Sunday Sermon: ‘Salvation’ Growing In Christ Series

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These are exciting days at Twin Oaks! God is working! Over the last several days, many have made a first-time decision to receive Jesus Christ as their personal Savior. Others, who were unsure of their salvation, have confirmed the fact that they are truly saved. Lives are being changed and we’re excited about the possibilities that lay ahead.

So where do we go from here? What’s next? Consider these words of our Savior:

Matthew 28:18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. 19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

The phrase – ‘teach all nations’ literally means – ‘make disciples from people living all around the world.’ It is the will of Christ that everyone become one of His disciples.

I.  What is a Disciple?

The concept of being someone’s disciple was very common during the days of Jesus. Many teachers, both true and false ones, often had disciples. A disciple is someone who follows the teaching of another. They are a pupil. They are a learner. The master teaches them and they follow His instruction.

There is no salvation without discipleship. There is no Christianity without discipleship. If you do not desire to be a disciple of Jesus, you need to question the genuineness of your faith. Here the words of Jesus:

Matthew 7:21 Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

Luke 6:46 And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?

John 10:27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:

II. How Do We Become a Disciple of Jesus Christ?

How do we become a follower of Jesus Christ? How do we become one of His disciples? To answer that question let’s look at some of the activity of the early church as it began in Jerusalem.

We begin with Peter’s preaching on the Day of Pentecost found in Acts 2. As you know, about 120 of Christ’s disciples were waiting in Jerusalem for the power they had been promised. They were praying fervently when suddenly the Holy Spirit came upon the church like a rushing, mighty wind. The apostles were given the ability to speak in other languages and the phenomenon drew a large crowd. Those observing began to ask – ‘What does this mean? What is the cause and reason of this?’ Peter, being filled with the Holy Spirit, began to preach to them. Peter’s preaching brought great conviction and the result was that about 3,000 men turned to Christ. We pick up the story in vs. 41 –

Acts 2:41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. 42 And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.

Consider the steps of their discipleship.

A. Salvation

Salvation is the first step to becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ.

Acts 2:41 Then they that gladly received his word

What is salvation? What does it mean to be saved?  The words ‘salvation’ or ‘saved’ literally mean to be delivered. To be saved is to be delivered. Delivered from what?

The Bible says that it is appointed unto men once to die and after this the judgment. (Heb 9:27) One day, the small and great will stand before God and give an account for the way they have lived. The Bible says that every man will be judged according to their works. (Rev 20:11-15)

Peter was preaching to some very religious men that day. The Bible says that they were ‘devout’ men. They were very serious about their religion, yet they were also very sinful.  The Bible says – ‘…all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.’ (Romans 3:23) Young and old, rich and poor, religious or non-religious; it doesn’t matter; we all have sinned. How have we sinned?

Men, every time you look upon a woman with the purpose of lusting after her, you have broken the 7th Commandment which says – “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” Ladies, every time you say something unkind and slanderous about another person, you are breaking the 9th Commandment which says – ‘Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.’ Every time any of us holds bitterness in our hearts towards another person, we are breaking the 6th Commandment – ‘Thou shalt not murder.’ Every time we put something or someone before our relationship with God, we are breaking the 1st Commandment which says – ‘Thou shalt have no other gods before Me.’ Every time someone says something like – ‘Oh my God’, or ‘Good God’ or ‘Jeeze’ – they are breaking the 3rd Commandment which says – ‘Thou shalt not take the name of thy Lord thy God in vain.’ Every time a child disobeys or disrespects their parents, they are breaking the 5th Commandment which says – ‘Honor thy father and mother.’ Every time we take something that doesn’t rightfully belong to us, we are breaking the 8th Commandment – ‘Thou shalt not steal.’

According to the Bible, everyone has sinned and fallen short of God’s glory. In and of ourselves, there is none of us who are righteous enough to go to heaven; no not one. Though God loves us, He cannot receive us into His kingdom because our sinfulness. In His holiness, God has to judge us for our sins.

Peter stood before several thousand very religious men; yet Peter did not fail to tell them the truth.

Acts 2:36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.

Peter shared three very important truths:

1. Jesus is Lord

“You thought that by crucifying Him, you would get rid of Him, but God has declared Jesus to be Lord over all.”

Regardless of whether or not you or I ever accept Jesus as our Savior – Jesus is Lord. According to the Bible, one day every knee will bow before Him and every tongue will confess that He is Lord.

2. You Are Sinful

“You rejected Him and you crucified Him.”

Every person who rejects Jesus is like those who cried out – ‘Crucify Him!’

Peter’s bold preaching stung them. Yet note the impact of the truth –

Acts 2:37 Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?

‘Pricked in their heart’ means that they were convicted in their souls. The Holy Spirit took God’s truth and deeply convicted them of their sins. In desperation they cried out – “What shall we do? How can we be saved?”

3. Repent and Be Baptized

Acts 2:38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins,

a) Turn from your sinfulness

That’s what the word ‘repentance’ means. It means to have a change of mind. It means to make a 180 degree about-face. Though Jesus had performed many miracles in the sight of these men, they had willfully rejected Him.  The book of Acts records two great messages of Peter and both times he told his Jewish brethren that they were guilty of the crucifixion of Jesus.  For them to be saved in Day of Judgment, they needed to repent and turn from their sinfulness.

b) Be baptized in the name of Jesus

Earlier in that same message Peter had said –

Acts 2:21 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Here is the wonder of it all – though we have sinned against God, God still loves us and desires to save us from an eternal hell. Jesus said –

John 3:16 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. 17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved . 18 He that believeth on him is not condemned : but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

God does not love the sin of man, but He loves sinful man. God loves us so much that He gave His Son, the Lord Jesus, to receive our judgment. On the cross Jesus suffered for the sin of all those who will repent of their sin and receive Him as their Savior.

Peter told the men –

Acts 2:38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins,

We will study baptism in greater detail in a later message, but for today let me say this –

  • Baptism itself will not save you
  • Baptism is a way for us to publically declare that we have received Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. The important part about water baptism is that it is done ‘in the name of Jesus.’  Being done in His name means that it is done with recognition that He has the authority to forgive us of our sins and save us in the Day of Judgment. The Bible says  –

Romans 8: There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus…

The biblical word for this is ‘justification.’ Under the authority of Christ, we are just as if we had never sinned. We will be viewed as sinless in the sight of God on the Day of Judgment.

B. Teaching From the Word of God 

Acts 2:42 And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine…

Though there are many parts of our discipleship, it can be divided into two basic steps:

  1. Salvation
  2. Spiritual Growth

It would have done little good for these men to have prayed a prayer and then gone home and returned to business as usual.

Salvation is a new-birth experience whereby the Holy Spirit of God comes to live inside of the believer. In Christ, the believer becomes a new creation. Salvation is an about face that puts us on a new course for the rest of our lives and on into eternity.

It is the duty of the church to teach new converts how to live the Christian life. It is the duty of the new convert to avail themselves to that teaching and to obey. Note again the example of the early church-

Acts 2:41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. 42 And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.

We should note that the ‘they’ of  vs. 42 are the same individuals as the ‘they’ of  vs. 41. They:

1. Received the words of Peter’s preaching of the Gospel

a)  Repentance of sinning against God

b)  Faith towards Christ

2. Openly proclaimed their faith in Jesus as Savior and Lord by being baptized in His name
3. Joined themselves to the church
4. Continued steadfastly in the apostle’s teaching
5. Associated themselves in regular fellowship with the other believers
6. Became fully devoted followers of Christ

III. Application

During the days when Rome ruled the world, Julius Caesar wanted to conquer the part of Europe that was north of Italy. We might think that to do so, Caesar would have started at the bottom and worked his way up; yet Caesar had a different approach. Caesar loaded his troops on ships and sailed around Spain and up the coast to the part of Europe we now call England. There he unloaded his troops and had them march to the top of a high mountain. As the troops looked south they could see the land they were conquer. Far beyond that land was their homes. In order for them to go home, they had to conquer Europe.

Then Caesar had the troops turn and face the sea. As they stood upon the Cliffs of Dover and looked down, they could see the ships that had carried them there. Then Caesar did something very powerful. As his soldiers watched, Caesar had the ships burned. Doing so meant that there could be no turning back or surrender. The only way they could go was forward.

Unfortunately there are a lot of Christians who haven’t burned their old ships of the past. They keep them handy so that when it is convenient, they can retreat to their old ways. Yet such thinking keeps them from being a fully devoted follower of Jesus Christ.

As we begin this series of messages on discipleship, I encourage you to examine your life and ask yourself – ‘Do I have any ships that need burning? Have I repented of those things that are offensive to Christ and am I following Him as Lord? It is the will of Christ that everyone of us become of His fully devoted followers.

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