Summary: Salvation is God’s gracious gift offered to all broken people to deliver from the penalty and punishment of falling short of His demand for moral perfection.
Christ, the Divider
Salvation is God’s gracious gift offered to all broken people to deliver from the penalty and punishment of falling short of His demand for moral perfection. ?
This text affirms three great biblical truths:
1. We are saved in a moment of time.
2. We are saved apart from church membership or baptism.
3. We are saved from a life displeasing to God
The standard of God (impossible to attain) should make us long for the grace of God (impossible to earn)!
The thief who was lost teaches us:
1. We die the same way we live.
?2. We can be close to the Savior and still die lost.
3. We can ask to be saved but still die lost.
The thief who was saved taught us:
1. We need to confess our sinful state.
2. We need to ask for God’s grace.
3. We need to believe in the resurrection.
In his sweeping book, The Case for Christ (pic), self-proclaimed atheist and award winning Chicago Tribune columnist, Lee Strobel chronicles his journey from unbelief to faith in this man known as Jesus of Nazareth. His wife had become a Christ-follower and it so angered him, that he set out to disprove the literal death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. But as he dove into the evidence and consulted with world renown specialists, by the way, many of them atheists or agnostics, in fields like biology, medicine,…., he came to the only rational and logical conclusion: Jesus did in fact die, He was in fact buried for a period of 3 days, and He did actually come back to life. ? This is resurrection Sunday. Favorite day of the year. But I don’t want us to get the cart before the horse. I don’t want us to lose track of the sequencing. Before Jesus walked out of the tomb on that first Easter morning—He had to die.? Why did Jesus have to die? His close friend, Simon Peter put it this way, “For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring you to God.” 1 Peter 3:18
Leave that up there. Notice the atonement language—suffered for sins once and for all. From the moment Adam and Eve decided they knew better than God, the shedding of blood has been necessary to wipe clean or cancel the effects of sin. This is why animal sacrifice was instituted, to remind the faithful that their sin rendered them unrighteous before God and worthy of His judgment. Anthropologists find this in almost all ancient cultures as well. There is some element in humans that causes us to instinctively try to atone for our sins. This is why Jesus died. Notice the comparative language: the righteous for the unrighteous. Jesus, being fully human and fully divine, was sinless. That qualified Him to be the perfect sacrifice; the righteous for the unrighteous; the one rightly related to God for the ones who are unrightly related to God. This is why Jesus died. And then notice the relational and redemptive language: that He might bring you to God.” Separated from God because of our sin, Jesus entered into our existence for one purpose: to reunite us with our Maker and the Lover of our souls.? This is not just an historical fact. You know, Something we can believe happened like the Battle of Waterloo or Bruce Jenner’s sex change. The death, burial and resurrection of Jesus is not just an historical fact. Unfortunately, many of us believe it happened, but we have not let that change our lives and our eternities. For many of us, our belief is only a head knowledge, not genuine biblical, life changing, eternity-altering faith.? So I want us to spend some time this morning contemplating the cross. Turn with me to Luke 23:32-43. If you don’t have a Bible, we have free ones at the doorways you are welcome to them. Also, the words will be on the screen for you. (Luke 23:32-43 on screen)
Jesus was and is such a polarizing figure, isn’t He? Mohammed believed that Jesus was a prophet of Allah, but was not the Son of God, nor was the crucifixion and resurrection a genuine occurrence. Thomas Jefferson doubted His divinity and insisted anyone who thought so to be out of touch with reality. In India, people who claim to follow Jesus are being persecuted and some even martyred. In China the same. Same in Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Pakistan.? Even in our own United States, those of us who follow Jesus and hold to His teachings on marriage, morality, and salvation are being accused of spewing hate speech. ? In this passage we just read, we see Christ is presented as the Great Divider. When He was born, He divided all of history into B.C. and A.D. In His earthly ministry, they either loved Him or hated Him. He even said about Himself, “Don’t assume that I came to bring peace on the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I came to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; 36 and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household.” Matthew 10:34-35 There are people here today that have been ostracized by their own families and abandoned by their friends for following Jesus.? Even in His death, Jesus divided people. One thief cursed Jesus and railed against Him and said, “If you are the Messiah, save yourself and us with you.” The other thief said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” ? If Jesus were here this morning, He would divide us into two groups. He wouldn’t divide us according to age or beauty or education, or gender or race or wealth, or religion. He would divide us according to one criterion and one only: whether or not we admitted our sinful state and placed our faith in Him alone to save us.? The concept of salvation escapes many in our culture today. Simply put, Salvation is God’s gracious gift offered to all broken people to deliver from the penalty and punishment of falling short of His demand for moral perfection. Quite literally, that applies to all human beings as the Bible states, “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” Romans 3:23. No matter how hard we try, we could never achieve moral perfection. That’s what makes the gospel of salvation based on faith such good news!? This text affirms three great biblical truths: