Summary: The word "salvation" doesn't mean a lot to the non-Christian. This message will help to clarify what is meant by being saved.
As most of you know, I am involved with a church in Karachi, Pakistan where I teach a Sunday school class for Revival Sunday school by way of video each week. What a privilege and honor it is for God to think enough of me to allow me that opportunity to minister in another country on the other side of the world.
Kiran and her husband Chris are two of the leaders in that ministry there and they listen in to our Facebook messages each week and that is actually how we got connected to work in this ministry together. I am so thankful for Kiran and Chris because, you see, I speak English and the children speak mostly Urdu. So, needless to say, my messages to them must be translated from English to Urdu.
So, I am thankful that Kiran and Chris are my translators. They are my mediators in this ministry. Mediators are often needed to get two parties on the same page. Businesses frequently use mediators, legal disputes sometimes call for mediators, and unfortunately, many marriages have the need for a mediator. When we need reconciliation, a mediator can save the day.
But today I want to talk about one area where we all need a mediator and that is in our relationship with God. Much like me and the Sunday school class in Pakistan is separated by language, WE are separated from God by our sin. And that separation is something that we can’t fix on our own. We desperately need a mediator to step in. Thankfully, God has provided a mediator when He sent Jesus.
I said last week that we are unworthy to come before God because of our sin. But Jesus made it possible for us to come before God. Let me back that up by having you turn to 2 Cor. 5:21. READ.
It’s kind of amazing how Americans are fascinated with British royalty. We closely follow the lives of the royal family, seeing them as elevated above the rest of us. In a moment we are going to see what Paul says in Romans 3. In the book of Romans, Paul was writing to a group who acted like royalty; they believed their birthright allowed them special access to God.
The way they saw it, they were God’s chosen people, and God had given them His law through Moses. That law governed daily life for the Jewish people. It even allowed the people to offer animal sacrifices to atone for their sins when they couldn’t live up to the law. But here’s the catch—possessing the law wasn’t the same as keeping the law, and in that regard, they were no different than the worst sinner.
Paul says to them, “There is no way you will ever become righteous on your own because even though you have the law, you can’t keep the law to its fullest extent.” But then he tells them and us that righteousness is still possible. So, Paul writes and says, “He (God) made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.”
Of course, God’s law is definitely a part of God’s redemption story. That’s one reason we were given the Ten Commandments in the first place so that we might know what the law is. By revealing our inability to achieve righteousness on our own, Paul points to the grace of God and what Christ has done to achieve righteousness for us.
And here it is in simple words. Jesus was born into the world. He is righteous and never sinned. He lived a perfect life, yet He died a sinner’s death. Jesus kept the law perfectly but died in the place of us who couldn’t keep the law. He is completely righteous, and He credited righteousness to us. The sin Jesus died for was ours, not His. His death paid for all the wrongs that we commit. And it is through Jesus’ sacrifice for us, we’re declared righteous by faith in His blood that was shed for us. “He (God) made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
With that in mind, let’s turn to Romans 3:20-22. READ.
We spend much of our lives striving for approval. We work at school to get good grades and to receive academic awards. We work hard at our jobs in hopes of being noticed or rewarded in some way. We do all that we can so that our family members will return the love we show them at home. Our goal is to be validated for a job well done. Many people approach a relationship with God the same way. We say or think, “I’m going to do a lot of good things so God will notice and approve of me.”