Biblical Foundations 1: Salvation (Romans 10:13)
As 2015 comes to a close, and by God’s grace 2016 begins soon for all of us, I want to invest the next 4, 5, 6 weeks or more in going deep into the Biblical Foundations of this local church…that is, what are the Bible passages/verses that help us understand more clearly why God wants us gathering together here, what God is doing in us and through to spread His fame and love and Truth and grace throughout this building, Mankato, and the world, to further clarify what He means by elevating God, community, and others, just like a newborn baby’s vision sharpens and clarifies over their first year after they are born…
I am excited to share these passages with you because God has been using them to
-convict me of sin,
-bring me closer to Him,
-fill me with His love,
-bring me to my knees so that He can lift me up with Him…
Let’s dive in to God’s Word together!
Romans 10:13-17 (NIV)
13 for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
14 How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in?
And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard?
And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?
15 And how can anyone preach unless they are sent?
As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”[b]
16 But not all the Israelites accepted the good news.
For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our message?
17 Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message,
and the message is heard through the word about Christ.
For this post, we will dig into verse 13:
13 for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.
Please look at the emphasis of this verse (and really of the entire Bible!)—calling on the name of Jesus to be saved! Indeed, this is the main purpose of God giving us the Bible!
2 Timothy 3:14-17 (NIV)
“14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, 15 and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is God-breathed…”
-Salvation, forgiveness of sins, surrendering to Jesus as God & King (not just high-fiving Him as mascot and homeboy), receiving Jesus as Savior by faith, making peace with God (for the Bible says that without Christ we war against God and treat Him as our enemy whether we realize it or not)—these are the primary emphases of Elevate Church Mankato because these are the primary emphases of God in the Bible. Not the only emphases, but the primary ones.
-By God’s grace the sermons here will always have practical applications from the Bible for our daily lives, but the sermons (and Bible studies) will not primarily treat the Bible as simply a book to improve our ethics and behavior, will not treat Jesus as a self-help guru to help you fulfill your dreams; we will focus on pointing people to Jesus Christ as Savior and God not primarily for behavioral correction but for bodily resurrection, not primarily to live a better life but to receive Jesus’ offer of new life, real life, a total spiritual re-birth through faith in Jesus, not for our dreams to be accomplished but for God’s will to be done.
-In other words, Jesus doesn’t want to make us better crawling-caterpillars; He wants to transform us into brand-new soaring-butterflies. A new creature is needed, not an improvement on the old one…
-It is not helpful to try to teach a baby in the womb how to have better manners, how to exercise, how to do chores, etc. The baby must be born FIRST and THEN needs to learn how to live wisely. Thus the focus of Elevate is to point people to Jesus Christ so that they can be reborn through faith in Him…that is the first priority. There will be people with good manners who will not enter heaven because they focused on being a better caterpillar and did not cry out to Jesus to remake them as a butterfly. They focused on their “mistakes” as a person without admitting and giving to Jesus their SINS…
-Jesus said, “I came that they would have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10). This means that without Jesus we not only don’t have a full life, we don’t have any life at all! We are lifeless, spiritually dead, without Christ. It may not be popular to say that but it IS Biblical to say that! People want to jump to “victorious living” without first being alive at all. And it is tragic that many churches and pastors encourage people in this way…In over ten years as a pastor I too have made this error far too often…
-John 20:30-31: “These were written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Son of God and by believing may have LIFE in His name.”
-Many churches try to get non-Christians plugged in and serving, but that is not at all what the early Christians did. They shared the Truth of Jesus with their words with others—they proclaimed and preached the Gospel first and then upon conversion (through the power of the Holy Spirit!) called people to partner with them in serving.
Acts 6:1-4 (NIV)
The Choosing of the Seven
“6 In those days when the number of disciples was increasing
[it doesn’t say church-attendance was increasing but that more & more people were surrendering to Jesus & really following Him!],
the Hellenistic Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. 2 So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. 3 Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them 4 and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.”
[ministry as simple as handing out food was for Christians, was for believers! Not because the non-Christians weren’t ABLE to physically pass out food but because such service could get in the way of the main thing—being adopted BY Jesus before we do things FOR Jesus]
-A computer needs to be made first before it can be plugged in and used. Again, we need to be re-born first before we can be plugged into the Holy Spirit and used by God the Father. This re-birth, no matter how long it takes someone to surrender to Jesus, is the primary thing…
-Read Acts, loved ones—the early Christians repeatedly called people to repent, to mourn their sins, to cry out to Jesus for forgiveness and new life not just to send him an email as an acquaintance, not just to give Jesus a brief head-nod & wave across the highway of life but to pull over on the side of the road, put out our glowing flare, and stick out our thumb to hitchhike with Jesus and catch a ride with Him as the driver to heaven.
Let’s look again at the passage in 1 Timothy that we read previously—look at the order!
2 Timothy 3:14-17 (NIV)
14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, 15 and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
Salvation first (FAITH and RE-BIRTH!) through receiving Jesus as Savior through the wisdom of the Bible…
…THEN being trained in righteousness “for every good work” (SERVICE!) through agreeing with and living out of the wisdom of the Bible which equips us THOROUGHLY.
-As humbly & gently as possible, I have read and heard that many churches around the country do not focus on this—sin and repentance, hell and God’s judgment, surrendering to Jesus as King—because it is not popular, it is not comfortable, most of us just want to be constantly encouraged and made to smile and laugh. But while God invented smiling and laughing, He also gave us tear ducts to weep and to cry and to mourn. We need to also learn from Him how to weep over our sin, how to mourn over our rebellion and treason and assassination attempts against God, how to come to Jesus and ask the Holy Spirit to convict us (point out our guilt) of our general sinfulness and our specific sins.
A person on Death Row will never appeal to the Governor for pardon/clemency until they realize that they are on Death Row! Similarly, we won’t cry out to Jesus for forgiveness if we don’t realize we need to, if we think we are just a “mistaker” who needs a little polishing up, if we don’t realize that without accepting Jesus’ execution in our place we will be executed by God as we deserve! One of the un-emphasized aspects of God’s love is His role in convicting us of our sin so that we cry out to Him for His love as expressed through the cross. God’s love isn’t a feeling or an emotion shown through pretty, poetic words; God’s love it is an act, a choice, shown through Jesus’ brutal & bloody DEATH in our place:
Psalm 38:18 (NIV):
I confess my iniquity; I am troubled by my sin.
[My friends, are you troubled by your sin? Does it grieve you? Does it cause you to run to Jesus for forgiveness and cleansing and comfort? Do you ask the Holy Spirit to show you how dark your heart is so that you can more fully appreciate how bright God the Father’s love & grace are?
Psalm 36:1-3 (NIV):
1 I have a message from God in my heart
concerning the sinfulness of the wicked:
There is no fear of God
before their eyes.
2 In their own eyes they flatter themselves
too much to detect or hate their sin.
Psalm 5:11 NIV:
But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy.
Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you.
How can we take refuge in Jesus for safety from the coming storm (His righteous judgment) if we don’t believe that the storm is coming!? This is what happened to the entire earth in the time of Noah—the ark was HUGE and had much room for them but they didn’t believe God’s warnings through Noah of the coming flood and thus they were not washed clean but washed away…
And look at what happens when the Holy Spirit convicts us of our sin—tells us about the coming judgment of God: He opens our eyes to agree, we run to Jesus for forgiveness and safety, and then we will be glad and sing FOR JOY! The joy we all want cannot come without us hearing about and agreeing with the storm that is on its way…
Psalm 32:1 (NIV)
“Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.”
But before God can cover our sins for eternity we need Him to uncover our sins on earth and bring them out into the open for us to realize we are guilty and cry out to Jesus to make us not guilty! God’s love is connected to Him convicting us of our guilt…
1 John 3:16 (NIV):
“THIS is how we know what love is—Jesus Christ laid down His life for us”.
God’s love is directly tied to Jesus’ death, God the Father’s love is directly tied to His wrath being poured out on Jesus! You can’t have one without the other!
Again we see this in Romans 5:8 (NIV):
“But God demonstrates His own love in this: while we were still sinners, Christ DIED for us”.
Love, sin, death and judgment all are connected…God puts His love into self-sacrificing practice BEFORE we do the least little thing to deserve it! But we must know how much it COST God to show His love—it cost the highest price: the death of God’s only Son Jesus. And the cost was so high because our sin is so terrible.
We ridicule such preaching as “fire & brimstone,” as negative and unloving and judgmental, but it is Biblical and the very definition of love; indeed it is what you read God saying throughout the Bible…only in our 21st century American-Christian arrogance do we think that we know best how to proclaim God’s love without ever talking about His wrath, His judgment, sin, death, hell, conviction, repentance, etc…we run from fire & brimstone and toward soda & marshmallows, for Sunday-morning messages that have fizz but no foundation, carbonation but no conviction, sweetness but no substance…
Let’s not be afraid of weeping such tears over our sinfulness—don’t you often feel at least a little better (and oftentimes a LOT better!) after a good full-body cry? When you cry so hard over a painful situation, even though the crying doesn’t change the actual painful circumstance, don’t you often feel at least a little bit better?
Perhaps this is what God means when He says in Psalm 30:5 (NIV):
“For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime;
weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.”
The beautiful dawn of joy always eventually follows the midnight of repentance over our own sins, but we MISS OUT on such joy when we never learn to mourn, when we brush off our sins as “mistakes” and non-chalantly say “Hey, nobody’s perfect!” when we sin against God and keep moving in our lives without being willing to be still and lay down on Jesus’ operating table…
Let’s not be afraid of weeping tears on earth over the ways that we dishonor God—Jesus promises to wipe away our tears in heaven—we’ve already done our holy crying and now we are done with it forever!
Revelation 21:4 (NIV):
“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
Let’s not be afraid of having the Holy Spirit convict/convince us of our sins—the painful diagnosis from a doctor must come before the healing cure from the doctor! The pinch of the vaccination must come BEFORE the protection of the vaccine!
Luke 5:8 (NIV):
Upon realizing more deeply that Jesus is God (after one of Jesus’ miracles), look at Peter’s first action and first words:
“8 When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, ‘Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!’”
This is a sign of HEALTH! This isn’t discouraging but ENCOURAGING! And Jesus of course embraced Peter after such repentance and mourning over Peter’s sinfulness…
Isaiah 6:5-7 (NIV):
5 “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.”
6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7 With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.”
Isaiah, when in the direct presence of God, declared, “I am a man of unclean lips and I live amongst a people of unclean lips!” Being in God’s presence—isn’t that what we all want!?—brought about an initial feeling of guilt, of mourning over his sinfulness, of realizing how bad he is (just as sitting in front of a high-powered vanity mirror with bright lights shows us how clogged our pores really are, how bad our complexion really is)! But of course the LORD did not leave Isaiah feeling that way for long, but God DID intend Isaiah to feel that way for a little! That is what enabled Isaiah to realize the heights of God’s love when God helped Isaiah realize the depths of His sin and nastiness. But we miss out on the heights of Jesus’ love because we won’t let Him take us low to see how bad we really are.
Luke 18:10-14 (NIV):
10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector…
13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’
14 “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
The terrible sinner in the Gospel who walked away forgiven and justified (“cleared of all charges, their spiritual sinful rap-sheet wiped clean”) MOURNED over his sin, fell on his hands and knees and beat his breast and couldn’t even look up at God. But God didn’t leave him there for long—Jesus said he “went home” justified and forgiven…God lifted him up off his knees and helped him to stand and walk, not weighted down with sin and guilt because when confronted by God with his sin and guilt he took responsibility and then asked Jesus to take responsibility…
Now I don’t intend to bring all this up MORE than God does in the Bible, but I also don’t intend to bring it up LESS than God does in the Bible. The Bible—and not my own ideas—will be our guide…
Have you cried out to Jesus for salvation? Has the Holy Spirit opened your eyes to your great need for Jesus alone by faith alone through grace alone for the forgiveness of your sins? Call on Jesus and He promises to save you!
That is part of the Biblical foundation of this local church…in the next post we will dig into the rest of Romans 10:13-17…