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  • Salvation

    2010 - 12.08

    DAD, I WANT TO BE A CHRISTIAN

    One the most important conversations   you can have with your child is about salvation.  Salvation is about coming into the proper relationship with God.  This involves understanding what the gospel is, and how to respond to that message.

    There are many words that are associated with the salvation.  Some of these words are: repent, grace, sin, wrath, sinner, God, Jesus, baptism, confess, and faith to name a few.  The most important however are “Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, He was buried, He was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures.”

    As dads we should give deep thought and study to the topic of salvation.  If you talk with your children frequently about God will at some point ask about how to be saved.  Although thinking about salvation will not assure that you will be able to answer all of your children’s questions, you will be able to answer many more of them.  Your ability to explain salvation to your children can have an eternal impact.

     

    An Attitude

    Faith.  Faith is an essential part of a relationship with God.  In fact in the book of Hebrews we find the following statement, “without faith it is impossible to please Him; for he who comes to God must believe that He exists and that He is a rewarder of all of those to search for Him.” (Hebrews 11: 6)

    Salvation sometimes is treated like putting together a chemical mixture.   Believe in the existence of God.  Admit that Jesus was His Son.  Determine to live right and get baptized.  All of these things are important, but understanding what faith means helps us to understand the necessary context that gives meaning and significance to these actions.  Faith is about having confidence in Christ.  Christ, a person, is central.  It is a matter of allegiance, confidence, trust, and loyalty in and to a person.  There may be things that are done, but their significance is only with reference to the person Christ.

    A passage from the Old Testament that is quoted several times in the New Testament is Habakkuk 2:4.  It says “Behold, he whose soul is not upright in him shall fail, but the righteous shall live by his faith.”  The Hebrew language word translated faith has the basic concept of support.   A support is meant to provide safety and security as such the word is associated with concepts such as steadiness, trustworthiness, sureness , and confidence.    Faith has to do with certainty not just a sense of likelihood.[i] 

    The Bible makes it clear that, while faith is associated with faith, it in itself does not deliver a person from trouble.  Deliverance is done by God.  (Psalms 18:2 and Galatians 1:4))  Salvation comes because of who we have faith in.  Faith is the word that describes our attitude toward the one we are counting on to deliver us.  If the one or the thing we are looking to lacks the required strength and wisdom our faith is misplaced.  (Consider Isaiah 44:8-22)

    Another aspect of faith as used in this passage is that it acts.  It lives.   Support can be thought of as a noun or a verb.  The noun idea in the Hebrew is related to the verb concept.  The thing is a support because of how it acts.  A good scripture to read explaining this concept is in the New Testament book of James.  (James 2: 14 – 26)  Biblically faith results in living out of our confidence and commitment.   Hebrews chapter 11 illustrates this by explaining how people acted in keeping with their confidence and commitment.

    Righteous.     The Hebrew word translated righteous in Habakkuk  is based in the concept of conforming to a standard. [ii]   In this case the standard is provided by God.  This type of person is described in Psalms 1.  This person is living based on confidence in God.   There will be those contradicting his confidence in God by their lifestyle and words, but he is not relying on circumstances around Him for direction.  He is looking to God for guidance.  (Romans 10:17)

    The term righteous is related to the condition of being rightly oriented, in this case toward God.   This is called righteousness.   So righteousness is the condition of being conformed to God’s standard. 

    At this point you may want to look at and think about the passages in the New Testament that quote Habakkuk 2:4.  These are Romans 1:17, Galatians 3:11, and Hebrews 10:38.  Read the chapters in which these verses appear and think about how they relate to salvation.   Think about how this is not about relating to a plan or idea, but to a person.   (Gal. 2:20)   

     

    The Person

     

     

    Christianity is about Christ.

    “For I am not ashamed of the gospel: it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.   For in it the righteousness of God is revealed through faith for faith; as it is written, “He who through faith is righteous shall live.”  (Romans 1: 16 – 17)

    Gospel means good news.  One of the things you should ask is does my child know the news about Christ.  It is this news that tells us about Christ.  This news tells about Jesus, how he lived, died and was raised from the dead.   It tells us that Jesus died to save us from sin and its consequences.   God has made a way through Jesus Christ that we can be straight with God.  It is not based upon what we have done or will do.  This way was made by Christ dying on the cross. (John 3:16)

    Teach your child about Jesus.   Read  through one or more of the Gospels.   Tell them why Jesus died.  You may want to take some time to think about  the statement in the Gospel of John in Chapter  two verse 29, and  Old Testament passages such as Isaiah 53: 6 -7  and  Exodus 12.

    It is important that you reflect on the truth that no act you do saves you.   (Acts 4:12; Romans 5:6 -10). You can’t do something so that God owes you salvation.  This understanding needs to be distinguished from the fact that God calls upon us to do things out of trust in His trustworthiness.  God has told us to conduct ourselves in a certain way out of trust in Him and he will honor that trust.  (Hebrews 11:6) The honoring comes not because of us, but because of His Son Jesus.  (I Corinthians 1:9)  You may want to read about Jesus’ relationship with God the Father.  (Hebrews 1;  Hebrews 5:5 ; John 17:1)

    The message of the Gospel is that we need to be in Christ, because He is our only connection with God. (John 14:6).   Through Him we have forgiveness and life.  (John 20:31; Acts 2:38; Acts 10:38).  We are called to be His disciples (Matthew 28:18 -20).

    Christianity is about Christ in you and you in Christ.

     

    The Problem

    You can’t talk about salvation without talking about sin and sinners.   A person does not need saving if they aren’t in trouble.

     Paul writes that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.  Sin can be understood as  missing the mark, having fault in your life or even following another besides God.  The problem of sin in a person’s life is explained in the first few chapters of Romans  and Ephesians 2:1-3.  Sin brings a person under God’s wrath. [1]

    Every Christian has had the sin disease.  I Corinthians 15:3 states that Christ died for our sins. (see also Romans 5:8  and  I Timothy 1:15)

    Denying that sin is part of our lives is declaring Christ to be a liar.  (I  John  1:10).  To say sin has not been in our lives is to deny the truth which Christ declares. 

    Our children’s awareness of sin as part of their life is a part of understanding their need for Christ.   Also realizing that we need help to deal with the sin in our lives is important.  The reality of sin in their lives can and should be a sad experience in your child’s life.  You may want to think about how your will deal with it.   How will you distinguish an understanding of sin from just being afraid?   At some point as you teach about God you will need to help your child with the sin issue in the world.

     

    Committing to Christ

    How does a person become a Christian?  As you reflect on Acts 11:26, you may realize the question could be rephrased, “How does a person become a disciple of Christ?”   

    The term “disciple” in Greek is about being a learner.   The concept of the word  “disciple” as used in the New Testament is “thought accompanied by endeavor” [iii]   You can see the connection between learning and doing as you read Matthew 28: 18 -20.   Becoming a Christian is life changing.

     The Gospel however calls us to more than learning and doing relationship.  Passages such as I Corinthians 1:9 and I John 1:3 inform us that we are called into fellowship.  The idea of fellowship is sharing or partnership.  We are called into partnership with Christ.

    The concept of partnership and sharing involves the idea of acceptance.   The fact that sin has separated us from God means that we need his acceptance, not He ours.  Ephesians 1:6; Romans 5:6 -10 among other scriptures bring out this point.   As has been said before, no one can put God in their debt.  We can’t demand that God accept us, but he does in Christ.  It is grace, which mean a gift, that we are accepted (Ephesians 1:6).  We need to yield to God through Jesus so that we can be reconciled.

    The question to ponder then is how a person gets into the beloved.   Since it is God’s gift we need to be careful that we don’t seek to gift ourselves by making our own way. We need to hear what God says so that we can have confidence that He will give as he has promised.  (Romans 10:17).  We should not expect him to give the gift otherwise.

    Regarding being in Jesus, the beloved of God, the proper approach is presented as being baptized into Christ.  Several passages to think about include  Matthew 28:18-20, Romans 6:3-13  ; Galatians 3:27, and Galatians 2:20.  There are many other passages, but these passages present baptism into Christ as the God approved way to be joined with God through Christ, provided that baptism[2] is an expression of our trust what God had done through Jesus.  (I Peter 3:21 – 4:3; Acts 8:36-37).

     

    In Christ

    When a person is joined to Christ he is a new person (I Cor. 5:17).  God is at work in that person’s life.  (Philippians 2:13)  The Spirit is involved in our prayer life (Rom 8:26).  He is involved in changing us over time.  (Galatians 5:16 -25).   He helps us understand God’s ways (Spiritually discerned)(I Corinthians 2:14).  We have forgiveness of our sins (Colossians 2:14).  We are heir to great and precious promises (2 Peter 2:14).  We have the hope of eternal life (Titus 3:7).

    It is important to remember that while we cooperate with what God is doing with us, we are not earning our salvation.  We are instead demonstrating our confidence in Him by how we live .   This confidence is not only in his wisdom, but the hope that Christ offers.   The changes that happen in our lives should not lead us into the sin of arrogance, as if the change in our lives and our knowledge of God’s way resulted from what we have accomplished.  We are His workmanship (Ephesians  2:10).

     

    Uphold the Cause

    Being a Christian means living in the world but not adopting its standards.  (I John 2:15 -16)  We are a different people (I Peter 2:9).  As a people committed to God we seek to live out his cause.  This is essentially being a disciple.

    “If you love me keep my commandments.”   Jesus said. (John 14:15).   John makes the same point again and again in I John.  You may want to read and think about this short book.

    Jesus calls on His disciples not just to make an initial statement of commitment.  If the faith is real it will result in a life of service to Christ.  Jesus lives and so we serve Him as our Master. His is our cause.   Christians believe that Christ will be the ultimate victor.  (2 Thessalonians 1:7-12  and Revelation  21 and 22).


    [1] Understanding the wrath of God.

    [2] Baptism, refers to immersion in water.  This is the most frequent usage of the term in the New Testament. Although there are figurative uses of the term (Mark 10:38 for instance), most of the time baptism is used it refers to this act of commitment and yielding to Jesus.


    End Notes

    [i]  Harris, R. Laid, et. Al ; Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament; Mood Press, Chicago c. 1980  p.51 def. 116

    [ii] Harris, R. Laid, et. Al ; Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament; Mood Press, Chicago c. 1980  p.752 def. 1879

    [iii] Vine, W.E.; Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words; Thomas Nelson c. 1996  p.308 Disciple 1.

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