Five Ways - Part 2

Scripture: 1 John 1:9, Proverbs 28:13, James 2:10-12
How do we know whether we are saved or not? We know we must be born again and this results in seeking to obey God's commandments. Another test being cleansed from sin. We will not want to deliberately break God's law. We cannot keep God's law in our strength, but through Christ's power all things are possible.
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Our broadcast today continues to explore the intriguing question of how to know whether we are saved or not. Some of the most fertile ground for deception lies right in this area of feeling and faith. Multitudes are relying upon the ecstatic emotional thermometer as a measure of salvation. If the feelings are not excited quite considerably the religious experience is discounted immediately.

Yesterday we learned that the first two tests are: (1) being born again and (2) obedience to God's commandment. Now today we are brought to the third acid test of whether we are saved or not. It is described in I John 1:9. "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."

Now please notice that the cleansing from sin is on condition that we confess and repent. Let me ask you a question. This is a very personal question and you don't need to answer it. What do you do when you are invited to dinner; the hostess has spread the table with a nice white tablecloth; you are trying to be careful, and somebody hits your elbow, something happens anyway, and you spill a little gravy, or maybe it's some jam, right on the white tablecloth. You are so embarrassed. You were trying so hard not to do it, and here, maybe because you were trying so hard not to, you got tense, and you did the very thing that you wanted not to do. What do you do when that happens? You don't need to tell me what you do, but I am going to tell you what I do. When I am invited out to eat and I spill the gravy or some jam, I glance out of the corner of my eye and when nobody is looking I take a knife and I scoop it up. Then when nobody is looking again, I take a saucer and move it over the spot.

Now, maybe it should embarrass me to tell you that, but I do it, so I might as well tell it. Of course, I try not to spill it in the first place. But isn't it so human when we make a mistake, the very first thing we try to do is to cover it up. But the Bible says that if we are going to have our sins forgiven, we must come right out in the open with it and confess. Actually, in the end these things come out in the open anyway. I know that when I spill some gravy on the tablecloth that after we leave and the hostess is clearing the table she will find the spot. She'll think to herself, Who was sitting there? Oh, yes, I remember. That is where the preacher was sitting. He spilled the gravy! So it all comes out in the end anyway. You can try to cover it up, but in the end it will all be found out. And that is the way it is with sin. The Bible says, "He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy." Proverbs 28:13.

Now, how can we know what to confess? The Bible says that in order to have our sins forgiven we have to confess. We have to admit that we have done wrong. How can we know right from wrong? Someone says, We can feel it. The Bible says, "The heart is deceitful ... ." You can't rely on feelings alone. God has given us a definite way to know what sin is so that we will know when we need to confess.

I John 3:4: "Sin is the transgression of the law." That is what sin is. It is the transgression of the law. And James 2:10 says, "For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law. So speak ye, and do so, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty." James 2:10-12. Obedience to the law of liberty (God's Ten Commandments) sets us free from sin.

D. L. Moody, the great evangelist, used to illustrate with a chain of ten links. He would say, "How many of these links do I have to break in order to break the chain?" If we have a beautiful chandelier hanging from this chain of ten links, we need to break only one link and the chandelier will go crashing to the floor just as surely as if we had broken all ten. That is what the Lord is trying to tell us here. If we deliberately and repeatedly break one commandment, we are breaking God's law. God wants to bring us into harmony with all His commandments.

Eve broke one commandment and God put her out of the Garden of Eden. God can't take you or me into heaven if we deliberately break even one commandment. If we deliberately go out and steal or if we deliberately tell a lie, and then we refuse to confess, we refuse the only means of forgiveness. That one sin, if it is covered up, can keep you out of heaven. Because the Bible says that "all have sinned," some people reason, What's the use of trying to obey? Some people even go so far as to say that it is impossible to keep God's law. And it is in our own strength, but "with God all things are possible." Mark 10:27. "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." Philippians 4:13. "He that saith, I know him and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him." I John 2:4. It is Satan who would have us believe that God expects of us the impossible.

Remember, there is a difference between willful, deliberate sin, and the unintentional sins that all of us commit. It is the willful violations of God's law that will keep a man out of heaven. "Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin." James 4:17. A true Christian will live up to all the light which he has.

That brings us to the fourth test by which you may know whether you are saved or lost. "But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin." I John 1:7. Only those who walk in all the light that God gives them will have their sins covered by the blood of Jesus. Jesus said, "Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven." Matthew 7:21. Not what we say, but what we do will be the final test.

Imagine the case of a man who claims to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as his Saviour. He has never heard about baptism until one day as he is reading his Bible he finds the text which says, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned." Mark 16:16. If the man is really in earnest and is a sincere believer, as soon as he finds this verse he will want to find out about baptism and prepare for baptism.

The experience of Peter on the night of the last supper demonstrates the same principle. Peter believed in Jesus and was one of His disciples and yet when the Lord began to wash Peter's feet, Peter said, "Thou shalt never wash my feet." John 13:8. In the same verse Jesus told Peter, "If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me." The Lord was calling Peter to a deeper experience. Jesus had some new light for Peter. Jesus made it very clear that Peter's salvation depended upon whether or not he accepted this new light.

Christianity is a walk; it is not standing still. The Bible says, "But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day." Proverbs 4:18.

Test number five by which to tell if you are saved or lost is this: Are you looking forward to the return of Jesus, and are you getting ready to meet Him when He comes? The true Christian will be "Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ." Titus 2:13. This "blessed hope" brings about a change in the life. "Beloved, now are we the sons of God and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure." I John 3:2, 3.

Before leaving this earth Jesus gave His disciples the promise, "And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also." John 14:3. Just imagine a young wife; her husband has gone to Europe on business. He faithfully writes letters assuring his wife of his love for her. After the man has been away for a long time friends begin asking the wife when he is coming home. She says, "I don't have any idea," and then she changes the subject and begins talking about something else. But the friends press the issue, "Don't you care when he comes back?" "No, she says, "not particularly. He writes to me and that's enough." From the casual reply the friends would conclude that the wife's love for her husband is not very strong. When we really love Jesus, we long to be with Him; we long for His return. The hope of His return affects our entire way of life. If we believe that His coming and His kingdom is real, we will naturally heed the counsel of Jesus: "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." Matthew 6:33. The things of eternity will be the first interest of the Christian.

Salvation is a matter of decision. It is possible to know about Jesus and not be saved. It is possible to know how to be saved and yet not be saved. In order to be saved you must decide to live by what you know is right. This decision is the all important thing. There is no need to go on in a state of indecision. Jesus said, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life." John 5:24. This is present assurance. It is just as good as a check with a genuine signature and money in the bank to back it up. You may have to wait until the banks open in the morning to cash your check, but it is good and you have it right now. So it is with eternal life; you may have it now, but you may have to wait until the resurrection morning to live it. "Verily, verily I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live." John 5:25. The promise is, "I will raise him up at the last day." See John 6:39, 40, 44, 54.

The offer of eternal life through faith in Jesus is good right now. Salvation depends upon your decision to accept the offer. I have had people ask me, "How long do you think it takes for a person to be saved?" First of all, let me say that what I think doesn't make any difference. It is what the Bible says that matters. We need to get away from relying upon the opinions of men and get back to the Bible and what God says. How long does it take to be saved? I think a little story of the Bible illustrates exactly how long it takes to come to Christ. Do you remember the little, short, millionaire tax-collector named Zaccheus who climbed up a sycamore tree to get a better look at Jesus? He was a very dishonest, despised man when he started making his way up the trunk of that tree. Everybody hated Publicans because of their notorious corruption and bribery.

But listen, when he climbed down out of that tree he was a changed man. The Bible says that as soon as he hit the ground he offered to give half his goods to the poor and restore fourfold anything he had taken unjustly. Talk about conversion, this was it! Jesus Himself confirmed it when he said in Luke 19:9 "This day is salvation come to this house."

Friends, the fact is that anybody can be changed from death unto life in a fraction of a moment by yielding the heart wholly to Christ. For Zaccheaus it took place while he was climbing a tree; for you it could be while you sit by your radio. Will you make that surrender now? It's only a step to eternal life. Don't hesitate to step over that line this very moment. Make the decision today.

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