“An Interview With God”
IS SALVATION FOR REAL?
May 18, 2002
One objection that I hear concerning salvation is that it seems too good to be true. You know the old saying, “If it seems too good to be true, then it probably is.” Here is the situation. If you are going to give your life over to God and follow His Son Jesus and trust that He can save you, then you want to be sure that the salvation that the Bible speaks of is for real, that it’s the truth. You want to make sure that it’s not too good to be true.
I remember first thinking about the idea of cloning. Before cloning actually became a reality, there was a movie made in the mid 90’s about it. The movie was called “Multiplicity”. Michael Keaton plays the main character in this movie. Through circumstances I can’t really remember right now, he is able to be cloned. He thinks that this is going to be a great idea. He never has enough time to get everything done that he needs to get done. He wishes that there was more of him to go around. Through the miracles of cloning, there is. This is too good to be true, it’s unbelievable. He is going to be able to accomplish twice the work he’s doing now without any extra effort. But things turn badly because although his clones look exactly like him physically, none of their personalities match his and this causes big problems. He ends us spending the majority of his time trying to making sure that his clones don’t destroy his life. It turns out that cloning was too good to be true. But is salvation?
We continue with our series, “An Interview With God” tonight asking God the question, “Is salvation for real?” The truth is that every single person on this earth is need of salvation, whether they recognize that need or not. The greatest need of mankind is the salvation of our souls.
In order to answer the question, “Is salvation for real?” we must first answer a few questions:
I. WHAT IS SALVATION?
Sometimes we get a little confused about salvation. We hear about salvation in many different terms, “being saved, being born again, becoming a new creation, having a relationship with God” etc. If our greatest need is salvation, then we need to know exactly what salvation is all about.
In studying the word “salvation” in the New Testament, we find that salvation involves five specific things:
1. Deliverance from impending death.
It’s as if we have been stricken with an incurable disease, our death is imminent. We have no hope of beating this disease. There’s nothing we can do to stop it. We’re helpless. Salvation is our cure, beating that incurable disease and delivering us from the impending death that was looming over us.
2. Saving of the whole person.
This means that we are not just saved in a physical sense. We are saved in a spiritual sense. Our very souls are saved. Our whole being is saved by God.
3. Forgiveness of sins.
Forgiveness literally means to be “freed or released”. We are freed from the debt and consequences of our sin.
4. Deliverance from the hands of our Enemy.
Outside of Christ, we are easily manipulated and controlled by our enemy, Satan. God’s salvation frees us from the hands of Satan. He no longer has reign over us. We have the power to resist and defeat Him because Jesus has already defeated Him by conquering death and raising from the dead three days after being nailed to the cross.
5. Sparing of the coming Judgment and wrath of God.
The Bible tells us that all will have to face the final Judgment of God (Romans 14:10), but God’s salvation gives us freedom from worry about that day. We will be found “not guilty” of our sins in the eyes of God and thus will not have to face the wrath of God that will be poured out on the wicked and unrighteous.
One verse in particular really sticks out in mind as a vivid description of salvation. Colossians 1:13, “For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” Salvation is about God rescuing us and bringing us out of the hands of our Enemy in the dominion of darkness and giving us citizenship in the kingdom of His Son, redeeming us or releasing us from our sin by forgiving our sins.
II. WHY IS SALVATION NEEDED?
Very simply, salvation is needed because we have a sin problem. Romans 3:23, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” Our nature is one that seeks out rebellion. We tend to love the rebel. The rebel is dangerous, he’s cool, he does things his own way. Our sin is open rebellion against God. We are doing the opposite of what he wants us to do. But there are consequences to our sin:
1. We are imprisoned by our sin.
Galatians 3:22, “But the Scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin,” We are held captive by our sin. We are held in bondage. We have been captured and our sin forms a prison cell around us holding us hostage, separating us from God.
2. We are under a curse.
Galatians 3:10, “All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: ‘Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.’” The American Heritage Dictionary defines a “curse” as “something that brings or causes evil”. Our sin puts us under a curse in which we continually have evil in our hearts and do evil acts. Probably one of the most famous “curses” in modern history revolves around baseball great Babe Ruth. Babe Ruth, before he was a New York Yankee was a member of the Boston Red Sox. He was their best player. Not only was he their best hitter but he was also their best pitcher. He led to the Red Sox to becoming the world champs. After the 1919 season, the owner of the Red Sox Harry Frazee sold Babe Ruth to the Yankees to help finance a Broadway musical he was involved in. The Red Sox have not won the World Series since that trade. In fact, the Red Sox have been the most hard luck team over the past 83 years, repeatedly finding new and inventive ways to lose the big game. It’s been said that they are under the “curse of the Bambino” of Babe Ruth. We too, are under a curse due to our sin. We will never win. We will never be right with God as long as we are under our sin.
3. We are slaves to our sin.
Romans 6:16, “Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey- whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?” Sin has become our master and we have become its slave. We are under sin’s control. It owns us.
4. We are sentenced to death by our sin.
Romans 6:23, ‘For the wages of sin is death” Our sin ultimately leads us to death, physical and spiritual. Death was non-existent before sin entered the world in the Garden of Eden. With sin came death, first physically for our bodies and then spiritually for our souls. We are destined to face a “second death” which the Bible refers to as hell.
III. WHO PROVIDES OUR SALVATION?
Now that we know what salvation is and why we need salvation, we need to know how to get it. Who provides our salvation? The Bible tells us that our salvation comes from one source. The source of our salvation is Jesus. Hebrews 5:8-9, “Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered, and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him…”
Jesus is the source of our salvation, but how did he do it? He did it by becoming a man, living a sinless life, dying on the cross as a sacrifice for our sins, and rising from the dead three days later conquering the grave. More than that, Jesus is the sole provider and sole source of salvation. You hear a lot of commercials claiming that “so and so is the source for your home and garden needs, or so and so is the source for your medical needs” etc. Jesus is the source of your salvation. Acts 4:12, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” Salvation is not found in any other religion, it is not found in some wise teacher, it is not found in a great, charismatic, political leader, it is not found in any act or ritual, it is not found in any book, it is not found within yourself. Salvation is found in one place and one place alone, Jesus Christ.
Why did Jesus provide our salvation? He loves us. That’s the whole message of the Bible. God loves you. Even before that first sin was committed in the Garden of Eden, God had a plan in place to bring you back to Him. All of history led up to the coming of Christ, so that His work could be completed and our sins could be forgiven. The rest of history is now leading up to when Jesus will come again and take His people to live with Him in heaven. Why? Because God loves you.
IV. WHY DOES SALVATION APPEAR TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE?
Looking at everything we’ve talked about tonight, it would be easy to conclude that salvation is too good to be true that it can’t be real. But it is! I want to address a few of the arguments that people have concerning the validity of salvation.
Salvation appears too good to be true because…
1. It is a free gift.
Ephesians 2:8, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith- and this not from yourselves, it is a gift of God…” Salvation is a gift. There are no strings attached. You don’t have to meet certain standards to qualify for it. God is offering it to you. It’s your responsibility to either accept the gift or to reject it. I love giving gifts. My problem is that I can’t wait for them to be opened. When I go and buy a gift for Holly, I have to give it to her as soon as I get home. I end up doing most of my birthday and Christmas shopping at the last minute because then I don’t have to wait very long to give the gift. God is one that enjoys giving gifts. His greatest gift is that of salvation.
2. It cannot be earned on our part.
Ephesians 2:9, “not by works, so that no one can boast” We like to earn our keep, pull our own weight. We don’t like to have anything handed to us. Salvation is one area where we can’t do it ourselves. It can’t be earned. Max Lucado, in his book “The Grip of Grace”, gives a great illustration of this. He compared trying to earn our salvation to stacking rocks to build a path upstream against a river. It’s impossible and all it does is serve to frustrate and exhaust. Salvation is God’s to give, not ours to earn.
3. It is based on grace.
Ephesians 2:5,8, “…it is by grace you have been saved. For it is by grace you have been saved…” Salvation is given to us on the basis of grace. It’s not fair. Instead of getting what we really deserve, the punishment of our sins, death; God has taken our punishment for us and gives us the exact opposite of what we deserve, life.
Yes, salvation is for real. It is from God, it is definitely needed and it delivers us from our biggest problem, sin. Have you ever been to a “Ripley’s Believe It Or Not” museum? They are spread out periodically across the United States and Canada. I used to watch the old “Ripley’s” TV show years ago and so when I came across one of the museums on a high school youth trip in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina I decided to check it out. There’s all sorts of weird, exotic, unbelievable but totally true exhibits in the museum; people that have done incredible feats, etc. Salvation comes across many times as something out of “Ripley’s Believe It Or Not”. We can’t believe that our eyes and ears are telling us. It seems impossible. It seems too good to be true. But it is for real. Salvation is real. God loves you and wants to rescue you. Will you take Him up on His offer?