INTRO.- What’s required for salvation?
ILL.- It was said that one time a businessman who well known for his ruthlessness once said to writer Mark Twain, "Before I die I mean to make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. I will climb Mount Sinai and read the 10 Commandments aloud at the top." "I have a better idea," replied Twain. "You could stay in Boston and keep them."
What about keeping 10 commandments? Must we keep them? And by keeping them will be saved? That’s the mentality that many people in our world have. If any good comes our way it’s because of what we do and not because of anyone’s gracious gift. We all tend to believe that we have to work in order to get anything good in life, including God’s salvation.
ILL.- Our Louise Smith is from the old school, so to speak, that if someone does something for her then she must do something for them. There have been a few times when I have gone to the Kmart pharmacy for Louise to pick up her prescriptions and she always want to pay me for running that errand. And yet, it’s about one mile from her apartment at South Wind Heights to Kmart, like I am spending a big fortune to run that errand!
Don’t misunderstand; I think it’s gracious of her to offer to pay me but I am very happy to do things for free. After all, isn’t this what our salvation is all about? If we had to work our way into heaven we’d never make it. That’s why God provided the way through His son the Lord Jesus. Louis understands the principle of grace, and she also understands what it is to be gracious and giving.
Jesus came to seek and to save the lost. He did for us what we could not do for ourselves. He paid the price for our sins. By so doing, He both pleased His heavenly Father and appeased His anger toward our sin. Why would God ever get angry at mankind? It’s called sin.
Can you imagine how angry God could get with mankind over the sins of this world?? Here is why God gets angry.
Romans 1:29-32 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.
It sounds like all mankind is in deep trouble with God and we are! So what should we do? Our text tells the story.
PROP.- Paul considers how various people get saved.
1- The salvation of Abraham
2- The salvation of David
I. THE SALVATION OF ABRAHAM
1 What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather, discovered in this matter? 2 If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about—but not before God. 3 What does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”
Genesis 12:1, 4 1 The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. 4 So Abram went, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Harran.
God said, “Go” and “Abraham went” and at the age of 75.
ILL.- An old fellow fell in love with a lady. He got down on his knees and told her there were two things he would like to ask her. She replied, "OK." He said, "Will you marry me?" She replied, "Yes," then asked what his second question was. He replied, "Will you help me up?"
A hard thing to do is pick up all your belongings and move to a foreign land and especially, when you’re 75 years old, but that’s essentially, what Abraham did and he did it by faith, a faith that obeyed God.
Hebrews 11:8-9 “By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise.”
Do you know of anyone who has done anything like Abraham? I do.
ILL.- Ted and Beverly Skiles are from the small town of Eldon, MO, near the Lake of the Ozarks. It’s a town of around 5,000. Ted and Beverly went to Ozark Christian College in the 60‘s, got their education and were moved to become foreign missionaries. Ted and Beverly moved to Taiwan, China, and founded the Home of God’s Love which is a non-profit Christian orphanage. They founded orphanage 37 years ago but started working there before that time in order to establish themselves and that missionary work. Their internet site states: We are a non-profit Christian organization that is sponsored by individuals and independent Christian Churches. Our main ministry in Taiwan is providing a Christian home for children who for some reason cannot live with their families.
In most cases these children are not available for adoption, but are sponsored by families, individuals, or groups in the United States. Occasionally a child is available for adoption. Usually these adoptable children are abandoned, or come from unwed mothers.
Now it just doesn’t make sense for a small town, mid-Missouri couple to move to a foreign country where they didn’t know the language and did what they did. And by the way, they have baptized hundreds of children and adults into Christ through their ministry.
Why did they go to Taiwan and establish this mission? I don’t know why they specifically chose Taiwan and a children’s ministry, but basically, I know why they went.
Matthew 28:18-20 “Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Matthew 19:14 Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”
James 1:27 “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”
Here are three reasons that Ted and Beverly went when God said “Go.” 1- It’s a matter of obeying the great commission of making disciples. 2- It’s a matter of leading children to Jesus. 3- It’s a matter of ministering to orphan children. Ted and Beverly obeyed God and went just like Abraham of old.
How was Abraham saved? By faith. But his faith also obeyed God. True faith always obeys God. What about us?
II. THE SALVATION OF DAVID
7 “Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven,
whose sins are covered. 8 Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will never count against him.”
What a beautiful passage of scripture which was taken from the Old Testament in Psalm 32:1-2.
We remember David for several outstanding things in life. I Samuel 17 we have the story of David and Goliath and who doesn’t enjoy that story? What a story! The little guy takes on the biggest guy there is and wins!
Basketball great, Michael Jordan said, "Obstacles don't have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don't turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it."
But David didn’t even have to do that. Sometimes we want to rely on our own brains, talent and strength, but they eventually run out and then what do you do? David did what was right in the first place and what was smart. He went to the Lord for wisdom and strength. As we should also do.
James 1:5 “If any many lacks wisdom let him ask of God....”
1-11 NCV 1 The Philistines gathered their armies for war. 2 Saul and the Israelites gathered in the Valley of Elah and camped there and took their positions to fight the Philistines. 3 The Philistines controlled one hill while the Israelites controlled another. The valley was between them. 4 The Philistines had a champion fighter from Gath named Goliath. He was about nine feet, four inches tall. He came out of the Philistine camp 5 with a bronze helmet on his head and a coat of bronze armor that weighed about one hundred twenty-five pounds. 6 He wore bronze protectors on his legs, and he had a bronze spear on his back.7 The wooden part of his larger spear was like a weaver's rod, and its blade weighed about fifteen pounds. The officer who carried his shield walked in front of him. 8 Goliath stood and shouted to the Israelite soldiers, "Why have you taken positions for battle? I am a Philistine, and you are Saul's servants! Choose a man and send him to fight me.9 If he can fight and kill me, we will be your servants. But if I can kill him, you will be our servants."10 Then he said, "Today I stand and dare the army of Israel! Send one of your men to fight me!"11 When Saul and the Israelites heard the Philistine's words, they were very scared.
What a story! And we know the end of the story. It was home run, knockout story! By God’s wisdom and strength, David was able to defeat Goliath. When you lean on the Lord He always makes a difference in your life. He is the greatest source of strength there is, but when we stop leaning we may start to fall and that’s what David did later in his life.
In II Samuel 11 we have a different deal, a bad deal, a very bad deal. 1 In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the king’s men and the whole Israelite army. They destroyed the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained in Jerusalem. 2 One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful, 3 and David sent someone to find out about her. The man said, “She is Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite.” 4 Then David sent messengers to get her. She came to him, and he slept with her. (Now she was purifying herself from her monthly uncleanness.) Then she went back home. 5 The woman conceived and sent word to David, saying, “I am pregnant.”
A bad situation that got worse when David allowed his sinful nature to take over. Imagine this: A man after God’s own heart committing adultery and murder! (I Sam. 13:13-14, Acts 13:22)
ILL.- Watchman Nee was a Chinese Christian author and church leader during the early 20th century. He spent the last 20 years of his life in prison and was severely persecuted by the Communists in China. He died in confinement in his cell on May 30, 1972. After Watchman Nee's death, when his niece came to collect his few possessions, she was given a scrap of paper that a guard had found by his bed. What was written on that paper may serve as Watchman Nee's testament:
"Christ is the Son of God Who died for the redemption of sinners and was resurrected after three days. This is the greatest truth in the universe. I die because of my belief in Christ. Watchman Nee." Wow! Nee also wrote: “We are all sinners by nature. If God asks nothing of us, all seems to go well, but as soon as he demands something of us, the occasion is provided for a grand display of our sinfulness.” Powerful!
26 When Uriah’s wife heard that her husband was dead, she mourned for him. 27 After the time of mourning was over, David had her brought to his house, and she became his wife and bore him a son. But the thing David had done displeased the Lord.
Any time we blatantly disobey God’s Word and sin, we displease the Lord, but does this mean there is no forgiveness? No, there is always forgiveness for our sins. But to receive forgiveness we must submit to God’s will and Word in order to receive it.
How did David find forgiveness in the Lord? God sent Nathan who told him a story. David said, “That man should die!” And Nathan said to David, “Thou art the man!” Whoa! David became convicted.
II Sam. 12:13 Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” Nathan replied, “The Lord has taken away your sin. You are not going to die. 14 But because by doing this you have shown utter contempt for the Lord, the son born to you will die.”
How David found forgiveness is how we find it. We humble ourselves and confess our sins to the Lord.
I John 1:8-9 “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
Initially, we confess Christ, repent and are baptized, but later in living the Christian life, we humble ourselves, and confess our sins and ask for forgiveness. Abraham, David and you!
John 14:6 Sums up the matter of forgiveness for you and all mankind. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life and no man comes to the Father except through me.”
Our salvation and forgiveness is found only in Jesus Christ. We believe Him. We believe in Him. We trust in what He did for us on the cross. We believe that He traded places with us and that we are righteous and will be righteous and it’s because of Him.
We put our faith in Him, not in us.
Steve Shepherd, Cape Girardeau, MO