Ryan Strother

The Holy Spirit Gives Confidence in Salvation

Maybe one of the most asked questions by Christians is: how do I know I am saved?

 
We all want a good guarantee with important parts of our lives.
You want insurance on your home to guarantee the replacement of your belongings.
You buy that extra protection on that electronic device or appliance so you are guaranteed that it will be fixed or replaced.
You make sure there is a good warranty on that vehicle so you are guaranteed that it will run like its supposed to.
You want your bank to be insured so your money is guaranteed to be there.

In very simplistic terms, then, how do you know that your salvation will have its effect on your life?  How do I know I am saved?

One area of Scripture that answers this question (not the only one) is 1 John 4:13-15, so we will look deeper into this passage.

 

Verse 13 says ”By this…” John uses this phrase to introduce a concept he really wants to make sure his listeners grasp. In fact, it appears 11 times in this letter.
By this we know that we abide in him and he in us. So, what is this? The guarantee of the Holy Spirit. I hope you will be encouraged and gain confidence through this post. this message.
I want to point out a natural movement we see in the text, which consists of three parts. Let’s start at verse 14 first. We see apostolic authority here– John was one of many who saw and testifies about Jesus. So, understand here that it’s not just someone talking without experience. You can trust what you’re reading because it is written by someone who is speaking out of what he has seen.

1st Part of the Movement: v.14

The movements follow a pattern: this happened, then this happened. The first movement: He saw and testified that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16, ESV)

Apart from Jesus Christ, you are perishing and will perish eternally under the wrath of God. But God has made redemption possible for you. The Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.


2nd Part of the Movement: beginning of v.15

That happened. Then this:  whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God.  Jesus came to this world and finished the work that is necessary for you to be redeemed. But Romans 10:9 tells us, “…if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”  
The second part of the movement is that you have to confess Jesus. It’s not enough just to know that Jesus came into the world. Many people are smart enough to know that Jesus was a real man on the earth, but there must be a belief behind this confession, like Romans 10:9 says.
So, the 1st part is that the Father sent his Son into the world. That happened.
Then, what is to happen is that every person has to decide to confess Jesus Christ. To believe in their heart that God raised him from the dead and that he has paid the penalty for sin and brings victory in this life.
That happens. Then, the 3rd movement.

3rd Part of the Movement: end of v.15

When you confess your belief in Christ, you will be saved. So this happens: God abides in you and you abide in God. Theologically this is called our union with Christ. Wayne Grudem summarizes it:  “We are in Christ, Christ is in us, we are like Christ, and we are with Christ” (Systematic Theology, p. 1256).
Millard Erickson gives 4 implications of our union with Christ (Christian Theology, 3rd Edition, p. 882-883):
We are counted righteous.
We now live in Christ’ strength.
We will suffer.
We have the prospect of reigning with Christ.

Now, even with these three events being true in your life, some might wonder, how do I know this has all happened?

 

The Guarantee

This is where the guarantee of the Holy Spirit gives you assurance.

 

Let me ask:
Do you feel the conviction of sin?
Are you conforming to the image of Christ?
Are you learning and discovering biblical truth?
Are you finding liberty/freedom over sinful thoughts, words, actions?
Are you experiencing the guidance of the Holy Spirit, often evidenced by peace you will feel?
Are you telling others about Jesus, being his witness?
Are you loving others?

This is the work of the Holy Spirit in you. That is evidence of the salvation inside of you.
Look at the similarities to what Paul wrote:

13In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit,  14who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. Ephesians 1:13–14 (ESV)

Specifically, the Holy Spirit seals the believer and guarantees the believer’s inheritance.
“Seal” generally means to put a mark upon something as a sign of its authenticity. Believers are sealed. And the Holy Spirit is the “guarantee” of the inheritance we have in Christ. The Holy Spirit is valuable enough to give the believer a sense of security by which to live faithfully until that great inheritance comes.
The Holy Spirit doesn’t come and go. You are sealed, which is the link to the secure eternity we have in Christ (inheritance). This should give you confidence.

 

photo courtesy of Xavier Mouton Photographie 

Five To Focus 48. Living Worthy of the Gospel Despite Opposition

Are you living a life worthy of the gospel?  Can people look at your life and see that you are living by the truth of God’s Word? Or will they look at your life and see that you are living in sin and there really isn’t anything different in you than what they see in the world? We continue to look at Philippians 1:27 in this episode.

 

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Five To Focus 47. You Are A Citizen of Heaven

Here is our command: fulfill all the duties devolving upon you as a member of the body of Christ. This episode looks at Philippians 1:27 to begin focusing on the truth that you are citizen of heaven and are commanded to live like it!

 

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The Foundational Attitude You Need During Difficulty

Joni Eareckson Tada became a quadraplegic at 17 years old. Her faith resounded despite the obstacles and she leads an organization for people with disabilities. In her book, When God Weeps: Why Our Sufferings Matter to the Almighty, she wrote:  “Subdue your heart to match your circumstances.”

My guess: it is hard to bring our hearts under control when our circumstances seem out of control.

Circumstances arouse feelings, emotions, and words, which are the overflow of our hearts (Luke 6:45). Perhaps they lead us to not think clearly through certain situations. In fact, many circumstances can lead to confusion, anger, and resentment to the point of not seeing the reality of our circumstances because our hearts are out of control.

We might wish we weren’t in a particular circumstance, but we have to face the reality. Joni had to realize that she was going to be in a wheelchair. She talks about her earliest struggles, but at some point she chose to accept her reality and glorify God through it.

While you should have many supporters and might seek counseling and medical care during difficult circumstances, the Apostle Paul reveals two foundational ingredients to a mindset that will lead to persevering and glorifying God: prayer and the Holy Spirit.

Now that might sound so simple, but sometimes we neglect even the most simple, foundational things during difficulty. Paul wrote to the Philippians:

“… Yes, and I will rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death.” (Philippians 1:18b–20, ESV)

He was in prison when he wrote that. His confidence through difficulty came through prayer and the help of the Holy Spirit. In other words, our attitude through difficulty must start with a humble reliance on God’s help.

Are you struggling? Start with prayer and asking the Holy Spirit to guide you through your reactions and actions.  

Five To Focus 46. It Is Well With My Soul

Horatio Spafford wrote this hymn during a time of severe grief. Listen to the story behind my favorite hymn, and a little fact about it that I didn’t know until I prepared for this episode.

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Why Our Church Is Starting A Prayer Walking Ministry

Tonight at 6:00, the Central Baptist family will join together to prayer walk in some of our surrounding neighborhoods. This is the start of our 1st Wednesday Prayer Walking ministry. While it is starting as a monthly ministry, my hope is that our people will see its effectiveness and we’ll do it even more down the road.

I’m thankful for those who are helping organize this ministry. As we met to brainstorm and plan, the intention was clear: we believe God will bless and bring opportunity through our efforts to pray for our neighbors.

Here’s why our church is starting a prayer walking ministry:

  • We believe prayer is commanded by God (1 Thess. 5:16-18)
  • We believe churches should be houses of prayer (Is. 56:7; Matt. 21:13)
  • We believe we are to love our neighbor (Matt. 22:37-39)
  • We believe that we should intercede for others, and that the Holy Spirit will intercede for us even when we don’t know what to pray (1 Tim. 2:1; Rom. 8:26)

Our hope, then, is that going into our neighborhoods will increase our opportunities to pray for, witness to, and serve our neighbors, effectively loving them. We want to be a house of prayer where people know that we love them enough to lift them up before our Father in Heaven.

Five To Focus 45. You Are A Partaker Of Grace

Last week, we looked at one of our identities as a believer in the local church—we are partners in the gospel. Today we continue that theme by looking at another aspect of our identity within the body of Christ as Paul tells us in Philippians 1:6-7.  

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Your Kingdom Won’t Last

Pinterest has created the impression that everything you do must be perfect. The problem isn’t that weddings shouldn’t look nice or that every craft and recipe you attempt shouldn’t be Food Network worthy, but this facade of perfection can make you feel inferior if you don’t attain that standard.

It is not wrong to have nice stuff or do your best on every pallet board craft, but it is easy to develop a mindset where you put all your worth in what you have and what you do. The Bible talks about this: “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also”  (Matthew 6:19-21, ESV).

Earthly treasures don’t last forever, and sometimes they can be taken from us quickly. If all our identity or purpose is wrapped up in those things, then we will quickly lose purpose and feel defeated.

Like Micah. I wrote about his natural desire to worship (which we share) last week.

After he set up his own house of worship with his own idols, carved images, and priests, he thought God would bless him (Judges 17:13). But the Danites came through his area and took his Levite priest, ephod, household gods, carved image, and metal image (Judges 18:14). After Micah confronted the Danites, this really sad verse appears: “Then the people of Dan went their way. And when Micah saw that they were too strong for him, he turned and went back to his home” (Judges 18:26, ESV).

Micah’s kingdom could not stand.

Neither can yours.

All that will last beyond our years on earth is our legacy, whether good or bad, and the things we did that had an eternal impact. The people we ministered to and witnessed to, the ministries we supported that continue after our time on earth. The earthly pursuits won’t matter when you stand before God one day. After all, “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?” (Mark 8:36, ESV)

 

Photo by Bart Anestin on Unsplash

Five To Focus 44. You Are A Partner In the Gospel

Church is not an activity on your calendar that you get points for attending. It’s part of who you are as a partner in the gospel. Learn from Paul in Philippians 1:5 to discover more of your identity within the community of believers called the church.   

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People Naturally Desire To Worship A God

When the cat is away, the mice will play. This cliche is seen in the last chapters of Judges, and we tend to live according to it when we do not think there is an authority in our lives.  

A great example of this is at the end of the book of Judges (ch.17-21). It begins with Micah and his mother in “The hill country of Ephraim”—not a new location in Judges:

  • It is the place of Joshua’s burial (2:9);
  • Ehud sounded his trumpet there (3:27);
  • Deborah held court there (4:5); and
  • Gideon sent messengers there to call up the men of Ephraim to go against the Midianites (7:24).

Look how different it is by the end of Judges though! The phrase “there was no king in Israel” occurs three times in chapters 17-21 (17:6; 18:1; 21:25). When there is no king, people will do what is right in their own eyes. In other words, they will become their own kings or submit themselves to all kinds of other kings.

We see a natural desire for worship in Micah and his mother, and we share this natural desire.

The short story—Micah had stolen 1,100 pieces of silver from his mother but returned it to her. Her response:  “. . . I dedicate the silver to the LORD from my hand for my son, to make a carved image and a metal image. . .” (Judges 17:3, ESV)

Do you see anything in her response that doesn’t make sense? This shows how far off the Israelites had come in their thinking and beliefs–Micah’s mother would dedicate the silver to the Lord IN ORDER FOR it to be made into a carved image and a metal image. The 2nd commandment directly forbids this: “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.” (Exodus 20:4, ESV)

But Micah wasn’t done there:

  • v.5- he sets up a shrine, which is essentially is “the house of God.” This is an abomination because there was only one house of God at that time and it was in Shiloh, which is even noted in Judges 18:31.
  • v.5- he sets up his son as a private priest. First, priests are to be public, not just for one person. Second, is his son even qualified?
  • v.7-13. Maybe Micah did realize the qualification part of this, even though he didn’t care, because he finds a Levite and asks him to be his priest.

Levites were the priestly class of Israelites, so Micah got that right. But God was not Micah’s authority, and his confusion is revealed in Judges 17:13: “Then Micah said, ‘Now I know that the LORD will prosper me, because I have a Levite as priest.’”

Not only did Micah’s mother dedicate the silver to the Lord to be used to make idols, but Micah presumed upon God’s blessing of his ungodly decision to create a place of worship outside of Shiloh with carved images and idols.

They naturally desired a god: something to rule over them, look up to, and try to please. People today share the same natural desire to worship by setting up their own places of worship and idols (whether physically or mentally).

Why would people do this? Let me offer two reasons:

  1. All people are made in the image of God (Gen 1:27), meaning at least that people have a soul and are able to have a personal relationship with God. In other words, every person is created to glorify and worship God, and when they don’t worship God, that longing to worship is still there. Instead of worshipping who they were created to worship, though, people will create all kinds of idols and other pursuits to fill that void that can only be satisfied in God.
  2. The law of God is written on people’s hearts. “For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them” (Romans 2:14–15, ESV). Because people are made in the image of God, we naturally have the law of God written on our hearts. There is a general sense of right from wrong in every person, though sin can so horribly cauterize the ability to discern the difference. As John Piper said, people “. . . have enough knowledge of the moral law of God in their hearts by virtue of being created in God’s image so that their consciences are conflicted: sometimes approving, sometimes disapproving.” So, people are naturally pursuing morality, and that will lead to some kind of religion in their life.

Are you naturally desiring the One True God, or is your natural desire to worship misdirected?

 

Photo by Pablo Heimplatz on Unsplash

 

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