Harbor Lights Sermon July 11th, 2010

What Salvation Incorporates

So far I have spoken on the fact that faith in Christ is not mere speculation, wishful thinking or blind faith, but is based upon eyewitness testimony to his miracles. The apostle Peter writes, "We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty." 2Peter 1:16 and given that such events were public and subject to a great deal of scrutiny, it seems that the burden of proof is on those who don't believe.

I have spoken on the main message, the essential message of the Bible, that God is just and we are sinners subject to his wrath, but that God has graciously provided salvation for us through faith in Jesus Christ. I have spoken on who Jesus Christ is and what is incorporated in believing in Christ, and all these subjects can be elaborated upon further. But today I would like to elaborate upon what is included in the salvation package, though I've mentioned a number of elements in the past.

First and foremost of course, as I mentioned, is that salvation involves being saved from God's wrath. God is not dispassionate about judical matters. God hates sin. God hates those who love wickedness. Ps 11:5 "The LORD examines the righteous, but the wicked and those who love violence his soul hates." Jesus portrays God as master in his parable in Mt 18 the end of which says, "In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed." That's the way God is.

Heb 3:7-11 The Holy Spirit says: "Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the desert, where your fathers tested and tried me and for forty years saw what I did. That is why I was angry with that generation, and I said, ‘Their hearts are always going astray, and they have not known my ways.’ So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.’"

God is passionate about sin. "Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God." 1Cor 6:9,10

Ps 2:12  "Kiss the Son, lest he be angry and you be destroyed in your way, for his wrath can flare up in a moment. Blessed are all who take refuge in him."

Concerning the second coming of Christ it says, "God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power" 2Thess 1:6-9

But those who align themselves with Jesus Christ will be saved from God's wrath. One of the elements of the New Covenant promise is spoken of in Heb 8:12 "I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more." God considers such a person justified. They are forgiven. Despite the fact the Christians may fall into sin from time to tim does God continue to have anger against that person. No. John writes in 1John 1:8,9 "If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." and goes on to say, "I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense— Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins." 1John 2:1,2a  Paul says in Rom 5:9  "Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!" Those who have been justified by faith in the blood of Christ will not be subject to wrath. This is one element is the salvation package God offers through faith in Jesus Christ.

This is just the beginning. God's intention is not simply to save people from being subjected to his wrath in hell. Rather he wants to establish an intimate relationship with us. In Isaiah 59:2 it says, "your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you". But Christ having atoned for sin and having been reconciled to God through faith in Christ, we can now have a relationship with God. The whole New Covenant promise mentioned in Hebrews 8, which is a quote from the prophet Jeremiah says, "This is the covenant I will make (with the house of Israel after that time), declares the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more."

It's all about establishing an intimate relationship with God, though we must enter into that relationship through the door and not the window. The door is the blood of Christ which deals with justification. It deals with the guilt of our sin. But once you're through that door, there's a number of things included in the whole salvation package.

For example those who come to believe are guaranteed to receive the Holy Spirit. In his first sermon Peter preaches, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." Acts 2:38 In fact it says, "If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ." Rom 8:9 seeing as everyone who belongs to Christ is given the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is a guarantee of one's salvation. It says in Ephesian 1:13,14 "you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession— to the praise of his glory." And in 2Cor 1: 21,22 "Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come."

And again in 2Cor 5:1-6 "Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord."

The Holy Spirit seals the believer resulting in Eternal Security. Those who are in Christ are eternally security. Their fate, their destiny has been determined. "For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified." Rom 8:29,30

While there are those who object to the eternal security of the believer, saying what if after a person is saved he then goes on to live a lifestyle of sin. But in fact that never occurs. The Bible teaches us in 1John 3:9 "No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God." And this is affirmed also in the first tenet of the New Covenant which states, "I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts". While those born of God sin on occasion, it is not possible for such people to live a lifestyle of sin. Their conscience just won't allow them to do so. Due to the nature of regeneration they have lost the ability to do so. This is part of the salvation package.

The prophet Ezekiel tells us God says, "I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. Then they will follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. They will be my people, and I will be their God." Eze 11:19,20 Or in Jeremiah it says, "I will give them singleness of heart and action, so that they will always fear me for their own good and the good of their children after them. I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good to them, and I will inspire them to fear me, so that they will never turn away from me." Jer 32:39,40

Those Jesus says of his sheep, "My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand." John 10:27-29 Listening to Jesus and following him is simply characteristic of his sheep.

Consequently Paul writes, Rom 8:38,39 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Another element of God's salvation package is that those who are in Christ are predestined to be adopted as sons - children of God. "For he chose us in him ("us" being those who have come to believe in Christ) before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—" Eph 1:4,5

Not everyone in the world is a child of God. In fact only a minority of the population are children of God. "To all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God" John 1:12 So when you receive him, you also receive the right to become children of God. And a person doesn't receive that privilege until they believe in his name. It's contingent upon faith. Gal 3:26 "You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus" Those who are not of the faith are not of the family of God. So it's a priviledge to be a child of God.

Imagine this - "God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Rom 5:8 But he goes beyond that. It's one thing to forgive an enemy. It's quite another to adopt him into your family. Thus John writes in 1John 3:1  "How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!" Which is a bit over the top.

But there's more. Rom 8:17 "If we are children, then we are heirs— heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory."  2Tim 2:11-12a "Here is a trustworthy saying: If we died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also  with him" 1Peter 1:3-5a "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade— kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power" God has an inheritance for us which we didn't earn. And we will reign with Christ.

But even now he gives us purpose in life.John writes, "as Christ is, so are we in this world." 1John 4:17 Paul writes, "We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." Eph 2:10 The Bible also refers to believers as servants of God. "And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again." 2Cor 5:15

One of the responsibilities of the Holy Spirit is to provide a diversity of giftedness so that each individual finds themselves useful in the body of Christ. In 1Cor 12 Paul lists a number of the sort of giftedness the Lord provides and says, "All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determine." 1Cor 12:11 "Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given us." Rom 12:4-6a  "From Christ the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work." Eph 4:16

There's much that can be elaborated upon, but let me just list the elements of the salvation package I mentioned here.

1. Forgiveness of sins
2. Conseqently saved from God's wrath
3. Eternal life with God in His Kingdom
4. Given a personal relationship with God
5. And are reckoned a child of God, and likewise we join a family - The Christian community is the family of God
6. An inheritance in heaven
7. Reigning with Christ
8. Purpose in life
9. Regeneration - a new nature
10. The Holy Spirit
11. Gifts from the Holy Spirit

Jul 29,2015