Salvation Begins Here

By Ray Foster

 

Hymn of Praise: Praise Him, Praise Him 249

Scripture: Is. 51: 5 – 8

Hymn of Consecration: I Lay My Sins on Jesus 298

Introduction: There was a big sign on one of the doors we went to going house to house in preparation for our evangelistic meetings. The sign read: "The party begins here". The yard was full of children. The house was full of people. Everybody seemed to be having a great time. That sign gave me the sermon title idea: "Salvation begins here". Deception is the Devil’s greatest device to lead us astray. If there is one subject that we do not want to be deceived on; if there is one subject that the Devil would want to deceive us on it is in connection with salvation. Salvation begins here. While salvation is so great a gift, that it keeps getting better, and more and more of the greatness of our salvation in Jesus keeps unfolding for eternity, yet if salvation does not begin here for us, we will never experience it. The three aspects of salvation I want to draw attention to are: 1. Salvation, as it is in Jesus, begins here. 2. The context, the packaging, and the root of salvation is the law of God. 3. The nature and the substance of salvation is death to self and living the life of Jesus to the glory and praise of God.

Let us begin with 4 Texts:

1. Genesis 49:18 I have waited for thy salvation, O LORD.

Salvation as it is in Jesus begins here. Sometimes it begins with waiting in faith.

2. Exodus 14:13 And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will show to you to day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever.

Salvation sometimes is experienced in standing still and seeing eternal salvation unfold before us.

3. I Samuel 2:1 And Hannah prayed, and said, My heart rejoiceth in the LORD, mine horn is exalted in the LORD: my mouth is enlarged over mine enemies; because I rejoice in thy salvation.

Salvation is an emotional experience. We cannot keep still about it. Salvation is expressed in prayer and in vocal rejoicing. Hebrews 13:15, 16 "By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of [our] lips giving thanks to his name. But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased."

4. Isaiah 51:5 My righteousness [is] near; my salvation is gone forth, and mine arms shall judge the people; the isles shall wait upon me, and on mine arm shall they trust.

51:6 Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look upon the earth beneath: for the heavens shall vanish away like smoke, and the earth shall wax old like a garment, and they that dwell therein shall die in like manner: but my salvation shall be for ever, and my righteousness shall not be abolished.

51:7 Hearken unto me, ye that know righteousness, the people in whose heart [is] my law; fear ye not the reproach of men, neither be ye afraid of their revilings.

51:8 For the moth shall eat them up like a garment, and the worm shall eat them like wool: but my righteousness shall be for ever, and my salvation from generation to generation.

Salvation frees us from the fear of men. Salvation frees us from the fear of the seen and gives us hope and faith in the unseen based on the promises of God.

These four texts teach us that salvation must be waited for. Salvation is from God. Our part is to at times stand still in trial and perplexity and danger and look to God and trust in His salvation in His way in His time. Salvation is emotional. It gives us subject of and reason for praise and rejoicing. And salvation is forever. Heaven and earth will pass away but the salvation of God is forever and ever, from generation to generation. And as time goes on more and more aspects of salvation will unfold to us. And salvation begins here.

The three aspects of salvation I want to draw attention to are: 1. Salvation, as it is in Jesus, begins here. 2. The context and packaging of salvation is the law of God. 3. The nature of salvation is death to self and living the life of Jesus to the glory and praise of God.

First let us think about the fact that Salvation begins here. It is here that we have our great need of salvation. One of the most deceptive tricks of the devil is to get us to believe that salvation is not now but is in heaven. It is a doctrine of devils that God is able to give you victory over sin – not now but in heaven! That characterizes and illustrates the subtle methods of the devil’s deceptions. God has ability to give victory over sin. True or false? True! God gives victory over sin in heaven. True or false? True! So now watch this subtlety – how is it possible to put two true statements together and make them false? Here is how: God does not give victory over sin now but in heaven. True or false? False!!! Beloved do not let the devil deceive you! If you are not experiencing victory over sin in your life now – go at once to Jesus by faith. Take hold of His merits. Place your sin on the Sinbearer. And accept His pardon. But do not stop there – ask for not only pardon but ask for His victory over that sin. Jesus not only bought that sin with His death of the cross, but He also bought the victory over that sin with His sinless life. Salvation has two aspects. Salvation is forgiveness for sin that is past and also victory over past, present and future sin. This is the double cure. Unless you get the double cure you have no cure at all. Half a cure is no cure! Being half dead is not being at all healthy. Being half saved is being fully lost. In the same way that you get forgiveness, you can get victory over every sin. Salvation is both forgiveness and victory over sin. Salvation begins now. Come to Jesus by faith. Take hold of His merits. Place your sins on the Sinbearer and accept His pardon and accept His victory over sin. Then live His life. Die to self daily. No dead man can sin. Sin is not a state of being. Sin is doing what God says not to do. The law of God is expressed in the negative because it is the negative that expresses salvation in our context and in our dead-to-self salvation experience. Once you are dead to self you no longer have the self-God before the real Creator God. Once you are dead to self you honor your parents, you remember and keep the 7th day Sabbath holy and all of the descriptors of salvation contained in the law of God. Once you live the life of Jesus, all the fruit of the Spirit of God is seen in the life. There is love. There is joy. Galations 5:22 - 25 "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit."

1 John 3:7 Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.

3:8 He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.

3:9 Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.

3:10 In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.

The joy of salvation is in the presence of Jesus. Sin separates us from Jesus and from the joy of salvation. Come to Jesus by faith. Take hold of His merits. Place your sins on Jesus. Accept His pardon. And accept His victory over sin. By faith live His life. This is salvation. Salvation begins here. Salvation begins now. Do not deceive yourself. You are not saved living in sin. Come to Jesus now. Take hold of His merits now. Accept both His pardon and His victory over every sin now. Salvation begins now. Salvation begins here.

Don’t stay away from church because you are a sinner. Don’t run away from God because you feel condemned like Adam did. Once you know you are a sinner, there is hope for you. Being deceived that you are saved when you are lost is what is hopeless. Come to Jesus by faith. Take hold of His merits. Place your sins on Jesus and accept both His pardon and His victory over that sin. Victory and forgiveness is in Jesus. There is no hope apart from Jesus. Jesus calls to you: "Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." The only way to have rest from sin is to have victory over sin. That victory is in Jesus. Come to Jesus. Come now. Salvation begins here in coming to Jesus.

The second aspect of salvation we want to draw attention to is that salvation is found in the law of God. God has put salvation in His law. How can that be? It is very simple when you understand that the law of God is a description of reality. Reality is based on creation. The law explains and tells us and defines reality to us. Loving and keeping God’s laws puts us in harmony with God and with reality. It is in this way that salvation is in the law of God. There is also another way that we see salvation in the law of God. The law of God defines and reveals the character of God. Looking at the definition of the character of God in the law shows and reveals sin in our lives. Once convicted of sin we see our need of a Savior. This drives us to Jesus whoes character is described in the law. Thus we see the truth of the statement in Psalms 19:7 "The law of the LORD [is] perfect, converting the soul".

Isaiah 60:18 Violence shall no more be heard in thy land, wasting nor destruction within thy borders; but thou shalt call thy walls Salvation, and thy gates Praise.

The law of God is illustrated by the walls of the city and by the hedge of the garden. The walls and the hedge and the law of God protect us from unreality and from sin. "Thou shalt call thy walls Salvation, and thy gates Praise" Is. 60:18

Once we are saved from sin and live the life of Jesus, God’s law surrounds us as a protection to keep us from unreality and from sin. All of our coming and going is to the praise of God. The border of blue on the Israelites garments represented the law of God. All that they did, everywhere they went, they were to go and to do in the context of the law of God. "Thou shalt call thy walls Salvation, and thy gates Praise" Is. 60:18

Psalms 119:165 Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them. Salvation is when God writes His law in our hearts. That means that we have received the love of the character and ways and will of God.

God has told us in the book Christ’s Object Lessons page 128:

"There are those who profess to believe and to teach the truths of the Old Testament, while they reject the New. But in refusing to receive the teachings of Christ, they show that they do not believe that which patriarchs and prophets have spoken. "Had ye believed Moses," Christ said, "ye would have believed Me; for he wrote of Me." John 5:46. Hence there is no real power in their teaching of even the Old Testament. {COL 128.1}

" Many who claim to believe and to teach the gospel are in a similar error. They set aside the Old Testament Scriptures, of which Christ declared, "They are they which testify of Me." John 5:39. In rejecting the Old, they virtually reject the New; for both are parts of an inseparable whole. No man can rightly present the law of God without the gospel, or the gospel without the law. The law is the gospel embodied, and the gospel is the law unfolded. The law is the root, the gospel is the fragrant blossom and fruit which it bears." {COL 128.2}

The importance of knowing that salvation is in the law of God is in relation to the importance of loving and obeying the law of God. John 14:15 "If ye love me, keep my commandments."

The law of God is a description not only of reality but also of the character of God who is Himself in harmony with reality and with His own creation. By being disobedient to God’s will and His law we put ourselves against God; we disappoint and wound God; we make God look bad because God has been accused that He has a faulty law that cannot be kept. All of creation perfectly obeys the laws of nature. Man alone is given moral freedom of choice. Shall we use our freedom of choice to dishonor our Creator? The last point in the great controversy is over the law of God. Satan says that mankind cannot keep the law of God. Jesus showed that it is possible, in fallen human flesh, to keep the law of God perfectly. This is the last point to be won in the great controversy. God is depending on you and me to make Him look good and to win this last point in the great controversy. This is what is at stake in our obedience or disobedience. So keeping the law of God is more than an expression of our faith and love and gratitude to God for so great a salvation as we have been given. It is in addition, the last demonstration need to end the great controversy. Oh brother, Oh sister, be faithful!

So we see that salvation is hid in the law of God. It is our privilege now to keep the law of God. Salvation begins here.

Let us now consider the nature of salvation. What is the nature of salvation? What does salvation look and feel like? What sort of stuff is salvation made of? In order to know the nature of salvation, we must know the nature of sin. Sin is the thing that salvation heals us from. Sin and salvation are opposites. Salvation is the joyous freedom of doing the will of God as expressed in His law motivated by love and loyalty to God. Sin is the transgression of the law 1 John 3:4 "Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law." God has told us through Ellen White that this is the only Bible definition of sin. "Our only definition of sin is that given in the word of God; it is "the transgression of the law;" it is the outworking of a principle at war with the great law of love which is the foundation of the divine government." {GC 492.2}

Why do people sin? Some have been deceived like Eve was. They believe that sin has an advantage and is better than obedience! Salvation is curing us of the deception that unreality and fantasy is better than reality and truth. Salvation is freeing us from the slavery of sin. Once a person smokes, they discover that not smoking is better than smoking. But when they try to stop smoking they find that they are addicted to smoking and they may experience that they can’t just stop! The craving has a hold on them that they cannot easily break! Salvation is breaking the hold of sin. Salvation is breaking the addiction of fantasy, unreality, and sin. Salvation is breaking the slavery of sin. Salvation is freedom at last to be in harmony with God, with reality, with truth, and with ourselves. Salvation is freedom to fulfill the loving purpose of our creation. We were created to live to the glory of God. Salvation is freedom from the tyranny of self and selfishness. It is impossible to please self. There is no rest and no end point in trying to please self. Salvation is death to self and living to Jesus. The very thing that Satan tells us is the end of life – death to self – is the beginning of life in Jesus.

Some sin like Adam did. Adam was not deceived. He deliberately chose Eve before God. Eve said, "Eat"! God said, "Don’t eat"! Adam ate. He chose to have Eve rather than God in his supreme position in life. He really chose himself. This was rapidly demonstrated when they were questioned by God as to why they were hiding from Him. The first commandment tells us that when we are truly and fully converted, that we will have no other God’s before us. This is the gospel. This is salvation. Salvation is restoring us to the personal relation with God with no other gods before us.

Salvation has two opposite aspects like two faces. These two faces of salvation we see reflected in the face of Jesus when He said: Hebrews 10:6 In burnt offerings and [sacrifices] for sin thou hast had no pleasure.

10:7 Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God.

10:8 Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and [offering] for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure [therein]; which are offered by the law;

10:9 Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second.

10:10 By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once [for all].

The dying and the doing are two opposite faces of salvation. It is in these two faces of salvation that confusion has come in. The confusion comes in when it is denied that Jesus is our Example as well as our Savior. The confusion comes in when it is taught and believed that Jesus did both the doing in the living and the dying for us in our place so that we don’t have to. Confusion and deception comes in when it is taught and believed that Jesus did the dying for us and we can have the life of Jesus without the dying of Jesus.

Did Jesus carry His cross to Calvary? True or False; Yes or No. Who carried the cross of Jesus to Calvary? Why did Simon carry the cross of Jesus? God could have, but He did not strengthen His only begotten Son to carry His cross to Calvary. Why not? It is because of the nature of salvation. Salvation has two opposite aspects. One aspect is the dying. Jesus sweat great drops of blood in the Garden of the wine press called Gethsemany. This face of Jesus – this face of salvation has blood on it. The face of Jesus on the cross was a face that was blood streaked and blood stained. Jesus was waiting for the salvation that was promised on the other side of the tomb. This aspect of salvation is spoken of in the first two of our four texts on salvation:

1. Genesis 49:18 I have waited for thy salvation, O LORD.

2. Exodus 14:13 And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will show to you to day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever.

Jesus cannot carry your cross. If Jesus carried your cross for you how could you experience and how could you appreciate so great salvation? If Jesus carried your cross for you, how could you feel develop strength and have the experience of waiting for salvation? Unless Shadrack, Mesheck, and Abednego were thrown into the burning firery furnace, how could they be delivered from out of the furnace? How could they walk with Jesus in the fire without being in the fire themselves? How could Daniel be delivered from the lion’s den without being thrown into the lion’s den? Believing a false gospel gives the form of godliness and denies the power of the gospel.

To preach and to believe that Jesus is not our Example as well as our Savior is to destroy the power and the experience of the gospel as it is in Jesus. Jesus died as our Example as well as our Savior. We have each a death to die to self. We each have a cross to carry to the place of crucifixion. God will lead us but He will not carry us to the place of crucifixion. My father in law used to say if he knew where he was going to die that he would never go there. When Isaac went with his father Abraham to Mount Moriah, he did not know that was to be the place of his death. When he got there he was well able to run away and to refuse to die. But he did not. Every place we go is the place of our death to self. You can run all of your life, but you can never get away from the place where this face of salvation is to be experienced. We are to experience death to self every day in every place. Jesus had blood on His face in His place of death. He had blood on His face for you but not instead of you. You will have blood on your face in the place of your death to self. Your only choice, amd my only choice is will I have blood on my face now while Jesus is offering to be my Savior? Or will I have blood on my face when it is too late for Jesus to be my Savior?

What makes it too late is that I become completely mature in my decision. Every day I am saying yes to having blood on my face and dying to self or I become completely mature in saying no to having blood on my face and dying to self. It is not a change in Jesus or His love for me that makes it too late. It is the maturation of my character in my becoming so set in my ways and choices that I become totally unwilling to do it God’s way, which is reality. It is the maturation of the character that closes probation.

The same face of Jesus with blood on it also illustrates the other face or aspect of salvation. When the face of Jesus shone as the sun when He cried in triumph: "It is finished", his face had blood on it. On the cross, with blood on His face, Jesus cried in triumph "It is finished". All heaven rejoiced in the complete and total victory of that Man with blood on His face. Beloved, when you are ready for blood on your face; when you are ready to die to self – then God is ready to give you the victory over self and over every besetting sin in your life. It is at that point that you will see the form of the Fourth in the furnace with you and talk with God. It is then when you are in the lion’s den that you will hear the lamentable voice of your king saying: "Daniel, is your God whom you serve continually able to save you from the lions? And the answer will be yes! Then will come to pass I Corinthians 15:54 in miniature in our own lives: "then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory."

Then we can experience in our own lives the next two verses of salvation:

3. I Samuel 2:1 And Hannah prayed, and said, My heart rejoiceth in the LORD, mine horn is exalted in the LORD: my mouth is enlarged over mine enemies; because I rejoice in thy salvation.

4. Isaiah 51:5 My righteousness [is] near; my salvation is gone forth, and mine arms shall judge the people; the isles shall wait upon me, and on mine arm shall they trust.

51:6 Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look upon the earth beneath: for the heavens shall vanish away like smoke, and the earth shall wax old like a garment, and they that dwell therein shall die in like manner: but my salvation shall be for ever, and my righteousness shall not be abolished.

51:7 Hearken unto me, ye that know righteousness, the people in whose heart [is] my law; fear ye not the reproach of men, neither be ye afraid of their revilings.

51:8 For the moth shall eat them up like a garment, and the worm shall eat them like wool: but my righteousness shall be for ever, and my salvation from generation to generation.

Story to illustrate both faces of salvation in conclusion. "Interrogation" at Lusaka Airport.

One of my moments of experiencing so great salvation was the moment that I came the closest to dying a violent death in Africa. Let me explain. There was a period of time when farmers and businessmen were leaving the country and taking their money with them. One of the ways they were leaving the country was by flying out of the country. So a law was passed that no aircraft could take off without a police search first. So I was obliged by law to call the local police to inspect our aircraft before we took off from the airport on our farm in Africa. For a while I called the police by phone each time before I took off from the private airport on the farm and I think they came out once. The reality was that there were more airports and more private aircraft than there were police. It was a law that could not be enforced. I was scheduled to make an international flight on a Monday. The aircraft was in the capitol city at the city airport where it had just had its annual inspection. Instead of driving to the capitol from the farm and leaving the car at the airport while I was away, I decided to go to town on the Sunday and bring the plane back to the farm. That way we could leave from the farm the next morning and leave the car locked up in the hangar on the farm. So that is what we did. Dr Smith went with me into town and drove the car back. He saw something in town that I had not seen. He did not tell me what he had seen until Monday evening. I had decided to look around the airport for the police. If I could not find the police at the airport, I would take off. That proved to be the wrong decision.

The next day at the international airport someone asked me if I knew that the army was looking for me. I said I had no idea the army was looking for me. But I knew that if the army was looking for me that I would never get off the ground until they saw me. So I decided to go looking for the army at the airport. I found a soldier and asked if the army was looking for Dr. Foster. The soldier thought a moment and then said, "Yes!" So I told him that I was Dr. Foster. And he said come with me. To make a long story short, after a few hours waiting – an army truck with about 15 young soldiers, took me back to the city airport that I had taken off from the day before. They took me into a hangar and told me that they were going to interrogate me. I was put on a box high enough that my feet did not touch the floor. The "interrogation" began with the officer in front of me jumping to me and hitting me in the face with his hand with considerable force. Two things happened next that were of great interest to me. First I felt no retaliation or anger or fear. That was of interest to me. Second, I prayed that the "interrogation" would end soon! With that the officer standing next to me, stepped forward and told the other officer that was enough and motioned me to get back into the truck. I have never in my life seen people look at me so intently as those young soldiers looked at me. I do not know what they saw. I never saw them again and could not ask them. They looked at me an intensity as I have never seen before or since.

From the airport I was taken to the army jail. My shoes were taken off. My belt was removed. Everything I had in my pockets were removed. I was asked if I had a lawyer I wanted to call. I replied that I would like to call the American Embassy. This, I was told, I could not do. But I was asked repeatedly if I wanted to call a lawyer. I explained that I did not have a lawyer. The other prisoners crowded around me and asked me what I had done. In broken local language whatever I said was either not understandable or they didn’t make any sense of it and so they gave up. After a few hours I was called into a big office that was well equipped and asked where I had gone when I took off from the city airport the day before. I said I had flown to the farm where I lived. Could I prove it, I was asked. "That is easy!" I replied. "There are 30 workers on the farm. They always look at the plane when it lands. They know what time and from what direction it came. They can witness what time I landed and from which direction I came." That made sense to the official and he asked no more questions in that direction. I asked if I could use his phone to call the American Embassy. That was denied. Then he asked, "Are you the doctor that operates on polio patients?" I told him that I was. He asked if I would mind examining his daughter who had polio. I said I would. The daughter was sent for – called out of school and brought to the office, which was inside the army barracks. She was about 10 or 12 years of age wearing braces on both legs. She laid down on the top of the huge desk and I examined her. I reported that she had had good care and that all medical science could do had been done for her. She left and the officer seemed pleased with my report. In about the time that it would take for someone to travel to the farm and back again, I was told that I could now go. I was taken by car back to the international airport where about six or seven hours before I had started looking for an army officer. My wife, two daughters, and a doctor friend who were my passengers were still waiting for me at the airport. The officer who brought me back to the airport stood around for a while to hear what I would say to those who were waiting for me. I did not have much of anything to say. I asked if the permission to fly that day could be extended to the next day and was told that it would. I flew back to the farm and the next day uneventfully made the flight as planned a day late. I had experienced the reality of the promise in Psalms 34:7 "The angel of the LORD encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them."

Call for those willing to have blood on their faces in death to self to live the life of victory to the glory of God.