What must I do to be saved?

Are you willing to turn from what you have been trusting and transfer all your hope of heaven upon Christ?

What hope then do we have? God has made it possible for us to be reconciled to Him by providing a perfect sacrifice to atone for our sins. God sent His Son, Jesus, to live a perfect life so that He could die, not for His own sins, but for ours.  

How can we can receive forgiveness of sins and the hope of eternal life? The Bible’s answer is that salvation is a free gift of God’s grace which we receive through Jesus by responding to Him in faith.

 But Paul shouted in a loud voice, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.” The jailer called for lights, and rushing in, he fell down trembling before Paul and Silas.  Then he brought them outside and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”  They answered, “Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”  They spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house.  At the same hour of the night he took them and washed their wounds; then he and his entire family were baptized without delay.  He brought them up into the house and set food before them; and he and his entire household rejoiced that he had become a believer in God. – Acts 16:28-34

We believe

… through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved. Peter compares these two contrary points – to have hope in the grace of Christ and to be under the yoke of the law.  So if we cannot receive salvation until the yoke of the law is removed then it follows that salvation is not in keeping the law at all and it also follows that those who have accepted the grace of Jesus are not subject to the curse of the law.   So it is that we hope for salvation by the grace of Christ.

To speak of salvation it is assumed that one would need salvation from something.  Jesus said He had come to seek and to save the lost.  What does it mean to be lost?

  • To be without hope and without God in this world.
  • To not know what it is to live now, and have no hope for life to come. 
  • Those who were dead while they were still alive.
  • It means to spend eternity in hell.

We believe…our church is doing a sermon series on the Apostle’s Creed – here is a bit of a taste of why such a statement of faith was necessary for the early Church.  Peter here is declaring his first statement of faith – “we believe through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved.” 

“Brothers, you know that some time ago God made a choice among you that the Gentiles might hear from my lips the message of the gospel and believe.  God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us.  He did not discriminate between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith.  Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of Gentiles a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors have been able to bear?  No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.” – Acts 15:6-11

We Believe – Kenneth Cope.wmv

 

My Redeemer lives

Amazing to find the Trinity here in Job.  The Holy Spirit has moved on the mind of Job and he as declared a good confession, soundness of his faith and assurance of his hope.  Somehow he knows that Jesus is his Redeemer and that his end hope is not in this world but in heaven. Somehow he knows that he is supposed to look for the resurrection and that his Redeemer would free him from the condemnation of sin and break the power and yoke of Satan.  His Redeemer was his salvation. This truth, this Holy Spirit quickening must be the root, as in a tree, in our heart too.  For this acceptance of grace in our heart will give us both the security and strength in our foundation as well as produce spiritual fruit in our lives as we live them today. Here he introduces God as his comfort and that God will avenge those who accuse him.

I can still remember the moment when I learned that love was a decision.  I am faced with a similar truth here too.  I am impressed with Job’s certainty.  This was a hope that he knew, and so in some way this was more than a hope but hope sprung from the truth that he declared about his Redeemer.

Other scholars are confident that Job anticipates the future resurrection of his body. Gleason Archer believes this passage “strongly suggests an awareness of the bodily resurrection that awaits all redeemed believers in the Resurrection” (1982, 241). Kaiser asserts: “Job was expecting a resurrection of his body! It was this which lay at the heart of his hope in God and in his vindication” (1988, 151). Andersen observes that: “The references to skin, flesh and eyes make it clear that Job expects to have this experience as a man, not just as a disembodied shade, or in his mind’s eye” (1974, 193).

In any case Job’s hope is in his present life, and in his vindication before God and man. This is not a messianic prophecy or expression of a messianic hope.

Job seems to perceive that the Redeemer who will advocate his case before God is none other than God Himself. It is hard to make sense of that except by the way we Christians know with God the Son as Redeemer standing before God the Holy Father as Judge. Job somehow—I suggest by the Holy Spirit—knows that his Redeemer lives and will advocate on his behalf, and that Job himself will see it in renewed flesh. That gives him hope—not mere wishful thinking but well-founded conviction, a knowing—of eventual vindication in eternal life.

For I know that my Redeemer lives, and that at the last he will stand upon the earth;  and after my skin has been thus destroyed, then in my flesh I shall see God – Job 19:25-26

Aria(soprano): I know that my Redeemer liveth

Choose life

But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared,  he saved us, not because of any works of righteousness that we had done, but according to his mercy, through the water[a] of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.  This Spirit he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior,  so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. – Titus 3:4-7

 

What is it that we are all here to do? They were here, as Browning would tell them, to make a choice. Their life’s value would be judged by the choice they made. A moral choice and a moral judgment—that was what they must, at their peril, to their cost, have made before they died. ‘I have set before you this day good and evil, life and death; therefore choose life.’ That was the cardinal secret, the challenge that was to ring in their ears day and night in every variety of experience and circumstance and condition, in hope and in fear, in sorrow and in joy, in confidence and in doubt, in darkness and light, at whatever social level their lot was cast, under whatever limitations life and death were set before them, and they were to choose one or the other; and each such choice determined their bent, and each such determination built up their character, and by that character, so formed, they were judged. Character—that was the key-word needed. They were looking round anxiously in London for men of character. But character belonged to the man who had gained a steady bent towards the right, and who had made his choice, who had committed himself on the side of a sound life, who could be counted on to be straight and true and pure. There was something in the man on which they could rely. His will always made in one way, and nothing could turn it aside, and that was the way of justice, and righteousness, and conscience. – Canon Scott Holland

As we follow Jesus, we are not choosing a life that by-passes the law or negates the need for boundaries, but we are looking for trust and love and hope in all of our actions.  A lot depends on why we seek to live a good life, to be responsible and to have principles – essentially determining why we want to live.  If by fear, then we play safe.  If to exclude and condemn, then others are right and others are wrong – welcome to structure turning life into a prison.  If out of trust in God, then we love how He purposed our lives to be – a world of caring for one another and having hope for the future no matter what life throws at us – in other words, real life.  If our life is lived in any matter resembling that of Jesus, the Holy Spirit is making our life real and that discovery is what makes real life, the only life worth living.

I call heaven and earth to witness against you today that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live, loving the Lord your God, obeying him, and holding fast to him; for that means life to you and length of days, so that you may live in the land that the Lord swore to give to your ancestors, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. – Deuteronomy 30:19-20

Living

No matter what your lot in life, one always has hopes for something better.  Most call that the search for happiness and most find ourselves prone to entertaining or even cherishing the thought of a better life and the possibilities of improving our opportunities.

It is also in living that we hope to make amends.  Living is the hope of choosing and possessing eternal life.

Such are the passages in the Bible for one who is contemplating ending their life at their own hand.  Life must be pretty messy for anyone to be in this state of mind – relationships turned bad, finances dried up and spiritually there is a distance too great for one to return to God.  But if you are breathing, there is hope that things will get better.  Too many people have built up on the ashes of failure – relationships get healed, health improves, finances are restored and the very mention of Jesus’ name brings the presence of God right into your life.

The sense of powerlessness and the inability to change things for the better puts God at a distance.  With Him so far away from us, we cannot hope to either understand or be part of God’s influence in our world.

When Solomon mentions this in Ecclesiastes, he is really saying that hope in this life only lasts to the grave.   I still remember my hopes – good health, falling in love, getting married, having children, finding a great job with enough pay to support my family and accomplishing a few ambitions along the way. But for the short time my life is on this earth, if these are my only hopes, then I am lost.  For it is the hope of eternal life and then living that hope after my death that I realize my hope all along – to spend eternity with Jesus.  Maybe Solomon was just trying to say that – maybe he wanted us to enjoy life, as difficult at that might be, but to not put our hope just in this one, short life.  Enjoy it, yes, live it, yes, but to place our hope in Jesus so that when we die we can spend the rest of eternity with Him and live in the place He has prepared for us.

This is an evil in all that happens under the sun, that the same fate comes to everyone. Moreover, the hearts of all are full of evil; madness is in their hearts while they live, and after that they go to the dead. But whoever is joined with all the living has hope, for a living dog is better than a dead lion.  The living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing; they have no more reward, and even the memory of them is lost.  Their love and their hate and their envy have already perished; never again will they have any share in all that happens under the sun. – Ecclesiastes 9:3-6

This Is Living (feat. Lecrae) (Music Video) – Hillsong Young & Free

 

The certainty on death

I cannot tell you, good woman, what is to become of the little child who is pressed to your bosom this evening. God bless it and make it a comfort to you and an honor to His church! But it is all matter of hope as yet. Children are certain cares, they say, and uncertain blessings. I hardly like the phrase. They are blessings anyway—but there is certainly this about them—we cannot tell what will become of them when they grow up and come under the influence of evil. You look upon a youth as he grows up and you feel, “I cannot quite see what you will be. You may be led astray by temptation, or by divine grace you may cleanse your way. You may be useful and honorable, or you may be dissolute and degraded. ”Everything is uncertain about the child on his birthday, but everything is certain about the saint on his death day. Spurgeon
When we are born we begin life, but what will that life be? Friends say, “Welcome, little stranger.” Ah, but what kind of reception will the stranger get when he is no longer a new-comer? He who is newly born and is ordained to endure through a long life is like a warrior who puts on his harness for battle; and is not he in a better case who puts it off because he has won the victory? Ask any soldier which he likes best, the first shot in the battle or the sound which means “Cease firing, for the victory is won.” When we were born we set out on our journey; but when we die we end our weary march in the Father’s house above. Surely it is better to have come to the end of the tiresome pilgrimage than to have commenced it. Better is the day of death than our birthday, because about the birthday there hangs uncertainty. I heard this morning of a dear friend who had fallen asleep. When I wrote to his wife I said, “Concerning him we speak with certainty. You sorrow not as those that are without hope. A long life of walking with God proved that he was one of God’s people, and we know that for such there remains joy without temptation, without sorrow, without end, for ever and ever.” Oh, then, as much as certainty is better than uncertainty, the day of the saint’s death is better than the day of his birth. So, too, in things which are certain the saint’s death-day is preferable to the beginning of life, for we know that when the child is born he is born to sorrow. Trials must and will befall, and your little one who is born to-day is born to an inheritance of grief, like his father, like his mother, who prophesied it as it were by her own pangs. But look, now, at the saint when he dies. It is absolutely certain that he has done with sorrow, done with pain. Now, surely, the day in which we are certain that sorrow is over must be better than the day in which we are certain that sorrow is on the road. – Spurgeon
A good name is better than precious ointment, and the day of death, than the day of birth – Ecclesiastes 7:1

What will be after you?

“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
    “therefore I will hope in him.” – Lamentations 3:24

We can look to grace and the leading of the Holy Spirit to help us learn how to take the evil in this world and see it turned into good.  Since life and its earthly pursuits are without purpose, your hope is Jesus, who cannot disappoint.  Grace enables us to walk through this world of sin, sorrow, self-serving and troubles with wise indifference as we await our place to be prepared.  For Jesus Himself promised us who have missed His grace, those of us who are weary and burdened with this world’s care, to come to Him and He would give us rest.  He has graciously purposed Himself to be our joy.  So let us not be so earthly minded as to prefer the shadows, to be in love with our chains, to pursue phantoms and to reject the everlasting realities. 

Lord Jesus, do not only invite, but allure me with your grace.  You have birthed hope by your resurrection from the dead, and offer to us the inheritance of an incorruptible, purity, eternal life.  Today, lead me by the teaching influences of the Holy Spirit that I may set my sights on the heavenly things – may the things that matter to You, matter to me.

These are the questions that I can ask myself and others — 

  • Do I know the meaning of life and what will happen when I die?
  • Can I explain the good news of Jesus Christ to another person?
  • Does my life exude hope and purpose to my family members, coworkers, neighbors, and acquaintances?If not, why not?
  • How can I become a more contagious Christian?
  • What about “new” things? Is there any hope there? Is there anything altogether new?

As much as we need to learn how to live with evil, that is, to accept life in this cursed world with all of its labyrinths, we are called for something more.  We can choose between abandoned resignation or for mastery and both are poor choices for resignation entails fatalism and not faith and mastery is a form of striving that leaves one with a handful of air.  Rather we are called to obedient fear and humility before God who alone purposes everything.  I do not talk about false hopes too much, but in this case the idea that I read of “shepherding the wind” should be replaced with a confident enjoyment of His gifts which He gives in the few years we have on this earth.

How self-serving is it for us to contend with God.  Who contends with someone greater than themselves? Again, there is no hope for such purposes, yet even we, as followers of Christ, sometimes contend with Him.  If He permits us to be disappointed in our aspirations, we right away demand – “why is this?”  I think most of us have seen this getting carried away and carried on and on and on.  The end result unfortunately with the individual who would not forgive God.  That kind of rebellious spirit creates ten times more pain than the affliction itself. 

For who knows what is good for mortals while they live the few days of their vain life, which they pass like a shadow? For who can tell them what will be after them under the sun? – Ecclesiastes 6:12

Speaking into lives

I look at events that have attracted large crowds to them and I try to see if the people are there for the speaker, or the singer or for the entertainment or for something to do just to have fun.

It would not surprise me if all of these were reasons at some point or another.  But to consistently be at a seminar where the Kingdom of God was the only discussion, it would seem that you would need quite the motivational speaker.

Our world has seen its share of them, whether we have seen them on TV or in our mega church scenario or even our evangelists who have engaged with audiences all over the world.

The one thing that draws all of us to them – whether they are good or bad – is that they have the ability to tap into our mainstream need to hope.  That need to hope for another day, to get through the day, to make the day seem not so dark is a need that many keep looking for without be satisfied that they have received it.

What seems worse is that even our best evangelist – and let’s say that is Billy Graham – only 3% of those who make a commitment to follow Jesus actually remain faithful to that commitment. 

It seems that hope is fleeting, does not have anchors, the lottery ticket concept of hope causes us to keep trying other things.

So when the crowds gather around Jesus, He tells them straight out, as much as His message is designed to bring them to God, He knows that many of them will not be able to come as they will fall away. But for those who are ready to follow, their lives will exponentially explode as God works in their life.  Their hopes of a life changed will be realized.

That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea.  Such great crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat there, while the whole crowd stood on the beach – Matthew 13:1-2

TobyMac – Speak Life

Being dragged through life?

All my childhood life I have been anxiously hoping – a very painful experience for the mind to go through.  As much as I had been hoping for physical circumstances to change, what did happen was a blessing of an incredible spiritual journey.

I understand the power of hope and I understand the power of not obtaining what one has been hoping for.  I understand how it can carry towards depression and robs one of spirit.  I understand how that relates to being delivered from evil or obtaining in your hand something good.

What do you do when dreams do not come true?  Depression fits most of our answers. There is a place though when you realize that what you need is going to come at the right time you need it – it has only been deferred until then. I read that the word deferred is meant to indicate to drag in Hebrew.  I know, when it matters, dragging and deferring is not going to make much difference.

Real life happens.  Challenges, life not being as easy as you thought and definitely not going the way you thought will beat up your hopes, dreams, aspirations and expectations.

Without hope, can I ask you not to get desperate to escape what seems like hopelessness. With hope you can endure anything, no matter how desperate or evil your circumstances.

 

Jesus is our hope.  The people of Israel, at each Passover, would put out an extra cup in hope that Elijah would come and announce the Messiah’s coming.  When He did not come they would put the cup away and wait another year.  Their journey was painful and if you know anything of history, it was another 2,000 years after the first Passover before Jesus came, sent by God to heal the heartsick nation and fulfill all their longings.

My prayer is that our hope will be realized soon enough.  When it comes it will bring life – comfort, an invigorated soul and a walk with God.

What happens when you just cannot hang on anymore – the reservoir of hope is empty and you seem to be running on fumes?  Of all my experiences and those who survived hopelessness – we all say the same thing – we whisper the name of Jesus, the one who came to give hope in the first place.  Somehow His name heals in the middle of the night, in the middle of our tears and in the middle of our desperation.  His name matters, it changes everything.  When all along you have been looking for Him, and when you finally call on Him, you will know what it means to live with hope.

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life. – Proverbs 13:12

Don’t Waste Your Sorrows

LET GO, OR BE DRAGGED

 

Hope springs eternal

God is faithful and loyal to His covenant – He is the One who does not change.  Our hope is in His the unchanging merciful character.

Do not put your trust in princes,
    in mortals, in whom there is no help.
 When their breath departs, they return to the earth;
    on that very day their plans perish. Happy are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord their God – Psalm 146:3-5

It is the favour of God that we want to recognize in our life.  When it is given, it is a covering providing mercy, preservation, security, and assurance of answered prayer.  It how we get the idea that “hope springs eternal” and that things will be better with “the dawn of a new day come.”

I will extol you, O Lord, for you have drawn me up, and did not let my foes rejoice over me.  O Lord my God, I cried to you for help, and you have healed me.  O Lord, you brought up my soul from Sheol, restored me to life from among those gone down to the Pit. Sing praises to the Lord, O you his faithful ones, and give thanks to his holy name.  For his anger is but for a moment; his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes with the morning. – Psalm 30:1-5

Hope Springs Eternal