Obtain Your Salvation Today!    
1 Thess. 5:4-11
By Paul Robison
(with thanks to Raymond Kelcy)

There were six members at the Central Church of Christ in Tuscaloosa, AL who huddled into a cinderblock closet when a recent large tornado hit their building.  It lasted only 15-20 seconds, but when they emerged, the Family Life Center to their left had been completely destroyed.  They, however, had been saved (Christian Chronicle June 2011).
 
Salvation is being preserved from destruction, difficulty, loss, or evil. Someone has said: "Biblical salvation is moving from living death to a deathless life" (Odell in Swindoll).  "The salvation of man is the Bible's theme.  From the time, humans disobeyed in the Garden of Eden, God has been working to save them. In fact, our reading in today, the apostle Paul proclaims in 1 Thess. 5:9-10: "For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him."  One commentator states: "One of the things that gave salvation so full a meaning for New Testament Christians was that they were sure of the wrath of God and had a deep gratitude to Christ for saving them from it. ... To banish the wrath of God from the modern scene is to rob life of a good deal of its serious purpose" (Morris).  So salvation also includes being preserved from God's wrath.  Another commentator said this: "To make possible eternal life for man was the purpose Christ had in view when He died.  This life will be with Him, an endless fellowship with Jesus Christ. And this will be with Him whether we are among the living (awake) or among the dead (sleep) when He comes" (Kelcy).  God desires for all people to obtain salvation through Jesus Christ.  But what will happen if they do not obtain it?  A sobering passage in 2 Thess. 1:8-9 informs us that Jesus will take vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who have not obeyed the Gospel, and these will be punished with everlasting destruction from Christ's presence!  So, we see very clearly that these passages are teaching us that there will be two groups of people when Christ returns: those lost, who have not obtained salvation, and those saved, who have obtained it.  Jesus calls these the goats and the sheep in another parable (Matthew 25:32).  With what group are you today?  When Jesus comes again, will you be preserved from God's wrath, Christ's vengeance, and eternal destruction?  Remember: "For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him."  God has done His part for us to obtain salvation.  In fact, this is our theme for today: Obtain your salvation today!  Let's look quickly at four actions that you can take concerning your salvation.
 
First of all, recognize the Person of salvation.  "The central fact of salvation is a person, and that person is Jesus of Nazareth.  An angel said to Joseph: 'And she will bring forth a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins' (Matthew 1:21). 1 Timothy 1:15 declares: 'This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the word to save sinners, of whom I am chief.'  'For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved'" (John 3:17, Kelcy)!  As our text states again: "Christ died for us ... that we should live together with Him!"  Because of Jesus, it can be preached: "Obtain your salvation today!"  "When humans first sinned, God knew that it would be necessary for Jesus to come to earth and die in order for mankind to be saved from His wrath.  A very appropriate question is this: 'If God knew that salvation must be brought about by the death of Jesus, why did He not give Him to the world shortly after the time humans sinned?'  Paul reveals to us that Jesus was sent forth 'when the fullness of time had come' (Galatians 4:4).  Jesus Christ came at the right moment of the world's history.  It was necessary that people become gradually accustomed to the light before they would be capable of beholding the sunlight of God's revelation through Christ.  People had to be educated by types and pictures before the religion of Christ could be inaugurated. They must have an understanding, to some degree, of the meaning of sacrifice, atonement, priesthood, and intercession.  When John introduced Jesus as 'the lamb of God,' it had a greater meaning against a background of lambs slain through the centuries than it would have had if Jesus had come when people first sinned.  While it is true that Jesus' life on earth helped to qualify Him to be our Savior, the New Testament gives greater emphasis to the fact of His death on our behalf: 'For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God' (1 Peter 3:18); 'Christ died for our sins' (1 Corinthians 15:3); 'who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness by Whose stripes you were healed' (1 Peter 2:24).  Christ can provide salvation because of His shed blood.  In order for God to justify mankind and at the same time maintain His justice, the death of Jesus had to occur: 'To demonstrate at the present time His [God's] righteousness, that He might be just, and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus'" (Romans 3:26, Kelcy).  The shed blood of Jesus Christ is the ground for our justification before God and our reconciliation with God so that we are no longer under His wrath: "knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver and gold, from your aimless conduct received from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot" (1 Peter 1:18-19); "He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him" (John 3:36)!  Recognize the Person of salvation!  Obtain your salvation today!
 
Next, understand the plan of salvation.  "Christ saves, but he does not save haphazardly nor randomly.  He saves according to a plan that was carefully worked out by God.  God foreordained that people would be saved in a certain way, 'according to the good pleasure of His will' (Ephesians 1:5).  If people are to be saved, it must be according to God's plan.  This is what we'd expect.  There is evidence of planning and design in all of the works of God: all the planets move in their orbits according to a plan; day and night come and go according to a plan; the tides rise and fall according to a plan.  Law and order are seen throughout the universe.  According to the plan of salvation, there is something people must do in order to save themselves.  In fact, Peter admonished his audience at Pentecost with these words in Acts 2:40: 'Save yourselves from this perverse generation!'  We also read of various acts which are said to save" (Kelcy).  Look now at Ephesians 1:13: "In Him [that is, Jesus] you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise."  Did you notice how hearing the gospel and believing in Jesus were linked to salvation?  Now look at Acts 4:12: "Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved."  Peter underscores very clearly again that Christ is the Person of salvation; only through belief in His name and His ministry can salvation be obtained!  Now look at 2 Corinthians 7:10: "For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death."  Did you notice how godly sorrow and repentance are linked to salvation?  Now look at Romans 10:10: "For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation."  Did you notice how confessing Christ to be God's divine Son is linked to salvation?  Now look at 1 Peter 3:21: "There is also an antitype which now saves us—baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God)."  Did you just hear how baptism was linked to salvation?  "These are all acts to be performed by people, and since these acts are linked with salvation, and since people are to be saving themselves, doesn't it follow that people save themselves by doing these things: hearing, believing, showing godly sorrow in repentance, confessing Christ, and being baptized as the answer of a good conscience toward God? ... In order to have all the truth on the plan of salvation, we must take all the items to which salvation is [linked.  None of them can be omitted!] ... It seems many have rebelled against the idea of there being a systematic plan by which Jesus saves. They want to be saved but in their own way.  They don't want to be confined to the 'narrow limits' of a [specified] plan. They want to teach that one way to obtain salvation is as good as another and that different individuals can be saved in different ways.  [Now this thinking fits hand in glove with our culture of tolerance, but it goes directly against God's will. How do we know this?]  Well, look now at Ephesians 4:5 where we read that there is "one Lord, one faith, and one baptism".  This shows that there are not a dozen ways of being saved; in fact, there are not even as many as two" (Kelcy)!  Paul wrote this in Galatians 1:6: "I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ to a different gospel, which is not another, but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ."  Paul said "a different gospel, which is not another."  So how many gospels will save a person?  That's right, only one!  Now there are many counterfeit gospels being preached in our land today, but Paul says that there is only one true gospel, and we saw that God's plan to obtain salvation includes: hearing God's Word, believing in Jesus as the only Savior, having a godly sorrow which leads to repentance, confessing Jesus' divinity, and being baptized in order to have one's sins forgiven and to escape God's wrath! Understand the plan of salvation!  "For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him." Obtain your salvation today!
 
Next, know the place of salvation.  "It has often been said: 'The church cannot save.'  This is true.  The church is not the Savior.  We must constantly keep before our minds that reality that Jesus is the world's only Savior.  However, this truth does not justify the conclusion that we can be saved outside the church, as so many seem to think.  In what relation, then, does the church stand to our salvation?  Paul, writing to the Ephesian brethren, made this significant statement regarding the church and reconciliation in 2:16: 'For He Himself [that is, Jesus] is our peace, who has made both one ... that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity.' Notice that both groups, Jews and Gentiles, are reconciled to God in one body through the cross.  Paul has already defined the church as that body in Ephesians 1:22-23.  Reconciliation, therefore, is in the church, the body of Christ.  This means that the church is the realm of the saved. Christ saves us in the church" (Kelcy).  According to Ephesians 3:10, the church was no afterthought of God when some plan went wrong as some advocate, but it was part of God's eternal purpose.  The unification of all people in this spiritual kingdom was in God's mind before He spoke the world and time into existence!  Now notice what Paul writes in Ephesians 3:20-21: “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”  “To teach the necessity of the church is not to minimize the importance of Christ nor is it detracting from His glory. In fact, we see in this verse that we are to glorify God by Jesus Christ 'in the church.' ... Now look at Ephesians 5:23 where we find another statement that shows the necessity of church membership: 'For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and the Savior of the body.' Yes, Christ saves, but he saves what or whom?  “He is the Savior of the body.”  And we have seen that Paul defines the body as the church.  This harmonizes beautifully with the statement made by Luke in Acts 2:47: 'And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.'  The church, therefore, is the body of reconciled [or] the realm of the saved.  With these inspired statements before us, we can see how futile would be any effort to show that one could be saved outside the body of Christ” (Kelcy).  Know the place of salvation!  Obtain your salvation today!