Summary: What does it mean to be saved? That's a question I asked the kids in VBS this year. None of them could tell me. Is this concept that we don't explain well enough in the Church? Maybe it's time to revisit how are we saved.
What does it mean to be saved? Why do I need to be saved and from what?
Last week our nation was once again shocked by violence. At least 31 people were killed in mass shootings in Texas and Ohio. On Saturday a gunman shot and killed at least 22 people and injured 24 in an El Paso Walmart in El Paso, Texas. Then on Sunday another nine people were killed and 27 were injured in a shooting in Dayton, Ohio. The gunman in Ohio was said to have explored “violent ideologies” and expressed a “desire to commit a mass shooting” on Twitter. Both killings were apparently fueled by hate.
This kind of thing happens almost everyday, just not to that scale. In fact one research group estimates that there are 1.2 shootings happening every day here in America. There has been 248 mass shootings to date in 2019 alone. So even though records show that violent crime in the US is actually decreasing, these statistics and events that come to the forefront tend to convince us otherwise.
It’s easy to focus on the negativity going on in the world today, the corruption, the bad news… especially when that seems to be all that makes the news.
How many would agree that America needs saving?
How many of those people in Texas or Ohio in the path of that shooter were begging to be saved from the bullets? I could guess maybe… all of them?
And it would be easy to be tempted to believe that this is something new when things like this happen. But that would not be true. Evil has always existed since the beginning in the garden. In fact, violent crimes - murder began with that first family, with Cain and Abel. Cain killing his own brother out of jealousy. And then wickedness, evil, and sin progressed and increased upon the earth until we come to the story of Noah.
Please Turn in your Bibles to... Genesis chapter 6
Genesis 6:5-7 New International Version (NIV) says…
5 The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination [or intent NASB] of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. 6 The Lord regretted [was sorry NASB] that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled [literally “grieved” NASB]. 7 So the Lord said, “I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created—and with them the animals, the birds and the creatures that move along the ground—for I regret that I have made them.”
The Lord saw how great wickedness had become on the earth. The Lord saw.
I want to tell you this morning: THE LORD SEES. The Lord sees all. Not just the actions of men, but also the intent … in inclination of their hearts. In other words, what their heart desires. What they think about. What they entertain and allow to grow. The Lord sees.
And think about it, this story is from the beginning. It’s when mankind was just getting started, and it already had become so bad. All from eating a forbidden fruit. But you also notice the Bible doesn’t mention yet what wicked things they were doing. Just that “every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time.”
Sin starts in the heart. Before it ever becomes an act of sin, it begins as a sinful inclination.
Why is there so many bad things that happen in the world today? Because humanity has a Heart Problem! Listen (and this may sound a little political, but it’s not. It’s the truth!) the reason there are mass shootings and violence in America and terrorists in the World has nothing to do with guns or gun-control. It has to do with the condition of the heart.
Because the heart can either be full of evil or full or good.
Jesus says this in Luke 6:45 New International Version (NIV)
A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.
So the next time someone says something and you think they are “full of it.” Maybe they are.
The heart that he’s talking about here is who you are on the inside. Not necessarily what you show everyone or make everyone believe that you are. But who you really are… in the center of your being. What you care about. What you desire. What you think. What you live for.
Jesus said in Matthew 6:19-21 New International Version (NIV)
19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.