THERE’S ONLY ONE PLAN OF SALVATION by Pastor Shah, Clearview, Henderson
Nehemiah 9:3-8 3 And they stood up in their place and read from the Book of the Law of the Lord their God for one–fourth of the day; and for another fourth they confessed and worshiped the Lord their God….this is what they said 5 “Stand up and bless the Lord your God Forever and ever! “Blessed be Your glorious name, Which is exalted above all blessing and praise! 6 You alone are the Lord; You have made heaven, The heaven of heavens, with all their host, The earth and everything on it, The seas and all that is in them, And You preserve them all. The host of heaven worships You. 7 “You are the Lord God, Who chose Abram, And brought him out of Ur of the Chaldeans, And gave him the name Abraham; 8 You found his heart faithful before You, And made a covenant with him To give the land of the Canaanites, The Hittites, the Amorites, The Perizzites, the Jebusites, And the Girgashites— To give it to his descendants. You have performed Your words, For You are righteous.
Overall Background: Nehemiah 9 is the record of the confession that the Jewish people made after they were saved. God had called them to influence the world but they had allowed the world to influence them. Now that they had come back to God, they were repenting of all the wrong beliefs they had learned from their Gentile neighbors and affirming all the right beliefs from God’s Word—
– The first right belief: You alone are the Lord = “There is Only One True God.”
– The second right belief: You made everything = “There is Only One Creator.”
– Now we come to the third right belief in verse 7, “You are the Lord God, Who chose Abram, And brought him out of Ur of the Chaldeans, And gave him the name Abraham; 8 You found his heart faithful before You, And made a covenant with him To give the land.” Meaning: Of all the ancient Peoples, God chose a man named Abram, called him to leave his home and go to a new land, changed his name to Abraham, and made a covenant with him and his descendants. Why? Because his heart was faithful before God. In others words, Abram faithfully held on to God’s one and only plan of salvation. So God not only blessed him but also made him a channel to bring His plan of salvation into this world.
Application: This message is critical for all of us. In our world today people think that there are many ways to heaven/God—as long as you are a good person and help others, according to your religion be the best you can be, then God will let you into heaven. Even some well-meaning Christians think that there is no “one” plan of salvation but several based on where you grew up. Nothing could be further from the truth. The question for us this morning: Do you believe that Jesus is the Only Way, the Truth, and the Life? Do you believe that the only plan of salvation is the cross of Jesus, where His blood dripped for our sins? If you believe that, are you telling everyone about Him?
There is Only One Plan of Salvation – 3 questions come to mind:
I. WHY DID THEY MAKE THIS CONFESSION?
once again to the confession in verse 7 “You are the Lord God, Who chose Abram, And brought him out of Ur of the Chaldeans, And gave him the name Abraham;
Background: In that statement, they were looking back to the birth of their nation. God chose a Chaldean named Abram to leave his homeland of Ur and go toa new land of Promise. Genesis 12:3, “I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” God even changed his name Abram, which meant “Father-Exalted” or “Father-Departed” to Abraham, which meant “Father of Many.”
All throughout their history, the Jewish people knew that they were God’s special chosen people. They knew that they were different. They knew that they were the “apple of His eye.” Every time things got difficult, God came through for them and protected them.
– When there was a famine in the land, God sent Joseph before them.
– When they were in slavery, God sent Moses to rescue them.
– When they were facing the Midianites and the Philistines, God sent men like Gideon and Sampson, and women like Deborah to deliver them.
– When they were facing a giant like Goliath, God sent David with a slingshot and a few pebbles.
– And the list goes on and on.
Bottom line: God was always there for them. They were His people. But recently, things had not been so great for them. The Northern tribes had been taken into exile by Assyria and lost forever. The Southern tribe of Judah had been taken into exile by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon—who destroyed Jerusalem, the temple, and everything. Unlike earlier times, God did not seem to have come through for them. Needless to say, this was a very low point in the history of the Jewish people. They felt abandoned by God; they even questioned if God had ever called Abraham.
For e.g. It was kind of like after the Holocaust (the Shoah) when six million Jewish people were systematically executed. Many Jewish people who survived questioned the existence of God and His call upon the Jewish people. Elie Wiesel in his book titled Night talks about the hanging of three Jewish people, one of them was a young boy. He writes, “One day when we came back from work, we saw three gallows rearing up in the assembly place, three black crows. Roll call. SS all around us; machine guns trained: the traditional ceremony. Three victims in chains—and one of them, the little servant, the sad-eyed angel….All eyes were on the child. He was lividly pale, almost calm, biting his lips….The three necks were placed at the same moment within the nooses….“Where is God? Where is He?” someone behind me asked….The two adults were no longer alive. Their tongues hung swollen, blue-tinged but the third rope was still moving; being so light, the child was still alive…For more than half an hour he stayed there, struggling between life and death, dying in slow agony under our eyes. And we had to look him full in the face. He was still alive when I passed in front of him. His tongue was still red, his eyes were not yet glazed. Behind me, I heard the same man asking: “Where is God now?” And I heard a voice within me answer him: “Where is He? Here He is—He is hanging here on this gallows.”
Atheistic Jewish theologian Richard Rubenstein said: “More than the bodies of my people went up in smoke at Auschwitz. The God of the covenant died there.” – Auschwitz and Covenant Theology,” The Christian Century 86 (May 21, 1969)
Application: When people go through difficult times in life (like child abuse and loss of loved ones), they lose all faith in God. They tend to think that God has forsaken them; that there is no master plan; and that all is chance and circumstance. Even Christians go through such times. If I can tell you anything this morning it’s this – don’t forget in the dark what God has taught you in the light.
These Jewish people in Nehemiah’s time were now saved and they were coming back to the truth that God was still there and that they were still His chosen ones. The plan of salvation was still on schedule.
II. HOW ABOUT THE OTHER PLANS?
Background: When we talk about God calling Abraham and choosing the Jewish people, the question comes up – “How about the other peoples?” “Why did God reject them?” What about the other people in Ur of the Chaldeans and those peoples mentioned in verse 8—“the Canaanites, The Hittites, the Amorites, The Perizzites, the Jebusites, And the Girgashites”? The answer to that question is found in verse 8—“You found his heart faithful before You.” Abram was faithful to God’s one and only plan of salvation—the promise that He was going to send a Seed. God was going to send a Savior who would give His life for the sins of the whole world. The rest of the world had either forgotten that promise or decided to create their own version of the promise.
In other words, human beings decided to build their own way to heaven. To understand this, you’re going to have to discard the evolutionary “monkey to caveman” idea of ancient people. We have been programmed to think that human beings evolved slowly out of slime. Instead, we need to look at the first human beings as created in the image of God—not brutes but highly intelligent people, with a great capacity to learn and retain knowledge.
After the Flood (More than 270 flood legends; Every ancient culture knows about it.), God told Noah and his sons, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth.” (Genesis 9:8) Instead, they decided to build a city, a tower, and a name. The city was Babylon and the tower was the Tower of Babel. This was a human attempt to get to God. It was a sun temple. Again, every ancient culture talks about this tower. Even some remote African tribes talk about a tower built to reach the sun god. The Bible tells us that God dispersed them through confusion of speech. But wherever the people went, they took with them the idea of building ziggurats, pyramids, and mounds. You can find these structures all over the world from Egypt, China, Africa, and even America. When I was in Mexico, I saw one in the Yucatan, that hasn’t even been explored.
Abraham stood in the line of the faithful who chose to wait upon God’s promise of salvation.
Application: There is only one plan of salvation. You can’t get to God. God has to come down to you and save you. Those who are humble enough, like Abraham, receive the plan and are saved. Those who are proud reject the plan or do it themselves and are lost. It doesn’t matter how sincere or passionate or nice you are. Which category do you fall in this morning?
III. HOW DOES THIS APPLY TO ME?
Because we believe that there is Only One Plan of Salvation:
The last line of verse 8 says—To give it to his descendants. You have performed Your words, For You are righteous.
– The only true plan is the one that has come down through Abraham and his line through Isaac, Jacob, the Jewish people all the way to Jesus Christ. Jesus Himself said in John 4:22 “Salvation is of the Jews.” God is not biased against the Arab nations, or the Palestinians, or anyone else. God loves every nation, and every tribe, and every family. The gospel is to be preached unto all nations, and all peoples, races, and cultures. He has offered even the enemies of Israel his love.
– There is only way our loved ones, friends, neighbours, and co-workers will get to heaven. It does not matter how sincere or passionate or nice you are. No one can earn their way into heaven. You have to humble yourself and reach out and take hold of the hand of Jesus Christ reaching down to you.