You know, two weeks ago, we began a four-part miniseries within our study of the book of Genesis entitled Our Salvation in Jesus Christ. And in part one, we talked about how our salvation works. And we learned that the answer to that question is imputed righteousness, which means that when we believe in Jesus Christ, we don't really become righteous. We're still sinners through and through. But God, Genesis 15 6, credits our account with righteousness, not with a righteousness that we've earned by our own good works or religious activity, but rather with the righteousness that Jesus Christ purchased on the cross for us and which God deposits in our account as a gift. And then in part two, we learned that as followers of Christ, our salvation in Jesus Christ, our imputed righteousness, our place in heaven, is eternally secure, that when we give our lives to Jesus Christ, we are irreversibly saved, we are irrevocably saved, we are irretrievably saved for the rest of time and eternity, regardless what we do or what we don't do here on earth from that point forward. Hallelujah. And praise the Lord for that. Now, last week, we said, However, there's still some lingering questions about eternal security we want to answer.
And that's what we're going to talk about today. You know, we just sang a moment ago, one of my favorite hymns, Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing. This song, this hymn, was actually written by a man named Richard Robinson, who was led to Christ in the early 1700s, mid 1700s, by the great evangelist George Whitfield. And not long after he was led to Christ, he wrote this great hymn.
But then something went horribly wrong in Mr. Robinson's life. He went back to drinking hard. He went back to swearing profusely and living profanely. And he disavowed all connection with Jesus Christ.
He had for many, many years he was away from the Lord. And then one day he got into a stagecoach and a woman inside, as they were going along, looked up and said, Sir, she said, Listen to this wonderful poem. And she began to read, Come thou fount of every blessing, tune my heart to sing thy grace. And Robinson sat there in stunned silence as she read the words until finally she got to prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love. And at that point, Robinson couldn't take it anymore. And he blurted out and said, and I quote, Madam, I am the poor soul who wrote those words.
And I would give a thousand lifetimes if I could get back the feelings that I had then. End of quote. Well, just to finish the story up so that, you know, Richard Robinson never did return to his faith or to a walk with Jesus Christ.
Now, what do we do with this? I mean, did this man lose his salvation? Did this man fall from grace? I mean, what about the person who claims to be a follower of Jesus Christ and then their Christian life simply isn't what it ought to be? Or what about a person who claims to be a follower of Christ and then they turn their back on Jesus and they just walk away? And are we saying that because our salvation is eternally secure, it really doesn't matter what kind of life we live here on Earth once we come to Christ? And what about me? If I wake up one day and I don't feel eternally secure, I don't feel saved, I've lost the feeling like Richard Robinson did.
Does that mean I lost my salvation? Well, these are the questions we want to answer today. So, are you ready? All right, here we go.
Question number one. What about the person who claims to be a follower of Christ but their Christian life isn't what it ought to be? You know, a follower of Christ who keeps right on living la vida loca.
You understand what I'm saying? A person who never does establish a distinctively Christ-centered lifestyle. Is this person's salvation still eternally secure? Well, the problem with this question, my friends, is that it's based on a faulty understanding of God's plan of salvation. When it comes to our salvation, the Bible is clear that human good works have nothing to do with it before or after we're saved. Listen, Romans chapter 3 verse 20. Therefore, no one will be declared righteous in God's sight by observing the Old Testament law. That is, by their own good works, by their own religious activity. So then how does a person become righteous in God's sight so they can go to heaven?
Well, we learned the answer to that a couple weeks ago. Next verse. But now a righteousness from God, an imputed righteousness from God, which is apart from human performance, has been made known to us. This imputed righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.
Ephesians chapter 2 verse 8. For it is by grace that you've been saved through faith, not of yourselves. It is the gift of God, not the result of human works. The point, my friends, is that we didn't get our salvation because of good performance and we can't lose our salvation because of bad performance, because our Christian life isn't what it ought to be. Our salvation from the start to the finish is all based on the undeserved grace of God. Now, this idea that we get our salvation through faith in Christ, but that we keep it by performing good works and religious activity, this is not a new idea. As a matter of fact, we find that idea right in the New Testament. This is the problem that the believers in Galatia had when Paul wrote them his letter. And look what Paul says about this. Galatians 3, 2. He says, You foolish Galatians, tell me one thing. Did you receive eternal life by observing the law, by your own good works, by your own religious activity, or by believing God's promise by faith?
Well, of course, it's the latter. He goes on to say, Are you so foolish, having begun by the Spirit and by God's grace? Are you now being perfected by the works of the flesh?
Paul says, What's wrong with you guys? You didn't get your salvation by good works, religious activity, by the works of the flesh. So why in the world would you try to maintain your salvation by the works of the flesh? Friends, the bottom line is not only is it the grace of God that saves us, it is the grace of God that keeps us saved, not our Christian lives being what they ought to be. Besides, whose Christian life is ever what it ought to be? Certainly not mine and certainly not yours.
You say, Now, wait a minute, Hoss. Don't start telling me about my Christian life, will you? What do you know? I mean, I don't smoke or drink or cuss or chew or hang around with them, which do so. So don't say just don't start telling me about my Christian life. Well, you may not do any of those things.
But hey, how about this? Do you look at women? Do you gossip? Do you think and say bad things about other people?
You say never. Your boss? Do you speed? Do you roll stop signs? Do you covet purses and shoes when you walk through the mall? Of course you do. We all do.
We all do. Friends, listen to me. If the only followers of Christ who ever got into heaven were those whose Christian lives were what they ought to be, heaven would be empty. There'd be nobody there. The reason there are people in heaven is because, as 2 Timothy 2 13 says, even if we are faithless, God remains faithful. He cannot deny who he is. Praise God for that.
Now, question number two. So you say so long. What you're saying is that because I'm eternally secure, I mean, it really doesn't matter what kind of earthly Christian life I live. Right? Wrong. Wrong.
A thousand times wrong. I didn't say that. And the Bible doesn't say that. What the Bible says is that the kind of earthly life we live has nothing to do with us getting into heaven.
But, friends, it has everything to do with the kind of reception we're going to receive when we arrive. 1 Corinthians chapter 3, verse 11. Here we go. For no other foundation can anyone lay, that is, for their Christian life, than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now, if anyone builds on this foundation, they can use gold, silver and precious stones or wood, hay and stubble. In other words, the Bible's telling us there are two kinds of Christian lives that we can build on the foundation of Jesus Christ. The first kind of Christian life is one that uses gold and silver and precious stones. This represents a Christian life that's characterized by obedience to God and service for Christ and living under the lordship of Christ. There's a second kind of Christian life that we can build on the same foundation that is the Lord, and that is one that uses wood, hay and stubble. This characterizes a Christian life that is full of disobedience to God and spiritual waywardness and living for self.
Now, watch verse 13. Each person's work will become clear because it will be revealed by fire, and this fire shall test the quality of each person's work. If any person's work that they've built on the foundation, on Christ, talking about their Christian life here, survives this test of fire, that person shall receive a reward. But if any person's work is burned up, that person shall suffer loss of reward, yet he himself, say the next three words with me, shall be saved.
Aha. What's God saying here, folks? He's saying that when we get to heaven as believers, God's going to pull out his cosmic flamethrower, and he is going to open fire on our Christian lives. Not on what we did B.C. before Christ. Everything you did before you came to Christ went under the blood, and that is not an issue anymore. We're talking here about what we did after we came to Christ, and when the smoke clears, God's going to see what survives. The gold, the silver, and the precious stones, they're still going to be there.
The wood, the hay, and the stubble, they're all going to be gone, burned up. And then God, the Bible says, will reward us for what survives. These are the rewards in heaven for believers that the Bible's always talking about. For example, Revelation 22, 12, Jesus said, Behold, I'm coming quickly, and my reward is with me to render to every person according to what they've done. And this is why the Apostle John wrote believers, 2 John 8, and said, Look to yourselves that you may not lose what you've worked for, but that you may win a full reward. But friends, hey, hey, very important, don't forget what verse 15 of 1 Corinthians 3 says. It says that even if all a believer's works are burned up, even if their Christian life brings no reward at all, what did the verse say? Yet he himself shall be saved because our salvation doesn't depend on how we live our Christian life. It depends on what Jesus did for us on the cross. You say, All right, Lord. So let's say I don't care about rewards in heaven. Let's say that I'm very happy as a believer to just kind of slide under the fence barely and get in. So what does that mean? That means I can sin whenever I feel like it, live however I want to, disobey God whenever I'm inclined to do that. That's what you're saying, right?
Oh, not so fast, Kimo Sabe. No, no, no. That's not exactly what I'm saying. I'm saying that rewards in heaven are part of the issue. But don't you dare forget the convicting work of the Holy Spirit in our lives as believers. Remember what we said last week that when we come to Christ, God makes a contract with us and part of that contract.
There are terms to that contract. One of them is that the Holy Spirit now comes to live inside of us, to indwell us. And what does the Holy Spirit do inside of us?
Well, he does a lot of things. But one of the things he does, John 16, eight, is he convicts people concerning sin. Hey, listen to David's testimony after he had committed sin with Bathsheba about what the Holy Spirit did to him. Psalm 38, verse one. Oh, Lord, David says, rebuke me no longer in your anger and chasten me not in your wrath. Verse two, for your arrows have sunk deep into me and your hand has come down hard on me. Verse three, there is no soundness in my flesh and no health in my bones because of my sin. Verse four, my sins have gone over my head and as a heavy burden, they weigh too much for me. Verse five, my wounds grow foul and fester because of my folly. I am bent over and prostrate. I am utterly spent and crushed because of the tumult in my heart. Hey, what's going on here?
I'll tell you what's going on here. It's the Holy Spirit convicting this man of his sin and the Holy Spirit was whooping it to him. And finally, David says, Uncle, Uncle.
OK, God, you know enough. Look, verse 18. I confess my iniquity, David says. I'm sorry for my sin.
Friends, mission accomplished by the Holy Spirit. You know, when I first came to Christ back in 1971, of course, I was Jewish and I still am. But I come from a Jewish background and I knew nothing about the Bible. I knew nothing about church. I knew nothing about nothing. And so a lot of my friends, people would challenge me and try to talk me out of this and that this was stupid. And and there was no reality here. And I often get asked for people in those very early weeks and months, what kept you glued to Christ?
You couldn't answer, you know, questions and you couldn't refute supposed contradictions in the Bible. What kept you close to Christ? Was it the joy that you felt? Was it the new power in your life that you felt? Was it the freedom from guilt that you felt?
None of the above. You know what it was? It was the conviction of sin that the Holy Spirit began producing in my life. Friends, I'm telling you, the week I came to Christ, the week I came to Christ, all of a sudden I couldn't do the things that just the week before I had been able to do without a single pang of conscience in the world. I had been able to lie. I've been able to cheat. I've been able to steal.
I've been able to curse like a sailor. I've been able to lust at women without feeling the slightest conscience objection to it. But man, the week after I gave my life to Christ, I mean to tell you, I couldn't do any of those things anymore without the Holy Spirit inside of me beating me to a pulp. And I knew I hadn't done that. And I knew I wasn't responsible for that change.
And that's what convinced me more than anything else, that something supernatural had happened in my life, that something spiritually unprecedented had happened in my life. And let me just tell you something. Listen here. Look at me. Look at me.
Look at me. Anybody, anybody who says to you that eternal security gives license to a true believer to sin, that person has never had a head-on collision with the convicting ministry of the Holy Spirit. You can count on that, because once you have a head-on collision with the convicting ministry of the Holy Spirit, there is no such thing as license in the Christian life, eternal security or no eternal security.
He takes out the paddle and comes at you. God disciplines his children, the Bible says. And you say, well, Lon, I'm still kind of worried the way you're preaching this, you know, about grace and eternal security.
I still think it's a little dangerous and I still think it's a little libertine the way you're coming at this. Well, folks, go on out in our lobby here and pick up a copy. Now, you need to pay for it.
Don't just take it. But pick up a copy of Chuck Swindoll's book, A Grace Awakening, and read that book. And I promise you, by the time you're finished reading Chuck, you'll say, oh, yes, Lon, you're right on.
I understand what you're saying. Go get a copy of that book. Well, our third question is, OK, Lon, so what about a person who one time claimed to be a Christian like Richard Robinson, and then they just totally turned their back and walk away and never come back again? I mean, didn't they lose their salvation? Well, the answer is, friends, if that person genuinely trusted Christ as their savior and then does this, the Bible is clear. They still get to heaven. They are still saved.
Why? Because of Second Timothy 2 13. Even if we are faithless, God remains faithful.
And I admit that obviously every one of these situations is individual and specific and we have to deal with them individually. However, in the vast majority of these cases, I believe the best explanation biblically is that these folks who do this were never really born again, never really followers of Christ to begin with. Jesus talked about this in Matthew Chapter 21. He uses a fig tree that had lots of leaves, but no fruit to describe the true spiritual condition of such folks.
And Jesus's point is that some people who profess to be followers of Christ, they got all kinds of leaves. They come to church. They sing in the choir. They serve as ushers.
They work in the parking lot. They give money in the offering plate. They say all the right things. Praise the Lord. Praise the Lord.
They sing the right songs. But underneath all these leaves of spiritual performance, there's no fruit. There's no genuine relationship with Christ. Sadly, there are thousands of people, folks, around our world who were raised in church all their life, but they're all leaves and no fruit. And when these people walk away from Christ, they didn't lose their salvation. Jesus said they never had it to start with. And he covers this same subject again in Matthew Chapter 13 in the parable of the four soils. And what Jesus says in here is that there's a whole group of people who, when they first hear the gospel, they get all excited about it, but there's no depth of soil in their life. And so the gospel seed dries up in their life and never really takes deep root. Friends, when these people walk away from Christ, when they wither and walk away, they're not losing their salvation.
They never had it. And I wish I had more time to talk to you about this parable, but we actually have a CD in the lobby where I spent a whole message on this parable. It's part 33 of People Jesus Met.
Go out there and purchase one of them, or you can go online and you can download it and podcast it, and I've got a whole message on that. But listen to what John the apostle said about these people. He said, 1 John 2.19, They went out from us because they were not of us, for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us.
But they went out from us that it might be evident to all that they were not of us. Did you follow that? Yeah. Okay. You understand what he's saying?
You say, all right, Lon, I got one final question then, and that's about me. What if I wake up one morning and I don't feel safe? I don't feel eternally secure. I mean, like Richard Robinson.
Does that mean I lost my salvation? Well, folks, for people living in America like us today, this is a real problem, and I'll tell you why. It's because our culture bases everything on how we feel. I mean, if you don't feel in love with your spouse anymore, our culture says divorce them. If you don't feel like you like your job anymore, our culture says quit.
If you don't feel like staying out of debt, our culture says don't. We live in a culture, Madison Avenue has brainwashed us into believing that our feelings are the engine that should pull the train, but the worldview of the Bible is the exact opposite of this. According to the Bible, our feelings should be the caboose, and God's word and his promises in his word should be the engine. So if you wake up one morning and you don't feel like you got eternal life and you don't feel like you're saved, hey, remember, John 3 16 still says that when we trust Christ, we shall not perish but have everlasting life. Do your feelings that morning change that verse? And Romans 8 1 still says there is no condemnation to those who are in Jesus Christ. Do your feelings change that verse? And John 5 24 still says when we believe in Christ, we have crossed over, are crossed over, and always will be crossed over from death into eternal life. Did your feelings change that? And Jesus said in John 10 28, I give my sheep eternal life and they shall never perish. Did your feelings change that this morning? Listen, folks, as followers of Christ, our eternal security is not based on how we feel.
It is based on the non-negotiable promises of the written word of God, which remain the same regardless of how you and I feel, and praise God for that. Now, those are our four questions. We answered them. But we got one more.
We got one more that we got to answer. So everybody ready? Okay. All you guys on the Internet ready? Okay.
So don't let me down today. Are you ready? All right. Come on now. Here we go.
Ready? One, two, three. Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. You say, all right, Lon.
So what? This is great. I appreciate this. Well, the so what here is I want to go back for a moment and talk to you about that fourth question about our feelings and how they relate to our Christian life, because we need to be very aware and be careful of the feeling oriented life as followers of Christ. Look, as followers of Christ, the only way that you and I can have a Christian life that is consistent and stable and resilient is to have a Christian life where God's word and God's promises are the engine and our feelings are the caboose. So as a follower of Christ, if you're facing hard times and you feel alone, God says, don't listen to your feelings, because I made you a promise, Hebrews 13 five, that I will never leave you, nor will I ever forsake you.
You are not alone. And as followers of Christ, if we feel like we need guidance and we need wisdom and we feel like we're adrift, God says, don't listen to your feelings. You're not adrift and you're not out there lost. But Jeremiah twenty nine eleven, I have a plan for you that I'm working out a plan for good and not for evil. And oh, by the way, Isaiah thirty verse twenty one, you shall hear a voice behind you saying this is the way walking in it.
When it's time to make a turn, I'll tell you when it's time to make a turn. And as followers of Christ, when we look at the world around us today and we feel hopeless, God says, don't listen to those feelings. You get into the word of God and study the word of God. And there's more hope in there than you'll know what to do with. Romans fifteen four for whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, talking about the Bible, that through the encouragement of the scriptures, we might have what hope. And I love Hebrews six nineteen, which says that God's promises in the Bible give us hope that form an anchor for our soul.
Steadfast and sure. You know, I had a gentleman in my office a while back whose wife had passed away from cancer. And we were talking and he said, you know, Lon, he said so many of those days back then and really even now. I don't feel like God is really there and I don't feel like God really cares and I don't feel like God even is connected to what I'm going through. And sometimes I don't even feel like God exists. He said, can you relate to any of that? I think he thought because I was a pastor, I never had a feeling like that before. And I said, oh, yeah, I can relate to that.
Absolutely. I said, I remember being on the floor, giving my little girl Jill CPR, because she'd stopped breathing during a seizure when she was one year old, two years old, waiting on the rescue squad to get there. And I remember riding in the back of the ambulance with her at three o'clock in the morning to the hospital.
And I remember sleeping in chairs in the ICU unit for days at a time while they were trying to get her stabilized. And all that time feeling, hey, God, hello? Oh, hey, God, are you there?
Are you interested? Do you care? What are you going to do about this? I said, I know what you're feeling. And some of you know exactly what he was feeling because you're there right now or you have been, where you're going through things in your life and you're saying, hey, God, I don't feel like you're here and I don't feel like you care. Sometimes I'm not even sure I feel like you're real.
I mean, what's going on here? It's all right. Friends, you and I and this gentleman have a decision to make every day, every moment of every day. And I told him that.
I said, sir, here's the issue. Every day you and I have got to decide what's going to define our reality. Are our feelings going to define our reality or is the written word of God going to define our reality because God says I'm not alone. And God says he does care. And God says he does have a plan.
And God says he is real. And God says, when I need to turn, I'll hear where to turn. Am I going to build my reality on that or how I feel sitting in an ambulance? Friends, we've got to let the engine be the engine. We've got to let the word of God and the promises of God pull this train, because if we allow our feelings to be the engine, we are cooked. Our feelings go up and down and all around and we'll end up pulling that train who knows where, but it won't be good. You put your feelings where they belong. Put them in the caboose and put the word of God in the engine.
And you know something I learned? Wherever the engine goes, sooner or later, the caboose has to follow, has to follow. Your feelings will come around.
Don't worry about your feelings. They'll come around because they have to go where the engine goes, folks. Be careful not to let the engine become the caboose and the caboose become the engine. That is a sure formula for disaster. That's what the world tells you to do.
Don't do it. Remember what God said, Numbers 23, 19. He said, God is not a man that he should lie. God tells you something, you can make it the engine. It's going to pull and it's never, ever going to take you off the tracks, my friends. Let's pray together. Dear Heavenly Father, you know that we as people are feeling driven beings. We have feelings about everything.
They go up and down and all around, in and out. And we can't even control how we feel about things. They're just there. But Lord Jesus, I thank you that you have given us something else to be the engine. Something that will keep us on the tracks all the way to heaven and give us stability of life on the way. And that is the written word of God. So, Lord Jesus, for people now, right here today, who are going through tough times and struggling with the feelings that man described in my office, help each of us to say, all right, let's put God's promises up front in the engine where they belong and help me believe them and rest my weight on them.
Put my feelings in the caboose and just have the confidence. Eventually, they'll come around. Lord, speak to us deeply and change the very way we live because we were here today and we sat under the teaching of the word of God. And we pray these things in Jesus name. What do God's people say? Amen. Thank you.
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