What was promised…might be given.
Decades ago, I can remember purchasing my first computer. It was an Acorn computer with 32 kilobytes of memory. I felt as though I owned one of the most advanced personal computers in the world and I spent ages entering formulas and equations to make it work.
I remember on one occasion that I tried to set up a windows filing system which would help me with my pastoral work. It took me four days to enter the information correctly and when I was finished, I had a black & white screen filled with little boxes where I could put in names and addresses, some short information, and a calendar for visitation dates. I felt as though I was light years ahead of my pastor peers and couldn’t wait to show some of them what I had created.
The equations and the formulas that I had to enter were all built through key sentences of ‘if and then.’ If I pressed a button here, then a file would come up on the screen. If I entered a name here, then more information would be accessed somewhere else in the computer. So long as the ‘ifs and thens’ were entered correctly, then the system worked beautifully.
These days, computer already have these programs entered and filing is so much easier, but way back in the 1980s windows files were very rare.
Today’s verse reminded me of the ‘if and then’ process of salvation. Many people think that salvation is a given, but it’s not. This is why the apostle Paul reminds the young Corinthian church that what was promised through scripture might be given to those who believe. Belief in Christ, then, is a required component of salvation. If there’s no belief, then there is no salvation, no matter what the world would like to think.
That’s why Christianity is first and foremost a missionary faith. We do not minister to ourselves, we take the Gospel message out into the world. We take it to our families and friends, our neighbors and working colleagues. The promises of salvation can only be experienced through our belief in Jesus. There is no other way. There is no other person, there is no other faith.
If the ‘if and then’ of belief and salvation are not entered into our hearts and minds, then the good news of the Gospel remains inoperative. We will have wasted our whole lives by inputting the wrong spiritual formula and erroneously entering the wrong eternal equation.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, we want to live forever in God’s Kingdom and to experience everlasting life. You are the only way to achieve this; You are the Only One who has the words of eternal life. Keep us faithfully focused on You and help us to attract and enable others to come to Your Cross. Make us missionaries of Your message. In Your Holy Name, we pray. Amen.
John Stuart is the pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. If you would like to comment on today’s message, please send him an email to email@example.com.