As we prepare to worship the Lord on Sunday, the Christian Sabbath, the issue of salvation may seem unrelated. But I suggest to you that the issue of salvation is never unrelated. The people of Jerusalem shouted “Hosanna” as Jesus rode triumphantly through the city. The meaning of their cry was “Save us now, we pray!”
We seek to be saved from many dire circumstances. In Jesus’ time, people were seeking deliverance from Roman rule. We have just lived through an election in which many of us hoped to be delivered from incompetent and self-interested officials. Yet there is only one salvation that is eternal. It is to be delivered from the wrath of God. The Bible refers to this salvation in three ways. Salvation is a past event, a continuing condition, and a future hope. “For by grace you were saved…” (Ephesians 2:8), “(the gospel) by which you are saved…” (1 Corinthians 15:2), and “for everyone call on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:13)
Before I became a Christian, my answer to the question of salvation would have been, “I don’t need to be saved; I’m fine.” If someone had asked me, “Brother, are you saved?” I probably would have laughed or been offended. I now know the truth about myself. I was far from well. I needed to be saved, to be continually delivered and to have the certain hope of heaven. I was blinded by sin. I was dead in sin and unable to see my need for to be delivered.
By the grace of God, I know the deep nature of the doctrine of salvation. The following statement may offend some. Yet it must be said because it is the truth revealed by God. Ultimate salvation is to be saved by God from God for God. John 3:16 tells us that because God the Father chose to show his love, he gave Jesus that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. God must cause an individual to see his need. Faced with his sinful state, a jailer cried out to the apostle Paul and his companion, “What must I do to be saved? The answer given to him is the timeless answer for all. “Believe on the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, you and all your household. (Acts 16:30-31)
When the apostles Peter and John were confronted by the religious authorities in Jerusalem for proclaiming the bodily resurrection of Jesus, they told them God’s command for salvation. They said, “There is no salvation in anyone else, for there is no other name under heaven. [Jesus] given among men by which we must be saved. (Acts 4:12)
Now, again, the hard truth is that salvation is by God from God for God. All are born dead in sin. There are no natural children of God. God’s children are adopted. God alone must save men and women from his wrath. The apostle Paul wrote to the church in Ephesus that all men are naturally children of God’s wrath. He said that God is “rich in mercy”. He grants his grace to those he chooses. Therefore, salvation is by the grace of God alone through faith alone in Christ alone. God has given the only way to be spared from his wrath which is by his grace alone through Jesus Christ alone as offered in the gospel.
Years ago I was teaching a Bible study on the doctrine of salvation, and a young woman was visibly upset by the phrase “the wrath of God.” She told me and the whole class that her god was a god of love. I responded by saying that truly God is love. And God is holy. The holy God and sin cannot coexist. God demands perfection. (Matthew 5:48) Nothing imperfect can enter heaven. This is not my opinion. It is simply the clear and convincing teaching of the Bible. The depth of God’s love cannot be understood without knowing the holiness of God.
Jesus, the full revelation of God, the second person of the Trinity, will return to judge the living and the dead. He will destroy all that is ungodly, unrighteous and sinful.
So, have you thought about your own salvation? There are only two alternatives, either you will experience the wrath of the Holy God or his unwavering love forever! He who has ears to hear, let him hear.
Reverend Lou Tiscione is the pastor of Weatherford Presbyterian Church.