Chapter 7 The Saved
After looking at the lost, there has to be the lingering question on your mind, how are you saved? Of course that’s the goal. The goal is to make it Heaven, to see God’s throne, to meet Jesus, receive your crown, and a stone with your name on it. At least that is what we learn in nominal Christian circles. Why don’t we talk more about Heaven? Why don’t we study more about Heaven? What is with this world? We explore the oceans, dig in the earth for fossils, and remnants from lost civilizations, we’ve even sent people to the moon. We have telescopes and cameras all over the universe, but few people search out a distinct and clear view of Heaven. Why is that so?
I’ve already written a book based on visions of Heaven found in the Bible. I would consider those visions clear and accurate. It was an interesting book to dwell on and write. But books about Heaven just don’t sell. Not at all.
This chapter may not give a view of Heaven, but we will look at what the Bible says about people who are saved. How are they saved and why are the saved? This of course will not be a complete view, but a look at some of the most popular scripture on the subject. Our journey begins in Romans.
Romans 5:15-21 RSVA But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift in the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. (16) And the free gift is not like the effect of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brings justification. (17) If, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ. (18) Then as one man’s trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one man’s act of righteousness leads to acquittal and life for all men. (19) For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by one man’s obedience many will be made righteous. (20) Law came in, to increase the trespass; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, (21) so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
I’m sure most of you have read this chapter, or at least a few sentences from this chapter. There are three main themes many Christians concentrate on in this chapter. The first is, sin entered this world through one man, Adam. Actually sin came into this planet through Eve, then Adam. The point is, this story leads us back to another story in the Bible found in Genesis.
The part about this story that has confused me for some time is the part about sin entering this world through one man, and grace through of course, Jesus, who is mentioned as one man. What is Paul trying to get to? I had to read this many times and pray about the information Paul presented before I could begin to understand it. Paul is using a simple example. An example we should find easy to understand. To get the meaning of the story, we have to go back a review the story Paul pointed to and used as an example.
Eve was the first person to sin. Eve was of course tempted by Satan. Eve gave into a minor suggestion. Satan appeared to offer more than what God had given Adam and Eve. And Eve fell for that deception. That of course was the first sin. As far as we know, the first sin in the Universe. But Satan was busy in Heaven questioning God, looking for more, and for lack of a better term, plotting a rebellion in Heaven. We have no idea how many years of experience Satan accumulated in Heaven. We do know, Satan became an expert in deception in Heaven. Satan was in daily contact with God. Satan knew Jesus. But Satan decided that was not enough for him. He convinced himself, then thousands of angels that there was more than what God had given them. We don’t know what Satan saw, believed, or was after. That information was not recorded in scripture. We do know, Satan was able to deceive angels. Angels who saw and knew God. Angels who once worshiped in front of God’s throne. If Satan could accomplish that, what chance do we have?
There is something in the fact, Satan was able to deceive Eve. Why didn’t Satan go after Adam? When we look at scripture we see, God warned Adam about the fruit on that tree. It was Adam’s job to inform and protect Eve. Did Adam do his job? There is something mysterious about those circumstances.
Eve was the first to eat the forbidden fruit. Somehow Eve was able to convince Adam to eat the fruit. In other words, Eve was able to accomplish what Satan was unable to do, or maybe afraid to try. Adam took the word of his wife over God. In short, Adam sinned on more than one front.
Paul used Adam as an example for a reason. Is it because Adam took the word of the only other human being on this planet over God’s word? That could be one of the reasons. But to get to the facts, we have to follow that story a little further.
Sin of course introduced a set of curses. On the surface those curses may look simple to understand. But do we look at those curses based on the way this world chose to understand them? Or do we look at those curses from a point of view from Heaven? After all, those curses did originate in Heaven.
Genesis 3:14-19 RSVA The LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all cattle, and above all wild animals; upon your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. (15) I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” (16) To the woman he said, “I will greatly multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children, yet your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” (17) And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life; (18) thorns and thistles it shall bring forth to you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. (19) In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
We all know, that first curse on Satan was a prophecy. It had a spiritual meaning. Why would God move from the prophetic and spiritual state to a physical state of thinking at this point? When we look at the curses as book ends, we find the answer. Adam and all men and women will return to dust. Satan will crawl along his belly and eat the dust of the earth. Put the two together and what do we have? We have Satan eating up people. Is that true? If it is, we can continue along this train of thought.
Satan has one goal in mind. To take as many of us into the pit he is responsible for making. He goal is to eat up people, the dust of this earth. Now let’s go onto the next curse.
There will be a hatred between Eve and Satan. Eve is given the role of a warrior. Her hatred for Satan is the key Eve needs to protect her family. Eve made a mistake she can never make up for and she can never correct on her own. But one of her offspring will crush Satan’s head. Satan heard that. Satan knows that. And of course, Satan did everything in his power to save his own skin. But he failed.
Eve was also cursed with the pain of giving birth. Every woman who has given birth knows about the physical pain. Every good husband has witnessed that suffering and knows how unqualified he is to relieve that pain. There are a host of spiritual lessons attached to those physical attributes. After birth, Eve had to protect her sons and daughters from Satan’s relentless and never ending attacks. Let’s look at the odds. A third of the angles in Heaven were cast down to this planet. They had nothing better to do than to tempt and torture a few human beings. Can you imagine the pressure Adam, Eve, and their family faced? Can you imagine the spiritual pain and suffering Eve had to face everyday of her life knowing she was responsible for the condition of this world. Eve had no choice but to live with it. We can see how that child bearing pain went way beyond the few hours it takes to bring a new life into this world. The curse was no doubt spiritual.
The curse on Adam was of course also spiritual as well as physical. God reminded Adam, he listened to his wife, and took her word over the direct instructions he received from God. In a sense, that hurt God. That struck at God. Adam didn’t fall to the temptation Satan laid on Eve. Adam received his temptation second hand. That made it worse. Sin was rolling downhill and gaining momentum. Now we can begin to see one of the points Paul was making in Romans. People have a choice. They can follow after Adam and take the word of someone who has not received a direct command or message from God, or we can go to Jesus who has chosen to live every minute of His life on this planet being open, willing, and able to receive instructions, knowledge, and wisdom from God. In most cases, which path do people prefer to choose? How can we miss that point in the example Paul laid out for us in Romans?
The curse on Adam gets deeper. The soil Adam, the tree, and that fruit came from was cursed. When God created soil, it was good. Sin changed all of that and more. Thorns and thistles popped up all over the earth. A direct reference to other stories in the Bible and a clear description of the fallen angels who now had a new planet to call their own.
Adam was sentenced to a life of toil. A life of hard word. How else would you describe the relentless attacks those fallen angels launched on the only two people on this planet. Raising a family was not going to be easy. In modern terms, we can never hope to remove all the thrones and thistles in our hearts and lives. That is a never ending battle. Caring for a garden is a prime example. Pull out all the weeds, and you are sure to miss a few. After a few weeks, new weeds pop up all over the place and you find yourself back on your hands and knees sweating just like Adam. At times it all seems hopeless. Paul offered an alternative. The God who created the ground knows how to clean it up once and for all.
Eventually Adam would physically return to the dust God formed him from. The Lord gives and takes away. God knew how to make a man out of dust. And God knew how to make dust out of men. Something we should never forget. God didn’t want Adam to forget about Him. God didn’t want Adam to forget who created him, and who is always in control. That was one of the points Paul was pointing to on his letter.
Paul also mentioned grace in his letter. If we base our salvation on a few choice verses, Romans chapter 5 would contain one of them. Some people look at a verse or two and walk away with the impression, Jesus died for their sins. Jesus fixed what was broken by Adam and there is nothing for anyone to do. That’s not what we learned in previous studies in this book. Finding out about Jesus is only one step in a long journey. Jesus talked about that journey and John recorded key components to that process in his Gospel. But who wants to learn about a process with a number of key steps when the church down the street advertises an easier one step process.
It seems we have a choice. We can follow Adam’s lead, and take the word of another human being, or we can choose to accept what God has told us with His own voice. But this world seems to teach us that, God has left this world on its own. Is that true? Did God leave Adam and Eve on their own? Or did He continue to look over them, and talk to them? If Adam heard God, why don’t we accept that aspect of Adam and make it part of our own lives? God talked with Abraham, Issac, Jacob, Moses, Joshua, Samuel, David, a host of prophets, Jesus, the apostles, and more. Why not you and me? Is God selective, or is it one of our problems? We do have a host of religions who insist, God only talks with a few choice people. Or, after the Bible was finished, there was no reason for God to talk to anyone on this planet. There are a million excuses and false conceptions people have about God. Just because they have a license to preach, a wall full of diplomas, and other credentials handed to them from who knows where, does that mean they have an open line to God we can’t have? Come on now. Let’s look at God and accept Him and His written word with an open mind. Does God love any less than He loved Adam, Eve, Samuel, David, Moses, or His own Son? Could God love one person less than He loves another? Does God have a way of measuring His love and rationing it out? If God’s love is limitless, so is His communication.
Paul outlined a choice. We can either choose to face death, or the free gift of righteousness. Do we need to work for that free gift? What happiness do we receive from any gift if we don’t open the package? Is there work involved in the free gift Jesus has prepared for us? We would have to dig into the subject to find out. Now to ask one question. Is studying the subject of grace work? Would studying grace and learning more about God, Jesus, the plan of salvation, and other related subjects disqualify us from receiving the the salvation Paul wrote about?
Romans 11:29-36 RSVA For the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable. (30) Just as you were once disobedient to God but now have received mercy because of their disobedience, (31) so they have now been disobedient in order that by the mercy shown to you they also may receive mercy. (32) For God has consigned all men to disobedience, that he may have mercy upon all. (33) O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! (34) “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?” (35) “Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” (36) For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory for ever. Amen.
It wasn’t by mistake Paul blended mercy with the unsearchable wisdom, knowledge, and judgments of God. It’s true, God has to make a decision. Not everyone will be saved. Paul tells us, we are not going to find that judgment process easy to find nor understand. God’s judgment is way beyond the understanding of this world. Does that mean we give up? Does that mean we leave the search to qualified and specially trained individuals? Who do you think Paul was wring this letter to? When we look at the last chapter in Romans, we see Paul wasn’t writing to institutions of higher learning or church leaders. Paul was writing to common, everyday people. Paul was writing to people who didn’t have all the answers, but were interested in finding them. As a matter of fact, Paul sent them to a place in scripture so they could find a portion of that answer.
Isaiah 40:10-18 RSVA Behold, the Lord GOD comes with might, and his arm rules for him; behold, his reward is with him, and his recompense before him. (11) He will feed his flock like a shepherd, he will gather the lambs in his arms, he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young. (12) Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand and marked off the heavens with a span, enclosed the dust of the earth in a measure and weighed the mountains in scales and the hills in a balance? (13) Who has directed the Spirit of the LORD, or as his counselor has instructed him? (14) Whom did he consult for his enlightenment, and who taught him the path of justice, and taught him knowledge, and showed him the way of understanding? (15) Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket, and are accounted as the dust on the scales; behold, he takes up the isles like fine dust. (16) Lebanon would not suffice for fuel, nor are its beasts enough for a burnt offering. (17) All the nations are as nothing before him, they are accounted by him as less than nothing and emptiness. (18) To whom then will you liken God, or what likeness compare with him?
We can instantly see the connection between Romans chapter 11 and Isaiah chapter 40. We should be able to see how Paul was influenced and inspired by Isaiah. We know God is coming. We know God’s strength. Or at least how God’s strength exceeds anything and everything in this world. We also know how Jesus feeds and cares for His flock. What we have to learn is, how this world fails to know God. We have to face the fact, many people prefer to rely on themselves. We learned this lesson when we looked at Genesis. Adam took Eve’s word over God. After that, God explained that mishap in a number of different ways. It is repeated in the Bible so many times, we know this is an important point. No one can do what God has done, can do for us, or is going to do with this world. All we can do is hope to find God, and gain a little more understanding about God. Is that what being saved is all about? Would you consider that a form of works? Of course – searching for God requires a bit of effort. But when Paul tells people to search out God, and blends it in with grace and salvation, do we start messing with the ingredients, or do we follow the recipe?
Who is saved? Paul and Isaiah agree, that is not for us to decide, and difficult for us to understand. Do we avoid teaching about subjects we don’t understand? It is wrong to present yourself as an authority on a subject you know little about. On the other hand, it is healthy to share. There is so much information on the subject of salvation, none of us could learn all the details in a lifetime. But we can share what we know. And we can learn from other people. Isn’t that what Paul told us to do?