If I may wax nostalgic for a moment… when I was a younger preacher back before the internet (do you remember?) , one way I had to stay in touch with others was through their church bulletins. I have always loved church bulletins. At one time I would receive 40 or 50 per week from all over the country. So many good ideas and articles were harvested from those. Church bulletins are rarer these days – everything is digital. But when they were essential communication items, no one wrote more articles that were republished throughout churches of Christ than John Gipson. I’ve never had the opportunity to meet him, but I have read his articles over the decades. Today I’m sharing one from my files.
We rejoice when a young boy is pulled from an icy river and by heroic measures his life is saved. We applaud firemen who ignore their own lives and make trip after trip into a burning nursing home to rescue the elderly. We thrill to such stories of salvation, and give thanks both for the rescuers and the rescued.
But as wonderful as it is, how is this to be compared with the salvation which Christ offers? The Bible refers to it as “the great salvation” (Hebrews 2:3). Why “great”?
It is eternal. As wonderful as a temporal salvation might be, it is nothing compared to that which has lasting effects. Yet this is exactly what Christ offers. “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).
It is universal. It is not reserved for one nationality or class of people. “The scripture says, ‘No one who believes in him will be put to shame.’ For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and bestows his riches upon all who call upon him. For, ‘every one who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved'” (Romans 10:11-13). And again, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:16).
It is the only one. In no uncertain terms Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me” (John 14:6). Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, spoke of Jesus and said, “This is the stone which was rejected by you builders, but which has become the head of the corner. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:11, 12).
It was confirmed by miraculous power. The apostle John writes, “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name” (John 20:30, 31). And Peter says that Jesus of Nazareth was “a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs which God did through him…” (Acts 2:22).
It is free. “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8).
This great salvation is available for all of us, but it will not save unless man is disposed to listen (Hebrews 2:3). “Today, when you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts” (Hebrews 4:7).
From the Keynoter, bulletin of the Sixth and Izard Church of Christ, Little Rock, Arkansas. Volume 16, number 6, February 9, 1984.