Components of Salvation - Part IV
We have been looking for the passed few weeks at the components of Salvation.We looked at the pursuit, the acknowledgment, obedience, believing and listening and now we come to the conclusion which is the receiving of Salvation.
The final component of Salvation would be the actual product right, receiving the Salvation. This receiving is very important and we will look at exactly what we receive when we receive salvation. As we have been looking for the passed few weeks at Salvation there is one thing we have not really defined, what are we being saved from? When we receive salvation what are we receiving and why is it important? As we look at this sixth and final component of what we receive we receive so much the forgiveness of sin that leads to death, we receive an inheritance, we receive a Seal, we receive a circumcised heart and we receive continued instruction, to put it all into one word when we receive salvation, we receive unity. Let’s go ahead and take a look at this final component.
Let's go ahead and look at our passage this morning we will be focusing on Acts 10:44-48 but I would like to begin in verse 34.
Luke writes here,
34 Opening his mouth, Peter said: “I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality, 35 but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right is welcome to Him. 36 “The word which He sent to the sons of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ (He is Lord of all)— 37 you yourselves know the thing which took place throughout all Judea, starting from Galilee, after the baptism which John proclaimed. 38 “You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. 39 “We are witnesses of all the things He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They also put Him to death by hanging Him on a cross. 40 “God raised Him up on the third day and granted that He become visible, 41 not to all the people, but to witnesses who were chosen beforehand by God, that is, to us who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead. 42 “And He ordered us to preach to the people, and solemnly to testify that this is the One who has been appointed by God as Judge of the living and the dead. 43 “Of Him all the prophets bear witness that through His name everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins.” 44 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who were listening to the message. 45 All the circumcised believers who came with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. 46 For they were hearing them speaking with tongues and exalting God. Then Peter answered, 47 “Surely no one can refuse the water for these to be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we did, can he?” 48 And he ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to stay on for a few days.
In verses 34-43 Peter brings to Cornelius and his family and friends the gospel message. They are all there waiting on Peter and now that Peter has arrived he brings to them what they need, the message from God about Jesus Christ and why Jesus came to the earth to begin with. The gospel message is the only way people can be saved. It is only by listening to the truth of God's word and what God has done and is doing and what He will do that people can receive salvation. I want you to understand something about the gospel. The gospel is not about being moralistic, the gospel is not just fire insurance, "I have trusted in Jesus as my savior so I can do what I want and not worry about going to hell." That is not the gospel. The gospel is also not about receiving a Mercedes, or a Bugatti or a big house on LBI, or having a big bank account. That is not the gospel Jesus didn't die so you can receive stuff he died so you can receive the most important relationship in the world, a relationship with God the Father, with your Creator. He died so the rift can be mended and so that we could receive what we truly need forgiveness of our sins. This is what Peter says in verse 43 as he is about to provide the Scriptural proof of who Jesus is and how God has in His providence provided a means of forgiveness in Jesus and the Hebrew Scriptures, what we refer to today as the Old Testament, points to the very fact that Jesus had to come and die and be buried and be raised on the third day ascend to heaven and take His throne as both King and Judge of the world. Peter says this in verse 43, "Of Him all the prophets bear witness that through His name everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins"
Here is what God has done since Genesis 3:15, in Genesis 3, we have the account of the fall, when Adam and Eve disobeyed a direct command from God not to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. There disobedience broke their relationship with God the Father who would come down and walk with Adam in the garden. What a serene and wonderful thought.The unity that Adam had with God in the Garden which is seen in Adam communing with God fully, without any barrier what so ever. What we long for he experienced yet Adam gave it up for what, for a taste of fleeting pleasure. He gave up the awesome position he had to worship God without any encumbrance and he throw all that away for a bite of a fruit that was probably the sweetest bite he ever had until it became the most foul of aftertastes when his eyes were opened to what he had done. He had turned his back on his Creator and for what a piece of His creation, he abandoned the unique relationship he had with the Father for a life of hostility against Him. Adam brought sin into the world, he brought animosity between himself and God, which he passed down from generation to generation. Once Adam sunk his teeth into that forbidden fruit it was to late and there was nothing he could do to fix the rupture he caused, which he tried to do. First he made inadequate coverings for himself and for Eve. He know he did something wrong and when God came calling out Adam's name Adam and Eve hid from Him. Sin is devastating because sin separates man from God and God from man. There is nothing man can do to fix this, there is no way man can repair the rift caused by the initial disobedience of Adam. Our harmony with our Creator was severed. Man can't do it, man can’t fix the problem, there is no amount of duct tape that can patch this up and God knows man can't fix it. That is why Adam and Eve received a promise from God in the Garden.
In Genesis 3:15, as God is cursing the Serpent for his part in the fall of humanity, God provides a promise to both mankind and to the serpent.
15 And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel.”
This is God putting in place the repair for the rift. This is the very first prophecy of the coming of the Messiah, of the coming of Jesus Christ. This is the third chapter of the first book of the Hebrew Canon of Scripture and God points to the cross. As the rest of Scripture unfolds God's plan unfolds until finally it comes to fruition in the gospels. The plan is to provide the forgiveness of sins through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Jesus going to the cross, His crucifixion was an atonement for the sins of humanity. Man can't atone for their sins but Jesus did. His dying on the cross was the redemption of mankind back to God. This atonement is what makes the offer of forgiveness possible. It is through Jesus Christ's atoning sacrifice that we can receive the forgiveness of sins. This was God's plan all along.
Paul tells us this in Ephesians 1:7-8
7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace 8 which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and insight
We have been redeemed, that is bought back. Bought back from what, from being slaves to sin, from being owned by the darkness, from an exile from the presence of God. We have been bought back from this. Look at the price that was paid, it was with the blood, and the blood was the blood of Christ. Blood is the only way to atone for sin. Adam and Eve had blood spilt to cover up their sin, this happened when God sacrificed the animals used to make adequate covering for them. Blood needed to be spilt because of sin in order for forgiven to be granted. The problem with the animal sacrifice, it is not sufficient enough. It can not completely atone for the sins of humanity so the blood of Jesus needed to be spilt. It is His blood that is the cost of my sin. Paul continues, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace 8 which He lavished on us. It is only through Jesus we can be forgiven, it is only through Jesus that we receive forgiveness. It is His sacrifice on the cross that is the atonement for us, the only way to repair our relationship with God. What God has pointed to from Genesis 3:15 through the entirety of the Old Testament.
Paul adds this in Colossians 2:13-14
13 When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, 14 having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.
Do you see this Paul tells us when you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, we were dead. Mankind is dead. That is what sin causes death, and death is not just expiring, it is not that the heart stops pumping or the lungs stop bringing in oxygen and expelling carbon dioxide, or even that the brain stops firing off those neutrons and signals that keep everything working together. No our death is so much worse then that because what it means to be dead is that you are no longer able to be in the presence of God. That is what it means to be dead, it is darkness and terror and weeping. But Jesus is the source of life, look Paul says here, "He made you alive together with Him," apart from Jesus there is absolutely no life. "Having forgiven us all our transgressions, 14 having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us." We receive forgiveness for all of our transgressions, all of our sins, not in part but the whole. This is a big deal receiving forgiveness means we have all of our sins taken away, God doesn't look on our sins anymore. He holds nothing against us if we trust in Christ and believe in who He is and what He has done.
Paul takes it a step further and illustrates this for us, he illustrates what it means to have our transgressions forgiven. It is a cancellation of our certificate of debit. This is one of my favorite illustrations in the Bible but in our modern thinking it doesn't work. See in Paul's day they didn't have computers or cell phones where things get stuck in cyberspace which if the right people get their hands on it can bring things back or even get a trace of what you had there. In his day they would use parchment, which was pretty much leather, they would take ink and write it on the parchment and the ink wasn't water proof so to erase they would wipe it off with a wet rag. This is how Paul illustrates our being forgiven of our sins, it is not that our sins are covered up but completely wiped clean. These sins as Paul wrights, "which was hostile to us" our sin is hostile sin is not your friend. Jesus has taken them out of the way, "having nailed it to the cross." This is what salvation is, this is what we are saved from, we are saved from an eternity apart from God's presence. When we are Saved what we receive is forgiveness of our sins which is what keeps us from God's presence, which brings unity to our relationship with God and this not of ourselves but God has Saved us from death to Himself because He wants this unity with His creation.
So this component of Salvation is receiving forgiveness of sins which is receiving unity where there was once disharmony, it is also receiving a sign of the unity who is the Holy Spirit.
Luke continues in verse 44-48, "While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who were listening to the message. All the circumcised believers who came with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Sprit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. 46 For they were hearing them speaking with tongues and exalting God. Then Peter answered, 47 "Surely no one can refuse the water for these to be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we did, can he? 48 And he ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to stay on for a few days."
Peter wasn't finished with his sermon, his message was nowhere near complete and his message was interrupted by the pouring out of the Holy Spirit on this crowd of people who have gathered for the sole purpose of listening to the message of the Lord. This pouring out of the Holy Spirit is significant, this is the third instance of the pouring out of the Holy Spirit on a group of people with incredible visible signs. The first time was when the Holy Spirit came down on the Israelites in Jerusalem and they began speaking different languages and then again in Acts 8 when Peter and John went to the Samaritans and laid hands on them and they recieved the Holy Spirit. Now in Acts 10 we find this again with the Gentiles and later we will see a similar event happen also with people who were baptized by John but not yet baptized in the Holy Spirit. What is truly going on here has been overshadowed in many church by the whole issue of what were the tongues that they were speaking. They were more then likely real languages but languages that they didn't normally speak and didn't know themselves. The point here is not so much what were these tongues that actually takes away from the big picture of what God is doing. God is unifying mankind to Himself and to one another through this wonderful new era the church age.
Salvation is brought about when we receive forgiveness of sins and we receive the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the focus here and the fact that the Holy Spirit has come on what Peter has always believed these people who were not God's people. Now that Peter has witnessed God's work in these people it changes everything for him and what he has always believed about what God has been doing and what God is doing. Prior to this the Israelites always believed they were exclusively God's people and they were and are but they became selfish with God. Well now they see God has a plan for the Gentiles too and the same phenomena that happened with them, the same Holy Spirit they received they just witnessed the Gentiles receive. They have been unity by the Holy Spirit. This is a game changer.
Through the Holy Spirit being poured out on the Israelites and on the Samaritans and the Gentiles it demonstrates that we are all united to one another by the third person of the trinity. There is no distinction between man or woman, Jew or gentile. No one in the church is better then the other, we are all united.
Paul tells the Ephesian church this in Ephesians 2:11-22;
11 Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called “Uncircumcision” by the so-called “Circumcision,” which is performed in the flesh by human hands— 12 remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, 15 by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, 16 and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity. 17 And He came and preached peace to you who were far away, and peace to those who were near; 18 for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father. 19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, 20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, 21 in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, 22 in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.
This is the unity that was received when the Gentiles first had the Holy Spirit poured out on them. Jesus died to bridge the gap between man and God but also to bridge the gap between man and man. The enmity, the bitterness between people and people groups are nullified. There should be no barriers within the church. We should be divided by the color of our skin or our place of origin or by our ages and if we look here at Acts our language shouldn’t separate us either. The church is to be working together in unity to build one another up not tear one another down. Peter learned this by seeing the Holy Spirit working in the Gentiles in the same way He worked in the Israelites. Now the Holy Spirit has been given as a gift to us and also as a sign of the fact that we have been united to God and untied to one another. In verse 19 Paul tells the Ephesian church, the Gentiles, that they “are no longer strangers and aliens, but fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household.” They Holy Spirit makes this possible we are united to God through Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit and we are united to the promises God has given Abraham and the nation of Israel and we now take on new citizenship. We have duel citizenship. We are not Americans we are Christians who live in America. Our citizenship is not here we are only travelers in a dark world and our life as Christians is all about preparing to go home. This is a new home so we need to learn the culture, the terminology so when we arrive it is not a culture shock.
The Gentiles receiving the Holy Spirit in the same way the Israelites did demonstrates unity, uniting us to God and to one another. The receiving of the indwelling also marks us, we are sealed with the Holy Spirit.
Paul tells the Corinthian church this in 2 Corinthians 1:21-22
21 Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and anointed us is God, 22 who also sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge.
God has unified us to Himself and the Holy Spirit is our seal, our pledge. This means when we are Saved we belong to God. He has placed His Seal on us. Once He has plucked us out of Hell He holds on to us. This is what gives us assurance this is how we know we don’t lose our salvation once we have it because God owns us and His grip is greater then anyone else’s.
Paul explains this to the Ephesian church also in Ephesians 1:13-14
13 In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.
The way to receive the seal is through listening and believing and once you have listened and believe you are sealed. This changes our lives or at least it should. It should drive us to glorify God and look forward to being in His presence for all eternity. This sealing also is the mark of the new covenant, just like physical circumcision was the sign of the covenant with Abraham the Spiritual circumcision made through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit is the sign of the new covenant. This one inaugurated by Jesus Christ and sealed with the promise of the Holy Spirit.
Receiving salvation is receiving unity, it is become a new Creature in Christ and our desire should be to receive instruction on how to live as this new creature. That is why the Gentiles ask Peter to stay with them in verse 48. They didn’t receive the Holy Spirit and receive everything they need to know about living for God. It takes time and it takes receiving instructions. If you have received the unity into the family of God how are you living for God. Are you looking to be instructed or do you feeling like you have arrived. Are you preparing for eternity or do you not think you need to prepare. If you think you don’t need to prepare then maybe you haven’t received the Holy Spirit, maybe you haven’t recieved unity with God through Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. If you are listening to this message and your first thought is I know who needs to listen to this and not thinking about how much you need to listen to this then you are not preparing yourself for your citizenship because you are more focused on others sins and overlooking your own. You need to receive it first before others can receive it.