Tickets to ____ . Facing Unimaginable Odds, Part 27


Different Train Tracks

Trains are destined to bring us from one place to another. No matter what, they will reach their destination. Tickets can be purchased at ticket booths, automatic ticket exchange machines and online. The ticket will indicate the destination and the date of expiration, but it is our responsibility to choose the right destination.

We may have our tickets, however, we still need to make sure we get to the train station on time and board the right train, otherwise we might find ourselves in Timbuktu!

Sadly, many spiritually either take the wrong destination or miss their train. Let me explain with one Biblical example:

"Unless you are circumcised, according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved." (Acts 15:1b, NIV2)

This was proclaimed by certain Jewish Christians in the first century, but how often haven't we heard this kind of reasoning during our own lifespan? If we don't do this or that or don't attend a specific denomination, "we cannot be saved." Such statements will make anyone doubt, unless we are relying on the Source of salvation, Jesus Himself! After all we are not saved by works, but by our Savior Himself!

Paul and Barnabas immediately opposed such reasoning. It's not what we do that saves us, except for accepting our Savior in our hearts, it's our Savior who paid the price. However these zealous proselytes of the law insisted that Paul and Barnabas were wrong. The only solution was to go to Jerusalem and bring this up to the apostles.

Once in Jerusalem, believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees stood up and insisted, "The Gentiles must be circumcised and required to keep the law of Moses." (Acts 15:5b, NIV2) It was the law! Anything else would be blasphemy! Is this an epidemy or what? Do we humans truly think we can save ourselves?

Discussion sprang forth. Peter shared his experiences with those they called in those days "Gentiles", which refers to anyone who is not an Israelites (See Acts 15:17-21).

One thing was for certain: "God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them (the gentiles) by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us." (Acts 15:8, NIV2)

Interestingly enough, Peter brought a point that too many forget, even in our day. The only sign that shows that we are fully accepted by God is the indwelling of God's Holy Spirit within us. Nothing else can even get close to this! In other words, if God's Spirit lives in us, we are saved! Period!

This is confirmed by numerous Bible texts: "The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs-heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory." (Rom 8:16-17, NIV2)

"And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession-to the praise of his glory." (Eph 1:13-14, NIV2)

The Pharisees' reasoning fell to pieces. There is no "We have to do this or that or attend a certain denomination" in order to be saved. God's Spirit has become our guide in all things, confirming everything through His Scriptures.

Now comes the clincher: "Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of Gentiles a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors have been able to bear? No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are." (Acts 15:10-11, NIV2)

In other words, nothing we do, except accepting our Savior into our lives, can save us. Nothing at all! God did it all! All credit goes to our Father, who sent His Holy Spirit within us, our faithful companion for life.

The conclusion came forth quickly after that: "We should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. Instead we should write to them, telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood." (Acts 15:19b-20, NIV2) This was to be broadcasted everywhere the disciples went. No more "this" or "that" to obtain salvation. After all, the only One who could claim "It is finished!" (John 19:30b, NIV2) is the One who brought us salvation by sacrificing Himself on a lonely hill.

Now each one of us have to verify if we are on the right train or not. After all we don't want to end up in Timbuktu!

Rob Chaffart

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