September 12, 2013
Salvation is For Everyone
This past Sunday at church, the sermon was about salvation, and how God issued the invitation to everyone in Isaiah 45:22, where he said, “Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth; for I am God and there is no other.” “There are no limits and race, age, nationality, how much money you have, and gender do not matter. God doesn’t look at your appearance, he looks at your heart. God wants everyone to be saved. Syria was mentioned and the question came up as to why Obama is concerned about what is going on in Syria when the United States has so many problems of their own, and the minister speaking doesn’t believe it makes sense for people to kill each other for the reasons Obama is planning to go to war for. He feels that a lot of people tend to look the other way because of the power the President has.
Job was mentioned (the book of Job in the Old Testament), and how he was rich, happy, and the essence of perfection because he still followed God’s laws perfectly and led a happy and wealthy life. But then one by one, he started to lose all of his possessions, starting with his material things. Job talked about how God gives, but also takes away. Even though he had lost his worldly wealth, he still had peace. Today, many people are suffering, envying others, some want power and others have too much power – the world today is unbalanced. God calls us all to salvation. When we suffer, it is because we have forgotten that the stuff we have: “my house,” “my watch,” “my car,” etc.) are not really ours. Everything belongs to God. Job understood this concept when he said that “God gives and God takes away.” Psalm 121:1-2 says, “I look up to the mountains – does my help come from there? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth!” The message here is that everyone who looks to God for help will not be put to shame. In Psalm 62:7 says, “My salvation and honor come from God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge.” And again, in Psalm 27:1 we see mention of salvation when the psalmist says, “The Lord is my light and my salvation – so why should I be afraid? The Lord is my fortress, protecting me from danger, so why should I tremble?” Only God can save us. Salvation cannot be reached ourselves and no human can save us. It is God who saves our souls, not man. The minister is right, God is the only one with the power to save and so we must all turn to him to be saved.
Lots of people know the verse John 3:16 and it is because salvation comes from no one except for God. God would not offer salvation to the ends of the earth if he wasn’t willing to save everyone. People of the world kid themselves when they believe they can save themselves, that someone (a human) can save them or when they worship other false Gods like the new saint that people in Mexico worship who is based on a famous soccer player and is supposed to be able to help kids improve their soccer playing. They even put a soccer ball at Mary’s feet (Jesus’ mother). They are lying to themselves, and nobody is making them do it, but they are choosing to.” Everything in quotes and italics above is from the sermon on Sunday. Everything from now on is not from the sermon.
There are other people in the world who worship money or everything money can buy (material things like cars, mansions, fancy and expensive clothes, and expensive jewelry). What they don’t understand is that once they die, they leave all of these earthly possessions behind. We are told in 2 Timothy 6:7, “After all, we brought nothing with us when we came into the world, and we can’t take anything with us when we leave this world.” Money cannot save you or come down to the grave with you. No human can save you and you cannot save yourself. God is the only one who can save you and that is why it keeps coming up in the bible, both in Old Testament and New Testament. Psalm 49:7-8 says, “No one can redeem the life of another or give to God a ransom for them—the ransom for a life is costly, no payment is ever enough.”
So how do you get salvation? Paul tells us part of it in Romans 10:9-13, “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved. As the Scriptures tell us, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.” Jew and Gentile are the same in this respect. They have the same Lord, who gives generously to all who call on him. For “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” The other part of how to be saved can be found in Acts 2:38 (and verse 39 mentions how it is for everyone), which says, “Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. This promise is to you, and to your children, and even to the Gentiles—all who have been called by the Lord our God.” The first step is to believe that God exists and has the power to raise the dead, and that he raised Jesus from the dead so we could have a right relationship with him. The next step is to admit that you sinned against him and to repent (not do the sinful thing you are asking for forgiveness for) and turn to God and follow his ways. Baptism is necessary to be cleansed from all of your sins as you are washed clean by Jesus’ blood (metaphorically speaking). After you are baptized, you need to be taught all of God’s commands and obey them (Matthew 28:20). This learning of God’s ways will take you the rest of your life, but the reward will be eternal life with God and Jesus in the new Heavens that will be built after Jesus’ second coming, after all judgment has been passed on everyone.
If, instead of thinking you can save yourself or be saved by another human, you go in the opposite direction and believe that you are unable to be saved because you have sinned too badly, then get that thought out of your head! Salvation is for everyone! Think of the Apostle Paul, who was Saul until Acts 9, when Jesus approached him saying, “Saul! Saul! Why are you persecuting me?” in verse 4. In verse 5, Saul answers, “Who are you, lord?” The voice replied, “I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting!” Then he told Saul to get up and gave him instructions on what to do next and he became known as Paul starting in chapter 13 (of Acts). Paul was a great sinner who went around persecuting Jesus and threatening people’s lives and destroying their property for following Jesus, and yet Jesus forgave him and used him to spread the word of the Gospel to people all around the world! If Jesus can use Paul, once known as Saul – the persecutor of Jesus, then he can use you no matter how badly you think you have screwed up. The important thing is that you want to be saved, and not for selfish reasons, but because you genuinely want to be a better person and believe God’s way is better than your way and better than the world’s way of living. God examines the heart and when the heart he examines has a desire to serve the Lord and to help others, then he will see that and help you reach the salvation you seek, which only he can give. God wants you to be saved! He wants to save you, no matter what you did in your past. It is not what you did in your past that matters, but what you do from this point forward (in the future) that matters. It is not too late to turn your life around and become a child of God, a follower of Christ. Or if you were a follower but strayed and became lost, there is still hope for you to return to God today. God is waiting for you with open arms, longing to be good to you and to add you to the book of names (which lists everyone who will be saved). God does not exclude anyone.
The cousin mentioned in “Part 1 on How to Enter The Kingdom of Heaven” also has the ability to make it into heaven if she decides that she wants to be saved and accepts God’s love and follows his ways. She already obeys Jesus’ new commandment to “love others as oneself” pretty well since she is a lovely woman who shows love for her friends and family. I am not around her often, but she is generally a good person who is nice to others, including people who are neither family or friends. You might be the same way: you are nice to others and do good things, but for some reason are unable to accept God’s love because something happened to you to make you feel that God doesn’t love you. Don’t believe that lie anymore! God does love you! If God didn’t love you, he would not have included you in the plan to send Jesus to earth over 2,000 years ago to die for our sins. Jesus didn’t just die for everyone who had lived up until the point of when Jesus came to earth as man, but for everyone! In John 17, Jesus is praying to our Heavenly father and he says in verse 20, “I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message.” Now why would Jesus pray for all future believers if they (we) weren’t included in the “everyone” mentioned in John 3:16? It doesn’t say “For God so loved the world he sent his only Son to die for believers who are alive today.” It says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” God showed perfect love by sending his one and only Son to die for our sins and so it is only right that we should show our gratitude by living for Jesus and showing others the kind of love he showed us by dying for us and being raised 3 days later so we could have a right relationship with God based on faith and not just by following God’s laws. A good exercise to try is, when you are reading that verse (John 3:16), replace “everyone” with “I” (or your name) to make it personal to you, so that you may understand that you are included in the extended hand that is reached out offering to save everyone. Grab hold of Jesus’ hand and hold on firmly and let your faith become strong and unshakable. God loves you and accepts you as you are right now and sees the potential you have inside of you and how much good you can do on his behalf. Will you accept his outstretched hand today and be saved so you may have eternal life? If the answer is yes, then look-up a church near you that preaches Jesus’ teachings and the word of God (all preachings come from God’s word in the holy bible), and go through the steps mentioned above (including baptism) and start attending the bible-based church regularly. Starting a daily Bible study of your own is also a good idea so that you can learn more about God and more about Jesus’ way and apply what you learn to your every day life. Remember, salvation is for everyone and God wants you to be saved.