The convicting work of the Holy Spirit stops you in your tracks and you say, no, wait, wait, wait, yeah, I've sinned. But no, I've sinned!
This is a showstopper! I can't go on like it has. I'm guilty before a holy God. Oh, what must I do to be saved? When the rich young ruler asked Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life, Jesus told him to sell all that he had and follow him.
But Jesus then acknowledged it's impossible for men to do that and only possible for God. Today on the Truth Pulpit, Pastor Don Green discusses how saving faith comes from God, but must be exercised by people to believe the gospel. Hi, I'm Bill Wright. As Don continues teaching God's people God's word, today he presents a message titled Election and Saving Faith, and Don's here now to set things up for today's program. Well, Bill, it's a joy to see you in studio and I'm so glad that we can join together like this in ministry. Friend, as we contemplate the idea of saving faith and election in today's message, understand that the gospel of Jesus Christ is a command to believers and an invitation to them. Jesus said, Repent and believe, and he also invited sinners, Come to me, you who are weary and heavy laden. And so the response is not a superficial one-time prayer, but a response of the whole inner man to Christ. We're going to see a beautiful doctrine of Scripture as we study together today on the Truth Pulpit.
Here's Don teaching from Ephesians chapter 1 from the Truth Pulpit. What must I do to be saved? We've been talking about the work of God and the sovereignty of God and salvation, but let's be real clear on something, something that we're all responsible for, and it's this. God does not believe in Christ for you. God will not believe in Christ for you.
To express it theologically, election does not negate human responsibility. To express it on a more personal level, the gospel is a command upon your will. It is an invitation to your heart to which you must respond if you are to be saved.
Those who believe in Christ enter into salvation. Those who refuse face eternal judgment. And it's not because God failed to do anything for you, it's because you heard and you refused to believe. You heard and you treated it superficially.
You heard and you didn't care. The responsibility for this is on you to respond. Jesus said, repent and believe in the gospel. Right now, he commands through his word to you who are not saved, repent and believe in the gospel.
Will you do that? To the extent that you say no, you're signing your own eternal death decree. He commands you, repent and believe. He invites you as a loving, gracious Savior.
Come to me and I will give you rest. Come, drink of the water that I'll give you, and living waters will come out of the innermost part of your soul, as he said to the Samaritan woman in John 4. He commands, he invites you. Will you accept his invitation? If you say no, that's not God speaking, is it?
That's you speaking, saying no to it. Maybe you're a little bit like I used to be, and while outwardly you would profess to make some kind of acknowledgement that you were a sinner, inside you treasured the fact that you were a little bit better than everybody else. You treasured the fact that you hadn't committed the sins that those people had. You treasured the fact that you had always been a good boy, a good girl, and there's that little circle of pride that you wouldn't let out to anybody because you know that you're not supposed to do that. That wouldn't be a good boy to do that, or a good girl to do that, but inside there's this cherished thought that I'm a pretty good person. Look, if you look in the mirror and say, I'm a pretty good person, the next thought that should connect in your mind is, then I'm not a Christian. If that's what you think about yourself, I'm a good person better than those around me, you're not a Christian because you've never been broken by the reality of your sin and guilt. A Christian is someone who has settled once and for all, I'm not a good person. I'm a sinner guilty before God and I needed Him to save me.
See, soldiers fight with military weapons. All a gospel preacher can do is bring the Word of God to bear upon your heart and your conscience. Ultimately, you must respond. Our passage points us in the right direction and helps us see what the content of that response is. It helps us understand that there is something for us to do, and it's in Ephesians 1, 13 to 14. But look at verse 13 where it says, In Him, that is, in Christ, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation, that's what we talked about last time, how evangelism fits into this, how the people of God bring the Word of God to those who are separated from God. Now, in an almost parenthetical way, Paul explains what it is that the human response is.
He says, this is what you have done. You also, having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise. And that phrase there, having also believed, is what we want to focus on here, having also believed. It's such a brief statement, and yet even in the context of this passage, it's the hinge on which the door to heaven turns, you can rightfully say.
From verses 3 to 12 and into the beginning half of verse 13, Paul has been talking about the work of God, the sovereignty of God and salvation, and we've expounded that at length. Now, jump over that phrase, having also believed. He says that you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God's own possession, to the praise of his glory. God had done his sovereign work, made his sovereign plans, now you are sealed in the Spirit.
How did it get from there, from God's plan, to the work of the Spirit sealed in your heart? That little phrase, having also believed, is the hinge, and shows us what it is that we must do in order to be saved. It's exceedingly important, having also believed. It's surprising to me, as I read commentators on this passage, it's surprising how little attention the commentators pay to that phrase, but it's critical.
Maybe part of it's just the fact that commentators are trying to accomplish a slightly different goal, I don't know. As a pastor, a pastor wants everyone to understand this aspect of it, and so a pastor parks it here for the sake of the souls that listen, the souls that hear, you must believe. What's interesting about this verse and passage is, right there in verse 13, he doesn't say what it was they believed, does he? He just says, having also believed.
Believed what? How am I supposed to understand what to believe if you just say, having also believed, and you move right on to something else? Well, look, let's talk about an important principle of understanding the Bible here. When it seems like something is really important, but you don't find it right in the verse that you're looking at, look at the context. Let the context explain and help you understand what it is that you are supposed to be seeing, and in this book of Ephesians, which we're almost exclusively going to stay in, you're going to be able to find the content of what you should believe and what the commitment is of saving faith.
That's what we're going to look at. What must you do? You must believe in order to be saved. You must make a heart commitment to Christ.
What does that look like? That's what we're going to talk about, two aspects of it, and I ask you to listen carefully. First of all, what we want to see is the content of saving faith. Paul says in verse 13 that they had believed. Having also believed. He's looking back at the past in the life and the experience of his readers. He says you had believed you were sealed in him with the Holy Spirit of promise. It was something that had happened in the past in their lives and had ongoing results.
It's not a Greek perfect tense, but that's not the point. And so the question is, what was it they believed? What must I believe in order to be saved? What's the content?
What am I to understand and respond to? The question is, where can I find that in Ephesians chapter 1 so that I can understand? Well, let's look at it.
Let's look at it a little carefully here. I'm going to take my glasses off so I can see my copy of the Scriptures more clearly. In verse 13, look at verse 13 with me again now as we're really going to train our eyes on the text here. Verse 13, Paul says, In him you also, having listened to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation, having also believed, you believed in him.
Okay? Now, let's not be superficial. Let's not be too quick about saying what that means, because him is a pronoun. And the question is, what's the antecedent to that pronoun? Who is him referring to, and what has been said about this him that led up to verse 13?
Well, watch this. Watch this and realize that we're just going to start at verse 5 and make our way down to verse 13 to set the context for what Paul meant when he said that you had believed. In verse 5, Paul says that God predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to himself. There it is, to Jesus Christ.
Okay? Now, watch what happens as this passage unfolds. Paul starts to use pronouns to refer back to Christ, and as he's using each pronoun, he's discussing a different aspect of the work of Christ. And so he says there in verse 6 that God freely bestowed on us grace in the Beloved, verse 7, in him. That is, in the Beloved, which is referring to Christ.
In him, we have redemption through his blood. Verse 10, in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth are summed up. In him, verse 11, we have obtained an inheritance. Verse 12, it's in Christ that we would be to the praise of his glory. Verse 13, in him, also having believed. Now, we're going to go back over this in just a moment, but all I want you to see there is that there is this string, like spiral strands of DNA, that connect these earlier verses to what it means to believe in Christ.
And that's what we're going to take a look at. Verse 13, having also believed, stands on the shoulders of all of the other verses that led up to it. And so when Paul says in chapter 1, verse 13, having believed, he means this. He means that they had believed in the sovereign, redemptive work of Christ. They had believed what Paul had just described in the preceding verses. They had embraced that.
They had received that. He was telling them things that, in Ephesians chapter 1, that they had already heard and believed in. And so he's reciting that which they had previously believed in as he leads up to that statement in verse 13.
Now stay with me here. The question is, what must you do to be saved? What is the content of saving faith that we can learn from the context of this passage? First of all, I'm going to give you three sub-points here.
Content of saving faith, first of all. Write this down. Take responsibility for your guilt. Take responsibility for your guilt. You have violated God's law. You are not righteous in His sight.
This is true even of you young people. If you're old enough to understand my words, you're old enough to understand that you've been naughty, you've been disobedient, and there are consequences to that. You have violated God's law, even you young people. You say, where do you see that? Look at verse 7. Chapter 1, verse 7. Paul says, In Him we have redemption through His blood. You see it there?
Everybody got your finger on the text there? In Him we have redemption through His blood. The forgiveness of, there it is, our trespasses. Trespasses means that you have broken God's law, you have disobeyed Him. God holds you responsible for your sin.
You won't get away with it. And let me say this. There's so many things that I want to say. But it boils down to this. When we say the content of saving faith means that you take responsibility for your guilt, it means that you understand that we're not talking about the fact that people in general are bad. We're not saying that you're guilty because the head of the human race, Adam, sinned and was guilty.
It's more to it than that. Adam fell into sin, that's true. We bear the consequences of that.
We inherit a sinful nature as a result of that. But that's not what we're talking about here. What we're talking about here is that you, by name, put your name in the blank. I won't call anyone out by name from the pulpit on a point like this.
That's not appropriate. You put your name right there. You are the one who is responsible for your guilt. You are guilty.
You should be saying to yourself, I am guilty. God holds you responsible for your sin. And when Paul says our trespasses, notice the possessive first-person pronoun that he uses. They're ours.
It's yours and mine. We have trespassed the law of God. We have crossed boundaries that he said not to cross. We have not done what he has commanded us to do.
Every one of us in this room is in that same boat. We are all together leveled under the condemnation of the law of God. And it's not just a corporate thing, it is you individually are guilty. And until you own up to that, salvation is excluded from you. Jesus said, I've not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance. He's talking about the way they view themselves. If you think there's a kernel of good in you, forget it. That's not the one that Jesus came to call.
It's a broken sinner that says, I'm guilty. I'm the one to blame. I don't blame anyone else. Lord, it was me that chose that. It's me that refused that. God, it's my guilt and my guilt alone that condemns me before you. Nothing that anyone else did, either in history or around me in time. Look at Ephesians chapter 2 verse 1 where you can see Paul emphasizing this as well.
Notice the possessive pronouns. Chapter 2 verse 1, you were dead in your trespasses and sins. Do you have in your mind a settled disposition, a settled conclusion that accepts the responsibility for your guilt of breaking God's law?
That's an inherent component of real, true, saving faith. We don't come to Christ because we want a better marriage. We don't come to Christ because we want a happier life here on earth. You want a happy life, go to Disneyland. Or go to Disney World, that's on this side of the Mississippi, right?
I still have those echoes of the west coast in my mind. It's not about your happiness, it's about your guilt. It's about recognizing that there is something warped and wrong and sinful and distorted about me that does not love and obey God like I should. I lie, I lust, I steal, I misrepresent things, I'm a hypocrite, I pretend to be a Christian when I'm not just so people around me will think the right thing. I harbor thoughts that I'm good enough for God apart from the absolute saving work of Christ. You take responsibility because all of that is blameworthy, it's guilty, it's wrong, it's sinful, it's a trespass against the Holy Word of God. See, your sin is not just something external that you do, and if you've kept your life pretty clean externally that you're okay. God had to convince me of that before I could be saved.
That's not it. It makes no difference whatsoever if someone looks at you and thinks you're a pretty good person. That's irrelevant. God doesn't see as man sees. God looks at the heart.
I don't know how else to say it, how many different ways to say it. If you would be a Christian, what you must do is you must come to grips with the guilt of your own soul. And the person that has truly understood the guilt of his own soul is shattered by it. It troubles him.
He can't get beyond that in a sense, certainly not on his own. Let me say it this way. See, I'm trying to say it 10,000 different ways in the hopes that one of them will connect with those of you that are still resistant. You look at it and you say, this is my responsibility. And you own up to it. You're done with excuses. You're done with putting makeup on your soul.
You strip it all away and you go to God. I'm a sinner in need of mercy. Not, I'm a pretty good person that deserves your favor. Saving faith acknowledges explicitly, I don't deserve anything from you, God. I appeal to nothing inside myself to ask you to be kind and good to me.
I appeal to you and Christ alone. Because it's not that everybody else has sinned, Lord. It's that I have. And I'm not going to run away from it anymore. I'm not going to deny it. I'm not going to pretend that it doesn't matter. I'm not going to cover it up. Lord, my soul is open to you and the guilt is there.
And I have no excuse. When we take people through a two-minute gospel presentation that says, that simply says, all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, now let's move on to something else. We're really not giving that the proper level of time and attention that the Bible gives to make that settle in on someone's soul. You see, it's more than just mentally acknowledging that, a checkbox, oh yeah, okay, I've sinned, big deal.
What's next? No, that's not it at all. No, no. The convicting work of the Holy Spirit stops you in your tracks and you say, no, wait, wait, wait, yeah, I've sinned. But no, I've sinned!
This is a showstopper. This stops me in my tracks. Life can't go on like it has. I'm guilty before a holy God. Oh, what must I do to be saved? It's not incidental. It's not that you made a couple of mistakes and that you had one or two bad thoughts. Take responsibility for your guilt.
And if your heart doesn't resonate with what I've been saying, your first prayer to God is, God, I must be missing it. I don't know anything about this showstopper stuff that he's talking about. Either he's nuts or I am. It's not me. Just so you know, it's not me.
It's you on this point. If the idea of sin has never stopped you in your tracks and made you completely re-evaluate your life, you have real reason to question whether you've ever understood what it means to be a Christian. Today on The Truth Pulpit, Pastor Don Green has presented part one of a message titled, Election and Saving Faith, answering the major question, what's our part in the salvation process?
Simply put, once God has given you saving faith, just believe what he said in his word. Don also admonished us to take responsibility for the guilt each of us bears. And Don will have two more important points to offer on our next broadcast.
So plan now to be with us. Meanwhile, we invite you to visit our website, thetruthpulpit.com. There you can download podcasts or find out how to receive CD copies of Don's radio messages for your personal study library. And if you want to go even more in depth, you'll also find the link Follow Don's Pulpit. That'll take you to Don's full length weekly sermons, not subject to the time editing we need for radio broadcasts. And if you'd like to put social media to good use, connect with Don on Facebook. A link to that is also at thetruthpulpit.com. Visit today. I'm Bill Wright and we'll see you next time as Don Green continues teaching God's people God's word on The Truth Pulpit. .
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