What is Salvation? Why do we have salvation? How do we get salvation? Can we lose salvation? How do we know salvation is truly ours? Why does Todd hate candles so much? As we continue our series, “The 7,” Todd Wagner teaches us on the doctrine of salvation, answering those five questions and more.
Contending for the Faith
What is Salvation? Why do we have salvation? How do we get salvation? Can we lose salvation? How do we know salvation is truly ours? As we continue our series, “The 7,” Todd Wagner teaches us on the doctrine of salvation, answering those five questions and more.
Watermark’s Belief Statement – Salvation
We believe salvation is a sovereign gift of God and is received by man through personal faith in Jesus Christ and His sacrifice for sin. We believe man is justified by grace through faith apart from works (Acts 13:38-39; Romans 6:23; Ephesians 1:4-5 & 2:8-10). We believe that Jesus Christ is the only means of salvation and that no one is saved apart from a conscious and personal decision to trust in Christ as his or her one and only Savior (John 14:6; Acts 4:12; Romans 10:9-10). We believe all true believers elect of God, once saved, are kept secure in Christ forever (Romans 8:1, 29-30, 38-39; John 10:27-30).
What is Salvation?
Why do we have salvation?
How do we get salvation?
Can we lose salvation?
How do we know salvation is truly ours?
Hello, friends. All right! Welcome! We're glad you're here. Hello, Plano, and hello, Fort Worth. It's great to be with my friends in Dallas. We are in the middle of a series called The 7 where we're looking at just seven essentials, seven things, that we're saying, "You can't mess with these things. You have to get these things right."
Well, let me just tell you I have learned over the course of years of leadership there are certain things I can't mess up and if I don't get right, I'm going to hear about it. What I hold in my hand right here are pages of a Facebook string. There were comments that happened last year on Christmas Eve.
There was an event we famously now call (based on the hashtags on this little Facebook string here) #candlegate2017 at Watermark. My friends, Kyle and Missy Richardson, who I love… Missy actually posted on Instagram this picture of her family. It's a great picture. This is what the little line right here says.
She says, "That's a beautiful family Christmas Eve," but her comment specifically here is, "Hey, we had a great time Christmas Eve, but I wanted to let you know I missed most of the service because I couldn't help my kids recover from the fact that no candles were going to be lit at Watermark this particular Christmas."
Then it went on from there. There's this comment string. Here are some of them. "What? No candles?" Another one says, "This is a huge bummer. That is one of my favorite parts in the service." Basically, she writes, "That's why I'm a Christian. I go…" That's the basic effect of this entire string right here.
Somebody came up and asked me afterward why we didn't have candles, and it was because kind of my message this year talked about the fact that the beauty of Christmas lights is it anticipates the hope that is come. The purpose of Advent is to anticipate the fact that Christ is coming. I made the point, "Can you imagine how much we would appreciate Christmas if…?"
Kind of we have this thing called Lent right before Easter where what we traditionally in the church have done is we deny ourselves some aspect of food. It's come down to now where we make kids in elementary schools eat fish on Fridays before Easter. For a while, people said, "We're going to give up meat for Lent" or things like that. It's a way of sacrificing to anticipate the sacrifice Christ made. That's the whole purpose of the Lenten season.
Advent means to come, and it's the anticipation of the coming of the Light of the World. That's exactly what the prophet said in Isaiah, chapter 9. You know, it just says, "The people who walk in darkness will see a great light." I was talking about how it was Advent, and Christmas Eve is not Christmas.
I said, "Well, it's because Christ hasn't come yet so the Light of the World is not here. Theologically, we're not going to light candles anymore on Christmas Eve…only at the eleven o'clock service when we sing 'Silent Night,' and it becomes midnight. Then we'll light them because it's Christmas Day."
Some people bought it because now the string starts to go right here. "Well, Todd said because it's not Christmas yet. It's still Advent. That's why we're not doing candles." Somebody else speculated, "Is this a budget problem? BYOC." Bring your own candles next year. They go through. Some of these comments are hilarious! One of them is just like, "Nooo! We're going to Grandma's church." That's basically what happens right here.
There are certain things you can't do as a leader. Apparently once you give people the taste of candles on Christmas Eve, you can't take it from them. All right? Now let me tell you, we started doing candles here at Watermark because it is the only decent memory… I get it. That was the only day of the year I wanted to go to church because I got to play with fire. I always remembered it, but what I really remembered was the picture.
Metaphors and illustrations are so powerful because of what they burn into our hearts. God is the master teacher, so he teaches a lot in stories and in parables. He uses object lessons to teach us something. Can you imagine if it was a tradition that everybody every Christmas…? What we just basically did is we said, "We're going to all put our Christmas lights on, but nobody turns them on until Christmas Day at midnight."
If we really wanted to get out there, what if we as a discipline as believers said, "We're going to use no electricity in December until the 25th"? Oh man! Would it be Christmas? You couldn't wait, and the rejoicing that would come! Well, that's where we are in this series. We have talked about some essentials. We've talked about how this is not a rulebook. It's not a book you should pay some attention to that maybe you buy or don't buy. This book is your life.
We talked about if you have a wrong view of God's Word… God is revealing his mind to you. He is explaining history. Everybody wants to know, "Why are we here? From where do we come? What's our purpose? What's our meaning? Where is this all going? Why is there evil?" If you have a wrong view of God's Word, it's going to mess with you. We talked about that the first week.
The second week we talked about if you have a wrong view of God because you don't pay attention to this book… What a man thinks about when he thinks about God is probably the most important thing about you, which is why you want to read God's book about himself and how God has revealed himself in the context of history.
The greatest way God has revealed himself was the next week. It's through his Son who is the visible image of the invisible God. When his Son was done with his work here on earth, revealing who God was, the love of God, the kindness of God, and the justice of God, he didn't leave us as orphans. He gave us his Spirit, which is even better than giving us Jesus. The reason we have the Spirit is he gave us Jesus. Who did he give Jesus, and with whom did he leave the Spirit? The answer is man. We talked last week about man.
Now let me just remind you of what that amazing message last week taught us. Here's where we explained to you who man was. We used the idea of image, gender, and mission. In other words, man was created in his image. God wants us to relate to him, relate to one another, and to create things that will give him glory. He wants us to know he designed us a specific way and we aren't the sum of our desires; we are who God created us to be. We are on mission to live for God.
But sin entered into the world, so we have gone and said, "No, we're not going to relate and create. We're going to be depraved and enslaved. We're not going to relate to each other anymore, and the things we're going to create are not going to be glorious. We're going to create trouble in this world. Our gender (male and female), we're not going to say is part of God's design. We're going to say how we express ourselves sexually (even who we are sexually) is going to come down to who we are."
Let me just say this to you really quickly. The Bible talks about how the fact that the world professing to be wise becomes fools. I read a story this week about something that happened in England. A guy was prosecuted for the crime of rape (which is an awful crime), and yet what he did is he said, "I'm going to identify as a woman." By their own law, they were obligated to place him in a prison with women. Guess what he did when he was in a prison with women?
You're like, "Are you kidding me? They put a rapist in a women's jail because he said he was a woman?" Yes, they did. What do you think they got? Professing to be wise, we become fools. It's crazy. God said, "I want you to live for me," and we said, "No, we're going to live like gods. We're going to do what we want to do. It's going to make sense for us. We don't care really how stupid it gets." It's getting pretty stupid.
God just kind of leaves us in this state, right? No. What you're going to find out is this week we're going to talk about salvation. We want to give you a biblical view of salvation because this is the week to which it all points. This is the week hope has come. The light is here! How we get back from here over there…
John did an amazing job last week of showing us about getting there. It's a message you have to give, but it's a message you have to get right to the precipice. You don't want to give the solution, but we just showed you this. The hope has come. Christ has been the provision that has bridged the gap of sin and death and brought us back to God. The cross is what reunites us to God.
Because God has brought us back to him through the sacrifice of the Son, we now understand truth. We now begin to live and relate to each other in a redeemed way (those of us who know God and the beauty of his way). We live according to his design, and we live for God and not like we are gods. That is what salvation produces. That is what salvation has wrought. People who are in great darkness have been given the light. Oh my, what rejoicing it should bring!
This is our statement. This is what we as elders believe you must believe if you are going to be a straight-thinking orthodox. If you are going to have straight law, straight dogma, straight truth, then you will believe this about salvation. There is some tough stuff here. Watch this. We believe salvation is a sovereign gift. In other words, it's given to us by God for his glory. It's a sovereign gift of God. It is received by man through a personal faith in Jesus Christ and his sacrifice for sin.
We believe man is justified by grace through faith apart from works. We believe Jesus Christ is the only means of salvation, and no one is saved apart from a conscious and personal decision to trust in Christ as his or her one and only Savior. We believe all true believers, elect of God, once saved are kept secure in Christ forever. If you and I understood that and believed it to be true, we would start clapping in the middle of those statements. We would not stop clapping in responding to that truth.
Folks, this is really good news. It is the gospel. The word gospel means good news. That's literally what it means. In 1 Corinthians, chapter 15, verses 1 through 4, this is what it says. Paul says, "Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel [the good news] …" So many people don't know the good news. They think this is a rule book. They think they have to earn their way to God. They think God is still mad at them, but he is not.
He said, "Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received…" That's the first thing I want you to see about the gospel, about the truth about salvation. It's there whether you do something with it or not, but just knowing it's there will not change your life; it must be received.
Not only must it be received but also it is that upon which you stand when you talk about what allows us to stand against all the criticism, persecution, and seduction of the world and the fact that we're fools in the way we hold onto this. It says in our armor not only do we have the helmet of salvation but also it says we stand firm. We shod our feet with the gospel of peace. We don't backtrack.
When we screw up and the Enemy says, "Who are you to represent God?" our answer is, "Nobody. We're rebels who God in his kindness has sought, pursued, wooed, provided for, and I have received redemption. So I am not shaken. I stand firm not on my own righteousness but on the righteousness that Christ has won for me."
The gospel is to be received. The gospel is what allows you to stand, and it is by which you are saved. I'm going to make it very clear, because really what I want to do tonight is I'm going to just answer just some basic questions about salvation. I'm going to tell you what it is. I'm going to tell you why we have it. I'm going to tell you how we get it. I'm going to talk about if we can lose it. I'm going to talk about how we know it's truly ours. We're going to do it quickly. This is the gospel.
Isaiah 53:6 says, "All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all…" All of us who are not relating in peace and creating things that are glorified to God, all of us who are living as rebels, all that judgment has fallen on Jesus.
It says in Romans the wages of our sin (what we earn by being rebels against God) is death. We have separated ourselves from the life-giving God, and so we get death. We have separated ourselves from the source of light and life, so we get darkness. "For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."
Romans 5:8 says, "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." Paul wrote to the church in Corinth, and he said this: "For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ…""You remember what he has done for you." "…that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich."
A little earlier in the same book, he just basically says this. He says, "He made Him [Jesus] who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him."
He tells us in John, chapter 5, verse 24, "You need to believe this." "Truly, truly…""Listen to me!" "…he who hears My word [the word of Jesus] …" Jesus says this. "…he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me…""…and knows God is good and demonstrates his love by sending me…" "…has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.""Because I am going to reconcile you with him."
Peter couldn't keep his mouth shut. He said, "For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just [Jesus] for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit." It's so he could bring us to God. Oh what a glorious Savior! What an amazing truth!
We are saved by grace through faith. I'm going to teach you even that gift of faith is not of ourselves. It is a gift. "Not as a result of works…" It's not as a result of our own brilliance. "…so that no one may boast." Paul writes to his young disciple, Titus, "He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we [you, any of us] have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration…" That happens when we come back into a life-giving relationship with God. "…and renewing by the Holy Spirit…"
That, my friends, is the gospel, and it is good news. It has nothing to do with you and me. We say in our statement, "Salvation is a sovereign gift." It is not earned or deserved. There is nothing you and I can do.
1._ What is salvation?_ Salvation is a class term, and underneath it there are three things, because there are really three different parts to the gift of salvation.
A. Justification. The first thing is justification. What is justification? Here's an easy way for you to remember what salvation is. It is, first of all, a legal declaration, "Not guilty." No longer will you have to receive the judgment for your crime, the wages for your debt. Why? Because it's been paid because somebody else stepped up, took the payment, and took the judgment for you.
God didn't just wink at sin, didn't just say, "I love you, so don't do that again." God said, "No. There will be judgment, and all of it will be poured out." It was on his Son. Justification is freedom from the penalty of sin. That's what justification is. The Bible says you have been justified. It's something that has already happened in the past. Salvation is, first, justification.
B. Sanctification. Sanctification is an ongoing process. Justification is freedom from the penalty. Sanctification is freedom from the power of sin. Now watch this. This is where we are. Those of us who embrace this truth not just intellectually but who ingest it, who become one with it, who trust in it, who believe in it, we are being sanctified. We have been justified (declared righteous by God). We are being sanctified.
What's that mean? It means now just like we've been delivered already from the penalty of sin, we are being delivered from the power of sin. It is still there in our lives. In other words, the seduction of sin, the propensity to sin, the corruption of our flesh that wants to rebel against God. Our flesh is still here, but what is also here now is an understanding of the goodness of God and his way.
So I'm no longer a slave to sin. I can consider myself dead to it. Even though my body and my flesh aren't; my spirit knows God is good. So I will bridle my flesh. I will consider it. The word in Scripture is logizomai. You remember in Matthew we learned logarithmic tableswhere you would calculate truth.
What Paul says is calculate, consider, the truth that you are no longer in bondage to the Enemy who has told you lies about God. You now have come to know the truth of God that he is a gracious God. He has demonstrated his love for you. He has delivered you from judgment. What kind of God would do that? Answer: the God who has your best interest in mind.
Proverbs 10:22 (one of my favorite verses in the entire Bible) says this: "It is the blessing of the Lord that makes rich, and He adds no sorrow to it." All his ways are peace. So now even though my flesh is still very attracted to the world (which it was birthed into) and though my flesh has not yet been redeemed, my spirit has. I'm not going to be conformed to the ways of this world, but I'm going to be transformed by the renewing of my mind. I'm going to live in the good, acceptable, right, and perfect way of my Father.
Now I don't do that perfectly. Sometimes I'll go to a Christmas Eve service, they won't have candles, and I'll freak out. There will be six pages of Facebook banter about how our church has fallen away. We all do things every now and then that make no sense, and we go back. Even though we don't have to sin anymore, we choose to sin. We choose to not live in light of our faith.
Salvation, though, covers this event that happened, the justification on the cross that you receive the moment you believe, not just intellectually say it's true (and I'll get to that) but you fundamentally return to God and acknowledge your sin. Then you are being sanctified. You learn more of his ways. You're admonished, encouraged, and helped. You go, and you run with God's people.
Now let me just tell you every now and then someone will show up here, and we'll get notes like this. This is a note we received. It said, "Hey, I attended your service, and you have a problem. Approximately 20 to 30 percent of your body arrives halfway in to your one-hour-and-something minute worship service. That is outrageous! When and if you choose to fix this, please let me know, and I will give you another try."
It reminds me of something I read recently. One of my favorite little websites is the Babylon Bee. If you don't know what that is, it's kind of The Onion for believers. It talks about like a guy who said he is not part of a local gym because he is a part of the invisible universal gym. So he doesn't need to join a local gym because the last local gym he went to, he went in there, and not everybody was perfectly fit.
Isn't that silly? Can you imagine not going to a gym because everybody in the gym wasn't perfectly fit? First of all, what do we say about churches? If you find a perfect church, don't go there because you'll ruin it. If you find a gym of perfectly fit people, don't go there because you'll ruin it. The purpose of a gym is to help people get in shape. The purpose of the church is to help us be delivered from the power of sin in our lives.
We teach, we remind, we encourage, and we help each other. Could I just tell you something? Watermark is a healthy church, and because it's a healthy church it's filled with unhealthy people. There are people who kind of get around a God when they want to get around a God, who sometimes come and sing songs to him, and leave here. They don't walk with him the way they should.
One of the signs of maturity is you have the ability to reproduce. If you are reproducing, then you will have immature people in your midst. Immature people in your midst do some disturbing things. Now it's a problem if the most mature among us are flipping about spiritual things. It's a problem if people are being sanctified here, and we're not being increasingly conformed in the image of Jesus Christ. That's a problem.
But it should never surprise you there are still some people who dress inappropriately, who still act in petty ways, who are in your Community Group who are not yet the third thing: glorified. There's going to be a day when we're going to be delivered from the presence of sin. That's the third thing.
C.Glorification. Salvation is a class of justified people who have been delivered from the penalty of sin, who are being sanctified, who are being delivered from the power of sin, and who will be glorified one day, delivered from the presence of sin. But we're not there yet, Toto. It's still Kansas, and there's still dysfunction on the farm. The longer you hang around with it and the more we pay attention to this book, the more we're going to bring glory to our God and his leadership in our lives, and it's going to become a more glorious place.
2.Why do we have this gift? Those of us who have been saved, why do we have it? Now this is going to be a little bit difficult for some of you because I'm going to introduce something to you that you may not like, but that's okay because it's true. That truth is this. It's a sovereign gift, and it's given to the elect of God. People sometimes ask me if I'm a Calvinist. I go, "I don't want to call myself a Calvinist. I would like to call myself a Biblicist."
I am attentive to the Word of God, and the Word of God teaches there's only one reason I know him. It's not because I'm smart, and it's not because I'm good. It's because he is gracious, and he has chosen me. He foreknew me before I was born. He predestined me to come to belief. Now if you're out there and you're listening, you're like, "Well, that's great, Todd. What about me? Am I chosen? Am I elect? Am I predestined unto salvation?" I'd say, "I don't know, but I would offer you this. Come."
"Well, how do I know if I'm elect?"
"You will believe."
"Well, I can't believe if I'm not elect."
"That's true, so come."
The Bible has no problem with what appears to be tension between this thing called divine sovereignty and yet absolute human responsibility. Let me just show you this. I could do this with dozens of places in the Scripture. I'm just going to do it with three to make my point. I'm going to do it some places where it runs up right against each other.
This is Matthew, chapter 11, verses 25 through 27. Listen to this. This is Jesus talking. "I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things…" What? "These truths about who I am and how I've reconciled man to God."
"…that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants. Yes, Father, for this way was well-pleasing in Your sight. All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him."
What is that teaching? What does that sound like to you: divine sovereignty or human responsibility? The people said sovereignty. Election. What do you think the next words are out of Jesus' mouth? Well, let's read it. Verse 28: "Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls."
Here's a truth. Let me just insert this right here. Here's the problem. Too many people think we chose to bless God by going, "Okay. You win! You're better than the Devil. I choose you." Here's the truth, though. We are so wicked and so depraved that none of us would ever choose God, no matter how bad our life gets unless God in his kindness predestines (proorizo is the Greek word), sets a boundary on our own pain tolerance to where eventually we'll go, "I am sick and tired of being sick and tired."
There's Jesus in Matthew, chapter 11, verse 28, saying, "Come. Are you sick and tired of being sick and tired? Come." Watch this. John, chapter 1, verse 11: "He came to His own…" Who were his own, by the way? The answer is every single person. There's one God, one Father, one Lord. We're one blood. There is one creator. "He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him."
Now that's specifically talking there to Israel who he has especially revealed himself to, but he is talking about he came to his people. "But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name…" Is that divine sovereignty or is that human responsibility? The people said that is human responsibility because they received him.
Anybody who received him he gave the right to become children of God. Then he'll tell you in verse 13 these individuals were men "…born, not of blood…" Right there! Same verse. In other words, they weren't born into Christianity. "…nor of the will of the flesh…" Their mama didn't say, "I'm going to make you a Christian." "…nor of the will of man…" They didn't determine they were going to be a Christian, but the kindness of God allowed them to see.
Do you see how divine sovereignty and human responsibility are right there together in the exact same verses? I'll give you one more. Acts, chapter 2, verse 38. It's the very first message the church ever preached. Peter preached, and he said, "Repent, and turn from your wicked ways and each of you, then, respond to it and go through this outward sign of your inward faith."
"…be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit [when you believe] . For the promise is for you and your children and for all who…" call on the Lord our God. The people right before that in verse 37 said, "Brethren, what shall we do?" He said, "You must believe."
Then he gets through, and he calls them to all repent. He says there at the very end in verse 39, "…as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself." Look. It's like this, right? This is the way heaven looks, okay? Heaven looks like this. It's like a banner. When you're coming to heaven, you will see this. The banner should go up right now. The banner basically says, "Come, all you who are weary and heavy-laden."
God would throw that banner up for you. He'd say, "Anybody can come. Anybody can have that. It's right there. Come, all of you." As I walk underneath that banner into heaven, I'm going to turn back around, and this is what the other side of the banner says: "Welcome, all you chosen of God."
Now here's the thing you need to understand. God does not keep anybody out who doesn't choose him, but nobody would choose him unless God did some special work in, to which you would say, "Well, how can I get God to do some special work in me?" Answer: right now you're listening. Respond to his grace.
"He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." Get sick and tired of being sick and tired and respond to who he is. How we receive it is by grace through faith. It is a gift of a sovereign God, and it has nothing to do with you and everything to do with you.
By the way, I think the Bible and God knew man would have a problem with this. So when you get all the way through the book, it talks about how God initiates. God pursues. God is the one. God is the one! The last words of the Bible are, "Come, sinner. All of you, come. Come! Come!" In fact, God also does this. Those who have come to know him he leaves in the world to still be tormented, tempted, and suffer in a broken world.
He says, "You suffer as my children the way my Son suffered for you. You suffer, and you make your life about mission. You tell people who don't know. You live your life in such a way that they see you as redeemed. They go, 'What do you know that I don't know?' The answer is the goodness and kindness of God."
3._ How do we get it?_ Well, let me just tell you this. We get it this way. We get it by faith. We trust in the history of God. This is not a rule book. God does tell us how we should live so we don't suffer. This is a revelation of his kindness in the context of human history. You can test it. It is not nonsensical. It can be verified.
In the context of history as Secundus, Tacitus, Josephus, and other secular historians will tell you… As Simon Greenleaf, who was one of the greatest legal scholars who ever lived, has looked at the record of history and said something like, "If there is any event in history we can trust in, it is the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ."
You get it by believing. It is possible to know you're saved. First John, chapter 5, verse 11, says, "And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life." Verse 13 says, "I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life."
It's why when we ask you these diagnostic questions and we say something to you like this, "On a scale of 1 to 10, how certain are you that you're going to heaven?" if you answer anything less than 10, you don't know who Jesus is. You don't know the gospel. Don't give me your false humility that says, "Well, I don't know. I'm a 7. I'm an 8. I'm not perfect." Exactly. That's why you need a Savior, and that's why your Savior has come.
If you are trusting in yourself, you should not be a 7. You should be a -10. If you have trusted in the provision of God, you've seen God has with power declared him to be who he said he was through the resurrection. You can know! It has nothing to do with you, you chosen of God. Why would God reveal that to you? Why would he spark in you the ability to know him? I don't know. I don't know!
If he has, don't you think you should sing? Don't you think you should follow? Don't you think you should tell? John did an amazing job last week of putting up here that slide that says what happens in salvation. When you're saved, you're being sanctified, and you are sent. You're still here on earth, and you are driven to respond to the mission. If you're not responding to the mission, whew! It ought to make you wonder what you know. It is possible to think you are saved and not be.
Listen, children. If you are a 10 in your response and yet you are not attentive to the Word of God, it should concern you. If you say, "I'm certain I'm going to heaven." "Why?' "Because I know the story," I want to let you know something. You might have what I would call a demonic faith and not what I would call a dynamic faith. Let me explain that to you.
A dynamic faith and a demonic faith are two very different things. There's a difference between professing who Jesus is and possessing a relationship with him. There is a difference between a true false faith and a true faith. A true false faith is, "I believe Jesus is the Son of God. I believe he died on the cross. I believe he was raised from the dead." That's true. A true faith is, "And it has radically changed me."
Well, what's it changed? Jesus and that truth have changed my everything. It's changed the way I respond to sin. Now when I sin, I'm not just upset when I get caught. Now when I sin, I'm grieved because I know I've been off mission for that moment and the Father who loves me who sent me in a great way, and I'm no longer a slave to that sin. I've given myself back over to it.
What do I do? I confess. I agree, "That was wrong. That was sin. That was me still being in the process of being sanctified. I'm not yet glorified. I'm going to stand firm and know I'm redeemed by the gospel. I'm going to repent. I'm going to turn back and begin to walk. I'm going to forsake that sin. I'm going to confess it to others so I might be healed, grafted back into the body. I'm going to make every amends I can, and I'm going to then order my life in every way I can that I may not fall back in to that painful way."
It should concern you if you say, "No, God just made me this way, and he is okay with who I am as a sinner." No. No! We don't make churches for liars and say, "It's okay to be a liar." We don't make churches for people who are still defining their gender or their sexual preference by their desire and say they love and know God. No, no, no.
Why do I say it's a demonic faith? I say it's a demonic faith for this reason. You believe it's true about Jesus. James, chapter 2, verse 19: "You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe…" Were you here the second week of the Essential series? Did you get that correct about the Trinity (about equality, distinction, and diversity)? Did you get that right? Way to go! The demons are absolutely clear on the Trinity. They are absolutely lock solid on the person of Jesus Christ, and yet they themselves do not know.
It says in James 2:19, "You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder." Can I just show you something? Do you want to know who has the best theology in all of the Bible? I mean, in all of the Bible? It's not Paul and his writing of Romans. Paul is still seeing through a mirror dimly even though God revealed to him things men could know. He is a vessel through which the perfect Word of God is brought. Paul didn't possess that in himself. He possessed the Spirit, and the Spirit gave it to him.
Do you want to know who has the best theology, the best Christology, the best angelology, the best hamartiology (which is the study of sin), the best theodicy (which is the study of justice), the best eschatology (which is the study of end times)? Do you want to know who it is? It is demons. They have a true false faith. They are not at all confused.
How about this? Matthew 8:29: "And they cried out, saying, 'What business do we have with each other, Son of God?'" This is chapters before the disciples knew who he was. "Have You come here to torment us before the time?" I've already said it. That is a correct theology. That is a correct angelology. That is a correct Christology. That's a correct hamartiology, theodicy, and eschatology.
4._ How do we know if it's truly ours?_ We know it's ours because we walk with him. We repent of our sin. We deal with our sin. We are being sanctified. We call sin sin. We don't justify it. We're thankful we've been justified. James 2:17 is this really confusing, troubling verse that's out there which talks about, "You say you have a faith without works? No, that's a dead faith. That's not true, biblical belief when you have faith without itself."
What it's saying here is our faith worked out. We don't work for our salvation, but people who are saved work out their salvation. Your faith justifies not you; your outworking of faith proves you have a faith. If you don't ever work out your faith, if you never walk like God is good, repent from sin, call sin sin, and agree with God, then all that says is you have a true false faith, not a true faith.
That's what James is saying. He is not contradicting Paul at all. You are justified by faith, and your faith then justifies you have faith by going to work. We are saved by grace through faith alone, but the faith which saves is never alone.
5._ Can I lose it?_ Can I lose my salvation? Well, the answer to that is no if you have it. When you say you can lose your salvation, what you're really saying is not that you're a bad sheep. What you're saying is you have a lousy shepherd. John, chapter 10, verse 27. Jesus says, "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand."
If you can lose your salvation, you have a lousy shepherd. He is a liar. Not only him, but in verse 29 of chapter 10 of John, it says, "My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand." Romans, chapter 8. Paul says, "For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing…"
This is including you, created thing that by grace through faith has come to know the true God can do anything that would cause you to lose your salvation, except to be deluded about the fact you had it to begin with. How great a salvation!
Could I just do this with you? What you need to see from this book from beginning to end is you have God seeking you. Man never seeks God. The second man sinned, what he did is through his own works, he tried to cover his shame. God said, "That ain't going to work." Man didn't seek God.
The very first words of God to a sinner were, "Adam, where are you? Do you know you're in a bad place? Do you know you're dark? Do you know you're trying to work to cover yourself in a way that will never cover yourself? I'm going to make provision for you, Adam. If you'll have faith to receive it, I'm going to redeem you."
A little bit later, another guy brought a gift to God that God said is not an acceptable gift. That guy committed murder. What's God do with Cain? He pursues Cain. "Cain?" Cain doesn't respond like Adam, so sin continues to multiply. A little later, there was a pagan descendant of Cain named Abraham. God sought him and said, "Abraham, I'm going to teach you who I am. Through you, all the nations of the world will be blessed."
It's just like me, except the Messiah is not going to come from me. I come from the same faith as Abraham, but God wants to bless the nations through me. I have been blessed to be a blessing. I'm here on mission. Abraham had a series of descendants, and they consistently didn't do well. Eventually God sent to them Moses who taught them truth and showed them the righteousness of God.
He gave them a law, and they could never meet the law. The law is not bad, but we are. We can never attain to it. It was to teach us about the holiness of God. What God did in his grace is he made provision for lawless people. One of the things he did after he gave them that law is he built into that law a system through ritual, priests, festivals, and remembrances that there would be an anticipation of God's ultimate provision that would come.
It was called the Tent of Meeting. The Tent of Meeting looked basically like this: about (I don't know) 30 yards long, maybe 15 yards wide. This is a Tent of Meeting. It later became a physical place. It was a tabernacle a number of years after the Tent of Meeting traveled through the wilderness. Then eventually after David's reign, Solomon built a tabernacle. This is what was in the Tent of Meeting. Let me just show you this.
"You guys cannot obey the law, so what I'm going to do is I'm going to give you… When you walk into the Tent of Meeting, this is where your king lives. There's an altar of burnt offering. There is a bronze laver where you're washed and cleansed (the priest is) who will represent you to move into the Holy Place where there's a lampstand that talks about the light of the world.
There is bread that talks about the provision in this world. There is an altar of incense where prayers go up to be pleasing to God. Then you can move into the very presence of God where the word of the Lord is and where God's Spirit dwelt in the midst of the people."
Do you know what's so great about this? All of this is fulfilled ultimately in Christ. I'm not going to show you that just yet, but let me just tell you this. For centuries, the people of Israel trusted God would provide for them deliverance. Meanwhile, they're going through this laborious sacrificial system. It's a dark time. They could never really do it.
In fact, they lost heart that God was who he said he was. They lost heart that they should really walk with him and obey him. They were sent to bondage. They came back, and this time when they came back, there really was no more revelation from God. No more prophets were sent. For 400 years, God was silent.
Persia eventually was overtaken by Alexander the Great. Alexander the Great had some sons who basically split up the kingdom. Egypt came back to reign. The Ptolemies oppressed them. Eventually an Assyrian king named Antiochus came, and he was over them. Then his son Antiochus Epiphanes tried to eradicate Jews from the face of the earth.
In a moment, there were some Jews who rebelled against him a little bit, came up, and tried to drive him out of the temple. For a few years, things were okay. Then Julius Caesar came and wiped out the Maccabees. They were oppressed again. It was dark. Four hundred years earlier, God had said, "I'm going to send my messenger. He'll come, and he'll clear the way before me. He'll tell you who I am, and he'll restore the temple."
Isaiah said, "You guys are going to live in darkness for a while, but I'm going to send into the darkness a great light." Then all of a sudden came Christmas. We're going to find this out about Jesus. Let me just show you that temple again. All of a sudden into this world came Jesus, the Lamb of God who was the sacrifice. We're washed by the blood of the Lamb and cleansed so we can move into the very Holy Place where we're reminded Jesus is the Light of the World. He is the Bread of Life and our sustenance.
We are having him continually be our intercessor before God. "I'm the means, Father, through which they can enter with boldness into this Holy Place" because he is our High Priest. We haven't gotten rid of the law. It's been fulfilled in Jesus, and we have been saved. Oh what singing! The angels could not believe what God has done. God himself has gone to man into the darkness and saved them.
My friends, we are on mission to talk about that salvation, and if we are people who just come in here, glibly go through some ritual, then march out and live base lives, we have not understood the truth of what happened that holy night. Have you noticed how dark the room is? Well, here comes the Light of the World. Somebody come to the candle that represents Christ. Take that truth, and light it to another. Spread that hope in this dark room because what happened at Christmas was holy. We are his holy nation, and we have been sent. Let's stand and sing.