I want to start today by sharing a story. A few months ago, we had an issue at our house. It was right after breakfast. Caryn was doing the dishes and Carter was taking a shower. I heard Carter mumble something from the bathroom upstairs, but I couldn’t understand what he was saying. Then I heard Caryn say something about the water temperature in the sink. She said that there wasn’t any hot water coming out of the sink. That’s when it clicked with me that Carter was probably saying the same thing upstairs.
We knew when we bought the house that the water heater was older. I had already gone out several times to increase the heat on the thermostat to help us limp along as best we could. But it was starting to happen more and more frequently. I didn’t think anything was different than in the past, so I went to the garage to turn the nob just a little bit more to “fix” the problem.
However, unlike before, as I approached the closet door, I found myself in a pretty big puddle of water. The water heater was a goner, beyond repair.
The first thing I did was call my dad. I knew he had replaced a handful of water heaters before in the house we grew up in. I knew he had all the answers and would come to help me get a new water heater hooked up before the end of the day.
He came down from Denver immediately to help. The first thing we did was go to Lowe’s to get a new tank. While we were there, we grabbed a few other supplies that we thought we would need.
On the way back to our house, I asked him how long it would take to fix this issue. His answer wasn’t in measurements of time, like 2-3 hours, but in measurements of how many trips back to Lowe’s to get the correct parts. I thought that was strange but accepted it.
We unhooked the old water heater and took it down. The way our house is built, it’s sitting on a platform in a small closet in our garage that is about 3 feet off the ground. Now, we aren’t the smallest guys in the world and to get this water tank out of this closet was difficult. We managed to do so, but it wasn’t easy.
The next step was to get the new tank up in the closet and on the platform. This is where we began to run into some issues. First of all, the same issue of getting the old tank out. 3 big objects, 1 tiny little space and now we were also fighting gravity trying to lift this thing in there.
This led to our second issue. We are a family of 6. The old tank wasn’t big enough so we decided to get a bigger tank. What we didn’t think about was the space inside the closet and if the previous pipes would fit. When we finally got the bigger tank in the space, we quickly realized that none of the previous fittings were going to fit.
Trip #2 to Lowe’s. We needed more supplies. Keep in mind, this was happening right at the beginning of the Coronavirus, and lines at Lowe’s were long. I mean an hour or more long.
When we got back to my house, we went right back to work only to realize we didn’t grab the right size piping and tubing. We needed ¾ inches and got ½ inches. Or the other way around. I’m not sure. But whatever we had; it was wrong.
Trip #3 to Lowe’s. We made sure to grab the right stuff and doubled checked this time. Finally, we got the pipes hooked back up. The last thing was the exhaust vent tube. I remember tossing it aside when we took it off because we were going to reuse it. I looked around and to my utter frustration, it had somehow made its way underneath the old water tank and had become completely mangled. It wasn’t useable.
Trip #4 to Lowe’s. At this point. It wasn’t a fun bonding experience with my dad anymore. I was tired. I hadn’t eaten anything all day. I had forgotten my coffee at my desk. But I knew we needed to get this done.
We got more vent tubing and went back home and got it attached. Finally, everything was done. The only thing left was to start the pilot light and we’d be done. For anyone who has had to do this, you know it’s a process. Turn the nob, prime the pump, turn the now a little more, click the button for 30 seconds. If that doesn’t work, turn everything off and try again in 10 minutes.
Now, there was a note on the instructions: If this is the first time trying to start the pilot light, it may take several attempts. 2 hours and 20 minutes later, that’s right, after 14 attempts, it finally worked.
What a nightmare. Not how I had imagined spending my day. Around attempt 5 I thought that we had purchased a bad water heater and that we’d have to take it back. Around attempt 10, I was ready to give up. I was going to go in and tell Caryn that we’d be living without hot water for the rest of our lives.
Has anyone else ever felt that feeling of wanting to give up? It’s an extremely defeating feeling, right? You try so hard on a project and it never seems to go right and the end never seems to get closer.
What about in your spiritual life? Have you ever felt like you’re God’s project and it never seems to go the right way? No matter what happens, it never seems to be the right move or the right decision. Again, it can be an extremely defeating feeling.
From that feeling, we get the next two lies that we hear from the world and Satan.
Lie #1: “I’ve given up on you…”
Lie #2: “You’re too far gone to be saved…”
Just to be clear, God never said that. Let’s dive into these a little bit more.
Lie #1: This one is for a believer. “I’ve given up on you…” This is what you’ll hear, “God is done with you. You’ve strayed too far. You once we’re his child, but you’ve broken his heart too many times. He’s disavowed his relationship with you. You are no longer a Christian.”
The idea here is that God used to love you and that you use to be his child. But because of your failures, He has changed the way He thinks about you. You are no longer worthy of being in His family and He has cast you out. But we know, God has never said that.
The issue is that it cheapens the gift of salvation, the gift of grace, and makes God look like a finicky human. Many Christians still believe that salvation can be lost. Some churches and preachers still preach it, books are written about it, and parents even us it as a bargaining chip against their children.
Thankfully my parents never said stuff like this to me, “You’d better be careful and you better behave. If you don’t, God might write you off… forever.” Sadly though, I’ve heard something like this said to a kid before.
The trick that Satan is playing here is this. As long as a believer is worrying about whether or not they are truly saved, they will never grow up in spiritual maturity. He wants us stuck right where we are. He doesn’t want us out, serving our neighbors, loving on people, and being the examples of Christ that we are called to be. If we are too inwardly focused, then our faith will never be able to live out the way that it should.
Lie #2: “You’re too far gone to be saved…”
This one is for someone who doesn’t believe in Jesus and it sounds like this, “Jesus certainly didn’t die for the likes of you. You may have friends or family who are Christians, but they never messed up as you have. You’re crazy to think that God still wants you. You’re damaged goods. You’re too far gone. Who are you that you think God might still be willing to forgive you! There are some sins that God won’t forgive and you’ve done all of them.”
Last week, I told you that sometimes scripture can be incorrectly used to support some of Satan’s lies. Sometimes, church people can also be used. I’ve had several conversations with people who have left the church. Did you know, one of the most common reasons someone leaves the church is because of how they were talked to or treated by others in the church.
I had a pastor growing up that tried something a little different at one of our Sunday evening services. He dressed up as a homeless man, dirty, smelly, ragged clothes, he went all out. Completely unrecognizable. He walked into the building and right up to the front row where he sat down. It was less than 4-5 minutes before some members of the congregation walked up to him, not knowing it was him, and asked him to leave. The pastor stood up, took off the wig he was wearing, whipped his face, and stepped up on the platform. He gave a sermon that night about what it means to truly love others and how God’s love is for everyone.
No one is ever too dirty or too sinful for God to save them.
So, if God never said those too lies, what did He say on these topics. Turn with me in your Bibles to Ephesians 2:1-10.
Real quick, the context of the letter that Paul wrote to the Ephesians while in prison in Rome was intended to encourage the church with God’s plan and to encourage those in the church about their salvation.
So, let’s read.
1 Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. 2 You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. 3 All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature, we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else. | Ephesians 2:1-3 (NLT)
This is the stuff that Satan is trying to tell us. Paul is pointing out those lies that we hear. “It’s because of your disobedience. Your many sins. You’re no better than the rest of the world. You gave into those sinful desires and inclinations because it’s just who you are.”
However, there is a “but” at the start of verse 4.
4 But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, 5 that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) 6 For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. 7 So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus. 8 God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. 9 Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. 10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. | Ephesians 2:1-3 (NLT)
There is so much here that I want to dive deeper into this passage.
You see, regardless of what your guilty conscience or the devil may be whispering in your ear, the reality is that God loves you and is ready and willing to grant you salvation… RIGHT NOW. He knows who you are and what you’ve done. But because of His mercy and how much He loves you; He gave us life… just like verse 5 says. “He gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead.”
And that leads me to Truth #1: God Doesn’t Grade on a Curve.
We want to categorize sin into not good, bad, and worst. By doing that, we expect God to also feel differently about those who sin a lot more than he does about those who sin just a little.
We make sin into a comparison game. “I’m not as bad as this person, but I’m not as good as that person.” But that’s not a biblical way to think about sin.
“For the person who keeps all of the laws except one is as guilty as a person who has broken all of God’s laws. For the same God who said, ‘You must not commit adultery,’ also said, ‘You must not murder.’ So if you murder someone but do not commit adultery, you have still broken the law.” | James 2:10-11 (NLT)
When we’re standing in front of the throne at our final judgment, all sin is ultimately the same in God’s eyes and when it comes to our need for God’s grace and forgiveness, we’re all in the same boat. But that’s where we can have hope.
God doesn’t see sins, he sees the sinner. He doesn’t see a murderer, a liar, a slanderer, a drug addict, or a lazy person. He sees people in need of grace. He sent his Son into the world to deal with the problem because you are never too far gone to be saved.
Here is the next truth. Truth #2: You cannot lose your salvation.
It is impossible for a Christian to lose their salvation. Everything about the nature of salvation argues for its permanency. God doesn’t give and then take the gift back; he doesn’t adopt and then unadopt.
Christians must learn to think biblically on this issue. As long as we believe that we are one bad decision away from being disowned by God, then we will always live in fear and never grow in our spiritual maturity.
The author of Hebrews writes this right after giving yet another argument about the eternal salvation that Jesus gave those who obey.
“So let us stop going over the basic teachings about Christ again and again. Let us go on instead and become mature in our understanding. Surely we don’t need to start again with the fundamental importance of repenting from evil deeds and placing our faith in God.” | Hebrews 6:1 (NLT)
Christians. Jesus’ gift of salvation is not going away.
It’s not something we can lose. I’ve found 4 biblical reasons to believe this.
- You didn’t earn it. The radical, scandalous message of the gospel is that we are saved despite ourselves. God granted us salvation because of His love for us, not because we did anything to deserve it. Similarly, because we didn’t earn God’s favor, there is nothing we can do to lose it and there is nothing we can do to keep it. Being a good Christian won’t “sure up” our salvation. Go back to Ephesians 2:8-9: 8 God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. 9 Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. Salvation is a gift to you and me and nowhere in the Bible is it even implied that God’s gifts come with conditions or that they are on a trial basis or can be revoked at any point. Check out Romans 11:29: For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. (ESV)
- God initiated it. When you become a Christian, you do so in response to the wooing of God in your life. Ephesians 2:1-3 tells us that people are spiritually dead and don’t just go looking for God. They simply don’t know that they need Him. Jesus says in John 6:44, “For no one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them to me…” Knowing that God was one who initiated the relationship with you, He won’t accept you one day and reject you the next. He knew your sinful nature before He gave you salvation, and He still gave it to you.. freely. Why would that change after you accepted the gift?
- You Have A New Identity. 2nd Corinthians 5:17 says, “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” When you became a Christian, God made you a completely different person in Christ. It was an irreversible act. The old us, the dead to sin people are gone. They don’t exist anymore. You can’t go back to something that doesn’t exist.
- God has adopted you. This one might be my favorite. Ephesians 1:4-5 says, “Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.” Paul used this adoption imagery a lot in his writing. In Paul’s culture, adoption was an irreversible action that granted all the rights, privileges, and inheritance of the adopter to the adoptee. This imagery would’ve been very powerful during that time. Much more powerful than what we would think. Did you know that more than 10% of all US adoptions fail and the children are “returned” in less than a year? There was no returning in Paul’s time. If you wanted to adopt someone, that person took your name, your legacy, your inheritance, and become like a blood relative of the rest of the family. That’s the image that Paul gives us when we accept his gift of salvation. We’re not a “brotha from anotha motha or a sista from anotha mista.” We are God’s children.
These are 4 great reasons to rest in the fact that God will never give up on you. He may discipline, prune, and challenge you, but he won’t kick you out of his family. What God does can’t be undone. What God secures can’t be stolen. What God saves can’t ever be lost.
So, what’s the application from what we’ve looked at here.
First of all, what sin are you carrying? What shame and guilt from transgressions in your past or present are keeping you from knowing God’s love? I mean fully knowing God’s love? Whatever it is, you’re not too far gone. You may be dirty, covered in sin, we all are, but you’re not too dirty. No one is.
When it comes to salvation, this is the hope that we have: God knew what he was getting into when he sent Jesus to die on the cross and redeem sinners.
He wasn’t surprised at the sins that needed to be forgiven. He didn’t set limits or conditions on who or what was too sinful. He didn’t say some were okay while others were not.
But what God did do, He sent Jesus to save sinners.
You can turn to believe in Him today and be saved. He has forgiven all of your sins-no limits, no exceptions. If you’re reading this right now, and you want to make that decision today send me a message. Don’t wait. Don’t hesitate.
I want to finish with Matthew 11:28-30 again.
Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”
When it comes to those of us who believe and have made that choice to accept the free gift of forgiveness and salvation. It’s time for us to get past wondering if today will be the day that we blow it so badly that God is forced to dump us on the side of the road. As long as we live in fear that God may reject us at some point, we will never become spiritually mature Christians. 2nd Timothy says that we are not given a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power, love, and self-discipline.
The message of the Gospel is simple: We are saved by grace alone and secured in Jesus for free.
If you’ve been trying to carry the burden of your salvation, stop. It’s too heavy. Hand it to Jesus. He died on the cross so that you could be free of that burden of having to earn his love and approval.
Do this with me. I want you to place your hands in your lap and turn your palms up towards God then close your eyes. I invite you to confess yourself as His permanently adopted child. Take all of your sins and insecurities, and pass them on to Him. If you feared that somehow you have lost God along the way, find that rest in knowing that you are secure. He’s never left your side.
Grace and Peace.