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Finding the Assurance of Salvation, Part 2

Summit Life / J.D. Greear
The Truth Network Radio
January 9, 2023 12:00 am

Finding the Assurance of Salvation, Part 2

Summit Life / J.D. Greear

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January 9, 2023 12:00 am

How do you know if you’re saved? Is it because you prayed a prayer at some point asking Jesus into your heart, or because you were baptized?

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Today on Summit Life with J.D. Greer. Welcome back to another week of solid biblical teaching here on Summit Life with Pastor J.D.

Greer. As always, I'm your host Molly Vidovich. So do you ever wonder how you know for sure that you're saved? Is it because you prayed a prayer at some point asking Jesus into your heart or because you were baptized as a kid? How can we know if we've done the right thing or if we did it with enough sincerity? That's our question today as Pastor J.D. continues our new teaching series called Start. God doesn't want us to be in the dark about our standing with him.

So let's dive right in. If you missed the beginning of this sermon, I just want to remind you that you can always hear previous broadcasts at our website jdgreer.com. Pastor J.D. is teaching from the book of John today. If you got a Bible, John chapter 3 is where I'd like for you to open it.

It's a story of a religious man named Nicodemus. We're actually going to begin his story in chapter 2 verse 23. Now many believed in his name, Jesus' name, when they saw the signs, the miracles that he was doing. But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them because he knew all people. He didn't need any testimony about mankind for he knew what was in each person. In other words, he knew that though this group said they believed in Jesus, he knew their faith was superficial.

He knew their love and their commitment to him did not go very deep. Nicodemus story is Jesus' answer to that group of people. So here's the answer. Here's Jesus' answer. Chapter 3 verse 1. Now there was a man of the Pharisees, which is a really religious group, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man, Nicodemus, came to Jesus by night and said to him, Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him. In other words, Nicodemus was one of the guys in chapter 2 that saw the signs and believed. In verse 3, Jesus answered him, truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Well, now Nicodemus is really confused because he thinks Jesus is telling him and he's to crawl back up into his mommy's tummy. And so he says, verse 4, how can that be? I'm too big. That seems kind of awkward.

I think it's illegal in every state except for Tennessee. Verse 5, Jesus answered, truly, truly, I say to you, you must be born again. Unless one is born of water and the spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh.

And that which is born of the spirit is spirit. Do not marvel to that I said to you, you must be born again. Three questions this text asks of us and I want you to consider. Number one is, why you must be born again and what does it mean anyway? Number two, how you can be born again?

And number three, are you born again? I want you to ask yourself and are you sure that you're born again? Number one, why you must be born again? Why you must be born again?

To need new birth implies that there's something wrong with our first birth. According to the Bible, we are born into a state of spiritual death because of the sin of the human race, the collective sin of the human race. God had declared to our first humans, Adam and Eve in Genesis, the one who sins will surely die. And when we sinned, that is exactly what happened.

Adam and Eve were driven out of God's presence and their relationship with God was severed. At that point, our bodies began to die. Our bodies that God had intended to sustain eternally for us began to corrode and die and our spiritual hearts went bad. It's almost like our spiritual hearts, our hearts got sick. We quit loving what we were supposed to love and we started to love what we shouldn't love. We were made, you see, so that our hearts were turned outward to love God and to love others. But after sin, they began to turn inward, seeking for us to love and serve ourselves.

Martin Luther called this in curvatus in se, when Latin means curved inward on itself as the condition of the human heart. Scripture is not sparing in its description of the state of our hearts. Jeremiah 17, nine, the human heart is deceitful above all things and desperately hopelessly wicked. He's talking about your heart.

You, your heart is deceitful to you above all things and it is desperately wicked. Sin did not knock us down to God's JV team. It didn't put us on probation. It didn't put us on a slower track to get to our mansion in heaven. Sin wiped us out.

It killed us. We are staying now through and through with sin. We are, Paul says, by nature, children of wrath. And we cannot possibly hope to stand before God, staying so thoroughly with sin. So if Jesus said, verse six, that which is born of flesh is flesh. In other words, you can't save your corrupted flesh through the efforts of your corrupted flesh. Sin killed us.

And there's nothing we can do that can change that. That's why we need something more, something different, something from outside of ourselves. So he continues, unless one is born of water and the spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. Now, what does it mean to be born of water and the spirit? Well, there's some people who say that means water is like human birth and spirit is like your second birth. Other people say, well, no, that's baptism. You gotta be baptized. And then you're born by the spirit. Here's why that's not right. Here's your nerd moment.

You're ready? There's one article in Greek that identifies with water and spirit. So he's not talking about two separate things. It's not born of the water and the spirit. In Greek, that's his way of saying born of the water and spirit. So he's talking about one instance and he's talking about the gospel. He is alluding to a prophecy made in the book of Ezekiel about what the gospel would do with us. Let me read that prophecy to you.

Ezekiel 36, 600 years before Jesus. I will sprinkle clean water on you. This is the Messiah talking. And you shall be clean. I will give you a new heart and a new spirit I will put within you. I will remove the heart of stone and give you a heart of tender flesh. I'll put my spirit within you and cause you to want to walk in my statutes. I'm going to give you a desire to obey my rules. I'm going to put the desire in you where you're going to obey me, not because you have to.

You're going to obey me because you want to. God then gave Ezekiel one of the coolest visions in the Old Testament of how this was going to work. He takes Ezekiel out to this valley that's filled with dead men's bones, dry bones. And he says to Ezekiel, Ezekiel, can these bones live again? And Ezekiel says, they look like they've been dead to me for a long time.

So I think, no. God says, watch this. And it says, Ezekiel said that he hears the sound of the, in Hebrew it's the word ruach, which means either wind or spirit.

It's a play on words. He hears the sound of the wind blowing, the spirit blowing, and all of a sudden these bones begin to rattle and they start to form into skeletons and then sin, use and tendons begin to connect them. And then tender flesh comes and coach these bones. And then these bones stand up. Now it's this mighty army of the Lord. And God says, Ezekiel, that's what I'm going to do in the church.

And by the way, that's what you need. You don't need more religion and more rules and more resolutions, just stitching the bones back together. You need the wind of the spirit to make you alive, to give you a new heart. See, that's like, I tell you all the time, God doesn't want to just change your behavior. He wants to change your desires. It's not pleasing to God if you obey Him because you're forced to. So God does not want people in heaven who actually want to be somewhere else because they don't really love God.

God wants people there in heaven who share His love, who want to be with Him, who serve Him because they love Him, who do righteousness because they crave righteousness. It's like, I tell you all the time, God's not just interested in your obedience. He's interested in why you obey.

He wants a new kind of obedience. The dilemma of the human condition is not that we don't behave right. The dilemma of the human condition is that we don't love right. That's why you must be born again, because you can't change what you love. And God's got to change that. Number two, that's why you should be born again, why you must be born again.

Number two, how you can be born again. Well, down just a little bit farther, Jesus is going to explain. Verse 14, as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him may have eternal life. Now there he refers to another really cool Old Testament story. Children of Israel are on their way to the promised land and they begin to doubt God. And so they begin to complain and their hearts begin to wander after other gods. So God, in judgment, sends thousands of fiery serpents.

And so many of these people, thousands of Israelites, begin to writhe in pain and cry out to God for mercy. And so God tells Moses, I want you to make a bronze image of one of the serpents. I want you to put it on top of a pole.

And I want you to put it on the top of the highest hill that you can find. And you tell people that if they will go to that hill, they will look at that serpent on the pole. And if they'll believe that I will heal them, then as they look at that serpent on the hill, they will be healed and they will live. And Jesus says, just like Moses did that, I'm going to be lifted up.

I'm going to be put on top of a pole, like a serpent on top of a tree, on top of a cross. The serpent was the result of their sin, right? That's what it symbolized. Jesus on the cross was the result of our sin. God made him, Paul says in 2nd Corinthians, who knew no sin, heaven's perfect son, the essence of God's glory, God made him to become sin.

He became the snake. He became the serpent so that we might become the righteousness of God in him. That if we look to him dying there in our place, like they looked at the serpent on the hill, believing that God will heal us, we'll be healed just like they were. Born again out of the curse of death into the promise of new life. For God, Jesus goes on, for God, he gives the shortest, most concise explanation of the gospel anywhere in the Bible. For God so loved the world. A friend of mine said that his life was transformed when he said, my youth pastor, said I wasn't really a church going person, but I occasionally visited this youth group.

And that youth pastor one Friday night said to me, he said, everywhere you see in verse 16, the world or whosoever you put your name. For God so loved Alex, that he gave Alex his only son, that if Alex would believe on him, Alex would not perish, but Alex would have eternal life. He said, it's hard to describe what happened. He said, but he said, my dad growing up, you see, had left us and abandoned us when I was a kid.

I'd never known that kind of father's love. He said, and now I'm hearing about a father who, after I had spurned and rejected him, came to earth to rescue me, chased me to a cross. I killed him. The irony is as I killed him, he was paying the penalty for my sins so that if I would just look and I would believe, and I would recognize that this was him coming for me, then I would be healed.

I would be saved just like they looked at that serpent and were healed. You look, you look and you live, you believe and you live. You're listening to Summit Life with Pastor J.D.

Greer. To find out more about this ministry, visit jdgreer.com. We'll return to our teaching in just a moment, but I wanted to quickly tell you about our brand new featured resource this month.

One of the foundational things we can do to daily carry our faith is knowing the Word of God. So once again, we've created a pack of 52 scripture memory cards for you to use this next year. They're perfect to use for memorization or to have around the house for daily encouragement.

The cards are small in size for quick reference and putting on the fridge or even sticking in your wallet. You could even give them away in greeting cards to encourage others. This set comes with your generous gift to the ministry right now.

So give us a call at 866-335-5220 or you can always participate at jdgreer.com. Now let's get back to our teaching for the day on Summit Life. Here's Pastor J.D. I learned something this week. Sometimes y'all, I'll read a verse and I'm like, I've preached this wrong for 30 years.

How did I miss this? This is one of those verses. You know that verse where it says that when one sinner repents there's joy in the presence of the angels? I'm always like, what I explain it is, whenever you get saved there's a party in heaven in your honor. I've always explained it like the angels are up there partying when you get saved.

Here's why that's wrong. Listen, I can't believe I missed this. There is joy in the presence of the angels. Angels ain't the ones doing the dancing. Who is in the presence of the angels? God the Father, Jesus Christ, who when you come to Christ begins to dance over you, begins to, because he's your daddy, he is your father, he has always sought you, he came after you. This is what he did and when you look at that and you perceive it, you live. By the way, when Jesus says believe, he's not just talking about believing facts about Jesus.

You know how I know that? Because James chapter 2 says, even the demons believe and tremble. The demons believe that Jesus is the son of God. The demons believe that Jesus raised from the dead.

They were there when it happened. You say, oh I believe in Jesus. Congratulations, you've got demonic faith.

You're at the level of a demon. The difference in how demons believe in saving faith is that I've looked at him in desperation. I've looked at him as on that hill, on that pole for me and I have believed it and clung to him as my only hope of salvation.

We often describe it like sitting down in a chair. The chair you're sitting in, you looked at it when you came in and very quickly you decided it looked like it would hold the weight of your body, but that belief didn't become faith in the chair until you shifted the weight of your body off of your legs and onto that chair. To believe in Jesus is not that you believe certain things about him, it's that you have shifted the weight of your soul into him as your only salvation. Your belief is, listen, accompanied by a surrender. Belief does not become faith until it's surrendered.

Maybe you ought to write this down. Belief without full surrender is demonic faith. Like, oh I believe in Jesus. Good. Are you fully surrendered to Jesus?

Well, not yet. Okay, then you're now at the level of a demon. And those with demon faith will end with a demon's fate. He's not talking about just believing in fact. He's not talking about just praying a prayer as if that equals believing.

Y'all people in every religion pray to God to let them into heaven. We're talking about a cry from your heart that realizes that his finished work is your only hope that leaves you clinging to the cross of Christ because you know that as you look, only as you look will you live. You know, somebody told me the other day that I quote Charles Spurgeon enough in this church that he should be thought of as the pastor emeritus of the summit church, which is probably a fair criticism. But I don't know if I've ever told you, or maybe it's been a while since I've recounted how he came to Christ. I'm actually going to use his words, let him tell the story, because in a sermon he was preaching, he describes his conversion.

Let me read it to you. I sometimes, says Charles Spurgeon, think that I might have been in darkness and despair until now, had it not been for the goodness of God and sending a snowstorm one Sunday morning while I was trying to go to a certain place of worship. He was 15 years old.

He lived in London. He had spiritual questions. He was trying to make his way to one of the big prominent churches in London.

A snowstorm hits. And he said, when I could go no further because of the snowstorm, I turned down a little side street and came to a little primitive Methodist chapel. In that chapel, there may have been a dozen or 15 people. I'd heard of the primitive Methodist. Now that may not translate to you, but think like, like just good country church, like independent Baptist, like I grew up.

Here's what he says. I heard how they sang so loudly that they made people's heads ache while they shouted back at the preacher while he was preaching. But that did not matter to me. I wanted to know how I might be saved.

And if they could tell me that, I did not care how much they made my head ache. Well, the minister did not even come that morning. He was snowed in, I suppose. So after a few awkward moments, a very thin looking man, a shoemaker or a tailor or something of that sort, went up into the pulpit and began to preach. Now it's a good thing that preachers should be instructed, but this man was really stupid.

That's his words, not mine. He was obliged to stick to his text for the simple reason that he had very little else to say. The text was, look unto me and be ye saved all the ends of the earth. He did not even pronounce the words correctly, but that did not matter. There was, I thought, a glimpse of hope for me in that text.

And so the preacher began thus. Well, my dear friends, this is a very simple text indeed. It says, look. Now looking don't take a great deal of pains.

It ain't lifting your foot or your finger. It's just look. Well, a man needn't go to college to learn to look. You may be the biggest fool and yet you can look. A man needn't be worth a thousand a year to be able to look. Anyone can look. Even a child can look. But then the text says, look unto me.

I said he in a broad SX accent, which I think of that like Pittsburgh or Roxboro. Many of you are looking to yourselves, but it ain't no use looking there. You'll never find any comfort in yourselves. The text says, look unto me. Then the good man followed up his text in this way. Look unto me, says Jesus. I'm sweating great drops of blood. Look unto me. I am hanging on the cross. Look unto me.

I am dead and buried. Look unto me. I rise again. Look unto me. I ascend to heaven. Look unto me.

I'm sitting at the father's right hand. Oh, poor sinner. Look unto me.

Look unto me. When he had gone on about that length and managed to spend out 10 minutes or so, the poor soul was at the end of his tether. He could think of nothing else to say. Then he looked at me under the balcony and I dare say with so few present, he must have known I was a visitor and fixing his eyes on me as if he knew all my heart. He said, young man, you look very miserable. Well, I did, but I had not been accustomed to having remarks made from the pulpit about my personal appearance.

However, it was a good blow. It struck right home. He continued, and son, you will always be miserable, miserable in this life, even more miserable in the next if you don't obey my text. But if you obey now in this moment, you will be saved.

Then lifting up his hands, he shouted, as only a primitive Methodist could do. Young man, look to Jesus Christ. Look, look, look. You got nothing to do but look and live. And I saw at once the way of salvation.

I know not what else he said. I was so possessed with that one thought, like as when the brazen serpent was lifted up, the people only looked and were healed. So it was with me. I'd been waiting to do 50 different things. But when I heard that one word, look, what a charming word it seemed to me. Oh, I looked and I looked and I looked until I could almost have looked my eyes away. There and then the cloud was gone.

The darkness had rolled away. And in that moment, I finally saw the sun. I could have risen that instant and sung with the most enthusiastic of them, of the precious blood of Christ and the simple faith, which looks alone to him.

Oh, that somebody had just told me this before. Look to Christ and you shall be saved. Yet it was no doubt all in God's good time. And now I can say, ever since by faith, I saw that stream, thy flowing wound supply, redeeming love has been my theme and shall be till I die.

So here's our third question. Are you born again? Have you had that experience? Have you been through that experience that he's talking about? Nicodemus was presented with a choice. It was a choice he had to make. He couldn't be born into it. He had to be born again.

The birth his parents gave him wasn't enough. It wasn't enough that his parents were religious or Jews or whatever. See, I ask people if they're a Christian, they're like, oh, well, I'm not a Jew. I'm not a Muslim. I'm not an atheist. So yeah, I'm a Christian. It's a personal choice you have to make to be born again. What enough to just be religious?

Nicodemus was already super religious. When I ask people if they're a Christian, the second thing I usually get from them is a list of the religious things they do. Oh yes, I go to church and I pray sometimes. I own a Christian CD. I'm like, that's not what I asked you. I didn't ask you what religious things you do.

You've heard this before. Going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than going to McDonald's makes you a hamburger or going to Dunkin' Donuts makes you a cop. That's a different question. Are you born again?

That's the question. Have you fully surrendered to Christ as Lord? Have you fully leaned on Christ as your savior? Have you been born again? See, I remember when this all finally made sense to me.

I was a freshman in college and I just could not, I could not get the answer. How can I know that I'm saved? How can I know that I've been... And I remember somebody telling me that Martin Luther had struggled with his salvation. And so I went and I got his commentary in Romans. I know it's a strange thing for a freshman in college to read, but this is where my relationship with Martin Luther began right here.

And I just began to devour those pages. And I came finally to the commentary he gave on Romans 10, 9, and 10. Well, Romans 10, 9, and 10 say that if you will confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and you will believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead.

You will be saved for it is with the heart man believes unto righteousness and it's with the mouth that you make confession unto salvation. And Luther explained that what you were doing is you were seeing that 2000 years ago, Jesus finished the work of your salvation on the cross. And you quit looking at what you were doing to save yourself and you say, it's been finished.

It's been finished for me. And there in that moment, sitting at my desk in my dorm room, it's lifted my eyes and it's like I could see him there on the cross. And I said, that's for me. And it's not about what I'm doing now to save myself.

It's about what he's done. And I looked and I lived and it was like the weight of the universe dissipated off my shoulders because I knew that it had been finished and all that I had to do was look and believe and live. Have you ever had that experience? Have you looked to him? Have you clung to him?

Have you received him? Have you been born again? So have you been born again? If you have never taken that step, or if you're not sure, let me encourage you to go online right now to jdgrier.com. You'll find sermons, blog posts, and other resources to help you learn more.

Or you can give us a call at 866-335-5220. We'd love to help you understand the love of God found in the gospel message. Okay, so JD, in our current teaching series called Start, you talk about how so many people have a desire to know God, but they have no clue where to begin. So how does the discipline of memorizing scripture or any other spiritual discipline for that matter help us get started?

Yeah, Molly, this is the perfect time of year for us to have this conversation. I love the beginning of the year and being able to think in terms of a fresh start to put some disciplines into our lives that will really shape who we are as people. The greatest of the spiritual disciplines is probably scripture memory, because it's one thing to read God's word, as important as that is, it's putting it into your soul so that in the words of Charles Spurgeon, when life cuts you, you believe God's word. So a recurring thing we do here at Summit Life is we provide scripture memory cards that will help you take some of the most important concepts of the Bible and put them deep in your heart.

This is a discipline I have exercised since I was a kid. It's a great tool. I'm excited for you to get them, and I'm excited to see what will happen in your life. You can't claim the promises of God if you don't know them.

So take a look and see what we're talking about. Go reserve yours at JDGrier.com. Thank you, JD. Ask for your set of the scripture memory cards by calling 866-335-5220. That's 866-335-5220. Or request them when you give online or when you make your first gift as a monthly gospel partner at JDGrier.com.

I'm Molly Vidovitch. You know, I think for many Christians, reading the Bible consistently is a lot like getting a shot. You know it's good for you, but it's not really something that you necessarily look forward to. But is that really how God wants us to approach His word? That's our subject Tuesday on Summit Life with JD Greer. Today's program was produced and sponsored by JD Greer Ministries.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-01-09 02:16:39 / 2023-01-09 02:27:48 / 11

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