Sermon for Sunday, August 6, 2017
This sermon is not about salvation in Noah’s time, or Abraham’s time, or salvation in the period of the Law of Moses. This is about salvation during the gospel age which extends to our day.
The question is, “What must I do to be saved today?”
 This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit.
 Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.
 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.  She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet:  “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).
God created humans in the first two chapters of Genesis. Humans sin in the next chapter. There is a vague promise of a coming redeemer in God’s comments to the devil, or serpent, in verse 15.
 And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.
Note that Satan is identified as a serpent or snake in Scripture:
 The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.
The offspring of the woman will eventually crush Satan. This promise is fulfilled in Christ’s victory over Satan. Paul is saying we will share in that victory.
The seed of Satan are those who serve Satan. Note what Jesus said to some unbelieving Jews: “You belong to your father, the devil…” (John 8:44).
The serpent will wound the heel that crushes him. This is fulfilled in the cross. Christ suffered on the cross and died, but he arose from the dead, victorious over sin, hades, and Satan.
The reference to the woman’s seed is explained in the Incarnation. Paul says of Christ:
 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;  rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.  And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!
 The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.
From beginning to end, Scripture tells us the purpose of God in sending his Son into the world is to seek and save that which lost.
 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.
This is the point of what we call “Golden Text of the Bible.”
 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.  Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.
 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed.  But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.
Notice what Jesus says to Nicodemus in the verses before verse 16:
 No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man.
 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up,  that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.
The greatest question: What must I do to be saved?
 Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.
 When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”
 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.  The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”
 With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.”
 Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.
 The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas.  He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
 They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.”
 Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house.
 At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his household were baptized.
The greatest problem: Sin.
 Several days later Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish. He sent for Paul and listened to him as he spoke about faith in Christ Jesus.
 As Paul talked about righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and said, “That’s enough for now! You may leave. When I find it convenient, I will send for you.”
Paul before Agrippa:
 But God has helped me to this very day; so I stand here and testify to small and great alike. I am saying nothing beyond what the prophets and Moses said would happen— that the Messiah would suffer and, as the first to rise from the dead, would bring the message of light to his own people and to the Gentiles.
 At this point Festus interrupted Paul’s defense. “You are out of your mind, Paul!” he shouted. “Your great learning is driving you insane.”
 “I am not insane, most excellent Festus,” Paul replied. “What I am saying is true and reasonable.  The king is familiar with these things, and I can speak freely to him. I am convinced that none of this has escaped his notice, because it was not done in a corner.  King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know you do.”
 Then Agrippa said to Paul, “Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?”
 Paul replied, “Short time or long—I pray to God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am, except for these chains.”
The greatest mission:
 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
J B Myers