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The First Step

In Touch / Charles Stanley
The Truth Network Radio
May 27, 2024 12:00 am

The First Step

In Touch / Charles Stanley

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May 27, 2024 12:00 am

Salvation lies in believing that Jesus is the Son of God and trusting Him for your salvation.

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Welcome to the In Touch Podcast with Charles Stanley for Monday, May twenty-seventh. Are you growing in your faith and moving forward in maturity? Today's podcast begins a series titled, The Path of Spiritual Maturity.

That opens with a clear explanation of salvation as the necessary first step. Do you remember the first time your first child took their first step? Oh, you called your friends and your family and you just said, it's wonderful, it's just so awesome that they've taken their first step and it was all just beautiful. And next thing you knew, something wrong. They were into everything.

They were into this, into that, and everything. So, your whole attitude changed. But, now that's all right, that was the beginning of a whole new life for them. And there's the beginning of a whole new life for those who take another first step.

And the title of this message is, The First Step. And if you'll turn to the sixteenth chapter of Acts and just give you a little background of what's happening here. Paul and Silas are on their second missionary journey. And so, they got thrown in jail. Thrown in jail, their feet were in the stocks, and they had been beaten with rods.

Now, we think beaten with a whip would be something, but beaten with rods, and it was against the law to beat any Roman citizen with rods and put them in jail without some real true, real reason to do so. So, as a result, the Scripture says, verse twenty-five of the sixteenth chapter, But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there came a great earthquake, so that the foundation of the prison house was shaken, and immediately all the doors were open and everyone's chains were unfastened.

Just think about that. When the jailer awoke and saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped, because that was the Roman law. And I was, they gave you an authority and a position, and you didn't fulfill it, you'd had it. And so, Paul cried out with a loud voice, saying, Do yourself no harm, for we are all here. And he called for the lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear, he fell down before Paul and Silas. And after he brought them out, he said, so whatever they were singing, whatever they were praying, he'd been listening, the other prisoners had been listening, and so they'd sung long enough and prayed enough.

And he felt, wait a minute, these fellows are in stocks, I beat them with rods, they're in prison. And what are they singing about? Well, listen, they had, he had a very listening ear, and so he said to them, as he fell down before them, he brought them out and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? Not a lot of stuff about this, they are God, this, that, the other. They said, Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your whole household. And they spoke the word of the Lord to him, together with all who were in the house. He took them that very hour of the night, washed their wounds, immediately he was baptized, he and his whole household, and he brought them out into his house and set food before them, and rejoiced greatly, having believed in God with his whole household. Now, when the chief magistrates came, for example, the rest of that passage says that they were scared to death because they found that they were Romans. It was against the law to beat and to chain a Roman like that.

And so, the interesting thing is that they went away freed and the magistrates wanted them to go as quickly as possible and please don't tell anybody what happened to you. But the most important statement in that whole series is this. He said, What must I do to be saved? And Paul said very clearly, look at this, just a simple verse. He said, What must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe, watch this, not in Jesus, but believe in the Lord Jesus and you'll be saved and your household. And so, when I look at that passage and see how simple it seemed to be and think about how people think about God and salvation. Let me ask you a question. If somebody said to you, Now, tell me exactly what you mean by salvation.

Well, probably you'd have a pretty good answer, but I want to give you a very simple answer. This is a simple statement, it's all true, and all you have to do is to say, Salvation is the work of God's grace, by which He does what? He pardons our sins and bestows upon us what?

The gift of eternal life. That's what salvation's all about. It's the work of God's grace. God's grace is what His unmerited, undeserved favor and love for us. As a result of that, by which He pardons us, forgives us of our sins and bestows upon us. We don't work for it, bestows upon us the gift of eternal life. So, if somebody asks you, What is salvation?

That's a simple definition, but it clarifies everything. The grace of God is His unmerited, undeserved favor. He doesn't save us because we deserve anything. And so, many people feel like if they know there's a God or believe there's a God, then they're saved, but absolutely they're not. So, I want to talk about a couple of things primarily, and the first one is this, is our spiritual condition before salvation. If you asked the average person how they were doing, they'd probably say, Well, I'm not too bad. And what they would do and what they will do is they will talk about other people or other things or circumstances and situations and say, You know what?

I'm as good as that. I know some church members that do this and do that, and I'm as good as they are, so I'm not worried about going to heaven because I don't do any bad things. Nothing could be further from the truth. Because all of that is based on what you believe that God thinks about your conduct, your work, your attitudes, your this and your that. And when He says by grace, that means unmerited, undeserved love for us. God does not save us on the basis of how much you do, who you are, what you have.

He saves us on the basis of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ the Lord. No matter what else you believe, you cannot deny that truth. And you cannot expect to be saved on the basis of anything that you do. So, I want to give you a few Scriptures here beginning in Ephesians chapter two.

Look at that for a moment. And Paul is saying to the Ephesians, this is what we were before we were saved because it's true of all of us. So, if you have never trusted Christ as your Savior, and if you're honest, you will agree with these Scriptures.

Listen to this. In Ephesians chapter two, verse one, and you were dead in your trespasses and sins. There are three deaths. There's physical death that most all of us will probably experience at some point. There is spiritual death, that is we're dead to the things of God. And there's eternal death when a person is eternally separated from God and spends eternity in hell. So, look at this. And you were dead in your trespasses and sins in which you formerly walked.

Not now, because they've been saved. You formerly walked. Now, watch this also. When he uses the word walks here, he means this was a lifestyle. This was an ongoing thing with you. This is the way you lived. You lived in trespasses and sins doing your own thing. According to the course of this world, look at the course of the world you and I live in. According to the prince of the power of the air, which is Satan, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience, among them, watch this, among them we too all formerly lived. That is, all of us who are believers.

This is the way we used to live. In the lust of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath even as the rest. Before you're saved, he says, this is where you lived. And somebody says, well, I don't think I was that bad. Yes, you were.

In fact, you were worse than this. Listen to what he says, formerly you lived in the lust of your flesh, that is, you followed the normal human desires apart from God that every person has. And he says, but God being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, He made us alive together with Christ. By grace you've been saved.

He says, look, salvation is, in other words, God took you when you were living in sin because He loves you. And all of us have lived in transgressions of the laws of God. We've lived according to those lustful thoughts within us. And lust doesn't mean necessarily just sex, but lust for money, lust for recognition, lust for this, that and the other and so forth. And so that's the way the world lives. You look around, we live in that kind of world.

In fact, it's so bad it's not even safe to go shopping anymore. And we could go on down the line and you don't, you already know about all that. Then in Isaiah fifty-nine, here's what he says. He says, our sins, watch this carefully, our sins separate us from God.

Now watch this. If you've never trusted Jesus Christ as your Savior, you don't have any personal relationship with Him. You may have a mental relationship, well, I know He's out there and so forth.

But you don't have a personal relationship with Him. The Bible says sin separates us from God. And, for example, if you don't even claim to be a Christian, you know in your heart what sin does.

It makes you feel guilty. You have all kind of feelings, but it has separated you from God. We all come into this world sinning against Him and that's why salvation is what? Is the pardon of our sins and the bestowal upon us of eternal life. And so then, of course, in Romans six-twenty-three, you probably know that.

He says the wages of sin is death. So, what is God's provision for that? God's provision, let me say first of all, is motivated by love. And let's go, if you will, to Romans five, verse five.

And hope does not disappoint because the love of God has been poured out. The love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who indwells us, who's given to us. For while we were still helpless, at the right time, Christ died for the ungodly.

We were helpless to save ourselves. For one will hardly die for a righteous man, though perhaps for a good man someone would dare even die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Here's an expression of the awesome love of God, that even in our worst sinful condition, His death on the cross atoned for our sins much more than having now been justified.

It means to be declared righteous by His blood as a result of the cross. We shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more having been reconciled, brought back into relationship with Him, we shall be saved by His life. Not only this, but we also exalt or rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation brought back into relationship with Him. So, when I look at these verses and see what He says, then how are we saved? How does a person become saved?

Well, let's think about it for a moment. God placed upon Jesus all the sins of all mankind all the way back to Adam and Eve. But Jesus was sinless. He was the perfect Son of God, the perfect Lamb.

And all those sheeps and goats and all the rest that were in the Old Testament, they were a foreshadowing of who was to come. Jesus, the sinless Son of God, came into the world and the Father crucified Him. You say, well, the Romans did it.

No, they didn't. The Romans were the tools that drive the nails, but the Father crucified Him because He came for that reason. And what did He do? He placed your guilt, my guilt, the guilt of all mankind upon Jesus Christ, crucified Him, the shedding of His blood, which was the ultimate and final sacrifice. It was the sacrifice of His Son.

Now watch this. Which means that the death of Jesus Christ, how would you describe it? Sacrificial. It's sacrificial because the Father took the life of His own Son, having placed upon Him the sin debt of the whole world. Only the sinless Son of God could pay for my sins.

If He'd have been anybody else but God Himself in human flesh, that wouldn't work. So, the death of Jesus Christ is the heart of the Word of God. It is a sacrificial, substitutionary, all sufficient death of Jesus Christ that makes the difference between whether you and I go to heaven or whether we don't.

It's the only acceptable sacrifice. So, if you accept Jesus and you believe that He's the Son of God and you trust Him for your salvation, you ask, believing that He is the Lord Jesus Christ, you'll be saved. If you do not believe that, you have to come up with another way. Jesus said, I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but by Me.

Now, think about this for a moment. Living in sin, disobedience to God, lost, separated from God. The adequate and only adequate substitute, acceptable to God. The death of His Son. He's the only one who is sinless.

So, here's what happened. When He died, He opened the door to the world to be saved because He paid our sin debt in full because He was the perfect Son of God. And so, salvation, as we said, is a gift from God.

And now, how does that work in a person's life? Well, we have to believe in Him. So, we said, well, you have to believe in Him. Saving faith, watch this. So, somebody says, well, I believe, but wait a minute. Saving faith is trust in Jesus as a living person, the Son of God, for the forgiveness of sins and for eternal life with God. It is trusting in Jesus. So, when a person says, I want Jesus Christ as my Savior, then to forgive me of my sins and place my trust in Him as the Lord and the Son of God who went to the cross and paid my sin debt in full by being crucified, I'm willing to believe that He, because of what He's done for me and God's acceptance of that, I'm willing to believe that He saves me. And the moment I do, the Holy Spirit, as He says, comes in and seals us as the child of God.

So, you say, well, what am I supposed to do? Saving faith is I place my trust in Jesus. Somebody says, well, what about this lordship business? And there are people who say, I want your salvation, Father, but I don't want you telling me how to live. I thank you for your forgiveness and thank you for the gift of heaven, but don't tell me how to live. Lord's ship means rule in our life, guidance in our life, direction in our life.

He's the one who makes decisions for us and shows us the will of the Father. I don't want that. I just want, I want forgiveness and I want salvation and I want to go to heaven, but I don't want you as my Lord. So, let me explain repentance. Repentance is a heartfelt sorrow for sin. I'm ashamed. God, I'm sorry for what I've done. A renouncing of it.

I don't want that anymore in my life. I want to walk in obedience to God. I want to walk in obedience to God. I want to walk in obedience to God. I want to walk in obedience to God. I want to walk in obedience to God. I want a sincere commitment to forsake it and walk in obedience to Christ.

Now, listen very carefully. That is the confession of genuine repentance. Let me tell you what that means, what it doesn't mean. It doesn't mean that if I repent of my sins that if I sin again, I'm going to be lost.

That's not what it means. It means that you get saved by repentance. No, you're saved by the grace of God. But repentance is a part of the recognition of Jesus Christ as the Lord and Master of my life. And so, I would say to you today, can you look back at some point in your life where you can say, I know that at that point in my life, I placed my faith in Jesus Christ. You say, well, I didn't understand it all then.

Well, neither did I. But here's what happened. I did what I did, I fully understood. And that is, I was a sinner and that God had saved me. And maybe today, for the first time in your life, you've understood why Jesus had to die. You see, the only way Jesus can justify you as a child of God is having died as a sacrifice for your sins.

And so, we're saved by His grace, goodness, love and mercy. And I would encourage you, if you've never trusted Him as your Savior, say, God, I'm ashamed of the life that I've lived. I'm asking You to forgive me and to cleanse me. I do acknowledge You as the Lord and Savior of my life. God, I just want You to clean me up and make me one of Your children.

When You come to Him sincerely, He will answer the petition of Your heart. And that's my prayer for you. Father, how grateful we are that You didn't give us a list of do's and don'ts.

You just gave us one statement. Faith in the sacrificial, all-sufficient, atoning death of Your Son on the cross and the surrender of our life to Him as the Lord and Master. Thank You, thank You, thank You. And I pray that every person who hears this, who has never been saved, who's dependent on something within themselves to realize there is no hope apart from the sacrificial, all-sufficient death of Jesus Christ, the substitutionary one who took our place in Jesus's name. Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-05-27 02:27:23 / 2024-05-27 02:35:43 / 8

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