Message of Joel: Whom Will God Save?
Selected passages from Joel
This coming Lord’s Day the next ‘Eternal Question’ we are considering in our series of studies through the Old Testament’s Minor Prophets, is the question: ‘Whom Will God Save?’ The prophet Joel will help us answer this most important question.
Joel is called a ‘minor’ prophet not because he was unimportant, but because his book is brief when compared to the longer books of the ‘major prophets,’ like Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel.
Interestingly, Joel’s book is unusually devoid of the specifics of historical setting. In the book of Hosea, which we looked at in our previous study, Hosea included in the very first verse a detailed list of kings who reigned when he prophesied. Joel includes nothing like that. No mention of kings. Nothing about the Babylonians or Assyrians. No reference to the temple. We really don’t know when Joel prophesied. Some people have suggested that Joel deliberately omitted such specifics in order to make the book’s message easily transferable from his own day to the ages that would follow.
Whatever the situation, we will turn to the ‘word of the Lord’ that came to Joel and look for what we can learn about salvation.
The first question we should consider when talking about salvation is, ‘Saved from what?’
A number of years ago, R.C. Sproul wrote a book with a title that asked a vitally important question. It was Saved from What? He began by recounting a time almost forty years earlier when a stranger abruptly had stopped him and asked, "Are you saved?" Sproul was taken aback by the intrusion and responded with the first words that came into his mind: "Saved from what?"
Here is a good question that every Christian witness should be able to answer. But the man who had stopped Sproul stammered and stuttered, unsure how to respond.
As Sproul points out in his book, unless we know what we need to be saved from, we do not have an adequate understanding of the gospel and cannot truly share the Bible's message with others. He remembers: "Though this man had a zeal for salvation, he had little understanding of what salvation is. He was using Christian jargon…. But sadly, he had little understanding of what he was so zealously trying to communicate. The words fell from his lips without being processed by his mind.” As a result, his words were empty of content.
Clearly, the man had a love for Christ and a concern for people. Few Christians have the courage to engage perfect strangers in evangelistic discussion. But sadly, he had little understanding of what he was so zealously trying to communicate.
What about you? What about the church today? Do evangelical Christians today have any clearer understanding of the gospel, of what it means to be saved? Sadly, again, there often seems to be little understanding even among those who are most active in evangelical circles.
Join us this coming Sunday as we look more closely at the matter of salvation and ask, ‘Whom Will God Save?’ and ‘What is Salvation?’ This would be an especially good day for you to bring a friend or family member along with you, perhaps someone for which you’ve been praying. See you Sunday.