How to Respond to How People are Saved

Question: How can God be loving and then demand that salvation is received only by those who believe in Jesus as their Savior? What about those who have never heard about Jesus? Could God really condemn them because they don’t believe if they were never given an opportunity to believe?

Answer: God says clearly in His Word that salvation is received by faith: (John 3:36, Galatians 3:22).

We are all sinners, we all deserve God’s just judgment because of our sin: (Romans 3:23). There are no innocent bystanders. We are all guilty before God.

We also need to realize that every civilization, no matter where it has settled, traces its family tree back to Noah through his three sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth (Genesis 6-9). At one time in their history they knew the truth about God and the salvation that He would bring about through the coming Savior. If that knowledge was lost, it is not the fault of God, but the fault of man.

God desires the salvation of all people (2 Peter 3:9) and has sent Jesus to live and to die to atone for the sins of all people (1 John 2:1-2).

He has also placed within all people a natural knowledge that He exists (Psalm 14:1, Romans 1:20). This natural knowledge of God reveals that God exists so that we might search for Him and find out more about Him (Acts 17:27).

Finally, God also sends His people (Christians) into the world as witnesses of the salvation Jesus has won for them and for all people (Mark 16:15) so that others would believe through their word. Paul says: “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God” (Romans 10:17).

God desires our salvation, which we receive through faith. He has given to each of us an innate understanding that He exists, so that we might seek after Him, find Him, believe in Him, and receive His salvation. And He has revealed His truth and proclaims this truth through the people of His Church as His witnesses.

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Theme:  Who is a God like You?  In this Psalm, we consider that there is no other God like the God of the Bible.  All the other so-called gods of this world are nothing.  Consider what God is like compared to human beings:  God is Eternal; Mankind is mortal.  God is the All powerful Creator; Mankind is the creature.  God is just and angered by our sin against His commands; Mankind is sinful and justly deserving of God's punishment.  God is merciful having compassion on sinners in Christ; Mankind is helpless and in dire need of a God's work, power, salvation, joy, mercy and love.  Thanks be to God for all that He is.  Certainly there is no other God but the LORD!

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God invites us to come into His presence where He gives us rich blessings.  The fact that we can come into the presence of the Creator of the Universe and our Redeemer is a blessing in itself.  God revealed Himself to His Old Testament people through His presence in the tabernacle.  The LORD blessed His people through His presence among them.  The sacrifices which were carried out at the temple pointed to the ultimate sacrifice that Jesus would make for the sins of all people.  The LORD still blesses His people today through His presence among us in His "temple," through His Word and Sacraments.  These blessings are immeasurable, and cannot be replaced by anything this world has to offer.  The "treasures" of this life fade, but the blessings given by God last for eternity.  We are also blessed through the fellowship we share with other believers.  We encourage, support, admonish, and instruct one another when needed.  Jesus is the LIFE, our source of LIFE and the One who brings us LIFE through His perfect life and sacrificial death in our place.  It is here in the LORD's house where these blessings become our own through His Word and Sacrament.  How beloved is God's House! 

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In our How to Respond series, Pastor Nathanael Mayhew addresses the question which is often asked:  Why do I have to go to church?  Can't I worship God at home?  While it is true that we don't have to go to church to worship God, and that we can and should worship and pray to God everywhere we go and in everything we do, it begs the following question in reply:  Are you taking time to worship God, to regularly reading His Word, to pray to God, to sing His praises, to encourage and be encouraged through fellowship with like-minded believers, to recieve the Sacraments that God has given to His people for their salvation as well as their great joy and comfort?  These are things that are done in church because God has invited us to, out of joy for the gift of salvation He has won for us, and in the confidence that He is at work through them.  In short, all these things are the outward marks which identify one as a believer in Jesus.  Jesus summarizes the answer to this question well when He said: “He who is of God hears God's words; therefore you do not hear, because you are not of God” (John 8:47). Consider the following passages which emphasize the importance of the above relationship with God:  Psalm 1:2; Psalm 122:1; Acts 2:42; Colossians 3:16; Hebrews 10:25.  God’s Word is clear and gives us a sure answer to our question.  It isn’t about whether a Christian “has to” go to church.  The Child of God who has a relationship with God will go to church, study His Word, fellowship with other believers, receive His Sacraments, pray and praise Him. The Christian will go to church, because that is where God richly bestows His gifts of grace, life and salvation for sinners!

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Theme:  What is Christian Education?

In this Psalm, we have an Old Testament Mission Psalm.  Yes, a Mission Psalm in the Old Testament.  Mission work was not something that was only developed in the New Testament era, as many people believe.  God has always, since the Fall into sin, desired the salvation of all people.  This Psalm is a prayer that the LORD would bless us.  This is not a selfish prayer, but that through His blessing in our lives, others would come to know the only true God.  We shouldn't hold the false view that God won’t condemn someone who has never heard in Him, because He will, He must! Similarly we shouldn't think "I don’t have to do mission work because I do_________".  Mission work is our goal our purpose, both corporately and individually!  God has called us to life and salvation.  He has also called us to disciple those around us through baptizing and teaching God's Word of truth.  This was not just the work of the New Testament Church, but the church of all time!  It is also our work today.  We are ambassadors for Christ. Proclaiming the salvation that can be found in Christ alone.

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Sermon from Psalm 78:1-8 by Pastor Nathanael Mayhew. 

Theme:  What is Christian Education?

In this Psalm, Asaph speaks about the importance of Christian Education.  Christian Education is founded upon the Word of God.  The truths of God's Word are foolishness to the world, and hidden to it.  This education which is based upon the Word of God begins in the home.  While the church is called to aid in Christian Education, it really begins in the home, with parents instructing their children and bringing them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.  Christian Education points people to the works of God, to the Savior that He has sent to deliver to sinners from sin.  Such an education is vital and has eternal results.  We can teach our children Reading, Writing and Arithmetic, and give them every opportunity in sports and extra curricular activities, but if we don't instruct them in the truth of God's Word and salvation, we have not given our children what is most important.  Our only hope is found in God and in Jesus as our Savior.

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In our How to Respond series, Pastor Nathanael Mayhew addresses the question of the canonicity of the 66 Books of the Old and New Testaments.  The word canon comes from a Hebrew word which means root or cane.  This cane was used as a measuring rod which came to mean "standard."  Thus canon is a term that is used to describe those books that were recognized as meeting the standard of being inspired by God.  We need to be clear that human beings have not decided the canon.  They have only recognized what God has revealed as inspired by Him from the very beginning.  Our Old Testament is made up of 39 books, which are the same books that Jesus and the disciples had in the Scriptures that they used.  They were found in a different order, and there was a different number because some of our books were combined into one, but all the same books they had then are included now.  The New Testament is made up of 27 books which were written over a period of about 50 years.  Already in the second century A.D. these New Testament books were being read along side Old Testament books in Christian worship services.  The early New Testament church again recognized those books that God inspired and preserved for the benefit of all people. 

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Sermon from Luke 13:1-9 by Pastor Nathanael Mayhew. 

Theme:  The LORD Earnestly Desires our Salvation.

The season of Lent is not about us.  It is about what God has given up for us in Christ!  In this event in the ministry of Jesus we are reminded that the Lord proclaims His Law to show us our sin.  Death in every form is God's call to Me to repent.  Yes, MY sin is deserving of death!  Through His Gospel God moves us to repent of our sin, which is more than just sorrow over sin, but trust in God's forgiveness in Christ.  Jesus also tells a parable which shows God's love and that He has done everything needed to save us.  God expects to find us bearing fruit for Him.  If we are not bearing fruit, we are cut down.  While we are sinners, Jesus intercedes for us as our Savior through His work on the cross.  Yes God desires our salvation and He has accomplished it through Jesus as He leads us to a knowledge of our sin and to the knowledge of our Savior.

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Sermon from Psalm 100 by Pastor Nathanael Mayhew. 

Theme:  The LORD gives His Church unending joy!

Lutheran worship services are often seen as dull and somber.  While the gravity of the message proclaimed is somber because of our sin, our worship is never without joy because of God's salvation in Christ.  Through the Bible, God has revealed Himself to us as our Creator and Preserver.  This knowledge leads us to Shout, Serve, and Come.  All of these verbs are a joyful response to our Creator.  The knowledge of who God is and what He has done is intended to motivate both believers and unbelievers to joyfully serve the LORD.  But the LORD has done more.  He is good and merciful.  In His mercy He has redeemed sinners to Himself through Christ.  Our debt of sin has been paid, and we have been reconciled to God.  Our natural response to such a wonderful blessing is to give the LORD thanks and praise for His love in Jesus.  Yes, Lutheran worship can be somber because it clearly announces mankind's sin.  But it is also full of joy through the knowledge of our Savior's work of salvation for us!

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In our How to Respond series, Pastor Nathanael Mayhew addresses whether the Biblical account of the Flood in the time of Noah really happened and whether it was a local or worldwide flood.  The Bible clearly describes the flood as a real, historical event during the life of Noah.  Jesus and the apostles refer to the flood as a real event which is compared to the last day when God will judge unbelievers and save believers.  It is also clear from the Genesis account that this is a worldwide flood, and not a local flood.  It covers ALL the high hills (Genesis 7:19-20), and kills EVERY living human and land animal that was not on the ark (Genesis 7:21-23).  Finally the rainbow is given as a sign of God's promise not to destroy all flesh.  If this was only a local flood, God has broken that promise time and time again through other local floods!  In addition there are flood legends all over the world, which is what we would expect since all nations came from the descendants of Noah after the flood was over!  The Bible’s testimony of a worldwide flood that destroyed the world and changed the face of the earth is clear and it is confirmed both by Science and History.  God’s judgment against sin and His love for the sinner is revealed in the pages of the Bible.  This is just one more reason we can look to the Word of God as our ultimate source of truth in all things.

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