Faithlife
Faithlife

Assurance of Salvation

Notes & Transcripts
1 John 5:1–5 NIV
Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well. This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.
1 John 5:11–13 NIV
And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.

Introduction

Those of you that know Ruth could tell stories about the life she lived in Clinton, Camp Springs and Huntingtown. You know she faithfully served Christ through The United Methodist Church and Calvert Hospice as long as she was physically able. She was a seamstress and a basket weaver. She was dedicated to her husband Hap and her family and she loved animals.
Those are certainly some of Ruth’s defining attributes, but today’s sermon comes from the last few years of Ruth’s life. Transitions are hard - marriage, children, changing jobs, relocating, emptying the nest, but probably the most difficult transition for everyone comes in our final years, where our bodies tell us it’s time for people to - using the words of - “cease from their labors.”
A few years ago Ruth made that transition: moved out of her home and into assisted living. I’m sure she encountered anxiety and sadness. Ruth was already a Christian, but aren’t exempt from the anxieties of life. listening to the testimony of her daughter Niki and reading Ruth own handwriting, I can see that during her final years Ruth spent time dwelling in Scripture.
I believe as a Christian we are called to deepen our knowledge of Christ in the Scriptures, but also think it is necessary to continually go back and revisit the basics. The fundamentals. The foundations of our faith. To go back and fall in love again with the beautiful simplicity of the Gospel. That’s what Ruth did a few years ago.
So during her final years, she experienced the normal anxieties that come along with moving away and giving up independence. She experienced that Blessed Assurance that only Jesus can give. I’m not sure how Ruth feels about this, but in a way, she helped me write this sermon.
When I was reading the Scriptures she had written down, it reminded me of the “salvation messages” my pastor used to preach growing up.
Let me give you a summary the truths that transformed her and assured her. And these truths can give us assurance as well.
Ruth spent time dwelling in Scripture, and reading and taking notes from the Bible. And she experienced that Blessed Assurance that only Jesus can give.
Genesis 1:31 NIV
God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.
We read in Genesis “that God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.” But we also read in that same book that humanity rebelled against God. Paul writes in :
Romans 3:23 NIV
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
Before we can appreciate the Gospel, we first have to recognize the reason why Christ’s death and resurrection was necessary. A right understanding of the Gospel begins with an honest assessment of our human condition. All of us have sinned. None of us can say we have measured up to God’s standard of righteousness. We can’t.
Being convinced of our sinfulness is important, but it’s even more to know that God had a plan even before the foundations of the earth were laid:
But God had a plan:
John 3:16 NIV
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
The most popular verse in the Bible - we’ve seen it between the football goal posts. If you grew up in church you probably memorized it at some point. It’s the beautiful simplicity of the Gospel. That’s God’s plan.
God has taken a step towards us, and we have to respond.
Mark 1:15 NIV
“The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”
Repent - change your mind. Change your direction.
If we place our faith in Christ, not in our own goodness, and earnestly repent of our sins, Paul also says in Romans that
Romans 10:13 NIV
for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
Romans 10:13 NIV
for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
These are God’s promises - God’s invitation - to all of us. I don’t always preach a “salvation message” for a funeral. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t. It depends on the occasion. I did so today because this was a part of Ruth’s life that really spoke to me. She went back to the basics in her final years. The fundamentals. The foundation on which her life had been built. And she found assurance of her salvation.
But the truth is that even in the church, even Christians who believe these facts that I’ve just stated, agonize over life after death. Eternal life with God.
The most agonizing problem about the assurance of salvation is not the problem of whether the facts of Christianity are true (God exists, Christ is God, Christ died for sinners, Christ rose from the dead, Christ saves forever all who believe, etc.). Those facts are necessary for our faith. But the really agonizing problem of assurance is whether I personally am saved by those facts.
1 John 5:1–5 NIV
Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well. This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.
What makes this agonizing — for many in the history of the church and today — is that there are people who think they have saving faith but don’t. For example:
1 John 5:11–13 NIV
And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.
1 John 5:
Matthew 7:21–23 NIV
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 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 in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
That can be haunting for those who take the Bible seriously. But there is a solution to our lack of assurance. There is an answer to the question: “Is my faith a saving faith?” I like what the author of Hebrews says in 10:14:
Hebrews 10:14 NIV
For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.
The facts are important. God is real. Sin is real. Judgment is real. But so is grace. So is mercy. Christ’s one time sacrifice on the cross - the Old Rugged Christ, is a fact that we can cling to.
We should begin by realizing that there is an objective warrant for resting in God’s forgiveness of my sins, and there is a subjective warrant for God’s forgiveness of my sins.
These are the facts, but do they make an actual difference?
First, saving faith comes from spiritual sight. Not just our intellect. In other words, when you hear or read what God has done for sinners in the cross and the resurrection of Jesus, this appears to your heart as a great and glorious thing in and of itself even before you are sure you are saved by it. In , Paul talks about “seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ.” For faith to be real there must be a supernatural “light” that God shines into the heart to show us that Christ is glorious and wonderful. This happens as a work of the Spirit of God through the preaching of the gospel.
Hebrews 10:14 NIV
For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.
I believe that when Ruth was dwelling on the Scriptures, and basic salvation message of the Bible, she was reminded again of how great and how glorious is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
That’s how we get our assurance - not just because we want to escape judgment or harm, but because we “see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ.”
Second, faith is a warranted resting in this glorious gospel for our own salvation. I say “warranted resting” because there is an “unwarranted resting” — people who think they are saved who are not, because they have never come to see the glory of Christ as compellingly glorious. These people only believe on the basis of wanting rescue from harm, not because they see Christ as more beautiful and desirable than all else. But for those who “see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ,” their resting is warranted.
What this means practically is that we should continually look to the cross and the work of God in Christ, because this is where God makes the light of the gospel shine. Secondly, we should continually pray for God to “enlighten the eyes of our hearts” (). Thirdly, we should love each other; because, as John said, “We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren” (). In the end, assurance is a precious gift of God. Let us pray for each other that it will abound among us.
Ruth
One final verse that Ruth recorded in her Bible on January 19, 2014 is :
Romans 10:11 NIV
As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.”
Romans
Ruth departed from this earth and into the presence of God. She left this earth confident in her salvation. She left this earth assured. So can we.
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