The other day I heard a story that made me think. A young man, a university student, was in his room rocking out to his favourite tunes. It was so loud, in fact, that he could not hear the fire alarm sounding in the hallway outside. He got ready for class, gathered his books, piled them in his bag, and slung it over his shoulder. He threw open the door, only to be greeted by a fireman wearing a helmet, breathing through a mask, toting an axe, and surrounded by flames and smoke.
He didn’t know to get out because he didn’t even know he was in danger.
If you don’t know there is a fire, you don’t know to get out. If you don’t know that you are lost, you don’t know that you need salvation. Let me tell you, the building is on fire.
Here is the Problem
The Bible makes it very clear that if we sin, we lose any hope of eternal life. Romans 6:23 says, “the wages of sin is death.” Wages are what you rightly deserve. We deserve death if we are sinners. “Wait a minute,” you might be thinking, “I know I have blown it a time or two, but I am not a ‘sinner.’ I’m a pretty good person. It’s not like I’ve killed somebody.”
True, you and I may be better than some other people we could name. But, you and I are not the standard – God is. Think about what King David said about the state of man:
They are corrupt, doing abominable iniquity; there is none who does good. God looks down from heaven on the children of man to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. They have all fallen away; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one. – Psalm 53:1-3
So, I guess it’s true. If we have done anything wrong (and we have – Romans 5:12), we are sinners. We are lost and in danger. We are in need of salvation.
Here is the Good News
I mean, literally, here is the Good News. The word we translate “gospel,” the message that Jesus died to save us from our sins, means “good news.” The good news is that God planned for our salvation. He originated the plan, Jesus made it possible, and the Holy Spirit has revealed it to us through the Scriptures. Even in a fire, there is an escape plan that will never fail us.
God doesn’t want anyone to be lost (2 Peter 3:9). But we just learned that we are lost. So how can we be saved? (Read Acts 2:37 – this is not a new question.) Here is the answer God gives us.
God’s Escape Plan
Hear – The young man in the story failed to hear the alarm. Learning and understanding begins with hearing. We have to learn that we are in danger. We have to understand how to escape that danger. That happens when we hear God’s instructions. Jesus says,
Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life. – John 5:24
Did you see where it started? It started with hearing what God says to us.
It’s hard to hear what God is saying sometimes because there is so much noise in our life. Stopping to look up these passages in the Bible is an important first step.
Believe – Just hearing doesn’t change anything. Kids hear their parents say all sorts of things, but it doesn’t mean they accept what their parents say. Change takes place when we begin to act on what we hear. The Bible has a special word that means to accept something as true and act upon it. That word is “faith.” In Hebrews 11:6, we read that it is impossible to please God if we do not have faith in Him. Faith is our way of living out what we believe.
Do a Heart Check – A lot of people will hear the Good News, but not everyone will act on it because they are not moved by what they hear.
Fear is something that can move us in a hurry. “It is a fearful thing,” the writer of Hebrews tells us, “to fall into the hands of a living God” (10:31). We might also feel a deep sense of sorrow for what we have done in the past (2 Corinthians 7:9-10). And then there is, perhaps, the most powerful motivation of all: our love for God (Romans 2:4; 1 John 4:19). Are we moved by fear, sorrow, love, or something else? In the end, what really matters is that we move!
Repent – Speaking of fear, how is this for a scary line: “unless you repent, you will all likewise perish”? Jesus said this in Luke 13, not once but twice, to the crowd of listeners gathered around Him. To repent means to turn around. If we don’t make changes, we are going to lose any hope of eternal life. The bottom line is that we are in this mess because we are sinful. Repentance shows God that we want to live life in a new and more pleasing way (Acts 26:19-20).
Confess – I’m not going to climb a rope unless I’m sure it will hold me. Are you? I’m also not going to put my hope for salvation in Jesus unless I am sure He really is who He says He is. Are you? Salvation requires us to confess with our mouths that Jesus is Lord (Romans 10:9).
Confession is telling the world that you recognize and accept that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, that He is the Lord of the universe, that He is fully God and that He is the only hope that you and I have.
Be Baptized – Jesus wants you and I to join Him, to experience what He experienced. Thankfully, while it was horribly painful for Jesus, it is pain-free for us. He died, was buried, and was raised from the dead. He asks us…
- to die to our old lives – this begins with the repentance we talked about earlier,
- to be fully immersed – He was buried underground; we are buried under water,
- and to rise up out of the water to a new life – spiritually we are new, clean, forgiven and His.
This is the importance of baptism (Romans 6:3-4). To be baptized into Christ is to put on Christ (Galatians 3:27). What a beautiful image! If I want to be clothed by the loving sacrifice of Jesus, then I need to be immersed in Him.
Escape the Fire
Thankfully, the young man in our story was rescued before the fire got to him. But do you think he just sat down in a nice safe place and did nothing for the rest of his life? Of course not!
We don’t simply sit down and do nothing after becoming a child of God. The plan of salvation is not the end – it is the beginning of an exciting and blessed life filled with promises, hope, assurance, good works, service and worship. Christians spend the rest of their time on earth realizing how close they came to spending an eternity without God, and gratefully serving Jesus who saved them and is now preparing a wonderful home in heaven for them (John 14:2-3).
Copyright © 2012 Jeff Darby and Trevor Major. All rights reserved.