Salvation

This past Sunday at Calvary Chapel Ahwatukee we started our study of Paul’s letter to the Galatians. The issue at hand is one of the utmost importance – God’s Grace. Since the Gospel of Grace is continually under attack by Satan and is resisted by our flesh, and because the stakes are so high, my thoughts have remained focused on it.

This past week I have had to watch the power of sin at work in men’s lives. It has been heartbreaking. The very short-lived pleasure of sin for one man is soon replaced with long-lasting pain for that man and for many innocents. The “thrill” is a lie.

“To sin” means “to miss the mark”. The word describes an archer missing his target, his mark. His shot falls short, so he has sinned.

Our Creator has established His mark for us. Perfection (Matt 5:48). What kind of “archers” are we?

One of the more remarkable and distinguishing qualities of our God is that He is very approachable. In fact, our Lord is unique in that He desires an intimate relationship with every person. This is not true of other gods.

Allah, the god of Islam, is anything but approachable. His is capricious in deed and personally unknowable. The concept of having a personal relationship with Allah is a foreign and blasphemous notion to Muslims. Every Muslim must live a life pleasing to Allah in order to attain an after-life in heaven, but their god does not give them any help in that pursuit.

In his prayer of dedication of the Temple, Solomon asked the Lord to “let the priests be clothed with salvation.” (2 Chron 6:41) What are God’s clothes of salvation? What type of attire is pleasing to the holy God Almighty? How must His priests appear before Him?

1. Broken spirit, and a broken and contrite heart

I was recently looking for something in my desk when I came across a copy of my resume. Personal information, educational accomplishments, employment objectives, professional experience and accomplishments, and a Closing Summary. Quite impressive, laced with words like:

“attained” 
“achieved” 
“successfully” 
“strong” 
“creative” 
“highly competitive” 
“created” 
“directed” 
“orchestrated” 

When my wife and I were given this house by the Lord nearly eight years ago, the floor covering was entirely carpet. White carpet. But it looked clean and relatively new.

Very soon after we and our seven children moved in, the carpet changed! It was not white, it was not clean, and it did not look new. We tried cleaning it ourselves. We tried professional carpet cleaners. Nothing helped. The fragile veneer of white cleanliness was soon lost to dinginess in the normal course of living in the house. Cursed carpet!

Backsliding is the gradual turning away from the faith, the gradual lapse back into the “old man.” It is not a sudden, violent reversal in the direction one’s life is heading, it is the subtle, undetected misstep that compounds with repetition. Backsliding is the erosion of one’s relationship with God by natural forces unchecked by supernatural forces.

If you do any amount of driving, you cannot but notice a sad truth. Road kill. Violent death on the road as birds fly and animals walk in front of our vehicles. 

There are dove and pigeons all over this area and many are in the streets scavenging on trash and drinking sprinkler system runoff. Usually they flee an oncoming vehicle, although just in time! However, even after the narrowest of escapes, they quickly return to that place of danger. With the unending flow of traffic, sometimes they don’t make it out of harm’s way and back to safety. 

Before the Lord saved me, people who loved me would occasionally try to tell me about Jesus and how much I needed Him. I would listen with my eyes open but my ears closed. I was not in the least bit interested for three reasons:

1. I was a nice person already.
2. I had a religion already.
3. My church took care of all “that stuff” (salvation, good standing before God) for me.

I didn’t need Jesus, I had THE church. I remember scoffing inwardly at the pathetic rascal talking to me because, rather than me needing Who he had, he needed what I had.

I’m not much of a fashion plate. Comfort and utility have always been higher on my criteria list for clothing than fashion has been. Yet the Word of God is very clear – clothes make the man.

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