Wednesday, October 15, 2008

This Week's Sermon

What It Means To Be “Saved”By Eric Elder

When people say they’re “saved,” what do they mean? And what exactly are they saved from?

To say you’re saved means more than just the fact that you’re a Christian. It means you’ve been saved from something. Specifically, it means you’ve been saved from hell, both the literal hell that Jesus talked about when people are separated from God for all eternity, and the practical hell that you can experience here on this earth when you continue to follow your own sinful ways.

To someone who isn’t “saved,” the word seems to be either offensive or just plain laughable. But to someone who is “saved,” the word is full of life, because they know what would have happened to them had Jesus not come to save them.

I read this week that one of the candidates running for office is being questioned because their pastor “preaches hell for anyone who doesn’t believe in Jesus.” I guess when you put it that way, it does sound rather offensive. But the truth is, it’s the same message that Jesus preached. (Good thing He isn’t running for office--He’d probably get crucified again!)

Some people, unfortunately, think that Jesus is out to get them, that He came to condemn them for what they’ve done. But Jesus didn’t come to condemn you. He came to save you. He even says so in His own words:

“For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son” (John 3:17-18).

So, yes, there is hell to pay if you don’t believe in Jesus. But no one’s going to hell because they haven’t believed in Jesus; they’re going to hell because of their sins, which is a completely different reason altogether. Whenever you sin, it separates you from God. And without a savior, you’d be separated from God forever. That’s hell. That’s the fate from which Jesus came to save you.

When the Apostles Peter and John were arrested for preaching that Jesus could save people from their sins, they didn’t back down even when threatened with death. In Acts chapter 4, they spoke boldly about the fact that Jesus alone had the power to save:

“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

Faith saves. One of my favorite scenes in the Indiana Jones series is when Indy comes to the edge of a cliff and can’t see any way across to the cliff on the other side. With a look of exasperation, he says, “It’s a leap of faith!” With his enemies pressing in from behind and no other way forward, he takes a giant step into what looks like thin air in front of him, only to find that he has stepped onto a solid rock bridge that had been camouflaged from view. Indy’s “leap of faith” had saved him.

Jesus wants to save you from more than just a bad ending to the movie of your life. He wants to save you from hell, both here on earth and on into eternity.

When Jesus died on the cross, He extended an invitation to every person in the world who had strayed from God to come back to Him. The price for our sins had been paid. But reconciliation is a two way street. Just because one party wants to be reconciled with the other doesn’t mean they are reconciled. Both parties have to agree to it.

Jesus has done His part. Now He’s waiting for each person to respond individually. And the way you respond is by faith.

If you’ve never put your faith in Christ to save you from your sins, I pray you’ll do it today. He’d love to say to you what He said to the woman who wiped His feet with her tears:

“Your sins are forgiven. Your faith has saved you; go in peace” (Luke 7:48,50).

Let’s pray...

Father, forgive me for the sins I have committed, too, as I put my faith in Christ. In Jesus’ name, Amen.


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