I often get something close to the following comments: “What do I need to be saved from? I’m a good person and I’m happy like I am. I don’t need Jesus.” Ok. Fair enough. You like things just like they are or have reached a point where you accept your situation as it is. Unfortunately, your situation WILL NOT stay like it is. It won’t for any of us. Things change. Even the best of lives get old and die. So what? Is that the end of it all? Some people are content with death being the end of consciousness. But what if it’s not? What if there is more? And, what if there is more to the life you have now? You really don’t know, do you?
Let’s start at the beginning. Is there a God? I used to wonder. But it is a fact that you cannot create something from nothing. You begin with nothing, you end with nothing. I am amazed that people can believe that the universe has “always been” in infinity or just appeared out of nothing, yet they have problems believing in God. Seems to me it takes the same amount of faith to believe either. I find God no more far- fetched than the concepts of infinity or nothingness. And besides, nowhere in the universe can “nothing” be replicated. Sounds deep, I know. But there is “something” to all that we know. Look around you. What you see is unique in the universe. Oh sure, we can speculate about life elsewhere and all that “could” be; extra-terrestrial life, worm-holes and such….. but why not apply that same speculation to a creative force? After all, so far, in all of the infinity we can see from this earth, we are IT. We are unique. We ARE life….period. If and until something else is found, we are the ONLY intelligent life in a VAST piece of interstellar space.
Now, here on Terra (Earth), we have logic, ambition, love, hate, organization, growth ,music, joy, depression, fear, confidence….all of the things that you are familiar with that we call life….all very orderly and progressive in the model that life follows. Some call that evolution. Fair enough. Society evolves, dreams evolve, technology evolves, even life evolves. But where did we come from? Why are we who we are? Is all that we have an act of random chance? The fact that we were set on a course of progressive movement that is purposeful and seeks meaning shows me that there is a design of some kind in our life. Nothing else makes sense. Someone once said that the Big Bang taking place and eventually creating all that we are and have is about the same chance as a watch factory blowing up and creating a watch. So, to review:
1. Something never comes from nothing.
2. The concepts of infinity and nothingness are no further “out there” than the concept of God.
3. Our very existence and life reflects a design that seeks fulfillment, meaning, curiosity and purpose, which is indicative of a plan of some kind.
For me, finally deciding that intelligent design seemed to be the only logical explanation for where we are as a species and as a universe left me wondering who the designer was. There were several options. So, I embarked on studies of all of the major and many of the “fringe” religions, since the field of religion is associated with such things. What I found was intriguing. Intriguing because I was amazed at who people would blindly follow and what they were willing to believe regardless of the logic behind it. But what I was looking for was what would seem to me to be the most logical storyline…the one that seemed to make the most sense. I entertained all ideas about a god, from the Buddhist idea that it is irrational to even speculate, the idea in in Taoism and Confucianism that the Tao neither likes nor dislikes people, only creates them and sets them in motion, the Hindu idea of a Supreme Consciousness that one melts into when Moksha is achieved…. to the more familiar ideas (to us anyway) of an all-powerful creator God who is just, yet compassionate, designated by the title Allah or the name Yahweh.
Then, Jesus. Suddenly, I found that in Jesus, I found logic and something different than any other religion. All of the other religions I studied told me that either I was a pawn in some cosmic game or what I must do to reach the goal of inner-peace and purpose here and some form of eternal life after death. Only in Christianity was the plan different. While all other religions told me what I must do to get to God, in Christianity, God came to ME in the form of the man Jesus. He lived the same type life I live, walked along my roads, looked at us with human eyes and did the type things that I do, yet, remained totally pleasing to His own nature of perfection. He even experienced death like I will. Imagine, God experiencing death. I heard someone say one time, “We have a God who knew everything except one thing, and that was what it was like to be the “creature”. So, He became the creature and lived the life we are unable to live….perfectly pleasing to God.” So what?
It is here where we need to say something about one of the most misunderstood concepts in humanity….SIN. We have been taught that sin has something to do with doing or thinking bad or selfish things. That is probably true, but sin goes far deeper than that. Sin is what we ARE. The word translated “sin” in the New Testament is a Greek word, “harmartia.” It literally means, “missing the mark.” It was the same word used at that time for archers who shot an arrow and missed the bull’s-eye. So sin is “missing the mark.” Missing the mark of what? God’s perfection. Problem: We cannot be perfect. Even if you never did anything wrong or never thought a selfish thought, your body will still get sick, get old and die…..missing the mark of God’s perfection because people were never created to die. We were created for LIFE. Since none of us can be perfect, why would God demand perfection to be in His presence? Good question. The answer is, because God will, in the long-run, have nothing less than perfection for His children. He loves us that much. But, if we have no way to be perfect and God demands perfection, then we are totally and hopelessly lost.
But here is where Jesus enters in…..remember that perfect life that He lived? Well, he now offers it to you as a free gift…..His perfection is yours for the receiving if you want it just because He loves His creation and does not desire that we be defeated by the fall from Him in the Garden of Eden. That’s what the Bible says. Take a look at Ephesians 2: 8-9. Free Gift! Most people think they have to be good enough to be saved, but that is not what the Bible says. Salvation from eternal separation from God, guilt, shame, brokenness, death, meaninglessness in life, all of the things of a fallen world is available for the asking and receiving. When Jesus died a human death, He took death and all of the fallenness of this universe to the grave with Him. And when He rose from death He defeated death and all that it implies. And speaking of that bit about rising from the dead, consider the disciples of Jesus. Rugged, professional men that were intelligent and skeptical. They all but one ran when Jesus was arrested. They denied Him, they hid. But something happened that made them completely change and be willing…even eager to give their lives for this man. And they died brutally, when all they would have had to do is say, “It was a lie….He didn’t rise from the dead.” But they would not! Even Jesus’ brothers, James and Jude who did not follow Him during His earthly ministry changed completely and gave their lives rather than deny that He rose from the dead. A pretty powerful statement, don’t you think?
But what about being good and doing good things? Your good works will never be good enough to meet the standard of perfection that God desires for His children….so, Jesus does it FOR you and offers you HIS perfection as a free gift. What that means is that if you receive the gift of salvation that Jesus offers, even though you are still in an imperfect body with an imperfect mind and imperfect thoughts and actions, when God looks at you, He sees the perfect Jesus inside of you and dismisses all of your imperfections. Your good works are then a RESULT of what God has given you as a free gift. It’s simple. Almost too simple.
So, back to the original question: “What do I need to be saved from?” First eternal separation from God, which will not be pleasant. Second, death….oh sure, your body will eventually die, but you will go on living…the only question is where and with whom? Third, from a life that does not fulfill the purpose for which you were created. Yes, you were created for a purpose, but you will never find that perfect purpose aside from the One who created you.
So here is how it works: you are saved from sin (missing the mark of God’s perfection, death and all that implies) by grace(God’s approval of you even though it is underserved and unearned) through faith (stepping out and asking Jesus to save you and accepting that He will, even if you don’t understand it or can’t get your head wrapped around it).
The bottom line is, you have absolutely nothing to lose and everything to gain. Salvation is simple. If you feel something going on inside of you that tells you that you need more, need a change, need to find purpose, then Jesus is where to find all of that. Jesus said that if you ask He will grant you salvation and eternal life. So, if this is where you are, say a simple prayer like this one: Jesus, I realize that I need more and that I can’t save myself. Come into my heart and life and save me. Then, show me how to move toward the “abundant life” You talked about in Your Word. I now put this question to rest and trust You to do what You promised. Thank you for saving me. Amen.
If you prayed this prayer, it doesn’t matter what you feel…..this is now not up to you….it is up to Jesus to do what He said He would do. And He will save you because He said he would. You might want to go to our section on this web site entitled “Questions That Trouble New Believers.” And, get into a church or Christian gathering that is true to God’s Word. You need fellowship to grow. Remember, the spiritual life is just like physical life in many ways….you lift your head before you roll over, you roll over before you crawl, you crawl before you walk…..you get the picture. If we at The Well can help you, call us or come by and talk to us. May the peace of God that passes all understanding guard your heart and mind in the knowledge and love of Jesus Christ!