New City Catechism XXIX
Have you ever been saved from something terrible?
From getting lost?
Running out onto the road in front of a car?
Falling from a great height?
Have you ever heard any stories about people being saved?
I wonder if you know who these men are?
These are the miners who in 2010 got trapped for 69 days when the mine they were working in collapsed.
On August the 5th, 2010, the mine had a cave in trapping 33 men. On the 7th of August a second cave in occured blocking off access to a ventalation shaft that could have been used to rescue them.
On the 22nd of August tapping was detected by one of the rescue probes being used to search for signs of life. When the probe was drawn to the surface there was a note attached which read:
“All 33 of us are alright in the shelter”
Over 17 days they had managed to survive drinking from spring water and some radiators. Some had developed fungal infections due to the 95/35 degree heat. Now at least they could receive nutrient gel, water and communication devices.
They would have to wait until October 9th for one of the three drilling bores were ready to send a rescue worker and bring up one of the men at a time.
On October 12th a rescue worker was lowered.
Just after midnight the first worker was drawn to the surface.
These men were helpless and unable to save themselves.
I wonder how you would have felt during that ordeal - when contact with the outside world was made, when the rescuer arrived and when you finally made it to the surface?
Over the last few weeks and months we have been looking at the bible.
And we have learnt that it isn’t only trapped miners who need to be saved.
The bible teaches us that everyone who has ever lived and who will ever lived is facing death separated from God because of sin.
We have learned that the reason for this is that despite creating a perfect world and a perfect relationship between God and His creation, people from the beginning decided to do things their own way - they disobeyed God and so the bible says:
23 All of us have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory.
The bible also says that there is nothing we can do about this.
Here is what the Apostle Paul writes in his letter to an early Christian congregation in the city of Ephesus: (Anna)
1 In the past you were dead because you sinned and fought against God. 2 You followed the ways of this world and obeyed the devil. He rules the world, and his spirit has power over everyone who doesn’t obey God. 3 Once we were also ruled by the selfish desires of our bodies and minds. We had made God angry, and we were going to be punished like everyone else.
Did you notice what Paul said? Those who have sinned against God are spiritually dead. They can have no relationship with a Holy God - they are separated from Him.
Paul says we are all equally in the same situation. We all need a Super Saviour to save us from this terrible situation.
But here is the Good news from the bible for us to hear and understand today: (Anna)
4 But God was merciful! We were dead because of our sins, but God loved us so much that he made us alive with Christ, and God’s wonderful kindness is what saves you. 6 God raised us from death to life with Christ Jesus, and he has given us a place beside Christ in heaven. 7 God did this so that in the future world he could show how truly good and kind he is to us because of what Christ Jesus has done. 8 You were saved by faith in God, who treats us much better than we deserve. This is God’s gift to you, and not anything you have done on your own. 9 It isn’t something you have earned, so there is nothing you can brag about. 10 God planned for us to do good things and to live as he has always wanted us to live. That’s why he sent Christ to make us what we are.
Did you see what and Paul wrote? Do you understand what amazingly Good News he shares with those who attend the congregation he writes to?
God, in His great love for His creation, sent His only beloved Son to save all those who are dead in their sins, to bring them from death to life!
Jesus is the Super Saviour everyone needs. He is the only one who is able to save.
We have seen from taking a closer look at what the bible says that because one perfect man Adam sinned, one perfect man - in this case Jesus - had to receive the punishment for sin.
God, if he was to be a just God, couldn’t ignore what had happened. We were talking in Pathfinders the other week about how we would feel if in class a boy or girl was shooting paper clips using an elastic band and hitting us on the side of our face and the teacher just stood by and did nothing. Sometimes it looks llike God is standing by and doing nothing.
But we know that God had decided to do something about the situation we find ourselves in. God had decided that when Jesus died on the cross, Jesus would take the punishment we deserve for disobeying God and doing things our own way.
Think of that! The bible also says Jesus didn’t do anything wrong - it says there was no sin in him. Yet he died a death he didn’t deserve - so that we didn’t have to.
A great swap took place.
Those who put their faith in what Jesus did for them as the only way to be saved, as the only way to be be set free from sin and to be in relationship with God and live with Him forever - could be assured that God has taken their sin and placed it upon Jesus.
But there’s more - because we are still sinful, God then takes Jesus perfect sinlessness - we call that righteousness - and credits it to those same people so when he looks at them he sees someone who hasn’t ever sinned - he sees what Jesus did on their behalf.
Our faith in Jesus means that spiritually - God takes our unclean, broken hearts when we confess our need for him and say thank you for what you have done for us in and through Jesus’ death.
and He gives us a clean heart in its place - so we can keep being in relationship with a Holy God and look forward to eternity with Him when we die.
Whern someone gets baptised - as Lily-Rose will be very soon, her parents are saying that they want their daughter to be a member of God’s family.
They are agreeing with what the bible says and we believe about God and they want their daughter to go God’s way, not her own way.
Of course, Lily-Rose will need to make that decision for herself. Baptism will not save her. She will have to confess her own faith and put her own trust in Jesus eventually.
But through baptism, her parents are saying ‘yes'to what God has promised for all those who put their faith in Jesus.
Only In and through faith in Jesus can we spiritually die to sin. By going under the water, and rising up again - we symbolise what God has offered us all by faith - death to the old ways and rising as new creations, sons and daughters of the living God with eternity the free gift given to those who become through faith children of God.
The darkness of our broken and divided hearts - can be transformed by the light that Jesus brings and we start to live for God as the gift of His Spirit transforms our character and our ability to stand with and for God and no longer for ourselves and the world.
Let us pray...