Summary: Advent 1(B) - How then can we be saved? God’s power makes all tremble. God’s justice makes us despair. Thankfully, God’s mercy is our confidence.
HOW THEN CAN WE BE SAVED? (Outline)
December 2, 2007 -
ADVENT 1 -
INTRO: How then can we be saved? is a familiar age-old question. When man remembers his mortality he often wonders what next. Many ask how then can we be saved? This is also a familiar question to students of God’s word. Jesus told his disciples about the difficulty of getting into heaven. Jesus told them: “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God”. The disciples were astonished. They wondered how anyone could be saved. That was exactly Jesus’ point. Eternity is far too important to entrust to man’s will or effort. Man cannot pay his way, nor pray his way, nor obey his way into heaven. Eternal salvation depends solely on God’s grace. "Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God’"(MARK 10:27).
This question is our theme: HOW THEN CAN WE BE SAVED? I. God’s power makes all tremble.
II. God’s justice makes us despair.
III. God’s mercy is our confidence.
I. GOD’S POWER MAKES ALL TREMBLE
A. Isaiah came to pronounce God’s judgment against the disobedience of the nation of Israel.
1. Israel would see the power of nations conquer them and make them slaves in foreign lands.
2. Verse 1 reveals the prayer of Isaiah that the nations would not forget the power of the LORD.
3. Fire quickly burns twigs. Water boils. The Lord’s testimony is just as certain, verse 2.
a. Egypt trembled at the plagues. b. Egypt trembled when its army died in the Red Sea.
B. Nations, people tremble at God’s awesome power. Even nature trembles at God’s power verse 3.
1. Israel trembled when the LORD appeared at Sinai. The mount shook with lightning, thunder.
2. Israel sent Moses to speak with God. They were too terrified to approach God’s power.
C. Today’s people are not so easily impressed. Nations rise up with their own great power. Nations threaten other nations with the power of atomic, hydrogen and neutron bombs. They shake their fist at God since they have made themselves gods. The Lord God Almighty is still the One who created the very heavens and earth and everything. None can stand against the power of God. Consider the hurricane, tornado, or tsunami. These are only a very small sampling of God’s infinite power. Man, no matter what he thinks or how hard he tries, cannot stand against these very small displays of power. "But the LORD is the true God; he is the living God, the eternal King. When he is angry, the earth trembles; the nations cannot endure his wrath"(JEREMIAH 10:10). God’s power makes all tremble, even nature.
D. The power of God also has an effect on believers. Consider Moses. Moses spent 40 years living in the comfort of the palace. There he learned how to deal with kings and nations. Moses then spent 40 years in a personal exile learning humility. The last 40 years of Moses’ life were spent as God’s appointed leader and deliverer. The Lord called him in a miraculous way. Moses saw the burning bush that was not consumed by the fire. Stephen tells of God’s call and Moses’ reaction. "’I am the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.’ Moses trembled with fear and did not dare to look" (ACTS 7:32). In the presence of our awesome God we sinners tremble before the One who is sinless.
WHO THEN CAN BE SAVED?
God’s power makes all tremble.
II. GOD’S JUSTICE MAKES US DESPAIR
A. The Israelites confess their disobedience before the Lord God Almighty verse 5b. God is angry.
B. Listen to the depth of the despair of Israel verse 6. They defiled themselves and they are unclean.
1. All their deeds are filthy rags. Women threw such bloody rags away after their cycle.
2. They used the wind to separate grain from the chaff. They feel like empty hulls - worthless.
C. Verse 7 is even worse. They do not even feel worthy enough to call on his name.
1. Israel does not even try to grasp God’s great love. The face of God is hidden from them.
2. Israel is wasting away. This is their confession. This is truth – sin truly separates from God.
D. When was the last time you heard the word sin outside of the church? Check the newspaper or magazines that you read. Sin is missing. The media has erased the word sin from its vocabulary. “educated” people in our enlightened society deny sin. Worse, sin has been replaced with the word disease. Today addictions are considered to be diseases and not sin. Where is the cure? Alcoholism, gambling addiction, and overeating are still sins, not diseases. "If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives"(1 JOHN 1:10). This has happened in our day and age.