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The ABC’s of Salvation

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You can find the “ABC’s of Salvation” in a variety of forms on the internet.  What’s below is how I preached them at the end of my message on Easter Sunday, 2014.  I’ve tried to present these in a way that acknowledges some of our Lutheran distinctives.

A. Admit that you need God.

Some of you are just trying to do life without God.  You think you’ve “got this” all by yourself.  How’s that working for ya?  If you haven’t already, you will encounter something in life that is going to break you and bring you to your knees and show you that you need someone stronger.  And more that that, you need someone better than you.  The Bible says …

No one is good—except God alone (Luke 18:19, NIV).

We know that’s true, because the Bible tells us …

All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23, NIV).

In other words, none of us is good enough to please God or earn eternal life on our own merit. We may not be as bad as the next guy, but the next guy’s not your standard.  God’s perfection is.  And you need to admit, that if it depends on you alone, you come up empty handed.  You need God.

B. Believe in him.

Jesus said …

“I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die;and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26, NIV).

You say, “that’s too easy!”  But why is it that we think that for something powerful to happen, it has to be all magical? – thank you Harry Potter.  We think we have to have the right skills, the right spell, the right supplies, before something dramatic can occur.  But we see a man in the OT cured of leprosy just because he believed enough to get off his horse and wash in the Jordan. (see 2 Kings 5, particular attention to v. 13)  So when Jesus tells Martha, “anyone who believes in me will live” … it’s so simple a child can do it, it’s so accessible that it’s available to everyone – yet it’s so powerful it saves lives.  Believe!

C. Be Cleansed/Claimed in the waters of Baptism.  

Jesus says plainly,

“He who believes and is baptized will be saved.”  (Mark 16:16, NIV).

But baptism is more than a ritual.  It’s not about something you do, but about something God is doing TO you… It’s about Him placing His Name on you and claiming you as His child, and cleansing you of your sin.

How can a little water do such powerful things?  There’s that faith-thing again.  But the One who told us to be baptized, is also the One who rose from the grave, and is also the One who says – give me your hard heart, and I will give you a new heart (Ezekiel 36:26), and make you a new creation!  The old has gone the new has come. (2 Corinthians 5:17) The Name of God, the forgiveness of sins, a fresh start and a new heart that is restored to God… all of that is yours in Baptism!

So what are you waiting for?  Do you still have questions?  I’d love to hear your comments and questions – just click “comment” on this blog, or send me an email.  And if you’re ready to be baptized – that’s great!  Come to Redeemer by the Sea, or find a Bible-believing church, where the Word is preached in its purity and Truth, and the Sacraments are rightly administered, and ask about baptism.  Let me know how I can help you in your spiritual journey.  May you respond to the Lord’s invitation… Come!

In The Name of Jesus!

– Pastor Augie.

Does the Bible Say There’s Life After Death?

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Q: A loved one, who is nearing death, asked me if the Bible actually says there is life after death. Where in the Bible does it say that we will live forever after our death on earth?

A: The first is perhaps the most obvious and well known John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

1 John 5:13 is probably my favorite: “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.” Not just because it tells of eternal life, but it gives the confidence in salvation not based on our works, but simply believing in the name of the Son of God!
The 23rd Psalm is really popular at funerals, not just because of the wonderful imagery of green pastures and quiet waters, but because of the last verse (23:6) which reads, “Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

We’re in the season of Lent right now, so these words of Jesus from the cross, as he was dying, to the thief dying at his side, state very strongly that there is life after death: “Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”” (Luke 23:43)

When Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, he told Lazarus’ sister Martha: “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26)

So you see, the Bible speaks very clearly about the reality of life after death.  It holds out MUCH PROMISE for those who believe in Jesus. (Not just that they’ve been good, or tried really hard, or are a “spiritual person.”)  Because it is also very direct about the fate of those who reject Jesus:

Right after John 3:16 & 17 which give hope, comes this stern warning in verse 18: “but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”

People mistakenly think that when you die, that’s the end.  But that is not the case.  1 Thessalonians 4 16-17 tells us “for the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. “

This was meant to be an encouragement to the disciples, because of their faith.  But Jesus himself warns in Matthew 25 that after we meet the Lord in the air, comes judgment …

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. 34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.…  41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.

Jesus also says in John 14:6“Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

So there is much hope for the believer in eternal life, but a warning for those who do not believe in Jesus to put their trust in Him!  You might ask your family member if he has been baptized, and then simply give him this promise from the Bible: “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved” (Mark 16:16).  If he believes, but doubts His faith, remind him that even weak faith isn’t no faith.  And to let Jesus be his strength when he is weak.  And to put his trust in Jesus.  Even the thief on the cross was received into heaven with a life of sin, but a repentant heart!

May God bless you as you minister to others with the clear hope from Scripture that we are promised eternal life with God through Jesus Christ!

In His Name,

Pastor Augie.