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“The New Is Me”

Jackson Snyder, June 17, 2004

 

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 Who Can Be Saved?: Reassessing Salvation in Christ and World Religions,  Tiessen, Terrance L. 
  What Does It Mean to Be Saved?: Broadening Evangelical Horizons of Salvation,   Stackhouse, John G., Jr

 

 

What does it mean to be savedActs 16:30 “What must I do to be saved?”

 

   What does it mean to become a converted man or woman, to experience justification before Yahweh? What must we do to be saved? 

   Often, weight-loss commercials offer you a before and after picture to convince you that the product sold is effective.  The Bible has numerous before and after character portraits; the most well know is probably that of Simon Peter.

 

BEFORE

Luke 22:28-34. Jesus told him, 31. Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat:  32.  But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.  33.  And Simon said unto him, Master, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death.  34.  And Jesus said, I tell thee, Peter, the cock shall not crow this day, before thou shalt thrice deny that thou even knowest me.

 

   A remarkable thing about this passage is that Simon Peter had followed Jesus for years, but Jesus didn’t consider him to be a convert.  Jesus said to him, “when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.”  That’s why Simon Peter boasted so in his religious loyalty, but ran scared and didn’t fulfill his promise.  Boasting is easy when one is outside the danger zone, but once within the bull’s-eye, one’s erstwhile courage may dissolve in the acid of fear of death or retribution. 

   Weeks after this incident, the Pentecostal experience changed the waffling of Simon Peter.  From then on he was the foundational rock for those destined to conversion.  He became a prophetic voice of the messianic word, and its leading charismatic figure.  Listen now to the words of the converted Peter:

 

AFTER

Acts 2:14 “Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say. {22b} ... Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with deeds of power, wonders, and signs that God did through him among you, as you yourselves know-- {23} this man, handed over to you according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of those outside the law. {24} But God raised him up, having freed him from death, because it was impossible for him to be held in its power. ... {36} Therefore let the entire house of Israel know with certainty that God has made him both Sovereign and Messiah, this Jesus whom you crucified.”

 

   This certainly doesn’t sound anything like the Simon Peter who backed down when his spine was to the wall before, does it?  His speech here is out in the open, among men who could easily have him stoned.  It’s also right after the religious folks of many nations heard those fanatic upper room believers speaking in tongues and proclaiming the glory of Jesus right out loud, an activity punishable by a harsh sentence.

   But did you know – Peter’s speech here is the interpretation of the words spoken in tongues earlier?  He’s translating the gibberish of Pentecost into English for you to hear, understand and follow.  His ability to speak the English of the twenty-first century is a sign that not only had he and his cohort been baptized in Holy Spirit, but he’d personally come alive in supernatural boldness, faith and gifts!  No longer was he a mere disciple – an uneducated student; now, he is an Apostle – one commissioned, empowered, educated and sent forth on a “mission from god.”  He no longer sought out some dank hole in the earth where he could quiver in fear of his life, but he stepped out to flaunt his new authority in perfect faith that he would be preserved.

   What happened?  Simon became a converted man; a man entirely changed by a supernatural power.  Consider the immediate outcome of his conversion; i.e., his anointed preaching in the next passage:

 

{37} Now when they all heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and to the other apostles, “What must we do?” {38} Peter said to them, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; that you too may receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. {39} For the promise is for you, for your children, and for all who are far away, everyone whom Yahweh our god calls to him.”

         

Peter was previously a conservative, religious businessman.  He certainly was no pushover for new fads. Though he had a bold mouth, it was hard to convince him to act on his conviction.  It took a personal, Who can be saved?supernatural encounter with the risen Jesus to convert him to another kind of man and imbue him with another kind of mission. 

   Notice also, that repentance, baptism, forgiveness, atonement with Yahweh and the power of the supernatural wasn’t only for them in hearing range, but for those far away, meaning in both space and time.  To whit: this great conversion, these diverse gifts and all temporal authority are as much ours to claim as any Israelites of bygone days.  Indeed, they’re required of us, as we live and expect to die unto the reward of eternity.

   Yet our main objective as the converted isn’t getting up to Heaven any more than it was Peter’s.  Our main objective is getting down to Earth. 

 

PRAYER: Father, we ask that the Harvest Master flood perfect laborers into our assembly – laborers to share your Glad Tidings in such ways that all the deaf around here might finally hear and understand its simplicity and responsibility.  As the laborers you have already sent for these many years return to you with the first-fruits of their labors, we are confident that our loved ones here behind will break out of the snare of utter darkness and accept Jesus as Master of their fate.  We now commit this matter into your hands with faith that these lost and beleaguered souls might be justified then saved then empowered.  Let even the most lost of our lot now be filled with your Spirit and receive a complete knowledge of your divine plan.  Amen.

 

Abandoning the World

  Simon Peter’s new mouth spoke words that aroused such conviction that, with one voice, the horrified, condemned crowd around there responded as one, “What shall we do?”  Yet though the answer came from Pete’s mouth, this wasn’t him talking.  This wasn’t his finest moment nor his most impressive sermon.  In past days, he could hardly speak at all, so dumb was he.  But now, it’s the Holy Spirit that has hold of his lungs and his larynx and his lips.  But not his mind.  Peter didn’t say a word – he was simply the vessel of a higher form of life, and, if you can here it – he was, like the rest of the Jews thereabouts, a mere bystander, probably just as surprised as anyone else at the deluge of rhema pouring from his head. 

   “Repent,” cried the Holy Spirit through Peter’s mouth, “and be baptized every one of you in the name of Yahshua Messiah so that your sins may be forgiven; and you too may receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”  According to vs. 21, the gift of the Holy Spirit that’s being talked about isn’t miracle-working power or tongue-talking.  The gift the Holy Spirit stirred up here is justification for salvation: that is, people were being judged by Yahweh right then, and some were found to be WORTHY, for, when Yahweh sends his word forth, then “all who call on his name will be saved.” 

   Some thousands abandoned the world that day and entered into the commonwealth of Heaven.  I’m not saying they died and went to up in the air, I’m telling you that they still walked the dusty roads of Israel, but Israel was no longer their nation of allegiance.  Now they were men and women of HeavenOnEarth, just like Jesus, who said to the ruler of this world, “You say I am a king – and I was born for kingship – but my kingship isn’t of this world.”

   “What must we do?” they wailed!  “What shall we do to enter into that which was ordained for the righteous from the foundation of the world?”  These multitudes that cried out so pitifully already knew exactly what it took to be saved.  They were Israelites.  They’d been taught the meaning of justification and salvation and glorification from their earliest childhoods, and desired what they’d learned about to some degree.  However, we’ve been taught next to nothing except, if there’s to be any salvation, it’ll be bestowed by the kings of the earth and their welfare systems – not the High Potentate of the Unseen Kingdom.  We consider Peter ignorant, but we’re far more ignorant in the matter of proper religion and true salvation than he ever was, even in his unconverted state.  Our churches teach us nothing.

  

Saved From What?

   For instance, here’s the simplest question imaginable.  From what is a man to be saved?”  What’s the answer to that?  Terrorists?  Demons?  “We’re having a great time here!  Nothing ever bothers us in the Panhandle!  No tower ever fell on us!  We’re retired and have good years ahead of us!  What have I to be saved from?  Everything’s just fine!  I’ve got just about everything I need!  Me and my bunch are just as safe as anyone!  And we all got saved a few years ago.  We’re all going up to Heaven when we die.  The Bible tells us so.” 

   Now isn’t this how many of us really feel?  Honestly?

   I’ve got news for you.  There’s a whale of a lot more to saving your soul than laying claim on a ticket to Guinea when you die, or getting your share of the big old moon pie in the sky, or plucking the whey out of a cloud-covered harp with seventy heavenly virgins.  Those are Sunday School notions for infants and should’ve been left at the Sunday school door at age 10.  Salvation’s far more than a free ticket to paradise – and far more is required than merely accepting your acceptance, as the church teaches in these days of apostasy.  Salvation has to be tested, tried, proved and finally rested – and as long as we remain unconverted, the test of salvation is far, far beyond our ability to pass, no matter how good we think we are.

   As they say, salvation is free, but nobody every said it was inexpensive.  Salvation is free but it costs plenty. 

 

Works Righteousness

   The teacher Paul says,

Philippians 2:12  You’ve been obedient; but your obedience mustn’t be limited to times when I’m around.  It must be more evident in my absence, so YOU must work out your own salvation in fear and trembling.

What must we do to be saved?  For one thing, we must never consider that we are saved, but strive to be obedient to the words and works of our beloved Savior, who said to you all,

Matthew 5:44-48.  Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your heavenly Father.  Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect

   Salvation remains a privilege that’s to be worked out in extraordinary deeds of love and power throughout one’s entire life.  Salvation is a process.  Look back at your history.  Judge for me whether you’ve used your opportunities to reflect the perfect light of your Father in Heaven out into the dark world.  Determine for yourself whether you’ve taken the time to fulfill duties that’ve been required you, and committed to the ordinances he’s commanded you. 

   The Holy Spirit says (as recorded in Acts 2:38-43) that you must repent (v.38), receive the word (v.41), be baptized in the name of Yahshua Messiah, receive the Holy Spirit (v.38), save yourself (v.40), be taught the word, fellowship one with the other, break the bread of Messiah’s body, pray (v.42) and respect the Almighty’s vast powers to judge you (v.43).  Do these things in remembrance of the Holy Spirit’s command.  Then some day you’ll find out for sure that you’re saved when you actually are saved. 

   In the meantime, you must work on your life like a sculpture crafts an angel out of a block of raw marble.  If you’ll chisel away constantly, the Holy Spirit will help you to become that angel hidden inside that rock block and encourage you in your artistry with the ongoing exhortation, “My son, thou art not far from the kingdom” (Mark 12:34).  With these loving words implanted in your heart and emanating to your mind over and over, year after year, you’ll acquire the precious assurance that you shall, at the time of the judgment and wrath of G-d, most assuredly be saved from it.

 

The First Thing

   But in the meantime, as we’re receiving the assurance that we’re being converted toward a right standing with Yahweh (¿You have received that assurance, no?) shouldn’t we consider more gravely that which we’re being saved from and saved toward?   As a youngster, salvation meant I’d pray and the wretched dog wasn’t going to chase me that day, biting my left leg raw for a quarter mile.  Being saved meant not encountering Larry Rice, the local extortionist, who beat the tar out of me whenever I couldn’t come up with a fifty-cent piece. 

   These fears were real, but they’re childish.  Nobody’s afraid of Larry Rice anymore – a train finished him off.  What we’re afraid of is cancer, financial disaster, loneliness, addiction and death.  We want salvation from these things. 

   Some like me don’t worry so much about salvation from disasters.  When I think of salvation in the ordinary sense nowadays, I want to be saved TO something rather than from something.  Maybe you feel like that also.  Like the grass is greener on the other side of the fence, and if you could just get saved over TO that pasture, you would do or feel so much better? 

   What is this salvation that that we crawl toward at a snail’s pace?

 

We’re Saved from Evil; Saved to Good  

   OK!  It’s that we’re being saved from the power of evil unto the power of good and G-d.  My friend, evil is real, it’s personal, it doesn’t like you a bit and it’s coming after you just like that wicked Larry Rice.  But Paul boasted to young Timothys like us that, “Yahweh will save me from every evil attack and save me to his heavenly kingdom, to him be glory forever” (2 Timothy 4:18).  This isn’t an idle boast, but one that encouraged the young evangelist that, by faith, he would endure the worst of trials and persecutions of evil empires; whatever happened to come against him.  He’d have to struggle, but he, like Paul, would eventually be saved from, but also saved unto. 

 

We’re Saved from Disease; Saved to Health

   We’re also being saved from all manner of diseases caused by generational iniquity unto the comforting assurance of perfect health and welfare.  Under the anointing of the Holy Spirit, King David poured out his own hope of this kind of salvation, proclaiming to himself, 

“Bless Yahweh, O my soul; and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the Pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good as long as you live so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's” (Psalms 103:1-4). 

In thus speaking to himself and to us, he teaches not only the benefits of our conversion and eventual salvation, but also a technique as to how we might not faint during the times we endure disease, sin and weakness; that is, affirming to ourselves continually and vocally that we’re totally His and totally in His care.

 

We’re Saved from Poverty; Saved to Provision

   Let’s find out all the benefits we’re entitled to and claim them when we need them. 

“You have not because you ask not ... But ask in faith with no doubt, then boast when you get what is already yours” (James 1:6-9 para.).

If you’re entitled to Social Security, aren’t you going to apply for it whether you need it or not?  I’m sure most of you think the government needs your money more than you do and have declined to accept your entitlement, right?  Ask your heavenly Father for the benefits you need.  Ask for your healing and be serious about it.  Ask for your blessing with sincerity and expectation.  Most of all, ask how you may be empowered unto righteousness to emulate the one who gave his life for your abundant blessing.  If you receive that, you’ll get it all.

 

Saved from Wrath; Saved to Blessing

   We are also being saved from the wrath of G-d to his blessing.  The Bible is replete with references to the Day of Yahweh’s Wrath. 

Howl! For the Day of Yahweh is near, coming like devastation from El Shaddai.  All hands fall limp; all the men lose heart.  They are panic-stricken, seized with pains and convulsions; they writhe like a woman in labor, they look at one another appalled, with feverish faces.  Look, the Day of Yahweh is coming, merciless, with wrath and burning anger, to reduce the country to a desert and root out sinners.  I am punishing the world for its wickedness, to put an end to the pride of the arrogant and humble the haughtiness of tyrants.  I am going to shake the heavens: the earth will reel on its foundations under the wrath of Yahweh Sabaoth on the day when his anger ignites (Isaiah 13:6-13).

   The day of wrath has come and gone many, many times.  In these last hundred years, his hand has decidedly crushed out sin with every kind of method imaginable.  Don’t be fooled into thinking that catastrophes from natural disasters to decimating wars are just circumstances of life.  No.  The hand of Yahweh is in it all.  He is both venting and preventing.  Millions of the disobedient and heedless have already fallen to his wrath, and millions more will be destroyed to make way “for a better growth” (Elder Mather, 1623).  He will crush the heads of those murderous butchers in Iraq and Arabia – wait and see – in His time.  His word declares victory!  Yet his protecting hand has also prevented thousands from being caught up in the maelstrom of this anger.  His hand protects you now – and blesses you abundantly!  And in the end, you may be saved, for

Romans 5:9 Surely, since we have been justified by his blood, we will be saved through him from the wrath of Yahweh.

In the meantime, remember these words of advice and you’ll be more greatly motivated to follow the narrow path.  The Patriarch says that:

Hebrews 10:30,31.  "Yahweh will judge," and it’s a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living god.

 

Saved from Death; Saved to Life

   On the heals of these ominous and fearful sayings, we have the comforting words of the one who has actually brought salvation into our homes – Yahshua, the Son of Yahweh, Savior of Israel and the whole world.  He says to the wicked Pharisee,

John 10:10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they might have life, and have it abundantly.

“They” means “us”!  Abundance means copious, great quantities.  Long, long life – life that surpasses the shelf life of these empty, disease-prone containers we now inhabit.  Yes, if we’re to be saved from wrath and death, then we’re to be saved unto abundance and life. 

   Do you remember Martha?  She thought because her brother was a rotting corpse in a sealed cave that he was dead.  How silly of her to think that way!  She had the audacity to say to Jesus, “If you had been here, my brother wouldn’t have died.”  We take issue with Martha’s ignorance.  What business has she to blame Jesus for the death of her brother? 

   Yet he counted her petition as a form of praise, answering with the most profound words ever found in literature of any type:

“I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die” (John 11:26).  WOW!

Not leaving this angry, grieving woman with a mere funeral platitude, like, “If there’s anything else I can do, don’t hesitate to call,” he challenges her in the same fashion that he challenged Peter:

 

Believest thou this?  he asked.

 

 “If he’s dead, he’ll live; and if he lives in me he’ll never die.  Believest thou this?”  Who could believe that?  The question requires a thought-out answer that’ll take more than all the intellect you possess, all the research you can collect, all the good advice you can muster.  To answer Jesus requires faith enough for a woman to be converted into another form of human life – a higher form.

   Do you have faith enough to give him an answer now?  Can you say ‘yes’ to his conditions for protection?  The survival of your entire being depends solely upon what kind of response you make to his conviction. 

   Do you remember the Philippi jailer, in dire fear of being immediately executed for letting his prisoners escape, beseeching Paul and Silas, “What must I do to be saved?” He received the same kind of difficult answer.     

   “Deputy sir, believe on the Master Yahshua Messiah and thou shalt be saved and thy house.”  Then Paul and Silas taught this desperate man and his household about Yahshua and what making a decision for him meant.  They told the family about the Son of Yahweh, and of his wrath, and of his great salvation with all its benefits.  The jailer washed their wounds.  As he did, he said, “Yes, I believe; I do believe.”  Then he confirmed his belief by bidding them to baptize him and his whole family immediately.  This story ends by this jailer bringing these godly criminals into his house, setting food before them, and rejoicing in his newly discovered manhood, along with all of his house.

 

Invitation

   My friend, do you want to be saved from the wrath to come and live with a mission for eternity?  Will you believe upon the Sovereign Yahshua Messiah with all your heart?  Will you be baptized for the remission of your sin against man and god?  Will you allow the great Creator to convert you into something useful, as Simon Peter became, and thus edify your brothers and sisters?  Will you be baptized in the living waters of regeneration?  Believest thou that you shall live?  Believest enough to doest thou?

   (I have often thought of what wonderful works of grace and spirit you all in this church could do if you were only converted.  You could be young again.  If you would only be converted, you could be on fire again.  If you would only be converted, you could come alive again.  If you would only be converted!  You may have lived your whole life saved but never changed.  The difference is very great.  There’s so much more you could be doing if you became new men and women.  And, there’s so much now taking you away from what you could be and might have been.  Believest thou this?)

   Once upon a time there was a warehouse property for sale.  It’d been empty for years and needed extensive repairs.  Vandals had torn up the doors, smashed the windows, and strewn trash and filth all over the place.  As the owner hovered over a prospective buyer, he took great pains to say he’d fix and clean the place up.  But the buyer said, “Forget about the repairs.  When I buy this place, I’m going to build something completely different.  You see, I don’t want the building; I want the lot.”

   Yahweh wants all of you and he wants you now.

 

Prayer for Salvation: Father, it is written that if I confess with my mouth Yahshua as my Sovereign Master and believe in my heart that you have raised him from the dead, I shall be saved from you awesome wrath and live forever to serve you.  Therefore, I confess this day that Yahshua of Nazareth is my Sovereign, and I accept his authority in my life.  I believe in my heart that you raised Yahshua from death, and that he lives ever to make intercession for me until the hope of salvation becomes reality.  I renounce my past life as the willing slave of Satan and the drone of the systems of the world; I desire to be converted into your kingdom, where there’s forgiveness, love, light, and a mission.  I want to fear and worry no longer, but be on fire for your will and way in this sinful community.  I thank you for reaching out to me through this Apostle.  Thank you for his truthfulness.  I am undone.  But I declare that Yahshua Messiah shall from this day forward be my master; I pray he turn me around, since I am willing to become a new creation in him, even though I be old.  Old things are passing away.  The new is coming.  The new is ME.  Amen.

 

Sermon Check-off

[  ] Luke 22: 31 “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you ...”

[  ] Acts 2:14 “Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you ...”

[  ] Acts 2:37 “What must we do?”

[  ] Philippians 2:12 You’ve been obedient; but your obedience mustn’t be limited to times when I’m around.

[  ] Matthew 5:44 Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you.

[  ] Psalms 103:1 Bless Yahweh, O my soul; and forget not all his benefits.

[  ]  James 1:6 You have not because you ask not ... But ask in faith with no doubt, then boast.

[  ] Isaiah 13:6 Howl! For the Day of Yahweh is near, coming like devastation from El Shaddai.

[  ] Romans 5:9 Surely since we have been justified by his blood, we will be saved.

[  ] Hebrews 10:30,31.  "Yahweh will judge."   It’s a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living god.

[  ] John 10:10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they might have life, and have it abundantly.

[  ]  John 11:26 “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.

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