This sermon is number 12 in a series of 14
Back To Basics - Part 12
by David Legge | Copyright © 2005 | All Rights Reserved | www.preachtheword.com
We're turning to 1 John chapter 5, and this is our twelfth study in this Sunday morning series entitled 'Back to Basics', looking at the ABCs of the Christian life, elementary truths that we ought to know from babes in Christ when we first come to faith, but also we've found - I hope you have at least - things we need to constantly remind ourselves of as we grow older in the Christian life. This morning we're looking at 'Assurance', which might seem strange to you - but it is not, it's probably one of the most common questions that any preacher or evangelist or Sunday School teacher is asked: 'I don't feel saved', or 'How can I know that I am saved?'. It is often a nagging problem that's in the heart of many believers who have been saved for many years, or at least professed faith in Christ for many years - but are afraid, almost, to ask it. So we're going to look at it this morning in some detail, so bear with me in the time that we have before us.
The one verse that we want to look at as a springboard is 1 John 5 verse 13: "These things", John says, the things that he has written in this book, "have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God".
Now that verse not only proves that it is possible to have the assurance of your salvation, but it also insinuates that it is also possible to be saved and not know for sure - otherwise, why would John be writing to a group of believers in Ephesus, saying: 'I'm writing that you might know for sure that you have eternal life'? It's possible to be saved and not possess full assurance. If I can be personal for a moment or two this morning, I was brought up in this church and sent along to Sunday School - and like, I'm sure, some of you who were brought up in Christian homes, you can remember many times when you asked the Lord Jesus into your heart, as the saying goes. I look back to perhaps a date, the 3rd November 1984, after Sunday School in the Iron Hall, when I came home I asked the Lord Jesus to save me. I'm not sure if that's the date or not that the Lord Jesus did that eternal work, but I do know this: for many years after that event, particularly in my teenage years, I doubted my salvation and could not get assurance of it. I went to school in the centre of town, and as many of you will know in the centre of Belfast there are several evangelical bookshops - at the time there were three in particular that I frequented - and I went there almost every day, at least a couple of times in the week, looking for books or booklets, or something - now mark this - something that would tell me that I was saved. I had not that assurance. I believe I was saved, but I lacked the assurance of my salvation.
Now some people here this morning might be in the same predicament, and that may be for a number of reasons. Sometimes people are under very solid, sound, strong preaching - and the preacher pummels forth the high ideals of God's word, and I hope that that happens in this church, and we make no apology for it - but one of the unfortunate offshoots of that is that some believers who are struggling in their faith can feel: 'Because I can't reach the standard of the pulpit, I mustn't be saved'. Now that doesn't mean we dilute the standard of what comes forth from the pulpit, but it does mean that we have to be sensitive to those who perhaps have these doubts already in their hearts. Other people just simply can't grasp the idea of forgiveness of sins, or the grace of God, they don't comprehend the gospel: how the slate can be just wiped clean, they think that they have to do something more, or perhaps they have to feel something.
Other people don't know the exact moment of their salvation, the time, the date - some people say: 'I was there when it happened and that's how I know' - but some people can't remember when it happened, especially those brought up in Christian homes. Sometimes I'm guilty, I would have to say, in my Gospel preaching of maybe referring that you need to know a time or a date - but some people don't know, or at least can't remember, a time or a date. They have an assurance that they're saved, but they don't know when it happened. In fact, one very well-known biblical scholar and preacher said: 'I can't remember the moment that I was saved. I don't know when I passed from death unto life, but I know I did. I don't know a time when I didn't believe. I never went through a time of rebelling openly and flagrantly against God. I had a car accident when I was a freshman in college, but I can't say that was the time of my salvation. I remember praying a prayer with my father on the steps of a church in Indiana when he was holding a revival meeting, his sermon convicted me because I had done some things that week that were not right. I don't know whether that's the moment I passed from death unto life. There were times as a little child when I prayed prayers. There were times as a teen-ager when I went to camp, I remember as a fourteen-year-old going forward and throwing a pinecone in a fire, teary-eyed and wanting to make my life right with God. I don't know when I passed from death unto life, I know I did, but I don't look for a past event to make it real, I look for a present pattern of life'.
Now please remember that statement, because it will bear out in our study this morning as we go through - he says: 'I don't look for a past event to make my salvation real, I look for a present pattern of life to prove it is real'. It's not a past event of what happened when we were saved, the past event that really matters is the death of Christ on the cross, His resurrection, and the fact that we are trusting in that then and now that makes the difference. We would have to say that although some are saved and lack assurance, some have a particular point in time in their past when they feel they've got saved, and they have a false assurance. Did you hear me? They can remember a past event, but the reality of a present righteousness is absent from their life.
But then there are others who feel sin strongly in their hearts, they don't see that they've really entered into the new nature, they have problems with temptations and struggles and so on; and they feel: 'How can I really be saved?' - they doubt their assurance because of the presence of sin within their life. So I want to say first of all in introduction, to make the premise clear: it is possible to be truly saved and not have the assurance of it, that is possible. Also it is possible to have an assurance and not be truly saved. It is possible to have a profession and to have no assurance of that profession, because you're not truly saved. Did you hear me? It is possible to be truly saved, but lack assurance. It is possible to not be truly saved and have assurance. And it is possible to have simply a profession and wonder why you don't have assurance, because you weren't saved in the first place. Now if that isn't enough to let you know why it is so important to discern what condition you're in, I don't know what is able to do that. It's so important to discern, to make sure of your assurance.
On July 1937 the aviatrix, Amelia Earhart, and her fight companion Lt Cdr Fred Noonan vanished from the vicinity of Howland Island in the South Pacific Ocean. They were attempting an around the world flight trip in a twin-engined Lockheed aircraft. In her last radio contact with a United States naval vessel, Miss Earhart transmitted this very terse message: 'Position doubtful'. Position doubtful! Now undoubtedly she knew the approximate position of her craft, but because she didn't know the precise position both she and her companion were lost and went to their deaths.
Need I say how important it is that you have the assurance of your salvation and, if you've never hitherto done so, that you make sure this morning in this very meeting? Let me share three things with you: one, you can know for sure; two, you ought to know for sure; and three, how to know for sure. Now I'm going to take time to deal with these this morning. First of all: you can know for sure. The Roman Catholic Church teaches that you can't know for sure. At the Council of Trent, it declared roundly, I quote: 'A believer's assurance of the pardon of sins is a vain and ungodly confidence'. They call it the sin of presumption, to think that you can know that you're going to heaven one day. Protestantism has a school of thought called Arminianism, of which I am not a member I'm glad to say - that's not telling you what member I am of which camp! - but it teaches that the free will of man is more important in salvation than the sovereignty of God. In other words, the salvation of your soul rests more with yourself than it does with God. They generally believe that the most one can enjoy is the assurance of salvation at any given moment. Let me explain that: that means that you can only know now whether you're saved are not, you can't say 'I'll be saved in a year's time, or ten years time', that's presumption as well - you can only know by the way you're living your life at present, through the internal witness of the Holy Spirit, a life lived apart from voluntary sin, that you're saved here and now. So the responsibility of your salvation in Arminianism is with you, and with what you're doing now.
Now we ask the question this morning: what is the truth? The church of Rome says you can't know, Arminianism in Protestantism says you can only know for the moment whether you're saved or not, you can't know in the end. What is the truth? Well, a very casual examination of the Bible shows that assurance of salvation can be known - you can know for sure! The assurance of salvation is both an objective and a subjective assurance. Now what am I talking about? I want to explain all this as I go along. To be objective means it's external from you, it's something that is literal, that can be looked to, that can give you the assurance of your salvation - and we'll look at what that is Then the subject assurance is a personal internal thing, where you have a conviction that you're saved. Now one is more important - or I should say, not more important, but comes before the other in the matter of assurance of salvation - but assurance is widely taught throughout the whole Scriptures but especially, of course, in the New Testament.
Paul plainly teaches in the book of Romans, if you turn to chapter 8 for a moment, that the Spirit of adoption, God's Holy Spirit adopts us and produces the assurance of sonship in our hearts. Romans 8 and verse 15: 'For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit himself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ'. The Spirit of God is within us crying, because we are adopted as sons, Abba, Father to our Father God. You find that in Galatians 4 and verse 6 as well - and that, if you like, is partly a subjective assurance of salvation. God's Spirit witnesses with your spirit that you're a child of God. But that is upon the virtue of the purpose and work of God through Jesus Christ, look at Romans 8 till I show you this - if you look at verses 29 to 30 you see that election is mentioned, God calling us is mentioned, justification is mentioned and glorification. So whatever this sense of God's Spirit witnessing with our spirit in our hearts is, this subjective experience, it is based on something that is external from us, something objective - what is it? That God, before the world began, called you and elected you. He chose you in Christ before the foundation of the world, and upon that choosing He called you in this life, He justified you because of what Jesus did on the cross and through His resurrection, and one-day He's going to glorify you when you enter into eternity.
You see it in these verses, just so that you know I'm not making it up, verse 29 of chapter 8: 'For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified'. So it's clear, the objective purpose of God was to save you, and through Christ He has done that; and then we get a witness in our spirit at salvation and after, that we belong to God, we are adopted as sons. Paul goes on to say in verses 38 to 39 that he is convinced that nothing can separate the believer in that relationship. Look at it: 'I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord'.
So he's saying that the Christian can possess full certainty that God has saved them, upon the authority of what Christ did at Calvary, but way back even before when He chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world - that's objective, external to us. But internal and personal to us, after our conversion, is the witness of the Spirit with us that we are God's - and we cry from our hearts 'Abba, Father'. He goes on to say in 2 Timothy chapter 1 that we can be sure that God will bring our salvation to completion - 2 Timothy chapter 1 and verse 12, he says: 'I am not ashamed: for I know', we sang it, 'whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day'. He says the same in Philippians and chapter 1 verse 6: 'Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ'.
So he says in Colossians again that the Christian ought to possess an assured understanding. In 1 Thessalonians he said we ought to have a full conviction that we are saved. Now John in his writings, particularly the epistle of 1 John, likewise writes that the basis of the scriptural testimony to Christ's saving work in the believer is the only certainty that we possess eternal life - in other words, that the Lord Jesus Christ died for us. He says that in 1 John 5:24, the Lord Jesus quoted; he said it in our reading this morning, 1 John 5:13: 'These things are written', the word of God, even his gospel writings were written, 'that we might know that we have eternal life'. Moreover, one who is saved has the fruit of the Spirit in his life, we see that from 1 John as well, the testimony of the Holy Spirit in his heart - we'll not take time to look at the verses - and this is an added evidence that we belong to the Lord, it gives us the assurance that we are saved.
The book of Hebrews, which I believe Paul wrote, concurs that the Christian can have the full assurance of hope and the full assurance of faith - so there's no doubt, I think, as far as I'm concerned, and I hope you too as you see these Scriptures today, that you can know for sure that you're saved. The primary basis for the assurance of salvation is the word of God. God has said that He has chosen us in Christ, Jesus died for us on Calvary, rose again for our justification; we have believed on Him in this life, and if we have truly believed, we can be sure upon the authority of what God's word says that we are saved. The secondary evidence of that that we find in the Scriptures is the internal convictions, the outward manifestations of the Spirit from our life when we have believed in the word of God.
So let me illustrate it to you like this: God's word is like the anchor that holds our vessel secure. It is what is saving us, but the sailor doesn't look to the anchor - the sailor looks to the land to see if the land is moving, to see whether he's static or not. Although we're not saved by internal convictions, or the good works that are in our life - that is very clear, we're saved by the death and resurrection of the Lord, and faith alone in that - the evidence for our own heart's conviction first is God's word, but secondly what gives us assurance is not seeing the land move, and knowing that our lives are in accordance with what God's word says.
We'll look at that in a moment, but let me say categorically first of all: the emphasis in our preaching and in our lives must be upon God's ability to keep us, not on our ability to keep whatever God has given to us. I don't know, sometimes, what a Calvinist is. People talk about these terms and I don't like them, but the Bible teaches us this - and if this is what a Calvinist is, I must be one, don't quote me on that - but if this means that God is holding me rather than me holding God, that's what I believe in. For it is God's own word that secures my soul, it's God's own work on the cross and the resurrection that makes me saved, and it's God's own worth, His own nature - that He does not lie, and He will not turn His back on me - that keeps me.
Samuel Rutherford said: 'Our hope is not hung upon such an untwisted thread as, "I imagine so," or "It is likely," but the cable, the strong rope of our fastened anchor, is the oath and promise of Him who is eternal verity. Our salvation is fastened with God's own hand, and with Christ's own strength, to the strong stake of God's unchanging word'. Alan Redpath tells a story about the wee boy who was kept awake at night because the devil was causing him to doubt and tempting him. He says he opened his Bible at 1 John 5 verse 13, that we read together this morning, 'That ye might know that ye have eternal life', and he shoved it under the bed and said: 'There it is, you read it yourself!'. That's it, isn't it? God's word has said it, you can know for sure - but secondly, you ought to know for sure.
Why? Well, to be sure of your eternity. If you're not sure of your eternity, you ought to make sure. That's what 2 Peter 1 verse 10 says: 'Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure'. People say: 'Oh you talk about election, you talk about predestination, that means 'Que Sera, Sera' - everything that will be will be' - but why is Peter saying 'make your calling and election sure'? There's a part that you can do about it in knowing that you're saved, by the way that you live and by what you trust in. In 2 Corinthians chapter 13 you have the same sentiment in verse 5, he said: 'Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves'.
Now can I say that here is one of the great mistakes that many evangelists, Sunday School teachers and parents make when they deal with people coming for salvation. On occasions they should be making people doubt their salvation, rather what they do is they make them sure of their salvation by showing them the Scriptures, God's word, when they do not have the internal evidence from God's Spirit in their heart. What am I talking about? Well, many people are told, and I feel I have been guilty of this in the past, 'God's word says, 'If you call upon the name of the Lord you shall be saved' - and you called upon the name of the Lord, didn't you?', 'Yes', 'Well, then you're saved'. Now that is logic, and it is a particular type of logic called a syllogism, and it means this: that you make two true statements, but you come up with a conclusion that is not necessarily true. Let me give you an illustration like this, this is a syllogism: all trains are long, some buses are long, therefore some buses are trains. Did you hear that? All trains are long, some buses are long, therefore some buses are trains. Well, that's plainly error, isn't it? What people do is, they say: 'Jesus says, 'Call upon me and you shall be saved', you called, therefore you're saved' - that is a syllogism, why? Because no one knows, only God, and perhaps that person, if they really called upon God. Have we missed that? No man can give another man the assurance of his salvation, only the word of God and God's Spirit in his heart can do that. I wonder how many people have been sent to hell because a preacher has said: 'You're saved because you called on God'.
Now I hope we've cleared that one up. The puritans would have said: 'We are to be tested and then trusted'. Our salvation should be tested and then trusted. You don't know if you're truly saved until you're tested. The truth of assurance is the award of tested and proven faith that the Holy Spirit gives, not a human counsellor can give. In case you think this is some hyper-Calvinism - that I detest, I hasten to add - R.A. Torrey said this: 'Many workers, in dealing with others, make the great mistake of trying to press them to the point of saying they know they are saved before it is clear that they are saved'. You ought to know, you ought to know you're saved because there's many people that have faith, but their faith has never been tested and they mightn't be saved at all.
Let me give you, quickly, a number of other reasons why you ought to know: because it brings love and praise for God out of your heart to the Father for your salvation - if you haven't assurance you can't give that. If you haven't assurance, you haven't the joy that you need to take you through life's turmoils and difficulties, and mundane duties. If you don't have assurance, you'll not be as zealous in the work of the Lord, and in obedience towards Him as you ought to. Assurance gives you victory over temptation. Assurance makes you content even though you have little in this world, and even though perhaps you're going through very adverse suffering. Assurance pacifies a troubled conscience - even when you feel guilty, when you know you're saved, you know that Christ's blood has cleansed you and made you righteous and justified before God. Finally, and by no means least, it takes away the fear of death. To have assurance is to know that it's to be absent from the body, and present with the Lord.
So, it's the most important thing to know for your eternity, and for your present, and for your service and life as a Christian. During the first part of the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco that some of you have seen and driven over, there was no safety devices used and 23 men fell to their deaths. In the last part of the project a large net that cost $100,000 was employed, and at least 10 men fell - all were saved. Here's the interesting insight: 25% extra work was accomplished by those men because they were working in an environment that was safe. You need to know it.
Latimer, who was burned at the stake, said to Ridley who was burned at the stake: 'When I live in a settled and steadfast assurance about the state of my soul, methinks I'm as bold as a lion, I can laugh at all trouble, no affliction daunts me; but when I am eclipsed by my comforts, I am of so fearful a spirit that I could run into a very mouse hole' - and they could not burn at the stake for Christ if they didn't have their assurance of salvation! You can have it, you ought to have it for your eternity and for your now.
But thirdly, let me leave you in the time that is left with how to know for sure. Well, it's obvious, as we've seen already, that you're not to trust in your feelings. Those can be an evidence that you're saved of God and bring assurance into your life, but they're not the foundation and the basis of our faith. The foundation and basis of our faith is what the word of God says: that Christ died for our sins, and rose again according to the Scriptures. We need to remember that. A captain in a liner never anchors his ship by fastening the anchor inside the boat, he always throws the anchor outside the boat. It is that objective truth that our salvation is rooted and grounded upon. How do I know I'm saved? First and foremost, because God has said that you're saved if you believe and trust in Him. Now the authenticity of that is another thing, but just like you say: 'How do I know I'm married?', well, the minister said so - you know you're saved because God said so, if you're truly trusting.
'How do I know I'm truly trusting?', you say. Well, the basis and primary reason for our assurance is the word of God - that objective evidence that we are saved. But what outflows from that is: if we are truly saved, there will be subjective evidence in our life. Now it mightn't come right away, but what outflows from that is: if we are truly saved, there will be subjective evidence in our life - now it mightn't come right away, and it mightn't come all of a sudden altogether, but it must be there. Jonathan Edwards, that great theologian of revival, probably the greatest theologian that America has ever known, said: 'As the principle evidence of life is motion, so the principle evidence of saving grace is holy practice'. We've got away from this, and the teaching, if there's any teaching in the book of 1 John it is this: this is how you will know a Christian, this is how you will know you're saved - 1 John 5:13, 'These things are written unto you that you might know'.
Now once we move on from the fact that God says if you believe through faith alone in Him you're saved, how do we know that my saving faith has been an effectual one, that I'm really saved? John gives us - and here are the tests, these are taken from a series of three sermons that a man preached, and I took them out, nothing else, and put them down as eleven tests of how we can have the assurance of our salvation - and they're all found in 1 John. Note them down if you wish, and we're going to take time to go through them very quickly.
Here's the first test: are you enjoying fellowship with Christ in God? First John chapter 1 and verse 3: 'That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ'. Are you enjoying fellowship with Christ and with God? I'm not saying that if you're not presently having fellowship with Him, that you're not saved, but I am saying that you can't have any assurance of salvation if you're not doing this. One sign that you're truly saved is a desire to be with God, to commune with God - I know you don't do it as much as you should, I don't either, but the desire ought to be there.
Secondly: are you sensitive to sin in your life? First John chapter 1 and verse 5: 'This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin'. Are you sensitive to sin in your life? Or can you go on living a life of sin, and it doesn't matter to you, and yet you call yourself a Christian? That is an utter impossibility - you're not a Christian, and certainly if you're living in present sin you will never have the assurance of your salvation.
Here's the third question: are you obedient to God's word? That is the pattern of your life: obedience. Chapter 2 and verse 3: 'Hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him'. How can you tell a true Christian? 'Oh, he shows you a time and a date when he asked the Lord into his heart, when he prayed 'Just as I am', or where he stuck his hand up' - that is nonsense. A true Christian is to be known externally by others through obedience. You can have obedience and not be saved, but John says if you are saved you'll have obedience. John Newton who wrote that hymn 'Amazing Grace' that we were singing at the beginning of our meeting, said: 'If David had come to me in his adultery, and talked to me of his assurance, I should have despised his speech'. What about that? The puritan Thomas Brooks said: 'Assurance is the daughter of holiness'. Sinclair Ferguson said: 'High degrees of true assurance cannot be enjoyed by those who persist in low levels of obedience'. High degrees of assurance are not enjoyed by those who live at low levels of obedience! Now I'm not saying that if you're not obedient at this present time, you're not saved; but what I am saying is this: sin in the life of a believer cancels out assurance. If you're looking for assurance but you're sinning, you're not going to get it - neither should you have it.
Four: do you reject the world? That is the world system, everything that is in the world, do you reject it? Verse 15 of chapter 2: 'Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever'. Do you love the world, Christian? Young person? The things of the world, the fads and fashions of the world, and you wonder why you don't feel saved - there's your answer!
Five: do you love Christ and eagerly wait for His return? Chapter 3 verses 1-3: 'Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us...', he talks about the change that will happen to us at the coming of the Lord, and in verse 3, 'Every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure'. Are you waiting, are you watching? Are you living for now, and because you're living without eternity's values in view, you don't have an assurance of salvation in your heart?
Well, number six, coming out of number two: do you see a decreasing pattern of sin in your life? Is sin decreasing in your life? This is so important, because if we're saved there's meant to be a progression, and you can only have assurance of your salvation if there is a decreasing pattern of sin in your life. Verse 5 of chapter 3: 'ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin. Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him. Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous'. Now none of us are what we should be, none of us are what we ought to be, but at least if we're saved the only way you can have assurance that you are saved is if you are continually progressing, and there is a decreasing in your sin.
Number seven: do you love other Christians? Chapter 2 verse 9 tells us clearly, if you look back to it: 'He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now'. Is it a revelation to you that if you have malice or hate in your heart towards another brother or sister in Christ, you do not have the assurance of your salvation? Now that's staggering, but that's God's word. There are some of you in here and you've got that right now, and you'll sing like a good'n 'Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine' - not according to 1 John 2 verse 9. I'm not saying you're not saved, but I'm saying you can't hold within your heart the assurance of your salvation if you hate your brother in your heart.
Number eight: do you experience answered prayer? Chapter 3 and verse 22: 'Whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight'. The same is found in chapter 5 verse 14 - have you ever received an answered prayer in your life? There's nothing that assures you more of your salvation than when God does great things for you through answered prayer, you know He's listening.
Number nine: do you experience the ministry of the Holy Spirit in your life? First John 4 and verse 13: 'Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit'.
Number ten: can you discern between spiritual truth and error? He talks in chapter 4 verse 1, 2 and 3, how we know whether a spirit is of God or not - and that is a mark of a child of God, that you're able to discern what is truth, false Christianity and true Christianity, those that are truly saved and preaching a saving message, and those that are not.
And then eleventh, I finish with: have you been rejected for your faith somewhere along the way? Have you been rejected for your faith? Chapter 3 and verse 13: 'Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you'.
Can I go over these again? You can only know assurance of your salvation - how to know it? Here it is: are you enjoying fellowship with Christ in God? Are you sensitive to sin in your life? Are you obedient to God? Do you reject the world? Do you love Christ and eagerly wait for His return? Do you see a decreasing pattern of sin in your life? Do you love other Christians? Do you experience answered prayer? Do you experience the ministry of the Holy Spirit? Can you discern between spiritual truth and error? Have you been rejected for your faith? These things don't save you, these things show you that you're saved - and we've lost that! 'Call on the name of the Lord and you will be saved' - one verse, that's the basis, but the assurance comes in the life. As Jonathan Edwards has said: 'True salvation always produces an abiding change of nature in a true convert; therefore, wherever a confession of conversion is not accompanied by a holiness of life, it must be understood that the individual concerned is not a Christian'.
Does that bother you? It bothers me. It ought to bother you. I'm free to talk with any of you this morning who are concerned about your salvation and assurance of it. I have some booklets here: 'Pardon for Sin and Assurance of Peace with God'. You can take that with you - but settle the matter, you can be saved and just not have the assurance. You might have assurance, and you're not saved. You might have a profession and wonder why you don't have assurance, and it may be because you were never saved in the beginning. Well, I beg of you this morning: make sure. Young, middle-aged, old, it doesn't matter: if you have any doubt, why not sort the matter out this morning? But please don't go without being sure, oh dear, is there anything more important than that?
Lord, help us this morning. We've looked at the honesty of Thy truth, and may people honestly apply it to their lives - whoever they are, whatever they be. For in the end, on that last day when we stand before Thee, all that will matter then is that we are saved. We'll know it then but, oh, that we would know it now through Thy word and the testimony and witness of the Spirit in our life and from our life. Grant that to some souls today, we pray, thanking Thee for those that have it, in Jesus' name, Amen.
Preach The Word.
This sermon was delivered at The Iron Hall Assembly in Belfast, Northern Ireland, by Pastor David Legge. It was transcribed from the twelfth recording in his 'Back To Basics' series, entitled "Assurance" - Transcribed by Andrew Watkins, Preach The Word.
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