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Is Salvation Free?


Introduction

What if someone was to die and leave you $1 billion in their will? Would you accept it?  Now what if the conditions for accepting the money meant that you had to give up EVERYTHING that you owned, would you still accept it?  You would be surprised at some of the things people hang on to. Trinkets that remind them of this event or another, family photos, family keepsakes, etc., etc.  If you had to give all these up to get the $1 billion, would you do it?  It sounds so easy to say “yes”, but when the actual time came to give it all up, can you imagine how you would feel? I’m sure that some people would say they gave up everything, but would really hide something they just couldn’t let go of. Salvation is a little like this.  Jesus died and gave us salvation.  All He asks is that we give Him everything.  Our pride, our shame, our sinfulness, our brokenness, everything.  It’s His anyhow, He paid for it on the cross.  But how often do we continue to hang on to something that hurts us and keeps us from coming to Him completely?  In this lesson we will explore salvation, faith, belief, and obedience.


Before We Start

Our Father in heaven.  We thank for the gift of Your Son Jesus and His sacrifice on the cross.  Help us to understand Your love for us and Your desire that we live with You for eternity. We pray this in Jesus name Amen


How Expensive Was Salvation?

VERY EXPENSIVE.  Jesus came to this world to die for us while we were still sinners.  He gave EVERYTHING so we could live.  For Him the price was high, for us it is FREE.  He came to this world to die, knowing that many people would reject Him, but He loved us so much that He wanted to give EVERYONE a chance to live with Him for eternity. Rom 5:8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 1Tim 1:15 This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I (Paul) am chief. Notice that Jesus died for us BEFORE we came to Him not after.  He is trying to do everything He can to make it as easy as possible for us to be saved.


The Money Is In The Bank

 Our salvation is paid for and the money is already in the bank.  All we have to do to write the checks on the unlimited balance.  But there are a few things in the way. You and me!  Some of us don’t believe that the money is there, and others don’t quite know how to accept it.  Others want the money but they don’t want to follow all the instructions to get it.  They are trying to bend the rules, to get by with doing the least possible.  Others just don’t want it.


What Is Choice?

People argue about the terms “accept” and “reject”.  Some people say that we already have salvation, it is free, all we have to do is reject it.  Others say that Jesus’ death made salvation available to us, all we have to do is accept it.  How you look at these terms depends on the religious school of thought that you follow.  But it still all boils down to making a choice.  Even NOT making a choice IS making a choice.  Not making a choice means that we continue in our normal ways.  That means that we choose not to change.  Heaven is not obtained on an unconscious choice.  We will either choose to accept Jesus and reject Satan or to accept Satan and reject Jesus.  There are no other choices. The scales will tip one way, or they will tip the other way.  There will be no one straddling the line. Josh 24:15 And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.


Believe

John 3:14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:  15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. 16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. 18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. 21 But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God. This passage has so much information in it.  It tells us that God loved us so much that He gave His ONLY Son to die for us.  Although we are sinners, He didn’t come to condemn us but to save us.  It also tells us what we need to do.  We need to believe in Jesus.  Notice that God does not condemn us, we condemn ourselves when we refuse to believe in Jesus.  The condemnation comes when we reject Jesus and choose darkness or Satan.  Evil deeds are done under cover of darkness because people don’t want others to see what they are doing.  People that have nothing to hide are not afraid of the light which God brings.  Besides we fool ourselves when we think we can hide anything from God.  He knows everything. 1Cor 4:5 Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God. Ps 44:21 Shall not God search this out? for he knoweth the secrets of the heart. So no matter how bad we are, He already knows it.  He still loves us and still wants us to come to Him.  But to do that, we need to be honest with Him and give Him control of our life..  We can’t come to Him and try to hide something.  It just doesn’t work.


Repent

Matt 3:2 “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” Matt 3:8 Therefore produce fruit that proves your repentance, (NET) These two texts are speaking of the ministry of John the Baptist. He went out preaching to all the people and his message was repent.  In other words, be sorry for what you have done.  But he also follows up with the text in verse 8 which says that if you are really sorry for what you have done, it will show up in your life.  Your life will be changed and others will see the difference.  That doesn’t mean that all of a sudden you are perfect.  It means that as you go down the road of life, you realize that you are heading in the wrong direction and you make a U-turn.  When you make that U-turn, you don't all of a sudden reach your destination, it just means that you’re now headed in the right direction. You may still fall, but if you believe in Jesus, you will realize that with His help, you can become a better person.  Notice that repentance comes after you believe.  How can you truly repent unless you believe?  You also cannot see your own hopeless condition until you see Jesus.  Only when you recognize your own helpless condition can you come to Jesus.  He cannot work with you when your pride is in the way.  After all, that is what got Lucifer in trouble. There is a story about a woman caught in adultery.  Some men brought her to Jesus wanting to condemn her and to trick Him.  Jesus knowing what was in their minds, silently wrote their sins in the sand.  As they saw their own sins being written, they slunk away.  Jesus then tells the woman, that He doesn’t condemn her, but that she change her life and stop doing what she was doing. John 8:11  She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more. There are many stories in the Bible about Jesus meeting with sinners.  In almost every case, except Judas, when people left, they were changed.  True repentance means that we are truly sorry for what we have been doing and that we will stop doing it with Jesus help.


That’s All You Have To Do

Believe on Jesus Christ and repent. These two things start you on the road to life.  Satan only brings death, but Jesus brings life. So if this is all you have to do, then what about obedience, and keeping the commandments and all those other things a Christian has to do?  Well, first of all you can’t do it on your own.  You don’t have the strength. Only Christ can give you that strength.  And, second, there is nothing that you can do to “earn” salvation.  You can keep the commandments all day long, seven days a week, 24 hours a day, and that will not save you, As long as you think that that you can be saved by keeping the commandments, you are dead wrong.  But keeping the commandments, and obedience to God’s laws play a VERY IMPORTANT part in our salvation.   They don’t PRODUCE salvation, they are a RESULT of salvation. We will look at these two items in more detail and how they are part of faith and belief.


Faith

What is faith?  Let’s see what the Bible says in Hebrews 11:1. Heb 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. The Greek word that is translated into “substance” in this verse means; 1.  a setting or placing under; a  thing put under, substructure, foundation  2.  that which has foundation, is firm, a.  that which has actual existence  b.  the substantial quality, nature, of a person or thing  c.  the steadfastness of mind, firmness, courage, resolution, confidence, firm trust, assurance (Strong’s Dictionary).  So this means that a person with faith, is hoping for something real or substantial.  Something that has a foundation. The Greek word that is translated into “evidence” in this verse means: 1.  a proof, that by which a thing is proved or tested, 2.  conviction (Strong’s).  Let’s say this in modern English.  Faith is a conviction that something real or substantial will happen even though we cannot see how it will happen.  What happens when people are convicted?  They follow through because they truly believe that it will happen.  So, belief produces faith, which is conviction, that something substantial, will actually happen.  When we are convicted about an idea, we actually work on making that idea come true.  It changes our mindset, and it changes our behavior.  If it doesn’t do that, then our belief was not true belief.  So our belief and faith in Jesus need to produce a change in our life.  Now before we get off on a tangent and start thinking this is something we can do under our own power, we need to remember that JESUS makes the changes in our life, NOT US.  Okay, so how does that work?  If you are convicted and truly believe, then you trust Jesus and submit your own wants and desires to His wants and desires.  When you allow Him to work in your life, your life changes.  The more we trust in Him, the more control we give to Him and the more He is able to do to us and through us.  So you see that faith and belief lead to submission to Jesus.  What He wants us to do, we do willingly.  This leads to obedience because of love not because of duty. Heb 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. So you see that Jesus requires faith as a condition of salvation.  True faith and not presumption.  Anything less than submission to Him is fooling ourselves.  We must give up all self-pride.  That was Lucifer’s downfall.


Fighting the Fight of Faith

How do we get this kind of faith? Very simple.  We look only to Jesus.  2Cor 3:18 But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord. The more we look at Him, the more we are changed.  Look around you in today’s world.  What is there in this world that makes you want to look at Jesus. Everything is fighting for your attention.  Everywhere you look, you see sex and violence.  Sin pervades every nook and cranny of our life.  The more you look at this, the less you want to look at Jesus.  There is a saying, “You are what you eat”.  Well you could also say, “You are what you look at”.  WHATEVER YOU CHOOSE TO LOOK AT, THAT IS WHAT YOU WILL BECOME!  It’s scary isn’t it?  But true! So how do you break that cycle?  On your knees.  You ask God for help and turn away from your old life.  This is the fight that Paul talks about in Romans 7. Rom 7:15 For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.  16 If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. 17 Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.  18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. 19 For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. 20 Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. 21 I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. 22 For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:  23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.  24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? Here Paul is fighting with himself.  Part of him wants to do the things of this world, and part of him wants to follow Jesus.  This is the fight that we all have to fight.  But this is a fight we cannot win unless we use the right tactics. We cannot win any fight against sin.  We are too weak! But what do we do about this verse in Matthew in the words of Jesus? Matt 5:48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. This is just ONE OF MANY verses in the Bible that tell us that we are to be perfect.  How can we do this when even Paul was having problems? Jesus is telling us that we CAN become perfect.  How?  ONLY ONE WAY!  By looking at Him and Him only!


Why Are We Still Sinning?

Many preachers and theologians have wrestled with this issue of sin in a converted person.  If we give our lives to God, why are we still sinning?  Very simple.  We are not truly converted!  Think about it.  We come to Jesus, we have a conversion experience, we get baptized, we attend a church and we follow all the rules.  All the “right” things.  Sounds a little bit to me like what Lucifer said in the beginning, “We can be holy without God”. Another word for this, “self- righteousness”. We depend on humanness to affect our spirituality, when humanness is full of sin. We compare ourselves to others around us, maybe even the pastor or priest. We look at the “good things” we do and think that we are “progressing” in our spiritual life.  What does God say? Isa 64:6 But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.


Still Of This World

The problem is that we are still of this world.  We go to church, but then we go home and watch a movie or television program that is filled with sex and/or violence.  We continue to look at the things in this world that we “gave up” for God.  We still want to do those things.  We are still attracted to the things of this world.  We still put ourselves before others.  After all, we are more important than them, aren’t we?  How can we get ready for heaven if we continue to keep our hearts here?  God says in Matt 6:21 “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” As long as our hearts are here, we can never get there. So our fight is not against sin, it is against the desires of our heart.  We need to turn our hearts away from this world and toward Jesus.  How?  By getting on our knees, asking for help and CHOOSING to look to Jesus.  The more we look to Him, the less desirable the things of this world become.  By filling our minds and hearts with Jesus, He cleans out the trash to make more room for Him.  But this is a CONSCIOUS DAILY CHOICE.  If we skip one day, Satan is so quick to move back in.


Obedience And The Commandments

So where does that leave obedience and the commandments?  Jesus says: John 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments. John 14:21 He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. 1John 2:3 And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. 4 He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.  The Bible is very clear that we should keep the commandments,  ALL TEN OF THEM.  But we said earlier that keeping the commandments would not give you salvation.  We can’t keep the commandments as a CONDITION of salvation but we can keep them as a RESULT of our love and obedience to God.  What is submission?  It means giving ourselves totally to God in everything He wants us to do.  Besides the commandments are a copy of God’s character and His government.  If we want to live in heaven, we must start living like that here and now.  If we truly love God, we WILL WANT to follow Him even while on this earth. So of what use are the commandments and obedience now?  As a measuring stick to see how you measure up to God’s expectations.  If you are not following God’s commandments, what are you holding back from God?  What is so much more important to you than pleasing Him?  The Bible is clear.  Satan and people make things muddy.   Many people don’t like the word “obedience”, but how else can we submit ourselves to Christ?  After all, the opposite of obedience is disobedience.


What About Love?

Paul writes to the people at Corinth about love.  No matter what else we have, if we don’t have love, we have nothing.  Doesn’t this mean that all we need is love?  Yes!  Love for God and love for man.  And where else is such a perfect love written down than in the 10 commandments?  By giving our lives TOTALLY to Jesus, these rules become part of us automatically.  We will want to follow them because to do so makes us more like Jesus.  The DESIRE to follow them overcomes the DUTY to follow them.  God gave so much for you.  Can’t we even follow Him in what He asks of us?


What About Grace?

Today we hear “ we don’t have to keep the law, because we’re under grace”.  Well what is grace? Suppose you are driving down the street doing 60mph in a 45mph zone.  A cop stops you.  How do you treat him?  Are you arrogant or are you repentant?  Assume that you are repentant and instead of getting a ticket, you get a warning.  Did you just get justice or grace?  Okay, so now you have the warning, you start the car and continue going down the road at 60mph.  Right?  Not.  You slow down and stay within the speed limit so you won’t get stopped again.  When you were driving the speed limit, you were not under the law because you were not breaking it, but when you were speeding, you were under condemnation of the law and subject to either justice or grace. Now assume that your attitude is a little ugly when you get stopped, or you continue to speed after the warning.  Will you still get grace?  Probably not. It’s the same with Jesus.  When we sin and ask forgiveness, he has compassion on us and He forgives us.  But if we willfully continue to sin, there is no more forgiveness.  Heb 10:26 For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, Grace is for the person who comes to God with true repentance in their heart.  It is not for the person who uses this as an excuse to continue sinning.  “I don’t need to worry, because I can always ask for forgiveness and Jesus will forgive me.”   That type of attitude puts you outside of the mercies of Jesus.  That type of person will get justice not grace.  Just like our example.


How Much Does Jesus Want You?

When He was on this earth Jesus told three stories that illustrate how much He loves us and how He is trying to get us to accept Him.  These stories can be found in Luke 15. The first story is about a sheep that is lost and the shepherd goes looking for the sheep.  The sheep knows that it is lost but is helpless to do anything about it.  Many of us are lost and we know we are lost but we don’t know what to do about it.  Jesus, the Shepherd will come looking for you. The second story is about a lost coin.  The lady of the house searched and searched until she finally found it.  Many of us are lost and don’t even know it.  But in spite of that, Jesus is still searching for that person also. The third story is about the prodigal son.  Here is a son who had a good home and family but he wanted to go out into the world and seek his own fortune.  After some time he realized his foolishness and came back home.  His father saw him while he was still “afar off”.  When we stray from God, He continues to wait and watch for us.  He can’t wait until we return to Him. All these three parables show how much God really loves us and how happy He is when we are found.


Review

1. Jesus died for us while we were still sinners 2. His death gives everyone a chance for eternal life 3. We will consciously make a choice to either accept or reject that chance 4. Our first step is to believe on Him 5. Our second step is to repent, or change our ways (with God’s help) 6. Belief leads to Faith which leads to changes in our life 7. We look to Him only for our example 8. As we learn to love Him, we learn to obey Him 9. The Ten Commandments are a reflection of God’s character 10. The Ten Commandments define pure Godlike love 11. We need to submit ourselves fully to Him in order to become more like Him 12. We either obey or disobey.  There is no middle ground


What About Now?

This is a good time to give your heart to Jesus.  Ask Him for His help.
 
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