THE PROMISES OF GOD
2 CORINTHIANS 1:20
“ASSURANCE OF SALVATION”
1 John 5:13
Let’s begin, as we always do, by reciting our declaration regarding the promises of God:
WE ARE BUILDING OUR LIVES ON THE PROMISES OF GOD
BECAUSE HIS WORD IS UNBREAKABLE OUR HOPE IS UNSHAKABLE
WE DO NOT STAND ON THE PROBLEMS OF LIFE OR THE PAIN IN LIFE
WE STAND ON THE GREAT AND PRECIOUS PROMISES OF GOD
From Unshakable Hope by Max Lucado
Growing up, I was the oldest of three boys in my family. My brother Bill was 2 years younger than me and my brother Terry was 8 years younger than me.
One day Bill decided to play a cruel joke on Terry. Bill told Terry that he was adopted. Bill was very persuasive. He got Terry to believe that he actually was adopted.
Terry was so concerned about it that he went to my Mom and Dad who reassured him that he was indeed their natural son. They even showed him his birth certificate.
Terry went back to Bill and told him that no, he was not adopted. He had seen his birth certificate. Bill told Terry that the birth certificate was a fake! Brothers!
Have you ever wondered whether you really are a member of God’s family? Have you ever doubted or grown concerned that you might not get into heaven?
A Gallup poll found that 78% of Americans believe in heaven and all 78% believe that they have a good or excellent chance of going there. The poll also found that 60% of Americans believe in hell, but only 4% believe they might be going there.
Should everyone be so confident that they are going to heaven? Not according to Jesus. Jesus said in Matthew 7:21- “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”
Jesus also said in Matthew 7:13-14 that the way to hell is broad and wide and many people go down that road. On the other hand, Jesus said the road to heaven is straight and narrow and few actually find it.
Some people are confident about going to heaven and they should not be. Those who have not truly committed to the Lord Jesus Christ have no basis for their confidence about going to heaven. They are holding onto a false sense of security about going to heaven when they die.
On the other hand, you can be saved and doubt your salvation. I’ve talked with and counseled a large number of Christian people over the years who are unsure about their eternal security. They are hoping that they will go to heaven when they die, but they are not real sure. In fact, they are unsure. Perhaps you are one of them.
The promise of God that we are going to look at today is assurance of salvation. If you are a believer who is unsure of your salvation, the message today will reassure you. If you are a Christian who is already sure of your salvation, this message will just reaffirm what you know to be true.
Turn with me to our Bible verse of promise for today- 1 John 5:13
John said that he wrote 1 John so that we can KNOW we have eternal life. John didn’t speak in uncertain terms. He didn’t talk in terms of wondering about being saved….or hoping that we are saved. No, John was certain. As a Christian, you can know, w/o a doubt, that you are going to heaven.
Let’s look at a few other Scriptures that tell us that we can be sure of our salvation. The apostle Peter wrote:
“Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure.” -2 Peter 1:10
Peter tells us that we can do something to be more confident that we are going to heaven. We will look at that in the final point of today’s message. Let’s look now at what the apostle Paul wrote about the assurance of our salvation:
“Having believed, you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession.” – Ephesians 1:13-14
Paul used the word “guarantee” in regard to our inheritance of eternal life in heaven. And God has made a down payment on heaven with us. He has given us the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, guaranteeing that what He has promised us, He will do for us. He will take us to heaven. The Holy Spirit’s presence within us brings us reassurance of our salvation.
Listen to how confident David was about going to live with God forever:
“Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” – Psalm 23:6
David was certain of his heavenly home. As was Paul:
“Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.” -2 Corinthians 5:1
Turn with me to the gospel of John 14:1-3.
To those of us believers who have doubts about going to heaven, Jesus gives us these words of reassurance, promises that bring comfort to our troubled hearts.
He has promised us that heaven has plenty of rooms available. There will be room enough for you.
He has promised that He has prepared a place for us in heaven. Your room in God’s house is reserved. And it’s a guaranteed reservation.
And the other promise that Jesus makes is that He is coming back one day to take us to our permanent home in God’s house.
Can I be sure that I am going to heaven? Yes, as a Christian you can be sure. God has told us in His Word that we can be certain that we will go to heaven when we die.
Since that is so, why do so many of us doubt our salvation? Let’s look at the….
There are several reasons why we do. First, there is guilt.
When we do something wrong, our conscience produces guilt. It does so to alert us to our sin so we will repent. But, the only thing our conscience knows is guilt and conviction. The only thing that a guilty conscience does is condemn us. It knows nothing of grace and mercy.
That’s why we need to have our conscience cleansed and God has provided that cleansing through the blood of Christ, as the Scripture says:
“Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.” – Hebrews 10:22
Our conscience produces guilt and this can lead to doubt. And that is why we need to confess our sin as soon as we commit it so that we can, not only receive forgiveness of it but to also receive freedom from guilt over it.
Someone said- “keep short accounts with God.” Confess your sins immediately so you will not be overwhelmed with guilt which leads you to doubt your salvation.
Another reason why we may doubt our salvation is SATAN. The Bible calls him the “accuser” of believers. God forgets our sins but it is Satan who loves to remind us of them. And he starts a whispering campaign to undermine your confidence as a Christian. He will whisper in your ear…remember when you said that…did this…lingered over that thought?
The reminders from Satan are one reason why we need to keep reading our Bibles. When we listen to the Voice of God, His voice will drown out the accusations of our accuser.
A third reason why we doubt our salvation is TEMPTATION. In Romans 7, the apostle Paul admitted his continued struggle with temptation. He wrote about the tug-o-war within him, between good and evil, right and wrong.
We go through the same thing. And as a result, we begin to wonder about our salvation. Why, if I am saved, do I still struggle with temptation the way I do?
It’s because we live with a sinful nature that is still pulled toward sin. But just remember that temptation itself is not a sin. Remember that Jesus was tempted, in every way that we are, yet w/o sin!
A 4th source of doubt regarding our salvation is DISOBEDIENCE. Assurance of salvation is the reward for obedience to God. Therefore the opposite is true.
Doubt is the result of disobedience. Sin stands as a barrier to our fellowship w/God. It’s been said that high levels of assurance cannot be enjoyed by those who persist in low levels of obedience. To live in sin is to live in doubt over one’s salvation.
Another source of doubt is WORLDLY LIVING……living like the world…living according to the world’s standards…living in the power of the flesh rather than the power of the Holy Spirit.
One of the things that the Holy Spirit will do is to assure us of our salvation. That’s what Paul wrote in Rom. 8:16:
“The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.” – Romans 8:16
But when we live according to the standards of this world, we are out-of-step with the Holy Spirit. This grieves the Holy Spirit who gives us assurance and we forfeit that comfort.
But perhaps the biggest reason for some of us when it comes to doubting our salvation is because we are still thinking that WE NEED TO BE GOOD ENOUGH TO EARN OUR SALVATION.
Were you ever a Boy Scout/Girl Scout? Remember you would get merit badges for achievements. Your mom would sew your merit badges on a sash and you would wear your sash proudly, showing off your merit badges.
Some of us take that approach to our salvation. Read my Bible today. That’s a merit badge. Prayed yesterday. Merit badge. Attended church service today. Another merit badge. Served on a church committee. Merit badge. Did a good deed for someone. Merit badge.
We think that if we do enough good things, we will get all these spiritual merit badges. And one day, when we get to the gates of heaven, we’ll be wearing our sash proudly, and God will look at all our merit badges, be impressed, and invite us into heaven. We think that if we earn enough spiritual merit badges and get enough brownie points we’ll go to heaven.
But here’s the problem with that. How much goodness does it take to get into heaven? How many good things do you have to do? How many badges do I have earn? Where’s the threshold? No one knows….because we’re not told….because that’s not God’s plan.
But when you try to approach your salvation on this basis, deep down inside you still feel like you haven’t done enough and you can never do enough. And so you’re left feeling unsure, uncertain, and insecure regarding your salvation.
And that’s why I am glad that salvation isn’t based upon the merit system. It’s based upon grace. The pressure is off. We don’t have to earn our salvation. We simply have to receive it.
Well, we have looked at some of the reasons why we doubt our salvation. There are several of them. No wonder, we doubt our salvation at times. So what can we do to deal with our doubt? How can we go about…..
The first thing we need to do is to……
The apostle John said that he wrote his first letter so that we can know we have eternal life. So, in order to remain confident of your salvation, continue to read and receive God’s promises into your heart. Promises like…..
“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” –Romans 8:1
“Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved…” – Mark 16:16
Every time you begin to doubt your salvation, go back to the Bible and receive reassurance from God’s promises. A second thing we need to do is to…
The apostle Paul wrote that God’s grace is the basis for our salvation:
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith, and this not from yourselves. It is the gift of God, not by works, so that no one can boast.” – Ephesians 2:8-9
Grace is the only basis for our salvation. Our goodness is not good enough. If you want to be secure in regards to your salvation, you have to fully rely upon God’s grace to save you and you have to totally reject even the slightest notion that you can save yourself. I think that is one reason why the Hebrew writer encourages us…….
“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” – Hebrews 12:2
Jesus is the author and perfecter of our faith. By His death on the cross Jesus did all that was needed for you and I to be saved.
If we look to ourselves for our salvation, we’ll be filled with doubt. If we keep our eyes fixed squarely on Jesus, we will have full confidence regarding our salvation.
Grace is more than we deserve, but it is all we need. When we rely upon God’s grace, we will be confident about our salvation.
The third thing we need to do is to…….
Turn with me to 2 Peter 1:5-11
Peter is calling on us to grow spiritually in this passage. We are to keep adding godly characteristics to our faith. That is what we can do to make our calling to salvation sure in our own mind.
As Christians, we are saved. But assurance of that salvation is based upon what is going on in our lives. What evidence do we see that reassures us of our
salvation? The way that we can be certain about our salvation is to continue to grow spiritually, to produce evidence of salvation.
Beloved, first and foremost, God wants you to be saved. But He also wants you to be sure of your salvation. He wants you to know, w/o a doubt, that you are saved.
He has told us in His Word that we are saved and that we can know it. We need to keep on believing His promises, trusting His grace and growing in our faith.
If you are not a Christian, there is one way that you can be sure that you will go to heaven. It’s by receiving Jesus as your Lord and Savior. The apostle John put the terms of salvation in simple terms for us:
“And this is the testimony, God has given us eternal life and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; He who does not have the Son of God does not have eternal life.” – 1 John 5:11-12
If you will receive Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, you too can have full assurance that you will go to heaven. You receive Jesus through faith, by believing in Him and believing that His death on the cross provides the forgiveness of your sins.
Those who receive Jesus are to repent of sin, confess their faith and be baptized. Please contact us if you have received Jesus as your Lord and Savior and you would like to be baptized.
We are now going to gather around the Lord’s Table where we can receive further assurance of our salvation as we remember that Jesus died for our sins.