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Thursday, December 29, 2016

Passive Salvation

This post is part 2 to Gypping Jesus. In that post I said Jesus will get all that He paid for on the cross. This includes the salvation of all people.

But how does He save all people when most people don't want anything to do with Him?

Image result for sheep running from shepherd image
This can't end well.

Straying sheep

Jesus, "the Great Shepherd of the sheep" (Hebrews 13:20), has been given a job by His Father: save all people of the earth from sin and death. That's billions of people.

The problem? All the people of the earth have strayed from Him to do their own thing. The sheep are trying to shepherd themselves. Guess how that ends up.

The prophet Isaiah says,
All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way (Isaiah 53:6)
And our own way puts us in tough spots. But thankfully, Someone is going to rescue us. Yes, the Great Shepherd.

But we're often confused by His timing. We see millions of people go into the toughest spot of all - death - without being rescued by Jesus. Where was the Great Shepherd when they needed Him?
Image result for sheep running from shepherd image
Ever wonder to yourself, "How did I end up here?"

Though death seems to be an insurmountable obstacle to us, it isn't to Him. He already overcame death by His own resurrection. So when the straying sheep is in death, the Great Shepherd will raise him or her up.

Jesus said in John 5:28-29, "Marvel not at this, for coming is the hour in which all who are in the tombs shall hear His voice, 29 and those who do good shall go out into a resurrection of life, yet those who commit bad things, into a resurrection of judging." The main point of these verses is that all will be rescued from death. No sheep can stray beyond the reach of the Great Shepherd.

Yes, some will go into judgment after their resurrection. But the goal of this judgment is clear. Jesus said in John 5:22-23, "For neither is the Father judging anyone, but has given all judging to the Son, 23 that all may be honoring the Son, according as they are honoring the Father." There it is in bold -  that all may be honoring the Son. This is the ultimate goal of all judgment handed out by Jesus.  

The Great Shepherd is working

Look at what Jesus has already done for all of us straying sheep.
  • He left the comforts of Heaven where He was with His Father
  • He came to seek and save that which was lost (Luke 19:10)
  • He came to earth where He was hated (John 15:18-25)
  • He faced continual opposition - mostly from religious people
  • He was killed by the world He came to rescue
  • He was separated from His Father in His death
  • He overcame death by His resurrection
And He's still working. Straying sheep are currently being rescued. When He returns to the earth, He will complete the massive task His Father gave Him to do (1 Corinthians 15:22-28).

The Great Shepherd owns all 

What are sheep good at? Well, they can provide meat, milk, wool and hides (but they're not thrilled about the meat and hides thing). They can control unwanted vegetation. And they can be cute and cuddly. But they are also good at straying. This is why they need a shepherd - to protect them from themselves and predators.

To the shepherd who owns the sheep, they are very valuable. To the shepherd who doesn't actually own the sheep he shepherds, well, they're not valuable enough to risk his life for (John 10:11-13).

This is what makes the Great Shepherd different. He made us. He owns us. We're all valuable to Him. Valuable enough to willingly lay down His life on the cross. Valuable enough to continue to work until the salvation of all sheep is a reality.

Jesus truly cares for us,
But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. (Matthew 9:36)
Ever feel weary and scattered? These are symptoms of a Shepherdless soul. Jesus can fix that.

The Great Shepherd highly values every single sheep

Do you want proof that every sheep is important to Jesus and His Father? Here it is. Jesus said,Image result for sheep running from shepherd image
"For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost. What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, does not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying unto them, 'Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost.' I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repents, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance. Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish." (Luke 15:4-7 and Matthew 18:11,14)
Obviously Jesus isn't talking about sheep. He's talking about humans - us! Read this again, only insert children or child for sheep. Who among you wouldn't do all he could for your lost child who is in the wilderness? Unless you're a heartless douchebag, you now get a glimpse at the heart of Jesus and His Father.

Notice in the first sentence why Jesus (a.k.a. - "the Son of man") came to the earth - "to save that which was lost." Do you think He came to save all, or only part, of what was lost? A 99% success rate would be awesome for us. But 99% falls short of Jesus' standard. He wants nothing less than 100% of His sheep.

Now look at that last powerful sentence taken from Matthew 18:14. It's clear that God's will is that none of these little ones should perish. In the eyes of the world, we were all "little ones" at one time in our life. But in the eyes of your loving heavenly Father, you'll always be a "little one." All three of my young adult children are still my "babies." And that will never change because I'm their father. Does God's will for any "little ones" change as they grow older? No! Do we ever outgrow our value to God? No! Read this -
The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)
There you have it. Not 99%. ALL!

The Great Shepherd will overwhelm all the straying sheep

Saul was a baaad-baaad sheep before Jesus got him. This same Saul, who later became known as Paul, is the same guy who wrote about half of the New Testament. There are three words he uses to describe himself in the first part of 1 Timothy 1:13. Here's how several Bible versions translate these three words:
persecutor, outrager, blasphemer, injurious, shameful outrageous violent aggressor, calumniator (make false and defamatory statements), aggressively insulting, arrogant, cruel, overbearing, violent, contumelious (scornful and insulting), proud, oppressor, hunted down [Jesus'] people, invective (insulting, abusive, or highly critical), religious terrorism, slandering the things of God, full of wrongs, speaking evil
I told you he was a bad dude! And what do you think Jesus did to this bad-ass straying sheep named Saul? This former "little one" who wandered off got the holy ghost smackdown. Starting in the very same verse that told us how bad Saul was, we read these amazing words,
" ... but I was shown mercy, seeing that I do it being ignorant, in unbelief. 14 Yet the grace of our Lord overwhelms, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. 15 Faithful is the saying, and worthy of all welcome, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, foremost of whom am I. 16 But therefore was I shown mercy, that in me, the foremost, Jesus Christ should be displaying all His patience, for a pattern of those who are about to be believing on Him for life eonian." (1 Timothy 1 - CLNT)
There's so much in these words that several books could be written on these few verses alone.

A few highlights. Scoundrel Saul, "the foremost" or chief of sinners (v.15):
  • was shown mercy - v.13
  • was overwhelmed by Jesus with grace, faith and love - v.14
  • was used by Jesus to display all His patience - v.16
  • became a pattern of those who will later believe in Jesus - v.16
Since Saul was "a pattern" for those who would eventually believe in Jesus, all other straying sheep will also be shown mercy and overwhelmed by Jesus with grace, faith and love.

When you are overwhelmed by something, you are powerless against it. When Jesus overwhelms a straying sinner with grace, faith and love, it will be rescued. Once Jesus lays that sheep on His shoulders, it's all over. The sheep is no longer lost in the wilderness. The lost has become found. This is great news for the sheep.

This is how the Savior of the world actually saves the whole wide freaking world - He overwhelms it with grace, faith and love. His Father gave Him all authority in heaven and earth to finish His work (Matthew 28:18). And who's gonna stop the Almighty Son of God from doing this? No one!

Until Jesus completes His task to save all that was lost, we can only live one day at a time while faithfully looking to the amazing future.
Then [God] will send you Jesus, your long-heralded Christ, although for the time He must remain in Heaven until that universal restoration of which God spoke in ancient times through all his holy prophets. (Acts 3:21 - Phillips)


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