Jesus Christ not only opens the door of salvation, he claims to be the door. Jesus not only promises bread, he says, I am the bread. Jesus not only shows us the way to the Father in that wonderful statement, he not only shows us the way, Lord, show us the way to the Father and that will satisfy us, the disciples said. Jesus effectively says, I'm not just going to tell you the way, I will be the way.
I am the way. Jesus Christ brings salvation and offers salvation to all who respond to him in faith. Often our problem as Christians isn't that we don't have faith, it's that we don't have assurance. It's not that we don't have hope, it's that we don't have confidence. When doubts creep in or when you lack assurance of your salvation, what does God's Word say about that?
Well, we're going to look at that today. Stephen Davey has a lesson for you entitled Eternal Life Guaranteed here on Wisdom for the Heart. Since John is writing to believers about their assurance of salvation, by doing that, he is implying that it's possible for a believer to doubt his salvation.
Struggling, perhaps at times with that. Otherwise, why would John so stress over and over and over and over again, these are the truths, now I want you to lock down. You can believe this. You can have certainty about these things.
Why? Because he knew the human heart, even the believing heart, is prone to doubt, dependent on any number of things. In our Sunday evening chapel hour, which meets in our chapel, closest to Tryon Road there in that corner of the building complex, I'm introducing key life verses from the lives of historical figures that impacted the church and the world for Jesus Christ and one evening I'll spend time on each person that's chosen. I've spent time on the biography and the life verse of Amy Carmichael and A.W.
Tozer and Susanna Wesley and Oswald Chambers. I want to introduce you to a man who entered a time of such incredible suffering and uncertainty following the deaths of his wife and daughter that he would write into his journal, listen to this, he would write, I believe in God, but I cannot find him. Ever felt like that? I believe in God, but where did he go? Why do believers doubt? Like this provoked my thinking and I just sort of propped my feet up and began to make a list.
Well, for starters, because doubt has more to do with emotion than doctrine, which is why John develops the assurance of our salvation on the foundation of objective unchanging truth. Two plus two equals four whether I feel good about it or not. Life simply changes the way we feel from one day to the next. It could be any number of things. It could be too many pieces of that chocolate cake. It could feel differently, right?
It could feel better. Even for the believer though, there are a number of things that could affect our emotions and thus our sense of assurance. Suffering, secondly, could be another reason for doubting. Often the crucible brings a believer to wonder if God has abandoned him.
If he really did love me, why would this happen? Suffering could bring doubt. Unconfessed sin is something that could devastate the believer's sense of assurance, not only spiritually but emotionally. I mean, David of Psalm is covering over sin. He talks about how his body is literally wasting away and then in that great confessional Psalm, Psalm chapter 51, he finally opens up and confesses to God and he says, restore to me the joy of your salvation. Might as well interpret that, restore to me the assurance.
Why? Because assurance is tied to joy, joy to assurance. Without assurance and salvation, there's no joy in salvation.
Emotional ebbs and flows, right? Unconfessed sin, even repeated sin can strip away that sense of assurance. Another thing that came to my mind is an undisciplined life. It can rob you of your assurance. And I think there's a wonderful implication that we could miss in this text if the implication is that our assurance is based upon that which is written. Then the more closely associated we live with the things that are written, the closer we are living in obedience to these things that have been written, the more you will sense your assurance of salvation. And the further away you go from the principles and commands of this book, you can expect your assurance to dissolve proportionately to the amount of disobedience, so to speak, or the lack of discipline.
It's amazing how that works. That's a good thing because it pulls us back time and time again to a rededication of our lives to that which has been written. I'll add one more. Well, one more on this page of my notes, three in all. False teacher, false teachers can be added to the list, cause a believer to doubt. Even here in this letter, John is attacking the Gnostic teaching. Among other things, as we've noted as we've gone through this letter, one of the things they were telling the believer was you gotta have the secret knowledge. You gotta have the superior knowledge in order to go to heaven.
Well, who's gonna feel smart enough to go to heaven? And do you know enough? Do you have enough secret knowledge?
Is there one more thing to uncover? John makes it clear here in this text as we will continue further in a moment that assurance isn't gained by secret knowledge but simple faith. Paul would write to Titus and say, look, you need to, with your teaching, silence those rebellious teachers. They're upsetting whole families in the church by teaching things they should not teach for the sake of sordid gain.
Titus 1.11. False teaching can cause a believer to doubt. Another reason for doubting to creep in is its cultural influences that just kind of chip away at the confident faith of the believer, which is why we have to be careful what we allow into our lives to influence us.
Which, by the way, is one of the purposes of the assembly, to teach and rehearse the truths and to sing them and to pray them and to fellowship with others of like faith together so that we can grow like Paul in knowing in whom we have believed and we become even more persuaded that he is able to keep that which we've committed to him our lives as we see the day approaching. 2 Timothy 1.12. Lastly, one more here is the enemy propaganda of the fallen spirit world. The influence of that enemy that is intangible, that we cannot measure, but we definitely fight against. Not flesh and blood, but these princes and rulers of darkness. That fallen enemy collaborates all too easily with our fallen flesh, our fallen minds and hearts. We collaborate with those messages which effectively can destroy the citadels of assurance. So Paul will exhort the Corinthian believers to mentally battle, to mentally destroy every speculation and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God and to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. You have a thought and here it's taking you down.
No, no, no, no, no. Come back here. I'm going to take you captive to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10, 4 and 5. In other words, we wage war in our minds by means of the truth against every thought that enters which attempts to destroy the knowledge of God and guess what God and his knowledge has made certain for us. That is, upon what do we stand to believe that we are eternally secure?
His word. So we repeatedly come back to time and time again, we repeatedly surrender to and re-immerse ourselves in, recommit ourselves and re-memorize with fresh memory the truths of God that have been written and the more we do that, the greater our assurance. You stay away from this book and you will not have assurance of your salvation. It is the foundation of our assurance, these things which have been written. Secondly, John writes, these things I've written to you, to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, he's writing Christians. He's further clarifying not just the foundation of our assurance but here the formula for our assurance.
And the formula is this, it's not tricky, it's not complicated, you don't have to pay $200 an hour somewhere to get it, here it is. Faith in Jesus Christ equals eternal life. Not seven steps, not seven rights, not a degree, simple faith in Jesus Christ. In fact he says, look up at verse 12, he says, he who has the Son has the life. He who does not have the Son of God does not have the life. He's talking about eternal life. The definite article with the word life, zoe, the life, indicates a reference to the ultimate life, eternal life, which if you scoot back up even one more verse into verse 11, which God gave us through his Son.
And I love the way it comes out in English. You get the Son and you get the life. How you doing? I got the life, man. I've got the life. You receive the Son, you receive the gift of this life. If I put my pen here inside my Bible and I say to you after the service, you come up here and I'm going to give you my Bible and everything related to it, you get my Bible and then you're thumbing through it and you open it up and you say, well what do you know, I also get this pen.
Cheers. When you receive the Bible as my gift to you. Listen, when you receive Jesus Christ, you discover that with him comes eternal life. People want eternal life but they don't want Jesus. Now when you accept Jesus, guess what's inside him?
The giver, the creator of eternal life. Jesus Christ not only opens the door of salvation, he claims to be the door, John chapter 10. Jesus not only promises bread, he says, I am the bread of life, John 635. Jesus not only shows us the way to the Father in that wonderful statement, he not only shows us the way, Lord, show us the way to the Father and that will satisfy us, the disciples said. Jesus effectively says, I'm not just going to tell you the way, I will be the way, I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
So you accept my Bible as a gift and in it's a free pen. You accept Jesus Christ and discover in him eternal life and this life is in his son. By the way, this life is not in just knowing things about his son, it is found in his son. There are people that want eternal life but don't want Jesus.
Eternal life is bound up in Jesus. Think about it this way, you can decide you want to take all your money and put it in a bank and so you can study that bank as an institution, you can read all the material, you can get your hands on it, you can look at their performance over the last eight quarters, you might study its leadership and their tenure, who knows, you can know all that and then you can believe those facts about that bank but the truth is you're really only believing facts about it. You're not trusting in it. You trust in it when you take your money and you walk down there and you walk in and you say, look, I'm giving you all my money, $13.57, it's yours.
You invest in that bank, that's faith. He's saying here, you can believe all you want to believe about Jesus, even the demons believe there's only one true and living God and they shudder, they believe that about him you must believe in him which means you're investing everything of you into Christ. Now John assumes his readers have done this because he's writing to believers and he wants them to rehearse in the face of possible doubts, the foundation of their assurance and the formula for their assurance. Now John, thirdly, speaks to the fearlessness of our assurance. Let's go back to that verse one more time. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the son of God, now notice, that you may know that you have eternal life.
You could circle or if you haven't already or underline that word, know, that you may, K-N-O-W, not think so, hope so, maybe so, I'm going to give them a shot but you may know. Talk about fearlessness in that assurance. Benjamin Franklin famously wrote in 1789, nothing is certain but death and what?
Taxes, you've heard that too, we love that statement. Well John the apostle would respectfully disagree or at least not disagree but add to that. He'd say no, no, no, there's nothing more certain than where you're going to spend eternity. See John has repeatedly informed his readers that we can absolutely know, K-N-O-W, 39 times in 1 John, he's used that verb. Eight times in this paragraph we have been studying. John chooses here this verb, oida, which means to know by means of having been told, to have settled conviction based upon revelation. It's knowledge gained not by experience, remember Genosko, that which you experience, you find out the oven's hot because you touched it. It is to learn by virtue of revelation. Your mother told you it was hot and you could have learned that way.
Oida is a better way. This is the word he uses here. This is knowledge gained not through experience but through divine revelation.
Aunt Matilda told us why that cake had been made. So we can know based on what God has said that we can have eternal life not on the basis of our feelings which come and go ebb and flow or some special experience that can vary from Christian to Christian. In fact all those things are going to wear awfully thin. John is reinforcing again, even in the choice of his verb, that we can know because of what God says, we can know fearlessly because God has declared it so.
And what is it that we can be fearless about? Did you notice that you may know that you have eternal life. You can be certain where you will be a billion years from now. You know the great longing of the human heart is to live forever. There are some who with great bravado deny that. No. It's over when it's over. Go ahead.
Act like you can afford that car. The great longing of the human consciousness is only matched by the great uncertainty in the human race about what it's going to look like and where it's going to be. Where God created us, Ecclesiastes 3.11 says, with eternity in our hearts we have the unwritten law of God as it were upon our hearts that tell us this isn't all there is. Inside every human heart, every human heart has written into its innermost consciousness the truth that we were engineered for eternity. Here's the wonderful statement of John. In fact, would you notice he says that you may know that you have.
It's a wonderful, wonderful expression. You have, you can write into the margin of your Bible, you have already eternal life. This is the present tense. You have right now eternal life. We don't have an eternal body yet. You're not however waiting to get eternal life.
You already got it. When you accepted Jesus Christ, you found that inside him. Because it is a gift from God, eternal life will last as long as God lasts and God will last forever. John writes this is the foundation of your assurance, what has been written. This is the formula for your assurance. You believe in the name of the Son of God. This is the fearlessness of your assurance that you can actually say I know and I'm going to live forever through Christ.
The hymn writer writes it this way about Christ. Justice and power are held in your hand but you stooped to shoulder the shame of man. Mighty yet merciful. How could it be the high king of heaven extends grace to me. My sins were many.
My merits were none. But you are the mighty yet merciful one. Let me just share a few thoughts with you as we wrap this up. I want to give you the illustration of this kind of fearless confidence in the life of one of our own. I shared just a few weeks ago in the memorial service of our dear friend and fellow staff member Dennis Farrell who went home to be with the Lord. Dennis and his wife both served on our staff. Sandra still is serving on our staff. Dennis and Sandra became surrogate grandparents so to speak to our children.
We were grateful for that. Their sets of grandparents weren't in town. Years ago when our church was meeting in the schoolhouse, we go back that far, they asked if they could keep our kids one night a week for a little while so that Marcia and I could go out. And they asked, you know, can we keep your four children every Thursday night?
I said you can keep them all week long as far as I'm concerned. They were an answer to prayer and we often remarked how God used them to help us raise our children. Like just yesterday, I got to add this, yesterday my daughter, oldest daughter, is getting married this spring when looking for a wedding dress with her mother and her sister. A couple of wedding coordinators, she invited along Sandra to go with her. They had such a wonderful time. They found the dress. I thought, just a wonderful time spending my money.
I mean that's another subject. But at any rate, I remember being in Dennis' hospital room about a year ago when we thought he was going to pass away. There were physical battles that led him there and it was in critical condition, in fact slipping in and out of consciousness. Now in unconscious state, the doctor is saying we've done all we can, the nurse is just trying to make him comfortable. And I went and stood in his hospital room with Sandra and we talked about the funeral, the memorial service and what he wanted and what she wanted. He had been unconscious for some time.
Before leaving, I leaned over, kissed him on the forehead and told him goodbye, see you later. But that night, instead of passing away, he almost miraculously, I guess you'd use that term, he revived. It wasn't due to any new medication, it wasn't due to something they were trying, something new, he just revived. And in a few hours he'd be eating food and then not too long after that, released and he'd come back to work. We nicknamed him Lazarus, we really did.
That's what I called him when I'd see him in the hallway. What was amazing to find out about his recovery though was that the nurses told Sandra that that moment, that transition where they thought it was over and then he began to recover, they heard him singing. And they rushed to his room and he was in there, sort of semi-conscious and he was singing the Hallelujah chorus. And he revived.
A couple of weeks ago, Dennis came to the end of ongoing physical issues and battles. And Marsha and Seth and Candace went by their home to spend some time and sit on his bed and sing and talk and pray and cry. Charity was sick, I took a recording of something she made on the iPhone and held it up to his ear the next night when Benjamin and I were able to go over the last of our family to say farewell. I walked into his room where he was slipping in and out of consciousness and I leaned over the bed and said, Dennis, Stephen and Benjamin, we've come to tell you we love you. And I said, Dennis, it looks like you are going to beat me to heaven after all. And I said to him, even though there was no response, I said, I just want to retell you what I know you know and believe, that because you've accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, he is ready and he is waiting to welcome you home.
You're going home. And he stirred and said the last words I would hear him say. Without opening his eyes, he said, I know.
I know. I was in Pennsylvania the next few days preaching to the student body at a Christian college and seminary when the news came that Dennis had passed away and the thought struck me, I shared this at the memorial, struck me there in my hotel room, that a year or so ago we thought he was going to die. Instead he was singing the Hallelujah chorus and the thought struck me this time. He was hearing the Hallelujah chorus.
Why do I know that? Because the lyrics that come from around the throne where all the redeemed are singing provide the lyrics for the Messiah. He, the Lamb, shall reign forever and ever and ever and ever. Amen. Fearless. I know. What about you? What's your foundation?
What's your formula? Can it lead you to say even in the face of death, oh yes, with John say these things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life. I know. That was Stephen Davey and a lesson he called Eternal Life Guaranteed. I'm glad you were able to join us today here on Wisdom for the Heart. We recently heard from a listener named Tim who sent an email to our ministry and he said this, I listen to your sermons every day.
I recently went through Philippians and now the book of Romans. Please know God's word has become more and more wonderful to me. I've been in full-time children's ministry for 42 years. Thank you for making his word clear and wonderful to me.
Well Tim, thanks for taking the time to write and tell us that and thank you for serving God so faithfully as you work with children. If you'd like to send Stephen a message, there's a couple of options for you. First of all, you can write to him at Stephen at wisdom online dot org.
Stephen's name is spelled S-T-E-P-H-E-N. So that email address is Stephen at wisdom online dot org. If you prefer to send a card or letter in the mail, we'd be delighted to receive that as well. Here's the address. Wisdom International P.O. Box 37297 Raleigh, North Carolina 27627. Let me give you that one more time. You can send a card or letter in the mail if you address it to Wisdom International P.O.
Box 37297 Raleigh, North Carolina 27627. And I sure hope we hear from you soon. And I hope you'll join us back here next time as Stephen continues this series right here on Wisdom for the Heart. Thanks for joining us. We'll see you next time.
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