I am Saved

Saved from Fear of Death

After this I looked, and there was a vast multitude from every nation, tribe, people and language, which no one could number, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were robed in white with palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: Salvation belongs to our God, who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb! Revelation 7:9 HCSB

This scene is from heaven.  I’m so thankful John recorded in Revelation.  Death holds no sting for me.  That’s one of the things I’m saved from – fear of dying.  And I’m not the only one.  History is full of tales of Christians who died rejoicing.  One elderly musician who had spent his life praising God with his voice opened his eyes one last time to utter: “Wow. Wow!” and then he was gone.  Lottie Moon, famous missionary to China, was said to spend her last breaths uttering greetings to Chinese believers who had gone before.  Can’t you just see her in the throng this verse from Revelation describes?

O!Mag, a Bible study and commentary blog, records some more Christians’ last words.  You can find the orginal post here http://www.oh-mag.com/in-between-studies/last-words/

John Pawson, minister:“I know I am dying, but my deathbed is a bed of roses. I have no thorns planted upon my dying pillow. In Christ, heaven is already begun!”

Adoniram Judson, American missionary to Burma:“I go with the gladness of a boy bounding away from school. I feel so strong in Christ.”

John A. Lyth:“Can this be death? Why, it is better than living! Tell them I die happy in Jesus!”

Martha McCrackin:“How bright the room! How full of angels!”

Mary Frances: “Oh, that I could tell you what joy I possess! The Lord does shine with such power upon my soul!”

Sir David Brewster, scientist and inventor of the kaleidoscope: “I will see Jesus; I shall see Him as He is! I have had the light for many years. Oh how bright it is! I feel so safe and satisfied!”

But it’s not so for unbelievers, for those separated from Christ forever … for the unsaved.  Many years ago in Africa, my husband returned from a visit to a nearby village, visibly shaken.  He sat down, pale, and told me this story.

An African woman lay dying on a mat in her mud hut.  She had spent her life sacrificing to ancestors, trusting in amulets, and worshipping carved masks, but it was obvious none of that was going to help her now.  Her family called my husband in to pray for her.  He stepped into the gloom of the hut just as she opened her eyes for the last time.

“I watched her face — as she stared into hell.  She uttered a horrible cry, and was gone.  I’ve never – never – seen an expression on someone’s face like that before,” he told me.

The unsaved have no peace at death, or for any moment thereafter.

These words, also drawn from O!Mag post above, are attributed to non-Christians at their moment of death:

Edward Gibbon, author of the Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire:“All is lost, irrecoverably lost. All is dark and doubtful.”

David Hume: The atheist died in utter despair with an awful scene crying out, “I am in the flames!”

Karl Marx: Was on his deathbed surrounded by candles burning to Lucifer and screamed at his nurse who asked him if he had any last words, “Go on, get out! Last words are for fools who haven’t said enough.”

Sir Thomas Scott: “Until now I thought there was no God or hell. Now I know there is both, and I am doomed.”

I am saved from doom.  Saved to a life of rejoicing around the throne with others from every tribe and tongue and nation.

Praise God. I’m saved.

I am Saved

By Grace Alone

“But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’ ~Luke 18:13, NASB

When I was younger, I insisted on doing everything myself. That way I could do it the way I wanted, and at the end of whatever I was doing, I could say, “I did it myself!”

A little time, little age, four kids, and a weak back have diminished quite a bit of that independent drive. There are things that I simply can’t do. Moving large rocks, for example. Opening stuck jars. Making big decisions. I can’t do these things on my own—some of them I can’t do at all.

At some point in our lives, I think, we all have to come to terms with our weaknesses. Weaknesses that seem to increase as time ticks by. Spiritually, however, we have to come to terms with our total inadequacy. Anything more than a completely humble heart who throws himself on the mercy of God is pride.

Pride doesn’t work for salvation. If I come to God with a list of virtues and a ready argument for my qualifications for His kingdom, I will be disqualified. He doesn’t want my resume.

Jesus relayed the story in our verse for today as an illustration, and He followed this tax-collector’s humbled prayer with this commentary: “I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

I am not qualified for the Kingdom by my own merit. My resume is stained and unworthy. Yet I am saved. Saved by grace alone.

I am Saved

Only One Way to be Saved

There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to people by which we must be saved. Acts 4:12 HCSB

He bowed his grey head, his wise face serene. The African rainforest loomed behind him, strung with vines and bursting with green.  A monkey shrieked in the distance.

“May our ancestors forgive us and give us blessings,” he said in his tribal language, touching his forehead.

“Amina!” the crowd chorused around him.  It means “amen.”

“May they give us good crops and much rain.”

“Amina.”

“Please accept our sacrifice, ancestors.”

“Amina.”

Then, he tipped the gourd he was holding, spilling a bit of the palm wine out onto the fertile earth.  He touched the wet spot and then his forehead again.  The other elders, all clad in robes of homespun navy and white, crouched down around the puddle to do the same.  Now, they could drink from the gourd.  The sacrifice had appeased their dead relatives, whose spirits would more likely help them now.

These precious people in West Africa trust in the good will of the spirits.  If they have it, their children will live and go to school, their rice harvest will be plenty, their village will prosper.  If they make the spirits angry, though, their babies will die, drought will choke the rice and the village will wither.  Who will save them if the ancestors don’t?

Animism is a religion of fear.

Across the planet, Asian families burn incense to Buddha in gilded temples. On the same continent, Indians strive to please a pantheon of gods. In the Middle East, Muslims try very, very hard to be good and keep all of Allah’s rules. Right here in the United States, millions of people think that if they just live uprightly, God will let them into heaven – even if they’ve never really known His son.

We all have one thing in common.  We all believe in God.  True atheists are rather rare, and I never met one in Africa.  But so many of us from some many different cultures try to reach God through doors he’s said will not open.  He’s made an exclusive path.  It’s not politically correct to say it, but it’s the truth: Salvation is found in no one else but Jesus Christ.

Salvation from what?  From fear.  From rules so numerous we can never keep them. From working so hard to please a god whose favor is not sure at all.

Salvation from wrath.  We deserve a fiery punishment for all we’ve done wrong, and Jesus provided the way out of that – the only way.

Salvation from meaninglessness. Salvation from myself.

I’m saved – by the only savior there is.  Precious Jesus.

I am Saved

Clean Hands and a Smudged Face

Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, And cleanse me from my sin. ~Psalm 51:2, NKJV

This ongoing, forever sure salvation is mine. Given by the amazing grace of God, being revealed daily, and stored up for the time when I meet Him in the home He is preparing.

Yeah, see, this is indeed why an unbeliever quirks their eyebrows at our vocabulary. A question flashes through their mind, so blatant I can read it on their face.

Why do I need to be saved?

You’re a sinner.

Naw, I’m a pretty good person. I pay my taxes, take care of my family, and haven’t stolen anything more important that a pencil.

But you’re still a sinner.

I don’t know what you’re talking about.

Kind of like a conversation I had once with my son when he didn’t want to take a bath. “Mom, my hands are clean. I just washed them.”

I looked at his smudged face, inhaled is odoriferous, sweaty little boy stench. “No, son, you’re dirty.”

“But I just washed my hands!”

He couldn’t see his grimy face. He didn’t recognize that he stinks. All he knew is that his hands were clean.

This is our unsaved hearts. I can’t come to God with clean hands and a smudged face—it’d be like my son only washing his hands before going to his uncle’s wedding. He can’t be the ring bearer smelling like last week’s socks and looking like he’d rolled in the dust. It just isn’t done, because it’s rude, it’s disrespectful, and it’s wrong.

We look at our works and maybe think, I’m good. I don’t need a cleansing. But the truth is, without the scrubbing that comes from Christ, we stink.  Every one of us. So when I say that I’m saved, I’m saying that I have been and I am being washed. Washed in the atonement given by the death and resurrection of Jesus, so that now I can go to the wedding. Clean, inside and out.

I am Saved

I am Saved: A Joint Post

I am Saved: A Joint Post

Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.  For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God though the death of His son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.  Romans 5:9-10

From Susan

“Saved” is such a churchy word.  I hesitate to use it when I’m talking to someone outside the church culture, because I’m afraid it will conjure up images of sweaty televangelists and Bible-thumping, out-of-touch do-gooders in my listener’s mind.  But it is such a beautiful word, one that sums up so much amazing theology in a single syllable.  So why does it sound so odd to non-believers?

One of my quirks is that I love English grammar, so bear with me.  I think it’s because in regular English, we don’t go around talking about “being saved” very often.  If a flailing toddler is snatched out of a swimming pool, he doesn’t grow up and tell his girlfriend, “Hey, I’m saved from drowning.”  Oh, he might tell her the story, but not in that syntax.  He’d place it as a one-time event firmly in the past. “When I was 2, my uncle saved me from drowning.”

So why do we Christians put in the present tense so often?  The clue, I think, is in this verse.  We were (past tense) saved from our sins by Jesus’ death on the cross, and we shall be (future tense) saved from the wrath of God because of it.  And right now, today, I am (present tense) reconciled to God, saved from a meaningless life on earth separated from Him.

It’s ongoing, this salvation of mine.  It happened when I was 8 years old.  It’s happening now. And after I die, when I stand before God, it will happen.

From Jen

There is an interesting transition in this verse. Saved means more than the typical “He saved me from my sin” that Christians will often say. That idea, in the context of this verse, is communicated by the word ‘justified.’ A legal term, and not really one that is personal. It means that I have been declared ‘not guilty,’ because of some legitimate cause—in this case, the sacrifice of Christ. In other words, my sin is paid for, so therefore God declares that justice has been met.

This is distant to me. One may have gratitude, or relief because of this legal justification, but it isn’t personal. Not in the way we mean when we say “Jesus is my savior.” But look at the transition in this verse. Our sin has been justified, we are saved from the wrath of God… and having been saved, we are now reconciled…and now that we are reconciled, we are saved.

Is this circular? Perhaps. But follow the progress, because it leads to life. Justified (no longer standing in punishment), saved (from deserved wrath), saved (from both wrath and punishment by the death of Christ) reconciled (brought into a right relationship with God) and then saved (by the life, the resurrection of Jesus, to a life in and with Him).

No wonder we say we are saved, as in the perfect present tense. It isn’t simply a one-time event. It isn’t in the impersonal past. It happened then, it is happening now. I know, because God allows me to have a relationship with Him. I know, because I live.