“Do I Really Need God’s Salvation?”
Welcome to “Key to the Kingdom.” My name is Bret McCasland. Most every person has the same basic needs in life. Some of those include air to breathe, food to eat and water to drink. It is important those physical needs are met, in order for us to live from one day to the next. Whether we realize it or not, we also have a spiritual need. We need a solution to the problem of sin. Without even knowing it, sin damages our life and our relationships with others. Sin keeps us from pleasing God and from living a spiritually abundant life. In our lesson today, on “Key to the Kingdom,” we will consider how God loves all people, everywhere. His love is demonstrated on a regular basis and in various ways. One of the ways that love is received is by accepting His free gift of salvation from sin. Some may not believe they need to do that. Others believe it doesn't make any difference whether they receive salvation from sin or not. And yet, as we look into God's Word and think about His great love, we are reminded of how the greatest demonstration of that love is found in His Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus changes our life. He places us into a right relationship with our Heavenly Father. He forgives our sin. I invite you to stay with us for the next few minutes, as we open up our Bibles and study the lesson entitled “Do I Really Need God's Salvation?”
Throughout the Old Testament, we read many stories about God's people, who were called the Israelites. Some of those stories are about those people rebelling against God. Yes, oftentimes those people refused to obey God's commands and instead they pursued their own interests and their own desires. Yes, time and time again, the people sinned. They were unfaithful to a very faithful and loving God. At one point, their sin was so bad, the prophet Isaiah recorded these words in chapter 1, verse 18. <“Come now, let us reason together,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow.”> The Israelites were really unworthy of God's love, and yet God loved them anyway. Even in the midst of their rebellion, God's love was still present. And through His message to the prophets, God reminded them over and over again of that never ending love. Now that leads us to ask several questions. Why was God's love for the Israelites so special? Why was He patient with them? Why did He give them so many chances to come back to Him and demonstrate love and obedience? Well, in part, the answer is found in Deuteronomy chapter 7, beginning with verse 7. <The Lord did not set His affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. But it was because the Lord loved you and kept the oath He swore to your ancestors that He brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the land of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh, king of Egypt.> The Lord loved the Israelites, even though they were unfaithful and sinful and rebellious, because they had a special place in His heart. He also kept the promise He had given to their forefathers, to their ancestors, that He would always love them and He would always be faithful and true to them. He would never leave them nor forsake them. Even if that kind of love does not make much sense to us today, that it is the same kind of love God has for us, for all people everywhere. No doubt, we know of some who have given up on their children for one reason or another. Perhaps those children live a rebellious life. They go against the teaching of their parents. They want to do their own thing. And as a result, the parents just give up on their children. They push them away. They don't love them anymore. And those children cannot count on their parents any longer. And it is sad to see that kind of thing happen, but we know that it does on a regular basis. Well, God does not do that with us. God's love is never ending. It is far greater than we could ever think about or imagine. His love is immeasurable. At times, however, we may think we do not deserve that love because of the way we have lived in the past. We may consider ourselves unworthy of God's love, because, even now, we do not keep His commands, we pursue our own interests and desires. Well, that does not matter, when it comes to what God thinks about you and me. God loves us. His love never goes away. And that may be one of God's greatest characteristics about which we read here in the Bible. His love for you and His love for me, His love for every other person on the face of this world, is unfailing. And it makes no difference what your sin might have been in the past, or what your sin continues to be today, God's love is ever present. In the words of Isaiah, He removes that stain of sin. That stain of sin is ugly and red, but He removes it, He gets rid of it, and we become pure and white in the sight of God. Yes, He forgives our sin of the past, and He gives us a new beginning. The psalmist states it this way in Psalm number 103, verse 12. <As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.> Now think about that for just a moment. If you were to start walking in a westerly direction, you would continue walking west until you stopped and turned around and went a different direction. The same is true if you start walking to the east, you will continue to walk to the east until you change and go back the other direction. And when you think about that, there is no way to measure how far it is from the east to the west. In fact, that is not even an idea to consider. And yet, we are told here, by the psalmist, that's how far God removes our sin from us, so far that we cannot even measure it, as far as the east is from the west. Well, that problem of sin affects everyone. That sin might be something we have done in the past or something we try to hide today. And yet we all sin. We all make mistakes. We all fall short of what God would want us to do. We miss the mark, according to Romans chapter 3 and verse 23. And that's the way it is! We are human. We have that sinful desire that pops up from time to time. Well, with that being said, I cannot stand in judgment of your life. I don't know what goes on in your life. I cannot say you are sinful, more or less than I. And likewise, you cannot stand in judgment of my life. There is no reason for any of us to do that. It doesn't accomplish anything. But each of us bears our own responsibility. We have our own sin to deal with on a regular basis. And so we might say that our sin is on us. And at the Day of Judgment, there will be no friend or family member who will stand on our behalf and say, “Well, this person deserves salvation. This person made some mistakes, but certainly he is worthy of eternal life.” No, that won't happen. It is only Jesus Christ who will stand and represent us on that Day of Judgment. But whatever our sin might be, we realize we cannot fix it on our own. Whatever we try, it will not work. We cannot do enough good deeds. We can never say enough prayers. We can never read enough Bible passages of Scripture to get rid of that sin, or to eliminate the guilt that it brings to us. Yes sin is a problem, and we need a solution. We need help. Because God loves us so much, He helps us. He offers something we can never do for ourselves, nor find on our own. As the Israelites traveled up into the city of Jerusalem to worship, they often time would look up into the hills and they would envision God's presence being there. In fact, we read those very words over in Psalm 121. The Israelites would say, “We look to the hills, from where does our help come?” But they envisioned that God was there, He was watching over them, and He was helping them and loving them. And as they made their way up into the city to worship, they would sing those songs, or those hymns, reminding themselves of God's continual presence in their life. And there are about 15 such songs that are found, beginning with Psalm number 120, that identify that very thing. Well, those people realize, like we can realize today, God is still in our midst. He is willing and able to help us. We know that He loves us and He blesses us. And in turn, our response is to be the very same. We sing hymns and songs of praise and thanksgiving to God for that immeasurable love. As we recognize the sin in our life, we cry out for help, we look up to Jesus. We look up to God's Son and we know that in Him we find the solution to our sin problem. I’m reminded of the words from the Gospel of John, chapter 3, verses 14 and 15. <"Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in Him.”> That passage reminds us of the story in the Old Testament of the Israelites traveling through the wilderness; and they complained, they grumbled against God because they did not like those traveling conditions. Well, as a result of that, God allows poisonous snakes to come into the camp. And when the people were bitten by those snakes, they died. Well, they didn't like that and Moses complained to God. And so God told Moses to wrap a snake around a pole, to set it in the midst of the people, and when the people looked on the snake they would be healed of those poisonous bites. That's what Moses did, and that is exactly what happened. The people were healed and that plague went away. Well, in a similar fashion, we look up to Jesus, who died upon a cross. He is there between Heaven and Earth. He is up off the ground and we look up on Him, as our Savior, to eliminate the poisonous sin that affects us, today. And so, the solution for a life of sin is found in Jesus Christ, God's one and only Son. A man named John the Baptist prepared people for the arrival of Jesus. He went throughout the land encouraging people to soften their hearts and to change their ways, so they would be more receptive to the message and the ministry of Jesus. When Jesus arrived one day, John saw Him. And this is what he said about Jesus, in John 1, verse 29: “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” John recognized Jesus was the answer to sin’s problem. He was the answer that provided people a way to have that relationship with God. Yes, John knew that He had come as the Savior of the world; and Jesus is still that Savior, as He came to seek and to save what is lost (Luke chapter 19, verse 10). Several passages in the New Testament remind us of the sacrifice Jesus made on our behalf, when He was there on the cross. And each one of those stories is basically the same. It revolves around the death and the burial and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. And we're familiar with that story. We find it several times throughout Scripture. Jesus came. He ministered to people. And some of them rejected Jesus, many of them, refused to believe that He was the Son of God. As a result of that, they persecuted Jesus. They punished Him. They put Him up on the cross, where He died a very painful and humiliating death. And as Jesus died, they would then come and take down His body and place it in a tomb, that had never before been used. But He did not stay in that tomb very long. On the third day, He rose victoriously from the grave. He conquered the grave, and through His resurrection, we now have the hope of living a new life in Him. Now, the question comes, in the midst of all of that, why would God, our Heavenly Father, allow His one and only Son to die on our behalf? God was not upset with His Son. His Son was not disobedient and rebellious toward Him, like the Israelites. But rather, the answer goes back to one thing. God loves you. God loves me. God loves all of us, just like He loved those Israelite people. Yes, we have a very special place in God's heart. And that is the greatest expression of love that has ever been demonstrated, when God allowed His Son to die. You know, like those Israelites of old, we don't have anything to offer to God. They were small in number. They did not have any mighty army to defend them. They had nothing to bring to the table. God provided for them. And likewise, we don't have anything to offer, either. But Jesus is our solution. God offers everything that we need, through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ. And He did that because He wants to have a relationship with us. That is important to Him. He wants us to be free from a life that is filled with sin. He wants us to be free from a life that is controlled by Satan and by the things of this world, that keep us separated from Him. And as we receive that love, and as we recognize what Jesus has done for us on the cross, it is then we begin to experience the blessings and the promises that God entrusts to those who are a part of His family. I want to go back to Isaiah, chapter 53 and verse 6 this time. Notice these words. <We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.> Perhaps we are all familiar with the tendencies of sheep. They tend to wander away, and get away from the flock. They want to go and do their own thing. They move out and they think that there are some greener pastures over there on the other side. And sometimes, as Isaiah writes, we do the same thing. We move away. We think we can pursue our own interests and desires, and things will become just a little bit better. Well, through Jesus Christ, God takes our waywardness, He takes our sin, and He places it up on the shoulders of Jesus Christ; and He bears that sin on our behalf. That's what He did when He went to the cross. And He eliminated that sin. He eliminated the guilt that sin brings to us. You know, when we think about that, we realize God's love, indeed, is immeasurable. His ways are unsearchable. His thoughts and His ways are much higher than our thoughts and ways, and we can never know the magnitude of God's love. And that, perhaps, is one of the greatest thoughts that can ever enter into our mind, the immeasurable love of God. But the question then comes, what does that mean for us? What does that mean for our sin problem? Where do we go from here? Well, the answer begins with accepting what Jesus has done for us, to accept God's love for us, to realize that, indeed, Jesus was the Son of God and He died on the cross. He bore our sin and our iniquity so we don't have to bear it any longer. And we say thank you to God, we say thank you to Jesus for that great love and that great sacrifice. We recognize that He has a plan for us, for that sin to be eliminated. And that is a free gift our Father gives to us. We receive that forgiveness of sin and the salvation He makes, and that He offers, to all people everywhere. A man by the name of Peter was one of Jesus’ apostles. He also became one of Jesus’ greatest representatives, after Jesus ascended into Heaven. And wherever he went, he shared the story of Jesus. He shared what Jesus had done for him, and he told that message of salvation, that Good News story to people everywhere. And yes, it focused on Jesus’ death and burial and resurrection. And at the heart of those messages was something that we find in Acts 4, verse 12. This is what he said, no doubt on numerous occasions: <"Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”> Oh, many people responded to that Good News. They received that salvation. They put their faith and trust in Jesus, and they identified themselves with Him as they were baptized into Christ. Well today, as we seek a solution to our sin problem, as we seek a solution to a life that's being controlled by Satan, we also look to Jesus. We find that, indeed, He is the solution to our sin problem, and there is nothing that will keep us separated from God when we find that salvation, which He freely offers to us. And when we find Jesus, we begin to turn away from the sin, just like the people did that responded to what Peter had to say, who realize He is the only one who can save us. We recognize that He is God's one and only Son. We put our faith and our trust in Him. We are immersed in Jesus, and we begin to live that new life that He offers to us. You know, someday all of us will stand before the Judgment Seat, and we will give an account of the life we have lived upon this Earth. No friend or family member will be able to represent us there, but only Jesus Christ. If we have received what He has offered to us, then we can be certain of a future home with God in Heaven. And I hope you have received that free gift of salvation, and you're anticipating that eternal home with the Lord.
Inside this paint store, there are many different colors of paint. In fact, anyone could find almost any kind of paint they so desire. But as you look at the varieties of paint, perhaps one of the biggest contrast would be between a dark red crimson and something that is absolutely, pure white. And I think about that contrast. Can you imagine taking a deep, dark red crimson color like this and accidentally spilling it on a beautiful white carpet in your home? We don't want to think about the consequences, do we? And yet that is a description of what God does with the sin in our life. The Old Testament prophet Isaiah, in chapter 1, verse 18, states, “Even though our sin is as crimson it can be as white as snow.” The stain of sin makes us ugly. And yet, by the crimson blood of Jesus Christ, we can be pure and holy in the sight of God, just like the freshly fallen snow. And isn't that a beautiful contrast? And that is one of the great benefits and blessings of receiving the salvation of Jesus Christ. God removes our sin from us, and we are right in His sight. I don't know what kind of ugly stain of sin might be in your life, but know that Jesus’ salvation can deal with it and remove it so that you can be in that right relationship with God. I hope you are experiencing that relationship with Him today.
Thank you for being our guest today on “Key to the Kingdom.” One of the greatest needs we have in life is to receive God's love and salvation. He freely offers it, through His Son, Jesus Christ. This lesson is available to view or to listen to again. It, along with many others, can be found on our website: keytothekingdom.com. All of the lessons are free from any charge or obligation. Other information and resources are there as well. Short devotional thoughts and a variety of other videos offer spiritual encouragement. I hope you will find those which are of special interest. If you would like to contact us personally, please call the phone number on the screen or send us an email. Other ways to access our ministry are through Roku® Television, a free phone app, and Facebook®. I hope you will download the app, which conveniently provides access to our website. New one-minute messages are uploaded onto Facebook® every week. I hope you will like then share them with others. Thank you for your interest in our program today, and for watching its broadcast. It's a privilege to share these weekly messages with you. Please join us again next time as we continue to study the Bible on “Key to the Kingdom.”