With my book, I am at the point where I am putting the meat and bones on the study of the purpose of salvation.
This morning in service, what would be the Sunday School message? "The purpose of salvation"-no lie.
In church, what would be the message? "What is sin?"
Of all Sundays to accidentally leave my notebook behind :-P
I sat throughout the service, with eyes glued to the Word and ears glued to the preaching, my mind racing to process what I was hearing and first apply it to my own life. At this moment, this is what I have come up with:
Are we selling a selfish salvation?
When I worked as a Sunday school teacher, even when I was in Sunday school, salvation was sold like fire insurance. A class of simple-minded children were scared out of their pants by a fire and brimstone message and then asked if they wanted to go there. The obvious answer is no. I think this kind of 'salvation' leads to the apathy that we see today. All salvation is is fire insurance or (and I love this one) a 'free ticket to Heaven.'
I spent last week studying the crucifixion of Christ. That ticket is NOT free, just because it doesn't cost you anything doesn't mean that it didn't cost somebody else something. The church has a problem. Either we water down the Gospel, or we burn it. We either focus so much on Hell that we forget about grace or we focus on Heaven so much that we forget about holiness. There is a balance. The balance is to focus on Calvary.
To sell salvation as fire insurance makes it selfish. It becomes about me, making sure I can save my tail. There is no message of life change. If it's once-saved-always-saved then I can do what I want and never get in trouble. It's like a 'Get out of Jail Free' Season Pass. I get angry with this method of preaching salvation. When Christ came, He did not march around earth screaming, "If you don't believe in me, you are going to Hell."
He also didn't march around earth saying, "Believe in Me so you can go to Heaven." Those two results (saved from everlasting torment into everlasting life) are byproducts of what the REAL message of salvation is about. Calvary is not fire insurance, nor is it a free ticket to Heaven. Calvary is about grace. Calvary is about restoring a relationship, the relationship that we were created for.
In Sunday school, the speaker shared I Peter 1:12
Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into.
Can you imagine being an angel? To spend every waking moment in the presence of the Master of the Universe. Yet, something about God's relationship to us peaks the curiousity of these Divine beings. Grace.
Angels don't know what it is like to be lifted out of the pit of sin and into the family of God. They don't know the emotions behind the great hymns of the faith: Love Lifted Me, Amazing Grace, Joy Unspeakable. Sadly, most Christians don't know it either.
We get so focused on selling our fire insurance, on handing out 'free tickets' for the 'Glory train.' We bang people over the head with hell, fire and brimstone until they succumb so we can punch another notch in our belt and walk around with the misconception that our pride is actually doing the Kingdom any favors. We push for quantity and forget quality.
We march out into the streets protesting this and that. We preach damnation to all who are sinners. Ironically, we avoid the alleys where we know the hurting live. After all, they 'deserve' Hell or 'we don't want them in our church.' I wouldn't want you in mine.
Calvary was meant to change lives. In church, Pastor shared the story of the prodigal son. The context of this parable is that Jesus was responding to the Pharisees. They were ticked that He was not only talking to sinners but He was eating with them too! How dare He have fellowship with them?!!?? Praise the Lord that He does.
That, above all else, is the message of the cross. It isn't, believe on me to save your skin or to spend forever in paradise. To make it that belittles the cross if not excludes its severity altogether. The message of Calvary is, "believe on me and be transformed. Let Me show you life abundant, with joy unspeakable here and now. Let Me wrap my arms around you, even when you are still covered in the myre of sin. Let Me cleanse you from it. Let Me take your rags and clothe you in My righteousness. Let Me make you a new creature. I know that you are not perfect, that is why I am here. Let Me free you from your chains. Let Me call you My child. Let Me love you with an everlasting love. Everything you have ever hoped for, everything that you are searching for is here. Look at Me. Look at Me, and believe. I did this for you."