For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.
When you get the sovereignty of God straight, everything gets straighter. Going wrong here will lead to error in all kinds of unexpected places. O how I pray that God will give us clarity and conviction and joy in our vision of God’s absolute sovereignty at Bethlehem.
1) In order to be saved and spend eternity enjoying God’s presence a person must persevere in faith to the end (1 Corinthians 15:2; Colossians 1:22,23; Luke 8:11-15; Matthew 10:22; Mark 13:13; Matthew 24:13; Hebrews 3:14; Romans 11:20-22; 2 Timothy 2:11,12; Revelation 2:7,10,11,17,25,26; 3:5,11,12,21).
Last Sunday we sang this prayer as a congregation: “Keep me ever trusting, resting, fill me with thy grace” (“Jesus, I Am Resting, Resting”). I commented that this prayer implies a dependence on God to keep us from waking up as unbelievers tomorrow morning. I saw some furrowed brows of perplexity.
Last Sunday I presented a practical six-question test. It was a test for your life. A test to discover whether God abides in you, whether you are born again. A test to confirm your calling and election.
I have referred several times to a contemporary movement of evangelicalism that offers assurance of salvation to professing Christians who go on living in sin. Who am I talking about? Here is an example.
Zane Hodges, who teaches at Dallas Seminary, has written a book entitled The Gospel Under Siege (Redencion Viva, 1981).
His position is the very opposite of mine:
One of the greatest helps in feeling hopeful is to know God wants us to feel hopeful. It is small comfort to believe some people are saved but not to know if we are included. My own heart has been so gladdened recently by the assurance of my own salvation that I want you all to share this with me.
Matthew seems unusually burdened to alert us about the danger of thinking we are saved when we are not. Consider these warnings.
5:20 “I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and the Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
“Bitterness” is usually associated with anger and grudges. But is this what it means in Hebrews 12:15? “See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness, springing up, causes trouble, and by it many be defiled”? I don’t think so.
FULL ASSURANCE IS GOD'S WILL FOR US. "And we
desire that each one of you show the same diligence so as to
realize the full assurance of hope until the end." Hebrews 6:11
ASSURANCE IS PARTIALLY SUSTAINED BY OBJECTIVE EVIDENCES
FOR CHRISTIAN TRUTH. "To [his apostles] He also presented
Himself alive after His suffering, by many convincing proofs,
appearing to them over a period of forty days." Acts 1:3
The most agonizing problem about the assurance of salvation is not the problem of whether the objective 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 the utterly crucial bedrock of our faith. But the really agonizing problem of assurance is whether I personally am saved by those facts.