May 25, 2007
1st Baptist Church,
Des Moines, NM
How Can I Know I’m Saved?
Once again, good morning to you, and once again, I’m Bryan Kimsey from 1st Baptist Church in Des Moines. This will be my last message for this week and I’d like to thank the Tri-States Ministerial Alliance for laying the ground work of this radio show, and KLMX radio for having us on here. This kind of radio program is getting to be more and more of a rare thing here in the U.S. and I’m grateful for the opportunity to spend 15 minutes showing you truths from the Bible.
Yesterday, we took a look at the phrase “justified by faith” from Romans 4 and 5. I hope you got a glimpse of God’s abundant mercy and grace in our salvation. Today, I’d like to examine some of the evidence of salvation. In other words, “How can I know that I’m saved?” This is a great question and if you’ve ever considered it yourself, that right there is some pretty good evidence, as we’ll soon see. First of all, as we saw yesterday, “justification” is “the moment of truth”. Justification is an act in which God pardons your sins, declares you not guilty, and accounts Christ’s righteousness to you. The flip side of this is that, because God is holy and just and can’t just ignore your sins, for you to avoid punishment, someone else must take the punishment that your sins warrant. That “someone else” is Christ. Christ did not sin, was never guilty, and, being God in the flesh, is the only one capable of making the payment. When his righteousness is accounted to you, your sins are also accounted to Him and He takes the punishment for them. This great truth is hinted at in the old hymn “Rock of Ages” in the line “…be of sin, the double cure”, and is stated in the Bible in places like:
1 Peter 2:24 who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed.
Hebrews 9:28 so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many.
This double imputation, or substitionary atonement, is a critical aspect of the gospel message and yet one that is not often preached today. At 1st Baptist in Des Moines, I recently read a sermon by Charles Spurgeon in which Spurgeon said, “If you only get 1 thing from this message, only 1 thing, get the double imputation! Get the substitionary atonement!” Now, you might think that I’m getting sidetracked here since I told you that we’d look at the question “How do I know I’m saved?”, but I told you about imputation and justification for at least 2 reasons. First, to challenge your minds a little bit since we are, after all, to love the Lord our God with all our heart, all our soul, and all our mind. Too many people think that the Christian life is one of blind faith and that you check your brains at the door when you enter church. I say, “Pshaw!!” I personally have found the Christian faith to be at once simple and yet at the same time the most intellectually satisfying pursuit in which I’ve ever engaged. The second reason I’ve talked about imputation and justification is so you’ll know where I stand on the gospel message. Some denominations and some individual preachers deny the role of imputation and substitionary atonement. For me it IS the gospel. Now, with that clear, let’s look at the topic “How Can I Know If I’m Saved?”
Let’s start with:
Romans 10:9-10 … if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. (10) For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
The problem is that many confess with their mouth, but do not believe in their heart. After all,
Matthew 7:21-23 "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. (22) Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' (23) And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'
Here we see that giving lip service to Christ or simply doing works and using His name is not evidence of salvation, but that true obedience to the will of God is. True obedience comes from the heart. However, regarding the heart, Jeremiah tells us in 17:9-10:
Jeremiah 17:9-10 "The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it? (10) I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, Even to give every man according to his ways, According to the fruit of his doings.
Not only can you not truly know your own heart, but, try as you might, you cannot change your own heart, either. Only God can do that, as we see in:
Ezekiel 36:26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
Alright, so a person can speak “Jesus” with their mouth- and many do! Jesus said “Many will say to me in that day”- but they must also believe in their heart. Yet we cannot know our own heart. So, then, is there evidence of a changed heart that we can observe? Let’s look at the evidence of a changed heart by contrasting an unsaved person with one who has faith in God through Jesus Christ.
Romans 5:10 For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.
Thus, the unsaved person is an enemy of God. And there is no middle ground- a person cannot be passing acquaintances with God. He either loves God or he does not. Jesus says in the gospels, Matthew 12:30 for instance “He who is not with Me is against Me…” and He says in Revelation 3:16 “…because you are lukewarm, I will spew you out of my mouth.” The saved person, by contrast, loves God and loves Jesus. In John 8:42, Jesus says “If God were your father, you would love me, for I proceed forth and came from God…” In Psalm 119, the writer says:
Psalms 119:12-16 Blessed are You, O LORD! Teach me Your statutes. (13) With my lips I have declared All the judgments of Your mouth. (14) I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies, As much as in all riches. (15) I will meditate on Your precepts, And contemplate Your ways. (16) I will delight myself in Your statutes; I will not forget Your word.
So, the unsaved person hates God and the things of God while the saved person loves God and the things of God.
As we just saw, the saved person finds God’s commands pleasant and delights in them. Again, the saved person doesn’t just sort of kind of like the things of God, you know, if there’s nothing better to do today- he delights in them, he meditates on them, he declares them with his lips. The unsaved person, by contrast, rebels against the commands of God and is always looking for a way around them. The saved person wants to please God, period, while the unsaved person is looking for reward for his efforts. That the saved person wants to obey God, Jesus makes abundantly clear in:
John 14:23-24 Jesus answered and said to him, "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. (24) He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father's who sent Me.
That the saved person obeys the commands of God is reinforced in many places throughout the Bible, and this takes us back to:
Matthew 7:21-23 "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.
I think it should be clear by now that a saved person has changed from one who is an enemy of God, doesn’t like the things of God, and doesn’t think or mediate on God, to one who loves God, delights in the things of God, and thinks about God. Does this sound familiar in light of the greatest commandment? “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.”
What other evidence of a new heart can we see? Well, both John and Jesus preached repentance from sin. Repentance means literally “turn away”. It means that where we formerly embraced sin and enjoyed its company, that we now turn our back on it and we hate its presence. The fact that repentance is critical is illustrated by Christ in:
Luke 13:2-5 And Jesus answered and said to them, "Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things? (3) I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish. (4) Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem? (5) I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish."
It’s also part of the gospel given by Peter on the day of Pentecost:
Acts 2:38-39 Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (39) For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call."
Repentance is evidenced by Paul who was changed from a persecutor of Christians to the Apostle Paul, one who suffered- willingly!- great persecution himself. We see repentance in the jailer who washed the wounds of Paul and Silas after they had been freed from jail by angels. Do you see repentance in your own life? Have you rejected your former sins, turned from them, and now hate the things you used to do?
Another sign of a changed heart is brotherly love. Formerly, you may have been like Paul, persecuting Christians. Or you may have been like…me! For years and years, I mocked Christians- a bunch of silly, ignorant fools is what I called them, deceived by the opium of religion. Christianity is for weak people, is what I used to say. Well, it sure is, and when God opened my own eyes, I saw just how very weak and foolish I was and just how much I needed Christ! Maybe you’re like that- maybe you mock people instead of loving them. You can’t have it both ways. Mocking does not equal love. We know that brotherly love is a sign of a Christian because Paul tells us in:
1 Thessalonians 4:9 But concerning brotherly love you have no need that I should write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another;
And John tells us in:
1 John 3:14 We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death.
There are several other evidences of a Christian life that I would like to cover, including baptism, an understanding of the gospel message, and the ability to truly call Jesus Lord, but time is running short. I’ll end with this encouragement:
Romans 8:16 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,
Now this really is the best encouragement that we can ask for! God Himself, through the Holy Spirit encourages us that we are indeed children of God. And, if we’re really concerned about it, we should have questions about our salvation! Doesn’t even Peter tell us in:
2 Peter 1:10 Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble;
And Paul in:
2 Corinthians 13:5 Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified.
Make your calling and election sure! Examine yourselves! Test yourselves! Are you in the faith? Is Jesus in you? If not, be like David and ask God to create in you a new heart. Be like Jacob and wrestle with God and say “Won’t let you go unless you bless me!” And then, when you see signs of your new heart, be confident. Proclaim Christ boldly and loudly and let people see His light shine in you, be a city on hill, salt among the salt-less. Don’t wait. Repent of your sins, come out of darkness into His marvelous light and be saved.
Our Heavenly Father, again I ask you, open the eyes of the blind and turn the hearts of your enemies to Christ. In his name, for your glory. Amen.
Back to KLMX sermon, May 24 2007, Justified by Faith