Joey Sparks
16Sep/110

4 Things Jesus Says About Salvation

In John 5:34, Jesus says, "Not that the testimony I receive is from man, but I say these things so that you may be saved."

Jesus spoke and taught during his ministry on earth so that we all might be saved (Luke 19:10). Because it leads to salvation, we must obey all he taught. The following are not a trite formula, but rather the simple truths spoken by Jesus:

1) Believe Him.

"I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins" (John 8:24).

The foundation of obedience is faith in Jesus as the Son of God. He is the only one through whom man is saved (Acts 4:12).

2) Repent of sin.

"No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish" (Luke 13:3).

"If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me" (Luke 9:23).

Believing Jesus illuminates our sinful state. A life of complete change from sin is the only life that can follow Jesus. We must put our old lives to death daily, or we'll experience death in the life beyond.

3) Confess Him before others.

"So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 10:32-33).

Followers of Jesus must acknowledge him as the Son of God. This commitment is expected when we obey Christ and every day thereafter. The pull to deny him is strong at times, but we must always confess our discipleship (John 12:42-43).

4) Be immersed.

"Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned" (Mark 16:15-16).

The gospel is for all. Thus, the need for baptism is for all as well. We meet Christ at his death (Rom. 6:3-4) and are born again through immersion for the forgiveness of sins (John 3:3-5).

Many well-meaning souls claim, "all we need is Jesus" to be saved. They don't want to exclude or offend others by specifics and difficult commands. Yet, the honest reading of scripture guides us to the expectations of salvation, straight from the Savior.

13Sep/110

When Can You Start?

This post was originally published in the Sunday, April 24, 2011 Midway Herald (our bulletin)...three days prior to the April 27th tornado Super-Outbreak that devastated the state of Alabama.

Destruction can happen in a single moment. Rebuilding rarely ever does.

Residents from Oklahoma through North Carolina are experiencing the lengthy rebuilding process following last weekend’s deadly severe storms. Americans are still rebuilding from traumatic school attacks at Virginia Tech and Columbine, CO—anniversaries of both occurred this past week. Our country is still picking up the pieces of the economy, fear, politics, and military action from the 9/11 attacks of nine-and-a-half years ago.

It’s almost always easier and quicker to tear down than to build up. It takes months or even years to build a building that we can demolish in 15 seconds once it becomes obsolete. Ingesting a poisonous substance has immediate consequences, but eating the healthiest foods takes months or years to cause measurable improvements. We (and by "we," I mean someone who knows how to chop down a tree...not myself) spend only a few hours chopping down a tree that needed decades to grow big and tall.

Theologically, God did the same with sin. Adam and Eve introduced sin with two bites and God spent thousands of years preparing the hearts of humanity for redemption through His Son. We have the tremendous benefit of witnessing the process on the pages of inspired Scripture. The saving gospel was planned “before the foundation of the earth” and found its fulfillment in the “fullness of time” (Ephesians 1:4, 10). Though God was physically capable of redeeming sin in the garden, His infinite wisdom knew we weren’t capable of receiving it. So he rebuilt in much lengthier time than we destroyed.

If our lives feel destroyed, God’s work through Christ ensures that we don’t have to stay that way. Thankfully, the Lord forgives us immediately upon obedience (cf. Acts 22:16). But we can’t undo a moment of hurt with a single moment of good. We can’t hold ourselves to an impossible standard, nor should we expect it of others. We can always look for starting moments.

Destruction can happen in a single moment. Rebuilding rarely ever does. Starting always does.