Friday, October 27, 2006


“Singing About So Great A Salvation” Colossians 1:12-14

Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: 13 Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: 14 In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:
This is the good news we all need. Jesus died for our sins, was buried, and rose again on the third day! Because of who he was and what he did, the way of salvation is now open to everyone. The conditions are that we repent of our sins and put our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. What is salvation? It is deliverance from the power and penalty of sin. The Bible says, “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23), and later adds, “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23).
All of us are different in many ways, yet we are alike in one way: we are all sinners and in need of salvation. That salvation has been provided for us through Jesus Christ. His salvation sets us free from both the power and penalty of sin. Sin gets us in its grip and won’t let go. A cork placed near the surface of water will float to the surface. If pressed down 10, 50, or even 100 feet below the surface and then released, it will rise again; but if the cork is pressed 200 feet below the surface, it cannot rise because the pressure exerted by the water is too great. So it is with us. The deeper we go into sin, there is less probability we will ever rise again.
As the old Southern gospel song goes:
Sin will take you further than you want to go. Slowly but wholly taking control.
It will teach you more than you want to know. Sin will keep you longer than you want to stay.
Sin will cost you more than you want to pay.
That’s the inevitable result of sin when it gets a grip on our lives – but there is hope. We can be set free from both its power and its penalty. Ruth Harms Calkin expressed it beautifully when she wrote:
Lord, There are countless things in my life, That are inexcusable.
There are things unaccountable. Things unexplainable.
There are things irrefutable. And things irresponsible.
But it comes to me as unutterable relief That because of your amazing love
Nothing in my life is unforgivable.
That’s salvation in Christ! But the Bible poses a troubling question to us about it. It asks, “How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation?” (Hebrews 2:3)
The hymn writer Frederick M. Lehman, expressed it best when he wrote:
The Love of God is greater far Than tongue or pen can ever tell;
It goes beyond the highest star, And reaches to the lowest hell;
The guilty pair, bowed down with care, God gave His Son to win;
His erring child He reconciled, And pardoned from his sin.
The most moving stanza in the hymn is the final one. Interestingly, it was pencilled on the wall of a narrow room in Bethlehem Hospital.. Bedlam! An insane asylum in London. It may have been penned there by someone who was a believer, man evangelical, in the times when the established church was persecuting Baptists.
The profound lines were discovered after his death. Consider them carefully:
Could we with ink the ocean fill, And were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill, And every man a scribe by trade;
To write the love of God above, Would drain the ocean dry.
Nor could the scroll contain the whole, Tho stretched from sky to sky.
O, love of God, how rich and pure! How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure The saints’ and angels’ song.

There are three things to me that are incomprehensible. I do not mean that there are only three things I do not know; I mean that there are three things I cannot comprehend. The first is eternity: I cannot comprehend time without end.
The second is space: how could we travel forever through space and never reach the end? The third is the love of God for a lost and sin-cursed world – especially in the light of man’s indifference and the way he has trampled God’s love beneath his feet. It is because of that great love that we have a great salvation.
These three aspects of redemption can be understood in three simple verbs: (1) Rescued; (2) Removed; (3) Released.
Revised Standard Version has it, that God has transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, or, as we have translated it, that God has brought us over into the kingdom of his beloved son. The word which Paul uses for to transfer or to bring over is the Greek verb methistemi (). This is a word with a special use. In the ancient world, when one empire won a victory over another, it was the custom to take the population of the defeated country and transfer it lock, stock and barrel to the conqueror's land. Thus the people of the northern kingdom were taken away to Assyria, and the people of the southern kingdom were taken away to Babylon. So Paul says that God has transferred the Christian to his own kingdom. That was not only a transference but a rescue; and it meant four great things.
It meant a transference from darkness to light. Without God men grope and stumble as if walking in the dark. They know not what to do; they know not where they are going. Life is lived in the shadows of doubt and in the darkness of ignorance. When Bilney the martyr read that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners, he said that it was like the dawn breaking on a dark night. In Jesus Christ, God has given us a light by which to live and by which to die.

It meant a transference from the power of Satan to the power of God Through Jesus Christ man is liberated from the grip of Satan and is able to become a citizen of the Kingdom of God. Just as an earthly conqueror transferred the citizens of the land he had conquered to a new land, so God in his triumphant love transfers men from the realm of sin and darkness into the realm of holiness and light.

“For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness.” Colossians 1:13 So here I am swimming along slowly in the deep, dark water. Then suddenly I catch a flash of light as a spinning lure passes above me. I’m not looking to get caught or anything, but that looks interesting. Here I go! I move toward the light, and I grab that lure in my mouth. That’s what happened to me when I became a Christian. I was in the depths of darkness and there was something that attracted me to Jesus–and I moved toward the light and took God’s bait. The Bible says before we ever come to Christ, the Father will draw us, or lure us, to Jesus, the Light of the world. Jesus said in John 6:44, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.” Jesus came to “seek and to save” (Luke 19:10) those who were lost–and that includes all of us. I was sinking deep in sin; far from the peaceful shore; very deeply stained within; sinking to rise no more; But the master of the sea, heard my despairing cry; From the waters lifted me; now safe am I! (Words by James Rowe, 1912) Before I can be rescued, I must stop trying to save myself
2. JESUS REMOVED THE PENALTY FOR OUR SINS “…in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”
It reminds me of what Jesus said to Saul on the road to Damascus, “Saul, why do you persecute me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.” (Acts 26:14) A goad was a sharp stick. So, as Like Grosey the Groper, I come to a point where I realize fighting against the fisherman isn’t going to work, so I surrender to my death. But then, this big guy grabs me and does a strange thing: He removes the painful hook from my mouth. That’s a great picture of forgiveness. We are all hooked on sin, and Jesus lovingly removes the hook, the penalty for our sin. The penalty for my sin is to spend eternity separated from God in a place called hell. Forgiveness is God removing that penalty.
17th century, John Bunyan Pilgrim’s Progress, the greatest allegory in all of literature. Except for the Bible, Pilgrim’s Progress was the all-time best selling book of history, until the 1960s. Peyton Place– Pilgrim’s Progress Christian. travels throughout the land trying to find ultimate truth. But until he finds that truth, he carries a heavy load of sin on his back. When he meets Evangelist, he says to him, “I fear that this burden upon my back will sink me lower than the grave, and I shall fall into hell and the thoughts of these things make me cry.” Like Christian, we are all carrying a load of sin. Christian discovered the only place to unload his weight of sin was to surrender it to Jesus Christ. I owed a debt I could not pay, so Jesus paid it for me After WWII, many of Nazis who committed atrocities against Jews were put on trial for their actions. At one trial a Jew who had endured horrors at a concentration camp was brought into the courtroom to testify against his persecutors. On the stand, he started weeping profusely upon seeing the accused criminals. When asked why he wept, the answer he gave was powerful. Rather than saying he wept because of flashbacks of the horrors he endured, he said that he wept because he was terrified–but not at the Nazi criminals. He said what scared him was as he saw their faces he recognized they were normal people, not madmen. It dawned on him for the first time that he, too, was capable of committing the same atrocities he had experienced. You may be consider yourself a better person than some of the criminals who are sitting on death row, but there is within the heart of each of us the capacity for horrible evil. The Bible says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, desperately wicked, who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9) No matter how “good” you may think you are; you can never pay the debt of sin that you owe.
It meant a transference from slavery to freedom. It was redemption, and that was the word used for the emancipation of a slave and for the buying back of something which was in the power of someone else. Without God men are slaves to their fears, to their sins and slaves to their own helplessness. In Jesus Christ there is liberation.
It meant a transference from condemnation to forgiveness. Man in his sin deserves nothing but the condemnation of God; but through the work of Jesus Christ he discovers God's love and forgiveness. He knows now that he is no longer a condemned criminal at God's judgment seat, but a lost son for whom the way home is always open.
Bishop George Craig Stewart recalled this story about a time that he joined a group of men in a railroad smoking car. Religion became the topic of conversation, and one man said, “Want to hear my religion, sir? It is the Golden Rule — simply the Golden Rule.” “Want to hear my astronomy, sir?” replied Bishop Stewart. “Twinkle, twinkle little star — simply that.” Astronomy is more complex than that. And God’s gift of salvation is more than the Golden Rule – Christ had to die for our sins, and, in order to be saved, we must repent and trust him.
3. JESUS RELEASED US INTO THE LIGHT POWER “and brought us into the kingdom of the son he loves ...the kingdom of light.” Colossians 1:13
Our salvation is accompanied by great power. It has the power to change, to convert, and to set us free. The Scriptures say, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
“Redeemed, how I love to proclaim it!” “If the Son sets you free, you shall be free indeed!” (John 8:36) When I walk in the light, I am walking with God!
Famous author and storyteller Will Campbell walks with a cane. He says that one of the good things about the cane is that it allows him to tell one of his favorite stories:
The cane was made for me by a neighbor who was what we would call illiterate. But he knew something about aesthetics; he knew what was pretty; what really finally mattered. He tore down an old abandoned barn many years ago and discovered that some of the rotting timbers were made of wild cherry. He put them aside, and when he was old, he made things that were at once beautiful and useful for those he loved. Fortunately, I was one of them. It is a fine metaphor for the Gospel — taking something rotten and making something beautiful of it .
Something beautiful something good, All my confusion he understood, All I had to offer Him was brokenness and strife, but He made something beautiful of my life.
Never give up on yourself or anyone else. When you say that a situation or person is hopeless, you are slamming the door in God’s face. God can work wonderful changes in our lives if we will let him.

WWII epic, “Saving Private Ryan.” It was based on a true story about four brothers who fought in WWII, and three of them died. Captain Miller leads his Ranger platoon deep behind enemy lines to find a single soldier. When they finally reach Private Ryan, they find themselves defending a bridge against overwhelming German odds. They man a brave defense, and in the process of the battle most of the Rangers die and Captain Miller is mortally wounded. In one of the most powerful scenes, Private Ryan, played by Matt Damon, kneels before Captain Miller. The captain, who was a high English teacher, husband and father, is bleeding badly and knows he’s about to die. So, he grabs Ryan by his collar and says, “James, earn this...earn it!” Then the movie flashes forward 50 years to an elderly James Ryan visiting the Normandy American Memorial Cemetery. With his family in the background, Ryan kneels before the grave of John Miller, overcome by emotion. He thinks back on his life and how he tried to live a life worthy of the sacrifice made by those brave soldiers. As he sinks to knees, his wife rushes to his side, and he asks her, “Have I led a good life? Am I a good man?” Realizing why he is asking that profound question, his wife pauses and says sincerely, “Yes, of course you are. You are a good man.” It’s at that moment James Ryan feels he has honored John Miller’s charge to “earn this.”

Some people go through life bearing a “victim’s mentality.” They always blame someone else or something else for the way they are. For example, “I’m aboriginal, or brown, so it’s hard for me to go anywhere in life.” “I was molested as a child by my uncle.” “My father was an alcoholic.” “My mate abused me.” “We were poor.”
I know these things are real and make life difficult — but God is greater. None of us can afford to blame the past indefinitely. No matter what our past circumstances may have been, we are still responsible.
In the movie, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, a young Greek woman falls in love with an average American man. She is distraught over her Greek heritage and their unusual customs, but her mother tries to console the daughter by telling her not to let the past dictate who you are; instead, let it be a part of who you are.
We need to let God take the bad things that have happened to us and turn them into something good. They can actually make you a better person.

In Hemingway’s, The Sun Also Rises, Bill asks Mike, a dissolute party animal, how he went bankrupt. “Two ways,” Mike replies, “Gradually and then suddenly.”
That’s the way people are lost – gradually and then suddenly. Don’t let it happen to you. Don’t neglect this great salvation made possible through the death of Christ on the cross: repent and believe now. Adolph Coors IV, of the famous beer family, who was converted to Christianity, was fond of saying, “Time doesn’t shout; it just runs out, and sooner than you think.” Time is running out for all of us. Don’t neglect so great a salvation.

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