Summary: WE BELIEVE – Salvation, God’s Love For You
• Acts 4:12 (NIV)
Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.
In December 2006 Michael Trimble, a forensic archaeologist testified in a Bagdad courtroom as part of the Saddam Hussein trial. Trimble gave three days of testimony regarding the mass grave uncovered from which he had examined the remains of the Kurds killed by Saddam. His testimony showed the horrible cruelty of the Iraqi leaders in their attempt to control Kurdistan through terror. He and his team uncovered the remains of 301 people ‹ 60 percent of them children. Trimble commented about his testimony saying:
“I was searching for days for my closing statement, and out of sheer dumb luck my birthday was on the 26th of November and the team gave me a flag and they all signed it. One of the women wrote two lines from a Polish poet . . . ‘History counts its skeletons in round numbers. A thousand and one remains a thousand as though the one never existed.’ And that was it; I had my closing line. I said: ‘Your honor, we have not presented 300 remains to you; we’ve presented 301.’ The whole room was silent.” (Kristen Hinman, “CSI: Iraq Goes to Court.” Riverfront Times; Dec. 6, 2006.)
When all was said and done Saddam Hussein was convicted and sentenced to death. But what Trimble did was to remind the judges and the world that Saddam’s crimes were not about the numbers, but about each individual. Would Saddam’s crimes have been worse if they had found 1,000 or more dead bodies? Should Saddam have been let off with a lighter sentence if only 50 people had been so brutally executed? Or is it possible that even a dictator like Saddam deserved to be convicted of death for ordering the death of just a single person? It isn’t about the numbers; it’s the individual.
Numbers are important to God. Multitudes followed Jesus; 3,000 were saved on the day of Pentecost; another 5,000 were added to the church in Acts 4.
But in all the numbers, God never looses sight of the individual; it is the individual who is important to God. From the cross Jesus had compassion for the thief who was being justly punished for his crimes, but Jesus forgave him and welcomed him into paradise that very day.
And God is concerned about you. God knows your name; He knows what you need and is ready to step in to rescue you if only you ask Him for help. God loves the individual. It’s true; if you or I had been the only one to believe Jesus would have given His life just for you—just for me.
It reminds me of the man who was walking the beach early one morning and saw a little boy picking up starfish from the beach and throwing them into the ocean. The man asked the boy what he was doing and the little boy told him, “I’m saving the starfish from dying. After the tide goes out the starfish will be stranded on the beach and die in the heat of the sun.” The man shook his head and asked the little boy what difference he thought he could possibly make because there was no way he could save the thousands of starfish up and down the beach that would die like that; it was just part of nature. The boy threw the starfish in his hand into the ocean and said, “It matters to this one.”
This morning we begin a four part series WE BELIEVE. Together we are going to look at the four defining truths or what we sometimes call the cardinal doctrines of the Assemblies of God: salvation, divine healing, baptism in the Holy Spirit and the second coming—Jesus saves, Jesus heals, Jesus baptizes in the Holy Spirit and Jesus is coming again.
Today we are going to focus on the doctrine of “SALVATION, God’s Love for You.” As we look today at the cross I want us to see four R’s that will help us to understand the doctrine of salvation: REBELLION, RESCUE, REDEMPTION, and RECONCILIATION.
I. REBELLION – Every one of us has a sin problem.
1. We like to think we are ‘good people,’ but the truth is that every one of us has a sin problem.
• Romans 3:23 (NIV)
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
a) I’ve checked the dictionary and ALL means ALL. We are all sinners. Nevertheless many of us still want to claim to be a good person. I’m not as bad as so-n-so, or I would never do that.
• 1 John 1:10 (NIV)
If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.