Summary: What does it mean to be saved?
February 16, 1997
I never, ever, put myself into the Bible story of Noah, even as a small child. I could never build a model airplane that would fly, let alone a boat that would float. I could imagine myself as David, or as Paul and Silas, but never Noah.
But did you ever think that sooner or later every one of us comes to a Noah-like situation. We see a world that is tuned out on God, and that seems bent on going to hell. We may not recognize it as such, but we have to make a Noah-like decision. We think about it. We ponder, "What can I possibly do?" We think, "I don't want my family to be lost! I don't want to lose my own soul!"
Then amid all the pondering comes a thought from God: "Start building an ark!" Well— maybe not that. But a challenge comes from the God of Noah. God says, "Did you know that you don't have to live like the world?" And we face the question, "How much do we really want to be saved?"
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE SAVED?
Water in the story is significant. Christian baptism, among other things, refers back to this Noah story when eight people in the world were saved by the very water that destroyed their generation. To be baptized is to be saved— right? Well—
Believing in Jesus is absolutely vital. THAT is what it means to be saved, isn't it? The Bibles tells us (Romans 10:9,10) that to say from the heart "Jesus is LORD!" and to believe that God has raised him from the dead is the essence of salvation. But the Bible also teaches us that "to believe" is more than just a mental assent— saying the right things. "To believe" is to hear God make a promise— and to respond to that promise!
BEING SAVED IS A PROMISE
Being saved is a promise GIVEN
God is a covenant making God. He makes promises. In the Noah story he covenanted never to destroy the world again by flood. Then nearly 2,000 times in the Bible we read about "covenant." We live by promises. We exist by honor.
God has promised (John 3:16) that "whosoever believes in Jesus will not perish"
God has promised (I John 1:9) that if we confess our sins he will forgive them"
God has promised (Luke 11:13) that if we ask the Father will give us the Holy Spirit
God has promised (John 15:7) if we abide in Jesus, and Jesus' words abide in us we can ask what we will and it shall be done!
Our Christian life— salvation depends on promise GIVEN.
Being saved is a promise RECEIVED.
Every promise in the word is conditional. God's LOVE does not depend on whether we are good or bad. God loves us when we deserve nothing. To meet the conditions of a promise is not the same as deserving what is promised. To pass from death to life is a mystery. But there must be a WILLINGNESS TO RECEIVE!
To RECEIVE forgiveness there must first be CONFESSION.
To be filled with the Spirit there must first be an ASKING!
But did you know that salvation is more than an "experience" or a "fact of history?"
Being saved is a promise HONORED.
Being saved is more than an event— more than a one-time happening. Just as a good marriage is much, much more than an exciting wedding— but is built on covenant and mutual trust, so our relationship with God is an on-going PROMISE, a COVENANT!
SALVATION IS AN ARK OF SAFETY
Unless we are living differently from the world around us what assurance to we have, and what witness does the world see that salvation is worth anything at all?
Is that judging? Is that spiritual elitism?
No— that is God's still, small voice saying: "Get busy! Start building an ark! Save your children! The flood of judgment is coming!"
LENT IS A GREAT OPPORTUNITY TO SEEK TO HONOR GOD'S COVENANT
Jesus began his ministry proclaiming GOOD NEWS!
He said: "The kingdom is near!" Where Jesus is— THERE is God's kingdom!"
JESUS ALSO SAID REPENT! JESUS SAID BELIEVE ME! JESUS SAID CHANGE THE WAY YOU LIVE! THAT IS WHAT 'REPENT' MEANS!
The challenge of Noah sounds like a great sermon preached on the day of Pentecost. Peter challenged the good people of his day to avail themselves of God's covenant-making love.
In Acts 2:38-41:
"Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the LORD our God shall call. And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation. Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls."