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Sunday, November 28, 2010 pm

ASSURANCE REGARDING OUR SALVATION

                Every once in awhile we sing the song, “Blessed Assurance”.  It is a song to be sung with hope.  As Christians we ought to have hope where our salvation is concerned.   Yet at times we do not.  Even though it is contrary to the teachings of many in the religious world we understand that our salvation is not guaranteed.  It is very much possible that we can abandon our salvation and the hope that ought to accompany it. And when we sin in rebellion against God we ought to feel apprehension until we take care of it.

                 But it doesn’t have to be that way.  Do we have to go around with doubts about our salvation?  If there is doubt, WHY IS IT THERE?  Is there anything you can do about it?  In our lesson this evening we are going to talk about our Assurance as Christians.  First we will establish that we don’t have to have doubt, then we will notice the assurance we MUST have according to God’s word

I.                     The Christian and Sin

a.        The POSSIBILITY of apostasy – It is not inevitable.

                                                   i.      In scriptures we often note, in response to the false teaching of the denominations that it IS possible for one to apostatize (fall away).  That is clearly taught in passages such as 2 Pet. 2:20-22, Heb. 10:24-31, Matt. 13:20-22 – the Parable of the Sower, etc.
We never want to forget that faithfulness is expected as long as we live (Rev. 2:10, 1 Cor. 9:27, etc.

                                                  ii.      BUT, let us realize that while apostasy is possible it is NOT inevitable.  It doesn’t have to happen.   1 John 5:17 says, “All unrighteousness is sin, and there is sin NOT leading to death.”
James 1:14-15 says, “But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.”  Not how sin does NOT have to lead to death.
2 Peter 1:10-11 says, “Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

                                                iii.      We need to keep this in mind as Christians. We need to know that we can live a life pleasing to God and one in which we actually have hope of eternal life. 
Sometimes our mindset causes us to become discouraged and give up thinking there is no hope.  The Bible is a message of hope and we need to think that way.  1 Peter 1:3-5 describes this hope.  Romans 15:13 says,”Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
If we think we are defeated, we will be before we even start!  We will live as those who have no hope.

b.       When we do sin we CAN be forgiven

                                                   i.      We have hope because we have been forgiven.  When you became a Christian you sins were washed away (Ac. 22:16, 2:38).   You have come in contact with the blood of Christ which cleanses us of our sins (Rom. 6:3-4, Eph. 2:13 – we have been brought near by the blood of Christ.”). 
And what God forgives is forgotten forever – Isa. 1:18, Psa. 103:12.

                                                  ii.      EVEN WHEN we sin as Christians (and we will, given enough time), we can be forgiven again.  Note 1 John 1:5-10.  Notice how when we walk in the light, “the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.” (7). 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
Gal 6:1, Jas. 5:19-20 show us that one can wander from the faith and be turned back.

                                                iii.      There is debate even among brethren as to how much one can sin and still have hope. While I do not believe that God is in heaven waiting for us to mess up so that He can damn us to hell immediately, I will not say that ANY sin is ever acceptable to Him.  Once you open that gate, there is no stopping the flood of allowance.  The only safe course is to take care of whatever sins plague your life no matter how great or how small they may be (again 1 John 1:9).  All it took was eating a piece of forbidden fruit to cause Eve and Adam to fall (cf. Gen. 2:17). 

c.        We can know we are saved

                                                   i.      Having said this, we are reminded that we CAN know that we are right with God.
1 John 5:13 says, “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.”
1 John 2:5, “…By this we know that we are in Him.
1 John 3:14, “We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren.

                                                  ii.      But notice how these passages and many others which express the confidence of hope Christians have hinges upon our submission to His will. 

                                                iii.      Heb. 6:9-12 speaks of our full assurance of hope until the end.  It motivates us to not give up and to imitate those before us who have faithfully finished the race.

d.       When we doubt –

                                                   i.      But oftentimes we doubt our salvation.  Why?  There can be many factors in this.

                                                  ii.      Sometimes we doubt because we know we are living in sin – we look at our lives and we see things that we KNOW are not what they ought to be.    Friends, if you are living in rebellion against God you need to take care of that.  You need to repent! (cf. 2 Cor. 7:10-11, Acts 8:22, Rev. 2:16, 3:19, etc.)

                                                iii.      Sometimes we are acting with doubting in our lives – we do what we are not sure of.  Many Christians stay away from the “big sins” as they might call them.  But other live their lives doing things they are not sure of.  Rom. 14:22-23 tells us not to do anything we doubt.

                                                iv.      Sometimes we are not trying hard enough – we are not putting forth great effort in our service to God.  Our life is one of mediocrity towards Him.  God demands wholehearted service – Matt. 6:33, 2 Pet. 1:10-11

                                                  v.      Sometimes we are harder on ourselves than we ought to be – we don’t want to let God forgive us.  Because we see ourselves as unworthy, we are slow in accepting God’s mercy and love.  WE have to move past such attitudes.

                                                vi.      Sometimes we fail to trust God the way that we ought to – we give platitudes to Him, but in reality we don’t fully comprehend how great His love is and many other things about God that are designed to give us assurance and hope.  Heb. 7:25 says, “Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.

                                               vii.      When we doubt, no matter what the reason might be, if we don’t do something about it, we are in danger of giving up which will lead to apostasy.  The bottom line is if we are doubting - something needs to change – either your life or your hope.

II.                  The Assurance Every Christian Needs

a.        If you have doubts about your standing before God, I can’t make them go away for you.  As we have noted, you need to address your doubts.  BUT, perhaps I can give you some confidence by noting some things we CAN KNOW with COMPLETE assurance which might help us as we strive to deal with these things we have discussed thus far.

b.       WE CAN HAVE ASSURANCE THAT:

                                                   i.      God DOES love you – Rom. 8:38-39 notes that nothing can separate us from the love of God.
Eph. 2:4-5 – God, in His rich mercy and love for us made us alive in Christ Jesus.

                                                  ii.      God wants you to be saved - He is not finished with us – 2 Pet. 3:9, 1 Tim. 2:3-4, Rom. 2:4.
We need to consider this not only for those who have never obeyed the gospel, but also for His children.  God cares about us and wants us to spend eternity in heaven.  For example when we read of His chastening, it is for our good – Heb. 12:5-11, Rev. 3:19, “As many as I love I rebuke and chasten.”

                                                iii.      God understands – Jesus was sent to this earth to die for our sins, but also so that He might better understand us.  He came and revealed the Father (John 14:9, 1 John 5:20) to us and he reveals us to the Father. Heb. 2:17-18, 4:15-16.  Have assurance that our Lord wants us to be saved.

                                                iv.      God can help you – Jude 24, 25 – He is able to keep us from stumbling.
Ephesians 3:20 – He is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask.
Rom. 16:25 - He is able to establish us.

                                                  v.      God hears your prayers - 1 John 4:14-15, if our prayers are according to His will, He hears us.  At times we become discouraged and wonder whether or not God is listening.  IF we are striving to serve Him, we can KNOW with assurance He is there and hears us.  John 9:31, Luke 18:6-8 – He hears AND answers (though not always as we want it answered).

                                                vi.      I CAN obey Him – 1 Cor. 10:13 gives us a promise that whatever comes our way, we can handle it.  Sometimes we do not like our options and it seems hopeless, but we HAVE TO accept whatever happens.  But know that in whatever happens, you DO NOT HAVE TO SIN!  You can obey God, but are you willing to do that even if there are consequences? 
1 John 5:3 reminds us that His commandments are not burdensome.
Matt. 11:30, Jesus said His yoke is easy and His burden is light (in comparison to the consequences of failing to obey).

                                               vii.      I have brethren that love me and care about me – at times your brethren may let us down, but it is a rare circumstance when no one cares about you among your brethren (though sometimes you might ASSUME they don’t).  More often than not, if we have developed the bond we ought to develop, our brethren are there for us and want to help us.  Gal. 6:1-2 describes the concerns we have for our brethren overtaken in some trespass.  1 Thess. 5:14 describes how whatever the plight of our brethren, there is something we can (and should) do for them.

 

                So what is the point of this lesson?  It is this.  God doesn’t want us to be lost.  We need to keep that thought first and foremost in our mind.  While it is not a license to sin, know that when you do sin you CAN be forgiven and God can and will help you, if you are willing to accept it.  Don’t live your life without hope.   Live with assurance of your salvation.  It really is up to you.  Think about it!