Tag Archives: salvation

Was Jesus Too Late?

The Bible tells us that God sent Jesus to die for the ungodly at just the right time (Romans 5:6). What does it mean, at just the right time?

God could have sent Jesus earlier. In fact, why not send Jesus earlier? Why allow all those generations of rebellion, violence, and destruction? Perhaps we could have avoided much of the heartache in human history if God had sent Jesus sooner.

Imagine God sending Jesus to die on a cross for Adam and Eve just after they were expelled from the Garden of Eden for their disobedience. They needed Jesus’ atoning sacrifice to make them right with God. Why wait?

But Adam and Eve had no basis for appreciating Jesus’ sacrifice. If they had walked out of the Garden of Eden and seen Jesus nailed to a cross, bleeding and dying, it would have been a bizarre sight devoid of any meaning for them.

So God waited for the right time. He waited for many generations. During that time, God was preparing humanity for the great act of salvation that only Jesus could accomplish. What preparations did God make?

God began by speaking promises to Abraham about future blessings for all peoples through his descendant. For hundreds of years after that, God sent prophets who gradually added details about Abraham’s descendant who would one day come and bring salvation for all God’s people.

God gave Abraham’s descendants, Israel, the law through Moses at Mt. Sinai. God’s law taught the people about holiness and sin. The law included the sacrificial system, showing his people that sin requires a blood sacrifice to bring forgiveness and restoration to God.

The people of Israel sacrificed the Passover lamb for generations. Then Jesus came, the final and perfect Passover lamb. They had generations of experience to help them think about Jesus’ atoning sacrifice at Calvary. They were prepared by God to understand and accept his substitutionary death.

So, if waiting has important benefits, why not wait longer? In fact, why not wait until the end of this age? Think of the great multitude who could attend and watch Jesus defeat sin, the devil, and death by his atoning sacrifice on the cross. Video of the event would go viral!

But there would be no church age. We would not experience the power of Pentecost. We would miss that thrilling moment when God fulfilled his Old Testament promise by pouring out his Holy Spirit on the church, and subsequently on each believer.

God’s people would miss the chance to experience the indwelling presence and power of the Holy Spirit enabling us to be victorious against all enemies. We would not have the joy of sharing in God’s great harvest by proclaiming his gospel to the nations.

There would be no New Testament, God’s word which was given to us after Jesus’ death and resurrection. We would never know the joy of reading and studying the Gospels and the letters to the churches.

The generations that lived before Jesus looked forward to God’s salvation. Now we look back on Jesus’ atoning sacrifice. We live in a sweet spot in history. We enjoy the benefit of all the prophecies looking forward to Jesus and all the writing, reflection, and illumination that have accrued since Jesus died and rose again.

God’s way is perfect after all. God’s timing, as always, is right. Jesus died for the ungodly at just the right time!

May God’s Holy Spirit fill our hearts with joy when we consider his great plan for our salvation,

Brother Richard

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Using The Gospel Tool

I always enjoy watching professionals work. The experienced and accomplished craftsman is poetry in motion. And my appreciation for their fine-tuned abilities is amplified when I try to use the same tools!

Most tools take time and effort to master. The right tool in the right hands is sweet harmony. As Christians laboring to carry out God’s mission in this age, we must be accomplished at using the right tools. Our primary tool is the gospel. We must work to be experts at using the gospel.

The final mention of the gospel in the New Testament is in the Book of Revelation (14:6). The Apostle John sees an angel flying in the sky and proclaiming the eternal gospel to those on earth, to every nation, tribe, tongue and people. In other words, this is the one true gospel for all peoples, everywhere and always.

The words spoken by this angel may come as a surprise. In a loud voice he says, “Fear God and give him glory, for the hour of his judgment has come; and worship the one who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and the springs of waters.”

When we hear the term “gospel,” we expect the story of Jesus’ death on the cross to forgive our sins and his resurrection from the grave to be our Lord. The angel’s eternal gospel sounds different. It consists of three commands: Fear God, give him glory, and worship him.

Is this a different gospel? No. The Bible assures us that there is only one gospel. But we should distinguish between the gospel and the plan of salvation. The plan of salvation is for God to give eternal life to all who exercise saving faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ.

The gospel (the word means “good news”) is something bigger than the plan of salvation. When Jesus began preaching, his subject was the good news of God’s kingdom. God’s kingdom is every person submitted to God’s rule in their lives. It is true that God rules over everyone, even those who oppose him. But anyone who persists in rejecting him will not enter and enjoy the blessings of his eternal kingdom.

Is the angel’s call for actions other than faith a call to “works salvation”? In other words, if we must do these things to get saved, then salvation is not truly from faith alone, right? But the angel is not denying that salvation is by faith. The angel with the eternal gospel is reminding us of the rest of the story. Once saved, we live saved.

So the plan of salvation is saving faith in Jesus, which is the entryway into God’s kingdom. Once in, what do we do? We fear God, give him glory, and worship him. Anyone who does not want to fear God, give him glory, and worship him does not want to be saved.

To proclaim the plan of salvation without explaining the purposes of salvation would be misleading. Our mission is to share the good news about being saved and living saved. God saves us completely so that we can serve him joyfully.

May God’s Spirit enable us to be faithful in proclaiming his gospel,

Brother Richard Foster

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Tell The Story of The Bible in One Minute Or Less

We can tell the story of the Bible in one minute or less. That may sound impossible, but it isn’t.

We begin where the Bible begins: creation. God made the heavens and the earth and everything in them. And his creation was good.

Next, we point out that God made people in his image. Every man, woman, boy and girl is made in God’s image and has incalculable value.

Here’s the bad news: humanity rebelled against God. Adam and Eve disobeyed him and all their descendants have, too. Because of our disobedience to God we live in a broken world full of injustice, suffering and death.

Here’s more bad news: God will punish all disobedience. He proved that with Noah’s Flood and his judgment against Sodom and Gomorrah.

Now for some good news: God promised a man named Abraham that through his descendant every nation would be blessed. Much of the Old Testament tells how God’s promise slowly unfolded in generation after generation of Abraham’s descendants, the Israelites.

God’s promises to Abraham and his descendants are fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Jesus was born a descendant of Abraham, sent by God to offer himself as a sacrifice for sin so that all who trust in him can be forgiven and enjoy God’s eternal blessings.

God raised Jesus from the dead, showing that both sin and death have been defeated. Then God poured out his Holy Spirit on Jesus’ followers, the church, empowering them to live a new kind of life.

Now, through the church, God is proclaiming his message of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus. And soon, Jesus will return and take all those who belong to him to be with him forever.

So try it and see how long it takes. Use the stopwatch on your smartphone. It took me just over 50 seconds to speak through the version above.

We could alter the details of this presentation in a variety of ways, but the main thrust of the story is clear. God made us; we rebelled against him; he loves us enough to save us. So, each of us must decide whether we will accept his offer of salvation.

God has entrusted his story to us. We have the responsibility to be his messengers in the world today. And the world desperately needs the truth of God’s story.

What an honor it is to speak God’s truth. What a joy it is when we see someone respond with saving faith. Let’s tell God’s story!

May God’s empowering Presence inspire and enable us to tell his story boldly,

Brother Richard

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Why Be Optimistic About the Future of the Gospel?

Our culture’s attitude toward Bible-believing Christians seems to be increasingly intolerant. The ancient beliefs handed down for generations of God’s people are being met with disapproval from the society in which we live.

The Bible still asserts, the Holy Spirit still affirms, and we still avow that faith in Jesus is the only way to peace with God and eternal life, that apart from Christ we are condemned to eternal hell, that God’s design for marriage and family is one man and one woman fully and freely committed to one another for life, raising their kids together and enjoying their grandkids, that life is precious and should not be taken from babies still in their mothers’ wombs, and that God made us in his image: male and female.

I could give additional examples but this is more than enough to start a good fight nowadays. At times it seems as if the whole world is rejecting Christianity. Why be optimistic about the future of the gospel in such a negative environment?

Jesus’ disciples probably asked a similar question. They watched as Jesus faced stiff opposition from the leaders of their culture. They must have wondered about the future of his mission and message. Jesus addressed their concerns with a parable.

A man sowed seed, some on hard ground and birds snatched it up, some in rocky soil and it sprang up but dried out, some among thorns where it was choked, and some on good soil. Only the good soil bore fruit.

Jesus’ disciples asked him what this parable means. Jesus said that the seed represents God’s word and the soils are people’s hearts. Some people have hard hearts. When they hear God’s word Satan comes and snatches away the message that is ‘sown’ in their hearts.

Some people are shallow. They give up on God’s kingdom message when things get tough. Still others are distracted. They are pulled away by wealth or worries.

But some people have hearts that are ready to receive God’s kingdom message. Like the good soil that receives the seed and bears fruit, these people receive God’s word and bear spiritual fruit for God’s kingdom.

What is Jesus telling us? First of all, he is letting us know that many people, perhaps most people, will reject God’s message of salvation. For those who must always be in the mainstream of popular culture, this is a problem. Jesus’ followers are typically a minority.

Jesus never promises us majority status in this age. Quite the contrary, when talking about his Second Coming, Jesus even asks if he will find faith on the earth when he returns.

Jesus seems to paint a rather bleak picture! Why follow him and endure so much rejection? Why promote a message that Jesus himself predicts will be so unpopular?

Jesus’ parable gives the answer. Some hearts will receive the ‘seed’ of God’s kingdom message and bear fruit. God always has his remnant. Our efforts for the gospel will bear fruit despite the resistance.

In addition, bearing fruit points to the harvest. In the Bible harvest is a symbol for that great day of celebration at the end of this age. It is a day when we will see God face to face. Like farmers enjoying the crops for which they labored so hard, we will share in the joy of God’s kingdom victory.

Jesus is optimistic about the future of the gospel. We can and should be, too.

May God give us hearts that bear fruit for his kingdom,

Brother Richard

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What Are We Doing?

God did not save us so that we can do whatever we want. God saved us so that we can do whatever he wants. When we were doing whatever we wanted, we were doomed. But God graciously called us to salvation so that we would escape the disaster of doing whatever we want.

Salvation is more than going to heaven when we die. To be saved is to be serving God now. God’s forgiveness is not a spiritual safety suit that protects us from disaster while we go on ignoring the Lord and his kingdom. Nobody should fool himself into thinking that he has a mansion on a hill in eternity while caring little or nothing for the Master’s work now.

Jesus was very plain and outspoken about the signs of salvation in a person’s life. “A good tree cannot produce bad fruit,” he said, “nor can a bad tree produce good fruit” (Matthew 7:18). In other words, saved people act saved and those who do not act saved are lost.

Jesus also said, “Not everyone who says to me ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the kingdom of the heavens, but only the one doing the will of my Father in the heavens” (Matthew 7:21). Words without works are worthless.

The Apostle Paul wrote in his letter to the Galatians, “With Christ I am crucified, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live now in the flesh, by faith I live through the Son of God, the one loving me and giving himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). As followers of Jesus, we have left behind our old lives.

Baptism is a wonderful picture of this great spiritual truth. Jesus’ followers are buried with Christ through baptism, representing the death of our former way of life, when we did whatever we wanted. We are raised to live a new life, the life of doing what God wants, participating in his kingdom (see Romans 6).

By faith in Jesus, God gives us a new life that changes even more than our actions. God’s indwelling Spirit also changes our desires. As a result, followers of Jesus begin to want to do what God wants. The desire for the old things fades away in the lives of those who are really saved.

In the Psalms God promises, “Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4). Seeking and following God is a life-changing activity. Godly desires are born and nurtured in the hearts of God’s people. We no longer find true joy or satisfaction in the old ways of the world, but we discover a passion for obeying God and contributing to his great kingdom work.

When we are truly saved, we share in the resurrection of Jesus, not just because we will someday be raised to live in his Presence forever, but because we live in his resurrection power every day, doing things that are pleasing to God.

As we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus this Easter, let’s rejoice not just in the fact that Jesus was raised in the past and that we will be raised in the future. Let’s rejoice in the fact that we have been raised to walk in newness of life now. Because he lives, we can face today!

May the power of the Risen Christ keep on changing us,

Brother Richard Foster

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