SALVATION MADE PLAIN AND SIMPLE
Isaiah 45:22 (NKJV)
22 “Look to Me, and be saved,
All you ends of the earth!
For I am God, and there is no other.
On January 9, 1876, Charles Spurgeon preached a message from the same text that I have read to you. IN the introduction to that sermon, he relates how he came to know Jesus Christ. “It was about twenty-six years ago, — twenty-six years exactly last Thursday, — that I looked unto the Lord, and found salvation, through this text. You have often heard me tell how I had been wandering about, seeking rest, and finding none, till a plain, unlettered, lay preacher among the Primitive Methodists stood up in the pulpit, and gave out this passage as his text: “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth.”
He (the preacher) had not much to say, thank God, for that compelled him to keep on repeating his text, and there was nothing needed — by me, at any rate, — except his text. I remember how he said, “It is Christ that speaks – ‘I am in the garden in an agony, pouring out my soul unto death; I am on the tree, dying for sinners; look unto me! Look unto me!’ That is all you have to do. A child can look. One who is almost an idiot can look. However weak, or however poor, a man may be, he can look; and if he looks, the promise is that he shall live.” Then, stopping, he pointed to where I was sitting under the gallery, and he said, “That young man there looks very miserable.” I expect I did, for that is how I felt. Then he said, “There is no hope for you, young man, or any chance of getting rid of your sin, but by looking to Jesus;” and he shouted, as I think only a Primitive Methodist can, “Look! Look, young man! Look now!” And I did look; and when they sang a hallelujah before they went home, in their own earnest way, I am sure I joined in it.”
This great passage of the Bible was used of the Lord to bring that great man to Jesus Christ. Now, we need to understand that Spurgeon’s experience was not unlike that of any other believer. He was brought face to face with his own condition and of his need for Jesus Christ. Then, when he believed the Gospel, he was saved.
Now, there is a tendency to on the part of preachers and other Christians to make salvation more difficult to understand than it really is. In fact, the doctrine of salvation itself is remarkably simple! Yet, we use “words” to speak about it to “outside” people who are totally unfamiliar with such words. It is as if we have our own special coded language. We use words and phrases like, “saved”, “blood bought”; “blood washed”; “born again”; “redeemed”; and the like. These are all good words and phrases, but they can be overwhelming and confusing to those who do not know what they mean. Yet, there is nothing confusing, mysterious or hard to understand about salvation. God has fixed it so that anyone can understand it!
Today, I want to preach to you from this verse on the thought, Salvation Made Plain And Simple. I want you to be able to say that at least one time in your life you heard a clear presentation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ that was in language anyone could understand.
To begin with, the word “salvation” means “The act of saving from harm.” Of course, this could apply to being saved from harm in any arena of the human experience. It is possible to be saved physically, financially, emotionally, mentally, etc. However, I want to use the word as it relates to your spiritual need. Any other type of salvation is only temporary in nature. Yet, when a person experiences the salvation of his or her soul, they have experienced something eternal that can never fade or be taken away.
Allow me to share with you a few features of God’s salvation. These few simple features are all you need to know to be saved. And, they are what make salvation so plain and simple. All I ask is that you give your attention to the Word of God and that you allow God to speak to your heart.
Now, let’s look together at the features that make salvation plain and simple.
I. THE SOURCE OF SALVATION
“Look unto ME”; “I am God and there is none else.”
A. This verse is crystal clear! There is no doubt that God says that salvation can only be found in Him! Friends, there is only one road to Heaven, there is only one remedy for sin, there is but one way to escape from Hell, and that is through God’s plan of salvation.
B. Salvation does not come through the church, the pastor, the rituals, the denomination, or through family associations. It comes only through God’s plan of salvation.
C. Salvation cannot be obtained through good deeds and clean living. It comes only through God’s plan of salvation.
D. What is that salvation plan? I sure am glad you asked, because God’s plan is an exclusive plan, John 14:6! This verse makes it clear that Jesus Christ is the only avenue that man can take that will bring him to God. If a man must have a million dollars to be called a millionaire, then he must have Jesus Christ to be called a Christian, 1 John 5:12.
E. Friends, no one goes to Heaven because they are a Baptist or Methodist or Pentecostals. They do not get to go because they are good people. They do not get to go because they have done good things or because they have been a good person. A person goes to Heaven because he is in a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.
F. God will not share the salvation of souls with any preacher, Pope, denomination, sacrament or anything else we can name. Salvation comes through Jesus Christ and Jesus alone, Acts 4:12!
G. I am going to Heaven! Not because I am a preacher (pastor). Not because I attend church. Not because I have been baptized. Not because I pay my tithes. Not because I try to live right. All of those things are good and every saved person ought to do them, but those things cannot save the soul. No, I am going to heaven because one day, in 1977, I came to the place where I looked to no one or no thing but to Jesus Christ alone. I am going to heaven because I know Jesus. One thing and one thing alone was required for me to be saved and I did that thing. I looked to Jesus and He saved my soul!
My hope is built on nothing less,
than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
On Christ the solid rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is seeking sand.
H. Have you come to the source of salvation? Or, are you still trying to get it some other way? Listen, stop trying to do what has already been done, and look to Jesus Christ by faith, and He will save you from your sins and from Hell. There is but one way to Heaven, to God and to salvation and His Name is Jesus. He is the sole source of salvation!
II. THE SCOPE OF SALVATION
“All the ends of the earth.”
A. One of the truths about God’s plan of salvation that makes it so great is the fact that it is for every individual in the whole world! It is not offered to a select few, but to “whosoever will”.
B. This truth is made clear by a couple of special verses of Scripture, John 3:16; Rev. 22:17; John 10:9. If you are a “whosoever”, or if you are an any man, then you can be saved.
C. When Jesus Christ went to the cross and died for sin, He was dying for you too, Heb. 2:9. The cross is proof that God loves you, Rom. 5:8.
D. You see, regardless of where your path may have taken you in life, or regardless of what you may have done in your past, God’s plan of salvation is open to you if you will come to Him. He will not turn you away, John 6:37!
(Ill. Steve McQueen (Movie- The Great Escape) was a top-billing actor who led a life as tough as the ones he portrayed on the screen. Success filled his life until alcohol and a failed marriage left him empty. In his despair he attended a crusade led by one of Billy Graham’s associates. McQueen made a profession of faith and requested an opportunity to speak with Billy Graham. A connecting flight in Los Angeles allowed Dr. Graham to spend a couple of hours with Mr. McQueen in the actor’s limousine. The great evangelist shared numerous scriptures in his quest to give spiritual hope and confidence. Steve McQueen struggled with the thought of God giving eternal life to a man who had such a checkered past. But, in Titus 1:2, Steve McQueen found his hope: “in hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began.” He requested something to write down the verse, but Billy Graham gave McQueen his Bible instead.
Later, Steve McQueen died in Mexico while seeking experimental treatment for his terminal cancer. He passed into eternal life with his Bible opened to Titus 1 and his finger resting on verse 2. Regardless of our past, we have the hope of God’s eternal promise.)
E. You need not fear that salvation “won’t work for you”. If you come to Jesus by faith, He will save your soul! If He would save me, or some of the other people in this world, then you have nothing to fear! Remember, salvation is not for good people, “…I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance”, Matt. 9:13. Of course, the Bible also says, “There is none that doeth good, no, not one”, Rom. 3:12.
F. Not a single person in eternity will say, “I tried to come to God, I tried to believe in Jesus, but He would not save my soul.” No! If you want to be saved, you can be saved! He made a way for you. That is why Romans 10:13 says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
III. THE SIMPLICITY OF SALVATION
“LOOK unto me”
A. Notice carefully the wording of the text. Does it say “Look unto me and be baptized and join the church.”? No! Does it say, “Look unto me and pay your tithes.”? No! Does it say, “Look unto me and live right.”? No! Does it say, “Look unto me, turn over a new leaf and promise never to sin again.”? No! It merely says “Look unto me.” The simple look of faith is enough to bring you salvation. (Ill. The Brazen Serpent in Numbers 21 and the corresponding passage in John 3:14-16.)
B. Sometimes, salvation is so simple that people stumble all over it. They have a hard time believing that it can be so simple. But, the Gospel can be related by reading 2 verses, 1 Cor. 15:3-4, “For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:”
The way this translates into salvation is found in another verse, Rom. 10:9; “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” You see, salvation is not a matter of holding on, of your ability to change, or of you having big faith, but it is simply a matter of looking to Jesus Christ by faith.
(Ill. A businessman brought a thirty-year-old man to a summer Bible conference who was paralyzed from his hips down. As he sat beside the soul-winner on a bench under the trees, he expressed his desire to be saved. He said, “I believe everything in the Bible,” but it gave him no peace. The Christian then inquired of him whether he knew he was lost, to which he replied he did. The inquiry was then made as to whether he knew that Christ is the One who saves and the only One who can save. He replied also to this that he believed it. Just at this point a public bus drew up in front of the conference grounds and the Christian said to his lame friend, “that bus is intended to carry everybody into the city, is it not?” “Yes,” he replied. “Does it carry everyone?” he asked. “No,” he said, “only those who get into the bus.” He had hardly made this statement when the light of God broke into his soul. “I see!” he said. “Christ came to save everybody, but He saves only those who take Him: The light of heaven flooded his soul. The peace of God filled his heart. His face became radiant with joy. He had entered into the Lord Jesus by faith.)
C. The fact of the matter is this, anyone can look! If you are young, old, or middle aged you can look. If you are rich or poor, you can look. If you are smart or not so smart, you can look. If you are a good person or if you are a bad person, you can look. Anyone can look! The question is have you? And, if not, will you?
D. While anyone can look, no one else can look for you! You must look to Jesus for yourself. People can pray for you and plead with you, but only you can look to Jesus for salvation. You have to do it for yourself. The question is, have you? And, if not, will you?
(Ill. There was a little fellow who was returning home from a store with a pail of honey in his hand. A gentleman who walked beside him saw him slip one finger down into the pail. Then, because his mother had told him never to wipe his sticky fingers on his blouse or trousers, it found its only logical destination, his mouth. It really tasted good. After he had done this several times, the gentleman approached him and said, “See here, Sonny, what have you in that pail?” “Some honey, sir.” “Honey–is it sweet?” “Yes, sir.” “How sweet is your honey?” “It is very sweet, sir.” “Well, I do not understand you. I asked you how sweet your honey was, and you have not yet told me. How sweet is it?” “Why, it is very, very sweet, sir.” “Well, you are a funny little fellow; I asked you how sweet your honey is, and you just tell me it is very, very sweet. Now, can’t you tell me really how sweet your honey is?” The little fellow was impatient by this time, so he stuck his finger down into the honey, and holding it up said, “Taste and see for yourself.” That’s what you have to do!)
IV. THE SECURITY OF SALVATION
“and be ye saved.”
A. The Bible says here that those who look to the Lord will be saved. This is a word that means, “to rescue from all harm and danger.” An unsaved person who hears that word tends to think of someone pulled from a burning building, or from a wrecked car. Or, of someone who is rescued from drowning. These are all valid uses of the word “saved” in the physical realm.
B. The spiritual realm is no different! When a person looks to Jesus Christ for salvation, that person is saved from the penalty of sin, Rom. 6:23. You see, every person who is listed without God is under a penalty. It is the penalty of death, leading to an eternity in Hell, Psa. 9:17; 2 Thes. 1:8-9; Rev. 20:11-15.
But, when you trust Jesus, He saves you from that penalty. You see, because I am saved, I am saved from the penalty of sin. As I live and grow in the Lord, I am being saved from the power of sin. Then, when I go to Heaven, I will be forever saved from the very presence of sin.
C. Many religions and denominations tell us that looking to Jesus only puts a person in a position to be saved. For them to be saved they have to live right, never mess up, they have to walk the talk! They tell us that any slip ups will cost you your salvation and that you will be back on the road to Hell!
Friends, we are not saved by not messing up! We are not saved by being good people. We are saved by looking to Christ. We have already discovered that. Consider this: if you are still in danger of being lost, then you are not saved! If Jesus says, “Look unto me, then do this and don’t do the other and you will be saved.” He has not saved you, He has merely put you in a position where you might be saved. Real salvation is absolute and eternal deliverance from the dangers and the penalties of sin.
(Ill. Suppose I pass by the lake and see a man 100 yards from shore and he appears to be drowning. Now, suppose I swim out to where he is and drag him toward the shore. When we are about 10 yards from shore, I turn him loose and say, “Friend, I’ve gotten you this far, the rest is up to you.” Have I saved him? No! He is still in danger of drowning! As long as he is in danger, he is not saved! No matter how much I may brag about what I did, I did not save the drowning man!)
D. When Jesus saves a lost soul, He does it eternally! He does it permanently. There is no way that you can mess up salvation! You say, “I wish I could believe that!” Friend, I am glad that you do not have to take my word for it! Listen to what the Bible says, John 6:37-40; 1 Pet. 1:5; John 10:28. There are many more such promises, but these are sufficient to prove beyond all doubt that when Jesus Christ saves a soul, that soul stays saved! Amen!
Don’t you want that kind of salvation? Don’t you want to know for sure that you are saved and that all is well between you and the Lord God? Don’t you want to know for sure that every sin has been forgiven and that you have a home in Heaven when you leave this world?
Friends, you can have all that and much more, if you will only look to Jesus Christ by faith. Hey, you’ve looked at everything else in life, why not look to Jesus this morning?
What would you say about a drowning man who threw away the life preserver? What would you say about a poisoned man pouring out the antidote? What would you say about a wounded man ripping open his own wounds? But, what would you say about a lost man who refused to look at the only means of salvation he has available? If you will look to Jesus Christ, you will live. That is salvation made plain and simple!