How and Why Does God Save Us? - Radical

How and Why Does God Save Us?

As Christians, we can get so accustomed to talking about God’s salvation that we don’t stop to consider some foundational questions, questions such as How does God save us in light of our sin? And why does God save us? In this message, David Platt helps us see how the book of Exodus answers these all-important questions. As God’s salvation of Israel demonstrates, He saves us by His grace––for His glory and for our good.

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How and Why Does God Save Us?

The Story of Scripture series 

Well, if you have a Bible—and I hope you do—let me invite you to open with me to Exodus 7. It’s really good to be together around God’s Word.

Let’s pray.

God, I feel like we’re so prone to miss so much, even gathering today and singing songs and opening Your Word. We just kind of do this casually, not really thinking about the wonder, the weight, the gravity, of what’s happening right now as we are gathered together before You, the Holy God of the universe. We’ve read in the Bible this week, in Exodus 19, about how You revealed Yourself in a consuming fire on a mountain that caused everybody to tremble. We’re prone not to tremble before You.

We pray, even as we open up Your Word now that You would teach us to pray. Teach us Who You are; teach us the wonder of prayer. Even as we look at what’s going on around the world, God, we pray to You. You’re the God over New Zealand. We pray for Your grace and mercy in that country, among the people there, for Your church to be a picture of salt and light and Your love amidst tragedy they’ve experienced. We pray that Muslims in New Zealand would know You love them and would see Your love in those who claim the name of Christ.

We pray to You for our brothers and sisters in Venezuela, amidst all we see going on there. God, please, please, strengthen, sustain and provide for our brothers and sisters in Venezuela. Use Your church there to be salt and light in the middle of a lot of darkness. We pray for peace in Venezuela. We pray for Your provision for those who are suffering there. As we look around our country and our lives—Lord, we need Your mercy in so many ways. We want to be salt and light here. We want to be a demonstration of Your love here to all kinds of people we work with, all kinds of people in our community. We pray for Muslims in the United States to know that You love them and for them to see Your love on display in those who claim the name of Jesus.

God, we praise You for the privilege of prayer. We praise You for the privilege of opening up Your Word and pray that You would help us feel and experience the full weight and wonder of this privilege. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Well, we have a lot of ground to cover today in the Word. We were reading through Exodus this week and I want to preach on every single text we were reading. But here’s the problem: I’ve got one sermon to preach on 50 incredible texts—ten plagues, Passover, the parting of the Red Sea, manna from heaven, water from a rock, worship at Mt. Sinai before God as a consuming fire, the Ten Commandments. How in the world do you cover all that? I’m going to try, I hope in a way that gives you a big picture view of the book of Exodus—and enables you to have lunch today.

If you’re visiting, we’re reading through the Bible together as a church, a couple chapters a day, between now and the end of November. We invite you to join in with us. You can go on line to mcleanbible.org where you’ll find the Bible Reading Plan with all sorts of resources that are designed to help you, including a daily podcast.

As we’re reading through the Bible, I’m guessing there are all kinds of questions that come to your mind. “What does this mean? What is that about?” Obviously we don’t have time to dive into everything each Sunday, so I want to encourage you, if possible, to get a good study Bible. Or if that sort of resource is not available to you, talk to another believer who might be able to help you. A good study Bible is basically a Bible with notes that help you understand what you’re reading. It will give some background and other important information that will help bring some truths to light.

I mention a good study Bible because you don’t want to get one that in any way skews what you’re reading. So you want to make sure you get a good one. My personal recommendation would be the ESV Study Bible—the English Standard Version Study Bible which is the version I’m preaching from. They have a great study Bible with really helpful notes in it. Also the CSB Study Bible is really good—the study Bible that goes with the Christian Standard Bible translation. There are other good ones out there. I would encourage you, because I think that would be helpful for you as we read through the Bible.

Today, I want us to think about the book of Exodus under the banner of this question: How and why does God save us? Now, even asking that question obviously assumes that we need to be saved by God from something. By this point in the Bible, we’ve clearly seen that we have all sinned against God—every one of us here—and this is a serious problem. It is the most serious problem in our lives. Sin is the most serious problem in your life, because it separates you from God. If you are not saved from your sin, you will live now, but eventually die, separated from God—which is not the way you want to live or die or spend eternity. You need to be saved from sin.

So how does God save us? And maybe a question we don’t often stop to think about: Why does God save us? Let’s meditate on these questions as we learn what God is teaching us in the book of Exodus.

God saves us by His grace.

First, how does God save us? The answer the Bible gives us in the book of Exodus is that God saves us by His grace. Grace is God’s unmerited mercy. God saves us by showing mercy to us when we do not deserve it. The Bible teaches that we deserve destruction and death for our sin. It’s not the most politically correct statement, but it’s a biblical statement. The book of Exodus is a picture of this, particularly in Pharaoh and the Egyptians. So look with me in Exodus 7, where our Bible reading left off last week. God, through Moses, told Pharaoh to let His people go out of Egypt, where they were slaves, to worship Him. But Pharaoh refused. Let’s pick up in Exodus 7:14:

14 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Pharaoh’s heart is hardened; he refuses to let the people go. 15 Go to Pharaoh in the morning, as he is going out to the water. Stand on the bank of the Nile to meet him, and take in your hand the staff that turned into a serpent. 16 And you shall say to him, ‘The LORD, the God of the Hebrews, sent me to you, saying, “Let my people go, that they may serve me in the wilderness.” But so far, you have not obeyed. 17 Thus says the LORD, “By this you shall know that I am the LORD: behold, with the staff that is in my hand I will strike the water that is in the Nile, and it shall turn into blood. 18 The fish in the Nile shall die, and the Nile will stink, and the Egyptians will grow weary of drinking water from the Nile.”’”

Thus begins the first plague of ten such plagues in Egypt, the plague of blood. It was followed by a plague of frogs, then a plague of gnats. Fourth was a plague of flies, then livestock dying, boils, followed by hail, locusts and then a plague of darkness. All of these plagues were clear pictures of punishment for sin. Every one of them came about in response to Pharaoh’s rebellion against God. The plagues are a picture of right and just punishment due sin before a holy God. These all set the stage for a tenth and final judgment—a plague on the firstborn. Turn now to Exodus 11:4, where—after all the other nine plagues—we read this:

4 So Moses said, “Thus says the LORD: ‘About midnight I will go out in the midst of Egypt, 5 and every firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sits on his throne, even to the firstborn of the slave girl who is behind the handmill, and all the firstborn of the cattle. 6 There shall be a great cry throughout all the land of Egypt, such as there has never been, nor ever will be again.’”

Yet even after that was threatened, Pharaoh still refused to obey God. That set the stage for what became known as the Passover in Exodus 12, when God promised that He would send a destroyer. That’s the word that’s used in Exodus 12:23—a destroyer, who would strike down every firstborn child and animal in Egypt. Keep in mind that God’s people, the Israelites, were also in Egypt. That meant the destroyer would come over their homes too—a picture of the payment due, not just to Pharaoh, but to all people in their sin. Neither Pharaoh, nor the Egyptians, nor the Israelites were innocent of sin before a holy God. The promise of Exodus was that destruction was coming over all.

Yet in the story, God in His grace, in His unmerited mercy, provided deliverance and life through sacrifice. God provided a way for the firstborn in homes to be saved—and ultimately for slaves to be freed—through sacrifice. Specifically, God saved His people by the blood of a lamb. So let’s read how this worked in Exodus 12:

The LORD said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, 2 “This month shall be for you the beginning of months. It shall be the first month of the year for you. 3 Tell all the congregation of Israel that on the tenth day of this month every man shall take a lamb according to their fathers’ houses, a lamb for a household. 4 And if the household is too small for a lamb, then he and his nearest neighbor shall take according to the number of persons; according to what each can eat you shall make your count for the lamb. 5 Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male a year old. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats, 6 and you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month, when the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill their lambs at twilight. 7 “Then they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it. 8 They shall eat the flesh that night, roasted on the fire; with unleavened bread and bitter herbs they shall eat it. 9 Do not eat any of it raw or boiled in water, but roasted, its head with its legs and its inner parts. 10 And you shall let none of it remain until the morning; anything that remains until the morning you shall burn. 11 In this manner you shall eat it: with your belt fastened, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. And you shall eat it in haste. It is the LORD’s Passover. 12 For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the LORD. 13 The blood shall be a sign for you, on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you, when I strike the land of Egypt.

Make sure you have the picture: “Take a perfect, pure, spotless lamb,” God said. “Bring it in your house for four days.” As some of you know if you have an animal in the house—dog, cat, whatever it may be—there’s a bond created. So imagine bringing a cute little lamb into your house for your kids to play with, to feed and care for, then right when your kids are getting used to this nice little lamb, you slaughter it. You take its blood, with your children watching, and you wipe it across the doorpost of your home. That’s an image that sticks with a kid and with a family.

Imagine your little boy or girl asking, “Why? Daddy, Mommy, why did you do that?” Your response would be, “Destruction and death are coming, but this lamb is a substitute sacrifice. Look at your older brother and realize that this lamb died instead of him.” That night you can only imagine the cries coming from homes all across Egypt. The only people who were exempt from judgment on that night were those who trusted in the blood of a lamb.

Don’t miss this. Judgment didn’t pass over the Israelites because they were better people. Judgment didn’t pass over them because they were sinless. Judgment only passed over the Israelites because they trusted in the blood of a lamb, a substitute sacrifice provided by God in His grace.

Hold your place in Exodus 12 (we’ll come back here in a minute) and fast forward with me to Exodus 24, which we’re going to read this coming week. After the Passover and the plague on the firstborn, God’s people indeed left Egypt and came to Mt. Sinai to worship God and enter into a covenant relationship with Him. Exodus 24 is the first fully described public worship service in the Bible. It’s like a marriage celebration of God committing Himself to His people and them committing themselves to God. Let’s read it, beginning with Exodus 24:3: 3

Moses came and told the people all the words of the LORD and all the rules. And all the people answered with one voice and said, “All the words that the LORD has spoken we will do.” 4 And Moses wrote down all the words of the LORD. He rose early in the morning and built an altar at the foot of the mountain, and twelve pillars, according to the twelve tribes of Israel. 5 And he sent young men of the people of Israel, who offered burnt offerings and sacrificed peace offerings of oxen to the LORD. 6 And Moses took half of the blood and put it in basins, and half of the blood he threw against the altar. 7 Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read it in the hearing of the people. And they said, “All that the LORD has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient.” 8 And Moses took the blood and threw it on the people and said, “Behold the blood of the covenant that the LORD has made with you in accordance with all these words.”

Did you catch what happened there? Moses read all the words and rules from the Lord—actually, he did it twice in this passage—and after each reading, all the people said, “We will obey them.” But as soon as they said that, what did Moses do? After the first reading, Moses sent men to offer sacrifices. Why? Because the people would not be able to keep their promise. They’d just said, “All the words that the Lord has spoken we will do,” but it wasn’t true. They were sinners—just as we are—and it wouldn’t be long before they would totally go against God’s word. They would sin, rebelling against God and His covenant—and the payment for sin is death (Romans 6:23).

So God provided sacrifices by His grace. Moses threw blood over the altar as a picture, yet again, of a substitute sacrifice to cover over sin—to show that the death penalty for sin had been paid. In this picture we see the just penalty due to sin has been paid through a sacrifice. Then Exodus 24:8 gets really kind of weird, because this time after the people say, “We will obey all of God’s words,” Moses starts throwing blood—not on the altar—but on the people. Aren’t you glad this isn’t our practice today? If we start throwing blood on people in worship, they’re not coming back.

But don’t miss the point. Sinners can only come into a covenant relationship with the holy God of the universe if there is sacrifice, if the just penalty for sin is poured out. Just like God saved His people by the blood of a lamb in Exodus 12, here in Exodus 24 God seals His promise with the blood of another’s life—a substitute sacrifice. Watch what happens next in Exodus 24:9: 9

Then Moses and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel went up, 10 and they saw the God of Israel. There was under his feet as it were a pavement of sapphire stone, like the very heaven for clearness. 11 And he did not lay his hand on the chief men of the people of Israel; they beheld God, and ate and drank.

They beheld God! Sinners were beholding the holy God and they had a covenant meal to celebrate their relationship with God. We definitely cannot leave this story in the Old Testament, because every story in Scripture ultimately whispers one name. One of the things you’ll love as we read through the Bible is the unity of the Bible. It’s all one big story that has huge ramifications for every one of our lives. This is not just a story about the Israelites in Egypt however many years ago. This is a story about you and me today.

We have all sinned—I have, you have. We have all rebelled against the one true holy God. And Romans 6:23 makes clear that the payment for our sin is destruction and death—an eventual physical death we will die and an eternal spiritual death, separated from God for eternity. Yet in His grace, in His unmerited mercy, God has not left you or me alone in our sin. By His grace, God has made a way for us to be saved from destruction and death. God has sent His Son, Jesus, to live the pure, spotless, sinless life that none of us could live.

Then, although He had no sin to pay a price for, He chose to pay the price for sin. He chose to die on a cross for us. Jesus died as a Substitute Sacrifice for your sin and my sin. Ladies and gentlemen, Jesus is the Lamb of God, Whose blood saves us from destruction and seals us for eternal life. Just like the Israelites however many years ago trusted in the blood of a lamb over their doorpost to save them from destruction and death, I urge you today—right where you are sitting now—to trust in the blood of a Lamb, the blood of Jesus, to save you from destruction and death. You deserve destruction and death for sin against God, but God has poured out the just penalty due your sin on His Son, so that you might trust Him and His blood as a Sacrifice for you.

Just as Moses threw blood over the people, the reality is when you trust in Jesus as a Sacrifice for your sin, you can know that His blood covers it all. Just think about this. No matter what you have ever done, no matter how guilty your conscience is, no matter how stained your past is, no matter how ashamed you might be, no matter what, when you trust in the blood of Jesus to cover over your sin, you are saved and sealed by God’s grace forever. You, a sinner, can behold God in covenant relationship with Him.

Which is why it just so happens when you get to worship in the New Covenant, God prescribes a meal where we celebrate the giving of Jesus’ body and the shedding of Jesus’ blood for our sins. Matthew 26:27 explains, “Jesus took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sin.’” This is why we sinners come together every week to celebrate the reality that we have been forgiven by the blood of Jesus and we now behold God in a relationship with Him that will last forever. That’s worth celebrating a meal over!

How is this possible? How is it possible for rooms full of sinners gather together today before the holy God of the universe to worship and enjoy Him in His presence? That is only possible by His grace. Not one of us is here by any merit in us. The only reason we are here is because of mercy in God. He saves us by His grace.

That’s why I urge you today, if you have never come to the point in your life where you have placed your faith in the grace of God, in the blood of Jesus to cover over your sin and to bring you into a relationship with God, I invite you to do that right now. This could be the day when your life now and forever, changes by God’s grace. You ask, “What do I have to do?” You don’t have to do anything, except trust in what has been done for you. Trust in His grace in the same way those Israelites trusted in the grace of God. The blood of Jesus has been sacrificed for the forgiveness of your sin. If you put your faith in Jesus, He will seal you in relationship with God forever.

When you do—and for all who have—never, ever forget that what saves you is not how good you are, not how you measure up, not how well you read the Bible or how well you pray—or anything you do. What saves you is not how good you are. That is a recipe for destruction and death. What saves you is how gracious God is and realizing this is a recipe for freedom and life.

God saves us for our good.

This leads to the second point, as we shift to answer the question: Why does God save us? How does God save us? By His grace. Why does God save us? Two answers in Exodus. First, God saves us for our good.

Now we’ll go back and pick up the story in Exodus 12. God indeed delivered His people out of slavery in Egypt. They had a feast in Exodus 13. Then at the end of that chapter we discover that God would lead His people with a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. How awesome would that be, as this mass of people watched a huge cloud during the day and a pillar of fire at night direct them when and where to go, when and where to stop.

In Exodus 14, God leads them to the edge of the Red Sea. By this time the Egyptians were wishing they had their slaves back, so Pharaoh sends an army after them. Some people never learn. The Israelites are frightened, and for good reason. There is a huge body of water in front of them and an opposing army behind them. But look what Moses tells them in Exodus 14:13: 13

And Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. 14 The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”

All of a sudden God splits the sea in half and sends His people through on dry land, then that water comes crashing down over the Egyptian army. So we’re starting to get a picture here of the good that God saves His people for. God leads, guides and fights for His people. This is why God saves us, too—for our good. He leads, guides and fights for us.

Then we get to a song of worship in Exodus 15, where we see three miracles back to back to back. First, the water God’s people come to is bitter, so He miraculously makes it sweet. In chapter 16, they can’t find food, so God provides bread from heaven in the morning and meat in the evening. In Exodus 17, when they can’t find water, God miraculously provides it out of a rock. In all of this, we see how God sustains, satisfies and strengthens His people.

When we get to Exodus 18, God gives wisdom to Moses on how to lead His people, which was not an easy task. That sets the stage for one of the most significant and famous moments in the Old Testament when God gives His people His Word, starting with the Ten Commandments in Exodus  The first commandment is actually in our memory verses from this last week: “I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me.”

In your notes, I’ve tried to provide a summary of these Ten Commandments and this is one of the parts I loved studying the most this week. I so wish we had time to go into more depth here. This is a sermon series by itself to realize what these commandments mean. But here I want you to see the big picture of how God’s Word is for our good.

Just think about how good these commandments are. In the first commandment, God is showing us the way to abundant life through worship of the right God—“No other gods before me.” What if you live your entire life, then come to find out in the end that the center around which your life revolved was totally empty? You get to the end of your life, only to find out that the foundation upon which you built your entire life was completely faulty. You’ve wasted your life. God is prescribing the way to abundant life here, with the right center, with the right foundation—life with God at the center, God as your foundation.

In the second commandment, God shows us the way to supernatural love through worship in the right way. Listen to how the second commandment is phrased in Exodus 24:4-6: 4

“You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. 5 You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.

God is prescribing, not just Who is worthy of worship, but how we worship in a way that leads to an experience of God’s steadfast love. If you want to experience love to the full in your life, then worship God according to His Word.

That leads to the third commandment in verse seven: “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.” See the beauty of this commandment as it shows us how to cultivate a God-glorifying reverence in a world of triviality. Do you not grow tired of the trite and the trivial, the slow drivel of the shallow and superficial in this world? Lift your eyes to true greatness, glory, majesty, wonder and splendor in God. Live with humble, holy, mind-blowing, breathtaking awe and reverence for God and His name—that will change the way you live.

Commandment number four gives a countercultural rhythm of work and rest in Exodus 24:8-11:

8 “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. 11 For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

Especially in our fast-paced, never-ending rush of life and work, we need a countercultural, Godgiven rhythm of work and rest that sees the value of work but does not idolize it and is not controlled by it. We need to be content to set it down, get off the phone, turn off the email, stop checking this or that relentlessly, as though the world will fall apart if we don’t—when it won’t.

We can actually rest in God. In our pride, are we actually thinking we are busier than God Himself? You are not that busy. We must rest, as God Himself modeled for us. We will pay for it if we don’t when we live just like the culture around us, without a right view of work and rest. There’s so much to dive into here. For our good, God gives us a countercultural rhythm of work and rest.

Fifth, God gives us a priority on honor in our homes. Exodus 20:12: “Honor your father and mother, that your days may be long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.” Children, students, it is good to honor your mom and your dad, because it is a reflection of honor for God. It will be good for your life.

Sixth, a priority on protecting others’ health—“You shall not murder…” This is where we realize that this command in verse 13like some of these other commands—is not merely a prohibition against that particular act, but against any act that physically harms another. God clearly speaks here and in other places throughout His Word against any form of physical violence or abuse, even anger or rage. For our good, God tells us in His Word to prioritize protecting other people.

The seventh commandment guards the enjoyment of sexuality according to God’s design. When you read, “You shall not commit adultery,” don’t just think about adultery, but based on all of God’s Word, there are clear commands against all sexual activity outside of marriage between a husband and a wife, which is God’s good design for sexuality. There’s so much we could dive into here in a culture of rampant sexual confusion and disillusionment.

God gives this command clearly for our good. This is where each one of us needs to decide if we going to trust the Word of God on sexuality or are we going to trust the ways of the world on sexuality? The ways of this world will not lead to fulfillment and satisfaction in the way God’s Word will lead us to fulfillment and satisfaction according to God’s design.

Commandment number eight promotes the enjoyment of possessions according to God’s provision: “You shall not steal…” (Exodus 20:15). In other words, enjoy the possessions God provides for you. Do not seek to gain possessions outside of God’s provision for you. Again, this has so many ramifications, not just for preventing theft, but for promoting a right understanding of possessions and how they can be used for our good. There are so many ways this world says to use our possessions that are not for our good. We need a right view of possessions and how to enjoy them according to God’s provision.

Number nine: “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” God is holding up for us truth and trustworthiness in a world of lies and let-downs. Don’t we long for that, in a world where so much is fake and unreliable? Don’t we long for the real that we can believe and rely on?

Then the tenth commandment offers joy and contentment in a world of jealousy and competition. Exodus 20:17: “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.” Don’t you want to live with joy and contentment, instead of just being caught up in a world of jealousy and competition?

Don’t miss the point here. God’s Word is good and God’s Word is for our good. Put all this together. It’s not just what God saves us from—sin and destruction and death. Yes, praise God for that! But it’s also what He saves us to—joy and freedom and life. Some of you have bought into an idea that you need to trust in Jesus to save your skin in eternity so you don’t go to hell, but in the meantime, it’s going to be miserable on earth. Don’t buy it. That’s a lie. It’s not true. God hasn’t saved you just for eternal life later—He’s saved you for eternal life now. God has not saved you to make you miserable— God has saved you to give you life to the fullest now and that will last forever.

We’ve seen in recent weeks this doesn’t mean life will always or ever be easy. Life in a sinful, fallen world is hard. It involves hurt and pain, and following Jesus will actually make it harder in some, and maybe many, ways. But mark it down. Your life will be higher, fuller and deeper. You’ll be experiencing supernatural love and supernatural delight, as God Himself leads, guides and fights for you. As God Himself strengthens, sustains and satisfies you. As God Himself gives you wisdom from His Word in a world where we are so prone to wander off into such foolish ways. God saves us by His grace and for our good. Believe that. God desires your good. He doesn’t save you for your bad—He saves you for your good.

God saves us for His glory.

What I’m about to show you is central to understanding the purpose of your life. If you miss this, you miss the point for which you have breath. I want you to go on a tour with me. We’re going to fly through verse after verse after verse in our reading over the last couple weeks, asking, “Why did God deliver His people out of slavery in Egypt?” I want to encourage you to underline these verses that tell us why God saved His people out of slavery.

Go back to Exodus 3, where we began with the burning bush. God told Moses to go to Pharaoh, to bring His people out of slavery, so let’s ask the question, “Why?” In Exodus 3:12, God said, “But I will be with you, and this shall be the sign for you, that I have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain.” This is where we left off last week. The people would be coming out of slavery to this mountain to serve God. That word “serve” is often translated in Scripture as worship. So the people would serve and worship God on that mountain.

Then go to Exodus 4:23, where God tells Moses what’s going to happen and what he should say. “And I say to you”—this is what Moses will say to Pharaoh—“Let my son go that he may serve me.” Do you see that? Now go to Exodus 7:16. Pharaoh doesn’t let them go, so God begins to send plagues. Why does He say He’s going to deliver His people? “And you shall say to him, ‘The Lord, the God of the Hebrews, sent me to you, saying, “Let my people go, that they may serve me in the wilderness.”’”

Next, in Exodus 8:1 we are told why God would be sending frogs. “Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Go in to Pharaoh and say to him, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Let my people go, that they may serve me.’”’” Later in the chapter, why is God going to send the flies? Verse 20, “Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Rise up early in the morning and present yourself to Pharaoh, as he goes out to the water, and say to him, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Let my people go, that they may serve me.’”’”

We get to Exodus 9:1 and the livestock plague: “Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘God in to Pharaoh and say to him, “Thus says the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, ‘Let my people go, that they may serve me.’”’” Are you noticing a pattern here? Exodus 9:13 tells us why the hail: “Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Rise up early in the morning and present yourself before Pharaoh and say to him, “Thus says the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, ‘Let my people go, that they may serve me.’”’”

Keep going to Exodus 10:3; why the locusts? “So Moses and Aaron went in to Pharaoh and said to him, ‘Thus says the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, “How long will you refuse to humble yourself before me? Let my people go, that they may serve me.”’” A couple more. It’s interesting, when we get to verse seven, Pharaoh’s servants get in on the action here:

7 Then Pharaoh’s servants said to him, “How long shall this man be a snare to us? Let the men go, that they may serve the LORD their God. Do you not yet understand that Egypt is ruined?” 8 So Moses and Aaron were brought back to Pharaoh. And he said to them, “Go, serve the LORD your God. But which ones are to go?”

But he actually didn’t do that. So later in Exodus 10 we see a plague of darkness. When we come to verse 26, we read where Moses says, “Our livestock also must go with us; not a hoof shall be left behind, for we must take of them to serve the Lord our God, and we do not know with what we must serve the Lord until we arrive there.”

Finally, we get to Exodus 12 where God institutes the Passover, the deliverance of His people from Egypt. Then what does Pharaoh say? It all builds to this moment in verse 31: “Then he summoned Moses and Aaron by night and said, ‘Up, go out from among my people, both you and the people of Israel; and go, serve the Lord, as you have said.’” Pharaoh learned, all too late, that you do not stand in the way of the worship of God. This is the whole point of the Exodus from Egypt. God delivers His people out of slavery as we’ve already seen, for their good. Obviously, that was good for them. He then brings them to Mt. Sinai, where they serve and worship Him.

The rest of the book of Exodus will show us God’s instructions for how He is to be served and worshiped. If you were to summarize the book of Exodus, there are 20 chapters about salvation from slavery that lead to 20 chapters about the worship of God. These chapters are incredible. There are visions of God as a consuming fire there in Exodus 19. Then in Exodus 34, in a powerful scene that the Bible will talk about over and over again, God causes His glory to pass in front of Moses, so Moses falls on his face in worship. Moses will meet with God and come away with his face shining. Then the bookends with the glory of God filling the tabernacle in the middle of His people.

The whole point is God saves His people for their good, but also for His glory. When we put all that together, I see two implications we cannot miss. First, this means that casual worship before this God, before the one true holy God, is not possible. Sinners deserve destruction and death before a holy God. Yet sinners can be saved—not by anything they do, but by grace that God gives. Sinners are brought from slavery to freedom, from destruction to satisfaction, from death to life.

So what do people do who have been saved like that? They sing. They celebrate. They worship God with all their hearts and all their souls and all their minds; with joy and awe and everything in them. It is not possible to be saved to serve and worship this God and be bored by Him. We worship Him. All the more so for us who have been saved by the blood of Jesus, the Son of God. We gather together every week before this God. I want to be careful, because, yes, outward signs of worship, emotional expressions of worship, can be deceptive. But the reality is it is not possible to know this God and be casual and complacent before Him. It’s just not possible.

I know we have different personalities, but when you realize what you’ve been saved from, what you’ve been saved to, and the God Whose grace is the only reason for all of that, you are driven to sing, shout, lift your hands and bow on your knees in awe of this God. Casual worship is not possible before Him, not the God Who satisfies, leads, guides and fights for you, Who instructs you in His Word that leads to life and showers you with supernatural love. Casual worship is not possible.

The second implication is this: global mission is not negotiable. If we had time, we’d take another tour and see all the places where God says He’s doing what He’s doing for His glory, not just among His people, but all peoples. You know the phrase, “They (or you) will know that I am the Lord”? That phrase is used 50 different times in the first four books of the Bible.

Let me show you just one, in Exodus 14. You’ve got to see this. I don’t presume to be an expert military strategist by any means, but I think I know enough to realize that you do not lead your people under your charge into a dead end, where you’re trapped and right behind you is an opposing army is right that has power to overtake you. That just doesn’t seem smart. Yet that’s what God does in Exodus 14. He deliberately leads His people to the edge of the Red Sea, with the Egyptian army about to overtake them. Why would God strategically do this? Well, let’s read the Bible’s answer:

Then the LORD said to Moses, 2 “Tell the people of Israel to turn back and encamp in front of Pi-hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, in front of Baal-zephon; you shall encamp facing it, by the sea. 3 For Pharaoh will say of the people of Israel, ‘They are wandering in the land; the wilderness has shut them in.’ 4 And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them, and I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host, and the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD.” And they did so.

Why did God lead His people to a dead end? Here’s why: so He could split that dead end in half and lead His people on dry ground. That water would come crashing down on the Egyptians and it would be clear that there is one God and He is glorious. God says, “I will gain glory.” This is so awesome! God gives grace and God gets glory. God pours out grace and He gets glory. God saves His people, not just for His glory among them, but for His glory among all peoples.

Exodus 9:16 is a great verse that struck me so as I was reading this week. This is right before the plague of hail. God says to Pharaoh in Exodus 9:16, “But for this purpose I have raised you up, to show you my power, so that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth.” What is God doing in this whole story? He’s causing His people to receive His grace in a way that His glory and name are proclaimed as glorious in all the earth.

Here’s the deal. I was out of the country this past week at a training center called Radius International where about 50 men and women in their 20s and 30swere going through a year-long intense training to go out to places where the gospel has not yet gone, where Jesus has not yet been named. They do intense physical training—all of them getting up and doing workouts at 6:00 a.m. Trying to keep up with those 20-year-olds was not easy. They also receive biblical training, diving into God’s Word. There’s training in language and culture.

As I walked away, I couldn’t help but pray that God would raise up and send out 20- and 30- year-olds from among us. And not just 20- and 30-year-olds, but 40, 50, 60-year-olds among us. After the first service, a woman in the lobby said, “Thank you for mentioning 50- and 60-year-olds, because I’m training. I’m about to retire and am training to be part of what God is doing around the world. I want to make these years count for God.” I told her, “May the Lord multiply your number.”

May God raise up multitudes from among us to go places where the name of Jesus is not yet known. I am praying that in the days and years to come, God will send out hundreds if not thousands from this church to places where God’s glory is not being proclaimed, that the gospel might be proclaimed there. But not just those who move to another place, because not all of us are supposed to go. All of us need to see our lives through a biblical lens. Every single one of you, no matter how old or young, no matter what your occupation, I want you to see that God has saved you for the spread of His glory in the world. The purpose of your life is to spread the glory of God in the world, so that other people might know He is God, so other people might know He is good, so other people might know He saves all who trust in His grace. God has saved you by His grace for a reason and it is not to keep it to yourself. God has given you and me this grace for the spread of this grace, so more and more and more people might be saved, for their good and ultimately for God’s glory.

May we not stop until every people group in the world is praising God for His grace. This is why we’re fanning out around the world this year in short-term mission trips, proclaiming the gospel. There are so many opportunities. Please pray about and consider being a part of one of those. We’re two taking huge groups, one to Dominican Republic and one to Ethiopia. I was meeting with the Ethiopia team recently. The opportunities we have right now to come alongside the church in Ethiopia to care for orphans is awesome. We need another large group to go this July, to exalt God’s name as Father to the fatherless there. Now is the time to sign up for these trips. I encourage you to do it. Look at your year to see if there is any time when you can go individually, as a couple or a family.

I have a good friend in town today who is working among unreached people groups—people who have yet to be reached with the gospel. I’d bring him up here except for security reasons, because he’s working in places where there is much opposition to the spread of the gospel. I’ll never forget when he told me about a girl in a remote, unreached village who heard the gospel, believed in Jesus, then shared the gospel with her family—and they believed in Jesus. But a few days later, when some villagers found out that they had become Christians, this girl’s family was killed, martyred within a few days of coming to faith in Jesus. Do you know how this girl responded? She wrote a song of worship to God for His faithfulness and His goodness. As far as we know, it’s the first worship song ever written in her language.

I want you to picture people groups around the world like notes from a heavenly keyboard— every note designed to bring distinct praise to God. And one day every note is going to be played to the praise of God. Right now there are about 7,000 notes that aren’t being played—people groups that have not yet been reached—and we want to change that. We want to see the name of Jesus proclaimed throughout the earth.

So I challenge us to apply the book of Exodus in your life in three ways. First, lean wholeheartedly on God’s grace. In your life and for eternity, trust in God’s grace. Maybe today for the first time you’re trusting in God’s saving grace.

In light of that, second, I challenge you to live maximally according to God’s Word for your good. Live to the full, but not according to this world. That’s not for your good. Don’t buy into the idea that coming to Christ means not living for your good. This is good. God has saved you for good, so live maximally for it. Refuse to settle for life according to the ways of this world. Give your life experiencing fullness according to the Word of God.

And then, third, I challenge you, as you live maximally for your good, labor globally for God’s glory, starting right where you are now. This week, live so that others around you might know that God saves sinners by His grace for their good and for His glory.

Let’s pray that God would use us as a church together to make His name known in this city and to make His name known among the nations.

O God of Moses, You’re the God Who revealed Yourself in a consuming fire in Exodus 19. You’re the God Who sent all these plagues. You’re the God Who saved Your people from slavery. We’re praying to You right now, in this day, in this place, with our heads bowed before You, God. We thank You for Your grace. Thank You for saving us by Your grace. We pray that not one person would leave today without trusting in Your grace to save them from their sin.

God, we pray You would help us live for our good—the good You designed for us. And then use us as instruments in Your hand for Your glory this week, all across this city and wherever in the world You lead us. Use us as instruments for Your glory, that Your name might be proclaimed in all the earth. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Question 1. Why does sin deserve destruction?

Question 2. How does the picture of the lamb in Exodus point to Jesus?

Question 3. How does God sustain, strengthen and satisfy His people?

Question 4. According to the sermon, what is the way to abundant life?

Question 5. Why is global missions not negotiable?

GOD SAVES US BY HIS GRACE

We deserve destruction and death for our sins

EXODUS 7:14-18

“Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Pharaoh’s heart is hardened; he refuses to let the people go. Go to Pharaoh in the morning, as he is going out to the water. Stand on the bank of the Nile to meet him, and take in your hand the staff that turned into a serpent. And you shall say to him, “The Lord, the God of the Hebrews, sent me to you, saying, ‘Let my people go, that they may serve me in the wilderness.’ But so far, you have not obeyed. Thus says the Lord, ‘By this you shall know that I am the Lord: behold, with the staff that is in my hand I will strike the water that is in the Nile, and it shall turn into blood. The fish in the Nile shall die, and the Nile will stink, and the Egyptians will grow weary of drinking water from the Nile.’”’”

EXODUS 11:14-16

So Moses said, ‘Thus says the Lord: “About midnight I will go out in the midst of Egypt, and every firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sits on his throne, even to the firstborn of the slave girl who is behind the handmill, and all the firstborn of the cattle. There shall be a great cry throughout all the land of Egypt, such as there has never been, nor ever will be again.”’”

God provides deliverance and life through sacrifice.

He saves His people by the blood of a lamb.

EXODUS 12:1-13

“The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, ‘This month shall be for you the beginning of months. It shall be the first month of the year for you. Tell all the congregation of Israel that on the tenth day of this month every man shall take a lamb according to their fathers’ houses, a lamb for a household. And if the household is too small for a lamb, then he and his nearest neighbor shall take according to the number of persons; according to what each can eat you shall make your count for the lamb. Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male a year old. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats, and you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month, when the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill their lambs at twilight. Then they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it. They shall eat the flesh that night, roasted on the fire; with unleavened bread and bitter herbs they shall eat it. Do not eat any of it raw or boiled in water, but roasted, its head with its legs and its inner parts. And you shall let none of it remain until the morning; anything that remains until the morning you shall burn. In this manner you shall eat it: with your belt fastened, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. And you shall eat it in haste. It is the Lord’s Passover. For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the Lord. The blood shall be a sign for you, on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you, when I strike the land of Egypt.’”

EXODUS 23:3-8

“Moses came and told the people all the words of the Lord and all the rules. And all the people answered with one voice and said, ‘All the words that the Lord has spoken we will do.’ And Moses wrote down all the words of the Lord. He rose early in the morning and built an altar at the foot of the mountain, and twelve pillars, according to the twelve tribes of Israel. And he sent young men of the people of Israel, who offered burnt offerings and sacrificed peace offerings of oxen to the Lord. And Moses took half of the blood and put it in basins, and half of the blood he threw against the altar. Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read it in the hearing of the people. And they said, ‘All that the Lord has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient.’ And Moses took the blood and threw it on the people and said, ‘Behold the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words.’”

He seals His promises with the blood of another’s life.

EXODUS 24:9-11

“Then Moses and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel went up, and they saw the God of Israel. There was under his feet as it were a pavement of sapphire stone, like the very heaven for clearness. And he did not lay his hand on the chief men of the people of Israel; they beheld God, and ate and drank.”

Jesus is the Lamb of God whose blood saves us from destruction and seals us for eternal life.

MATTHEW 26:27-28

“And Jesus took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.’”

GOD SAVES US FOR OUR GOOD.

EXODUS 14:13-14

“ And Moses said to the people, ‘Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.’

God leads, guides, and fights for His people.

God sustains, satisfies, and strengthens His people.

God gives us His wisdom, and God gives us His Word.

EXODUS 20:2-3

“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me.”

The way to abundant life through worship of the right God.

The way to supernatural love through worship in the right way.

EXODUS 20:4-6

“You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.”

EXODUS 20:7

“You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.”

A God-glorifying reverence in a world of triviality

A counter-culture rhythm of work and rest.

EXODUS 20:8-11

“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.”

A priority on honor in our homes.

EXODUS 20:12

“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.”

A priority on protecting others’ health.

The enjoyment of sexuality according to God’s design.

The enjoyment of possessions according to God’s provision.

Trust and trustworthiness in a world of lies and let-downs.

Joy and contentment in a world of jealousy and competition.

EXODUS 20:17

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.”

 

GOD SAVES US FOR HIS GLORY.

EXODUS 3:12

“He said, ‘But I will be with you, and this shall be the sign for you, that I have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain.’”

EXODUS 4:23

“. . . and I say to you, ‘Let my son go that he may serve me.’ If you refuse to let him go, behold, I will kill your firstborn son.”

EXODUS 7:16

“And you shall say to him, ‘The Lord, the God of the Hebrews, sent me to you, saying, “Let my people go, that they may serve me in the wilderness.” But so far, you have not obeyed.’”

EXODUS 8:1

“Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Go in to Pharaoh and say to him, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Let my people go, that they may serve me.’”’”

EXODUS 8:20

“Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Rise up early in the morning and present yourself to Pharaoh, as he goes out to the water, and say to him, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Let my people go, that they may serve me.’”’”

EXODUS 9:1

“Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Go in to Pharaoh and say to him, “Thus says the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, ‘Let my people go, that they may serve me.’”’”

EXODUS 9:13

“Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Rise up early in the morning and present yourself before Pharaoh and say to him, “Thus says the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, ‘Let my people go, that they may serve me.’”’”

EXODUS 10:3

“So Moses and Aaron went in to Pharaoh and said to him, ‘Thus says the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, “How long will you refuse to humble yourself before me? Let my people go, that they may serve me.”’”

EXODUS 10:7-8

“Then Pharaoh’s servants said to him, ‘How long shall this man be a snare to us? Let the men go, that they may serve the Lord their God. Do you not yet understand that Egypt is ruined?’ So Moses and Aaron were brought back to Pharaoh. And he said to them, ‘Go, serve the Lord your God. But which ones are to go?’”

EXODUS 10:26

“Our livestock also must go with us; not a hoof shall be left behind, for we must take of them to serve the Lord our God, and we do not know with what we must serve the Lord until we arrive there.”

EXODUS 12:31

“Then he summoned Moses and Aaron by night and said, ‘Up, go out from among my people, both you and the people of Israel; and go, serve the Lord, as you have said.’”

Causal worship is not possible.

Global mission is not negotiable.

EXODUS 14:1-4

“Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Tell the people of Israel to turn back and encamp in front of Pi-hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, in front of Baal-zephon; you shall encamp facing it, by the sea. For Pharaoh will say of the people of Israel, “They are wandering in the land; the wilderness has shut them in.” And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them, and I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host, and the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord.’ And they did so.”

LEAN WHOLEHEARTEDLY ON GOD’S GRACE.

LIVE MAXIMALLY FOR YOUR GOOD.

LABOR GLOBALLY FOR GOD’S GLORY

David Platt serves as a pastor in metro Washington, D.C. He is the founder and chairman of Radical. He is the author of several books, including Radical, Radical Together, Follow Me, Counter Culture, and Something Needs to Change.

LESS THAN 1% OF ALL MONEY GIVEN TO MISSIONS GOES TO UNREACHED PEOPLE AND PLACES.

That means that the people with the most urgent spiritual and physical needs on the planet are receiving the least amount of support. Together we can change that!