Summary: Come and claim the identity of saved in Christ, but we can’t trifle with a very serious, loving, and severe God. Saved children of God are known by their fruit.
“I Am Saved”
True or false, is this is a verse from the bible, “God helps those who help themselves”. False, in fact the bible says the exact opposite, God helps the helpless. And according to our passage in Ephesians today we are all helpless and hopeless without God.
Our faith is all about Jesus. If it isn’t for you, or if you’re not interested in knowing more about Him, then you’re in the wrong place. The Bible is primarily about God, not us. Jesus is often thought of as this all loving sacrificial being who sprinkles fairy dust on everyone and makes everyone happy. And that the Bible is really a handbook for us. This belittles Him as the mighty, sovereign God of the universe who has all authority.
Look at how the prophet, John the Baptist introduces Jesus in Matthew 3: “I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear the threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire”. Ahhh, isn’t that sweet?
My friends, Satan and the world are successfully belittling Jesus and putting pressure on His church to belittle him as well, and we are tolerating it, and even in some ways participating in it. Everyone wants Jesus to be a nice teacher from the ancient past who just came to love us and make the world a better place, and all those things are true. But the real Jesus who is coming is described this way in Revelation: “His eyes are like a flame of fire, he has many crowns on his head, He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the armies of heaven follow him on white horses. From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. His name is King of kings and Lord of lords.”
There’s a verse in Habakkuk 1 that we like to put on t-shirts, and it says, “Look amoung the nations, and see; wonder and be astounded. For I am doing a work in your days that you would not believe if told.” We like to take that verse and many others like it in the prophets especially, and make them a wonderful encouraging thing.
But if we read on, this is what he’s talking about, it continues, “I am raising up a bitter and hasty nation who march through the earth, to seize dwellings not their own. They are dreaded and fearsome.” The rest of the book goes on to talk about how he is going to let Israel’s enemies kill them, their families, their donkeys, cattle, businesses, and he’s going to burn the earth they walked on”. That is the awesome thing he is about to do, what he is going to allow his people to go through because of their disobedience, and we put that little verse on our coffee cups for encouragement completely out of context.
My point is that we have completely forgotten about God’s severity and the seriousness of sin and its consequences. We have forgotten Paul’s warning in Romans 11 to note then the kindness and severity of God.
Do you know that the Bible never records Jesus telling anyone he loves them? The people who write about Jesus in the Bible tell us he did. But what Jesus talked about more than heaven was what he came to save us from. And today I’m going to get a little graphic so that we can see what an incredible gift this salvation is. To say I am saved, is beyond comprehension when we truly understand.
Jesus uses the word Gehenna which we translate as hell 12 times in the gospels. This refers to a ravine on the south side of Jerusalem at the time. It was an area that was viewed as cursed and it had become like a garbage dump, which was constantly burning and smouldering. Their garbage, raw sewage, and their dead bodies that didn’t get buried, were thrown in there, and it was unquenchable, there was so much stuff burning in there it couldn’t be put out.
I remember not too many years ago in BC where we lived, they had shut down a dump years earlier that had started to smoulder on its own somehow. No matter what they did they couldn’t stop this. They bulldozed it, had sprinklers on it constantly, but this closed down dump smouldered for almost 2 years before it was finally quenched. Gehenna is a smouldering, smelly place of destruction and neglect.