Q. What does it mean to be saved?
A. Sweat poured off His body as sharp, relentless pain flooded His mind. He could not “will” himself to think of anything but the overwhelming pain. He twisted and turned trying to find a position that would ease the intolerable pain but His movements only created new sharp stabs of pain . There was no escape. His eyes were only half open, His lips white and drawn, and His body trembled continuously as it was brutalized by pain. It was everything He could do to just make it through the next few seconds. Why did Jesus have to suffer so? Have you ever taken a spanking for someone else who was guilty, or perhaps, were reprimanded at work for someone else’s mistake. If you have, you will begin to understand the sacrifice that Christ made. Of course, this does not help us to understand the enormity of Christ’s sacrifice for us. You and I are the guilty ones. We have turned our backs to God and lived in opposition to Him. We have not lived in the way that God has designed us to live. Christ suffered for our mistakes and our outright opposition to God. There was this Prussian general who had come into the command of a large group of undisciplined troops. They had to be ready to fight in short order. Some of the sentries were caught one night sleeping. At the trial the next day the general donned his judge’s robe and after hearing all the evidence found them guilty. Their sentence was the standard for this offense, sitting all night on a frozen lake without clothes. Since the temperature outside was below zero, it was a death sentence. Their punishment caught the attention of all the troops. Fear spread through their ranks and discipline increased dramatically. The general knew that the men needed more than discipline to win the battles ahead. He also knew they needed to learn to sacrifice for the common good, for each other. So he took off his robe and his clothes and joined his men on the ice that night. The troops went into battle without their general but his example, wisdom and sacrifice had started a fire in their hearts that the enemy couldn’t put out. Christ also sacrificed himself for us. His sacrifice showed once and for all His unbelievable love for us. It showed the heights and depths that He was willing to go for us. He did not suffer for just a few individuals, He suffered and gave His life for everyone who will yield their life to Him. He opened the way to eternal life for a race that was condemned to death. Consider the following Bible versus: John 3:15-17 “That everyone who believes in him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.” John 5:24 “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.” Ro 10:9&10 “That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.” Luke 9-13 “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks. The door will be opened.” “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” At one time humans actually lived in the presence of God. It was a huge blessing to walk together as friends do. God and the first man and woman looked forward to being together. They surely experienced the warm feelings that come from being with someone who loves you and you love in return. Man and woman were nourished by their relationship with God. They experienced security, joy, goodwill, purpose, meaning and a heart full of goodness. Though God is trillions of times more intelligent and powerful than us, He loved His creation so much that He lowered Himself enough to be our friend. This friendship was not a mushy, indulgent type of friendship, but rather it is built on high standards of love and behavior. God has an arch foe, Satan. He is bad to the core. He does everything within his limited power to destroy or warp God’s work. He is jealous of God, but being less powerful than God, he has to use deceit and trickery in the background to try and even the score. He would love to be as powerful as God, but this simply isn’t going to happen. If Satan was in charge he would be a cruel and evil dictator. Why God doesn’t simple destroy him is not well understood but someday it is predicted in the Bible that Satan will pay for his evil. Satan started working on men and women as soon as they were created. He tried to find a weak spot he could exploit and destroy God’s plan. He finally succeeded in getting the first woman, Eve, to disobey God, much to our shame. Don’t be too hard on woman though, Adam was right there and didn’t do anything to stop it but he actually joined in. When man and woman disobeyed God, they fell from their secure position at God’s side. They began to experience fear, dread, anxiety, discouragement - they were on their own and they were scared. Sin has affected all aspects of our world from the environment, to diseases and physical problems, to emotional problems and most profoundly, spiritual problems. In Adam and Eve’s now fallen state they would die physically and spiritually. That was the sentence for their disobedience and it was just. Something major had to be done if you and I were to have an opportunity to avoid eternal suffering. It was obvious that men and women couldn’t save themselves. If they couldn’t live right in paradise, how could they live right in the pain and confusion of today’s world. Christ was the only being in all of God’s kingdom who was qualified to make the sacrifice for us. He did not need to do it for Himself. In fact, He didn’t have to do it for us. He did it simply because He felt sorry for us, He loved us and He realized that without His help we were doomed. If we could see how bad off we are and what He really did for us, we would instantly recognize the incomprehensible debt we owe Him. If someone would ask us why we believe something we can usually give them what we believe is an satisfactory reason. If they would go one step further and ask us how we arrived at this reason we would give them another deeper reason. This probing of the reasons behind our beliefs would continue until we reach a “hunch point”. A “hunch point” is where we finally run out of reasons and simply say “we just believe it is true.” In a sense, at a “hunch point” we are saying that we don’t have a reason but it is our hunch that what we believe is true. Our hunch is based on our feelings. It is a step of faith that we do not have absolute proof to support. This is really the basis for all our beliefs, especially our belief or disbelief in God. If we are looking for proof of God we don’t have to look to hard. There are over 25,000 manuscript verifying the Bible. Nature and the complexity of the night sky speak loudly of a Creator (if we will accept it) The universe is incredibly complex and orderly. The latest scientific statistics are pointing strongly toward an intelligent, extreme powerful being who is behind it all. Our bodies have such complexity that scientists are beginning to throw up their hands in exasperation, they simply can’t explain yesterday’s discoveries and today’s are even more complex. If we simply look at the inside of a good wrist watch it would be difficult to imagine that such a precise instrument is some kind of accident, we must conclude that some intelligent being produced this watch. One has to seriously wonder about those who call this universe, earth and life an “accident.” All of this proof of God, if taken seriously, can bring us to a “hunch point.” At the “hunch point” we must decide if we are going to accept this evidence and believe there is a God or choose to ignore, rationalize or avoid a decision. If we choose to believe there is a God then we are met with one more decision, should we trust our existence to Him. We look at the pros and cons of this issue and finally come to a “hunch point.” Should we trust our life to a God we have not seen but have a great deal of proof about or should we turn our back on the whole matter. We believe that it is at this point that we decide to become a Christian or remain a non-Christian. Do we follow our hunch and commit our life to Him or do we back out? The problem is we will never be able to conclusively prove or disprove God’s existence. If we believe we must first have irrefutable evidence that God exists, we have already chosen not to believe. There are many things in life we cannot prove conclusively, but we still choose to believe them. There is enough evidence of God’s existence for anyone on this Earth to accept Him in faith. Perhaps you have come to this point and need to take that step of faith and simply believe. How do we turn our life over to God’s leadership? We can not: 1. We cannot earn or come to the Lord with any righteousness of our own that will pay our way into the Kingdom of God. We cannot prepare ourselves by trying to better ourselves, developing new and better habits, improving our self image, etc. Though these efforts are commendable and worthwhile they can never be good enough for us to claim the gift of eternal life. If we do not come with absolutely nothing to offer for this fantastic gift, we cannot have it. 2. We cannot understand a great deal about God, because of His immense intelligence, but we can understand enough to follow Him. The issue of our salvation is not about understanding everything there is to know of God (and then trusting Him) but it is about submitting to His leadership and trusting Him at our current level of understanding. 3. We cannot take this issue lightly and expect God to respond. God will not play our games. We will find Him when we seek after Him with all our heart - when we have decided that this is the most important issue in our life and pursue it with all our heart. 5. We cannot become fully mature Christians overnight. We can patiently let God work actively in our life. We are only responsible for what we understand at our current level of maturity in Christ. We can grow continually in our walk with God. 6. We cannot expect God to take us serious if we just have good intentions without a wholehearted commitment. We can: 1. We can feel deeply sorry (repentant) for all the wrong that we have done especially in turning our backs on God and living an immoral lifestyle. Some people suggest that we write down as many of the sins of the past that we can remember and ask God’s (and in some cases others) forgiveness for each of them. Many people also feel that it is helpful to tell another caring Christian about your sins and ask for support and encouragement during this process. 2. We can go beyond feeling sorry for our sins and make a commitment to turn from these sins (by God’s help). This repentance must go deeper than our feelings. It must penetrate to the depths of our heart. 3. We can seek after God with all our hearts until we find Him. 4. We can go back and repay or seek the forgiveness of those we have wronged (in cases where this is possible). 5. We can be baptized. 6. We can expect to be forgiven completely and eternally - free from the bondage of sin - the adopted sons and daughters of the great King of the universe. 7. We can expect to inherit eternal life - to live in paradise forever. 8. We can expect God to watch over us and filter all we experience in this life (the good and the bad) in such a way that works to our good (makes us more Godly, virtuous and wise). 9. We can expect that we will think, feel and act differently. When we give the King of the universe control of our life, He actually lives in us. His spirit’s presence in us has a profound impact on our life. 10. We can read what God wants to say to us in the Bible. We can pray daily for God’s help, and give Him our praise. We can also find a church that really preaches all of God’s word and attend regularly. 11. We can commit our self fully into God’s care and leadership each day. Are you ignoring God? One day you will die. No one will get off this planet alive. One day you will have to face the heavenly court of justice. Ignorance of the law will no more be an excuse in that heavenly court than it is in an earthly court. We will be judged according to what the Bible says whether we have embraced it or ignored it. It is to your own self-interest to look at this seriously. If you will accept God’s rule over you, repent (make a decision to turn from your sinful way of living ), and dedicate your life to God He has promised to save you and make you His son or daughter. His love and grace (undeserved free help) will help you to become, in a sense, a new person with a new outlook - not perfect but definitely different. You are the one who will suffer or you are the one who will experience paradise. You are the one who is leaving an example for those you love to follow. In some sense you are responsible for what they see in you and how this affects their handling of this issue of eternity. Consider this honestly and seriously for your own sake. If you have any questions or would like to explore this further, read more of the articles on this web site, talk to someone who’s life (and not just words) reflect a committed Christian lifestyle, find and attend a bible teaching church in your area and /or email us. We wish you God’s richest blessings in your search to know and trust Him. If you commit your life to God, please email us a note. We would love to here about it. Your friends at Mustard Seed ministries