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The Gift of Salvation

But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love that He had for us, made us alive with the Messiah even though we were dead in trespasses. You are saved by grace!” – Ephesians 2:4-5

The Bible is replete with illustrations of God’s loving grace. I would like to bring four specific stories to light that are prime examples of how we are saved through God’s grace alone. First, in Genesis there is the story of how Adam and Eve sinned against God. After disobeying God’s direct command they tried to cover over their sin and shame using plant leaves. However, they did not realize the true cost of their sin; they would have to die. Upon passing judgment on the first people, God bestowed upon them not only a way to cover their shame, but also a prototype of how he would eventually redeem them. He covered them with animal skin. Implied in that statement is that an animal had to die and shed its blood in order to provide the skin. This was a clear foreshadowing of the idea that though the shedding of blood, Christ would clothe them with righteousness.

The second story comes from the moment when God was making a covenant with Abraham. The author of Genesis records the sacrificial animals of the covenant were split in half. The next step to solidifying the covenant would have been for Abraham and God to have passed between the split animals; however, Abraham fell asleep. Due to Abraham’s inability to fulfill his end of the covenant, God allowed both a “smoking fire pot and a flaming torch” to pass through the animal halves sealing the covenant without Abraham’s participation. In this instance the fire pot represented “Israel’s misery in the iron furnace of Egypt”[1] and the torch represented God’s presence. Here again the grace of God saves apart from anything that humanity had done.

The third story centers on Moses and the Ten Commandments. Unlike in most modern depictions, the Ten Commandments were not given with five written on each of the two tablets. Rather, the entire list of the Ten Commandments was written on each tablet. One tablet was for the people to keep reminding them of the requirements of their God, and the other one was for God to solidify the binding nature of the covenant. However, in practice, both of the tablets were kept in the Ark of the Covenant in the holiest of holies in the temple of Jerusalem[2][3]. This represented the Jews understanding that they were incapable of maintaining the covenant and required God’s help both in its maintenance and in forgiveness for breaking it. Yet again, man is unable to maintain his end of the bargain and so must resort completely to God’s grace for salvation.[4]

The final story and the story to which all others point is described in Colossians 2:13-14:

And when you were dead in trespasses and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive with Him and forgave us all our trespasses. He erased the certificate of debt, with its obligations, that was against us and opposed to us, and has taken it out of the way by nailing it to the cross.

The debt we could not pay, the debt that required eternal separation from God, was nailed to a cross and expunged. There is no way through any means of our own that we could have paid or survived that debt. And so God in His infinite grace and mercy cancelled it through the death of His Son which paid it for it in full. This was all accomplished by God with no help on our part.  All of this points to one thing: God’s grace does it all!

[1] Matthew Poole’s Commentary on Genesis 15:17

[2] 1 Kings 8:9

[3] Hebrews 9:3-4

[4] Dr. Bruce Waltke, “Understanding the Old Testament: Lectures 5, 6”

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How Great A Salvation

I was intrigued by the recent news of the man in Australia who got his leg stuck between a subway car and the track. Things looked ominous as the car doors were closing and the man feared for both his leg and his life. Here’s the man:

Then something happened… the crowd came up and pushed and pushed until the man was able to pull out his leg and walked off unharmed.

This man was saved by the crowd of rescuers, deliverers if you will.  We love salvation stories and at least for me, there’s nothing more thrilling than genres and movies like Taken, Blood Diamond, or Argo. These stories point to a greater redemption of what Jesus did. Frankly, there’s nothing greater than what Jesus did on the cross to bring such a remarkable, great, life altering salvation in our lives.

According to Scripture, God is a Savior, and Jesus did what it took for us to be saved from eternal separation from the love of God. Viewing salvation as past tense history, archaic, dated, or old news is part of the problem. We’ve all encountered some who say, “oh yeah, that happened to me way back when.” Salvation may have happened back then, but our appreciation for it must be current and real. Hebrews 2:3 says: “how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?”

 

Salvation is the story of God. It’s historic reality. But it’s also present tense, radical, transformational, enlivening, and amazing. It’s now:
“Behold, now is “the acceptable time,” behold, now is “the day of salvation” ” (2 Corinthians 6:2).

 

We shouldn’t cast aside and forget the greatest thing that ever happened to us. We can remind ourselves daily and tell everyone of this amazing news. Being rescued from ourselves, our sin and eternal separation from God is cause for real joy. I’m sure the man who was stuck in the Australian Subway is still talking about his deliverance.  Telling what God did in our lives years ago is wonderful. but Salvation is a “now” word as well. It’s meant to be fresh… much like this all too familiar image:

Experiencing salvation is beyond amazing. We, the very ones who long to rescue, are ourselves in need of this rescue. Our legs are trapped. Our heart and affections are glued to this world. Our vain imaginations set on all sorts of idols. We need a Savior. We have one, the only One who can deliver. He’s eager to do so, just believe and He will be yours today.

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MSNY to EveryNationNYC

MSNY changed it’s name to Every Nation NYC celebrating 12 years of fruitful and expanding ministry. Watch this unforgettable presentation on the Person of Jesus Christ and the benefits of salvation by the legendary Luis Palau