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 belong

Belonging to Christ, not the Law

So, my brothers and sisters, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God.

Romans 7:4 NIV

“I just can’t do anything right!  I can’t please you!”  Have you ever yelled those words? Screamed them in your head?  Usually, they are directed at a person whose expectations are just too much for you to meet, but whom you desperately want to make happy.

A father.  A mother.  A husband.  A child. “I love you.  I want you to be pleased with me. I keep trying, this way and that way, with new techniques, new resolve, with effort overflowing, and yet … I fail.  I can’t keep all your rules and follow all your directions perfectly enough to win your favor.”

That’s the position the Israelites were in with the Old Testament law.  They had a gazillion rules to keep, and they kept breaking them, because those Israelites were as human and broken and sinful as you and me.  They had become slaves to the law.  It had become miserable.

And then Jesus came, offering a new way to find God.  Not through rules, but through grace.  This verse describes the turning point.  Before, you were married to the law.  You belonged to it.   But you died to it.  And you have a new life now, one in which you belong to someone utterly unlike the law – Jesus.

Instead of offering us a list of rules and a grumpy face because He knows we’ll break them, Jesus says … Come, be mine.  Let me love you. Give your life to me and let me mold you. Let me point out your sins, not to wear you down but to help you live more freely without their chains. Let me accept you despite all your faults.  You please me, just because … you belong to me.

When we live under that kind of freedom, when we are cherished by God, the good fruits (good works) grow out of grateful hearts transformed, not enslaved hearts striving to try to get it right.

Belonging. Freedom. Joy.  Mine in Christ.