Be Sure

slide1Do you know for sure if you are “saved?” (A Christian, a believer, a child of God, born again?)

“If you believe that you are saved, How do you know?” On what do you base your faith?

Wouldn’t you definitively like to know?

The answer that I am going to give today is not the answer I usually give. I usually ask people if they believe in Jesus (acts 16:31). Have you trusted Christ as Savior (Ephesians 1:13)? Have you repented (Acts 26:20)? Have you heard the still small voice of the Holy Spirit confirming your salvation (Romans 8:16)?

And certainly those are good answers. I can even give you Bible verses backing up each one. But these are, sort of, answers for babies or shall we say, the basics for beginners. After you have been a believer for a little while, every one of you should be familiar with these simple, yet profound ways of gaining assurance. You should know those simple answers. They are what give you confidence.

But there comes a time in your Christian life when we must give you more than just simple answers. Today we are going to go a little deeper, and we are going to help you analyze your relationship with Jesus… and my hope is that you will come to a deeper level of passion, purpose and blessed assurance by the time we are done.

But I must warn you that this message may also be a little unsettling to some of you. Up until now you may have been content to sit in your pew, resting on your Blessed Assurance, but it is possible that I’m going to shake your complacent little world. So hang on to something, the meddling is about to begin.

There are certain steps every Christian must be willing to take to make their election sure. In fact, It is urgent that you take the steps to gain the assurance that you are truly a child of God. If you don’t settle this once and for all, you will always have nagging doubts about your salvation. I am going to give you four tests today which will be extremely revealing, for it will tell you if you truly have new life in Christ.

I want you to remember this one thing throughout our study; Salvation is always by Grace, it is a free gift. …but there are some tests we can perform to see whether or not you have that new life, and that takes a little work and intense self-examination on your part.

When you look at the world around you, how do you know if something is living or non-living? Science has several tests they have developed that give them the answer. #1 Animation – does it move? All living things move in some way. #2 Does it breathe? If it has no reparation it’s not living. #3 Does it grow? All living things grow. #4 Does it reproduce. #5 Does it respond. Is it able to detect what’s going on around it and respond to its environment. #6 does it feed. #7 does it get rid of waste. These are tests of life. They don’t make things living, they just tell us if they are living.

Do you want to know if you are alive in Christ? Take the test. Here are four things that will tell you the answer:

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5 But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith.

Am I diligent and serious about my relationship with Jesus? This has to do with the level of my interest in spiritual things. If you are one of those people who just doesn’t really think that this is a big deal, then, I hate to break it to you, for you, this is a really big deal. If you don’t give much thought to Jesus, or put much effort into spiritual things, it may be because you are spiritually dead. The dead don’t care, the living always care.

In the language of Peter’s day, the Greek word σπουδή spoude means to have a diligence, haste, an earnest care, and carefulness about it. It is about urgency! This concept is repeated and expanded in verse 10

“Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure”

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Verse five is telling us to press the gas pedal. Verse ten is telling us to floor it! If you’re driving on I-5, you’ll want to give it some gas. But if you are planning to pass a log truck on Hwy 38, you’ll want to floor it. This is the height of urgency. It is absolutely essential that you put the same urgency into your faith that you do into that gas pedal.

This is very interesting that Peter uses the words “call and election.” When I originally asked you if you were saved, we talked about the human side of salvation; You need to trust Jesus, you need to believe, you need to repent, you need faith… But Peter expresses the divine side of salvation; God calls us! God elects us! We need both the human side and the divine side working in concert for Salvation.

But what Peter is saying is this: It’s not enough to say you believe, it’s not enough to tell yourself you have faith, it’s not even enough to claim repentance… the question is this, are you one of the called, are you one of the elect? In an objective sense, has God truly saved you? That’s what we want to know today. It is urgent that you find out. Do you have a sense of urgency and diligence to discover it?

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Giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, 6 to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, 7 to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love.

Here is the second test: Am I growing more Christ like in my character?

All living things grow, or they are not alive. I want you to notice what is conspicuously absent from this list. What Peter does not say is this; add to your faith church attendance, and to your attendance, Sunday School, and to your Sunday School, Growth Groups, and to your Growth Groups, Worship Team, and to the Worship Team, teaching, and to your teaching, visitation. I wish he’d said it! We measure things that way. But remember, my dog can do all those things, and he will still just be a lousy, unspiritual dog!

Of course we want you to do those things, but it is absolutely critical that you develop your character in Christ! Let me put it this way, if you are not growing, you’re dead. Only living things grow! If you are alive in Christ, you will grow! Let’s review these one at a time:

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Faith: This is where the Christian begins, by placing his faith in Jesus for eternal life. But this is never where the Christian ends. If all you want is a fire escape from Hell, you’ve come to the wrong place. Jesus wants to be Lord of your life.

Virtue or Moral excellence; ἀρέτη arête is the desire to live purely. Do you have that desire? Pursue it diligently.

Knowledge; γνῶσις gnosis is speaking of an intimate relationship with Jesus. It is more time and more love for Jesus in prayer and in the Word.

Self control; ἐγκράτεια egkrateia is a word that means saying know to the passions of the flesh. We must never let anything master us but Jesus.

Perseverance; ὑπομονή hupomone is the characteristic of a believer who is not swerved from his deliberate purpose and his loyalty to Jesus by even the greatest trials and sufferings.

Brotherly love; philadelphia fil-ad-el-fee’-ah refers to the care we have for our church family. It means we love each other as if we were family.

Love; ἀγάπη agape which is not just love for our brothers, but the highest form of sacrificial love that makes us willing to be devoted to God and one in other unconditionally.

These are the changes we are looking for in your character. Have you seen growth in any of these seven ways? Good! You’re growing! If you find yourself virtually unchanged and stymied in your growth in the last five years, it should make you diligently seek to make your calling and elections sure. There can be no assurance without growth.

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8 For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.

Here is the test. Am I seeing these changes in my life or am I completely lacking in motivation? There is a contrast in these two verses. Verse 8 is the motivated Believer who is neither barren or unfruitful, and Verse 9 is the shortsighted and blind churchgoer who is unmotivated and apathetic. Verse 8 is talking about an abundance, verse 9 is talking about a deficiency.

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A person who is motivated to seek Jesus will neither be barren nor unfruitful. Interestingly the word barren ἀργός argos can also mean lazy, slothful, unwilling to work. The opposite of barren is lively, energetic, growing. The opposite of unfruitful is fruit bearing. You have heard of the fruit of the Spirit; love, joy, peace, patience, self control. That’s in Galatians 5. This list of fruit; virtue, knowledge, self control, perseverance, brotherly kindness and love could be known as the fruit of faith in Jesus Christ.

If you have faith in Jesus, true faith and knowledge of Jesus Christ will always motivate you to maturity.

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10 …if you do these things you will never stumble; 11 for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Here is our final test question; Am I doing these things or am I stumbling. Here is the key; as far as actions go, you can either do things for Jesus, or you can stumble through life. It is difficult to do both at the same time, though I’ve been known to do it a time or two. You are either expressing purity, self control, patience and love or you are stumbling! Do you want to stop stumbling as a way of life? Start living for Jesus as a way of life!

The sobering thought of verse 11 is that every believer gets to walk through the entrance into the everlasting kingdom, but some will have an abundant entrance supplied to them! Some you are happy just to slip through the pearly gates unnoticed; “whew, I made it.” Peter suggests that others will get a fanfare, a ticker tape parade, while the band plays on. And who doesn’t want to hear the words, “well done, you good and faithful servant, enter into the presence of your Lord with joy!”

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If you want to assurance of faith, I suggest that you take action, take this list home and begin to work on the Fruit of faith, one at a time. Be a doer of the Word, not a hearer only. Are you really living? Are you really alive? Are you living the abundant life? Here are four characteristics of a Christian who is really living. 1. He’s serious. There is an urgency to his faith. 2. He’s growing, he is making changes in his character. 3. He’s motivated. He wants to be a fruit bearing Christian. 4. He takes action. He does the things that need to be done to produce the life that he’s always wanted.

Those are four characteristics of a person with eternal life. You want assurance? Believe of course, because the only way a person is saved is through faith, but don’t stop there; prove to yourself and everyone else around you that you truly have new life in Christ. Grace Works, no doubt about it. And that will make you sure of your salvation.

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Comments

  1. Thank you! Food for thought. 🙂

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