Part 3: Salvation Future, Will Jesus Return?

Part 3: Salvation Future, Will Jesus Return?

I finish this three part series with a look at Salvation Future. There are events happening in our world today that cause us to wonder if God has just left us here without any hope for the future. When we look at our world today, we see crime on the rise, terrorism on the rise, unexplained disasters on the rise, false religious leaders on the rise, children killing other children, and wars that never cease. All of these events cause us to ask, “Will Jesus return?” Many Christians are wondering if Jesus will ever come back and rescue us from this world of sin and evil.

The short answer is yes, Jesus will return to complete our salvation. God’s Word gives us several promises of his return. There are some 300 verses in the Bible that speak about the return of Jesus. Let’s look at some of these promises concerning the return of Jesus so that we can be encouraged today.

  1. To be confident that Jesus will return, I must believe the promise of Jesus.

In Matthew 24, Jesus explains to his disciples what will be the signs of the time of his coming. He doesn’t give an exact time or date. But he does give some of the events that will take place before his coming. Then in verses 30-31, Jesus makes this promise. “At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.” Matthew 24:30-31 (NIV)

So yes, Jesus will return. We have his promise. He told his disciples almost 2000 years ago that these events in Matthew 24 would happen. And we have seen some of them happen just as Jesus said. So we can have faith and believe that what he says here in verses 30-31 will take place also. Yes, Jesus will return. He will gather his church, his bride to take back to heaven. And others who have rejected him will mourn at his coming. It will be too late for them at that time.

  1. To be confident that Jesus will return, I must believe the promise of the angels.

In Acts 1, we have this promise. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.” Acts 1:11 (NIV)

This took place as Jesus and his apostles were gathered together after the resurrection. Suddenly, Jesus was taken away in the air and eventually hidden in a cloud. As the apostles are standing wondering where Jesus has gone, suddenly two men dressed in white appear out of nowhere. These angels promise us that Jesus will return in the same way. Once they make their promise, they disappear.

  1. To be confident that Jesus will return, I must believe the promise of the apostles.

From one of Peter’s letters, 2 Peter 3:10, we have this promise. “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief.” 2 Peter 3:10 (NIV)  And from one of Paul’s letters, 1 Thessalonians 4:16, we have this promise, “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.” 1 Thessalonians 4:16 (NIV)

Everywhere the apostles went they preached this same message and gave this promise from the Lord that Jesus would return. The day of the Lord will come; it will happen, and it will take place. They believed Jesus, and they preached his words to others.

  1. To be confident that Jesus will return, I must believe the promised Holy Spirit.

This one is a little different from the first three. The Holy Spirit does not make a promise. Instead, the Holy Spirit is the promise. Look at how Paul explains to us one of the functions of the Holy Spirit in Ephesians 1. “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession–to the praise of his glory.” Ephesians 1:13-14 (NIV)

Back in your salvation past, when you believed in Jesus to save you, God marked you with a seal, the Holy Spirit. He placed himself in you through the presence of the Holy Spirit. This was God’s way of saying to us, “Here is my presence. I will always be with you, and my presence with you is my guarantee that I will return for you.” The presence of the Holy Spirit in us right now is a promise of the return of Jesus. The Holy Spirit’s presence in our lives is a deposit guaranteeing the full payment of salvation future.

Do you believe these promises? Are you ready? Are you prepared for the return of Jesus? Has this promise of his return made any difference in your life? I encourage you to believe in his return, and allow that belief to change the way you live every day.

Will you believe in Jesus’ return?

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Part 2: Salvation Present, How To Become More Like Jesus

Part 2: Salvation Present, How To Become More Like Jesus

 

Last week, we looked at the basic beliefs in becoming a Christian. That is our salvation past. Today we come to Part 2: Salvation Present, How To Become More Like Jesus.       As we grow up from childhood, through our teenage years and into adulthood, there is something surprising that happens. We tend to become more like our parents. The characteristics of our parents that we have liked and disliked are now being seen in us as we grow up. We open our mouth and we hear mom’s voice or dad’s voice. We look in the mirror and there stands our dad or mom. We are surprised and shocked when it happens.

Without realizing that it is happening, we tend to take on the characteristics of the people around us. We take on the characteristics of our parents and our role models. It doesn’t matter if the characteristic is good or bad, we begin to follow and imitate our role models.

On a spiritual level, this is exactly what we are supposed to do with Jesus as our role model. We are to grow and become like him. We are to take on his characteristics. This is what we call salvation present or spiritual growth. However, we must be intentional about it. It doesn’t happen by accident or haphazardly. If I am going to become like Jesus, then I must spend time with Jesus. If I am going to take on his characteristics, then I must know and learn those characteristics.

There are many ways to participate in discipleship. There are many methods of growing spiritually. Here are three specific ways to become more like Jesus. This is not an exhaustive list, but I pray it will help you.

  1. In order to become more like Jesus, I must trust God to escape temptations.

Salvation past is a time when Jesus sets us free from the penalty of sin. Salvation present then is a time when Jesus sets us free from the power of sin. With the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives, we have the ability to overcome the power of sin. Look at what 1 Corinthians 10:13 says. “You are tempted in the same way that everyone else is tempted. But God can be trusted not to let you be tempted too much, and he will show you how to escape from your temptations.” 1 Corinthians 10:13 (CEV) God doesn’t tell us that we will never be tempted; instead, he tells us that we will be tempted just like everyone else. He allows us to be tempted every day. His promise is that he will never allow us to be tempted to such a point that we cannot handle it. And how do we handle it? We look for the way of escape. This also is his promise. He will provide a way for us to overcome temptation. So trust God for his escape from temptation.

  1. In order to become more like Jesus, I must look for opportunities to share my faith.

Jesus made us this promise in Acts 1. “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8 (NIV) Jesus promises us here that he will empower us with the Holy Spirit so that we might witness about him to others. Not only does the Holy Spirit give us the ability to overcome the power of sin, he also gives us the ability to share our faith in Jesus. Sharing our faith in Jesus is simply telling other people what Jesus means to us, what he has done for us, and what he is doing for us.

A second scripture from Colossians encourages us make the most of every opportunity in order to share our faith. “Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone.” Colossians 4:5-6 (NLT) So we have the instruction from Jesus to witness. We have his Holy Spirit to empower us. And we have the encouragement to look for opportunities to share our faith with those who are not believers.

  1. In order to become more like Jesus, I must work out my salvation.

Once we are saved, the Bible instructs us to work out our salvation. “Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.” Philippians 2:12-13 (NIV) The idea to work out our salvation means to carry salvation to its ultimate conclusion, which is to be like Jesus. We are to make progress toward being like Jesus. It is similar to the way a math student works out a math problem. The math student carries the math problem out to its conclusion. So we are to carry out our salvation each and every day to its ultimate conclusion to be more like Jesus. And we are to do that with fear and trembling. This simply means that we are to rely on the help of the Holy Spirit. The verse says, “for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.” We are to give completely of ourselves to the control of God so that he can work in us, molding us, and shaping us more and more like Jesus.

Will you become more like Jesus?

Next week, we will look at salvation future.

 

Part 1: Salvation Past, How To Be Saved

Part 1: Salvation Past, How To Be Saved

 

One of the classic Christmas movies that some of us watch is A Christmas Carol. You remember that in this story a man named Ebenezer Scrooge is visited by the ghost of his former business partner Jacob Marley, as well as by the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Yet to Come. By the end of the story, Scrooge is no longer a scrooge. Because of taking a different look at his past, present, and future, Scrooge changes his attitude and his life. I hope that by looking at your salvation past, present, and future, you too will change to be more like that of Jesus.

Let me begin with the obvious question. Do you have a salvation past? Is there a point and time in your past where Jesus saved you? If not, then after reading this article perhaps you will believe in Jesus and be saved. In John 3, there is a conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus on how to be saved. Here are four beliefs from their conversation that will help you to be saved.

  1. In order to be saved, I must believe that Jesus came from God.

John 3:1-2 says this. “Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, ‘Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him.’” John 3:1-2 (NIV)

This man Nicodemus is the same one that is mentioned later in John who helps to prepare the body of Jesus for burial. As a Jewish leader and Pharisee, Nicodemus says, “We know you are a teacher who has come from God.” Nicodemus was confident that Jesus came from God. His confidence was based upon the teaching of Jesus and the miracles Jesus performed. His confidence led him to seek out Jesus. The Bible teaches us that Jesus came from God. So what do you believe? Do you believe that Jesus came from God? If order to be saved, you must believe that Jesus came from God.

  1. In order to be saved, I must believe that Jesus is God’s Son.

In John 3:16, Jesus says this. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 (NLT)

This verse is foundational to our understanding of God, his love for us, and what Jesus has done for us. God gave the ultimate sacrifice, his only Son, out of his love for us. God did this so that Jesus could pay the price for punishment against sin. The Bible teaches us that Jesus is God’s Son. Do you believe that Jesus is God’s Son? In order to be saved, you must believe that Jesus is God’s Son.

  1. In order to be saved, I must believe that I am guilty before God.

In John 3:18, Jesus says this. “People who believe in God’s Son are not judged guilty. Those who do not believe have already been judged guilty, because they have not believed in God’s one and only Son.” John 3:18 (NCV)

John 3:16 above states that we will not perish if we believe. So why are we perishing to begin with? The reason we are perishing is that we are guilty. We are guilty of sinning against God, breaking his commands, and not keeping his instructions. Even if we only sinned one time in our life, we are guilty. Every human is guilty before God. If we refuse to believe in Jesus, we remain guilty. Our refusal to believe in Jesus brings God’s judgment against us. Do you believe that you are guilty before God? If you don’t believe that you are guilty before God, then believing in Jesus will not make sense to you. I encourage you to accept the truth that we all are guilty before God. This belief causes us to seek out help in Jesus. In order to be saved, you must believe that you are guilty before God.

  1. In order to be saved, I must believe that Jesus died for my sin.

As Jesus was talking with Nicodemus, he gave Nicodemus an illustration from history. In John 3:14, Jesus says this. “And as Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness, so I, the Son of Man, must be lifted up on a pole.” John 3:14 (NLT)

This refers to the story of Moses leading the Hebrew people through the wilderness. At one time, God sent a plague of poisonous snakes to punish the Hebrews for their rebellious attitude. But God also gave a rescue from the poisonous snakebites. The rescue was for Moses to make a bronze snake and place it up on a pole. Then anyone bitten by a snake could go look up at the bronze snake, and believe that God would heal them.

Jesus used this story to say that like the snake on a pole, he too would be placed on a cross and die there. Later, Jesus was placed on a cross and he died. Nicodemus along with Joseph took his body down from the cross and buried him. Three days after his death, Jesus came back to life. If we believe in Jesus, his death on the cross, and his resurrection from the grave, then we will be healed of our guilt and sin.

Do you believe that Jesus died for your sin? Do you believe that he arose from the dead? In order to be saved, you must believe that Jesus died for your sin.

These are the beliefs we must agree to in order to be saved. And here are three benefits of being saved.

  1. I am rescued from my guilt and sin.

“God did not send his Son into the world to judge the world guilty, but to save the world through him.” John 3:17 (NCV)

  1. I become a child of God.

“Humans give life to their children. Yet only God’s Spirit can change you into a child of God.” John 3:6 (CEV)

  1. I have eternal life.

“Everyone who has faith in the Son of Man will have eternal life.” John 3:15 (CEV)

My invitation to you is this. Will you be saved by believing in Jesus? If you don’t have a salvation past, then I invite you today to believe in Jesus. Will you believe in Jesus?

Next week, we will look at Salvation Present.