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#18 Being Fully Assured

September 10, 2008

Today we are going to examine the subject of assurance of salvation. This is an important subject for us to look at, especially with the decisional regeneration and faulty evangelism that is rampant in the ‘church world.’ In (Ps 100:3) we are told to “Know that the LORD Himself is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people and the sheep of His pasture.” Likewise it is God who has saved us and not we ourselves and therefore we have nothing to boast about. We did not save ourselves but we are God’s workmanship! But if we are God’s workmanship then we can be assured of our place in His Kingdom. We can rest assured that we are His, the sheep of His pasture.

 

Now by way of illustration consider this; during one of the periods when God had rent the heavens and had come down upon our land in awakening power, there was a boy named Sammy who among others, presented himself for admission to church membership. He had been saved by the grace of God and naturally wanted to join the local body of believers. Now the Elders of this particular church hesitated for a moment on the grounds that he might be too young and therefore not have the sufficient capacity to understand the doctrines of the gospel or to recognize the evidences of conversion. But they made the decision to examine him and they began with the subject of regeneration. “Do you think that you have been born again” ask the Pastor? “I think I have,” was the answer. “Well, if so, whose work is that?” “Oh, Sammy answered, God did His part and I did my part.” “Ah” exclaimed the Pastor, “what part did you do?” “Why I opposed God all I could and He did the rest!” The result of the examination was that, so far as they could judge, the Holy Spirit had been Sammy’s theological teacher. He was, in fact, born again.

 

This example of true conversion demonstrates that man contributes nothing to salvation but rather opposes God by his very nature. God does everything necessary for the redemption of the sinner. And when He redeems a soul, they are redeemed indeed. This is exactly what Paul is teaching us in his epistle to the Romans. We have noted in our studies that lost sinners in general are of the mind-set that they can please God (if there is a God) and gain His acceptance by their good works (by what they say and do). Indeed in Phil Keaggy’s testimony you heard just that: he said he was “Thinking that I could find peace of mind by what I say and do.”  

 

But in reality sinners are merely demonstrating that they are sinners by nature and as such are suppressing the truth of God in unrighteousness; specifically in their perception of how men are to be saved. Remember Cain and his attempt to please God by offering Him that which God had not prescribed. In the same way the rebellious hearts of all the sons and daughters of Adam are laid bare by their opposition to God and His revealed way of salvation. Indeed sinners absolutely refuse to seek God in the prescribed way: that is by trusting in Christ alone plus nothing. They think that it is foolishness to

1.      Consider that they are sinners at all.

2.      That they need a savior.

3.      And that all they have to do is trust in the finished work of Christ on their behalf.

 

But the truth of the matter as we well know is that all we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned from God and gone our own way. We have all turned aside and become useless. There is none who does good no not one. The whole world stands guilty before a Holy God and unless God replaces that rebellious heart of stone with a heart of flesh and grants new life, unless He bestows upon lost sinners a new spirit and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit all is lost.

 

But God… when God moves upon the heart of a sinner, I don’t care what you’ve done, if God is washing away your sins, they are washed. Ours is the testimony that we find in (1Co 6:9-11) “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. 

 

I want you to look at verse 11 again and I want you to notice that each of these statements are made in the past tense. 11 “And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” Once again you see tetelstai!  The work of salvation is really finished! Before Christ saved us we were rebels. But God stooped to have mercy upon us and called us out of the grave of self and now we can echo the words of the little sinner who was saved so thoroughly that he knew the truth that, “I opposed God all I could and He did the rest.” The rest was to save us completely, to wash our sins AWAY in the blood of Jesus and to give us brand new lives. And now we love Him and live for Him. This is what salvation is all about!

  

God did what we could not, could never do. And as we have been looking at the life of Abraham we have seen how God works. He works apart from us. He is the initiator, the author and finisher of our faith and when He calls us we merely respond. We are the responders as God gives us the gifts of saving faith and saving grace. “Know that the LORD Himself is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people and the sheep of His pasture.” (Eph 2:10)  “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Salvation is God at work in the lives of those whom He chooses to call.

 

And salvation is impossible with men. At one time we were like all people, without hope being with out God in this world. We were children of wrath; that is we were already condemned before a holy God, already judged guilty and already subjects of the wrath of God as the flames of Gods judgment flashed about the slender thread that supported our sinful weight above the pit. But God…when we were without hope, being without God in this world God had mercy. (Ro 5:6-10) “For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.”

 

Now we pick up our text in (Rom 4:18-25) where Paul uses the promise God made to Abraham that he would have a son to give us hope and increased faith in the power of God to do what He says He will do. We pick up the narrative in verse 18In hope he (Abraham) believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, “So shall your offspring be.” 19 He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. 20 No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, 21 fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. 22 That is why his faith was “counted to him as righteousness.” 23 But the words “it was counted to him” were not written for his sake alone, 24 but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, 25 who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.

 

It is interesting that when God saves us He declares us to be righteous. Now are we in fact, in and of ourselves ‘righteous’ in any way, shape or form? I think not. But what has happened is that we have been clothed in the righteousness of Christ. His righteousness has been imputed to us and we are new creatures in Christ Jesus and all those horrible things that we did B.C. have been washed away. All things have been made new. The God who stilled the storm on the Sea of Galilee spoke into the storm our lives and said “Peace, be still.” He told our sins, begone!  

 

He did what we had no power to do. We had no hope and then Christ moved upon our lives. Before Christ all was darkness and void. But then God moved upon the surface of our lives and said “Let There Be Light.” And light came in the person of Jesus Christ. In Him is light. He is the light of the world. And He illumined your dark soul and gave you life and meaning and hope and a home for all eternity. “and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, (1Pe 1:8)

 

You could say that we hope against hope. I say this because we have not seen Jesus. We haven’t seen heaven. Jesus spoke about is in (Joh 20:29) when He was dealing with Thomas. Thomas had declared that he would not believe that Jesus rose from the dead unless he saw and touched Him. Well, Jesus came into the locked upper room and went straight to Thomas. He told him to do all that he said he had to in order to believe. But all Thomas did was fall at His feet and declare, “My Lord and my God! “Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” This is us! We haven’t seen but we have believed. God has revealed Himself to us in saving grace and we have been given hope against hope. And He continually encourages us as He speaks to us from His word and reassures us that He truly is with us, even to the end of the age. He comforts us as we commune with Him in prayer and we rejoice as we sense that heavenly smile. He instructs us and teaches us in the way we must go and we rejoice in that Word, that living Word which is a lamp for our feet and a light for our path.  

 

Now I want us to go once again to Ephesians 2 beginning with verse 1 because of what Paul says in our text. Our text reads; 19 He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. Now what does this remind us of but the fact that we were dead in trespasses and sins. We were dead and there was no hope of self resurrection. We were in the tomb of spiritual death and we stinkethed! And it was as impossible for us to resurrect ourselves as it was for Abraham and Sarah to have children…But God! With men this is impossible but with God all things are possible.

 

Look with me now at the Ephesians passage where Paul declares the whole human condition in unequivocal terms. We pick up at verse 1 “And you were dead… Let’s stop there. The Greek word for dead is nekrov and it carries with it these several meanings. I want you to notice them as it really gives us a clear picture of humanity outside of Christ. And it also illustrates that statement about hoping against hope. To be dead as Paul is declaring is to be one who has breathed his last, one who is lifeless. It is one who is deceased, departed, one whose soul is in heaven or hell, destitute of life, without life, inanimate. Unrepentant sinners are spiritually dead; that is destitute of life and therefore of the ability to recognize his true nature. He is blind to the things of God. He is inactive as respects doing right, destitute of force or power, inactive, inoperative.

 

Now that’s a pretty clear picture isn’t it! Picking up our passage again we see that we were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, let’s stop there. We were dead in trespasses and sins. We were dead to anything good but rather our lives were filled with every form of sin.

The thoughts and intents of our hearts were only evil continually. Indeed we walked, literally lived for sin! We loved it and relished the next opportunity to perform our sinful deeds again. And we were merely “following the course of this world, this world is fallen. Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit in direct rebellion to the revealed will of God. God had declared that the day they ate of the fruit, they would die. And this occurred. They died spiritually that day…they fell from that gracious position they had been born into. Fellowship with God was broken and the course of this world has been characterized by rebellion ever sin.

 

And this is the characteristic of the devil. The world is following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience… In (Isa 14:12-14) we are given a behind the scenes glimpse into the rebellious heart of the prince of the power of the air. Notice what the prophet says: “How you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star, son of Dawn!  How you are cut down to the ground, you who laid the nations low! 13 You said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven;  above the stars of God  I will set my throne on high;  I will sit on the mount of assembly  in the far reaches of the north; 14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds;  I will make myself like the Most High.’ Here was a desire to overthrow God. Here was rebellion in epic proportions. But God cut him down.

 

And then we have to contend with the Sovereignty of God. You see, God is the first cause of all things. Nothing happens but that which is in accordance with His will. This is many times mysterious and I don’t pretend to be able to comprehend all of it. All I can say is that God is God and He rules in the affairs of men. And all things bring glory and honor to His name. As the 1689 confession declares, either to the praise of the glory of His grace or to the praise of the glory of His justice. And Bunyan’s map states ‘whether to heaven or hell you bend, God will have glory in the end.”

 

God declares the end from the beginning and from ancient times, things which have not been done. Before God created all things He had declared the end from the beginning. We must conclude that when God created Satan He did so with the intent that he would fall and take a third of the angels with him in order to set the stage for the end.

 

Before He created mankind it was preordained that Adam and Eve would eat of that forbidden fruit in order that they might fall…in order that many people, those whose names God has written in the Lambs book of life, would be saved alive. We see this pictured in the account of Jacob and Joseph and the coming of the Israelites into Egypt…in order that many people might be saved alive. The God who declares the end from the beginning has preordained all that will come to pass, including the boundaries of our habitation and the length of our days and what we will do while we are here on earth. This is quite mysterious in a way but in a way it makes perfect sense. God, the divine Potter has molded every man, woman and child into exactly what He wants them to be…whether vessels of wrath or vessels of mercy. He has the right to do so and the power to do so.

 

And so we must see that according to God’s preordained will we were born sinners and followed the course of this world and the dictates of the prince of the power of the air. It was 3 among the sons of disobedience whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. Here is a portrait of hopelessness if we only look to externals. But if we see the divine Hand of Providence directing all things according to His will, then we can hope against all hope…especially because of the next two words…4 But God, we were dead but God…we were without hope being without God in this world but God…we were on our way to hell, already had reservations but God. We stood before Him condemned already but God…

 

4 But God, being rich (abounding) in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, I have to stop here. God is rich in mercy because of the great love with which He loves us. He has set His love upon us, has picked us out for Himself, elected if you will, us to be part of the men from every tribe, tongue and nation. His choosing us demonstrates that we are by God’s grace, vessels of mercy.

 

We are the recipients of that abounding mercy and love, that infinite love of an infinite God which is demonstrable. God demonstrated His love to us in that when we were helpless, Christ died for the ungodly. Even when we were His enemies, He chose to set His love upon us…5 even when we were dead in our trespasses; He loved us and demonstrated that love in that He made us who were dead, stinking corpses of sin He made us alive together with Christ… Jesus is the first-fruits of the resurrection of the dead and we who are in Christ are made partakers of His resurrection. He called us from death to life just as Jesus called Lazarus from the tomb. When Lazarus went in he was fully dead. When he came out, he was fully alive.

 

In the same way we were fully dead in a spiritual sense; we were dead to the things of God and they seemed foolish to us. We were unable to understand the truth for we were dead…But God! Because of or by the grace and mercy of God you have been saved— 6 and God raised us up with Him (Christ) and note the totality of the finished work of salvation… God seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages He might show the immeasurable riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. This is the end of the vessels of mercy. Jesus Christ has prepared a home for those who believe in Him, who were saved by the grace of God and the day is coming when we will step out of this sphere of existence and into our heavenly reward. And just so that nobody gets puffed up with pride like Nebuchadnezzar and starts to strut around and think they are somebody Paul says 8 “For by grace according to undeserved love and mercy you have been saved through faith. And this salvation is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Salvation, from beginning to end, is of God and to God belongs all the glory and praise for His finished work! Amen.

 

Verse twenty tells us that this unwavering faith glorified God. (Rom 4:20-21)No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, 21 fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. You can actually see Abraham’s faith! It is tangible. It is palatable. It is demonstrable. He demonstrated his faith by his deeds. His unwavering faith caused him to believe that God was able to do all that He had promised. Unwavering belief in the word of God always brings Him glory. Such faith testifies to the integrity, faithfulness, power, grace and goodness of God. This is the testimony of Abraham. He was fully assured that God would do what He said He would.

 

Now let us apply this truth to ourselves. When we are not anxious or afraid in difficult situations we are demonstrating that we really believe His promise to work all things together for our good. And this brings Him glory and honor before men. When we lay down at night without fear because the Bible tells us that God never sleeps or slumbers we bring glory to God. By such behavior we are bearing witness to the world about the God we worship. Such faith glorifies God. The person with this kind of faith is the most peaceful of God’s people. When we are in this place we are enjoying what the Bible refers to as the peace that passes all understanding. Abraham walked in such a place as he was 21 “fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. 22 That is why his faith was “counted to him as righteousness.” If, as a Christian, you are fully assured that your God is faithful to His word you will not fear for you will know as David did, that God is with you.  

 

You will walk in the assurance that “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, Nor will the flame burn you. (Isa 43:2)  You will demonstrate that you really believe and have full assurance that you trust Jesus who said; “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

 

You will with Paul declare, “. . . For I am sure (fully assured) that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39  nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39) If you are fully assured of God’s integrity and intent to do you good even in the midst of great persecution and suffering you will say, “. . . 12  which is why I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me. (2Tim1:12). The Christian has entrusted his whole life and eternity to God and he is fully assured of his safety. If you are fully assured of the power, ability and integrity of God you will not despair when you think of your lost family members and friends.

 

When you are discouraged and without strength to carry on, if you are fully assured of your standing with God, you will rejoice in your weakness and continue to serve God saying, I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” (Phil 4:13) Now this type of faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. (Heb 11:1) This is the faith that brings glory to God and moves the people of God to praise and obey Him no matter what the circumstances seem to say. This is the kind of faith that Abraham had. He simply believed that God would fulfill His promises, and therefore it his God granted faith was imputed [credited] to him for righteousness.

 

Paul finishes out this section saying “But the words “it was counted to him” were not written for his sake alone, 24 but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in Him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, 25 who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.  (Rom 4:23-25)  What a blessing it is to be included in the faith of Abraham, which is the faith that God bestows upon His sheep. The God of the Scriptures is eternal and almighty. He measures the heavens with the span of His hand, and to Him “the nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance” (Isa 40:12-15). Oh, the greatness of the God we serve! (Eph 3:20-21) “Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”

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