2008-04-27pm Lord’s Day 11 Q&A 29&30 God the Son—Salvation
This morning, I mentioned comments made by non-Christians concerning a news item on the CBC website. Frankly I was surprised by the sheer number of atheistic comments, anti-Christian comments. And, I was less surprised by some of the unkind Christian comments.
But I suppose what really surprised me was the number of people who wrote against Christianity in particular, and who specifically stated that no religion is necessary at all.
R. C. Sproul once said that North Americans are inoculated against Christianity. That is to say, if Christianity was a virus, they’d never get it. They’ve been exposed to enough stuff about Christianity, but concentrated attempts to evangelise result in those people turning away.
The world today does not believe in the need for a saviour.
People approach religion like a buffet. They pick out what they like and ignore the rest. What they end up with on their plate is a mishmash, a pruck, a smorgasbord of spiritual stuff.
But even though this sounds good, it doesn’t work.
While it might be conceivably possible to mix religions, you cannot mix Christianity with anything else.
Christianity, by definition, according to this Lord’s Day, is exclusive. Jesus saves us from our sins. Salvation cannot be found in anyone else; it is futile to look for salvation elsewhere.
Furthermore, Christianity involves the worship of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God has expressly forbidden the worship of anything other than Him. Therefore, it is impossible to mix religions with Christianity.
Now one quick word on why I keep saying mixing religions with Christianity. Isn’t Christianity a religion?
Mark Driscoll, I think in the sermon on the creation of the world, gives a very good definition of religion and explains why Christianity isn’t one.
Every religion on the planet, throughout time and history has had an obedience component. If you obey, then you’ll get whatever is promised, Nirvana, heaven, whatever. But if you disobey, then you’ll forfeit what might be coming to you. Even people who claim to be non-religious behave in this manner. This is their outlook.
R. C. Sproul talks about this reality as well. Most people, if you ask them, do anticipate some final reckoning. A lot of them assume that they’ve been good enough to get by, and that everything will work out well in the end.
But Christianity is different. It is not a religion. There are no special hoops that you have to jump through. You’re final judgement, the decision of whether or not you will enter into heaven will not be based on your merits as a person, on how well you lived your life.
Christianity gives you up front, everything you need for everlasting life. There’s only one thing you need. Jesus. Jesus is the saviour. In Jesus we have everything we need for salvation.
Going to church won’t get us into heaven. Helping old ladies across the street will not get us into heaven. Knocking on doors handing out tracts will not get us into heaven. The only thing that gets us into heaven is the righteousness of Christ.
And we attain the righteousness of Christ through faith.
Everything we need, we find in Christ. Salvation is in him alone.
But why is this? How can we make such a claim? Don’t religions have some truth? Don’t we come off as intolerant, bigoted, self-righteous, if we claim we have the only truth?
Well, we can’t possibly control how others portray us. One person who commented on that news article said the Christian responses, offers of prayer, etc. offended them.
We cannot anticipate how people will respond.
But our focus isn’t on what other people will think, is it? Our focus is on God! We care only what He thinks. We care not about reactions, but instead with the truth.
The ministry of the church is telling people the truth about Jesus Christ, who he is, why he had to die, why he rose again, and why he will come to judge the world. The role of the church is to witness Christ.
Our passage this evening shows why. Jesus is the image of the invisible God. When God created Adam and Eve, he created them in the image of His Son. Jesus is the firstborn over all creation. No, this does not mean that Jesus was created, but we looked at that a few weeks ago, didn’t we?
Paul goes on to explain what he means when he says Jesus is the first born of all creation: for by him all things were created, things in heaven, which are invisible, and things on earth which are visible. Everything we see, and the stuff we can’t see all the powers of the world, all things were created by him and for him.
Not only did he create all things (God the Father created everything through Christ), they were created for him, for His purposes. He is prime, he is first. Without Christ, the world flies apart.
He’s the head of the body, the church; the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead.
Remember the baptism this morning, in the form, it said that baptism signifies that we died with Christ, and we’ve been raised with Christ also. Jesus is the firstborn of us, he’s the firstborn so that He would have supremacy.
The fullness of God is seen in Christ. To see Christ is to see the Father! To know Christ is to know the Father.
God the Father sent Christ to reconcile all things to Him, things in heaven and on earth. This phrase heaven and earth is a merismus. A merismus is a phrase that uses two complementary but opposite words to indicate a whole. So heaven and earth means everything in heaven, everything on earth and everything in between. You’ve probably heard phrases that include night and day, in that merismus, the author is conveying all of time.
God sent Christ in order to make peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
The peace that Paul refers to here is peace between God and people, not necessarily peace between people. Clearly history has shown that peace has always been elusive. Cain killed his brother. Murder has been a part of life ever since.
But Christ came, paid the atonement on the cross, and bought us peace with God.
This is the gospel, Jesus Christ came to make peace. He came to bring us into God’s presence. Apart from Christ, that never would have happened.
Such was the state of humanity that the only way to make us at peace with God was the cross.
It amazes me that so many people have and wear the symbol of the cross, but hardly give thought to its meaning.
The cross became more than just a Roman execution method. It became the way of salvation.
No, this does not mean, that when we take up our crosses, we need to physically pick them up and get really crucified. Rather, it means that Christ’s death was the first, last, and only atoning sacrifice needed to make us right with God.
The cross of Christ ended alienation from God. It is the ceasefire, we’re no longer enemies in our minds.
This phrase is huge.
There is a lot of talk lately about spiritual warfare, about how to deal with demons, and the like. John MacArthur says some is good, some is bad.
But Paul in 2 Cor. 10:3-5 makes it clear that the weapons we use are not from the world, they are spiritual, for they have divine power to destroy strongholds.
Now, when you hear about strongholds, what do you think about? Do you picture demons inhabiting people, blocking all your attempts to get through to that person?
That’s not the picture Paul presents, he says strongholds are “arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5). Strongholds are arguments and pretension that are set up against the knowledge of God.
Do you know what the biggest stronghold is in the world? Evolution. Evolution and the general atheistic claims of science. Science is the newest religion. People are worshipping science. It is not as though science is bad, or wrong, or evil in itself. But people are worshipping science.
According to so called scientific evolution, everything we see is a fluke. It all happened by accident. This is directly opposed to what we’ve just read in Colossians! We believe that the universe was created by God the Father through Christ. But atheistic science does not allow for that at all!
So, what we find ourselves battling against are strongholds of the mind! Look what it says in our Colossians passage, verse 21. “Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behaviour.”
So, salvation, evangelism is telling the truth. Informing people about what the world really is like. The universe didn’t happen by accident. People didn’t just randomly generate from occasional mutations. God created the world. God fashioned people in His image. People are important to God. He has reconciled people through Christ’s physical body through death to present us holy in His sight, without blemish and free from accusation—if you continue in your faith.
What is our faith? Our faith is precisely what I’ve just mentioned. God created the world. Christ redeemed the world through His precious blood. Because of that, because we believe that, we will be presented holy in God’s sight. This holiness is not from ourselves, it is from God.
People might well accuse us of being intolerant. They’ll accuse us of all kinds of things. We will face persecution. But when it really matters, when we face God at the end of time, we will be free from accusation.
Not even the evil things we’ve done will be held against us! For when we stand at the end of time, we stand not on our righteousness, but on the righteousness of Christ! All this we’ve received by faith. And the message has been given to everyone.
The comments on the CBC website do indicate some knowledge of God. But not everyone received that knowledge. Some people have rejected it, and they are vocal about rejecting it.
Still others haven’t fully understood it. They don’t realise that you can’t apply mathematical, or scientific proof to faith. Those are two different realms.
So, really, the battle of winning souls for Christ, is a battle of the mind. This is why God has ordained preaching as the method of evangelism. Even though this style of teaching is educationally weak, God has chosen the weaker things in order to manifest, in order to display His strength.
Consider Gideon, God defeated the Midianite army with 300 soldiers! This was to display God’s power. Consider the battle of Jericho. God destroyed the city, all the Israelites had to do was march and trust in God.
God has defeated the power of darkness. All we have to do is trust that God’s promises are true! All we have to do is trust in God’s power at work in us!
In your conversations with people, don’t hesitate to preach the truth. You’ll be amazed at the power of God! Amen!