Look at Jonah 4:2 He prayed to the Lord,"O Lord, is this not what I said when I was still at home? That is why I was so quick to flee to Tarshish. I knew that you were a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity." So he complained to the LORD: "Didn't I say before I left home that you would do this, LORD? That is why I ran away to Tarshish! I knew that you were a gracious and compassionate God, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. I knew how easily you could cancel your plans for destroying these people." So his reputation was ruined, wasn't it?
He knew that God was soft. He knew that God was a push-over. Do you know that about God? How do you view our heavenly Father? Do you view Him as some harsh dictator, some tyrant up in heaven making it difficult for everybody to be saved? Or do you understand God like Jonah did?
Was Jonah right about God? Is God a softie? Is God a God of second chances? Is He that anxious to justify us and save us, that He just forgives us at the drop of a hat? I believe He is. Praise God that we serve a person like that! Our Savior, our heavenly Father, this heavenly Triune that we serve are wonderful. They're forgiving. They love us.
Notice what Jesus said in John 12:32. He made a prediction about His character. But I, when I am lifted up from the earth will draw all people to myself. Jesus' drawing power is actively attracting people to Heaven. If we do not resist that drawing power we will be saved. If we do not dig in our heels and pull back from God that we are going to be saved. That is good news! In fact, that is the Gospel. The gospel was good news. The good news is that Jesus Christ is a professional Savior and He is constantly drawing at us and He will manage to save us if we don't resist.
It's said very beautifully in a little book that I read, Steps to Christ (by Ellen G White) p. 27- "The sinner may resist this love, may refuse to be drawn to Christ; but if he does not resist he will be drawn to Jesus!" I like that! It means that it is not hard at all for any of us to be saved.
But that is not the way most people se salvation. Most people view the process of salvation as a very difficult situation. We preachers must take a lot of the blame because we list out all the steps to salvation and have charts and diagrams. People feel that in order to be saved they must try with all zealousness and hard effort and they must study all sorts of deep books and finally, maybe, they might attain salvation. Is it that way?
They feel that only few will succeed because of the difficulties and technicalities of the complicated process. The way is hard and narrow and when you finally find it you find that the road signs are printed in GREEK or LATIN!
Part of the confusion comes from our limited understanding of the Bible. For instance look at Matthew 7:13,14. This talks about the gate to heaven. You'd expect the gate to be very wide. In fact there are twelve gates in reality. But somehow in these two verses we get confused. It says: Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. It sounds like it's complicated to get to heaven, doesn't it? The road to heaven is very narrow, the gate is so tight you have to just barely squeeze, in fact you hardly ever get in there. Very few are ever able to get in. Almost everybody is condemned to the other, wide road that leads to hell. Therefore, many folk believe that God has laid awake at night figuring out ways to make the road to eternal life hard and complicated and all but impossible.
They believe that He has fixed it so that the road to hell is like a twelve-lane freeway going down hill so that all you have to do is coast. But from what I just read, we're going to be saved. So what is the truth here? If you don't resist, for all you are worth, you will be lost. But people sort of believe that there is an "on ramp" every mile and no exits. They believe things are so organized that millions slide along like logs floating down the flume to eternal destruction. They glide on this greased runway with helpers posted along the way adding grease and okra slime to hasten the trip.
Many believe that God works to camouflage the narrow foot trail which leads to life. New detours are added daily in order to compound the difficulties of this hard rigorous route to heaven. That steep grueling trail contains many impediments and obstructions. Few make it. If you get there it will be an empty place. That's the way people feel.
Actually all of this is exactly the way that salvation is NOT obtained. The good news is that things are just the opposite. There are twelve gates to heaven. And how wide are those gates? To be in proportion they must be a mile wide. There's twelve gates and the wall that those gates are on is three hundred and seventy miles long, each wall So Salvation is not even as hard as programming your VCR. It is as easy as eating an ice cream cone.
Think about some Bible verses: John 3:14-16 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that everyone who believes in Him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.
God is good. He loves you. He sent His Son to this lost world to once and forever secure eternal salvation for each of us. That is wonderful. But He did not stop there. He not only provided it but He is alive today to actively assist each of us in obtaining it for ourselves. Every day He is drawing us to Himself. If we do not resist, we're going to be saved.
God is love. God is a beautiful person. Jonah was right! God is compassionate. He's loving. He is ever willing to forgive our sins. If you've ever made some mistakes in the past, and you think: my life is a terrible life of woe and darkness, God stands ready to blot that out. He is a much more likable person than most of us might think. He ever lives to intercede for us. God looks on us not as dangerous wolves that need to be shot or poisoned or trapped. He looks on us as tender helpless sheep that are lost and need the strong love of a kind Shepherd. He is jealous of His people and seeks their salvation. He sheds tears when we turn our back on Him. And He sheds tears of joy when we come to Him.
Jesus said that if He would be lifted up He would draw all people to Himself. Sort of like a powerful magnet. I remember a time when I first saw an MRI (Magnetic Resolution Imager). The technician said that before I could enter the room I must not have anything with iron in my pockets.
I asked what might happen. He said that when the machine was first installed the janitor went in there to vacuum the carpet where the MRI machine was. Before he realized what was happening the powerful magnet drew the vacuum cleaner out of his hands and it went sailing through the air and crashed into the large magnet and was totaled. The outside cover of the MRI also needed repair.
Christ is like a magnet. He draws us to Himself and if we do not resist or hold back we will be saved. Parents should be like that, drawing their children into their love. If we continue to listen to the small still voice of the Holy Spirit and respond to it we will be led all the way to eternal life.
I like to think of God as One who is intensely interested in my salvation. He knows I am lost and goes out to find and save me. Like a Saint Bernard who seeks a lost person until he is found, God seeks my salvation. My part is to stop resisting and to yield my heart fully to Him. To fall in love with Him and to receive His great gift of eternal life.
Ephesians 2:8,9- For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this is not from yourselves, it is the GIFT of God - Not by works, so that no one can boast.
Gifts are not hard. And salvation is a gift. At Christmas time I never had a problem receiving a gift. Gifts are easy. It is easy to be saved. Let me share with you some texts from the Bible that show how simple it is to be saved.
Gal 3:6 Concider Abraham: "He believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness." And he was saved. He believed God. He trusted God with his life and everything he had.
Romans 4:5 However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness. He doesn't have to work hard at it. The fruit comes later. And I do believe that Jesus does give us fruit. He does provide us with a victorious life. Salvation is as easy as eating pie.
Matthew 18:3 And he said: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." Little children have a simple humble trust. No complicated qualifications.
This text does not say that to be saved you must take graduate studies from universities and become as academic theologians and scholars, delving deep into the great unfathomable difficulties of salvation and only those graduating summa cum laude will be saved.
If we must become like children, then it can't be all that difficult or hard to be saved. The good news is that it is not hard. The gospel is the good news that Jesus visitation to this earth has already paid it all and salvation is ours for the taking. We as preachers ought to herald the glad news of salvation. Salvation is a free gift that any one of us can have.
"The conditions upon which salvation is assured are plain and simple so that the wayfaring man need not err therein.... How foolish it is for men to spend their energies in seeking to climb up some other way than that way which is so simple and so easy to be understood that the most illiterate may take advantage of its provisions." Signs of the Times, 7-2-1896 EGW. Even illiterate people can take advantage of salvation. Salvation is so simple.
Does that sound like salvation is hard? Look at I John 5:3- This is love for God: obey his commands. and His commands are not burdensome. They are not burdensome or heavy or exacting because you're in love with the command giver.
I love this one over here in Matthew. Matthew 11:28-30 "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."
A teacher read these verses to her class and then asked her youngsters what a yoke was. One boy said "A yoke is something they put on the necks of animals." Then the teacher asked "What is the yoke that God puts on us?" A little girl said: "It is God putting His arms around our necks." Is that hard? It's easy, isn't it? When God puts His arms around your neck, that yoke is easy. You become His. He holds you in his arms, in His hands.
It is when we take our eyes off Jesus that the path becomes exhausting. It is when you disconnect your power steering that driving becomes hard. Otherwise it very easy to go where you want to go. And when you turn the key off, it becomes even more difficult. When you disconnect yourself from the power of God, it becomes difficult. By trying to do it on our own power, salvation becomes difficult. It's easy when you do it with Jesus' power, with the ignition on, with the engine running, with the power steering working. Jesus is the power steering. You apply ever so little effort and wheel turns the whole heavy vehicle in the direction you want it to go. Our choice in determining where we want to go might be the hard part. Because God might want you to come to church, but you might want to decide, Well, I want to stay home in bed.
The hard part is to surrender to His power. If we will stop resisting, if we submit to His will, we will be drawn to Jesus and we will be saved. The road map to heaven is not printed in Greek. And when you are on that path leading to eternal life, all of the road signs says the same thing: "Jesus". He is the way. You only have to know one word.
Angels do not add grease to hell's freeway. They are stationed nearby with rescue equipment to help at our faintest cry. The path is narrow only because so few take advantage of it.
Our God is like a fireman who goes into a burning house. He finds the dying victim and if you don't resist, you will be rescued.
Hebrews 2:3 how shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him. It is a great salvation, isn't it? And if it's a great salvation, it's not a complicated salvation.
All you have to do to be saved is turn away from your past life of sin and turn to Jesus. Fasten your eyes on Jesus. Accept Jesus as your Savior. Call upon Jesus to forgive your sins. Fall in love with Jesus and follow Him.
It's that simple. It's like falling in love with your sweetheart. I don't have any problem with that. That's what it's like to be saved. We can rejoice about that. We have a lot to rejoice about. At this Christmas season, God has given us the gift of Jesus Christ, and gifts aren't hard, and Jesus is easy. Take His yoke upon you. Accept Him as your Savior and you can rejoice evermore.
Opening Hymn: 143 Silent Night, Holy Night Scripture: Ephesians 2:6-9 Closing Hymn: 136 Good Christians, Now Rejoice 12590DJG
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last updated 12/15/98 by Bob Beckett.