SALVATION (LESSON 1)
In this month's lesson, we will be talking about salvation. You've probably all heard expressions like being "saved" or "born again," but maybe you are a little confused about what that really means. Maybe you've wondered how do you get saved. Is there some work that you have to do? Or maybe you aren't concerned about your salvation at all. You might even think, "What's the big deal? I'm going to have fun today and not worry about tomorrow. Well, over the next month, we are going to cover the questions you might have on what the Bible is talking about as far as your salvation.
* Let's start with this question: Why do you have to be saved? Saved from what? You might consider yourself a pretty okay person. Sure, you've made a few mistakes, but at least you are not as bad as so-and-so. So why do you have to be saved?
Well, have you ever stolen anything? Have you ever lied? Have you ever had sex with someone who wasn't your wife or husband or even just had lustful thoughts? Have you ever been disobedient to your parents? Have you ever had hateful thoughts? Have you ever taken the Lord's name in vain? Have you ever wanted something that belonged to someone else? Have you ever disobeyed any of God's commands? Friend, whether you've done one or all of those things, the Bible says that makes you a sinner who has broken God's laws. And if you still are denying your sinful state, look at this verse: 1 John 1:8, "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us."
The Bible tells us that we are all sinners who fall short of God's glory. This includes everyone from your favorite grandmother to a newborn baby. Even as a baby, you were covered in sin. In Psalm 51:5 it reads, "Behold, I was shapen in iniquity and in sin did my mother conceive me." And in Romans 3:23 we read, "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God."
So why is salvation necessary for you? Because you are a sinner. And there is nothing that you can do in your own power to make yourself any less of a sinner in God's eyes. You need to be saved from your sinful condition. That is what the word "salvation" means. The definition for the word salvation in the dictionary reads, "Deliverance from the power or penalty of sin; redemption." We need to be redeemed. Lots of things in the world can be "redeemed." You can trade in soda bottles or cans and receive money. You can turn in coupons at the grocery store and receive a discount. And before you die, you need to trade in that old sinful person that you are and become the brand-new born-again person that God wants you to become. This is the most important thing in life, because if you are not redeemed, you will have to face the penalty of sin.
*When you break the law here on earth, if you get caught, you have to pay a penalty. Maybe you have to pay a fine or get probation or even go to jail. Well, when God's laws are broken, you will always be caught. God sees and knows everything we do. And since God is the most righteous Judge of all, He too requires that you pay a penalty. What is the penalty of sin? Romans 6:23 reads "For the wages of sin is death." But death does not mean you just cease to exist. In Revelation 20:15 we read, "And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire." So you need salvation because if you die without it, that means your name will not be found in God's book of life and you will be thrown into hell, forever suffering and paying the penalty of your sins.
Some people have a hard time understanding how God, who is so full of love, could let anyone go to a place as horrible as hell. They might even ask why did God create man if he knew that some would go to hell. Well, first, you must realize that hell was not created for people. In Matthew 25:41 hell is called "The everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels." Hell was not created for you, but in death there are only two choices: You can either go up (heaven), or you can go down (hell). And, unfortunately, some people insist on rejecting heaven and salvation offered through our Savior, Jesus Christ, so the only other choice is they must accompany Satan forever.
No one can blame God if they end up in hell. God gives us chance after chance to make the right choice. As bad as the world is right now, I'd say that the only reason God hasn't destroyed it and brought down His judgment already is because He's still giving those who haven't asked Christ into their lives and turned from their sins a little more time. 2 Peter 3:9 reads, "The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is long- suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance."
But don't be fooled into thinking that just because God gives you so many chances that you won't go to hell if you don't accept His gift of salvation. God gives us a choice. If you reject Him and choose to stay in your sinful condition, He won't force you to be with Him in heaven. He will let you live eternally with the choice you made. And we can't say, "Well, that's not fair that some people will go to hell." God came down to earth Himself to die for your sin so that you could be with Him in heaven. What more could he do? He made a way for you, but if you reject His way, you have no one to blame but yourself.
* Okay, now, let's address the next question, "Why should I get saved today? What's the hurry?" Maybe you are someone who knows that you are a sinner and you believe that you need to be saved, but you are just not ready. You maybe feel that there is too much to give up, or perhaps you figure you will wait until you're a little older. As a matter of fact, maybe you don't even like to think about the consequences of sin or a place such as hell. You just block it out of your mind. We all like to put things off that we don't want to do: We put off going to the doctor or dentist until the pain is unbearable. We put off paying our bills until the day before they are due. We even put off waking up and getting out of bed in the morning. We will hit the snooze button on the alarm three times before getting up. But there are some things that you cannot put off, and the most important one is you cannot put off making a decision for Christ. And why is that? Because no one here knows the exact day that they are going to die. None of us know the future. We have all known people who died or were killed unexpectedly. Some of them are probably even in hell right now because they were putting off matters of salvation. You should get saved today because you don't know what tomorrow will bring. Isaiah 55:6-7 tells us, "Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he is near: let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon."
Throughout the bible are examples of people who put off getting right with God, and they died in their sins because of it. In Noah's day, the people had a carefree attitude. They laughed when Noah warned them of God's coming wrath. They thought Noah was a fool to build the ark when there wasn't a cloud in the sky. But the Bible tells us "Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation" (2 Corinthians 6:2b). You can't put it off because you don't know when Christ will return for you. Christ himself warned the people to be on the lookout for His return. Matthew 24:42-44 reads, Watch therefore; for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh."
Christ is warning us that death comes like a thief in the night. If you had gotten word that on a certain night someone was going to come and break into your house, wouldn't you do everything in your power to be ready for that thief when they showed up? Well, your eternal destiny is more important than material possessions. So you should be just as concerned that you are prepared for death when it comes. You need to make sure that you are not going to die without the price being paid for your sins. You need to turn from your sins and ask Christ to be your Savior and Lord. Don't put it off until later. Don't be like this man: Mr. Too Late.
* And here is a direct invitation and warning from the Lord himself in Isaiah 1:18-20. It reads, "Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land: but if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it." God is trying to tell you that nothing you have done is so bad that He can't forgive you. But if you insist on running from Him and turning your back on Him, there is a price you will have to pay.
So in conclusion, what is salvation? Salvation is God dying on the cross for your sins so that He could make a way for you to be in heaven with Him for all eternity. Salvation is God's gift to all. Will you accept His gift or reject it? If you die and go to hell, you have no one to blame but yourself.
Romans 5:8, "But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."