The security of conversion means that everyone who receives the new birth will overcome the world and certainly be saved in the end without fail and without exception.
That is your birthright. If you're a true believer in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you can see a real difference between the world and the Word. And for those of you who at one time in your younger years were in rebellion against God, you no doubt recognize the difference in the way you were then versus the way you are today. A conversion took place in your life and its source was none other than God himself.
Hi, I'm Bill Wright. And as Don Green continues teaching God's people God's Word, Pastor Don concludes our series titled So You Call Yourself a Christian by wrapping up his message, Conversion, Its Sign, Source, and Security. If you ever worry about the certainty of your salvation, today's program should be a great encouragement to you. We're in 1 John 5. Turn there in your Bible as we join Don Green as he teaches God's people God's Word from the truth pulpit. What John has done up to this point in the first four chapters is he has gone back and forth. He has woven things together and he would start with this one strand of obedience and he would discuss it for a while. And then he would discuss the issue of love and he would discuss and explain that for a while. And then in chapter 4 he started to really emphasize the importance of truth when he said, test the spirits to see whether they're from God. And so you see the love, the obedience, and the truth discussed separately throughout the course of the epistle.
Well, watch this. What he's doing now is he's weaving those threads together to make a single rope. Those three things are wrapped around one another in what he's saying here and they become like multiple strands of twine woven together, wrapped together to form a single rope. These character traits of belief, love, and obedience form a single indivisible unit by which you can know whether you are truly saved or not. While these three tests of love, obedience, and truth are separate analytically, they are indivisible in the life of a true Christian. They are an indivisible unit of assessing the reality of true conversion. Now watch this.
Stay with me here. They are indivisible, by which I mean that all three are present without exception in one degree or another in the life of every true Christian. You can't have one without the other if your conversion is real, because. Always listen when I use the word because.
Really pay attention then. All three must be present because of the source of your conversion. Because God is one. Because God has these characteristics, these attributes, perfectly and indivisibly in his very nature. Therefore, when he gives birth to you, when he imparted his life to you, he imparted a life that was indivisibly marked by love, truth, and righteousness. And because it comes from one source, one indivisible life is imparted, then the three attributes that John has been emphasizing will all be present in the life of a true Christian. You can't have one without the other. That's so important.
Let me say it again. This love, this obedience, this truth, those three things are indivisible signs because they all flow from the indivisible life of God. This is what God is like. God is the source of your conversion. You're going to reflect the character of God in those three ways.
His character is true. It is loving. It is righteous.
Now, I want you to realize what we just did here. What we just did here is just really, really important. Because we are defining salvation and we are defining the marks of salvation by starting with God and his character, then starting with what you see in your life.
That is so important. You have to understand salvation as God sees it. You have to understand it from a God-centered perspective before you start to evaluate your own life. Because of who God is and because of what he does, then you know what to expect. If you start with what you've done or decisions that you've made or prayers that you've prayed and then try to work your way back up to God, you've got bad glasses on.
You're going to see it wrongly. But when you start with the character of God, then you know what to expect. And you've separated out the nature of salvation from your personal experience of it. You have to start with the truth before you try to apply it to your soul.
But here's what John is saying. Look at verse 2 with me again. By this we know that we love the children of God when we love God and observe his commandments. This is the love of God that we keep his commandments. See, there's the love of the brethren and the obedience of keeping his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.
A true Christian welcomes that kind of instruction. How can you know that you're loving the brethren that are in your life? We love the children of God when we love God and observe his commandments. Your willingness to obey God is a reflection of, it's interlinked with, your love for the people of God.
It's remarkable. He joins those together. Look at verse 3 with me as we move on here. For this is the love of God that we keep his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome. His commandments are not burdensome.
When God saves us, he gives us his indwelling spirit. The Holy Spirit comes to dwell within us, and the Spirit imparts the power to obey. These commandments, the Word of God is impossible. It's a closed book to the understanding of the unbelieving.
And it's also an impossible burden for them to keep because they don't have the power to do it. Well, understand, oh, oh, understand that when God saves you, he doesn't change the standard of his Word. Rather, what he does is he gives you new life and the power to carry it in a way that you couldn't before. He gives you the power to live righteously in a way that you didn't have before.
That's why it's not burdensome. It's because God in his salvation has done a work in your heart to enable you to carry these things out because now they're consistent with your desires. But notice this. It's more than just the indwelling spirit. It's the matter of your whole heart affections. Look at verse 3 with me again.
Look down and read it with your own eyes. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome. When God calls us to obedience, when we see the way of the Christian life laid out before us, a true Christian doesn't rebel against that. A true Christian doesn't resist that or find it irksome. A true Christian has such a great love for his Heavenly Father, who is the source of his conversion, that, he says, it's my delight, Father, to honor you and to obey you even when it's difficult because I love you so much.
I love you so much that I'm glad to obey. In other words, it's not contrary to the desires of a true Christian to follow, honor, and obey the Word of God. He delights in it because he loves the Father who gave that Word to us.
And so love lightens what would otherwise be a burden. For the true Christian, when it comes to seeing what God requires in his Word, the true Christian runs to that. The true Christian loves that. The true Christian embraces that because they love the author of the Word. And his Word is not running counter to their nature and desires like it used to in their unconverted state. As one who has been born again from above, you have the same sympathy in seed form in your heart to the one who gave the Word in the first place. It's consistent with your desires.
It's consistent with your love. And because you love God, you want to obey his Word, even if it's hard. That's the mark of a true Christian. That's a sign of conversion. That love for the brethren, that love for God's Word, that love for obedience, that desire, that pleasure that comes from obeying him.
It's all wrapped around like strands of DNA that form the spiritual DNA of a true believer. These things are just woven throughout the fabric of Christian life. And we're happy to show our devotion through our obedience to what God wants us to do. It's not a sacrifice to lay down an aspect of your life for the sake of obedience to Christ. You don't even view it as a sacrifice. You say, well, of course that's what I would do. Of course. This is what God's Word should require. You expect me to do something contrary to God's Word when it's so clear?
Please. It's not a sacrifice. It's the love. It's the delight of your heart. Now, let me bring all of this together. The fact that this is indivisible has a really important application for those of you that struggle with assurance and that question your salvation.
And I want you to listen to me really carefully on this. People who question their salvation, Christians, let's put it this way, who question their salvation are often discouraged because they have a besetting sin that they just can't seem to overcome. And they start to view their entire Christian experience through the prism of that one ongoing besetting sin and failure in their lives. Now, a life that's utterly dominated by sin in every respect is the life of someone who's not entitled to assurance. But look, the Lord understands that we are creatures of flesh. He knows our frame.
He knows our weakness. And here's how you apply what we've been talking about, this indivisible nature of these three affirming marks of a true Christian. What this means is that you have to step out of the realm of that besetting sin and think more broadly about the nature of your life and the nature of your conversion. If you simply focus on one predominant area of failure to the exclusion of everything else that is in your life, yes, you're going to find that you've got plenty of reason to doubt your salvation.
But, beloved, what you have to understand is that you step back and you take a healthier, broader, more informed, complete perspective about the whole landscape of your life. Do you believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, sent from heaven in order to save you from your sins? Is your life marked by that truth? Do you stake your eternal well-being on that? Do you love the people of God? Do you serve them?
Do you want to be with them? Do you find your kindred spirits in the midst of the people of God? Do you love the Word of God even though you realize you fall short of its call on your life? See, a true Christian can look at those things and say, you know what, those things, that broader context is true.
Now, there's a spot, there's a stain that still needs to be cleaned out of the fabric of my life. But the overall seamless garment of my life is consistent with this indivisible unit that I see out of 1 John 5 of desires for love, desires for obedience, and desires and commitments and convictions of truth. See, you view it comprehensively, not isolating it down to one particular besetting sin and then saying that defines everything about the spiritual reality of my life. John gives us multiple grounds by which to test the reality of our conversion, not just one. You let the totality of Scripture inform your spiritual self-assessment.
You take them all together. You don't isolate one from the others. That changes an awfully lot. Because you see, while that besetting sin may be inconsistent with your Christian testimony, a deep reverence for God's Word, a love for Christ, a love for His people, areas of obedience, areas of commitment, those things are spiritual realities that don't come from your flesh and that do not come from Satan. And so if you see these marks, you are entitled to biblical assurance of your salvation while you deal with the ongoing ramifications of a particular besetting sin in your life.
This changes everything. God intends you to know that your salvation is real. And so you step back and say, what's the whole picture? What's the indivisible sign?
And then you assess it from there. Now, hold onto your hats. If you see the sign of conversion, and I'm deliberately using the singular, the sign of conversion shown in the three-fold reflection of the character of God in truth, righteousness, and love, if you see the sign of that conversion and you see it growing in your life even though it is still immature and yet imperfect, if you see the transformed character that reflects the source of conversion, if you see the transformed character that is a mark of a true Christian, watch this. Point number three, you are entitled by birthright to point number three, the security of conversion. The security of conversion. The security of conversion means that everyone who receives the new birth will overcome the world and certainly be saved in the end without fail and without exception.
That is your birthright. That's why we've taken so much time to explain this, to talk about the character of God and the marks of a true believer. It's all leading to a pastoral point for your spiritual well-being. It's all about you enjoying the realities of your salvation.
It's all about your security. Look at what John says in verse four. He had said in chapter five, verse one, whoever believes that Jesus is Christ is born of God, well, now he picks up on that phrase, born of God, having in between explained the signs, the marks of what true conversion looks like, now he does a therefore, as it were, and shows what his point has been all along. Verse four, for whatever is born of God overcomes the world, and this is the victory that has overcome the world, our faith. Who is the one who overcomes the world but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
Oh, beloved, watch this. The new birth has taken us out of the realm of darkness and put us into the family of God. We have been decisively, you, if you're a Christian, have been decisively delivered from the realm of Satan. You've been delivered from darkness into light. And now what John is saying, because you find yourself in that position now, you can know for certain what the future holds for you before it happens. You can know that the future holds for you an overcoming victory over this world that is arrayed against your spiritual life. You triumph in the end. Victory belongs to you and will most certainly be your final experience of the outcome of your salvation. Look at what he says. He says it three times in two verses because he knows that you are prone to miss the point.
So he repeats himself again and again in order that you won't miss it. Look at verse 4. For whatever is born of God, number one, overcomes the world. And this is the victory that, number two, has overcome the world, our faith. Who is, number three, the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.
Beloved, look. I know that you sometimes feel really weak in your Christian life. And there are times where you just blow it and you're dealing with confession and confessing the same sin again or you're uncertain about where to go and it seems like everything is just weighing you down. Thinking more broadly, we look out at the broader Christian church and we see weakness. We see a lack of commitment, a willingness to compromise, a love for entertainment over a love for the truth of the Word of God. We say, this is the church?
Look at it. Our influence is dwindling. Politically, the church doesn't have the influence that it once had in our American culture. And you see weakness in your own spiritual life. That is precisely the time that you and I have to come back to this reality of the Word of God. True Christians overcome the world, period.
This is not subject to qualification or dismissal. No matter how weak the church may be at the moment, Christ will prevail in the end. He said, I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. And so, while it may seem that it's low tide for the Christian church today, the tide is going to come back in. One day, the tide of spiritual victory is going to wash over everything and there will be no doubt that Christ has fulfilled His Word.
I built my church. And here she is in her triumphant glory. No one will question it then. And what's true on that global scale, beloved, is going to be true in your life, too, if you're a Christian. The general will become specific. In your times of weakness, understand that the power of God is undiminished. He who began the work in you will complete it.
And you will end up in glory, perfected, glorified, sharing in the glory of Christ, having perfectly overcome this miserable, rotten world that is opposed to your spiritual well-being. Because true Christians overcome the world three times. If God said it once, it would be enough for us to believe it. He didn't say it just once here. He didn't say it just twice.
He said it three times so that we could not miss the point. This is the victory that has overcome the world, our faith. And our faith comes from the God who gave birth to us and therefore its victory and its overcoming power is assured. Your salvation could no more fail than if Jesus Christ Himself could fail. Christ saved you, He cannot fail. Your salvation cannot fail.
It is indestructible. And that is the assurance that undergirds your life as you go through this world as a true Christian. Christ has won the victory. His cross was a perfect salvation. It is finished, He said.
If it's finished, then it's not going to be reopened for further appeal. Beloved, do you see it? Do you see the great assurance and confidence and serenity and peace that speaks into your troubled heart? No matter what, if you're a Christian, leave this place in confidence.
No matter what, go in peace. That's Don Green, founding pastor of Truth Community Church in Cincinnati, Ohio, wrapping up our series, So You Call Yourself a Christian. Well, friend, there's much more powerful teaching headed your way next time, so don't miss a moment of the truth pulpit. Well, Don, quite a journey we've been on the past couple of weeks, wouldn't you say? Well, Bill, I really have enjoyed this two-week series that we've called, So You Call Yourself a Christian.
And friend, as we wrap this up, let me just say this to you. Maybe you just found us on the radio or online and you would like to hear the whole series instead of the little bit that you just listened to today. We would love to help you with that. Go to our website and look for the link titled Radio Archive.
You can catch up on what you missed. Bill's here to give you the information you need. Just visit thetruthpulpit.com and follow the link Don just mentioned. And you can also link up to Don on Facebook. That's all at thetruthpulpit.com. And friend, thank you too for your prayerful support of this ministry. Now for Don Green, I'm Bill Wright, inviting you back next time as Don Green teaches God's people God's Word from the Truth Pulpit.
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