Posts Tagged ‘salvation’

Galatians 4:25-27

In Galatians 4:25-27 Paul continues to explain the covenants God made with us. The first was related to Mount Sinai and corresponds to Jerusalem or the capital of religious Judaism. Most Jewish people in Paul’s day tried to be right with God by trusting in their ability to please God by keeping the law. Now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia; she corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children.” But that approach falls short because none of us can keep the law and meet God’s requirements to achieve salvation on our own. We only have hope for salvation through the second covenant God gave us.

That is associated with Jerusalem and Mount Zion – but not the Mount Zion of this earth. Instead, it is associated with the Jerusalem above – God’s own New Jerusalem in heaven. Paul makes a third contrast between Christianity and legalism comparing them to heaven and earth. Real Christianity comes from heaven, not what we can accomplish on earth. “But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother.” This covenant brings freedom – it is free. It is free because it recognizes that Jesus paid the price, and we don’t have to pay it ourselves. We could never pay the price for our sin – only Jesus can do that.

The new covenant has many children and is the mother of us all. Every Christian for all ages belongs to this new covenant. As believers, we are reborn through the miracle of God’s grace. “For it is written, “Rejoice, O barren one who does not bear; break forth and cry aloud, you who are not in labor! or the children of the desolate one will be more than those of the one who has a husband.” Paul makes a fourth contrast between Christianity and legalism – namely that the new covenant would have more followers than the many who attempted to follow the Law.

Guzik compares ‘The “Ishmaels” – Legalism vs. The “Isaacs” – True Christianity

  • Slavery and bondage vs. Freedom
  • Ishmael: born according to the flesh vs. Isaac: born by God’s promised miracle
  • Coming from the earthly Jerusalem vs. Coming from the heavenly Jerusalem
  • Many children vs. Many more children
  • Persecuting vs. Persecuted
  • Inheriting nothing vs. Inheriting everything
  • Relationship based on law-keeping vs. Relationship based on trusting God’

God knew we needed a Savior as we as humans were incapable of obedience to the Law so we could save ourselves. So Jesus came to earth to fulfill the new covenant and give us salvation through grace – True Christianity!

Galatians 3:23-29

In Galatians 3:23-29 Paul continues his explanation of grace through faith as compared to the law. Before we were saved by faith; before we lived our lives by faith, we were held captive by the law. We were imprisoned by the law. Our sin does that to us. The law does play an important part in that it shows us God’s standard and makes known the need for a Savior. “Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed.” It acts as a guardian, pointing us to the need for grace. That’s what Jesus provided us through His death on the Cross. “So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith.”

The whole purpose of the law is to bring us to Jesus. Therefore, if someone doesn’t present the Law in a manner that brings people to faith in Jesus, they aren’t presenting the Law properly. The way Jesus presented the Law was to show people that they could not fulfill it, and needed to look outside of their law-keeping. “But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.” Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to God except through faith in Him. When we receive Him through faith, we become children of God – something we can never lose.

Paul illustrates what it means to have faith in Christ. We are to be baptized into Christ. Just as in water baptism a person is immersed in water, so when we place our faith in Christ Jesus, we are immersed in Jesus. “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” We must understand that this is the baptism that really saves us: our immersion into Jesus. If a person isn’t baptized into Christ, he could be dunked a thousand times into water and it would make no eternal difference. Once we are baptized into Christ by receiving Him as our personal Savior, then we can follow through with water immersion to demonstrate our faith in Christ.

The whole problem among the Galatian Christians is that some wanted to still observe the dividing line between Jew and Greek. They wanted some division. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” But Paul makes it clear we are all the same in Jesus. There is no differentiation. Morris wrote “He is saying that when people are saved by Jesus Christ they are brought into a marvelous unity, a unity between the saved and the Saviour and a unity that binds together all the saved.” And that salvation through faith makes us an heir to the Kingdom as children of God. “And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.”

Galatians 3:19-22

In Galatians 3:19-22 Paul continues his clarification around the law and grace. He begins by explaining the purpose of the law. Part of the reason God gave the law was to clearly reveal His standard for living. He had to give us His standard so we would not destroy ourselves before the Messiah came. “Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made, and it was put in place through angels by an intermediary.” It also shows us the need for a Savior as we fall short through our rebellion against God’s standard.

Guzik explains “According to ancient traditions – true traditions, according to Paul – the Law was delivered to Moses on Mount Sinai by the hands of angels. Angels were the “go-between” or mediator for Moses when he received the Law from God. Moses needed a mediator between himself and God, but we don’t need a mediator between us and Jesus – He is our mediator. The law was a two-party agreement brought by mediators. Salvation in Jesus by faith is received by a promise.” “Now an intermediary implies more than one, but God is one.” God’s promise of salvation through Christ was superior to the law because the law was mediated by more than one. Salvation is one way – God’s gift of grace through Christ’s death on the Cross.

Paul asks a compelling question. “Is the law then contrary to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law.” The law does not contradict the promises of God. The law exposes our sin and the desperate need we have for a Savior. And because it sets God’s standard for how we must live to earn salvation on our own, it shows clearly that we’re doomed in our attempts to follow it. Righteousness will never come by the law – we can’t live good enough to achieve it on our own. We need a Savior to experience eternal life.

Paul paints a picture of us being imprisoned by sin. The bars of the cell are sin and they keep us confined and separated from God. Scripture puts us in prison because it clearly points out how short we fall from God’s standard. “But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.” Fortunately, God made a way for us to overcome the prison that sin puts us in. Luther explains “When the Law drives you to the point of despair, let it drive you a little farther, let it drive you straight into the arms of Jesus who says: ‘Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.’ ”

Galatians 3:15-18

In Galatians 3:15-18 Paul continues explaining God’s plan for salvation. He establishes the principle that even with a covenant among men, the covenant stands firm once it is made – you don’t add to or subtract from it. The point is not what happens between men, but that if that’s how covenants work for humans, we can pretty much be sure it’s that much more certain in any covenant that God makes. “To give a human example, brothers: even with a man-made covenant, no one annuls it or adds to it once it has been ratified.” And God has made a covenant with man that we can trust.

God promised Abraham back in Genesis 22 that his offspring would be blessed for all generations. It wasn’t a plural blessing – there was no ‘s’ on offspring – but it referred to Jesus Christ who was a specific offspring of Abraham and God’s way for blessing to be given to all. So even thousands of years ago, God had a plan for the world He created – and that plan was Jesus. That was His promise. “Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, “And to offsprings,” referring to many, but referring to one, “And to your offspring,” who is Christ.”

Guzik explains “If the inheritance offered to Abraham was on the basis of law, it might not be permanent – because it would depend, at least in part, on Abraham’s keeping of the law. But since the inheritance was offered on the basis of promise, God’s promise, it stands sure.” Salvation does not depend on what Abraham, or anyone other that Jesus Christ, has or will ever do. God’s promise to Abraham came before the law was even created, and His promise of salvation through faith to Abraham is still the promise we claim. “This is what I mean: the law, which came 430 years afterward, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to make the promise void.”

God gave Abraham a promise. The word gave here is the ancient Greek word kecharistai, which is based on the Greek word charis – grace. God’s giving to Abraham was the free giving of grace. The word is also in the perfect tense, showing that the gift is permanent. God made a once for all promise of grace to Abraham. It wasn’t something that depended on performance by anything other than the faith and belief to receive that gift. Jesus did all the work. All that mankind has to do is receive God’s gift of grace through Christ based on the promise God made to Abraham. Salvation is that simple. It’s God grace promised to Abraham centuries ago that applies to us today and forever. “For if the inheritance comes by the law, it no longer comes by promise; but God gave it to Abraham by a promise.”

Galatians 3:11-14

In Galatians 3:11-14 Paul continues to focus on grace as God granted it through the death of Jesus on the Cross. He has already proven that no one can be justified by the law, not because of the law, but because no human is able to completely follow it. So faith is the only way to receive grace that will cover us from our sins. “Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” Paul quotes Habakkuk’s statement that the righteous shall live by faith – one of the most quoted statements from the Old Testament in the New Testament where it is quoted three different times.

The Old Testament tells us that approval by God through the law must be earned by actually living in obedience to the law, not just trying. Close enough doesn’t count, we have to live the law completely and perfectly if that is going to be our way to God. We can’t, and we won’t, so Jesus is the only way. “But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.” You might think something like this: “Look, I’ll do the best I can under the law and let faith cover the rest. God will look at my performance, my effort, and my good intentions and credit to me as righteousness. The important thing is that I am really trying.”

Good intentions won’t cut it. Trying hard isn’t going to be enough. Doing your best and then letting grace cover the rest is not how it works. Paul is clear that salvation comes from one place and one place only – the shed blood of Jesus Christ on the Cross of Calvary. That’s the only source of grace that will cover our sin. Without that, we’re doomed. We will be destined for eternity separated from God. It’s not a maybe proposition. We either deal with our sin through faith in Jesus Christ, or we face the consequences. And it is important to remember that eternity is a very long time to spend apart from the loving God who created us.

Paul makes it clear here-Jesus is the way we can remove the curse of sin from our life. “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.” Morris wrote “Redemption points to the payment of a price that sets sinners free.” We have to be redeemed to enter heaven. Jesus paid the price to rescue us. Jesus became cursed on our behalf; He stood in our place and took the curse we deserved. Jesus received this curse, which we deserved and He did not, so that we could receive the blessing of Abraham, which He deserved and we did not. That’s how much God loved us – enough to send His only Son to the Cross so we could spend eternity with Him if we only believe and receive His free gift of grace which is our salvation!

Galatians 1:1-5

Paul opens his letter to the Galatians 1:1-5 by reminding the church that this isn’t something from man, but from the living Savior and His Father. Galatians has been called the “Declaration of Independence of Christian liberty.” Morris wrote, “Galatians is a passionate letter, the outpouring of the soul of a preacher on fire for his Lord and deeply committed to bringing his hearers to an understanding of what saving faith is.” “Paul, an apostle—not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead— and all the brothers who are with me, To the churches of Galatia:”

Paul begins with his authority as an apostle of Jesus Christ. He has some strong words for the Galatian church, and wants to set the expectation that he is someone with authority they should listen to. Wyest writes “The word apostle as Paul uses it here does not merely refer to one who has a message to announce, but to an appointed representative with an official status who is provided with the credentials of his office.” Paul’s calling as an apostle was not from man, nor was it through man. It didn’t originate with man, and it didn’t come through man. It originated with God and came directly from God.

This wasn’t written to a single church in a single city but rather the churches of the region of Galatia and there were several churches in this region. In his greeting to the churches, he reminds them through his familiar ‘grace and peace’ greeting of what being a Christ Follower is all about. Martin Luther wrote “These two terms, grace and peace, constitute Christianity.” “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.”

Paul used the word grace more than 100 times in his writings. Among all the other writers of the New Testament, it is only used 55 times. And as the foundation for God’s grace, he then lauches into a description of what Jesus has done for us:

  1. He gave Himself for our sins
  2. He delivers us from the present evil age
  3. He obeys the will of God
  4. He glorifies the Father through His saving work

Our sins put us on a road to ruin and destruction. If God did not do something to save us, our sins would destroy us. So out of love, Jesus gave Himself for our sins! The enemy wants to destroy us by Christ obediently went to the cross and through His sacrifice brings us the opportunity for eternal life that we may glorify God forever!

2 Corinthians 5:18-21

In 2 Corinthians 5:18-21 Paul gives us the 50,000 foot view of God’s plan for us – Jesus Christ. The work of reconciliation that makes us a new creation leading to an eternal destiny with God is based on one thing and one thing alone – the death, burial and resurrection of Christ on the Cross. This is all God and requires nothing from us except believing and receiving the gift of grace God offers. “All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation;”. God uses us to share the message of Jesus with those in our patch. That should be our response to His plan to save us.

This reconciliation came at an extreme cost to God. At some point before Jesus died, before the veil was torn in two, before Jesus cried out “it is finished,” an awesome spiritual transaction took place. The Father set upon the Son all the guilt and wrath our sin deserved, and Jesus bore it in Himself perfectly, totally satisfying the justice of God for us. “….that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.” As horrible as the physical suffering of Jesus was, this spiritual suffering – the act of being judged for sin in our place – was what Jesus really dreaded about the cross. That was the real pain and suffering He endured.

So Paul has made clear the plan of God for mankind. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. There is no plan B. It’s Jesus, or you are on your own and will stand before God as a condemned sinner. For some reason, God chose us to be His messenger of truth to those in our patch. We are to be ambassadors for Christ. We serve God in a land that is not our long term home, serving the One and only King. But we should not just receive the gift of grace for ourselves. We need to let God use us to shout His answer to sin from the mountaintop. “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”

As an ambassador Paul makes a simple, strong, direct plea. It’s the same plea we need to make to everyone around us – that they need to be reconciled to God through Jesus. God’s already done that painful and costly work through the Cross. All we have to do is believe and receive it. Jesus took our sin to the Cross and the resulting gift offered to us is amazing. “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” Through the simple act of faith in Jesus, we can immediately change from sinner to a righteous saved person.

Spurgeon said it this way: “What a grand expression! He makes us righteous through the righteousness of Jesus; nay, not only makes us righteous, but righteousness; nay, that is not all, he makes us the righteousness of God; that is higher than the righteousness of Adam in the garden, it is more divinely perfect than angelic perfection.” And Harris wrote “Not only does the believer receive from God a right standing before him on the basis of faith in Jesus (Phil 3:9), but here Paul says that ‘in Christ’ the believer in some sense actually shares the righteousness that characterizes God himself.” What a Savior!  What a God!

1 John 1:7-10

In 1 John 1:7-10 we see some of the most revealing truth in scripture around sin.  John begins by painting a picture of what the future could be.  “But if we are living in the light of God’s presence, just as Christ does, then we have wonderful fellowship and joy with each other, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from every sin.”  The positive outcome we can all experience is ‘fellowship and joy and cleansing’.  But there is a big IF….we have to be living in the light.  We know that on this side of eternity, sinless perfection is not possible. Yet we can still live in the light, so John does mean perfect obedience.

So perfection is not the goal.  The Christian life is described as walking, which implies activity. Christian life feeds upon contemplation, but it displays itself in action. “Walking” implies action, continuity, and progress. Since God is active and walking, if you have fellowship with Him you will also be active and walking. The question is will you walk with Him, or on your own path.  We need to admit we’ll miss the perfection required for salvation, but know that Jesus came to take care of that if we’ll walk with Him.  “If we say that we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and refusing to accept the truth.” We are sinners in need of a Savior.

So we need to admit it and follow the path to being forgiven.  Confess, repent, receive God’s grace, be saved.  It all begins with the recognition that we are sinners and need to be forgiven.  “But if we confess our sins to him, he can be depended on to forgive us and to cleanse us from every wrong.” God has offered forgiveness.  He paid the maximum price to be able to give it to us freely – Jesus, His only Son, went to the Cross carrying our sin – and the result is God’s gift of grace.  It is ours for the taking, but it does require us to take action.  We have to be willing to take the act of faith and receive Jesus Christ as Savior.

God had a perfect plan, and He executed it fully. “And it is perfectly proper for God to do this for us because Christ died to wash away our sins.” That was the sole purpose for Jesus coming to this earth.  He came to live among us as a human for 33 years, but ultimately He came to carry our sin to the Cross and defeat death and sin and provide victory for eternity.  It boils down to us being willing to admit we are a sinner.  We are.  Scripture is clear that all of us have sinned.  Just a quick glance around the world, or the room validates that truth.  But the positive result of faith in Christ – eternal life based on God’s gift of grace – can only happen when we admit our sin and take the step to have that forgiven through Jesus’ death on the Cross.  “If we claim we have not sinned, we are lying and calling God a liar, for he says we have sinned.” Are you lying to yourself?  We all need a Savior.  Are you sure of your eternity?

1 John 1:1-3

We’ll continue with John’s writings as we read through his work as translated in The Living Bible (TLB).  In 1 John 1:1-3  John gives us his pedigree in the faith and reminds us that he was there with Jesus. “Christ was alive when the world began, yet I myself have seen him with my own eyes and listened to him speak.” The beginning John wrote of is not the beginning of this world; nor is it the beginning of creation. It is the beginning of it all, the beginning there was before there was anything, when all there existed was God. Jesus was there for that, and yet, John tells us that very same Jesus came to this earth and became man and John was able to experience His life with Him.

It wasn’t a viewing from afar.  John was right there. “I have touched him with my own hands. He is God’s message of life.” Jesus has been audibly heard, physically seen, intently studied and looked upon, and personally touched.  He is the real deal.  But more than being a human, God sent Him to earth with a message of hope and life for all of us.  John’s words have the weight of eyewitness evidence. He did not speak of a myth, nor was it a matter of clever story-telling. He carefully studied the eternal One, and he knew what he was talking about.  Jesus came to bring life, and He did it through relationship.

God became accessible to man in the most basic way, a way that anyone could relate to. This eternal One can be known, and He has revealed Himself to us. “This one who is life from God has been shown to us, and we guarantee that we have seen him; I am speaking of Christ, who is eternal Life.” John makes the equation very clear: Jesus=eternal life.  There isn’t any more to it than that.  Guzik writes ‘the important things in life are not things at all – they are the relationships we have. God has put a desire for relationship in every one of us, a desire He intended to be met with relationships with other people, but most of all, to be met by a relationship with Him. In this remarkable letter, John tells us the truth about relationships – and shows us how to have relationships that are real, for both now and eternity.’ He points the way to Jesus and the eternal life that a relationship with Him will bring.

John continues to testify to the reality of Jesus.  “He was with the Father and then was shown to us.” God didn’t just send a message of hope and salvation.  He sent His very own Son to this planet to bring to us the opportunity for eternal life.  It isn’t rocket science, it merely requires faith.  We can have eternal life if we meet and receive the gift of grace from God.  It’s ours for the taking, but we do have to take that step. “Again I say, we are telling you about what we ourselves have actually seen and heard, so that you may share the fellowship and the joys we have with the Father and with Jesus Christ his son.” We can share in the hope of eternity through Jesus.  Have you taken that step of faith?

John 4:42-47

John 4:42-47 has Jesus talking with the Samaritan woman and the people from her village who have come to see Jesus based on her testimony and invitation to ‘come and see’.  They’ve heard Jesus’ teaching, and believe He is the Messiah and Savior.  “They said to the woman, We’re no longer taking this on your say-so. We’ve heard it for ourselves and know it for sure. He’s the Savior of the world”!  They came to see Jesus based on her words, but they realized that salvation comes from a personal relationship with the Savior, and they have come to believe in Him and make that personal.  She did what was needed to get them to the Savior. He did the rest!

Jesus moves on.  “After the two days he left for Galilee. Now, Jesus knew well from experience that a prophet is not respected in the place where he grew up. So when he arrived in Galilee, the Galileans welcomed him, but only because they were impressed with what he had done in Jerusalem during the Passover Feast, not that they really had a clue about who he was or what he was up to”.  Galilee was Jesus’ country – where He grew up. Because those from His home area felt so familiar with Jesus, they did not honor Him the way they should have. The locals from His area were impressed but it was dependent on the wonders arising from their sight of the signs He had performed in Jerusalem, not on a realization that Jesus was indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world.

Jesus is in Cana, the place He performed His first miracle.  “Now he was back in Cana of Galilee, the place where he made the water into wine. Meanwhile in Capernaum, there was a certain official from the king’s court whose son was sick. When he heard that Jesus had come from Judea to Galilee, he went and asked that he come down and heal his son, who was on the brink of death”.  Jesus had made His home in Capernaum. Though Jesus was at Cana now in this chapter, the official travelled the 20 or so miles from Capernaum to Cana.  The situation is dire, and he came to beg Jesus to come heal his son.

This official believed Jesus could help because he knew that Christ had performed a miracle at the wedding.  Signs and wonders from God are obviously good things, but they should not form the foundation of our faith. We should not depend on them to prove God is alive and who He says He is. In themselves, signs and wonders cannot change the heart.  It requires us to have a personal relationship with the Savior, belief from our heart, not in what Jesus has done or can do, but in who He is and how He can change our hearts.  The official has faith in Jesus, not as Savior, but as someone who can do miraculous things.  That isn’t saving faith.

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