Today on Summit Life with J.D.
Greer. Assurance doesn't come from a past memory. Assurance comes from a present posture and we got a lot of Christians who are looking back to a past event for their assurance of salvation and what you ought to be doing is looking at your present posture. If right now you are surrendering to Christ his Lord and trusting in him as your Savior, then right now you are saved because it is the posture of repentance and faith that saves, not some magical prayer. Welcome back to Summit Life with pastor, author, and theologian J.D. Greer.
As always, I'm your host, Molly Bitovitch. I bet if you were to ask a dozen people at your church how they got saved, you'll probably get a dozen different answers. Some of them maybe grew up in church and can't remember a time when they didn't believe in God. Others might've said a prayer in Sunday school or at a youth camp and still others might've had a more radical conversion later in life.
So are all those experiences valid or is there a certain formula you have to follow to truly be saved? Pastor J.D. answers that question for us today with a message titled, Being Certain, You Can Be Certain. And make sure you listen all the way to the end where pastor J.D.
tells us about the perfect follow-up resource. So grab your Bible and let's jump in. This morning we're just going to answer two questions. The first question is, does God really want us to know for sure that we are saved? The second question we'll look at is if he does want us to know, how do we know?
All right, so let's look at those one at a time. Number one, does God even want us to know for sure that we are saved? Verse 13, I write these things to you who believe in the name of the son of God that you may know that you have eternal life. So there's your answer.
Yes, he wants you to know. The gospel is the power that liberates you from sin. It is the security of the gospel from which everything else spiritually grows in your life. Everything grows out of the assurance of the love of God for you. So does God want you to have absolute confidence and assurance that you are saved?
Profoundly yes. Number two, how can we know then that we are saved? John in the next few verses is going to identify two elements that are going to be signs to you that you are saved. Verse 13 again, I write these things to you who believe in the name of the son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.
Here is the first one, letter A if you're taking notes. You've placed your hopes for heaven entirely on Jesus. When John says, I write these things to you who believe in the name of the son of God.
Believe in the name of the son of God means you rest in the account of. Now think of it this way. If a really wealthy person invited you to go on a weekend resort vacation that you could never afford on your own, but you were going to go as their guest. When you were checking into the hotel and the person behind the desk asked you how you were going to pay for that weekend. You would look back at them and knowing that you could never put this on your credit card because your credit card doesn't have that high of a limit. You would look back at them and you would say, I am under the name of and you would put the name of that wealthy person. What you were saying to them is, do not charge this weekend to my credit card because I'm under the name of this wealthy person.
Put it on their account. When John says you believe in the name of the son of God, what that means is when you think about how you were going to purchase entry into heaven, you are not making a withdrawal from your own moral bank account. You are depending on the account of Jesus Christ, which was given to you as a gift.
That's what he means. Is that you have put all hopes for entering heaven, not on how moral you are, not on the amount in your moral bank account, but you're now depending on the work of another. You're depending on what Jesus did in your place, that he lived the life you should have lived, then died the death you were condemned to die and gave it to you as a gift. And so you rest your hopes for heaven on his finished work. You see, the gospel by its very nature produces assurance because you're no longer depending on how well you've done or you're no longer depending on how well you've performed to earn your way to heaven. You are resting in his finished work, which means that I'm as sure of heaven as Jesus is because he is my salvation. So see, that means when I, listen, when I ask somebody, and I ask people this a lot, are you a Christian?
The number one answer that I get back from people when I ask them that is something like this, well, I'm trying. I'm doing my best. I'm going back to church now.
I'm feeling pretty good about it. When a person makes a statement to me like that, I know for absolute certain they have no concept at all of what a Christian actually is because they're still thinking that Christian is a title that you live up to and that how well you live up to the title is whether or not you can claim the title. But see, what a Christian is is someone who understands that that title is not given by something that you earn. That title was earned for you by Jesus Christ and given it to you as a gift. So you ask me, are you a Christian? My answer is yes, not because I feel like I live up to the title but because Jesus died in my place. He'd substituted for me, and I have taken him as my Savior. Therefore, I take that title because of his finished work, not because of how well I've done.
You see what I mean? The Gospel, by its very nature, produces assurance. The Old Testament had a great example of this I've used with you before. When a Jewish family brought a sacrifice and they got ready to slaughter the sacrifice, as they were slaughtering the lamb, the father of the family would reach out his hand and he would put it on the head of the lamb as the lamb was slaughtered. And what he was showing was that the payment for his family's sin was being transferred onto this lamb. To be converted to Jesus Christ means simply that you have laid your hand on the head of the Lord Jesus Christ. That he is your sin-bearer, that he is what you are depending on as your entry into heaven. So my question for you right now is very simply this. Is your hand resting on the head of the Lord Jesus Christ right now as your sin-bearer and as your hope for heaven? Because if so, then if never before, then you are saved right at the moment that you do that. By the way, it does not matter what you said when you first placed your hand there. Right? It just matters that you placed your hand there.
That's all that matters. The analogy I've used with you before is the analogy of a chair. Every one of you right now is in one of two relationships to the chair that you're sitting on. Either you're standing beside the chair with the weight of your body on your own legs and feet, or you have transferred the weight of your body off of your legs onto the chair.
Right? Every one of you is in one of two relationships to Jesus Christ. Either you are standing as your own authority, or you have sat down in submission to his authority. You are either standing in the hopes that you can be good enough to earn your way to heaven, or you have sat down in his finished work and trusted in that as your way to heaven.
So you can only be in one of two relationships. By the way, does it matter if you're not sitting down? Does it matter what kind of speech you made to the chair before you sat down? Oh, chair. Oh, great wooden chair. Thou art a lovely chair. The wood looks strong.
You are a pretty version of black, and I am very confident that you will hold the weight of my 200-pound frame as I transfer. I could make the most eloquent prayer, and if the chair could hear, maybe it would be impressed. But if I never sit down, the prayer or the speech doesn't do anything. The point is not what you say as you're sitting down. The point is, are you sitting down? Does that make sense?
How about this? How do you know you made the decision to trust in Jesus Christ as your Savior? How do you know? Well, how do you know you made the decision to sit down in that chair you're sitting down in? Is it because you remember consciously making the decision? Do you know that you're sitting in that chair right now because you were like, oh, I remember walking in, and I remember looking at that chair and thinking, well, that looks like a sturdy chair.
It looks like it's got a polycarbonate frame, and it looks like it's reputable. It looks like it will hold up the weight of my body, and so right now I covenant with my legs to sit down in that chair, and I'm telling several of my friends for accountability, and I'm going to sign a card on it, and that's why I know that I'm sitting down in the chair because I remember making the decision. No, for most of you, that decision was subconscious, was it not?
Right. How do you know you made the decision? Not because you remember the decision, but because you're sitting there now. How do you know you made the decision to trust Christ? Is it because you remember the emotion, you remember the prayer that you prayed? No, it's because right now the posture of your life is one of repentance and faith.
That's how you know you made the decision. Listen, if you are right now surrendered to Christ as Lord and right now trusted in His finished work as your Savior, then if never before, you're saved right at this moment. You say, oh, but I didn't pray the formal prayer. Who cares?
Who cares? It's not the prayer, it's the posture, right? At the same token, you might have a crystal clear memory of when you prayed the prayer and the emotions that went through it, but if right now you are not surrendered to Christ as Lord and you're not trusted in His finished work, then I don't care what prayer you prayed, it was the wrong one because it's not a prayer that gives you assurance, it's your posture.
In fact, here's how I would say that. Assurance doesn't come from a past memory, assurance comes from a present posture. Assurance doesn't come from a past memory, assurance comes from a present posture. And we got a lot of Christians who are looking back to a past event for their assurance of salvation, two years, five years, 30 years, and what you ought to be doing is looking at your present posture. If right now you are surrendered to Christ as Lord and trusting in Him as your Savior, then right now you are saved because it is the posture of repentance and faith that saves, not some magical prayer. You're listening to a message titled Being Certain You Can Be Certain here on Summit Life with J.D.
Greer. We'll return to this teaching in just a moment, but I wanted to tell you about a daily email devotional from Pastor J.D. that's delivered straight to your inbox. Couldn't we all use encouragement first thing in the morning to remind us of God's love for us? I know the busyness of life can quickly choke out any joy that we feel in our walk with God, so why not cut away those weeds each morning with a word from the Lord? The devotionals even follow alongside with our current teaching here on the program so you can stay plugged in regardless of your schedule. Sign up for this free resource right now at jdgreer.com slash resources.
That's jdgreer.com slash resources. Now let's return for the conclusion of today's teaching. Once again, here's Pastor J.D. So that's the first way John gives you. Here's the second way, verse 18.
I'll do this really quickly. We know that everyone who's been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him. He says how you know that you are saved. You have a new nature. You have a new nature. If you've been born of God or born again, you have been given a new nature with new desires.
So you don't keep on sinning, not because you're scared of threats, but because you've got a new nature with new desires. Here's kind of an earthy way I've described it to you before, and this is the junior high youth pastor and me coming back out, but I've compared it before to like, imagine down here in front right below the stage, there was a big old pile of vomit where somebody had thrown up. Big, warm, steaming pile of vomit. There is not one, not one of you in here that would need for me to stand up here and be like, you better not come down here and look up this vomit.
I'm serious. That is a rule of the Summit Church, no licking up other people's vomit, and I'm gonna put two big old guys down here on either side of this pile of vomit, and if any of you try to come up and lick the vomit when I'm not looking, they're gonna stop. Not one of you needs to hear that, right?
Unless, of course, you are a dog, and if you are a dog, then we do need to make rules for you, because you're like, oh, warm vomit, half-digested hot dog, bonus, you know, and you'd be down there licking it up. God, listen, God does not, God does not change us by increasing the threats of consequences for what happens if we sin. God changes us by giving us a new nature and a new desire that desires different things, which means that one of the signs that God is in you is that the old things that you used to love, things like hatefulness, things like pride, things like racism, things like self-glorification, dishonesty, they don't just become wrong to you, they become disgusting to you, and while you still struggle with them because you got some of that old nature in you, you have a whole new appetite and a whole new desire for different things, and when you do start to go back toward those sins, which we all do, by the way, because we still have that nature, He protects you, He renews you. There's a play on words that takes place in verse 18, look at it again, if you've been born of God, then the one who was born of God, that is Jesus. In other words, if you've been born of God, then the one, the one who was virgin born of God, He protects you, which means that when you do start to go back, He brings you back. All of us backslide into our old ways, but the sign of someone who is truly saved is that they always come back. That is the sign of somebody who is truly saved, they always come back. We all fall, but if you're saved, He keeps bringing you back. For years I've used as an example of this, Jesus is teaching on the parable of the soils.
He said the word of God is like a seed that gets thrown into different kinds of soil, and you don't have to describe to you, there's a kind of soil that's shallow, and immediately the seed springs up quickly into a really cool looking little plant that looks really healthy, but it has no roots, and so when the sun comes out or the weeds grow up, the plant dies. And the question I always ask you is this, those plants that spring up so quickly and then fade away, do they represent saved people or unsaved people? The answer is they represent unsaved people who for a while look like they are saved people, which means they pray the prayer. They get emotional when they pray the prayer. They get baptized.
They probably go on a mission trip. They join a small group, but the proof that their faith was not saving is that it fades over time and they don't come back to it. You see, the proof of saving faith is not the intensity of emotion at the beginning. The proof of saving faith is that it endures for a lifetime, and that's what John's saying. They don't keep on sinning. They don't keep, they have a fundamentally different relationship to sin. Whoever says, I know him, John says, 1 John 2 4, but does not keep his commandments is a what church? Liar.
That's a harsh word. If you say that you know God and you practice sin, and by the way, I don't mean struggle with sin because we all do that, but I mean you engage in a lifestyle of sin willfully and defiantly, you are a liar. If you fill up your weekend with the things that put Jesus on the cross, then walking in here, checking in with God, singing a few God songs does not deceive God into thinking that your heart belongs to him. The simple fact is you can't love God and also love the things that grieve him. You cannot love God and be neutral toward the things that he hates.
You can't have a mouth that sings praises to him and a life that openly crucifies him. It doesn't matter what your mouth says on Sunday morning. It matters what your life says on Monday through Saturday. College students, what did you do last night? What are your conversations like?
Not just college students, everybody. What do you fill your mind with? By the way, this explains what he means, what John means in the previous two verses, verses 16 to 17, that sometimes confuse people. This is kind of like to take a drink of water from the fire hydrant section of the sermon.
So hang on. Verse 16, if anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask and God will give him life. To those who commit sins that do not lead to death, there is a sin that leads to death and I do not say that one should pray for that. All wrongdoing is sin, but there is a sin that does not lead to death. And you're like, what? Okay. There are two kinds of sins. Watch this.
This is very important. Two kinds of sins. There's the kind of sins that we all struggle with. Sometimes they're bad sins, but we just struggle with them. And when we see one another fall into a sin like that, we pray for them that God would bring them back to their senses, or if you will, bring them back to life. But then there is another kind of sin, and don't think of it so much as a sinful action, but as a sinful resolve. That is when somebody so hardens their heart toward God and they defiantly walk the other direction that God finally says, fine.
And he just says, you have it your way. And he says, that's a sin that leads to death, which means one of two things. Either they're a believer and God kills them, which John says happens. A believer so hardens their heart that God says, that's it.
Boom. And he kills them. Or it means that they were never really saved and they just looked like it for a while. And so their practice of continually sinning shows that they're not saved and they're going to end up in eternal death. That's what that means. By the way, some of you, when I say that, you're like, well, how do I know if I've committed that sin?
If you're worried about it, you have it. Because one of the things that happens is your heart gets so hard that you quit desiring to repent at all, ever. As long as you ever want to repent, God will always receive you. John 6 37, he that comes to me, I will in no wise for any reasons under any circumstances ever cast out. So you're like, well, maybe the reason I don't want to repent is because I'm so hard in my heart. Listen, as long as you got breath in your body and as long as there is a desire to repent, the fact that you're asking that question shows me God's Spirit is at work within you. You better repent today because you might lose the desire altogether at some point.
Oh, let me add one more thing here. It's never wise to diagnose somebody else's death as to what sin they committed that put them there. You're not sitting at a funeral going, oh, I know why that happened.
That's just not something that you and I know. But what he's saying, listen, so important. He is saying that when you are born again, you have a fundamentally different relationship to sin. Yes, you struggle.
Yes, you fall often. But God always picks you up and puts you back in that posture of repentance and faith. I love how Proverbs says this.
All right, real quick. This is one of my favorite verses. Hang with me. Proverbs 24, 16. Listen, the righteous man falls seven times and gets back up again. Seven times.
Seven in the Bible is the number of completion. So when a dude falls seven times, that's like saying that all he does is fall. He's a falling machine. Imagine if you were walking behind somebody in the mall who fell seven times.
What do you conclude about that? So the first time they fall, you kind of laugh. They fell, right? Second time they fall, you get out your camera and you film it and send it to your friends. Third time they fall, you put it on YouTube. They fall four, five, six, seven times. You feel bad for putting it on YouTube because that person's obviously got a problem and you just made fun of them, right?
They got a problem. The righteous man falls seven times, which means that his life is characterized by falling. He doesn't show his righteousness by never falling. He shows his righteousness by what he does when he falls, is that he always gets back up. He always reassumes the posture of repentance and faith. Conversion is not sinless perfection. Conversion is a new direction. What you believe about the gospel is not shown by never falling. It's shown by what you do when you fall. And what John says, that's all he's saying, the one who's been born of God does not go on sinning.
If the one who says he's born of God does not keep God's commandments, is not growing in his love for what God loves, if he is not continually being renewed in this posture of repentance and faith, then he is a liar. When I was in college, I had a couple of friends who lived off campus. College men are not typically known as paragons of cleanliness, but these guys took domestic filth to a whole new level. They never did their dishes.
They never changed the seats in their bed. Whenever they needed a new dish, they would just get one out of the pile that was dirty and rinse it off and use that one. And they would eat breakfast.
It's like I go over there in the mornings and their cereal bowls from three hours earlier were still sitting there on the table with the milk curdling inside it. They had a cat in their house that for whatever reason didn't get the litter box concept. So you would walk in their house. Don't even get me started in their bathroom, by the way.
I mean, you know, just put it this way. If you had gone in their bathroom, you and your children would have been defiled for 10 generations. You walk in their house and you were greeted by a concoction of fragrances that eye has not seen, nor has ear heard, nor has entered into the heart of man.
And it was just overpowering. Well, one of the guys' mother used to visit them about every two months. Two months she'd come. And the first thing that she did when she got there on Thursday was the day she usually came is she would clean the place from top to bottom, which usually involved napalm and a blowtorch. But when she did it, it would smell like lemons and Ajax. So if I walked in there on a Sunday afternoon and was greeted by the usual concoction of foul fragrances, and my friend comes up to me and says, hey, guess what?
My mom got here on Thursday. I would look back at him and say, you are a liar. Because if your mom was here, it wouldn't smell like mildew and cat fecal matter.
It would smell like lemons and Ajax. What John is saying to you is if Jesus is in your heart and your life, you're not perfect, but you've got a fundamentally different attitude towards Him. That you are changing. You're beginning to love what God loves. And no matter how often you fall, He always, He protects you. He picks you back up, and He sets you down in the posture of repentance and faith. Are you reaching your handout?
And if not now, then when? Today is the day to place your trust in Jesus. And if you'd like more information, visit jdgrier.com and learn more about what it means to follow Jesus as your Lord and Savior. You're listening to Summit Life, the Bible teaching ministry of J.D.
Greer. And Pastor J.D., we're offering your eight-session gospel Bible study this month as our thanks to those willing to support Summit Life with a generous gift. It's a video-based curriculum, so can you tell us what the experience is like for that type of study?
So over eight sessions, maybe if that's eight weeks that you're doing with a small group, or maybe it's just you on your own, the videos are about 10 to 15 minutes long where I teach. And then based on that teaching, you will open their study guide and your Bible, and you'll work through questions and prayers and ideas for how to put these things into practice. I think this might be the most overlooked and yet one of the most important concepts in the Christian life. And so we're going to have four sessions going through the different elements of the gospel prayer, a prayer that I've tried to teach people to pray daily, to center themselves on the gospel. For a gift of $50 this month, we will send you the DVDs and five study guides and the book Gospel to get you started.
It's a great thing to use yourself with your family or with a group. So take a look at J.D. Greer.com. Thanks, J.D.
The main objective of this Bible study is to help you simply abide in Jesus. Get your study guide kit today when you support Summit Life with a generous financial gift. Call 866-335-5220. That's 866-335-5220. Or give online at J.D. Greer.com. That's J-D-G-R-E-E-A-R.com.
I'm Molly Vitovich. And tomorrow, Pastor J.D. talks about how you can have a personal experience with God.
You won't want to miss it. So be sure to join us Friday for Summit Life with J.D. Greer. Today's program was produced and sponsored by J.D. Greer Ministries.
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