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Jesus does not save us from God!

Have you ever heard the “God of the Old Testament” pitted against the Jesus of the gospels?

It’s as if the God we learn of in the OT books is a cantankerous old man who destroys all things pleasant or happy.

It’s as if God wanted nothing more than to crush anyone who did not walk in every single statute perfectly.

It’s as if Jesus came to save us from God!

Or perhaps you think Jesus came to save us from hell. (That’s pretty much the same thing, in my book, since it’s not the devil’s hell, but God’s.)

But here is the gospel, the good news:

"She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins." - Matthew 1:21

Let’s be clear—Jesus is the God of the Old Testament. As it says in Hebrews opening gambit:

And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, - Hebrews 1:3

The Bible never tells us that God changed. In fact, it tells us that God is unchangeable. (1 Samuel 15:29)

It doesn’t tell us that God used to hate us, but now that Jesus came, He is OK with the human race. Nope—He’s the same today as He was yesterday and in the beginning.

What’s really awesome about this bit, is that when you look at Jesus and see the way He walked in life, you're seeing God’s heart in the flesh. There is nothing in Jesus’ ministry that is not in God the Father. And there is nothing in God the Father that Jesus didn’t carry.

When John tells us God is Love, (1 John 4:8) He’s not telling us God became love, but that the essence of God is, was and always will be love.

I know - this is all such basic stuff, but I want you to let it sink in a bit.

God the Father is a lover, who loves you with an unchanging, enduring love.

But Sin

On the other hand, sin is your enemy.

It’s sin that Jesus came to save us from.

It’s sin that breaks God the Father’s heart because it tears the object of His love away from Him.

It is sin that separates us from the one who made us and then gave His life to buy us back.

It’s sin that required a veil in the temple.

In the Garden of Eden, there was no veil. In the garden man and God walked together with no filter.

Then

Temptation entered the scene.

Sin entered.

Separation entered.

Death entered.

God the Father still wanted to walk with man, but there needed to be a veil—a barrier between us.

The bible calls Jesus that veil. The one mediator between God and man. (Hebrews 10:201 Timothy 2:5)

He came to break down that wall of separation—to save us from our sin.

Hallelujah

BenHeadshotI hope my little ramble did you good this morning (is it morning?)

Walk in the light and keep shining.

Ben

4

Corinne (my sweet wife) and I went to see War Room last night with some brothers and sisters from our home church. This film surpassed my expectations in so many ways. Sometimes "christian" films leave me a bit underwhelmed, but not so with War Room.

Many "christian" films have as their target the unsaved population who might accidentally end up in the audience. They spend their hard-earned currency with not so believable sermonettes hoping someone with pray the prayer before they leave the theater.

Don't get me wrong. War Room gives space for clear declaration that Jesus wants to be Lord of your life, but the gospel is demonstrated rather than spoken in most cases.

The fact that this film was written more to Christians captivated me. The film uses compelling story telling to teach the principals of spiritual warfare to the world of faith. I'm sure many will find Jesus through this film. But I know this--it's largest impact will show up in closets of Christians all across the land. I am stirred up about prayer--I am motivated to renew my prayer life--this film preached to me! It teaches line upon line how to think about prayer--and how to do it. It exposes some of the schemes of the enemy. How satan sets us against each other, so as to leave him free to do his will. Brilliant!

When leaving a film from this genre, I often think "that was nice, but I wouldn't bring my unsaved friends to see it." Last night I left feeling that every Christian should see this film, and their unsaved friends would begin to see the gospel lived out--loved out--right in front of their eyes.

If you can manage it--get out and see this film.

In the words of Larry the Cucumber: I laughed; I cried; It moved me Bob.

BenHeadshotBlessings,

See you again soon,

Ben

PS--The quotes around christian above come from my disdain for things to be called christian. There really is no such thing as christian music, or christian films, or even christian books. There are Christians. These are folks who have been rescued from this present evil age, who have changed their citizenship from earthly to heavenly. Just one of my pet peeves. Forgive me, please?

I was given the opportunity to preach at my home church at the end of October.

In this brief sermon I unpack one way to bring Glory to the Lord in your daily life.

Give it a listen and let me know how it impacts you.

Here's the link:

http://pascackbible.org/cpt_sermons/going-for-the-glory/

Ben NelsonThanks a bunch!

Ben

2

old-wooden-door-913-1166

…attaining to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge of God's mystery, that is, Christ Himself, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. - Colossians 2:2-3

Wealth – The wealth of the Kingdom of God comes not from the things you possess but from the ‘full assurance of understanding.’

Many Christians walk around with an assurance which can be rocked by circumstance or even by their own failures. That is because when they were led to the Lord they were sold an assurance that was based on an action they took.

What are you trying to say, Ben?

Ok – follow me here.

Perhaps you responded to a call at a crusade, or someone walked you through some spiritual laws.

What they said made sense. You did not want to die a hopeless death, doomed to an eternal fire, so you repeated a prayer with this counselor.

[Just for the record – there are thousands – perhaps millions of folks for whom this was the path that led to their solid and genuine salvation. But let’s get back to my example.]

You repeated a prayer with someone and then they took you to a scripture verse that ‘assured’ you of your salvation. Something like:

'AND IT SHALL BE THAT EVERYONE WHO CALLS ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED.' - Acts 2:21

“So then,” says your evangelist, “are you saved?”

“I – I – guess so,” you say.

“Don’t let anyone talk you out of it,” say they. “Next…”

You walk away from this encounter ‘kingdom poor’ with a ‘faith’ you have been talked into. A faith based on your work (a repeated prayer) not Christ work (His death and resurrection and the offering He made at the thone of God.) The reason there is a danger of being talked out of this kind of faith, is that you have been led through a natural door of logic. What you have been talked into can be displaced by a better argument.

That’s why Paul says:

For this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me. - Colossians 1:29

He did not use natural means to bring salvation to the cities of Asia Minor. He was energized by the power of the Almighty within him.

He says in another place:

…and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God. - 1 Corinthians 2:4-5

I pray today that if this is your story, that you would press in to the mystery of God – Christ Himself – ask Him to reveal Himself in you. If you have nothing but an argument for your faith, I pray today you will seek the mystery of the ages – Christ in you – that’s my hope and the hope of Glory!

Thanks for stopping by today.

Don’t hide your light – let it shine today.

Ben

 

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photo credit: _Hadock_ via photopin cc
photo credit: _Hadock_ via photopin cc

There is a tension in the scriptures between the moment of salvation and the ongoing work of salvation in our lives.

I understand that salvation comes at a point in time.

... that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; - Romans 10:9 NASB

But I also hear Paul exhort us:

So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; - Philippians 2:12 NASB

Today I was reading in John 6:

Jesus answered and said to them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent." - John 6:29 NASB

…and it occurred to me that this word “work” means occupation. It gives the import of continuing to do something.

My simple thought for the day is that believing is not a ‘one and done’ but something we engage in every day.

This has plenty of implications for us, and we must resist being drawn into some legalism or works based relationship with the Lord.

But it does tell me that my listening  for and hearing my Lord’s voice must be intentional and putting trust in what he tells me must be my daily endeavor. A WALK of faith is daily.

When I was young, my mom used to listen to a radio show from King’s College President, Robert A. Cook. His tag line, which I probably heard him say a thousand times in my life, was

Walk with the King today, and be a blessing.

Ben NelsonSo – there you go.

Ben

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Photo Credit: Judy Squires

The next day he saw Jesus coming to him and said, "Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! - John 1:29 NASB

This is the declaration John the Baptist makes about Jesus.

I love every nuance in this simple sentence.

For today – I want to take one piece and put it up in neon lights.

Jesus...

TAKES AWAY THE SIN OF THE WORLD

Perhaps what he did not say is just as significant.

He did not say Jesus ignores the sin of the world.

He did not say Jesus hides the sins of the world.

He did not say Jesus takes away the sin of the Church.

He did not say Jesus takes away the sin of the world when they repent.

He simply says

Look (behold) the Sacrificial Offering of the Father (Lamb of God) who removes – eliminates –disposes of (takes away) the fallen nature (sin) of all the people on earth (the world.)

Is this universalism – i.e. am I saying that all will live an eternity in heaven in the presence of the Father, and escape the lake of fire prepared for the devil and his angels?

Nope – not what I said at all.

I am just seeing in John what I see in Paul’s writings.

Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. - 2 Corinthians 5:18-19 NASB

You see, sin – those rusty chains holding you in the prison-cell of self – have been broken off and taken out of the way [tweet this] – they are gone – the cell door stands open. And the door of that cell leads to the Holy of Holies. That door is Jesus – the veil torn to give men and women access to the throne of grace.

Yes, as we come, we must renounce our sin – we must repent – we must turn away from sin and its slavery and embrace our Father who like the father of the prodigal runs to meet us as we turn toward Him.

Jesus paid it all
All to Him I owe
Sin had left a crimson stain
He washed it white as snow

Elvian M. Hall 1865

Will you make your way to His throne today? Join me won’t you?

BN Writers Page 150Thanks for coming.

Come back soon

Ben

 

20

question-mark

Ok – so I know that I am stepping into controversial territory here. As you can see from my home church’s statement of faith, those who formed this church and wrote this document clearly are in the 'once saved always saved' camp.

We believe that salvation is the free gift of God, entirely apart from human merit or works, and is received through personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior, and that believers are kept secure in Him forever. Ephesians 2:8-9; John 10:27-30; John 3:16-18, John 14:6; Acts 4:12

It would be fair to say there are good solid passionate Christians on both sides of this issue.

I could (and have) argued this from scripture on both sides of this issue.

There are scriptures that sound a lot like you could walk away from faith, like this:

For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame. - Hebrews 6:4-6 NASB

Right on the other hand there are passages like this from Romans 8 that make it seem incomprehensible that anything could ever break a relationship forged by God Himself.

Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written, "FOR YOUR SAKE WE ARE BEING PUT TO DEATH ALL DAY LONG; WE WERE CONSIDERED AS SHEEP TO BE SLAUGHTERED." But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. - Romans 8:35-39 NASB

I have known people who have been “Christians” for decades and later renounced Christ. So did they know Christ, or were they faking, or deceived into thinking they were something they were not.

Were they play acting all along, and finally just decided it was not worth playing games.

Here’s the thing. I think the problem is not with the Gospel, and the ability of God to hold onto Christians.

I think the problem is with our gospel and the fact that we are substituting lists of things to think (creeds) for relationship. We are convincing people of facts about Jesus, and they get passionate about this information, but eventually when someone comes along with better information, or a better argument, or more charisma, they finally give up and drop the argument.

Isn't that in effect what happened with Israel time and time again? At the outset God wanted a relationship with people, but the people He chose sent Moses, and said - you talk to God for us, and tell us what He wants us to do. That is the pagan approach to a deity. What He, God, wanted them to do is talk to Him and walk with Him. Over and over in Jeremiah and Ezekiel particularly God says, 'then they will be my people and I will be their God.' (Jeremiah 24:7; Ezekiel 11:20; 14:11; 37:23; 37:27)

I am not persuaded that someone who has genuinely received a new heart from the Lord, one who has gotten a heart of flesh, with the law of love written deep within could ever renounce that. I don't see how anyone into whom the Lord God almighty has breathed the breath of life, could turn their back.

We are not good at making disciples (learners under discipline) but we do OK with making converts.

Converts can be converted, disciples are ruined for life. [Tweet This]

I understand that the Bible is ambiguous in this area, and I am ok with that – in fact – I might be a tad ambiguous here too, just to keep it fair.

My plan for life and my advise to you:
Keep your relationship with the Lord real and current. Stay in His word, and obey what He tells you. Listen for His voice, and keep His Word.

Jesus only did what he saw the Father do, and only said what He heard the Father say, and that obedience served Him well. The disciple is not above His master, so you and I need to walk like Jesus.

The one who says, "I have come to know Him," and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked. - 1 John 2:4-6 NASB

There is grave danger in the "Once saved, always saved" attitude as I learned when I went to share the gospel with a young man who I knew to be a womanizer at the time. He was living a loose life and boldly so. When I asked him about his faith, he told me he was a Christian. He had asked Jesus into his heart as a young boy, and was counting on that "prayer" to get him into heaven.

I told him the story of Nineveh, the city that repented and was 'saved' in the book of Jonah, only to be condemned in the book of Nahum without even the briefest opportunity for repentance. They had repented of their repentance. In Jonah, they repented out of fear, but they never believed, put their faith and trust in the God of Israel.

The only secure place is in the vine. If you will abide in the vine, in Jesus, and let Him abide in you, you will do well and your salvation is secure.

Ben NelsonThanks for stopping by.

Abiding in the vine,

Ben

8

[No, I'm not talking about the two lovely ladies in my home Church, Grace M. and Faith G.]

We have been looking at this entry from my church home’s statement of faith:

We believe that salvation is the free gift of God, entirely apart from human merit or works, and is received through personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior, and that believers are kept secure in Him forever. Ephesians 2:8-9; John 10:27-30; John 3:16-18, John 14:6; Acts 4:12

We have been working through some questions to investigate this statement. You can look back at where we have been thus far here and here. The meat of this statement can be separated into three main topics.

1)    Salvation is a free gift, not earned or deserved.
2)    Salvation comes through faith.
3)    Salvation is secure.

Check this:

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. - Ephesians 2:8-9 NASB

This well-known verse states that I can’t save myself. Clearly, I need a Savior.

Today, let’s take some time here and define terms.

Grace

The simplest definition I know for grace is Jesus. Perhaps you have heard the acrostic definition: G.R.A.C.E - God's riches at Christ's expense.

Grace is God’s favor expressed toward one who doesn't deserve it. To be clear here, when I say God’s favor, I am talking about that sozo we detailed on Monday. It is the abundant life Jesus promised. The grace of God is a life, saved, healed, delivered, and free, culminating in an eternity in the arms of the one who created you and loves your soul. We may or may not experience all of it here and now, but I keep pressing into that full life.

Lest I get in trouble here – there is another side of a life filled with grace. The above description is a description of the inner life of grace. From the outside, it might just look like all hell broke loose and was aimed directly at you. Paul describes his grace filled life a couple of times, and if I didn’t know what was on his insides, I would pass on abundant life, thank you very much.

It is in fact grace that gave him the ability to face that which God put before him, and grace that supplied him with the ‘equipment’ he needed to face it.

And when there is failing, or falling, or missing the mark in life, it is grace on all sides keeping us secure.

I can’t earn grace by good works.
I can’t buy grace through sacrifice.
I can’t win grace through perseverance.
I can only access grace by faith.

What is faith and how do I ‘get me some?’

Faith

To investigate faith, let’s first head to the Bible:

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. ... And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him. - Hebrews 11:1, 6 NASB

The above two verses come from Hebrews 11. [I might need to expand my top 10 list because this one is on it for sure.] Hebrews 11 marches right through the History of faith, reminding us of those who have gone before us, and how they responded to God’s call on their life.

From these verses I understand that faith is a knowing that God exists and is involved in the lives of men and women. He wants to be sought and rewards seekers. Remember Jesus simple instructions in the Sermon on the Mount? – Ask, Seek, Knock – [Matthew 7:7] That’s what faith looks like.

We can see faith in the calling of Matthew the tax collector in Luke 5:27-28. He was at work one day, and up walks Jesus and says, “Follow Me,” and Matthew just left it all there and followed.

Faith is demonstrated when there are:

A Call
Belief
Obedience

We can see it even more clearly depicted in Peter’s water-walking experience in Matthew 14:28-29.

At the outset Peter lacked faith. So Peter asks Jesus to call him. Jesus did – “Come!” Then Peter headed right out toward Jesus.

Peter asked for a call.
Jesus called Peter to come.
Peter believed he could.
Peter obeyed the call of Jesus.

Throughout  Hebrews 11, God’s great hall of faith, you see men and women who responded to the call of God on their life.

You may have noticed that I am combining belief and obedience to come up with faith. Many would tell you that believing the right ‘religious facts’ is all that God requires. That is, in fact, one of the most dangerous things about a course like ‘Foundations.’ Folks begin to think that because they believe the right facts about God, the right creed, they are in a good place.

In our class on the second birth we talked at length about fact that Jesus’ call was to confess, repent and believe. Am I now mixing in works – obedience – with these first three?

Works of righteousness do us no good. As a matter of fact, obedience to the law for the sake of achieving some sort of ‘worthiness’ can only end in death.

Believing alone, and by that I mean having the right ideas about religion, does us no good, and again can only end in death.

Faith, saving faith, must have the three elements we see above, a call, belief, and obedience.

Since “without faith it is impossible to please God” (from Hebrews 11:6) I want to take you to one more passage to demonstrate this pattern.

Romans 10, where last time we looked at TNT – (Romans 10:9-10) actually takes us through this same process of call, believe, obey. Check it out:

that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved;

... for "WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED." How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, "HOW BEAUTIFUL ARE THE FEET OF THOSE WHO BRING GOOD NEWS OF GOOD THINGS!" - Romans 10:9, 13-15 NASB

You see – there must be preaching of the word, in order for people to hear the Savior call out to them – ‘Come and follow Me’ – so that they can believe and ‘Call upon the name of the Lord.’

Next we must understand that faith is not something we manufacture, it is a gift from God given to every man.

For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith. - Romans 12:3 NASB

Faith is a gift from God, which is given in the hearing of His word spoken to man’s heart.

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ. - Romans 10:17 NASB

It’s interesting to me that the Greek word for ‘word’ is not ‘logos’ but ‘rhema’ – not written word but spoken word. We must hear the voice of Jesus calling across the water, like Peter did – ‘Come.’

Are you ready to get out of the boat? C’mon – let’s go for a walk!

Thanks for coming by today.

Ben NelsonPerhaps next time I will actually get to question three.

Until then, I remain,

Your brother Ben

3

Yesterday we started to look at this entry from my church home’s statement of faith:

We believe that salvation is the free gift of God, entirely apart from human merit or works, and is received through personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior, and that believers are kept secure in Him forever. Ephesians 2:8-9; John 10:27-30; John 3:16-18, John 14:6; Acts 4:12

I posed a few questions as a way of pressing through the faith tenants presented in this statement. The meat of this statement can be separated into three main topics.

1)    Salvation is a free gift, not earned or deserved.
2)    Salvation comes through faith.
3)    Salvation is secure.

The questions I offered are as follows:

1)    What is salvation?
2)    From what do we need saving?
3)    How do I get faith, if I can’t earn it and I don’t deserve it?
4)    What must I do to be saved?
5)    Can I lose my salvation?

And one bonus question

6)    Have I committed the unpardonable sin?

As I detailed in my first post on this topic, the word in Greek – sozo – saved – includes more than “salvation” as it is has been used in the Church for centuries. But this word salvation does seem to imply a sense of rescue.

So we come to our question of the day

From what do we need saving?

Why do we need rescue in the first place.

In this ‘Foundations’ class we have spent a lot of time talking about the biblical doctrine of man’s fallen and sinful state.

We have looked at the statements in John 3:18 and 36, that we are condemned and under the wrath of God, and the fact that John 3:16 clearly indicates that without Christ we will perish.

But the very first ‘salvation’ verse I shared yesterday, gives us a good starting point to answer today’s question.

"She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins." - Matthew 1:21 NASB

Yes – sin is rebellion.
Yes – man chooses sin and turns his back on God.
Yes – we sin when we are drawn away by our own lusts.

But in essence, sin is our captor! Man without Christ is enslaved by sin.

Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? ...

For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. - Romans 6:16, 20 ESV

Yes our will and our choices are involved here, but you can’t by any power of your own will. break free from this slavery to sin. It is a bigger master than you can take on. The root of your slavery goes back to the day sin enter our species with Adam and Eve.

Jesus came to break the power of this slavery by His own death.

Death is actually the only way to break the grip of this particular slavery.

We learn of this in Romans Chapter 6. [OK – I admit it, Romans 6 is also on my top 10 list and I would love to do a verse by verse study of it here, but not today.]

Check this out

knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin. - Romans 6:6-7 NASB

Christ was crucified, and we with Him, so that sin and death no longer reign in our lives.

Understand, beloved, that this freedom from the slavery of sin is not the freedom to sin, but the freedom from sin.

Paul actually goes on to contrast our former life as a life enslaved to sin, and our new life as enslaved to righteousness. We then served sin to gain its wages – death, we now serve righteousness to gain its wages – life.

So then – this salvation – this wonderful sozo – sets us free from sin and free to righteousness – sets us free from death and free to life – sets us free from the kingdom of darkness, the kingdom of satan and sets us at large in the kingdom of heaven, the kingdom of God, the kingdom of His dear Son, Jesus.

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name.

Ben NelsonSee you again tomorrow when we look at

3)    How do I get faith, if I can’t earn it and I don’t deserve it?

Thanks for coming by!

Ben

6

Foundations

As I mentioned a few weeks ago I am helping to teach a new class we are offering at Pascack Bible Church, my church home. We are going though the Church’s statement of faith and teaching those who are new to the faith, or new to the Church, and even those who have been in the faith for many years and want a refresher.

Foundations are so important. As Jesus said:

Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. - Matthew 7:24

As you can see here, foundations are not simply head knowledge, but a good foundation is actually putting into action those things that we hear. These foundational principals are so important for our transformation; I think it would do every follower of Christ good to look at these on a regular basis.

So as I prepare to teach these classes, I thought it appropriate to share here these wonderful principles with my brothers and sisters here.

Salvation

From the PBC Statement of Faith:

We believe that salvation is the free gift of God, entirely apart from human merit or works, and is received through personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior, and that believers are kept secure in Him forever. Ephesians 2:8-9; John 10:27-30; John 3:16-18, John 14:6; Acts 4:12

As we walk though our statement of faith we find great importance is placed on Salvation. This is the third week in a row we are focusing on Christ’s work, beginning with the second birth, then redemption, and today salvation. At first glance I thought these three were essentially one topic, simply expressed three different ways, but as I study them out and look at the scriptures underlying this points in our statement of faith I can see the wisdom in looking at our great salvation from these three perspectives.

Today (and this week in blog-land) I will be digging around this idea of salvation. And as with the second birth series a couple weeks back, I would like to start with a few questions that spring to mind as I look at the above statement.

1)    What is salvation?
2)    From what do we need saving?
3)    How do I get faith, if I can’t earn it and I don’t deserve it?
4)    What must I do to be saved?
5)    Can I lose my salvation?

And one bonus question

6)    Have I committed the unpardonable sin?

Today we’ll attack question 1

What is Salvation?

The word salvation and it’s verb form ‘to save’ or ‘saved’ come from one of the richest words in the biblical Greek, σῴζω, pronounced sōzō.

You might ask, ‘What makes a word rich Ben?’

I’m glad you asked. I consider this word ‘rich’ because it is used in many contexts to demonstrate its many facets. One way to understand a word’s depth when you are not a scholar, (like me, that is to say I am not) is to look at how the scholars have translated this word in various translations of the Bible. This is where great tools like blueletterbible.org and biblegateway.com are invaluable.

Let’s dive in and see how this word sozo (I will use this form for this study) is used in various contexts.

"She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins." - Matthew 1:21 NASB

But Jesus turning and seeing her said, "Daughter, take courage; your faith has made you well." At once the woman was made well. - Matthew 9:22 NASB

And Jesus said to him, "Go; your faith has made you well." Immediately he regained his sight and began following Him on the road. - Mark 10:52 NASB

and begged Him earnestly, saying, "My little daughter lies at the point of death. Come and lay Your hands on her, that she may be healed, and she will live." - Mark 5:23 NKJV

And the Lord will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for His heavenly kingdom. To Him be glory forever and ever. Amen! - 2 Timothy 4:18 NKJV

"Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved." - Acts 4:12 NKJV

This wonderful word, sozo is used in reference to salvation from sin, but it is so much more. Sozo is about saving the whole man. Yes, God’s main design in sending Jesus was to restore – sozo – our relationship with Him, to remove that which separated us from Him. But as was so aptly demonstrated in the earthly ministry of Jesus, God was also interested in restoring man to wholeness, body soul and spirit.

My focus for the rest of the week will be on God’s ultimate work of salvation in our life, but I wanted to bring out the richness of His wonderful salvation.

Probably my favorite sozo verse is

Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. - Hebrews 7:25 NKJV

I love that phrase – save to the uttermost!

How great is our God!

Ben NelsonCome back tomorrow and we will pick this up again.

Thanks for coming by.

Ben

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