The stadium was silent. It was the first time in the entire game. The final shot. What was it going to be? Feet’s were tapping, you could nearly cut the tension in the air with a knife. This was third game of the tournament, an unimportant game, yet it had the same effect a final game would have. It was unbelievable, yet here they were. They even had the power to make the commentator be quiet, nobody had expected it; a no goal between two teams with what was assumed to be a considerable difference in skill, power, strategy and wealth, yet here they were.
Frustrated from so much failure at soccer, the students drove back home with no tears in their eyes. Yet they knew they were all thinking the same thing; “Why are we still doing this?” But it was a forbidden question, coach Henderson made it so. But why did they still keep to a promise that kept them playing the game they loved, but were never good enough at? Terry had asked that several times at the beginning of each training session, but only to himself. He thought himself a coward, too scared to even quit. He could not bring himself to tell coach that, or anyone else. He believed it was the same with everyone else. They had failed again for the fourth year, an incredible streak of failure – and he was their captain.
The bus glided into the school compound, none of the students bothered paying attention to them. It was not surprising to Terry though, he knew everyone could guess that they lost, again. Yet, as the bus entered the parking lot, there stood the man with a whistle on his lips. He has to be mad-, Terry thought to himself, –Or we all are. The bus door opened, and they all went out one by one and formed a single line in front of the coach.
“You have failed again to return with the cup!” His voice was a bellow. A few heads turned towards their direction, the result was a few giggling and pointing of fingers in their direction. We are really all mad. We were kicked out at the first round of the preliminaries! “This is your punishment…” He continued, everyone was looking at him now. This is new, Terry thought. Coach had never used the word with them before. Last year and other previous failures only earned a ‘work harder’ or ‘you can do better with a little more practice’ but this time, it was a punishment. Maybe coach was finally beginning to get frustrated also, who would not. “…the shame, the humiliation, the practice and your next game.” Classic! Terry thought and began to laugh out. His teammates turned to look at him, some with confusion and some with dread. Yes, cowards – that’s what we are. “Are you finally going mad Terry?” Coach finally asked. Terry smiled, “I really do wonder sir.”
They had begun another year of training, but still nothing really special. Not until David came. Coach Henderson’s nephew transferred into the school in mid-term. He became part of the team and could play virtually every position, but no one had seen him catch a ball until today, the final game into the real contest. And now, they had successfully tried their best to keep all goals out, even though they scored non themselves. The team they were against was part of the top three teams to always reach the semifinals. Just before the ninety minutes was over, coach did a final change that seemed really stupid to everyone. He made David keeper into the penalty shoot out.
The goal score was 3-2 with their team leading the score board. The other team was left with one more shot, this was the reason for the tension. They had no fans in the stadium, but Terry had begun to notice the silent and unspoken hope everyone was beginning to have for them. It was a new feeling. He could hear his own heart beating, they felt like drumming in his ears. He turned to look at coach Henderson sitting with a plain face and folded arms. What is he made of? The referees whistle finally called for the shot, and the ball soared.
It seemed like a spell, the entire stadium had moved with the ball, rising on their feet as it soared to the top right corner of the goal post. It was a clean shot, intended to a sure score. A few inches left, the ball deviated from its original path, pushed by an equally capable keeper. It was a great save. The whistle came, and so did the roar. Terry fell to the ground, he could not move. The commentator had found his voice, and extra stronger too – he was really shouting, “The Ultimate Save” was what he called it.
Salvation; when you received it did you rejoice? What did it feel like to you? Or do you still wonder what exactly God saves us from? It is far more than a frustration from failing to achieve a dream. Too often we are simply told, “Jesus died for you because he loves you, and all you have to do is believe on his name and you are saved (born again)” and if you are like me who is used to wanting things to go the way I want, and not having to really rely on anyone else, then you would probably have wondered – “Isn’t that too convenient to be true?” But, you should really see this!
“For by grace have you been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God”
It makes mention of three things too beautiful to ignore; Grace, Salvation and Faith. It tells us that we have to do nothing to be saved. Pilate once said to Jesus, “I have power to save you”, I’m sure it would have sounded like a joke to him. He simply replied that He had power to lay down his life and to pick it up again, implying that he was not in need of saving. The person in need of salvation is the one who cannot save himself. Jesus explained in Luke 7:47 that the one who loves much is often the one who was forgiven much. But let’s look at the implication of this “doing nothing righteousness”.
The first among the beautiful things mentioned earlier is Grace; it refers to undeserved favor, merciful kindness. It is this grace that is a gift of God considering our positions if we were to measure our standards and compare them to His. Grace is the gift that leads us to salvation, when we have faith in Christ. To have faith in Christ means to put your hope for salvation on him, and depend on him for purpose of being saved. Now let’s talk about how what we are saved from, so we can understand why it’s such a big deal.
We all know God is a loving Father, we have heard about it so many times (even though not everyone believes it, yet) but he is also a just judge. For God to leave any sin unpunished would make him unjust. From the garden in Genesis 3, we learn something very important of God as a judge and as a father too; the first man and woman had sinned, and God had judged them immediately for their disobedience. But we also see God covering their nakedness and shame too. He goes further to send them out of the garden, but this was not just a part of his judgement; it was also his way of preserving man for an ultimate salvation. Man was taken out of the garden not just as punishment but to prevent him from an eternal damnation should he eat of the tree of life in his condemned state (Gen. 3:22). [Remember that it is this same tree that the saints will have undeniable access to in Revelation 2:7 (when they overcome), Rev. 22:2 and Rev. 22:14.] So you see that they were sent out of the garden but not from the presence of God – so there remained a relationship between God and man even after the fall.
The problem with sin is first seen in mans shame and guilt – he hides himself from God, having become aware of good and evil (by falling instead of resisting) he realizes he was no longer fit to speak with God. Yet, God stretched out a hand of reconciliation and forgiveness to man – and offer to remain in his presence. The proof of this is that the first siblings are raised to know God for themselves – the older killed the younger and was judged again. And he repeated the same action – “…thou hast driven me out this day from the face of the earth; and from thy face shall I be hid…” and departing from the presence of God produced a new race that only grew in sin. Again, a new child was born (Seth) and it was recorded that men began to call upon the name of God again from his generation. So you see that the problem of sin was first the repercussions and curses which manifested as God’s judgement, and then the guilt and shame which drove them out of God’s presence.
We also learn from the lives of men who followed God closely that sin had never stopped God’s outstretched hands from trying to save man, but his love did not also stop the judgements and curses each time they had sinned; there was always judgement even though his mercy followed. David had made so many mistakes, and yet it was testified of him that he was a man after God’s heart. The reason is simple, God never abandoned anyone to their sin, not when they hoped on him for salvation. We know of David’s prayer after he had sinned with Bathsheba, “Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy Holy Spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.” (Psa. 51:11-12). He was hoping on God for salvation from all the curses of sin, and for a life free from failing God.
The answer to this salvation was grace; a further outstretching of the hand. So now we might fall into sin, but we are already forgiven. What about God being a just God, right? The judgement is complete, there is no more curse. God made a substitution with Christ, taking upon himself every curse of sin, including death – “Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree.” This was the reason for Davids joy in God’s salvation. So now not only is it possible for you to remain in an eternal relationship with God, but should you fall, you have an assurance of God’s mercy instead of judgement and curses.
1 John 1:9, KJV
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
1 John 2:1, KJV
“My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but for the sins of the whole world.”
Grace is not a license for sin but God’s empowerment over sin. Whoever will trample on God’s grace has not truly seen God or his salvation, and remains in danger of God’s wrath. To intentionally trample (sin intentionally) on God’s grace is to disregard his sacrifice and redemption for you.
The way to be saved (to be saved is to be free from your sins and its oppressive burdens) is to acknowledge your sins and your need for Christ’s salvation. If Moses who was refused entrance into the promised land as judgement for his disobedience had a very personal relationship with God that they spoke face to face until God’s glory began to reflect on him also, then so can you. Prophet Isaiah recognized his own filthiness when he saw God’s own holiness and so did David. These people were ever conscious of their sins and inadequacies, and so drew closer to God, in hope for salvation and indeed became saved. A very clear example is Enoch who walked with God until he became translated. Hence, to be free from sin (experiencing salvation), you must continue in God’s presence, “striving according to his working, which worketh in you mightily.”
God’s intention is to save you is a perfect save, it is “THE ULTIMATE SAVE” cling to it. “Let that therefore abide in you, which ye have heard from the beginning. If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father.” 1 Jn. 2:24, KJV.