Archive for category Salvation
Naomi, Ruth, and Boaz did not live during an ideal time of history. But they were part of God’s master plan to change history. God used them to establish the beginnings of something new in Israel.
And although the trio did not understand their unique position at the time, each responded to God in faith, doing the best they could to live their lives according to God’s Will for them. Their faith to respond to God when they lived a hidden life in the hills of Bethlehem of Judah offers us hope. Life is full of periods, but God is at work. He always has a plan, even when the world does not understand or recognize Him.
Did Boaz have an inkling ahead of time?
We don’t know, but we do know his response. Yes, he’s interested. However, he cannot ignore details, and he must attend to them.
So Ruth learns about another aspect of faith. Sometimes we step out, only to discover we must wait for God’s answer.
After an unusual week, I searched my files for something ready-made to post, and I found a rambling discourse. Even though it fails to express my appreciation, it seems almost appropriate because today we celebrated my husband’s birthday (I think he knows I appreciate him) and because this Wednesday we’ll celebrate the Fourth of July. So, with a few last-minute changes, here’s a new twist: something from the files.
Jesus said, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. (Mk. 12:30)
I love my family more than life. I really do. They even define who I am.
Yet I’ve loved God more than them for many years—all the while loving them more deeply because I loved God first. I simply know that apart from God, raising children and rejoicing in grandchildren would be meaningless. I believe a person needs to belong to something bigger than their earthly family.
I believe people need to find and understand their place in the family of God.
The family of God, identified in Scripture as the Church, is not a closed, limited group of people. It’s people bonded by relationship through their relationship with Jesus. It’s always growing, adding numbers as it includes new Christians who seek God’s grace.
So what’s my place in this family? How does my place change as I grow in grace or mature in the family of God?
I love my country and hope I’d be willing to die for it. I really do. My country even defines who I am.
Yet I love God more than country—and believe my citizenship is more productive because I love God first. To be an effective citizen, I need to belong to something bigger than an earthly kingdom.
I believe people need to find and understand their place of service as citizens in their country.
This bigger kingdom, identified in Scripture as the Kingdom of God, is more than a static group following rigid rules. It includes people bonded together under the authority of Christ, our Head. The authority of Jesus and His Kingdom is expanding as people respond to Christ and live the life of grace He offers.
So what’s my place in my earthly country? How does it change as I grow in grace and mature so I find my place in God’s kingdom?
I love my God and I get a bit frightened at times when I think I might not be willing to die for Him. More than anyone or anything, He defines who I am.
I turn to Him daily for strength and support. Although I’m a better wife and mother and a better citizen because of Him, that isn’t why I love Him. On a realistic but admittedly selfish level, I love Him because He loves me, and I need the daily reassurance that it is so.
I believe people need to find and walk in God’s love because He makes us better people.
But God is bigger than my need. Bigger than the needs of all people put together. And He’s willing to listen to the smallest prayers.
My focus changes when I turn to God apart rather than to family and country. I seek Him for selfish reasons, but He lifts me above my selfish desires. With Him, it’s not about finding my place, or fulfilling my obligations, or striving to serveas I want to serve.
This God of the universe reveals Himself and visits me. He’s made my life rich as I’ve struggled with heart-rending disappointments. He’s all about grace—and walking with Him is about His ability to establish a foundations of grace when I feel bereft. He gives and gives and gives some more.
Understanding this God is an impossible quest. Especially during a strange week when I have trouble thinking straight. But He’s bigger than my fatigue. Bigger than my quest, even. And the search—the journey towards understanding—fulfilles my deepest longing. He is worth everything.
In the second chapter of Ruth, Boaz saw Ruth working in his field and he wondered who the young woman was. In verses 5-16, when his hired men identified her, he approaches the young stranger and reveals the nature of his character.
First, he spoke to Ruth as an actual human being. The workers referred to her as the Moabite or as an outsider, but he addressed her as “daughter.”
Second, he let her know she could remain under his protection from possible abuse by young men. Not all the men working in the fields shared his concern for others.
And then he offered cool water to drink during the heat if the day. She could refresh herself by receiving from his provision for his workers, even though she worked for herself rather than for him.
Boaz did have a reason to be interested in Ruth: he was one of several possible kinsman-redeemers. Meanwhile, Ruth didn’t know what a kinsman-redeemer was.
This message identifies the purpose, obligations, and qualifications of a kinsman-redeemer. It also links Boaz to Jesus, because Jesus came to earth to become the kinsman-redeemer for all people.
You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, telling the good news of peace through Jesus Christ…. (Acts 10:36 NIV, emphasis mine)
The modern reader could read this as a typical statement by a godly man. But the Apostle Peter was amazed. He was speaking to a group of Gentles in the home of a gentile named Cornelius—and all his life he had believed Gentiles were unclean.
To arrange the meeting, God gave a Gentile named Cornelius a dream so he’d dare ask Peter to visit him. And God gave Peter a trance so he’d be willing to go. Even the timing had to be right to confirm the message of the trance. Because, before the event, Peter hadn’t considered associating with someone he had labeled as “unclean.”
Then, when Peter arrived at Cornelius’ home, he found a crowd of more Gentiles waiting to hear what he had to say. His inner landscape was forever changed that day. He acknowledged his discovery when he said God accepts men from every nation who fear him….(v. 35).
When we think or talk about peace, we often think of political peace or freedom from oppression. And that’s the type of peace the people of Jesus’ time expected Him to bring during His earthly ministry.
It didn’t happen. Instead, Jesus offered internal peace that didn’t depend on circumstances, so Peter also focused on peace that comes from an inner response—from knowing and living with God.
Peter and all the disciples continued to emphasize internal peace. The salutations of Paul’s epistles even began with, Grace be unto you and peace from God our Father and Our Lord Jesus Christ.
Peace is right up there with grace.
The disciples made peace a priority because life without it is harrowing. And because many things hinder peace. And because people would have trouble understanding God’s peace.
Inner peace doesn’t come through a victory—not even a victory over an adversary or victory over sin. Those things bring joy and a measure of satisfaction, but they don’t bring peace.
Peace comes through rest. Resting in God because He’s in control—regardless of whether or not we’re feeling victorious. And we can trust Him. When we come to this place of resting in Him—trusting Him—we let Him do whatever He wants in the circumstance. He might help achieve a victory. Or He might not.
And here’s a secret I’ve learned. When I come to God because I need peace, my only job is remaining honest. I’ve learned I can’t try to manipulate Him by proclaiming peace that isn’t my reality.
He knows. Oh, how He knows.
So this week I confessed my reality along with my desire to walk in His peace. And then I waited.
And He came. He always comes. Because He’s God, the God of grace and love.
Naomi surprises her daughters-in-law Oprah and Ruth after they begin their journey from Moab to Bethlehem of Judah. She gives each a choice that forces them to make a difficult decision.
The Scripture for this portion of their story is found in Ruth 1:8-19.
Over 25 years ago, when our youngest son still lived at home, he and I had a discussion about salvation. We really did.
Now salvation is a huge subject. We didn’t adequately cover it that day—bit of irony there, in case you didn’t catch it—but we did come to one conclusion: salvation requires trusting God because He alone is able to save. People must not think they can earn salvation.
After that day I pondered what the essentials of salvation would be—and discovered some defining Scripture passages. Monday’s video reminded me of the search, and here are a few passages and thoughts.
[I]f you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.
Wow. Pretty straightforward, don’t you think? I would suggest that believing God raised Jesus from the dead includes not only his resurrection but also His sacrificial death—simply because a resurrection is impossible without a death. So the verse tells us that accepting and confessing the reality of Jesus finished work on the cross are the essentials. If we truly believe, we will tell others what Jesus accomplished.
They overcame him [the dragon] by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.
Another straightforward statement. By faith these people had received and accepted the completed work of Christ because they were covered by the Blood Jesus shed on the cross. And their word or testimony means they told others what God had done for them.
Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned…
This verse has a different context. Jesus is speaking to His disciples and He emphasizes faith in Himself as a person—perhaps because the disciples hadn’t had time to absorb prior events and because they had not yet received the Holy Spirit.
He also identifies baptism as the second component. To bring this together with the statements above, remember that baptism was a public event. Submitting to baptism was, in essence, a public confession or testimony. The important thing is that faith and a testimony are identified as the core of salvation.
I Corinthians 2:3
I resolved to know nothing when I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.
This statement by Paul emphasizes how the early apostles built their ministry (their testimony) on what Jesus accomplished. Their faith and confession were the core realities of salvation.
Likewise, our faith in Jesus and our confession of that faith are central to our identify in Christ—and the core realities of our salvation.