“Is God's Salvation for Me?”
Hello and welcome to "Key to the Kingdom." My name is Bret McCasland. Many years ago, a great theologian was asked this question: what is the greatest thought that has ever entered into your mind? His response was, "Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so." Everything in the Bible points us to that one great truth. Jesus loved us enough to give up His home in heaven and come to this Earth. He loved us enough to die on the cross. And, He continues to love us more than we will ever know. Oh, it is hard to fully understand the love Jesus has for you and for me. Through that love, He offers salvation. It does not cost anything and it cannot be earned. We certainly do not deserve it and we can never repay Him for it. This salvation can only be received, and when we receive it Jesus saves us from our sin. And, He also saves us for a better life, both now and in eternity. Oh, Jesus is all about saving people and that is the primary purpose for which He came to Earth. More than anything else, He wants us to receive that free gift. In today's lesson, on "Key to the Kingdom," we will talk about the importance of doing just that. We will ask and hopefully answer the question: is God's salvation for me? I trust you will want to hear what the Bible says about how God's salvation changes people's lives. I encourage you now to open your heart and your Bible as we study together.
Most days, at about 12 o'clock noon, I have a really big decision to make, and that is, what will I eat for lunch? Well, on those days when I am at home I go to the kitchen and open up the refrigerator doors and the pantry doors and I wonder, "What will I eat today?" And as I make that decision, I ask myself a series of three questions. I say to myself, "Is this the best thing for me?" Number two, "What benefit will I gain from it?" And number three, "Can I do without it?" Well, perhaps some of you ask some of those very same questions, when it comes to eating a meal. You want to know if it is the best thing to eat. Well obviously, those same questions can be asked when it comes to one's salvation in the Lord. We ask the question: is God's salvation for me? For the next few minutes I want us to think about those three questions, in regards to God's salvation. First of all, is it the best thing for me? When I think about the Lord's salvation, I immediately think about those news stories I hear on television. I see those people escaping the problems of a fire. The fire is sweeping through their community. It is burning up all of the land around them, taking away their homes. And, the people are getting in their cars by the thousands and they are going to a safer place where they can escape the flames. I also think about the places where water comes into a community or neighborhood and wipes out people’s homes, destroys property, and even takes away people's lives. And again, I see pictures of people trying to get to higher ground and a safer place. And when I think about God's salvation, I realize that it allows me to escape from things that are bad. God's salvation rescues me from that which is my biggest problem; and, my biggest problem is sin. And that is your biggest problem as well, whether you realize it or not. We are told that in 1st John chapter 1 and verse 8: <If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us...> Oh, some of us recognize that we have a sin problem, and it's a big one. But yet, God saves us from our sin. And not only does He do that, not only does He rescue us from sin, but He saves us for something better. He saves us for an eternal home with Him in heaven. When I think about the good news of salvation, I cannot help but think about the announcement that God's angel made to those shepherds out in the field on the night when Jesus Christ was born into this world. The announcement was this, according to Luke chapter 2, verses 10 and 11: <“Do not be afraid. I am bringing you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ, the Lord."> Now, that is good news! Jesus Christ, the Messiah, the one the people had been looking for and anticipating for so long has been born into the world, and He brings salvation. Yes, that is cause for great joy, for great celebration, because of what God has done for us. He brings salvation through Jesus Christ. Later on in chapter 2, when Joseph and Mary take the infant Jesus to the Jerusalem Temple to be dedicated, they meet a man by the name of Simeon, a godly man. And, he takes Jesus in his arms, and perhaps he even lifts Him up toward heaven, and he offers a prayer of thanksgiving to God Almighty for baby Jesus. And, this is what he says: "For my eyes have seen Your salvation, which You have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to Your people, Israel..." Simeon recognized that he held in his arms the Salvation of the World. He recognized something very special, that you and I are to recognize as well; that, Jesus Christ has come to bring salvation to each and every person living on the face of this Earth. Perhaps we know maybe the most familiar and famous of all Scripture verses in the Bible, John 3:16. We might even be able to quote it: <"For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only son, that whoever believes in Him might have eternal life and shall not perish."> We know that passage. We love that passage of Scripture, but often times we stop right there. I believe verse 17 is just as important. Jesus continues on with these words; that, <"God did not send His son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him."> So many people in our world today live with condemnation. They are condemned because of the life they are living. They are condemned because of who they are, or the way they look, or the way they act, or a host of other things. But God, in His love for people, does not condemn us. But rather, He sent His son Jesus to show that He loves us. And indeed, that is good news! I think about people who live in that kind of condemnation, that kind of rejection. They need some good news that comes from Jesus Christ, who is their Savior. Through Him we can experience that salvation and that forgiveness of sin. As Jesus was here upon this Earth and carried on His public ministry, many people longed to see Jesus and to hear a message from Him, or to be changed by Him in some way. On one occasion, news of His arrival into a place preceded Him. And as Jesus comes into that area, there is one man who longed to see Jesus, but he couldn't because he was short in stature. And so, he climbed up into a tree in order to get a look at the Savior. As Jesus came by, He saw that man, named Zacchaeus, up in the tree. He said, "Come down because I am going to eat a meal with you in your home, today." And, He did. At the end of that story, we find these words of Jesus, speaking of himself, "For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost." Yes, once again we see that Jesus came to save what was lost. He came to bring salvation to people like Zacchaeus, to people like you and me, so that we can escape the condemnation of this world, we can have the forgiveness of sin, and we can enjoy fellowship with God. I wonder: have you ever been lost? Have you ever been in a place where you just don't know where you are? You don't know for sure how to get from one place to the next. Or, maybe the directions on your cell phone have given out, and you are on a road, and you don't know where to go. We've been there before, perhaps, haven't we? And it's that empty feeling, that void, because we don't know for sure what to do next. It is that same feeling that we have, perhaps, when we come to a realization that we have a sin problem. But oh, with great joy we welcome the news that Jesus has come to seek and to save those who are lost spiritually, and we can be found by Him. We can experience the salvation and the love that our Lord offers to us. When I think about the question, is God's salvation for me, is it the best thing for me, I realize that His salvation is for every person on the face of this Earth. He does not overlook anybody. His love extends to everybody. And yes, it is the best thing because I would be lost without it. But then secondly, let's ask this question: Is God's salvation for me? What benefit can I gain from it? As we noticed a moment ago, all of us have a sin problem. And then, to complicate that even further, is we don't have a solution to that problem. We can't come up with an idea. We cannot come up with a plan to get rid of the sin in our life. We cannot pray enough. We cannot read the Bible enough. We cannot give enough. We cannot make enough sacrifices. Only God is responsible for removing the sin from our life, and we know that He does that. The psalmist writes these words in Psalm 103, verses 10 and 12. <He does not treat us as our sins deserve. As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.> Have you ever tried to measure the distance between the east and the west? It's impossible, isn't it? We cannot determine the distance. And the psalmist points out the fact, that is how far God takes away and removes our sin, or our transgression, from us. We might think about it like this: He takes our sin, throws it into a lake, and then puts up a sign that says "no fishing allowed." Yes, God takes away our sin. He forgives and He forgets it, and He doesn't want us to go after it either. God takes away that sin problem through His son Jesus Christ, by what He did for us, by the life that He gave so that we could be forgiven. In His earthly ministry, one day He encountered His cousin John. And John recognized Jesus and he said, "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world..." It's interesting to study that passage. It's not 'sins' of the world. He doesn't eliminate your sins and my sins, but Jesus came to eliminate the 'sin' of the entire world. He has a solution for the sin problem that this world encounters. And Jesus solved that problem by going to the cross. He solved our sin problem when He gave His life on the cross of Calvary and shed His blood for you and for me. And when He did that, He paid a debt that we cannot pay. Jesus suffered and died physically so that we can live eternally. And, Jesus removed our sin. He took sin with Him, upon His shoulders, so that we don't have to live with that sin problem any longer. The apostle Paul puts it like this, in 2nd Corinthians 5:21. <God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.> The amazing thing about that is that Jesus was sinless. He was innocent. He had no guilt. But, He was willing to take our sin to the cross with Him. And that was for a purpose, so that we can be right in the sight of our holy and righteous God. Oh, one of the great benefits of receiving the Lord's salvation is that Jesus takes away our sin problem. But then, there is a third thing for us to consider. Can I do without it? Can I do without the salvation of the Lord? There are some people in our world today who believe they don't need the Lord's salvation because they don't have any room in their life for it. They are so busy going here and there, keeping up with their jobs, and their lives, and their children, and everything else going on. They just don't have any time left for the Lord, and for His teaching, and for His salvation. When I think about that, there is one passage of Scripture that answers the question for me: can I do without it? It's found in the gospel of Matthew, chapter 10 verses 32 and 33, where I find the words of Jesus himself. Listen carefully to what He states. <“Whoever acknowledges Me before men, I will also acknowledge Him before My Father in heaven. But whoever disowns Me before men, I will disown Him before My Father in heaven."> How tragic it would be, on that last and final day, to be disowned by God's son, to stand there before the Judgment Seat of our Lord, and to identify our self, and He will say, "Now, who are you?" And we try to identify our self again, and He will shake His head and He will say, "No, I never knew you. Depart from Me." And, He never knew us because, as the Scripture says, we never knew Him. We never acknowledged Him as God's son here upon this Earth. We never put our faith and trust in Jesus Christ. We never walked with Him and submitted to Him. On that day, we will be cast aside from His presence into eternal darkness. And that may be a harsh way to look at it, but that is the point Jesus makes. If we reject God's salvation then He rejects us. But yet, we all have the opportunity to acknowledge Jesus Christ, to put our faith and our trust in Him and to submit to Him; to put Him on in baptism; to be clothed with Him; to be identified with Jesus, and a part of His family. Oh, how wonderful it will be when we stand before the Judgment Seat of Jesus on that day, and we identify our self, and with a big smile He looks at us, and then He looks at His Father and He says, "Yes, I know this one. Father, this one is a child of Yours because he acknowledged Me upon the Earth. He believes in Me. He is one of Your children. You belong to him and he belongs to You." When I think about what Jesus has done for me, I cannot do without Him. I cannot make it in this world without Jesus and the salvation He offers to me through the sacrifice that He made upon the cross by giving His life and then raising up again from the dead on that third day. With those things in mind, hopefully we will want to turn our hearts to Jesus. Hopefully, we will want to put our faith in Him. Hopefully, we will want to acknowledge Him as the Son of God, as the one who died, was buried, and rose again. Hopefully, we will want to live for Him here upon this Earth, to experience the forgiveness of sin and the promise of an eternal home with our God in heaven. When I think about those things and ask myself the question, is God's salvation for me, I realize that I cannot do without it. Indeed it is for me. And more than anything else, He wants me and He wants you to receive it. It doesn't cost us anything. It is a free gift. Jesus already purchased that gift for us when He died upon the cross. And now, we have the privilege and opportunity to receive it, to live a life that is forgiven of our sin, and to anticipate the joys and the promises that await us in the future. Now obviously, to make those type of decisions requires that we make some sacrifices here upon this Earth; that, we choose to live a life of humility; that, we give up trying to figure out a way we can be saved, understanding God has already done that for us; we live a life of holiness and submission to our Lord; we also begin to put Him first and foremost in our lives. No longer do we seek our own interests and our own desires, but we seek to do that which brings glory and honor to the One who loves us so very much. We live in obedience. We live in faithfulness to Jesus, as we understand that indeed He is our Savior and He has brought salvation to us. Oh, the choices and the sacrifices we make today will determine where we spend eternity in the future. Choosing Jesus and His gift of salvation leads to fellowship with God. It leads to an eternal home with Him in heaven where we can sit around the banquet table and we can enjoy His presence, and His fellowship, and better food and drink than we have ever imagined here upon this Earth. We can enjoy being a part of His family, being identified as one of His children, and enjoying everything that God has in store for those who belong to Him. I cannot think of anything better than that. And yet, on the other hand, not choosing Jesus and His free gift of salvation leads to an eternal separation from God; where, we are not a part of His family; where, we do not enjoy His blessings and His promises; and, we are cast away from His presence and from His glory, forever. And I cannot think of anything worse than that. As we consider the question, is God's salvation for me, I invite you to think about these things that we studied from God's Word today. Join with me now as we go to our Father in prayer. <<Holy God, thank You so very much for the privilege and the opportunity we have to experience Your salvation. Thank You for loving us more than we could ever imagine, God, and for the gift of Your son Jesus Christ, who takes away our sin problem when He went to the cross and when He died on our behalf. Thank You for that, Father. Thank You that through our faith, our obedience to Jesus Christ, for submitting to Him in baptism, our sin can be washed away, forgiven, and forgotten. I pray that all those within the sound of my voice today might make that good and proper decision concerning what you will do with Jesus. It is in His name that we offer this prayer. Amen.>> When we go back to that original question, is God's salvation for me, I realize I cannot make that decision for you, today. You cannot make that decision for me. You have to decide for yourself. I decide for myself. And it is perhaps the most important decision that any of us will ever make in our time here upon this Earth. And as you make that decision, as you consider God's love, the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, I invite and I encourage you to think very carefully about acknowledging Jesus, putting your faith and your trust in Him and becoming a part of God's family. Oh, I cannot think of any better words to hear on that last and great day: "Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joys of My master." My prayer, my hope, my encouragement for you today is that you will recognize, indeed, God's salvation is for you.
Thank you for being our guest today. Hopefully, this message about God's salvation gave you some things to consider. Yes, God is a God of love, and He has demonstrated that love by giving His son for our salvation. It is the greatest gift any of us could ever receive. If you would like to know more about God's love and salvation, perhaps we can help. Please call the number on the screen to request a free Bible study. The study is a six part lesson designed to direct one in knowing more about the Lord and His son, Jesus Christ. You can study it at your own pace and correspond with someone who will be able to help you with it. The Bible study is free from any charge or obligation. We will be more than happy to send it to you. "Key to the Kingdom" also has a website. There, you can download the same Bible study and work through it at your own pace. Other study materials and previous messages are on the site, as well. Our core beliefs and short video clips are also available. I encourage you to visit keytothekingdom.com and to look at the variety of things we freely offer. Once again, thank you for being our guest today. Remember, God is a God of love and He loves you more than you will ever know. And, He wants you to receive His free gift of salvation. I invite you to join us again next time, as we continue to study the Bible on "Key to the Kingdom."