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WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE SAVED?
A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT
THE HIGH HILL UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS
1 MAY 1988
By Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor
Romans 3:10, 23
Preparation Verse: (Acts 4:12)
“And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved.”
Last week we spent some time discussing our relationship with God, our salvation, His grace, and our walk with Him.
We also said that the key to our salvation is our faith and belief in Jesus Christ and in His completed work upon the cross and our willingness to submit totally to God’s will.
If we are not willing to do this, we will never be able to walk with God, for our walk follows our salvation.
Therefore, I have chosen for today's sermon title, "What Does It Mean to Be Saved?"
When we think about the title question for the first time, we may find that there is another question that follows quickly: "What do I have to be saved from?"
Let’s try to answer both of these questions; and in doing so, we will consult the highest authority: God’s Word, The Bible.
Last week we looked at a verse in the Book of Genesis that described God's salvation. It was 15:6. Let's take another look at it.
6. Then he [Abram] believed in the Lord; and He [God] reckoned it to him as righteousness.
And as we discussed, Abram was not righteous; but his belief and faith covered his sin by the Grace of God as if he were really righteous, even though he was not.
Now let's take a look at a few verses from Romans that will shed some additional light on our two questions. The first is 3:10
10. as it is written,
"There is none righteous, not even one;"
Another verse is 3:23.
23. for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
These two Romans verses confirm or prove that Abram as well as we are sinners.
And, so what? We all know ourselves and know that we sin. What difference does it make?
Let's look at another Romans verse: 6:23.
23. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Before we comment on this verse, let's look at another verse that we have
looked at many times before: James 1:15.
15. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.
Both of these verses say emphatically that sin brings forth death; but Romans 6:23 adds a most important promise: that in Jesus Christ we can achieve eternal life.
However, there is another very important factor about our willingness to live in God's heavenly will contained in these verses.
When we lust for anything it brings forth sin, and the wages of that sin is death.
When we lust for another living being's life to the point that it causes them to suffer or die, as with the eating and wearing of animal products, it becomes a sin, and the wages of that sin is death; the eating and wearing of the products of death.
In addition to the death of the animals, it is a known fact, that the eating animal flesh and products causes illnesses and diseases that can even lead to our death, such as with cardiovascular disease.
When the Ancient Mariner killed the innocent albatross, he was forced to wear it around his neck as a symbol of his sin, and when I see people wearing fur or leather, it brings this same vision to mind.
For when we harden our hearts to the point that we no longer feel empathy for these suffering animals, it also becomes hardened toward God and our fellow human beings.
We all know we will die sooner or later, and we know that both godly and ungodly people seem to die young, as well as when they are old. So what difference does it make?
The key is the “eternal life” portion of Romans 6:23.
If we all know that we are going to die, then how can we also have eternal life?
The answer is that we are not talking about the same kind of death.
Note Hebrews 9:27.
27. And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment,
This last verse is speaking of our physical death. This is the death we see when someone dies. The other death is a spiritual death, a second death.
This second death is what we are being saved from, and it is why we need a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
And this comes about when we have a repentant and softened heart and mind that allows us to sincerely reach out to Jesus and accept His free gift of salvation.
In this light, let's look at Revelation 2:11.
11. ‘He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death.’
This verse speaks of our need for a Savior. Those who have overcome are those who are born again and have established that personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
This verse also speaks of the second death being for those who do not overcome.
Let’s look a little further. Revelation 20:6 speaks of this as well.
6. Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.
Those who have died in Christ Jesus will be resurrected from the physical death into eternal life.
But what about the non-believers, those who have rejected God’s free gift of salvation in Jesus Christ?
Revelation 20:14-15 presents the tragic answer:
14. And death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.
15. And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
So, what are we being saved from?
We are being saved from the second death: Hell.
And what does it mean to be saved?
It means that we have the absolute assurance that our sins have been covered by the blood of Jesus Christ, that we have been forgiven, and that we are born again. It is knowing that we will be in heaven forever with the Lord.
If you don’t have this assurance, something is missing. Let's look a little further.
Psalm 32, our Old Testament lesson for this morning, is a psalm of forgiveness. It is also a psalm of assurance. Let's take a look at it again.
1. How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven,
Whose sin is covered!
2. How blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity,
And in whose spirit there is no deceit!
The assurance of God's forgiveness comes when we truly confess our sins and are likewise truly sorry that we committed them; a sorry so deep that it causes us to try to never commit those sins again.
We don't deserve to be forgiven, and therefore we are blessed of the Lord when God covers our sins and forgives us. Jesus Christ provided this way out of our sins, if we will accept it.
Then David expresses what it is like not to confess our sin to God.
Note verses 3 and 4.
3. When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away Through my groaning all day long.
4. For day and night Thy hand was heavy upon me;
My vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer.
There is no peace in a separation from God. Our sins cause our separation from God. Once we are born again, the confession of our sins removes that separation.
Then in verse 5, we see the acknowledgement of this condition and its results.
5. I acknowledged my sin to Thee,
And my iniquity I did not hide;
I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the Lord";
And Thou didst forgive the guilt of my sin.
Note the assurance of God’s forgiveness: “And Thou didst forgive the guilt of my sin.”
This wasn't something special for David. This forgiveness of sin is available for everyone who asks with a repentant spirit.
No matter what any of us has done, God is always faithful to forgive us when we accept it on His terms.
In David's day, His terms were confession coupled with the sacrifice of a
clean animal. Today it is through our belief in
Jesus Christ, our once for all time, perfect sacrifice.
And when we establish this personal relationship with Him, we also get the assurance of everlasting life with Him in heaven.
Read this Psalm over for yourselves, and ask God to speak to you about it and its message for you personally.
But before we go on, let's look at the remaining verses, particularly the last two verses.
6. Therefore, let everyone who is godly pray to Thee in a time when Thou mayest be found;
Surely in a flood of great waters they shall not reach him.
7. Thou art my hiding place;
Thou dost preserve me from trouble;
Thou dost surround me with songs of deliverance.
8. I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go;
I will counsel you with My eye upon you.
9. Do not be as the horse or as the mule which have no understanding,
Whose trappings include bit and bridle to hold them in check,
Otherwise they will not come near to you.
10. Many are the sorrows of the wicked;
But he who trusts in the Lord, lovingkindness shall surround him.
11. Be glad in the Lord and rejoice you righteous ones,
And shout for joy all you who are upright in heart.
When we turn away from the Lord Jesus Christ, and reject the free gift of salvation, or when we fail to respond to the Lord, and hold on to our sins, then we have sorrow.
But when we accept the free gift of sa1vation and continually return to the Lord, confess our sins, and earnestly seek to sin no more, then we are filled with joy, for we know that the Lord is with us.
In our Ephesians verses for this morning, we get further assurance of this message, as well as the answer to our questions. Let's take another look at this letter which is written to believers, beginning at verse 2:1.
1. And you were dead in your trespasses and sins,
2. in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.
Jesus Christ took upon Himself the sins of each of us and died for us, so that we might be forgiven. And He rose victoriously from the dead to prove that what He said is true.
Before we are born again, we are dead in our trespasses and sins; for we are not following the ways of God, but the ways of Satan who is referred to in verse 2 as "the prince of the power of the air."
The death that is referred to is our spiritual death, the second death.
But no one has to die this second death, for there is so great a salvation for all who will accept it.
Note Paul's continuing encouragement and assurance, as we continue with our Scripture verses.
3. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.
4. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us,
5. even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),
6. and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus,
7. in order that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
This is the great promise of eternal life in heaven with our Lord.
This is a free gift. We can't buy it. We can't earn it. All we can do is accept it on the Lord's terms.
8. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;
9. not as a result of works, that no one should boast.
10. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
So, what does it mean to be saved?
It means that we have been forgiven for all of our trespasses and sins, and that we have the assurance of everlasting life with the Lord in heaven.
And what are we being saved from?
We are being saved from the permanent separation from God, into which our trespasses and sins condemn us. We are being saved from the second death, Hell!
Have you failed to accept this great gift of the atoning blood of Jesus Christ, which covers our sins and gives us eternal life?
Have you felt that separation from God?
Is the Holy Spirit speaking to your heart?
Then listen to Him!
Don't delay. Listen to Him right now.
God loves you very much and wants to set your life in order.
Listen to Him. You will never regret it.