SEVEN CHARACTERISTICS OF SALVATION
Scripture Text: Jonah 2:9 "Salvation is of the Lord"
It is a fact that some of the greatest divine truths are expressed in short phrases, and a good example of this fact is found in our text Jonah 2:9, "Salvation is of the Lord." It was while Jonah was in his strange submarine seminary that he cried out this wonderful truth. And in the next verse we read the result of his verbal confession, "And the Lord spake unto the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land."
The problem with many people today is the fact that they believe that "Salvation is of the Lord plus good works, plus reformation, plus religious rituals, or plus something else that is completely contrary to the word of God. This is a very unfortunate condition.
Today, with the imperative help of the Holy Spirit of God, I want to bring before you seven scriptural characteristics, or facts, concerning SALVATION. I believe that the word itself is little understood by the vast majority of people today. At the outset, let me emphasize the fact that salvation is not church membership; nor is it culture, morality or education; nor is it sincerity; nor kneeling at the altar; nor signing a pledge card; nor is it being baptized or partaking of "communion"; nor is it attendance at a church-sponsored "Summer Youth Camp" for the poor underprivileged, with the social philosophy of soup, soap and sunshine. No, my friend, "Salvation is of the Lord."
Many years ago I looked up the word "salvation" in Webster's unabridged dictionary and this is what I read, "Salvation is the saving of man from the spiritual consequences of sin; especially deliverance from sin and eternal damnation through the atonement of Christ." (I regret to say that the dictionary no longer defines "salvation" in that way.) But I can't think of a better definition for "salvation", nor a better reason for preaching the Gospel. I can honestly say like the Apostle Paul in Romans 1:16, "For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek."
The first thing we notice about salvation is the fact that it is GOD'S SALVATION. In Acts 28:28 we read, "Be it known therefore unto you, that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear it." Yes, and even in the Old Testament, God has spoken of His salvation in various types and symbols. Along the highway of divine revelation He has pictured it in Genesis 3:21 with the blood-shed covering of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. In Genesis Chapter 4, He pictured it in the blood-shed offering of Abel in contrast to Cain's offering from a God-cursed ground. In Genesis Chapter 22, we read of Isaac about to be slain on the altar when God provided the ram instead. In Exodus Chapter 12, we read about the lamb, and how it had to be without spot or blemish, then killed and the blood sprinkled on the lintel and side posts of the door, and you hear the promise of God, "When I see the blood I will passover you." Yes, and many of the prophets in the Old Testament, such as Moses and Isaiah, predicted God's salvation, and even the psalmist sung about it.
In the 79 th. Psalm, David is in anguish concerning the destruction of Jerusalem and he cries out in Verse 9, "Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of Thy name: and deliver us, and purge away our sins, for Thy name's sake." David was "a man after God's own heart" and he knew that "salvation is of the Lord". And likewise, we who are saved are reminded in Ephesians 2:8,9: "For by grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast." And I thank God that "when the fullness of time was come", He dressed Himself in human flesh to bring His Salvation down to mankind. And I believe that for mankind to reject or neglect God's plan of salvation through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ, is the most appalling presumption and defiance that can be displayed towards a loving God in Whose hand is our every breath.
The second thing we notice about salvation is the fact that it is a COMMON SALVATION. In Jude Verse 3 we read, "Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation ..." Now this does not suggest that all will be saved, but rather that all can be saved. God's salvation is available to "whosoever will". It is for the thief as well as the teacher. It is for the murderer as well as the President. It is for the harlot as well as for the debutante. It is for the rich and the poor; the red, the yellow, the black and the white; the Catholic, the Protestant, the Jew; the Muslim; the Irish, the Russian and the American. Friend, God is "no respecter of persons". And the reason that God's salvation is for all is simply because we read in Romans 3:23 that there is no difference "For ALL have sinned and come short of the glory of God."
Everyone in the world today can be found in one verse of scripture. In John Chapter 3 and Verse 36 we read, "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him." What part of that verse are you in? You're either saved or you're lost. You're either on the narrow road to Heaven, through faith in Jesus Christ, or else you're on the broad road to Hell and the Lake of Fire. Friend, on which road are you?
Further proof that the salvation of God is common, can be found in the best-known verse in the Bible, John Chapter 3 and Verse 16, "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that WHOSOEVER believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (Please read also Acts 10:43 Romans 10:8-13; 11:32 Titus 2:11 II Peter 3:9)
The third thing we notice about salvation is the fact that it is a GREAT SALVATION. In Hebrews 2:3 we read, "How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation?" When we talk about the greatness of God's salvation, I believe we should take off our shoes because we are on holy ground, and it surpasses finite understanding.
First of all, His condescension was great. In I Timothy 3:16 we read, "without controversy, great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in flesh ..." Yes, in Christ dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. In II Corinthians 5:19 we read that "God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself, ... and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation."
Not only was His condescension great, but His life was also great. At the tender age of 12, He was astonishing the scholars in the synagogue at Jerusalem. At His baptism God declared, "This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased." And during His public ministry He gave sight to the blind; He gave hearing to the deaf; He gave voice to the dumb; He cured all those who were sick, lame or leprous, and He even raised from amongst the dead, those who had died. Yes, He was the Great Physician, and there was no such thing as an incurable disease with Him. And even though He was the Greatest Preacher that ever lived, He never preached a funeral service! He was life personified, and during His life here on earth He "did always those things that pleased the Father." Friend, how shall YOU escape if YOU neglect so great a salvation?
In addition to both His condescension and life being great, His death and resurrection were also great. Yes, it was a great love that caused Him to go to Calvary's cross. It was there that He shed that precious blood, without which there can be no remission for sin. It was at Calvary that He was forsaken by God, so that we might not be forsaken. He took the place of distance, so that we might be brought back into a new and proper relationship with our Creator, God. Yes, He Who knew no sin was made sin for us so that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him. But Friend, He is no longer on the cross, nor is He in the tomb. At least 40 times in the New Testament we read that He rose triumphant from the tomb and is now seated at the right hand of His Father, God, in Heaven. And I thank God that His Son is my Great High Priest, my Advocate, my Intercessor, and the only Mediator I have between me and God is the Man in the glory, the Lord Jesus Christ.
The fourth thing we notice about salvation is the fact that it is the ONLY SALVATION. In Isaiah 43:11 God says, "I, even I am the Lord; and beside Me there is no Saviour." In Acts 4:12, the Apostle Peter declares, "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under Heaven given amongst men, whereby we must be saved." Now this simple, yet sublime, statement of fact should awaken many people who are spiritually asleep and who are depending upon their own finite reasoning, relative to the salvation of their souls.
Some of you hope to get to Heaven because of your so-called "good works", and yet God says in Isaiah 64:6 that "we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags." Some of you may be placing your hope for eternal life on trying to keep God's law, including the 10 commandments, yet we're told in Galatians 2:21 that "if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain." The Apostle Paul tells us in Romans 10:4, "For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth." (Please read also Romans 3:19,20,28 Galatians 3:10-13, 19-24 Hebrews 7:19)
Perhaps you are thinking that because you pray and read your Bible, or that you are a very devoted member of a certain denominational church, or highly moral, a good neighbor, community-minded, a non-smoker nor an alcoholic, "drug clean", and have always been faithful to your religious beliefs and try to practice the "golden rule", surely this will guaranty you a place in God's Heaven; but friend, that is not salvation! In Proverbs 14:12 we read, "There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death." In other words, you are depending upon what you are doing, rather than having faith in what the Lord Jesus Christ has already done for you at Calvary's cross. In John 10:9 the Lord said, "I am the door: by ME if any man enter in he shall be saved." Again in John 14:6 He said, "I am THE WAY, THE TRUTH, and THE LIFE: no man cometh unto the Father, but by ME."
The fifth thing we notice about salvation is the fact that it is a PERSONAL SALVATION. In Acts 13:26 we read, "to YOU is the word of this salvation sent." Time and time again the Lord Jesus Christ made it quite clear that salvation is a personal matter. He told the religious Pharisee, Nicodemus, in John 3:7, "Marvel not that I said unto thee, YE must be born again." He was bringing the message of salvation down to the individual level. Even in the Old Testament book of Isaiah, in Chapter 55 and Verse 6 we read, "Seek YE the Lord while He may be found, call YE upon Him while He is near."
Just as our natural birth was an individual matter, so it is with our spiritual birth, or being "born again" of God, from above. Friend, I can't get saved for you, nor can you get saved for me. Nothing is more personal than our individual relationship to God. Having Christian parents, and being raised in a "Christian home", is a real privilege, but that fact alone will never save your soul. However, it does make you more responsible to God insofar as the potential for salvation is concerned. It is better never to have heard the offer of salvation, than to hear it and reject it. In John 1:12 we're told , "But as many as received Him (meaning Jesus Christ), to them gave He power (or authority) to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name." In Luke 13:3 the Lord said, "except YE repent, YE shall all likewise perish." He repeated these words again in verse 5.
Friend, have you ever accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as your own personal Saviour? Or are you like so many professing Christians who merely believe that He died for the sins of the whole world, without any personal appropriation whatsoever? The salvation of your soul should be the most important matter in your life, because upon your decision to accept or reject the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal Saviour, depends your soul's eternal destiny. Remember that destiny is determined by decision ! Yes, and it makes a difference for all eternity whether you are right or wrong today.
The sixth thing we notice about salvation is the fact that it is a PRESENT SALVATION. In II Corinthians 6:2 God says, "Behold, NOW is the accepted time; behold, NOW is the day of salvation." Nowhere in the word of God do we read that salvation will be available to you tomorrow. In fact, there may be someone reading this message today and you don't realize that you may never again hear the Gospel of God's marvelous grace. Today's date may be on your tombstone as the date of your death.
Friend, don't let the Devil tell you that you have plenty of time to accept God's salvation. There are millions of souls in Hell today who thought that they had plenty of time to get saved. Their day of salvation has ceased to exist and they are even now weeping and wailing in the place that Jesus Christ called "Hell". God tells us in Proverbs 27:1, "Boast not thyself of tomorrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth." Yes, the road to Hell is paved with good intentions!
Now I know what some of you are thinking, especially you younger ones who feel quite sure that you've got many years ahead of you. Well, God has a special message for you in Ecclesiastes 11:9, "Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth; and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes: but know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment." God is saying to you young people, "Go where you want to go; do what you want to do; let your eyes see what they want to see; BUT KNOW THOU, THAT FOR ALL THESE THINGS GOD WILL BRING THEE INTO JUDGMENT."
And to you who have enjoyed the grace of God time after time without accepting His way of salvation, God also has a special message for you in Proverbs 29:1, "He that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed and that without remedy." When you say "No" to God, He may take you at your word.
Now the seventh thing we notice about salvation is the grand and glorious fact that it is an ETERNAL SALVATION. In Isaiah 51:6 God says, "My salvation shall be FOREVER." In Hebrews 5:9 we're told that Jesus Christ "became the Author of ETERNAL SALVATION ". Then in the 12th. Verse of Chapter 9 we're told that "By His own blood He entered in once into the holy place, having obtained ETERNAL REDEMPTION for us."
Yes, I thank God that His salvation is not only for time, but also for all ETERNITY. I feel sorry for many professing Christians who are losing the joy of God's salvation by being fearful of losing that salvation. Friend, I say on the authority of God's word that "once saved, IF TRULY SAVED, always saved !" Christians are as sure of Heaven as though we were already walking the street of gold, because we have the assurance given by the Lord Jesus Christ in John 10: 27-30, "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me: And I give unto them ETERNAL LIFE; and they shall NEVER PERISH, neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand. My Father, which gave them Me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of My Father's hand. I and My Father are one."
Now please don't misunderstand me. I'm not suggesting that salvation is a license to sin. Ah, No! Any professing Christian who continues to sin willfully is expressing the fact that they were never saved at all. If truly saved, we are told in II Corinthians 5:17, "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." Friend, Christians will never be perfect till we get to Heaven, because we know, as we are told in I John 1:8,9 "If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
We've all known some rebellious child who has disobeyed the expressed desires of the parents and it usually results in some form of discipline and a breach of fellowship. So it is when a child of God acts contrary to the word and will of their Heavenly Father. However, in both cases, the parent can never deny their relationship to the child. Disobedience, or sin, can result in discipline and a breach of fellowship, but never a breach of relationship.
Friend, the things of time and sense are quick in passing, but the salvation which God is offering you today will outlast yonder mountains and the stars above. Perhaps you've been rejecting God's eternal salvation just to satisfy your lust for pleasure, power, popularity, position or property; if so, remember what the Lord Jesus Christ said in Mark 8:36,37, "For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul ?"
In closing, I would remind you that God's word gives us the promise in I Thessalonians 5:9 that "God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain SALVATION by our Lord Jesus Christ." Again we read in II Timothy 3:4 that God would "have all men to be saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth." If you end up in Hell, you can't blame God !
Friend, I plead with you today, in love for your soul, and in view of the vast eternity that lies ahead, to acknowledge that you're a poor, lost and guilty sinner, repent of your sin, and trust in the blood of Jesus Christ ALONE to cleanse you from your sins. Yes, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ as your own and personal Saviour, and if you do, you'll not only be saved for time but, thank God, you'll be saved for all ETERNITY ! AND REMEMBER, MY FRIEND, THIS IS FOR ETERNITY!
I will leave you with these aspects of SALVATION:
JESUS BOUGHT IT!
THE BIBLE TAUGHT IT!
FAITH BROUGHT IT!
THE HOLY SPIRIT WROUGHT IT!
THE DEVIL FOUGHT IT!
BUT THANK GOD, I'VE GOT IT !!!!
Evangelist: Minor C. Hawk