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To Be Known of God

November 11th, 2014

Many will say to me on that day, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?” Then I will tell them plainly, “I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!”

Matthew 7:22-23

The Lord assures those who believe of their salvation – His Spirit bears witness with our spirits that we are the children of God (Rom. 8:16). It is not His will that we go through life uncertain of this matter of salvation, always doubting what should be very clear to our souls. We can know that we know that we are saved – deep and profound assurance based upon His Word and mediated to our hearts by His Spirit. Paul wrote, “For I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day” (2 Timothy 1:12).

Yet the Bible also urges us to examine ourselves to be sure that we really are in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5). This does not mean that no one can ever know for certain whether they are saved. It means just the opposite – that we can know, that we can have clear assurance, and that this assurance is based upon the Word of God, clearly made plain to us that we have trusted in Christ. But we should examine ourselves to be certain that we have met the biblical requirements for salvation. The scripture alone is able to “make us wise unto salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim 3:15).

The false assurances: There are some things that we may trust in that are not worthy of our trust. We cannot trust in emotion – we are not saved because we feel a certain way. Even a lost man can have emotional experiences, and a tear may be brought to his eye, and he may even be touched by the thought of Christ dying for him, but feeling alone is not enough. We must take the step past feeling and trust in Christ, repenting of our sin and accepting Him as our Savior.

We cannot trust service for Him either. We should serve God. We should all use our opportunities to help others, to share the gospel with others, to fight against the spiritual darkness of evil. But this alone cannot save us. It is stated here that there will be preachers in hell, people whose lives were spent in telling others about the good news in Christ, even casting out demons, and performing miracles, but for whom personal faith was never their own experience.

How can a lost man cast out demons and perform miracles? Christ did not say how, except to mention it as a possibility, so we presume that God must have worked through these people in spite of their lack of personal faith. And though others were helped, they themselves were deceived thinking that they must be saved because of the apparent success of their ministry. But they never knew Christ personally.

Neither can we trust our future promises to God of service or of ceasing to sin. Many of us have made such promises to only discover that we could not keep them. And besides, even if we could keep the promise for the future, such a promise does nothing to resolve the bad things we have already done.

We cannot trust church rites, the memories of others, or even our own memories. I have known many to take false assurance in their baptism, or in the memory of their parents, or even in their own memory of having come forward in church during an altar call. But none of these matters can save us by themselves. Just because your mother says that you made a decision for Christ as a child (you might have been too young to understand and your mother with the best of intentions led you to say a prayer that you did not understand), does not mean that you are saved.

True assurances: The true assurances are founded upon the Word of God, the personal knowledge that we have grasped the message of scripture and trusted personally in the biblical Christ.

For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came through Christ Jesus. Romans 3:23-24

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through which we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. Romans 5:1-2

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” John 11:25-26

Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that he may send the Christ, who has been appointed for you – even Jesus. Acts 3:19-20

I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6

Repentance from sin and faith in Christ are two sides of the experience of salvation. Through the Word and by His Spirit God convicts us of our sin and our need of forgiveness (John 16:8-11) and leads us to understand that He offers true forgiveness. Repentance means turning from sin with true sorrow and turning to God. Faith means to trust in Him, that Christ is our way of salvation. That He died and rose again and that He is the Lord. We must come to Him as Savior and Lord and trust in Him.

Have you done this? If you cannot recall, you can do it right now. This prayer can help guide you: “Lord Jesus, I admit that I am a sinner and need Your forgiveness. I thank You for dying for me on the cross and rising from the dead. I now turn from my sin and turn to You only in repentance and faith and ask You to forgive my sins and give me the new life You promised. Thank You for hearing my prayer, Amen.”

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The Narrow Gate

November 10th, 2014

Enter through the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and spacious and broad is the way that leads away to destruction, and many are those who are entering through it. But the gate is narrow (contracted by pressure) and the way is straitened and compressed that leads away to life, and few are those who find it.

Matthew 7:13-14 (Amplified Bible)

The Amplified Bible is an attempt to give the character of the words of the original Hebrew and Greek of the Bible, and often the insights we gain from it are very helpful. Anyone who has become bilingual understands the challenges of translation – words in one language do not always have exact equivalents in others languages. What is a “chair” as opposed to a “stool” or a “bench” in one language may mean all three in another. And often matters are dealt with in very different grammatical ways – active voice in one language but a passive voice in another, etc.

The Amplified Bible points out that the word “narrow” has a hidden meaning – “cramped” – and that the word translated “straitened and compressed” is a passive verb and not an adjective. It is a dynamic meaning describing spiritual blindness, and not a static one. It means not just that the way is narrow, but that the world narrows the gate to life, that the fallenness of our society compresses the way, making it more difficult to pass.

The ancient cities of the world were surrounded by walls for protection, and to enter into a city required that someone pass through a gate. Many gates were wide and broad, broad enough that great horse-drawn wagons could enter. But there were other entrances as well – some more cramped, narrow, hidden and secret, where people could come and go without being detected by a besieging army.  Christ was saying that the entrance into life is like coming through these small and narrow gates.

In order to be saved we need someone to show us the way – someone to proclaim to us the truth of the gospel of Christ. We need the Spirit of God to open our eyes that we may see the wisdom of the gospel, that we may see what we have been blind to our entire life. We need someone to help us to pray to God, to confess our sins, and to profess our faith in Christ. We need someone to come alongside and teach us how to live as a Christian.

The good news for you is that I am showing this to you right now. Let me tell you how you can be saved and secure for today and for all eternity. God created you for Himself and He loves you and wants to know you. but in order to be saved you need to admit that you are a sinner and need God’s forgiveness – the Bible says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). Though we may not be considered criminals to other people, we all fall short of what God requires and we need His forgiveness.

The Bible says that God loved the world so greatly that He sent Christ to die on the cross for our sins – to die as our substitute. Christ was the sinless Son of God, and was the only Person in the history of the world who lived a life without sin. Because He had not sinned Himself, He could die for our sins, for your sins. And because of who He was – the Lord Himself – death could not hold Him, could not keep Him in the tomb and He rose from the grave – and was seen by the earliest believers, who were persecuted ruthlessly for their testimony, “He is risen!” The Bible says, “If you confess with your mouth ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9).

A simple salvation prayer is: “Lord Jesus, I admit that I am a sinner and need Your forgiveness. I turn from my sins and turn to faith in You. I believe that You died on the cross and rose from the grave. I ask You to forgive my sins, come into my life, and give me the new life You promised.”

There is no magic or spiritual power in these words alone – you must have faith, you must believe in your heart as you say them with your mouth – but God will help you to believe if you will take the first step toward Him.

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