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Five Ways - Part 1

Scripture: Matthew 7:22, John 3:3-7, 2 Corinthians 5:17
Are you saved? How do you know? The Bible says we must be born again, but how do you know you are converted? We know by looking at the fruit of our lives, our hearts and actions. Our likes and dislikes change. Our appetite changes. We are a new creature.
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The Pure Food and Drug laws of America are designed to protect us from deception in what we buy. There are other laws against deceptive packaging and labeling. Millions of dollars have been wasted through lack of knowledge concerning products sold in our stores and markets.

But friends, there's a much greater point of deception than all these combined, and the loss will be infinitely greater than dollars and cents. The Bible makes it very clear that many people who believe that they are saved will actually be lost. "Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity." It is sad to read that many will find themselves lost while thinking that they are saved.

What does it mean to be saved? What does it mean to be lost? How long does it take to be saved? These are some of the questions that we are going to answer from the Bible today.

Since our first parents sinned each succeeding generation has inherited a tendency to sin. The natural man sins as easily as water runs down hill. Since our nature tends toward sin, what we need is a new nature. We get our human nature by birth; we get the new nature by being born again. "Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again." John 3:3, 7. There isn't any other way to get into the kingdom of God except to be born into it.

Have you been born again? This is one way to tell if you are saved or lost. You say, How can I tell whether or not I have been born again? If you have been born again, you will have a new nature; your nature will be changed. "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." II Corinthians 5:17. When you are born again you are a new creature. Your likes and dislikes change. Your appetite changes.

I have in my library a book entitled Lambs Among Wolves. It is a wonderful book. It attempts to help individuals to see how desperately hopeless it is to try to be something that you are not. This book likens Christians to lambs. They have a meek, peaceful nature. Those who are not converted are likened to wolves. The writer pictures a wolf who wants to be a lamb. And so he gets a sheep skin and puts it around himself and he joins himself to a flock of sheep. He imitates their actions. He associates with the sheep. He goes where the sheep go. He tries to eat what the sheep eat, but he doesn't like it. He just doesn't feel at ease or at home among the sheep, because while outwardly he tries to act like a sheep inside he is still a ravening wolf. Every chance he gets he sneaks away from the flock of sheep and finds some dead carcass and delights in feeding on the things a wolf normally feeds on. What a demonstration this is of folks who attempt to save themselves by making themselves conform to what they believe is the pattern of a good Christian. But it is going about it backwards. There is only one way that a wolf could become a lamb; and that would be for God to recreate the wolf and make it a lamb. We cannot change our natures, but God can if we will let Him. "Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil." Jeremiah 13:23. We cannot cleanse ourselves from sin, but God can cleanse us. "For though thou wash thee with mitre, and take thee much soap, yet thine iniquity is marked before me, saith the Lord God." Jeremiah 2:22.

You can't make yourself be born. Birth is a matter of surrender. Conversion, or the new birth, is the result of faith. It is a matter of surrendering ourselves completely to the will of God. This is what it means to really believe. It is something far deeper than just standing up and saying, I believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. It is wonderful to make a public confession of faith, but it is something even more wonderful to live that profession day by day. Words are cheap. Actions speak louder than words. "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them." Ephesians 2:8-10.

I have talked to many a man and many a woman who has said, "Pastor, if I could only have faith; if I could only believe." We are saved by grace through faith. There is a wonderful truth in this verse that I find many people have missed. This verse tells us that the very faith through which we are saved is a gift from God. It is not something that we must manufacture; it is a gift from God. Do you see? If you are just willing to receive this saving faith, God is willing and waiting to give it to you. Then all you need to do is to exercise the faith that God gives you. Do you feel that you don't have faith? Just accept faith as a gift from God and then begin exercising it just as though you did have it, and then you will find that you do have it. Give it a try. Put this principle into practice. It can virtually transform your life. It is a transforming principle. Where does faith come from? It comes from God and from His Word. The Bible says, "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God." Romans 10:17. You will notice that my sermons are very, very simple. As a matter of fact, often people say, "You don't preach at all, you are just teaching." Have you noticed that in much modern preaching preachers seem to get away from the Bible? In our broadcast we are determined to turn the tide and get back to the Bible. And it is tremendous. It builds faith. It is something you can experience in your own life. You keep listening and feeding on the Word of God, and you will find that your faith will grow. But not only that; you will find that you will be stronger to meet temptation. You will find that you will be happier. It isn't a temporary lift. It is something that can become a permanent part of your every day experience.

The Bible sounds a sober warning here in Jeremiah 17:9 where it says, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?" I include this text because some people say, "I can just feel whether I am saved or lost. I have the witness. I know it's real. I can feel it." Remember friend, the devil can work on our feelings. The devil can make you feel good if it serves his purpose. You can't depend on your feelings apart from the Word of God. The Bible says, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked." Deceitful! The devil would deceive us, and make us feel secure when we are in danger. "Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the Lord pondereth the hearts." Proverbs 21:2. We always try to justify our course of actions. It is human nature.

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." John 3:16. What does it really mean to believe? Do you know, the Bible says that even the devils believe? The New Testament says that. James 2:19: "Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble." When they come face to face with the truth of God, the devils believe and tremble. But they are not going to be saved. Why? They believe, but they don't obey. That is the difference. Do you really believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal Saviour? Have you been born again? Have you accepted Jesus into your life? Is it such a real experience that it motivates obedience? This is our first test. This is the difference between a saving faith and a mere hollow profession.

Jesus gives us the second test that I am going to submit to you today. Jesus says, "If you love me, keep my commandments." John 14:15. In other words, if you really love the Lord, you will keep His commandments. Do you keep the commandments of God? Jesus said, "If you love me, keep my commandments." Oh, but you say, I understand the commandments of God were just for people back in the Old Testament. Let's go now to Revelation. Let's go as far into the New Testament as we can. Revelation 14:12 describes the saved of the earth as the saints of God. It says, "Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus." Your Bible says that right down in the end of time the saints of God are going to be men and women who, by the grace of Jesus Christ, keep the commandments of God and have the faith of Jesus. The Bible doesn't separate the commandments of God from the faith of Jesus. It brings them together into beautiful harmony. When this harmony is found in the life, you have a real Christian. Paul saw it that way. Notice what Paul says in Romans 3:31. I think these words forever settle any question on the relationship of faith to the commandments of God. Paul says, "Do we then make void the law through faith?" What does it mean to make void? It means to cancel out; to do away with it. In other words, Paul says, Do we cancel out the law when we have faith in Christ? He answers his own question so that nobody could possibly misunderstand. He says, "God forbid: yea, we establish the law."

When we go back to the very beginning, we find that it was Satan who wanted to trample on the commandments of God. It was the devil who told Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden, "You don't have to keep the commandments of God. Did God say that you would die if you ate the fruit of that tree? Go ahead and eat it. You won't die, God isn't that particular." We hear some of these same sentiments expressed even in professedly Christian circles in our day. Let me give you a test that will protect you from deception. Whenever a religious teacher makes light of the commandments of God, remember that it was the devil in the beginning who did that same thing. A teacher of Bible truth who really upholds the teachings of the Bible will always respect the commandments of God. You remember that. That is a safe test to go by.

But you know, some people rebel. They say, "I don't want to consent to the law of God. I don't want to have to keep all those Ten Commandments." How is God going to get His Ten Commandments into our minds? Is He going to do it by force? Is He going to do it some night while we are asleep? No, I don't think so. God doesn't work that way. God is going to get His law into our minds as we study the Bible. That is why the Bible says, "Study to show thyself approved unto God ... . Search the scriptures ... . Seek, and ye shall find." That is the very reason why the devil wants to keep people so absorbed in other things that they will neglect the Bible. Consequently, God's law doesn't get into their minds. They don't understand what it is to have God's law written on the heart.

Already we have found two tests that you can employ to know whether you are saved or lost. First, you must be born again. Second, if you really believe, you will keep the commandments of God. You will delight to obey because Jesus said, "If ye love me, keep my commandments." John 14:15. Now we're going to leave the study for today, and tomorrow we'll continue with other evidences of salvation. We'll take up the third and fourth ways of telling if you are saved. Don't miss it.

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