Christmas Sermon by Pastor Heo – 1 Timothy 1:15Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.
This post is based upon the Christmas sermon preached by Pastor JaeBum Heo at Antioch International Christian Fellowship on Christmas Day, 2011. I’ve taken down some sermon notes and will fill in the gaps here to create a full and complete post based on those sermon notes.
Salvation is that thing that Christians are constantly talking about. And anyone who’s ever spent time in a church has probably heard the term. Basically, salvation is deliverance from sin and its consequences (sin, of course, being wrongs a person has committed in their lives). The consequence of sin is death (Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death…”). And while all men die physically, this is only part of sin’s consequence. Spiritual death; separation from God; life eternal apart from heaven – these are the true consequences of sin. Therefore, for the Christian, salvation exempts them from these consequences. It brings spiritual life, union with God, and life eternal in heaven.
This is the basic gospel of salvation that is preached by Christians. But what exactly is salvation? Besides its obvious promises and effects, we can see 4 more principles of salvation as a union with God.
First, salvation is a spiritual union. 1 Corinthians 6:17 says, “But whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit.”
Second, salvation is a vital union – indicating that it is a matter of death or life. This is apparent in the doctrine of salvation which says that salvation grants spiritual life everlasting, in heaven, with God the Father – and those without salvation will spend an eternity condemned and exiled from the presence of God, in hell. Colossians 3:3-4 says, “For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.”
Third, salvation is a complete and perfect union with Christ. 1 Corinthians 12:27 says, “Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” There is no part of the body that is unnecessary, and the body of Christ is not incomplete. The church, as Christ’s body, is already whole, and each member has a unique purpose.
Fourth, salvation is an inscrutable, mysterious union. Ephesians 5:32 says, “This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church.” Paul here relates the marriage union between man and woman with that of Christ and the church. We cannot precisely describe this kind of union with our human language. It is a profound, mysterious union, but a strong and lasting union nonetheless.
So, if this is salvation, there is only one question to ask: Do I have salvation or don’t I?
And if the answer is “yes, I have salvation,” then there are two more questions to ask:
- Why am I still here? (Because if we are saved from sin and death and sin’s consequences, shouldn’t God take us to heaven immediately after we receive salvation?)
- What am I to do? (If God has given me salvation – His purpose for fallen humanity, then what is my further purpose for remaining here?)
Christians constantly proclaim that salvation is a free gift: Jesus invites us freely to receive his sacrifice on the cross for no payment of our own. But few remind us that afterward, Jesus asks us to pay all. Matthew 10: “37 Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.”
So, how do you feel? Cheated? Like you bought salvation on credit? Like your whole life is an installment plan to repay the gift of salvation?
Do you want to “Return to Sender”?
The answer to the above two questions is MISSION. We are still here for mission. What we are to do, is mission. After Salvation, there is always Mission. Immediately. For ALL who are saved.
Salvation and Mission go hand-in-hand all the time. They are quite literally inseparable. If you are saved, you are given mission.
Let’s look in the Bible at some examples. All the time, Salvation is immediately followed by Mission.
Salvation: 2 Corinthians 5:17: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”
Mission: 2 Corinthians 5:18: “All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation:”
Salvation: Ephesians 2:8,9: “ For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.”
Mission: Ephesians 2:10: “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
Salvation: Philippians 2:12: “Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling,”
Mission: Philippians 2:13: “for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.”
Without salvation, mission is not and cannot be given, for the two go hand-in-hand. Salvation comes first, but mission immediately follows.
So, before completely understanding mission, we should first understand what is NOT your mission.
- Your job (doctor, pastor, lawyer, teacher) is not your mission – this is a mission FIELD, and a mission TOOL, but not the mission itself.
- Meeting your own earthly needs is not your mission – these are essential and necessary parts of life, but not your mission, for those without salvation need these things as well.
- Doing good works is not your mission – this is not mission, though they are good and blessed things, even the lost can (and do) do these things.
So what is mission?
- Mission is given by God to the saved, not to the lost.
- Mission is something only the saved can do, unsaved cannot do it. (Although some other religions may go on “missions” and claim to have “mission”, these are really just man-made (and man-appointed, all through an application process), and not God-given upon receipt of salvation (witness where you are, as you are, all the time). These kinds of missions also tend to be more like initiation into adulthood (“Leave As a Boy Come Home a Man”) rather than ongoing, lifelong witness to preach Christ’s salvation.
We all have same salvation – Ephesians 4:4-6: “4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” Also we have the same mission (fundamentally) – Matthew 28:19-20: “19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Mission is no less valuable than life and salvation – but it is given only after salvation.
In this world, what is so valuable that you must risk and invest your whole life? What is more valuable than life itself? It is Mission. Because Mission SAVES OTHER LIVES. To win persons to Christ, we must evangelize, preach the gospel, that there is “good news of great joy to all men,” forever.
Acts 20:24 gives the clearest verse about Mission to those who are saved: “However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task (mission)…” (same word in Greek) “…Jesus Christ has given me, the task of testifying to God’s grace.”
This is the MOST IMPORTANT THING. Because saving others is something we cannot do after death.