Two indispensable truths
Two indispensable truths must be established in every believer’s heart and mind in relation to salvation at the very point of conversion. The first has to do with what we are saved from and the second has to do with why we are saved.
(1) What are we saved from?
Much of the jargon and religious vocabulary that Christians tend to use is of no use to someone who is hearing the gospel for the first time. It is not surprising therefore to find that many are actually put off by the enthusiastic convert who runs around telling others that they need to be ‘saved’ or ‘born again’ or ‘washed in the blood’ or ‘give their lives to Jesus’ and so on. When we use terms or make statements out of context, without explaining what they mean, we do not do justice to the word of god. For example, to tell someone that he will go to hell if he does not believe in Jesus is an irresponsible way to present the gospel (although there is objective truth in the statement). It is more threatening than it is good news. It portrays God as an unfair, vengeful God. We must proceed from the biblical reason to the biblical conclusion when we present the gospel.
The real truth is that we do not come under condemnation of hell because we refuse to believe in Jesus, but in fact that we are already under condemnation and that from our very birth. We inherited our sinful natures through Adam. We are all under the condemnation of sin. Paul uses a string of Old Testament quotations to show the universality of sin, beginning with “there is no one righteous, not even one”(Rom.3:10-17), What is this condemnation? The bible describes it as God’s ‘wrath against sin’. Now, this wrath of God is not an impulsive fit of anger on God’s part. It is not an emotion he whimsically directs at someone he takes a dislike to. This wrath against sin is not selective, but directed towards all, because ‘all have sinned’. God’s wrath against sin is a settled and unchangeable response in righteousness and holiness towards sin. It is the execution of a justly deserved punishment for sin. Now, all of that is certainly BAD NEWS! Can the individual do anything about it? Yes, if he could attain righteousness by keeping Gods laws perfectly. But can he? No! That’s why the gospel is good news! It offers ‘a way out’ for everyone, since everyone is a sinner and is under condemnation. The way out is not through any personal effort in keeping all of Gods law perfectly. Rather, it is simply through believing in Jesus, who has kept God’s law perfectly on the sinner’s behalf and died on the cross in his place. What’s more, this way out is free. It is given to anyone who will repent and who will accept wholeheartedly what Jesus has done in his place. Now think about it! Does that sound threatening? On the contrary, it is consoling, encouraging, and liberating. Nevertheless, it is not ‘good news’ unless it is set alongside and contrasted with the ‘bad news’! We must remember that!
So, we are saved from God’s wrath against sin. It is vitally important to keep this in mind because firstly, it will prevent us from presenting a watered down, a deceptive or a perverted gospel. Those who come to Christ must come through repentance and believing in him as Saviour. There is no other way of avoiding God’s wrath against sin. Secondly, it is vital to our Christian walk. Knowing what we are saved from enables us to respond with the right attitude towards sin in our lives. We truly grasp the enormity of God’s love, his grace, and his mercy. It edifies us. Our gratitude helps us to want NOT to sin!
(2) Why are we saved?
The answer to this question will reveal how far the church has departed from its true calling in Christ. The object of salvation is more and more often being presented as being a place which we call heaven, in which there would be no pain, no tears and no suffering. While it is true that heaven is going to be everything that the Bible promises as a future eternal state, an invitation to receive salvation based on these promises is a perversion of the gospel message. If what we are saved from had to do with god’s intrinsic righteousness and holiness, then why we’re saved must also be related to God’s intrinsic righteousness and holiness! The blissful enjoyment that we will experience in heaven is by-product of being saved, not the primary reason for it. The absence of sin in heaven - something that we cannot enjoy in this present life - would necessarily involve the absence of every affliction, pain, or suffering whether physical or otherwise. But the reason we were saved is to be made holy. The goal of the believer is not heaven, but holiness. This is the whole purpose of sanctification. God’s intent is that we become more and more like Jesus. We begin that process in this life and it is brought to completion in the next: “when we see him we shall be like him.”
When we preach a cheap and perverted gospel of grace, we offend the Holy God who saved us. Look at the state of the church today. If you preach sin and hell and holiness you’re out! Take a close look at churches which are popular today. You won’t find their preachers ruffling any feathers! Their policy is ‘to go with the flow’. As Paul warned Timothy, in the last days “they will gather around them teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear”
The ‘carrot at the end of the string’ gospel message preached from the pulpits of major ministries around the world circumvents the call to repentance and holiness. Faith messages, healing and prosperity promises, messages designed to making people feel comfortable and accountable, are all interwoven with the ‘come to Jesus’ call. ‘Give people what they want’ is the key to building big churches in modern times. These churches might appear successful, but they certainly aren’t set apart to God! Paul said ‘woe is me if I preach not the gospel’. And so I say “Woe to those who lead people astray with a false sense of security”. Just think about it: isn’t it atrocious that anyone would dare to contemplate spending eternity with a holy God when they love wickedness and hate holiness and are quite comfortable with being that way? Scripture tells us ‘without holiness no one will see the Lord’. It would do us well to take heed! We must allow the Holy Spirit to deal with sin in our lives, not resist him.
© Preach The Word-with Pastor Joseph Rodrigues - www.kerysso.org