Our lesson tonight is a continuation of our thoughts this morning. Understanding our own salvation is a thrilling challenge. How can a Holy God accept unholy people? Why did Jesus die on the cross? How does His death help me?
- This morning we introduced a study of 5 words from the Bible that describes our salvation. There words are images of our salvation. Each of these words depict our standing with God both before and after we are saved. They help us to understand what God has done for us in Christ.
We viewed two of our words in our previous lesson:
1) Justification: the sinner stands before God guilty and condemned, but is declared righteous, or innocent. Our justification is possible through the blood of Jesus, offered on Calvary as a propitiation for our sins.
2) Redemption: In the image of redemption, the sinner stands before God as a slave, but is granted his freedom. But our freedom is not free. Redemption is only possible through Christ’s sacrifice. We are redeemed (purchased for God) by the precious blood of the Lamb (1 Pet. 1:18-20)
In each of these images there is a before and after perspective. Without the salvation through Christ we are condemned and enslaved. With Christ we are innocent and free.
I. What other Bible words describe my salvation?
A. Forgiveness: the sinner stands before God as a debtor, but in Christ the debt is paid and forgotten. Forgiveness may be the most common image of what it means to be saved. We can all relate to forgiveness; we have been forgiven, and forgiven others of errors or unkindness.
1. When Paul came to Antioch of Pisidia he entered the synagogue and proclaimed the message of salvation. A messageof forgiveness of sins.
a. Look at Acts 13: He spoke of the O.T. prophecies that looked forward to Christ.
- Vs. 23 – “God raised up for Israel a Savior — Jesus” – Israel’s salvation could only come through Christ.
- Vs. 32-34 “And we declare to you glad tidings — that promise which was made to the fathers. 33 God has fulfilled this for us their children, in that He has raised up Jesus. As it is also written in the second Psalm: ‘You are My Son, Today I have begotten You.’ 34 And that He raised Him from the dead, no more to return to corruption, He has spoken thus: ‘I will give you the sure mercies of David.’
- Vs. 38-39 – Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through this Man is preached to you the forgiveness of sins; 39 and by Him everyone who believes is justified from all things from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses.
- b. Again we recognize that our forgiveness comes through the blood of Jesus. Ephesians 1:7 – In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace
2. Understanding our debt. We are all familiar with debt. It is at the center of political debate and personal finances. Ridding ourselves of debt is always good. It may even save us. Do you know the condition of your credit rating? There are many times when we have to take an inventory of what we owe to others
a. Our sin is a debt we owe. Jesus used the words “debts” and “trespasses” synonymously when He taught about forgiveness in His model prayer – Matthew 6:12 – And forgive us our debts,As we forgive our debtors. It is a debt we cannot repay.
b. In Matthew 18 Jesus told a parable designed to teach us to think and act like God. It was a parable of two debtors. One owed an enormous amount of money (unable to pay it back). He was forgiven of the whole debt. He had a debtor who owed him a small amount. In the parable, this one who had been forgiven his enormous debt refused to forgive the one who owed him. He was condemned and punished. His salvation depended on his recognition of his forgiven debt. Matt 18:32-35 – Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. 33 Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?’ 34 And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him. 35 “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.”
- Someone has said that we never act like more than when we forgive another person.
- The woman in Simon’s house wet Jesus feet with her tears and washed them. Why was she crying? Luke 7:47-48 – 7 Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.” 48 Then He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” Her love flowed from her sense of sin and forgiveness. But Simon was oblivious to it all
B. Reconciliation: the sinner stands before God as an enemy, but becomes His friend. This is a difficult, yet beautiful picture. There are few of us who consider ourselves as enemies of God. Even those who do bad things like to think of God as their benevolent friend. But sin has always created enmity and separation between God and men. When Adam and Even sinned they were expelled from the garden and the tree of life.
- Isa 59:2 – But your iniquities have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden His face from you, So that He will not hear.
1. The apostle Paul takes our rebellion a step further. We have done more than turn away, he says; we have turned against our Father. “We were living against God” in Romans 5:6 and in vs. 10 he says “We were God’s enemies“.
2. Our salvation is reconciliation with God. 2 Corinthians 5:18-20 – 18 Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. 20 Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.
a. A portrait of our reconciliation in Colossians 1:20-23 – 20 and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross. 21 And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled 22 in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight — 23 if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister.
C. Adoption: the sinner stands before God as a stranger, but is made a son. The most endearing depiction of the Christian is that he is a child of God. This picture extends both horizontally and vertically. God is our Father above, we are brothers and sisters here on earth.
1. But how do we become children of God? The Bible answer is that we are adopted into the relationship. Ephesians 1:5 – 5 having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will,
2. What is adoption? “To take by choice (esp. to take voluntarily) into a relationship, as child, heir, friend, citizen, etc.” (Webster) “Adoption is the taking and treating of a stranger as one’s own child. It is a mere act of grace.” (The Biblical Illustrator)
a. Adoption in O.T. times was primarily a Gentile activity. (Pharaoh’s daughter adopted Moses.) Among the Romans adoption was a familiar practice. In the eyes of Roman law, the adopted one became a new creature; he was regarded as being born again into the new family-an illustration of what happens to the believer at conversion.
3. This salvation word is found only in Paul’s writings, and is depicted as the eternal plan of God.
- Gal 4:4-7 – But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. 6 And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” 7 Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.
- Rom 8:15-17 – 15 For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out,”Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs — heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.
- Our adoption is connected with the reception of the Holy Spirit into our hearts through our faith in His word. Our faith in our salvation provided through the testimony of the Holy Spirit in scripture and our own conscience in obedience, dispels our fear (of condemnation) and causes us to cry “abba Father”
- God’s willingness to give us a place in His family, even when we have sinned against Him was one of the great teachings of Jesus Christ. The parable of the prodigal son – Luke 15:22-24 – 22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. 23 And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; 24 for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ And they began to be merry.
- 1 John 3:1-3 – Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. 2 Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. 3 And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.
- At the heart of our spiritual adoption is our ability through Him to be like our Father.
Conclusion: A complete understanding of the doctrine of salvation involves a detailed study of each of those terms. They are distinct and yet interconnect. They all intersect in Christ. We are saved through Jesus.
What does it mean to be saved?
- It means to be guilty, and yet be acquitted completely.
- It means to be enslaved, and to be set free completely.
- It means to be in so much debt I can never pay it back, and to be forgiven of it all.
- It means to be an enemy of God, but through Christ to be reconciled to be His friend.
- It means to be a stranger and foreigner with no privileges, and yet become a son in the family of God.
Who would not want to be saved? He that believes and is baptized will be saved.