God Wants All People to Be Saved!
BELIEVE — God Wants All People to Be Saved!
We are going to wrestle with a big issue this morning: Salvation. What does it mean to be saved? How can you have the assurance that you are saved? How can you grow in the faith that builds up your salvation?
100 years ago over twice as many people were coming to our church every week because there was a much higher concern about salvation. People wanted to be sure that they were saved and on their way to heaven. Modern society – doesn’t think about salvation much at all. The big issue for people today – and why they’re not coming to church – is because they are focused on the here and now – eat, drink, and be merry – just concentrate on having a good time and don’t worry about eternity. Death is no big deal – you just go to sleep and it’s all over.
Our modern society may be in denial about the issue of salvation – but every major world religion agrees that salvation is the most important issue for all people to come to grips with. John Wesley, founder of United Methodist denomination – Salvation and the faith that helps us to receive salvation and grow in our salvation is the whole focus of Christianity from start to finish.
Some parts of Salvation are hard to understand – but God’s desire is very clear – God loves all people and wants everyone to be saved.
1 Timothy 2:4-6 (NLT) God wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth. For there is only one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus. Jesus gave His life to purchase salvation for everyone.
Jesus made His answer to our first question crystal clear. If you ever have any doubts about how important salvation is – just look at the Cross and remember what Jesus was willing to pay in order to make salvation available for everyone.
Do People REALLY NEED to Be Saved?
The Bible teaches us that God works hard to be as clear as possible – about the absolute necessity of Salvation. God loves all people and wants everyone to be saved. But as I mentioned – our modern culture thinks this salvation thing is way overblown. Don’t worry – be happy. It’s all good.
Modern culture may declare that salvation isn’t important or necessary – but the Bible and every other major religion in human history have all emphasized that the choices people make in life – to build a relationship with God or just walk away from God – have very serious eternal consequences.
Psalm 9:16-17 (MSG/NLT) People have no excuse; the way God works is well-known. …The wicked shall be sent away to hell; this is the fate of all who turn away from the LORD.
If Modern society doesn’t like to talk about salvation – it definitely doesn’t like talking about hell and the eternal consequences of turning away from God. But before you turn off all thoughts about hell – I would like to ask you Who in the Bible taught more about hell than anyone else?
Jesus – Who is undoubtedly the most loving person in the Bible – is also the person Who had more to say about hell than anyone else in the Bible.
Matthew 25:46 (NLT) Jesus said, Those who disobey God will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life.
Why do you think Jesus spends more time teaching about hell than anyone else? Does Jesus have a hidden, masochistic side?
As I have said before – I think it is an act of love to warn people about dangers they can’t see or fully understand. I was very forceful and emphatic with all 3 of our sons – do not walk in front of cars. I wasn’t trying to be mean. I wanted to protect them. In the same way that I think Jesus wants to protect people.
There may be a hundred different opinions about hell and eternal punishment here this morning – but the Bible is consistent from beginning to end – salvation isn’t a nice option for those who are into that kind of thing. Salvation is essential for every person on this planet.
Which reminds me – I need to back up a little – what is salvation?
What Is SALVATION?
Sometimes it is really easy to understand what it means to be saved. Watch the news – hundreds of people working as hard as they could to save children in collapsed building. Pictures of being saved – Mexico, Puerto Rico, Hurricanes.
What does the Bible mean – when it teaches us about salvation? We usually think about it as one event – the Bible describes salvation as one big whole that is made up of three key parts.
When most Christians talk about salvation – they are focused on the moment when a person said “Yes, I want Jesus as my Savior.” But the Bible presents Salvation in three parts. First, there is God reaching out to us to show us how much we are loved – and helping us to grow in our awareness and appreciation of that love so that we take that first step of saying yes to Jesus.
Then there is the second step of our salvation – growing in that gift of love. Being born again – is a starting point – not a final destination. Jesus wants to help you experience an abundant life while we are in this world – not to be sitting on the side of the road, waiting until the day God beams us up to heaven.
John 3:16 (MSG) This is how much God loved the world: He gave His Son, His one and only begotten Son, Jesus. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in Jesus, anyone can have an abundant life in this world and everlasting life in heaven.
2 Corinthians 5:17 (NLT) This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!
The third and final stage of salvation – is when God does raise us up to our new home in heaven. Which we should probably talk about for a moment. A lot of people aren’t sure that they want to go to heaven – because they have pictures of sitting on a cloud playing a harp for a million years. I have to admit – I don’t want any part of that either.
What does the Bible teach us heaven is like? The most important thing to know about heaven – is that it is God’s throne room – nothing will get in the way of your relationship with God. Heaven is the place – where all the damage done by sin is completely removed – no more tears, no more sorrows, no more losses. Heaven is where we are reunited with every believer who has gone before us – in perfect relationships. Think about that for a moment – having perfect relationships. Penny and I have a very good relationship – but we both know it’s not perfect – so we definitely look forward to the day when our relationship is made completely perfect.
God is eager to help all people receive His most important gift of salvation – yet God gives us the freedom and the responsibility to say yes or no to the gift He offers. Which makes it important for us to know – what is the faith that saves us?
WHAT Is the Faith That Saves Us?
Faith is all about trusting Jesus to be able to deliver on His promises. The big question everyone has is – are there enough good reasons for me to trust Jesus with my eternal destiny. How can I really be sure that Jesus is the Messiah – the Savior of the World?
John the Baptist had told everyone he could that Jesus is the Messiah, the Lamb of God Who takes away the sins of the world. John the Baptist was in prison – and knew that he would probably be killed soon – so he sent some of his disciples to talk to Jesus and make sure that he got it right that Jesus really is the Messiah.
Matthew 11:3-5 (NLT) John the Baptist sent his disciples to ask Jesus, “Are you really the Messiah we’ve been expecting?” Jesus told them, “Go back to John and tell him what you have heard and seen—the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor.”
Look carefully at that list. Is there anyone else who produced all the evidence that they could really offer people eternal salvation like Jesus does? Has anyone else ever demonstrated the power of God like Jesus did? Opening the eyes of the blind, giving the lame the power to stand up and walk again, curing leprosy, opening the ears of the deaf, raising dead people like Lazarus and several others back to life – and to add to all of those miracles – to demonstrate love that was committed to caring for the poor?
Think about Jesus’ list of miracles and love in action? Has anyone else ever come close to accomplishing all of those things?
Jesus is the only person in all of history Who ever revealed the power of God so clearly and completely. And Jesus is also the only person in history Who gives salvation to people – instead of demanding that they earn salvation.
When you think about Christianity compared to every other faith in the world – you can boil it down to: DO vs. DONE. In every other faith – Hinduism, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism – you have to DO enough good works in order to be saved. You have to earn your salvation.
Only Jesus offers salvation as a gift – and shows people it’s done. According to Jesus – none of us can do enough good works to earn our salvation. But we don’t have to worry – because our Salvation is already DONE. Jesus completed the whole job by dying on the Cross and rising again.
Ephesians 2:8 (NLT/NCV) God saved you by His grace through faith – believing. You did not save yourselves; salvation is a gift from God.
The faith that saves us is a gift. A gift we have to decide if we are going to receive, open, and keep growing in?
HOW Are We Saved By Faith?
As I mentioned – Salvation is one huge gift that comes to us in three parts. The first part is saying yes to Jesus – and opening the gift of God’s love. The second part is making good use of the gift – salvation doesn’t start after we die – it starts the moment we say yes. The third part – is looking forward to the day when God raises us up to our new home in heaven.
The Apostle Paul does a great job of helping us to visualize the three parts of our salvation in Philippians 3. Paul has peace and confidence in knowing that he is saved. He also has excitement and determination to make the most of Jesus gift and grow to his full potential in this world – all the while looking forward to the day when God will raise him up to heaven.
Philippians 3:12-14 (TLB) I don’t mean to say I am perfect. …But I keep working toward that day when I will finally be all that Christ saved me for and wants me to be. I am still not all I should be, but I am bringing all my energies to bear on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God is calling us up to heaven because of what Christ Jesus did for us.
God is reaching out to you and to the whole world – offering the gift of salvation. God wants to help all of us to grow in knowing that the work of our Salvation was completely DONE by Jesus – and now we have the opportunity to grow in that gift and look forward to the day when our journey will be complete and we will celebrate the greatest life imaginable – with no more sickness, sorrows, or death – safe for all eternity with our loved ones and our Heavenly Father. All because Jesus loved you so much – that He gave everything on the Cross for your salvation!