Tag Archive | Salvation

Zacchaeus, saved by faith–faith that works

"And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, ‘Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham.’" (Luke 19:8-9)

Zacchaeus, a chief tax collector, a rich man despised by others, welcomes Jesus with haste and with joy and is received by Him in the same manner: with haste and with joy, quickly and gladly.

But what is it that brought salvation to Zacchaeus? It almost seems as if he offers Jesus a self-righteous, self-justified list of reasons why Jesus should accept him. "Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold."

But Jesus knows the heart.

Jesus reveals the true reason Zacchaeus was saved: "Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham."

Zacchaeus was more than a son of Abraham by birth. A son of Abraham is not an Israelite, but any man, woman, or child in the whole world who puts their faith in Jesus Christ.

"Abraham ‘believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.’ Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham." (Galatians 3:6-7)

But faith is not dead. Zacchaeus’ seemingly self-righteous list of good deeds was not self-righteous at all. Faith like Abraham’s does not lie dormant. Faith works.

"Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar?" (James 2:21)

The little story of the little man Zacchaeus encourages us, encourages me, that Jesus will gladly receive even the chiefest tax collector, and even the chiefest tax collector can be made a new creation, and be lead by the Spirit to do good works in the name of Jesus Christ.

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God’s Salvation: Forever

“Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look at the earth beneath; for the heavens vanish like smoke, the earth will wear out like a garment, and they who dwell in it will die in like manner; but my salvation will be forever, and my righteousness will never be dismayed.” (Isaiah 51:6)

When God saves, He saves forever. Everything He begins He finishes. What He promises, He performs. He is faithful. “Whatever God does endures forever” (Ecclesiastes 3:14).

  • “When Christ appeared as a high…he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption” (Hebrews 9:11-12).

Eternal: that which always has been and always will be. Never to cease. Everlasting.

  • “This is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day” (John 6:40).

Everyone.

Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. Everyone who is saved is saved forever.

I state this so factually because the bible does. I do not state it to raise an argument (the argument has been going on for centuries) nor do I state it to finish an argument (as long as man is man, the argument will continue). I state this truth in hopes that a storm-tossed and weary soul might find refuge and hope in Christ’s words.

Assurance

I have never met a Christian that had this assurance from the start. Doubts are inevitable. Thankfully, we are not saved by the strength of our faith or in reverse-proportion to the measure of our doubts (as if the more we doubt the less we are saved), we are saved once for all by the object of our faith: Jesus Christ.

So if you have wrestled from time to time or are constantly seriously concerned, I implore you to rest in Christ. Rest in the knowledge of His eternal salvation. Get to know His word so that you can do battle with your doubts. And don’t think the doubts themselves are a sign that you are lost—you are working out your salvation, and that is healthy if you are seeking Him in the process.

I simply pray that you come to the conclusion that Christ is your Forever-Savior. I pray that you can say with confidence, like Paul, “I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).

He saved us according to his own mercy

1 Kings 20:15, 29

“…He mustered all the people of Israel, seven thousand. …And the people of Israel struck down of the Syrians 100,000 foot soldiers in one day.”

The Lord makes it clear to us why He chose to work in such a miraculous way on behalf of Israel in this particular battle. Verse 28: “Because the Syrians have said, ‘The LORD is a god of the hills but he is not a god of the valleys,’ therefore I will give all this great multitude into your hand, and you shall know that I am the LORD.”

Because the Syrians have not recognized Me as God and because you haven’t either, I am going to prove Myself to both of you.

It is typical of the Lord to intervene in the matters of men, not for the sake of the righteousness of men, but for the sake of His righteousness and for His name’s sake. Remember what the Lord told the people of Israel when they first came into the promise land:

  • Deuteronomy 9:3-7; “Know therefore today that he who goes over before you as a consuming fire is the LORD your God. He will destroy them and subdue them before you. So you shall drive them out and make them perish quickly, as the LORD has promised you. Do not say in your heart, after the LORD your God has thrust them out before you, ‘It is because of my righteousness that the LORD has brought me in to possess this land,’ whereas it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the LORD is driving them out before you. Not because of your righteousness or the uprightness of your heart are you going in to possess their land, but because of the wickedness of these nations the LORD your God is driving them out from before you, and that he may confirm the word that the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. Know, therefore, that the LORD your God is not giving you this good land to possess because of your righteousness, for you are a stubborn people. Remember and do not forget how you provoked the LORD your God to wrath in the wilderness. From the day you came out of the land of Egypt until you came to this place, you have been rebellious against the LORD.”

This correlates directly with the Gentile’s inclusion in the body of Christ. Listen to Paul’s words in Romans chapter 11:

  • Romans 11:15-24; “For if [Israel’s] rejection means the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance mean but life from the dead? If the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, so is the whole lump, and if the root is holy, so are the branches. But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, although a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing root of the olive tree, do not be arrogant toward the branches. If you are, remember it is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you. Then you will say, ‘Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.’ That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast through faith. So do not become proud, but fear. For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you. Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off. And even they, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God has the power to graft them in again. For if you were cut from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and grafted, contrary to nature, into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these, the natural branches, be grafted back into their own olive tree.”

The Lord has not saved us because we were deserving. If that were the case it would not be “saving” at all. God saved us because He decided to. He purposed to bring us to Him. He set His love on us even though we had spit in His face and rejected Him. Our inclusion in His family, our stake in the inheritance of eternal life, is only based on His mercy and grace which we receive through faith.

The overriding theme of Paul’s thought is “Do not become proud, but fear.” You do not support God, but God supports you. You did not initiate a relationship with God, He did. And just as He did not act on behalf of Israel in the Old Testament because of their righteousness, so He has not saved you because of yours.

  • Titus 3:3-7; “For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”
  • 2 Timothy 1:9; “[God] saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began….”
  • Ephesians 2:1-9; “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience–among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ–by grace you have been saved– and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”

The Lord made it clear to Israel that He set His love on them and chose to help them just because that’s what He wanted to do. His mercy directs His actions. His grace constrains Him to act on behalf of man. It is also true of us that He has saved us based on His mercy, His grace, and His love alone.

Every man, woman, or child is included in His sphere of love “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life;” John 3:16. And this He has done not because the world first loved Him but because He loves the world and “desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth;” 1 Timothy 2:4.

Celebrating Jesus’ birth, remembering why He came

Matthew 1:21

“She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

The news of Jesus’ birth came with the simplest of explanations of his mission: He will save his people from their sins.

He will

He has. As we celebrate Christ’s birth we look back in faith to a work that is complete.

  • Hebrews 10:10-14; By [God’s will] we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.

Save

To save: to preserve from destruction, rescue from danger, deliver from calamity. He didn’t came to exalt Himself or condemn us to hell but to save.

  • John 3:16-18; For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

His people

Not only Israel but all who share the faith of Abraham. Anyone who calls out to the Lord for mercy qualifies.

  • Romans 10:9-13; If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

From their sins

Just as the law of gravity says “what goes up must come down,” so the law of sin says “the soul that sins shall surely die.” But by becoming the sacrifice that appeased God’s wrath, Christ has rescued us from sin’s penalty.

  • 1 John 4:10; In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

This Christmas let’s celebrate Jesus’ birth, life, and death—the single demonstration of His great love for all time.

Cling to the Lord

Joshua 23:8

“You shall cling to the LORD your God just as you have done to this day.”

Webster’s 1828 dictionary of American English defines cling as “To adhere closely; to stick to; to hold fast upon, especially by winding round or embracing; as, the tendril of a vine clings to its support. To adhere closely and firmly, in interest or affection; as, men of a party cling to their leader.” Brown-Driver-Briggs’ Hebrew Definitions defines the Hebrew word here translated as cling as “to cling, stick, stay close, cleave, keep close, stick to, stick with, follow closely, join to, overtake, catch.”

Clinging to the Lord is clinging to His word. It’s holding fast to the promise He has given us of eternal life. It’s believing Him. It’s regarding Him as faithful. It’s abiding in His love. It’s continuing with confidence in the gospel He has preached to us through Jesus Christ. It’s hanging on the certainty of forgiveness, righteousness, justification, salvation, eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ.

  • Psalms 119:31; “I cling to your testimonies, O LORD; let me not be put to shame!”
  • Luke 8:15; “As for [the seed that fell] in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience.”
  • 1 Corinthians 15:1-4; “Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you–unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.”
  • Hebrews 3:5-12; “Now Moses was faithful in all God’s house as a servant, to testify to the things that were to be spoken later, but Christ is faithful over God’s house as a son. And we are his house if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope. Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says, ‘Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, on the day of testing in the wilderness, where your fathers put me to the test and saw my works for forty years. Therefore I was provoked with that generation, and said, “They always go astray in their heart; they have not known my ways.” As I swore in my wrath, “They shall not enter my rest.”‘ Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God.”
  • Hebrews 4:14-16; “Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
  • Hebrews 6:17-20; “When God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.”
  • Hebrews 10:19-23; “Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.”

Giving, Jesus’ Way

Luke 21:1-4

“Jesus looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box, and he saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. And he said, ‘Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.'”

Giving of one’s money as a sacrifice for the sake of redemption is futile. No matter how much a person gives, he cannot purchase the salvation of his soul.

  • Psalms 49:7-9; “Truly no man can ransom another, or give to God the price of his life, for the ransom of their life is costly and can never suffice, that he should live on forever and never see the pit.”‘

Giving of one’s money (especially when in want as this widow was) as worship to the Lord to honor and thank Him for His blessings is joyful and rewarding.

  • 2 Corinthians 8:1-5; “We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints–and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us.”
  • 2 Corinthians 9:6-11; “The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. As it is written, ‘He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.’ He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God.”

Our motivation to give is not to approve ourselves before the Father or to get something in return; our motivation is to give back to Him who first gave everything for us.

  • 2 Corinthians 8:9; “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.”
    • Philippians 2:6-8; “Though [Christ Jesus] was in the form of God, [He] did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
  • 1 Peter 1:18-19; “You were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.”

The Almighty Lord of Glory set aside His kingly vesture to wear a crown of thorns for us. He who is the owner of cattle on a thousand hills humbled Himself low enough to be born in a manger–a cold, stone feeding trough for livestock. He had no place to lay His head while He walked the earth and no place to lay His body when He died. He became the poorest of the poor for you and me. He left His heavenly throne and the angelic choir who sang, “Holy, holy, holy,” day and night to be spat upon and mocked, beaten and nailed to a cross by the people He created.

All of this to make us rich.

All of this so that by faith in Him we could be made sons of God and heirs with Christ. Heirs of eternal life, recipients of mercy, portraits of grace.

Giving Jesus’ way is giving everything for nothing in return. Although through His sacrifice He did gain something. He gained us.

  • Isaiah 53:11; “Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities.”

He gained a kingdom of priests set apart to offer spiritual sacrifices to Him. He gained children made righteous: sinners justified and made to stand in His presence for eternity.

He is All in All

Romans 11:36

“From him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.”

1 Corinthians 8:6; “There is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.”

From Him

He is the author of all things. He is the giver of all things. He is the instigator, initiator, originator, mastermind. All things are from God.

When we were gone astray, it was He who sought as out. When we were at enmity with Him, it was He who wanted reconciliation. He is the source of our salvation. He is the one who initiated a relationship with us. It was His idea, His desire, His plan.

  • Ephesians 2:1-9; “You were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
  • Titus 3:3-7; “For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”

Through Him

Through Him—by means of Himself. Our salvation—our reconciliation with Him—was His own work. We had no righteousness of our own, so He provided it.

  • 1 Corinthians 1:30-31; “And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, ‘Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.'”
  • 2 Corinthians 5:18-19; “And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.”
  • 2 Corinthians 5:21; “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
  • 1 Peter 3:18; “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit.”
  • Isaiah 59:16-17; “He saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no one to intercede; then his own arm brought him salvation, and his righteousness upheld him. He put on righteousness as a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation on his head; he put on garments of vengeance for clothing, and wrapped himself in zeal as a cloak.”
  • Isaiah 63:5; “I looked, but there was no one to help; I was appalled, but there was no one to uphold; so my own arm brought me salvation, and my wrath upheld me.”
  • Psalms 98:1; “Oh sing to the LORD a new song, for he has done marvelous things! His right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him.”‘

To Him

Having wrought salvation for us, our calling is to live unto Him. He brought us to Himself through Jesus Christ so that we could live to Him.

  • 2 Corinthians 5:14-15; “The love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.”
  • Romans 14:7-9 “For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.”
  • 1 Peter 4:1-2; “Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God.”
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