Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Sin & Salvation # 5 - "The Assurance"

A few years ago, I went to court as a character reference for a church member who had gotten himself in trouble. At the same time that my defendant was arrested, his best friend had also been detained. They received the same charges because they had committed the same crimes together. The friend’s parents had plenty of money, hired an excellent defense attorney, and by the time my young man got to court, his friend was already enjoying a life of freedom. But my defendant, on the other hand, wasn’t quite so confident. You’d think his friend’s good fortune would boost his sense of assurance, but his own family did not have the same kind of money. They couldn’t afford a good attorney, but instead had to settle for an inexperienced public defender. As it turns out, my young man’s concern was well-founded. While the wealthy family’s son got off with only parole, my guy received five years forth same crimes.

Stories like this often give people very little confidence in the legal system. It’s disheartening to know that if you were in trouble, your future could rest in the hands of someone who may or may not be able to help. When faced with such a trial, you might say with confidence, “I’m sure that I’ll be okay,” or “I hope that I’ll be okay.” But in the end, the truth of it depends on the skill of lawyer you’ve hired.

A lot of people feel the same way when it comes to salvation. When asked how they feel about their own eternal security, many Christians answer with a little less than confidence. I know a pastor who says, “I don’t know I’m saved, but I sure hope I am.” To me, that seems depressing, especially since 1 John 5:12-13[i] says, “He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.” If you’ve received Jesus as your Savior and Lord, then salvation isn’t something you should HOPE you have; it is something that should give you full confidence in eternal life.

Think about it. Salvation isn’t because you’re good enough or deserve it or have earned it. It is a free gift from Jesus. Romans 6:23 says, “…the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” If salvation were something that you could earn, then it wouldn’t be a gift. What we earn is death, but Jesus gives eternal life. Jesus says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life (John 5:24).” If you could lose your salvation, that would mean that either God would give a gift and then renig on that promise, or that you were more powerful than God and could undo the salvation so freely given. Since it is impossible for God to lie, and since nothing is stronger than God, it is impossible to lose your salvation, once God gives it.

In Too Busy Not to Pray, Bill Hybels writes about the importance of being confident in your salvation:

Sometime when you're in an airport, observe the difference between passengers who hold confirmed tickets and those who are on standby. The ones with confirmed tickets read newspapers, chat with their friends or sleep. The ones on standby hang around the ticket counter, pace and smoke, smoke and pace. The difference is caused by the confidence factor.[ii]

If you’ve accepted Jesus’ free gift of eternal life, and given your soul into His keeping, and yet you’re feeling insecure, something’s wrong. Like a standby flyer, are you unsure that heaven will have a seat available? Are you concerned that, once you get to the terminal, the TSA will block you for some reason? In John 6:37, Jesus promises, "All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.” Jesus also says, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand (John 10:27-29).” For the Christian, knowing you have been saved ought to give you amazing confidence! Recently, I came across a story from DL Moody that illustrates the kind of confidence a Christian ought to have:

It is said of Napoleon that while he was reviewing his army one day, his horse became frightened at something, and the Emperor lost his rein, and the horse went away at full speed, and the Emperor's life was in danger. He could not get hold of the rein, and a private in the ranks saw it, and sprang out of the ranks towards the horse, and was successful in getting hold of the horse's head at the peril of his own life. The Emperor was very much pleased. Touching his hat, he said to him, "I make you Captain of my Guard." The soldier didn't take his gun and walk up there. He threw it away, stepped out of the ranks of the soldiers, and went up to where the body-guard stood. The captain of the body-guard ordered him back into the ranks, but he said "No! I won't go!" "Why not?" "Because I am Captain of the Guard." "You Captain of the Guard?" "Yes," replied the soldier. "Who said it?" and the man, pointing to the Emperor, said, "He said it." That was enough. Nothing more could be said. He took the Emperor at his word. My friends, if God says anything, let us take Him at His word. "He that believeth on the Lord Jesus Christ shall not perish, but have everlasting life." Don't you believe it? Don't you believe you have got everlasting life? It can be the privilege of every child of God to believe and then know that you have got it.[iii]

Today, I pray that you will place your trust in Jesus as your Savior. And more than that, I pray you will have full assurance in the salvation Jesus gives. Because the One who saves, saves completely.

[i] All scriptures are taken from the NASB.
[iii] http://www.biblestudytools.com/classics/moody-anecdotes-illustrations/assurance.html.  August 18, 2016.  

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