Saturday, January 8, 2011

Is Jesus Your Savior?

Here is a rudimentary question: Is Jesus Christ your Savior?

If you have answered “no,” I would kindly ask you to read the Gospel of Salvation page in my Blog and consider whether you would believe in Jesus Christ as your Savior and receive as a present possession eternal life.

If you answer “yes,” please pause for a moment and consider why you answer this way before clicking to read the rest of this post. Why? You will see momentarily; but I ask that you just stop and consider why you believe Jesus Christ is your Savior for a moment.

That being done, please read on.

I have often marveled at the simple beauty found in many of the Psalms. Let us focus on Psalm 23 for instance, since it is arguably the most well-known of the Psalms. In short, the Psalm reads:

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

This short Psalm reveals numerous articles of faith that should make us contemplate and rejoice. Firstly, the psalmist begins by stating what appears to be the obvious: the Lord is his shepherd. Consider the role of a shepherd; hear what David said in regard to his role as caretaker of his father’s flock: “Thy servant kept his father's sheep, and there came a lion, and a bear, and took a lamb out of the flock: And I went out after him, and smote him, and delivered it out of his mouth: and when he arose against me, I caught him by his beard, and smote him, and slew him. Thy servant slew both the lion and the bear,” 1st Samuel 17:34-36. The role of the shepherd was simple: protect the flock at all costs. Remember Moses? When a straying sheep left the flock Moses chased after it and brought the errant one back. The rod and staff the psalmist refers to are the rod of lordship and the shepherd’s staff; one signifies the Lord’s sovereignty over His flock; while the other demonstrates His preserving and protecting care toward His flock.

Sheep are prone to wander and the shepherd must be ever vigilant. Our Lord, being the great Shepherd, watches over His sheep ceaselessly, Matthew 28:20. Notice how the psalmist focuses attention away from himself and what he is doing toward the Lord, and what He is doing. Observe: “He maketh me,” “He leadeth me,” “He restoreth my soul,” He leadeth me…for his name’s sake,” “Thou art with me,” “Thy rod and staff comfort me,” “Thou prepares,” “Thou anointest.” The Lord does, and the psalmist merely receives God’s grace and mercy. As the psalmist’s Savior, God brings the object of His salvation out of a dangerous place and into a place of total peace and security. As a believer we are saved from something (the penalty of sin, which is death) and saved to something (eternal life and Christ-likeness). God leads us, restores us, comforts us, prepares a place for us and anoints us; He is with us, so we may proclaim with the psalmist: I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

I come now to my point. I remain deeply grieved by those who confess that Jesus Christ is their Savior, and yet continue in their rounds of either trying to earn salvation or retain salvation by their obedience or their works. If Christ is your Savior (as Scripture clearly states that He alone is) then what has He saved you from, exactly?

Roman Catholics claim Jesus as their Savior, but behave as though they are their own savior; working toward the goal of Heaven; paying lip service to Jesus Christ, but making those words ring hollow when they utterly fail to trust Him and rely in the payment for their sins that He already made to the Father when He died upon the cross. What is the point of naming Jesus Savior if you will not allow Him to save you? If this is your thinking about Jesus, you abide in unbelief regarding His claims and person; you are unsaved and in need of hearing and believing the gospel of grace. You must repent of your unbelief and believe on Jesus Christ as your sole and sufficient Savior; this is the only work God has given us to do for salvation, John 6:28-29.

Imagine being in the midst of the sea and you are drowning. Someone casts you a life preserver to support you. You say to yourself, “This life preserver will save me; I know it!” Despite this lip service you continue to paddle on your own and ignore the life preserve floating right in front of your face, choosing instead to trust in your own strength. The life preserver would in this case be the object of your faith. If you really believed, “savingly believed” if you will, that the life preserver could save your life, you would immediately take hold of it and you would not drown. Why? The life preserver would keep you afloat. Mental assent that the object in question saves is not the same as trusting in that object. If you truly trusted the words of Jesus Christ you would, by the Holy Spirit, spiritually understand that Christ’s perfect offering of Himself is the only acceptable payment God will ever take to allow a sinner into Heaven. Our works become the object of our faith, rather than the Son of God.

Those who espouse “falling away” are in a similar predicament. They may believe salvation is by grace through faith in Christ alone, divorced of works; but retention of one’s salvation is another matter. With Roman Catholics Jesus essentially lacks the power to save completely; you ultimately must do it yourself and earn the graces necessary to enter Heaven (a terrible oxymoron). Falling away teaches that Jesus has power to save, but not power to keep you saved; again, salvation ultimately falls into your hands. Our obedience and diligent law-keeping preserve our eternal life, which is apparently not eternal, since it can expire if you sin your way out of it. Imagine the shepherd, like David, who sees one of his flock carried off by the bear or lion and says, “It was that lamb’s fault for getting into that situation; if they should perish what do I care?”

This mentality dishonors Christ to no end. Is He really our Savior, or isn’t He? Was His sacrifice for sin perfect, or must we add to it through obedience? Did Christ complete the Law and put away our sin by the sacrifice of Himself, or is there still sin which Jesus overlooked or failed to pay for, and the believer is in the precarious position of completing what Jesus failed to accomplish? Again, if you claim that Jesus is your Savior, what has He saved you from? What has He saved you to? The comfort the psalmist speaks of, the assurance of knowing that he will dwell with the Lord forever; none of this applies under the banner of falling away. Instead comes enslavement to the law that Christ died to set us free from; grace is maligned and diminished, while advocates go about “building again those things [they] destroyed,” Galatians 2:18. Grace that must be earned by the Roman Catholic, or retained by rigid obedience to rules is not grace, Romans 11:5-6. It is legalism and works; you, like the hypothetical drowning victim, pay lip service to the life preserver, but go about trying to save yourself.

A Puritan preacher once said, “The legalist makes obedience his god.” I wholeheartedly agree. There seems an utter absence of grace where the law rules. Should Christians obey Christ’s words? Of course! Compelled out of love, Christians ought to devote their energy to serving God in the Spirit, and loving their neighbor as themselves. Obedience yields reward in Heaven; yet salvation is not a reward, but a gift. Disobedience reaps punishment, but those who are saved have their sins paid for and put away by their Savior: they are saved! Saved from the penalty of Hell and saved to Heaven by the grace of God! Sanctification is God’s will in the believer’s life; that is, the salvation of the believer from sin’s daily power over us. Our walk in this regard should be a yielded mind and spirit as we pray to our God, read His word, and allow the Holy Spirit to communicate its truth into our daily lives.

Those who teach falling away seem to dwell in some spiritual limbo, awaiting to see at the end of their lives if they proved worthy of being saved by diligent obedience to the gospel. In other words, salvation to them is not a present possession; because if they possessed eternal life now (as the Bible states we do when we hear and believe the gospel) there would be no dread of “falling away.” Are we our own savior? Did Christ die needlessly? If we must earn or retain our own salvation then the answer is “yes.”

Why do so many who profess such love toward Jesus Christ have so little regard for His honor and glory in saving wretched sinners? Genuine grace should make us shun any sufficiency toward eternal life other than Christ’s. Grace ought to humble us, and compel us to see ourselves as we are: sinners dead in sins and trespasses, incapable of doing the least thing toward our salvation; nor retaining it for an hour if God removed His sovereign hand. It is Jesus’ faithfulness toward us, and His sealing Spirit that preserve the believer, 2nd Timothy 2:13; Ephesians 1:13-14. Let us not proclaim Jesus as Savior in name alone. Let us own Him, and rest in the offer of total pardon, forgiveness and reconciliation that He offers to all who come unto Him. To those with ears to hear, may you hear. Amen.

4 comments:

  1. Good Morning Friend ever since we started go to church again i have tryed to readone of your blogs it dosn't aways happen but i try and it always puts me i the right frame of mind. The point you made hear about people who claim Jesus as our savior but refuse to follow the teachings is sadly vary true and i am not one to throw stones I have in the past and somtimes even now have this problem. Most christions today should take a step back think about if they are living the teachings

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  2. Good morning, John!
    I too wish that Christians obey the commands of our Lord out of love for Him and what He has done for us. But my point was more that there are people who say Jesus is their Savior, and then live as though He isn't. They are concerned with earning salvation with Jesus' help, or keeping salvation with Jesus' help. It paints a bizarre picture of our Lord being a deficient Savior, needing our participation.
    I grieve that we as believers can't just rest in the fact that when our Lord paid for our sins, He did all the work, and He invites us to enter the rest He offers. Grace implies that something we don't deserve has been freely given to us in another's name. Here is salvation, a mighty Savior, and security that brings comfort! Amen! Our Lord has delivered this eternal life when He gave Himself for us! God bless, John; I'm glad to know that our friendship will endure for eternity.

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  3. I am so glad that we were saved because God chose not to give us what we deserved. We are kept by the same power that saved us according to I Peter 1;3-5. "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you,
    Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time." It is a glorious promise.

    Thanks for your post.

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  4. Friend
    Ahh I under stand yes it paint one heck of a portrait, and i think god has given me anther sign of his love last night and gave a lesson to knock my pride down a peg or two give me a call when you can and i shall relay the story.
    I am having trouble in my emotions right now to make straight.

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