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Be Sure You Are Saved

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SIH STSTA ICON(Please note: Because of the long length of the following Bible study, although it is presented here as a single posting, it is recorded on the SIH YouTube video blog as a 5-part series.  To hear this entire Bible study in video form you will have to listen to all 5 video postings embedded below.)

Not every one 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.  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.   (Matthew 7:21-23)

 

I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”  – For those who have professed faith in Christ, these words are the most dreadful, terrorizing, crushing words that can be spoken.

Why do these words carry within them such a dreadful message?  In the context of this passage, we find those who have professed Christ with their mouths, and have outward actions of hypocritical service, being personally rejected by the Lord at the Last Judgment.  In several texts of Scripture, we find the crystal clear teaching that those who are rejected by Christ during this judgment will be condemned to eternal separation from God and will receive the deserved eternal punishment for their sins.

(A few of the many passages teaching eternal punishment of the lost include:  Isaiah 66:24, Daniel 12:2, Matthew 25:31-46, 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10, Revelation 20:12-15)

 

Clearly, at the Final Judgment of the Last Days, there will be a distinct difference between those who are accepted by Christ and those who are cast away.  These eternal differences are very clearly described in Romans 2:5-9…

“…To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life:

“…But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath,  Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; 

(Romans 2:5-9)

 

This is why I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” are the most dreaded, crushing and terrorizing words that will ever be spoken by God.  In this lesson, we will be looking at how we can be certain that those words will not be spoken to us when we stand before the Lord on that Great Day of Judgment.

THE SCRIPTURES:

 

1) Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ:
2) Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord,
3) According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that [pertain] unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:
4) Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
5) And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;
6) And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;
7) And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.
8) For if these things be in you, and abound, they make [you that ye shall] neither [be] barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
9) But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.
10) Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:
11) For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
 (2 Peter 1:1-11)

 

 

THE STUDY:

 

In 2 Peter 1:1-11, we find very clear instructions on how each and every one of us can possess absolute assurance of our standing before the Lord.

 

1) Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ,

The Apostle Peter is writing this portion of Scripture, reminding us that he is “an apostle of Christ”.  In other words, Peter has been sent as a representative of Christ to teach His truths and to accredit the message and place of worship (the local church) for New Testament believers.

 

to them that have obtained like precious faith with us

Peter is writing to those who are the recipients of the same, genuine, saving faith that he has received.  Please notice the phrase “have obtained”… this is an acknowledgment by Peter that a genuine saving faith is not a natural part of us, but it is something that must be received from an outside source, our God.

 

through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ:

This faith is brought to sinful mankind through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ.

Prior to this writing by Peter, we find instructions being given by Christ to those who were following Him for the wrong reasons.  In these instructions, we find they are told that they must place their faith in Christ. This placing of their faith in Christ is described as “a work of God”…

Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled.  Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed.  Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?  Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.”   (John 6:26-29)

2) Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord,

Peter wishes for their grace and peace to be increased as they learn more about God and Jesus.

3) According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that [pertain] unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:

Again, Peter emphasizes that their salvation was a gift of God.  Peter explains how God brought them to salvation by gracing them with everything they needed to obtain spiritual life and to live a Godly life for Him.   God did all of this by granting to them an understanding of His Word which revealed Christ to them.

 

4) Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

The obtaining of spiritual life (becoming partakers of His divine nature) and a Godly lifestyle (escaped the corruption of the world) are based upon the many promises found in His Word.  These promises are the basis of our assurance of salvation AND GO HAND IN HAND.  They are like two sides of the same coin… If He has worked in our hearts to become partakers of His divine nature, then He also worked in our hearts to escaped the bondage of sin and corruption of this world.

To know with certainty we have been saved by His grace, we must see evidence of having escaped from the corruption in this world.  In other words, we must see evidence of becoming a new creature in Christ…

Therefore if any man [be] in Christ, [he is] a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

 (2 Corinthians 5:17)

 

5) And beside this,

After explaining the very essence of the Lord’s workings in the heart that brings genuine salvation to mankind, Peter now begins to give to us information on how to be sure that He has intervened in our lives granting to us His salvation.

giving all diligence,

Peter emphasizes our need to take this subject very seriously.  We are to quickly and carefully deal with this issue in our lives.  After all, remember our opening text… there are many who have professed salvation that will be cast away at the last day.  It is possible to have mentally assented to Christ’s person and ministry without ever experiencing a saving faith that is the result of divine intervention.

ALWAYS REMEMBER THE DEMONS, who have a sincere faith in God.  Although their faith causes them to tremble, because it is not the result of God’s workings within them, they will be condemned to the Lake of Fire for an eternity.

Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.”  (James 2:19)

Peter begins to itemize the changes in our lives that will clearly prove to us that the Lord has worked in our hearts and graciously given salvation to us….

 

add to your faith virtue;

In addition to our saving faith being received from the Lord, we will add to our list “virtue”.  What is virtue?   The original language helps us to understand that this grace is describing a consistency of service that is based upon love, appreciation and boldness.

 

and to virtue knowledge;

Next on the list is “knowledge”.  This is the learning of truths from the Word of God and our life experiences as we walk with Him.  Being a Christian involves being a student of the Lord, ever learning more about His person, work, and truths.

 

6) And to knowledge temperance;

We now add to our list “temperance”.  This is describing self-control, or the competence to use our abilities in appropriate ways while abstaining from using them in improper ways.


and to temperance patience;

Now we come to “patience”.  This is the willingness, and ability, to “bear up under” a load or burden.  It is pictured by a donkey that stands still while his master places more and more cargo on his back.  He doesn’t flinch, he doesn’t kick it off, he doesn’t rebel, he willingly accepts the load being placed upon him.

 

and to patience godliness;

“Godliness” simply describes reverence of mind and spirit.  It is living a life dedicated to, and motivated by a desire to, bring honor and praise God.

 

7) And to godliness brotherly kindness;

The list continues with “brotherly kindness”.   This is possessing an affection for our physical and spiritual brothers.  It is a love that stems from a recognition of obligation to love, those to whom we are associated.

 

and to brotherly kindness charity.

And our list ends with the most noble of all these changes, “charity”.  Charity is a willingness to sacrifice ourselves to those to whom we ARE NOT OBLIGATED.  It is choosing to give of ourselves for those who do not deserve the gift.  This is the type of love displayed by Christ as he hung on the cross for all of us.  We were rebellious, hateful and dishonoring to Him, yet He chose to give His life for us.

 

8) For if these things be in you, and abound, they make [you that ye shall] neither [be] barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Peter now explains to us that, if we can perceive that these graces exist and grow in us, our knowledge of Christ is not worthless and void.   Remember from verse 1 of this text, Peter’s teachings are not concerned with those who have never professed Christ, but he is dealing with those of us who profess a knowledge of Christ.  He has just given to each one of us a listing of proofs that our knowledge of Christ is God-given and has been accompanied by a God-given faith in Him.

 

9) But he that lacketh these things

Peter now describes the condition of those who are professing Christ but not exhibiting this combination of graces in their lives…

is blind,

Although he is professing faith in Christ, he must be spiritually blind.  Obviously, he is not being able to perceive the necessary work of God that supplies faith (vs 1-3), the true nature of salvation which includes becoming a new creature (vs 4), and the many varied graces that accompanying true salvation (vs 5-7).

and cannot see afar off,

The one who professes Christ, but lacks these gifts cannot be perceiving the future that awaits God’s people.  Their professing faith must not be allowing them to possess “the substance of things hoped for” nor “the evidence of things not seen” (Heb 11:1).  Their faith cannot grasp the precious promises given to them in the Scriptures (vs 4).

 

and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.

Those who claim faith in Christ but lack the graces listed for us by Peter, must possess a faith that allows them to have forgotten that their sins have been cleansed by the Lord. By implication, their faith has not resulted in the Holy Spirit indwelling, nor a change of heart and mind, or else they could not forget what the Lord has so mercifully done for them.

 

It is extremely important to notice that it is IMPOSSIBLE for a truly saved person to be:

1. spiritually blind

2. unable to understand and trust in the promises of God by faith

3. forgetful of his salvation and the work of grace God has performed in their heart.

That is Peter’s very point in this verse. He is relating to us that those who profess faith in Christ, without these gifts, are clearly lost individuals who have never experienced God’s gracious saving intervention in their lives.  Although most are sincere about their profession of faith, they are sincerely wrong, unsaved and headed for rejection by God and eternal judgment from Him.

Peter has just taught us that it is IMPOSSIBLE for a person to be genuinely saved and not exhibit the above list of graces in their lives.   This is why he directly relates the evidence of these graces to evidence of the Lord’s workings in our lives…

 

10) Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:  11) For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

 

This is an issue of genuine salvation resulting in entrance in His kingdom (vs 5-8), versus a false profession of faith (vs 9).  We are called upon by the Lord, through the writings of Peter, to be very careful about this issue.  We are to not delay dealing with this issue, nor are we to be sloppy and careless as we examine our own personal lives.

Please note especially, Peter does not say be sure that we have placed our faith in the Lord.  Why?  Because there is a faith based in this world that is shared by demons and the many lost people (James 2:17-20). Nor does he say that we must be sure we are sorry for our sins.  Why? There is a type of sorrow that comes from our flesh and will condemn us to eternal spiritual death (2 Cor 7:10)

The issue is making sure that the Lord has called us to salvation through the workings of the Holy Spirit and chosen to save us in His divine counsels.  This is all a part of His preceding workings in our lives that produced faith and a new nature within us.  If He has worked within us, then we can know the faith that we have exercised, and the sorrow for our sins which we have experienced, is genuine and will result in our eternal salvation.  If He has not worked within us, whatever faith and sorrow we have experienced has proceed from our flesh and is absolutely vain.

If we examine ourselves carefully, and find these graces within us, we can be absolutely certain, beyond any doubt, that we are eternally secure in Him; and, thus we will never fall into His hands of punishment and wrath.

But the inverse is also true, if after our period of self-examination, we find that we do not possess the graces listed in Peter’s teachings, we can know assuredly that we have never experienced God’s work of grace in our heart.  We are yet in our sins.

 

 

THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION:

Vs 6 – “If these things be in you”  – Please note that the listing of items that we have studied is not a list of outward actions that are performed… it is a list of attitudes and graces that the truly saved have within them….

1.  a possession of God-given faith.

2. love, appreciation, and boldness as motivators for service to the Lord.

3.  the learning of truths from the Word of God and our life experiences as we walk with Him.

4.  self-control

5.  the willingness, and ability, to “bear up under” a load or burden for Christ.

6. desires to honor and to bring praise to the Lord through our actions.

7. an affection for our physical and spiritual brothers.

8. a willingness to sacrifice ourselves for the benefit of others without being obligated to do so.

The proof that a Christian has been genuinely saved by the grace of God is found within the saint.  It is a change of their very nature that is exhibited by the above listed gifts.  This is the true basis of our confidence that He has intervened and granted to us a saving faith.

Please keep in mind, a work of God’s saving grace in the heart is not proven by an outward profession of faith, nor outward acts of goodness and service to the Lord. The text at the beginning of this study clearly proved this principle.  There, we saw men who were making professions of their faith in Christ and outward actions of service to the Lord.  And yet, they are clearly rejected by Christ.  If this is the case, then how do works enter into this subject?   They enter into our teaching in two ways…

First of all a changed lifestyle, including outward actions, is the natural result of the change in nature and the new found graces that the Christian possesses.

Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are [these]; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,  Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,  Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told [you] in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,  Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.  And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.

If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.  Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.”   (Galatians 5:19-26)

However, a changed lifestyle can be counterfeited as we saw in our introductory text.  Therefore, the outward actions of man cannot be looked upon as the sole basis of confidence of a genuine conversion.  They must be taken in the context of what is taking place in the heart that motivates the outward actions.  This is the only reliable evidence of genuine saving faith.  Only self-examination by the individual can find the true motives and graces behind the outward acts of service to Christ.

Secondly, a Christian’s works can be very effective in giving evidence to others of our genuine conversion, however, because those around us cannot know our hearts, they can never be absolutely certain of our spiritual condition.

What [doth it] profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?  If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food,  And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be [ye] warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what [doth it] profit?  Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.  Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.  Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.  But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?  Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?  Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?  And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.  Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.  Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent [them] out another way?

For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.”   (James 2:14-26)

 

So when it comes to our testimony in other’s eyes, we can only live our lives consistent with our verbal testimony of faith.  As others around us see that our actions are consistent with our verbal testimony, it will aid them in understanding we have been genuinely saved.

One last point, since each individual is the only one who can be certain that a genuine work of faith has taken place in their heart, we must understand that we are to be very careful in making judgments about the spiritual condition of others.  As human beings, we can easily misinterpret hypocritical acts of service as proofs of genuine conversion… the Jews attitudes about the Pharisees is a clear example of this error.  Likewise an inconsistent life based upon spiritual immaturity, can easily be mistakenly seen as an indication of a lost condition.  This is a frequent occurrence in the lives of Christians, and it is proven by the many teachings in the Word about the need “to grow in grace and knowledge of Christ” (ie to become mature in the faith).

Although difficult, and certainly imperfect, at times judgments about another’s salvation must be made. A few examples of this include:  candidates for baptism and/or church membership, choosing a mate for marriage, choosing partners in business ventures, and so on. In these cases great diligence, Holy Spirit leadership, spiritual discernment in an examination of their spiritual fruits, much prayer, and a realization that we are limited in our ability to discern these things must always be kept in the forefront of these judgments.

May the Lord bless you as you seek His truth concerning this very important subject.

 Please visit…

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Email Us At: settledinheaven@gmail.com

May the Lord bless your study of His Word.  Like God’s Word… may your soul’s salvation and your life’s faithfulness be “Settled in Heaven.”


9 Comments

  1. Thank you so much for this post! This is a verse/subject that has long been in the forefront of my mind. I believe that you have wonderfully explained the issue in a very understandable manner. I truly appreciate the time and effort it has taken you to write this. May the LORD continue to use you in helping us grow in the grace and knowledge of our LORD Jesus Christ. 🙂

  2. Reblogged this on thinkinaboutjesus and commented:
    This is long but it is so worth reading.

  3. Shofar says:

    Reblogged this on God's Enduring Love and commented:
    THANK YOU PASTOR ROB FOR THIS IMPORTANT TEACHING! GREAT TITLE AND CONTENT!
    Each one of us who professes to be a Christian must know if we are truly saved! This lengthy Bible study helps us to know that a REAL CHRISTIAN is one inwardly and who expresses and lives his faith outwardly, about being a transformed person, a new creature in Christ (2 Cor 5:17).

    • Rob Barkman says:

      Thanks so much for your kind words. I thank the Lord for giving us His Word and clearly explaining, through Peter, how we can recognize a true salvation experience within our hearts. Lord bless you my friend.

  4. SLIMJIM says:

    An important topic. I’ve just finished a series with our church on the topic of Assurance of our salvation that I’m editing to be a series on our blog. Timely!

  5. This is a wonderful compilation and invigorating desire to keep reading ! I love the videos !

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