Monday, February 25, 2013
WHAT WE ARE SAVED FROM
I had a conversation recently that referred to Jesus being the only way to salvation and the only way of salvation, and that resulted in many voicing objection to this because, “God is a loving God and He would never let those who have not heard go to hell just because they have not heard.”
Then on Sunday we heard a marvelous message by Pastor Joe Castaneda from Revelation 9, which brought out the beauty of realizing that we need to know what we are saved from!” We relish in the fact that we are saved in Love through Jesus Christ our Lord, but we often have no answer for those who ask, “What are you talking about. What are you saved from?”
The Bible teaches that Christ IS the only way to breach the vast abyss between us, as sinners and God, as Holy. Too many of us simply will not and do not want to face the fact that our God is Wrath as well as Love. We avoid reading the Old Testament because the pictures of His wrath there are too difficult to see and read. Jesus was Love and He showed kindness and empathy beyond our comprehension. He told us that He and His Father are one and if we have seen Him we have seen the Father. We would rather stay in the New Testament where everything is about Love, not anger. And yet, the very death of Christ was about Wrath and Christ Himself felt the Wrath of God the Father in His death. The Spirit left Him, His Father and all the angels turned their backs on Him. The pain of that was worse than any other pain ever experienced. And, yet, it was necessary in order to satisfy the Wrath of God and open the door for His Love to be freely accessed by all who turned to Him through Jesus.
One argument that could be made for the salvation of those who have not heard might be that Jesus is talking to those who have heard. If you find that you need the comfort of a possible way out for those who do not hear then I will not argue with you for one moment about that. As our church studies Revelation, it is becoming clearer to us that God is not finished with offering opportunity to turn to Him. As in the Old Testament, this New Testament (New Covenant) book deals with the subject much the same way as the Old Covenant books did: Turn from your wicked ways and follow me and we can work this out. It is true that God does not want any person of His creation to suffer the consequences of their sins. But it is also true that everyone deserves (justly) to suffer those consequences. Thus, His plan to save us from them. We all must make a choice to seek Him and believe in Him and accept Him as the one true God. It is up to us to follow God’s directions for getting the Word out there and it is for God to decide who hears and understands and turns to Him. Right now there are so many amazing “around the world” ministries going on in nearly every language of the world, that we can hardly comprehend it. We are to go out, send out and be out shining His light for all to see, but the end result of it all is securely in God’s hand. However, never forget what Jesus lived and taught: I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No Man comes to the Father, but by me.
However, we also need to realize the full impact of our salvation and that includes realizing what we are saved from. Joe’s sermon this last Sunday on Revelation 9, pretty much sums it up: We must understand the Wrath of God as well as understanding the Love of God. We must understand what God can and will do if we hear, but ignore what we hear; and if we try to follow but keep turning back to our flesh and our idols.
The first five books of the Bible make this very clear. When God said and the people did, they were blessed. When God said and the people did not, the people suffered the justice of God which came from His Wrath. But all the books of the Bible also make that clear because they all proclaim that God Is and God Rules and we are to have no other gods before Him. And He gets really angry when we do that, whether it is man made idols or man desired things of this world. He hates that. He said so in the very first Commandment. And Jesus clarifies this for us in Matthew and other books of the New Testament. God will not stand for two things: He will not stand for ignoring Him, nor will He stand for those who say they are His while putting other “things” before Him.
The thing is that if you know Him and turn your love and obedience to something else, He will warn you and remind you that you need to return to Him and if you do, you will be forgiven and helped along on the right path. However, if you do not know Him, but know about Him, or have even just heard of Him, and you do not turn to Him, you will suffer His Wrath. He will not forgive you after you die. It is now that must you turn to Him, while He is calling you.
Actually, time if of the essence with God and our time is limited. If you already know Him you are His forever. If you do not know Him and refuse to accept His invitation to salvation He will proceed to give you your just reward: Eternal separation from Him, with no new chances to please Him.
Now, I know I am basically preaching to the choir here, but I want to emphasize the stark reality of what we are saved from: Eternal damnation in Hell, the full force of God’s Wrath. (And remember that if you are His you are covered eternally from His wrath.) God is Wrath and God is Just and He will bring wrath on those who refuse Him. We are saved from that. And the people we know and love, and the strangers we come into contact with need to know which end is up and we need to tell them and show them and NOT let them shame us into changing our beliefs to suit their sensitivities about anger and wrath.
We must know what we believe and, as Paul often says, “stand firm” against all who would teach otherwise. So, may we carry our Cross daily and share it with others along the way. May our testimonies of what we have been saved from carry a lot of weight in the Name of God. Amen
Another page on this subject: How Can A Loving God Be So Hateful?
Take a few minutes to read this, too, if you can. It is spot on.