The Joy Of Salvation
THE JOY OF SALVATION
Sermon By Terry Siverd
Cortland Church of Christ / April 14, 2019
JOY comes in varying degrees.
Imagine for a moment that you are professional baseball player (let's say, one of Cleveland Indians).
Let's also pretend that you're a starting pitcher and you are called upon to start game one of the World Series.
It's a home game, the starting time is 7pm, there is a sell-out crowd and a TV/radio audience numbering in the millions.
You have dreamed about this day since your days in little league, back when you were in single digits, age-wise.
Three hours before game-time you get a call in the clubhouse delivering the news that your wife,
who has come to full term with your soon-to-be first-born child, has suddenly gone into labor.
You have been eagerly anticipating this event for nine months and maybe longer.
Perhaps you've been working on the conception of this first child for months and even years.
The big day has finally arrived, what choice will you make?
Do you tell your manager, “I'm good to go, I'll pitch as scheduled. I'm not going to miss this 'chance of a lifetime'.”
… or, do you tell Tito - - “Sorry coach, you're going to need to reassign me to pitch in game two - -
I wouldn't miss the birth of my first child for anything - - not even for a world series ring.”
One could argue that this is a no-brainer.
Both occasions may involve genuine JOY, but one is a joy that supersedes the other.
Being there for the birth of your first child is more important that the game of baseball.
It is not carnal to consider the thrill of pitching in the world series to be a legitimate joy.
Ball players work ever so diligently honing their skills to prepare themselves for an opportunity to play in the BIGS.
When that day arrives, it brings a joy that is real and genuine and an accomplishment that shouldn't be minimized.
It even has the backing of Scripture (Eccl.9:10a) - -
Whatever your hand finds to do, verily, do it with all your might...
I could have made this make-believe scenario a bit more challenging - -
what if it was game seven of the world series, instead of game one?
The point I'm trying to make here at the outset of this final lesson in our Job-Robbers series,
is simply this: there are varying degrees of joy. And, yes, there are even many shades of legitimate joy.
As we mentioned in last Sunday's sermon, there is even a profound joy
that can be discovered that is inter-connected with suffering and death.
One day a bunch of golfers were preparing to tee-off, when a funeral hearse drove by with a
stream of cars slowly following. One golfer paused, stood at attention and put his hat on his heart.
His buddies asked, “Did you know that person?” He responded, “She was a good wife.”
We might laugh, but we know that this joke is sorely twisted.
We might find golfing to be fun, but come on!
Today, I want to speak about THE HIGHEST JOY - - that being THE JOY OF SALVATION.
This word salvation is a cherished word, a word to be held ever so dearly.
Nothing compares with being SAVED.
This is especially true when salvation is put in the context of having our sins forgiving by Almighty God.
We will never fully appreciate the concept of salvation, until we first recognize our own LOSTNESS.
On the footer of last Sunday's FamilyMatters was the following quote:
“Thinking that I deserve heaven is a sure sign that I have no understanding of the gospel”.
My wife funneled that quote my way - - I'm not sure from whence it came.
The gospel of Christ is God's plan of salvation. It is the answer to man's SIN PROBLEM.
Sometimes people are well-aware of their own sinfulness.
Not just the volume of their sins, but the magnitude and ugliness of their sins.
John Newton, who lived between 1725-1807, was such a man.
In his early days he had served as a sailor in Britain's Royal Navy. Afterward he became a captain
of slave ships - - participating in horrible atrocities, treating fellow human beings as scum.
Thankfully, his world was awaken by the gospel of Christ.
He later became a minister and (perhaps providently) lived to see England declare the abolition of slavery.
His hymn, Amazing Grace, conveys both a conviction of his own sinfulness and a deep appreciation for God's grace.
Amazing grace! How sweet the sound! That saved a wretch like!
I once was LOST, but now I'm found; Was blind, but now I see.
'Twas GRACE that taught my heart to fear, And grace my fears relieved.
How precious did that grace appear the hour I first believed.
Many years before John Newton was born, we read in Scripture about a man named Saul of Tarsus.
This Saul, by the grace of God, became the apostle Paul whom we admire in our New Testaments.
Paul writes of his conversion in 1Tim.1:12-17 - -
I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting
me into service; even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor.
And yet I was shown mercy, because I acted ignorantly in unbelief; and the grace of our Lord was
more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus. It is a trustworthy
statement, deserving full acceptance, that CHRIST JESUS CAME INTO THE WORLD TO SAVE SINNERS,
among whom I am foremost of all. And yet for this reason I found mercy, in order that in me as the
foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience, as an example for those who would
believe in Him for eternal life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible,
the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.
One of the greatest challenges us modern-day preachers face is this issue of preaching LOSTNESS.
We can never comprehend and appreciate the true meaning of salvation if we fail to grasp our own utter lostness.
This is where the Word of God becomes so vital. The Scriptures convict of us sin.
One cannot read The Bible and not begin to take note of his/her own sinfulness.
If we read the sacred writing carefully and diligently we will surely come to understand
the centrality of Paul's words in Rom.3:10 / there is none righteous, not even one.
And Rom.3:23 / all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
The good news of the gospel is that (Christ) gave Himself for our sins (Gal.1:4).
He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree (1Pet.2:24).
God made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf that
we might become the righteousness of God in Him (2Cor.5:21).
Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us (Gal.3:13).
Jn.3:16 is without a doubt one of the most beloved and celebrated verses in all of Scripture.
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son,
that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.
My fear is that this expression, “BELIEVES in Him”, is often translated as an easy response to the gospel.
The apostle Paul bookends his epistle to the Romans with an expression that helps in fully defining belief.
Paul speaks of “the obedience of faith” (Rom.1:5 and Rom.16:26).
Faith is not some form of easy believism. True faith requires obedience to the will of God.
Without nullifying grace, Paul's words help underscore the importance of faith.
Listen to Paul's reiteration of this very point in Eph.2:8 - - For by GRACE you have been saved through FAITH.
Grace and Faith are twin pillars in God's plan of redemption.
This is where BAPTISM comes to be so important. Baptism is the full expression of faith.
We see its importance in numerous places in the book of Acts (stories of conversion).
In Acts 9 & 22 Paul tells and re-tells his own conversion.
Paul met Christ in a vision of sorts on the road to Damascus. Jesus spoke to him saying (Acts 9:5-6),
“Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? … rise and enter the city, and it shall be told to you what you must do!
Acts 9 reveals that Paul immediately began to engage in fasting and praying (Acts 9:9 & 11).
In Acts 22:16, Paul records that God sent Ananias to instruct him. Listen to the God-given words of Ananias:
Why do you delay? Arise, and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name.
Now notice, in another passage from Acts, the connection between baptism and salvation.
In Acts 8:35f, Philip preached Jesus to the Ethiopian treasurer.
Seamlessly, the text continues, As they went along the road they came to some water;
and the eunuch said, 'Look! Water! What prevents me from being baptized?'
And Philip said, 'If you believe with all your heart, you may.'
They both went down into the water, Philip as well as the eunuch, and he baptized him.
Vs.39 concludes saying, (the eunuch) went on his way REJOICING.
There is nothing greater than the JOY OF SALVATION that comes when we are baptized into Christ Jesus.
I like that song by Andy Grammer (it accompanies some vacation ad on TV)
I think I finally found my hallelujah! I've been waiting for this moment all my life.
Perhaps the only joy that rival such is the joy we derive in helping others to find salvation in Christ.
Tell the story of the first time Keith Chopic took part in helping to baptize another.
It was exhilarating!
I'll close with a brief reading from Luke's gospel (Lk.15:3-32).
Lk.15:6 / Rejoice with me, for I have found the sheep that was lost!
Lk.15:10 / There is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.
Lk.15:32 / we had to be merry and rejoice, for this brother of yours
was dead and has begun to live, was lost and has been found.
Lord willing, soon I'm going to begin a new series dealing with The Way Of Salvation that will lead us up to camp time.
I hope that you will plan to join with us this summer and try your best not to miss a single sermon.
I'd also like to invite all of you to join with us here again tonight at 6:30.
We will be discussing “Seven Ways To Tell If You've Lost The Joy Of Salvation.”