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INCARNATIONS PURPOSE (3): SUCH GREAT SALVATION

(Luke 19:8-10)
December 4, 2016
Read Lu 19:1-10 Those last two verses leave no doubt what this passage is
about salvation the whole purpose for the incarnation. The passage divides
into 3 parts the Sinner (1-4) (where we learned were all eligible); the
Savior (5-7) (we learned Jesus of Nazareth is the key to the whole thing). And
today we look at Salvation (8-10) what is it? What is it all about?
A young husband expertly carved his wifes Thanksgiving turkey into
beautiful rows of thinly sliced white and dark meat. Then he turned to his
father-in-law, a well-known surgeon, and said, Hows that for a stunning bit
of surgery? The older man laughed and replied, Not bad. Now lets see
you put it back together. That illustrates precisely what salvation is all about.
It is about putting back together again the mess of life that mankind has made
corporately and personally. It is about reversing the drastic effects of the fall
of Adam in the Garden of Eden that have imbedded themselves into every life.
The effects of the fall led Zach to make money his god over relationships,
country and religion. His god had left him empty, guilty and helpless to save
himself. But thats just who Jesus came to seek and to save. Zach eagerly
grasped this rope thrown to him by Jesus. Not all do. But Heb 2:3 issues a
solemn warning: how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation?
So why is salvation so great?
I.

Salvation is Promptly Transacted

Do you realize how few people know that they are saved? They think so; they
suppose so; they hope so; but they dont know so. Why? Because if you are
working for it, you can never be sure. Is it enough? And if its enough today,
what about tomorrow? Sicilian King Dionysius was envied by Damocles for
his power and riches. So, Dionysius said, Lets trade places. But he had a
great sword hung over Damocles head, held by a single hair of a horse tail -representing the uncertainty of great power. Damocles soon opted out of his
arrangement. But we have no such option! The uncertainty of whether one is
accepted by God or not hangs like the sword of Damocles over everyone
outside of Christ for everyone trying to climb the mountain on their own.

But thats not the salvation Jesus offers. The moment we repent our sin there is
an immediate and permanent change! Look at v. 5: I must stay at your house
today. Look at v 9: Today salvation has come to this house. When Jesus
came, so did salvation, and it came to stay.
Now it is true that salvation is comprised of 3 parts, described by 3 wonderful
theological terms. Justification God as judge declaring believers righteous
one time act. Permanent acquittal. Not a result of any good in us, but Gods
response to our faith in Jesus death in our place. Rom 5:1, Therefore, since
we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord
Jesus Christ. Then there is sanctification the process by which God
gradually makes us in practice what we are in position. And finally
glorification which happens when death comes or when Christ comes which
makes us finally perfect. Salvation is comprised of all of these.
But the process locks in place the instant we repent our sin and open our heart
to Him. Col 3:1, If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that
are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. How long did it
take for Jesus to be raised? One moment He was in the tomb, the next he was
raised to live forever. It was instantaneous, just like Lazarus. And just like the
initiation of spiritual re-birth in the believer. Salvation is immediate.
Abe believed God and it was counted to him as righteousness (Rom 4:3). It
happened right then. No waiting to see if hed be good enough. He wouldnt
but Jesus would, and that was all that mattered. Paul was saved on the road to
Damascus -- instantly. The Philippian jailer was saved the moment he placed
his faith in Jesus Christ. Good thing for the thief on the cross that you dont
have to do something. He was saved instantaneously and Jesus said, Today
(love that word) today you will be with me in paradise (Lu 23:43). II Cor
6:2 says, behold, now is the day of salvation not a whole bunch of days or
a month of Sundays or the end of your life today! Like the Fanny Crosby
hymn: O perfect redemption, the purchase of blood, / to every believer the
promise of God; / The vilest offender who truly believes, / That moment
from Jesus a pardon receives. Maybe you cant pinpoint the exact second,
but if you have salvation, it came instantly, and youll know you have it.
II.

Salvation is Pricelessly Treasured

Why priceless? Because Zachs had something unmerited. He was held in


contempt by others. And he could do nothing to rectify the situation. But even
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if he had gained acceptance with the people, he could never have earned God.
Jesus doesnt seek him out because he deserves it. Zach has done nothing that
might have caused Jesus to say, Hey, Zach. Congrats. Youve turned your
life around. Youre so much better than you used to be, so the Father has
sent me to tell you, Youre in! Not the way it works, dear friends.
This is Gods unmerited favor being freely offered and enthusiastically
accepted by Zach tho both he and Jesus know hes done nothing to earn it. It is
a priceless gift. All Zach does is receive it. Hes exhibit one of Titus 3:5, He
[God] saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but
according to his own mercy. When Jesus stopped, and looked up into Zachs
eyes, it was mercy with a capital M. Thats the way all salvation is.
We can never put God in our debt. George Whitefield, the human instrument
of the first great awakening in the 1740s said: Before you can speak peace
to your hearts, you must not only be troubled for your sins, but you must
also be troubled about your best performances. When someone is awakened
to his obligation before God, he immediately flies to his performances, to
hide himself from God -- to patch up a righteousness of his own. Says he, I
will be mighty good now. I will reform. I will do all I can, and then certainly
Jesus Christ will have mercy on me. But you must see that God may damn
you for the best prayer you ever put up; you must be brought to see that all
your righteousness-- put them all together, are so far from recommending
you to God that he will see them as filthy rags that God hates them, and
rejects them if you bring them to him to recommend you to his favor.
Does God want us to do good things? Yes. But they become odious if we
bring them and say, Now you must accept me. Ive earned the right! No,
we have not! Thatd be like your child saying, Dad, can I have $1 to buy
you a present? You say, Sure. Shortly he returns: Look, Dad, I got you a
present, and youre pleased. But now he says, So, I now expect room and
board here as long as I want. Ill keep my room however I want it. You now
owe me for whatever I need or want. How would that fly? Not so good, I
bet. Youd say, Listen, your gift warmed my heart. But you cant buy my
love. You cant put me under obligation. I love you because youre my son.
My love is freely given. Its priceless. Try to put a price on it and its going to
come between us. Youll ruin the whole thing. So with salvation. It can
never be earned, only accepted and treasured as a priceless gift. Thats how
Zach accepted it and the only way any of us can have it.
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III.

Salvation is Personally Tendered

A SS teacher asked her 2nd graders, Why do you believe in God? One boy
answered, I dont know, unless its something that runs in the family.
Well, salvation may run in your family, Beloved, but that does not save you. It
may push you that direction, but the decision in the end is personal, not
because you have certain connections. Each must enter on his or her own. The
narrow gate is only wide enough for one at a time. Its a personal decision.
Jesus came to Zach personally, and Zach had to decide for himself. No one
can decide for him. Hes not accepted because he is in the right group. That
is the point of v. 9: Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a
son of Abraham. Whats that last phrase about? Why add it? If it means
anything, doesnt it suggest hes saved because he is an Israelite a son of
Abraham? Read it again! Today salvation has come. Today. So when did
Zach become a son of Abraham physically? When he was born, right? He was
a Jew from Day one. His physical ethnicity cant be the issue. So what is? Its
his spiritual ethnicity. Yes, he had been a son of Abraham all his life
outwardly, which did nothing for him. But today today he has become a son
of Abraham inwardly. Thats when salvation came to his house.
Zach was an Israelite before Jesus found him -- but not in the ultimate sense!
Turn to Rom 2:28-29: For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor
is circumcision outward and physical. 29 But a Jew is one inwardly, and
circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit. On this day in that
moment Zach became a son of Abe inwardly, in his heart, by the Spirit. He
was saved the instant God regenerated him and by faith he accepted Jesus
invitation to move in! Instantly he was a completed Jew inwardly as well
as outwardly. That required a personal response to Jesus invitation.
We must never think that we have salvation because Mom and Dad had it, or
we went to church or we were born in the US. Connection has nothing to do
with it. Saving faith is personal. John Stott says in Basic Christianity he used
to think when Jesus died on the cross everyone in the world was put right. He
goes on: I remember how puzzled, even how offended, I was when it was
first suggested to me that I needed to take hold of Christ in his salvation for
myself. I came to realize that while Jesus Christ is the Savior, I must accept
Him as my Savior. This way of putting things is certainly prominent in the
Bible: The Lord is my shepherd, The Lord is my light and my salvation,
You God are my God. He says the verse that helped him most was Rev 3:20:
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Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens
the door, I will come in to him. Its your decision, Young people. No one
elses. Certain things we must do alone. We are born alone. We die alone, and
we make our decision for or against Christ alone -- all on our own.
IV.

Salvation is Powerfully Transforming

And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, Behold, Lord, the half of my
goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore
it fourfold. Get the scene. Jesus and Zach have proceeded to Zachs home as
the crowd murmurs their objection that He has made Himself the guest of a
sinner little realizing thats exactly why He came to seek and to save the
lost. We dont know what was said on the way, but once theyve arrived, in
front of the whole crowd, Zach stood (lit took a stand) and publically
confessed Jesus as Lord. This is Romans 10:9-10 in living color: 9 because,
if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart
that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one
believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. Zach
didnt know about resurrection yet, but He accepts by faith that Jesus is Savior
and Lord, and he stakes his life on that fact. This is salvation effected.
But thats not the end. Thats just the beginning. Because saving faith
transforms. It happens in a moment of time; it brings a lifetime of change. I
love what Zach says: Look, Lord. Theres emotion in that comment. Grace
has gone through Zach like a lightning bolt. Hes been given what he could
not earn. And he responds: Because you love me and have saved me, I want
to change. Its not like, Because I change, now you accept me. We dont
change to get Gods love and acceptance. We change because we got Gods
acceptance. Its not change then salvation. Its salvation then change. Change
is the result, not the cause of saving faith. Please see that.
Religion says: I do something, therefore Im accepted. Saving faith says:
Im accepted; therefore I do. When Zacch says, Im going to give away
half of everything, and Im going to pay back all whom Ive cheated, Jesus
does not say, Now salvation will come to you. He says, This is a sign that
salvation already came! Salvation first, then the change. This resolve is the
fruit of faith and repentance. Jesus has become the center of his existence. We
fool ourselves when we think we can take Jesus on the side!

In those days an overnight stay meant full participation in the life of your
host. There were no electric lights, no TV, no separate rooms. You lit the
torches, ate all evening and then went to bed in the same room. This is Jesus
demonstrating that salvation is not just meeting Him on Sunday; it is Him
applying grace to every nook and corner of your life. Thats whats happening
to Zach. The gospel is reshaping his existence around Jesus instead of self.
II Cor 5:17 says, Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The
old has passed away; behold, the new has come. Thats whats happening to
Zach. Change touches every area of his life, including money! He says, Im
going to give away half my income. Not the 10% required by the law, but
50%. From seeing how much he can take from people, hes investigating how
much he can give. Grace in action. He says, If I have defrauded first class
if condition Since I have defrauded, Ill restore it fourfold. For
voluntary restitution, Lev 6:5 required a 20% penalty. Grace has persuaded
him to give back 400%. Hes a changed man. Why? Grace. Jesus has come in
and hes no longer seeing how much he can get by with but how much he can
give back. Zach came down from the tree because Jesus is going to climb up
the tree. Zach goes from being despised and rejected to accepted because
Jesus becomes despised and rejected. Zach left home the smallest man in
town; he returns as the biggest because Jesus becomes the least in his place.
The realization of that grace drove the great change in Zachs life.
Conc So, has salvation come to your house? Then whats changed? Kent
Hughes tells of a man named Big Jim who used to captain the ferries across
Balboa Bay in Newport Beach where Patty and I used to go occasionally for
great seafood. So did Kent and his wife and they met Big Jim, got into
conversations with him about Christ, the gospel, the need for forgiveness. And
so one day in his own living room, Big Jim came to the place where he said,
Im no good. But I want Christ if he will have me. And have him he did
because he is still seeking and saving the lost, just like Zach.
Kent says, Big Jim was still a little rough around the edges. Hed come and
tell Kent, Pastor, that was a hell of a sermon. But he was a true disciple,
and life changed. Kent says, My favorite memory of Jim is of him sitting
crosslegged on the dirt in cutoffs, shirtless and tanned (ever the beach boy),
working on the church sprinkling system, refusing all advice to go home
and rest, saying, "After all Christ is done for me, this is the least I can do."

See, grace changes you. You cant help it. Has it changed you? Has salvation
come to your house? Someone once asked, If you were put on trial for being
a Xn, would there be enough evidence to convict you? There would be if
Jesus has truly come home with you. I pray He has because how shall we
escape if we neglect such a great salvation. Dont neglect; accept! Lets pray