“Beyond Salvation”

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The twelve disciples must have been excited. In John 4: 1, we read that the word about Jesus was spreading throughout Judea and Jesus was baptizing (with their help) more people than John the Baptist. The disciples had chosen to follow Jesus and now they were on the fast track to success.

Instead of working the crowds and chasing popularity in Judea, the epic-center of Judaism, Jesus surprised his disciples by traveling back to Galilee  – through Samaria. The Jews avoided the Samaritans because they saw them as racial and religious “half-breeds.” In 722 B.C. the Assyrians conquered the northern Kingdom of Israel (the region that became Samaria) as a consequence for their repeated rebellion against God. The Assyrians deported most of the Israelites and then repopulated the area with conquered peoples from other parts of their empire as a way to solidify control. In time, these people intermarried and embraced an unholy mixture of pagan and Jewish practices.

Jesus stopped to rest near a well outside of the city of Sychar. While his disciples went into the city to find food, Jesus engaged a Samaritan women in conversation. Jesus’s trip through Samaria teaches us a lesson that His disciples did not understand. Jesus is not just the Savior of the world, He is the Savior of the whole world.

In John 4:1-30, we learn that the whole world includes…

PEOPLE WHO ARE “BEYOND SAVING” (4:6-9)

Jesus surprised the Samaritan woman by asking her for a drink from the well. Not only was she a Samaritan, but she was also a woman. Jewish men never talked to women in public, even their wives. She was a woman of “questionable character” which is probably why she was drawing water from the well during the heat of the day when few people were around.

We must push back on the idea that some people are “beyond saving.” No one is too far gone, too sinful, or unimportant in God’s eyes. We can’t let age, annual income, language, skin color, marital status, or even sexual orientation limit our view of salvation. In John 3:16, we read that God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in Him, shall not perish, but have eternal life.

PEOPLE WHO DON’T THINK THEY NEED TO BE SAVED (4:10-14)

Jesus probed deeper by suggesting that women should be asking him for a drink.  The woman was quick to point out her religious connection to Jacob the Patriarch. As far as she was concerned, she was “ok” because she was a Samaritan. But Jesus exposed her spiritual need by explaining her need for living water and eternal life.

PEOPLE WHO ARE BROKEN BY SIN (4:15-18)

This is the turning point in the conversation as Jesus revealed the Samaritan woman’s brokenness. She had been involved in five broken marriages and was living with a sixth man who is not her husband. She had searched for love and significance and come up short.

The Samaritan woman’s experience reminds us that “religion” can’t be compartmentalized – it touches every area of our lives. We are broken without a personal relationship and that brokenness shows up in all kinds of ways. Proverbs 14:12 says, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death” (NASB).

PEOPLE WHO ARE SPIRITUALLY BLIND (4:19-26)

The Samaritan woman was blind to the truth about Jesus. She diverted attention away from herself to an age-old argument between the Samaritans & the Jews about the proper place to worship God. The Jews worship God in Jerusalem while the Samaritans worshipped on Mt. Gerizim. Jesus explained that worship was about to change because the Savior had come – and he was it!

Jesus is the Savior of the whole world because the whole world needs to be saved. Romans tells us “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” Jesus came into the world to save the whole world, not just for the people we know, we like, or that look like us. We shouldn’t limit the scope of God’s salvation by assuming anyone, is beyond salvation.”

 

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What is God’s Plan to Save the World?

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In John 3:1-21, we read about a man named Nicodemus who was well-educated and well-respected among the Jews. One evening, Nicodemus went to visit Jesus. During the course of their conversation, Jesus revealed some important truths about God’s plan to save the world. Jesus revealed who needs to be saved, how to get saved, and why getting saved is so important.

Do you have your own plan to save the world?

If so, how does it match up with God’s plan to save the world?

Feel free to leave your comments below.

If you are in the Tri-State area, join us at Unity Baptist in Ashland this Sunday as we consider this question and others every Sunday morning.

Hope in the Face of Death

Scattered Cumulus Clouds in a Blue SkyRecently, I walked into a dimly lit nursing home room to say goodbye to an elderly friend for the last time.  He wasn’t able to vocalize any words with his lips, but his eyes spoke volumes.  As we sat together in the faint glow of the television, I held his hand and noticed the fragile rhythm of the pulse in his wrist.

Before I left I prayed with him and realized that things were not as dark as they might have been.  A few years earlier, he had opened up to me about one of his greatest fears: he was afraid to die.  He had been in church and around church for a long time.  He had made a profession of faith and was baptized years earlier, but he still wondered if he was really saved.  This lack of assurance haunted him as he thought about the end of his life.

As we talked, I shared what I hoped would be helpful words from 1 John 5:1-4.  One of the reasons The Apostle John wrote this letter was to encourage believers who were tentative and insecure about where they stood with God.  In order to find assurance, John asked them look at the effects of their  faith.  According to these verses, saving faith produces three loves: a love for God and His Son, Jesus Christ, a love for others, and a love for keeping God’s commandments.  Love is one of those things you can’t fake.  Sooner or later, your true feelings will surface.  One of the ways God’s children can be identified is by the way they love.

As my friend looked at this life from this perspective he gained a newfound confidence in his relationship with God and changed his perspective on death.  Not just because he had rediscovered his feelings, but because he was able to see God’s transforming work in his life, in spite of his sin.  His faith had produced love.

Maybe you or someone you know is struggling with your salvation.  You’ve come to the end of yourself and ask God to forgive you based on Jesus Christ and His death on the cross.  You’ve made a declaration of faith and maybe even shared it your family, friends, or church.  But somehow, you just don’t feel confident in your decision, especially when you think about death.  If that is you, or someone you know ask yourself the following questions: what is your faith producing?  Are you growing in your love for Jesus?  Do you treat other people with love?  Do you love God’s Word?  These are just three indications that you have been adopted into God’s family and sealed your fate for eternity.