus has the power of eternal life, but if you don’t act as though He does, you’re not really believing.  John didn’t write his first letter to non-believers so that they would see the truth about Jesus.  He wrote it to Christians, so that they would actually believe what they say they believe.

It’s one thing to have the belief that Jesus died for your sins, one thing to go to church and fellowship with other Christians.  But it takes more to actually live it out.  If you know, without a doubt, that Jesus saves, then don’t ever worry about whether you’re forgiven.  If you know it to be true, don’t act timidly when He calls you to do something.  If you know He has all things in His hands, act like it.

John made this point by bringing prayer into the discussion.  True belief brings confidence and boldness.  Are you praying with confidence that God can answer you?  With boldness that He will hear you and give you your requests?  Pray in His name, according to His will, and He is able to provide all things.  There’s nothing He can’t do.  Do you believe it?

The Walking Dead

Ephesians 2:1-2  And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—

What did you do to make yourself be born into the world? Most of us would not argue against the truth that we had nothing to do with our physical birth. It was as out of our control as anything can be. Why do so many of us, then, think that we had anything to do with our own spiritual birth?

When you’re dead, you’re just dead. There’s nothing that a dead thing can do to make itself come to life; that can only be done supernaturally. We were all once dead, even though we walked as someone who was living. We lived and breathed physical life, but spiritually we had no pulse. We could only follow the course of this world, led around by the rest of the walking dead. We were slaves to sin.

That is, until God made us alive. Yes, He made us alive together with Christ, that we might be His people. This is true if we’ve put our trust in Christ and we’ve been adopted into God’s family. Notice all the passive language. We’ve been made alive – passive. We’ve been adopted into the family of God – passive. We were chosen – again, passive.

The dead can’t raise themselves, physically or spiritually. We can no more choose to wake up from spiritual death than we can choose to be born from our mother’s womb. We have ever so much to be thankful for, and spiritual birth is among the greatest gifts we could ever receive. God’s grace is unfathomable.

According to the riches of His grace

Ephesians 1:7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace,

The thing about the gifts of God is that they’re free.  Completely and totally free.  Our Father wants us to know that there’s nothing we could ever do to earn His redemption, His forgiveness, His deliverance, or His love.  They’re free — for us.

There was a price for all of these blessings and we’d do well to remember that because it causes us to give thanks constantly. When we remember that our redemption was purchased by the blood of Christ, shed on the cross in our place, we can’t help but thank God for His grace.  It’s a natural response to being given so much.

The cost of our freedom was expensive for the Son of God. He had to suffer and even die in order for us to be reconciled back to God. But the beautiful thing about it all is that He wasn’t forced to do it. He willingly gave His life for all of us and He’d do it all over again if He had to. But he doesn’t.  It is finished, once and for all.  It’d done. Paid for in full.

We mustn’t pass over the phrase “according to the riches of His grace” as though ti was not an important part of this passage. It may seem like just an ending to the statement, but in this lies one of the most important things we can understand about God.  He’s not limited in how much He has to give.  He has all things under His control. He has every blessing to give. He has everything we could ever need.  And He offers to us from that abundance.  We can trust in Him to deliver on His promises because He lacks nothing.

What do you need right now that you’re trusting God for?  He’s able to deliver.