I consider myself a ponderer… because I like to ponder things long and hard before I make decisions. Maybe I’m really just a procrastinator. I think it’s possible that is more like it, but the bottom line is I should have written this article a long time ago.
I had an amazing conversation this past week with a long time friend. In the time I’ve known this friend I’ve gone from being a guy that talked about Jesus to being a guy that actually and truly lived for Jesus.
Even before I was truly regenerate I would discuss Jesus with my friend. And he noticed that. His wife also noticed it but when the Lord really saved me I went from talking about Jesus to living a life that gave me purpose in really being more diligent in how those discussions went. As my friend and I had this discussion this past week he said a couple things that really resonated with me.
Things like this… “well I’m not sure I’m all the way there yet, but I’m trying.” In digging a little deeper I realized that this is not a theologically correct statement, but I understood what my friend meant. What really encouraged me about this conversation, that was evident to me, was that his life looked very different than what it used to look. I think he was struggling to say, “hey Kevin, maybe God saved me, but I’m not really certain…” He didn’t have the words to articulate this but it’s possible he meant it.
As I consider his life before and as he described things that were happening in his life I have to ask the question. Did God save him? Is God “saving” him? It’s a question that takes on a pretty significant issue which is just how does that really happen? And there are other questions that need to be answered in this whole process.
How does God save? What does it mean to be saved? For what purpose does God save? I’m sure there are more but let’s start with these.
I bring up the topic today because when I look back at my life from pre-salvation, to initial salvation and then the sanctification and growth process I’ve almost forgotten how much God has accomplished in my life. In my discussion with my friend he said that he desired to learn so much more and in his own way was sharing what little information he knew with others in his life. And it dawned on me… wow, that was me… How could I so easily forget not everyone understand this stuff. And this “stuff” is pretty important.
How does God save?
This very question has a presupposition that most people will miss. What do we need to be saved from?
Luke 19:10 “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
To get to our question we have to start somewhere and that starting place is the “lostness” of mankind. In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth and all that is in it, He created man. God created man happy and holy (Question 21 in the children’s catechism). God not only created mankind but he gave us a soul that will never die and told Adam not to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil lest he die. When Adam disobeyed God he plunged mankind into spiritual death. Mankind was cursed.
And you were dead in the trespasses and sin in which you once walked… Ephesians 2:1-2
To have a starting point in salvation one must come to an understanding we are not only lost but we are dead. Dead spiritually with no ability on their own to come to God. Without hope and without opportunity because we are not only unable, but are also unwilling.
The part of “how God saves” is through an understanding of this predicament. God moves in the heart of a dead sinner by presenting the law of God that one might come to understanding of their helpless and hopeless condition. The law is a tutor that brings us to Christ through the message of the gospel (Galatians 3:23, Romans 1:16). The gospel is the good news which sets a sinner free from his captivity and slavery to sin (Romans 6:7).
This message of the gospel must come from an outside source because the sinner will not come to this revelation on his own. It generally comes through either reading the word, or mostly through the proclamation of the message through a messenger. A “preacher” if you will…
How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? Romans 10:14
God uses the preaching of the word to save souls. For most all this is a foolish message (1 Corinthians 1:18) but yet this is how God does it. And if you weren’t saved via the gospel message you must examine if you’ve been saved to this gospel?
What does it mean to be saved?
When God created man the Genesis account says that God created man in His own image. That God breathed life into man.
Genesis 2:7 And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.
The word breath means spirit, inspiration, soul. God gave man a soul. Created in His image Adam would live forever. Upon Adam’s disobedience he plunged all of mankind into death and the curse of God.
To be saved means that God can redeem us from the curse. He not only saves us from the curse, He saves us from the power and the penalty of the sin that we are born into. God did this for a simple reason but a reason that is not popular with most people. If you’ve been saved you must recognize that you were saved by God, saved for God and saved from God.
The God of the universe acquiesced to take on human flesh that He might accomplish what Adam could not. Christ came to be the better Adam. To fulfill the law that we would not be cursed under the law.
For what purpose does God save?
I’m unpopular in present day evangelicalism. I’m unpopular because God’s word is unpopular and I place my trust completely in what it says. I’m not trying to be arrogant in that statement because many will claim the same thing. But yet when it comes to the Sovereignty of God and the claims that He makes in His word we can get to a point pretty quickly that will separate the best of friends.
God saves for His glory
God is a God of love and God loves His people but the Bible says God does not love all people equally and the exclusivity of this statement is offensive. For many this makes God some sort of a monster that is toying around with people. I don’t see it that way but yet I’ve struggled with the concept just like I think most “normal” people would.
The Scriptures are clear but yet often times hard to accept.
“Therefore say to the house of Israel, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “I do not do this for your sake, O house of Israel, but for My holy name’s sake, which you have profaned among the nations wherever you went. – Ezekiel 36:22
This verse is God focused. This verse shows us some hard truth. God has tolerated a sinful creation that rebelled against the Creator. And to reveal the glory of the Creator, He in His Sovereign plan, for no reason other than His purposes chose out a group of people to glorify His name on this earth.
“Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world. – John 17:24
Man is not a victim. Man is a willing participant in his sin. The sin that he loves and is unwilling to give up. There is so much more to say but yet the gospel message is simple and the offer is free to those that will come. And today I must ask you a very real question.
Will you come to Him today? On His terms, not yours?
For as an evangelist brother of mine says… “God will not negotiate with sinners…”
Do you recognize that, not only do you sin, but you are a sinner? If you are weary of the battle, then give it over to Him today and you will also find rest for your weary soul.
Do that today; for that is the purpose for which Christ came. I’m hoping He came to save you.