Sunday, January 8, 2017

How Is A Man "Saved"? And Saved From What?

This is on my "About Me - My Faith" page, but in case you didn't make it down that far, I wanted to just give this shorter version. What does it mean to be saved?  If you are reading this post, and you are not a Christian, it is no accident or coincidence that you are here.

Now, to sum up "being saved", and why I needed to be saved and from what, please allow me to quote Dr. James Dobson. He simply has a way with words about this topic, and I can not say it better than he can. Im quoting from his book "Straight Talk to Men and Their Wives".
From Dr. James Dobson:
Here, then, is my concept of the plan of salvation and why Jesus's death was necessary: It begins, as it should, with an understanding of God's nature. Throughout Scripture, the Almighty is represented by two uncompromising characteristics: His love and His nature. Both of these aspects are reflected in everything God does, and none of His actions will ever contradict either component.
The love and justice of God were especially evident when He created Adam and Eve. Obviously, He could have “programmed” them to love Him and obey His laws. This could have been accomplished by creating them as highly sophisticated robots or puppets.
He did, in fact, program the brains of lower animals, causing birds to build a certain kind of nest and wolves to kill wounded elk. They have no choice in the matter. My Dachshund, Siggie, displays an assortment of wired-in behavior about which neither of us has a choice. For example, he can't help barking when the front doorbell rings, even if I threaten to kill him for waking the baby. Nor can he keep from gobbling his food as though he would never get another meal. God has imposed instinctual behavior in Siggie (some of which I would like to eliminate) which operates automatically and without learning.
But the Lord elected to put no instinctual behavior in mankind, leaving us free to learn. This explains the utter helplessness of human infants, who are the most dependent of all creatures at birth. They lack the initial advantages of unlearned responses but will later run circles around the brightest animals with “locked-in” reactions. Such is the nature of our humanness.
By granting us freedom of choice, therefore, God gave meaning to our love. He sought our devotion but refused to demand it. However, the moment He created this choice, it became inevitable that He would eventually be faced with man's sin. I've heard Christians speculate on what might have happened if Adam and Eve hadn’t disobeyed God. The answer is obvious. If they had not sinned, a subsequent generation would have. After all, if no one ever made the wrong choice, then there was no true choice to be made.
But Adam and Eve did sin, as we know, and thereby confronted God with the most serious dilemma of all time. His love for the human race was unlimited, which required that He forgive His disobedient children. The Bible says, “As a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear Him” (Psalm 103:13 KJV). That is an analogy I can comprehend. I know how I pity my children when they’ve done wrong. My inclination is to forgive them.
But in spite of God's great love, His justice required complete obedience. It demanded repentance and punishment for disobedience. So herein was a serious conflict with Gods nature. If He destroyed the human race, as His justice would require in response to our sinful disobedience, His love would have been violated: but if He ignored our sins, His justice would have been sacrificed. Yet neither aspect of His nature could be compromised.
But God, in His marvelous wisdom, proposed a solution to that awful dilemma. If he could find one human being who wasn’t worthy of damnation – just one individual in this history of mankind who had never sinned, a man or woman who was not guilty – then the sin of every other person on earth could be laid upon that one and He could suffer for all of us. So God, being timeless, looked across the ages of man from Adam to Armageddon, but He could not find anyone who was innocent. “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23 KJV) it would be later be written. There wasn’t a person who was worthy of assuming the guilt, blame, and punishment for the rest of us. Therefore, the only alternative was for God to send His own Son to bear the sins of the entire human family. And herein we see the beauty of Gods plan and the reason Jesus had to die. When He was crucified here on earth, Jesus harmonized the conflict between Gods love and justice and provided a remedy for fallen mankind.
Thus, Jesus said as He was dying, “It is finished!” meaning, “I have carried out the plan of salvation that God designed for sinful man.” And that’s why God turned His back on Jesus when He was on the cross, prompting Him to cry in anguish, “My God, my God, why hast though forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46 KJV). In that moment, Jesus was bearing the punishment for all human sins down through the ages, including yours and mine.
This understanding of the plan of salvation is not based on guesses and supposition, of course. It is drawn from the literal interpretation of Gods Word. This message is, in fact, the primary theme of all Scripture. The Old Testament says, “Jesus is coming!” and the New Testament proclaims, “Jesus is here!” But if I had to select one passage to represent the concept I’ve presented, it would be the 53rd chapter of Isaiah. It was written seven hundred years before the birth of Christ and provides an incredible prophecy of His mission. The summary of Gods entire plan is presented in this one chapter. Let me quote it from The Living Bible:
But oh, how few will believe it! Who will listen? To whom will God reveal his saving power? In Gods eyes he was like a tender green shoot, sprouting from a root in dry and sterile ground. But in our eyes there was no attractiveness at all , nothing to make us want Him. We despised Him and rejected Him – a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief. We turned our backs on Him and looked the other way when He went by. He was despised and we didn’t care.
Yet it was our grief He bore, our sorrows that weighed Him down. And we thought His troubles were a punishment from God, for His own sins! But He was wounded and bruised for our sins. He was chastised that we might have peace; He was lashed – and we were healed! We are the ones who strayed away like sheep! We, who left Gods paths to follow our own. Yet God laid on Him the guilt and sins of every one of us!
He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet he never said a word. He was brought as a lamb to the slaughter; and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so He stood silent before the ones condemning Him. From prison and trial they led Him away to His death. But who among the people of that day realized it was their sins that He was dying for – that He was suffering their punishment? He was buried like a criminal in a rich mans grave; but He had done no wrong, and had never spoken an evil word.
Yet it was the Lords good plan to bruise Him and fill Him with grief. But when His soul has been made an offering for sin, then He shall have a multitude of children, many heirs. He shall live again and Gods program shall prosper in His hands. And when He sees all that is accomplished by the anguish of His soul, He shall be satisfied; and because of what He has experienced, my righteous Servant shall make many to be counted righteous before God, for He shall bear all their sins. Therefore I will give Him the honors of one who is mighty and great, because He has poured out His soul unto death. He was counted as a sinner, and He bore the sins of many, and He pled with God for sinners (Isaiah 53 TLB).

Isn’t that a beautiful explanation of Jesus purpose here on earth? It makes clear why God's plan necessarily involved His own Son – His grief and sorrow and death. Only by paying this incredible price could He harmonize the potential contradiction between love and justice, and provide a “way of escape” for mankind. It also explains why there is no other name by which we are saved and why we cannot escape so great a salvation (Hebrews 2:3).
One important question remains to be answered: Just how does a person proceed, now, to accept this plan and follow the risen Lord? I believe there are two basic steps in that process (although some churches emphasize only one). The first is to believe in the name of Jesus Christ. John 3:16 says, “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.” Romans 10:13 (TLB) says it another way: “Anyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” So the first obligation for anyone is to accept what Christ did, as being for him, personally.
But as I understand the Scripture, and from my own theological perspective, there’s a second responsibility which is often under-emphasized. James expressed it like this: “Are there still some among you who hold that “only believing” is enough? Believing in one God? Well, remember that the demons believe this too – so strongly that they tremble in terror! When will you ever learn that “believing” is useless without doing what God wants you to do? Faith that does not result in good deeds is not real faith” (2:19 TLB). So something else is required. While its true that you cant “work” you way into salvation – you cannot do enough good deeds to earn it – repentance is still an important part of the process.
“Repentance” is a word that’s often misunderstood. What does it really mean? Billy Graham defined repentance as having three parts to it. The first is conviction. You have to know what is right before you can do what is right; and you have to know what is wrong in order to avoid those misbehaviors. Repentance also involves a deep awareness that you stand guilty before the Lord. I’ve seen people who call themselves Christians and say, “Yes, I believe in Jesus,” but they seem to have no real comprehension or awareness of their own sin and guilt. They have no “contriteness” of heart. From the Scripture in James we see that even demons “believe and tremble”; yet many individuals believe and do not tremble.
But where does this spirit of repentance originate? It must come through the teaching of the Holy Spirit. Deuteronomy 4:29 says, “But if from thence [from this point forward] thou shalt seek the Lord thy God, thou shalt find Him, if you seek Him with all thy heart and with all thy soul” (KJV). So you must want this relationship with God. He must be so important that you will allow Him to turn your life around and change your behavior. In summary, then, repentance includes conviction, knowing right from wrong; then contrition, being aware of your guilt and sin; and finally, resulting change of mind and heart and behavior.

Now, back to my own words. "Saved from what"?   Saved from being separated eternally from the one that created you. Plain and simple. If you choose to not accept what was done for you, then there is an alternative. It's called separation. There is a place for people who choose not accept this free gift. I've never been there, so I can't accurately describe what that place is like. But just as a child does not want separation from the love and safety of his parents, so also, I believe, we don't want this separation, eternally, from our Creator.  I would ask you to seriously consider this message. 


Your comment will be reviewed for approval. Thank you for submitting your comments.