Jan 26, 2010

Scheduled Debates

November 8, 9, 11, 12, 2010

at Crossroads Baptist Church in Monroe, N.C.

"The scriptures teach that God chose, before the world began, a definite number of people to be saved, without respect to any act on their part as a condition."

Affirm: Stephen Garrett
Deny: Bruce Reeves

"The Scriptures teach that God's election to salvation is of a class of persons and not specific individuals."

Affirm: Bruce Reeves
Deny: Stephen Garrett

August, 2011 (exact dates to be announced) at the "Church of Christ" in Conway, Arkansas. See this link:


"The scriptures teach that it is impossible for the child of God, one born again, to sin so as to be eternally lost."

Affirm: Stephen Garrett
Deny: Bruce Reeves

"The scriptures teach that it is possible for the child of God, one born again, to sin so as to be eternally lost."

Affirm: Bruce Reeves
Deny: Stephen Garrett

I am also working on another debate for the Knoxville, Tennessee area. Details to be announced in the near future.

Jan 13, 2010

Lovers of Preeminence

"I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not." (III John 1: 9)

Wrote J. A. Seiss:

"Some people are very feverish and ambitious for place. They wish to be conspicuous, influential, and prominent. They covet office. They long for power. They will do almost anything for an exalted position. But they seldom sufficiently consider the increased responsibilities involved in the fulfilment of their desires. It is the mere flare and glitter of station by which they are captivated, without laying to heart the additional jeopardy which it imposes. And there are some who seem to consider office a full license for them to do just as they please. They forget with what a jealous eye God looks upon those invested with public influence and trust. A misstep in them is no common offence in his sight. Abuse of power, is with him the worst of all abuses--a sin more aggravated than ordinary sins. What in other men might be considered trivial, in them is held to a most rigid accountability. Let public men consider this, and tremble when they lay hold of the helm of power. Office is a solemn and awful thing. It is a mementous trust. It is a fearful charge. And it is to be entered into reverently, discreetly, and in the fear of God. Over its portals are written this inscription, in letters of flame: Let him who enters here beware, for a jealous God is within. And if any would enter upon office, let him read that inscription, and tread softly, lest it should prove to him the gateway of death and perdition." ("The Gospel in Leviticus," page 87)

Jan 4, 2010

Debate Tapes Available

Debate video tapes are now available of the Garrett-Gentry debate on "eternal security," recently held at SBTS in Louisville, Ky. Should you like to order these videos, please send $20 to the following address, and make your check or money order out to Union Center of Biblical Studies. The debate on the necessity of water baptism for salvation can also be ordered for the same price of $20.

Union Center of Biblical Studies
13501 Old Camden Road
Midland, NC 28107

Please be sure to include your return address.

I am also in the process of arranging three debates for this Fall with another "Church of Christ" preacher. I hope to announce more details in the next few weeks.

Stephen Garrett

Jan 1, 2010

Blessed Assurance

The following is the message I prepared for delivery at our church's annual New Year's Eve service.

The subject of this message is "Blessed Assurance" and the questions to be answered in it are 1. How can I Know That I Am Saved? 2. How do I deal with my doubts?

The year just now ending has seen drastic changes in our world, many of which portend the coming end of the age, and no doubt, the ensuing year also will find us in the midst of awful forebodings. I know of no better way to end this year and prepare for the coming one than to know that we are safe in Jesus.

First, the scriptures state that we can know and be certain that we are saved.

"These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God." (I John 5: 13)

From these words of the Apostle we learn that Christians may "know," intellectually, intuitively, and emotionally, that they have been saved and have the gift of eternal life. It is this knowledge that I wish to discourse upon.

The Greek word for "know" in our opening passage is "eidon" and means "to see, "to perceive," to "discern," to "understand," to "observe." It means to "know" as a result of inspection and examination. It means to "be able to tell." We ask people sometimes the question - "how can you tell," meaning "how do you know?" A person who has been saved is a person who "can tell" it, or can give a reason or testimony for it, because he has evidence and an inner witness to it.

John uses "eidon" frequently, but he also uses the Greek word "ginosko," which denotes an experiential knowledge, an intuitive knowledge. It is a knowledge that is acquired and learned. It involves an inward assurance, an inner testimony of the conscience. It is inner awareness. It is an inner feeling, what can be sensed. The Apostle Paul said:

“The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.” (Romans 8:16)

It is a truth that we know in our hearts and spirits, in our minds, because of a divine inner witness and testimony.

That is, the Spirit bears testimony in our hearts and consciences to the fact that we have been saved and have Christ dwelling in us. This inner witness is extremely precious and produces "joy unspeakable and full of glory." (I Peter 1: 8)

This knowledge is heavenly wisdom, and we can know it by its fruits. James 3: 17 gives us those evidences of saving knowledge.

"But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy."

We can know we have this saving knowledge and heavenly wisdom by its "good fruits," by discerning whether we have that spirit or attitude that is pure, peaceable, gentle, merciful, and genuine. Jesus said, one time, to his disciples, "you know not what manner of spirit you are of," but, if we are to know that we are saved and have this saving wisdom, we need to know "what manner of spirit" we possess.

It is the scriptures that give that wisdom that is unto salvation. (II Tim. 3: 15)

If you have this wisdom and knowledge, then you are saved. But, if you lack it, you are lost.

"And wisdom and knowledge shall be the stability of thy times, and strength of salvation: the fear of the LORD is his treasure." (Isaiah 33: 6)

Notice from this passage how our stability, in regard to assurance of salvation, is directly related to our wisdom and knowledge given to us by God in the work of regeneration and new birth. It is also what gives to us the "strength of salvation."

It is my prayer that everyone who is here tonight will leave this place with blessed assurance of salvation, with a song in his heart. I desire that each will be able to sing, with confidence and fervent spirit, the words of the song written by Fanny Crosby, who wrote:

Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!
O what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.


This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior, all the day long;
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior, all the day long.

Perfect submission, perfect delight,
Visions of rapture now burst on my sight;
Angels descending bring from above
Echoes of mercy, whispers of love.

Perfect submission, all is at rest
I in my Savior am happy and blest,
Watching and waiting, looking above,
Filled with His goodness, lost in His love.

I want all to leave this place tonight rejoicing in assurance of personal salvation. I want all doubt and fear to be taken away and replaced with confidence.

The Apostle John, more than any other N.T. writer, did more to encourage believers to come to full assurance of salvation. We will look at several verses in his epistles in this message.

There is nothing unusual about occasionally doubting one’s salvation. The only thing unusual about doubt would be to experience it and not deal with it. We should wrestle with it until it has been quelled by the power of the Spirit. Many great believers have had times when they had to deal with some level of doubt. It is usually not an all consuming doubt that drives one to constant depression and despair, but is rather an occasional doubt that is eventually overcome by the inner testimony of the Spirit.

Believers are sometimes doubtful about salvation because of

1) Unanswered prayer in their lives, and
2) Because the quality of their lives does not seem to agree with their profession, and
3) Because they focus on their failures, and
4) Because of their poverty and want

It makes me think of the song

Tempted and tried, we’re oft made to wonder
Why it should be thus all the day long;
While there are others living about us,
Never molested, though in the wrong.


Farther along we’ll know more about it,
Farther along we’ll understand why;
Cheer up, my brother, live in the sunshine,
We’ll understand it all by and by.

Sometimes I wonder why I must suffer,
Go in the rain, the cold, and the snow,
When there are many living in comfort,
Giving no heed to all I can do.

Tempted and tried, how often we question
Why we must suffer year after year,
Being accused by those of our loved ones,
E’en though we’ve walked in God’s holy fear.

Often when death has taken our loved ones,
Leaving our home so lone and so drear,
Then do we wonder why others prosper,
Living so wicked year after year.

“Faithful till death,” saith our loving Master;
Short is our time to labor and wait;
Then will our toiling seem to be nothing,
When we shall pass the heavenly gate.

Soon we will see our dear, loving Savior,
Hear the last trumpet sound through the sky;
Then we will meet those gone on before us,
Then we shall know and understand why.

But, focusing on ourselves and our circumstances is not the way to enjoy blessed assurance of salvation. Think of the story of Peter while walking on the sea to Christ as an example of this. Jesus had bid Peter to come to him on the water. Peter, without thinking and without hesitating, got out of the boat and began to walk on the water to Jesus. Yet, when he had gone a little while, he began to hear the roaring of the waves, and took his eyes and focus off Jesus, and fears began to settle into his soul, and he began to sink. Let us learn then to conquer our doubts and fears by learning to focus on Jesus and his power and promise to save.

Jesus said - "a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth." (Luke 12: 15) We cannot therefore judge our spiritual condition based upon our external circumstances. Lazarus was a beggar all his life, but was taken by the angels to Abraham's bosom when he died. Paul described his circumstances like this:

"Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwellingplace; And labour, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it: Being defamed, we intreat: we are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day." (I Corinthians 4: 11-13)

Paul was truly saved, but if we judged salvation based upon external circumstances of well being, then Paul could not be judged as a saved man. And yet, it is often the case that the children of God are severely tried in times of great suffering and they hear the whispers of Satan questioning them, telling them - "if you were really saved, then the Lord would keep you from these things." But, in times like these, the children of God are given grace to overcome such questionings and times of fear and doubt. The Lord "assures our hearts" in times of such questionings.

"He hath said, 'I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.'" (Hebrews 13: 5) As Greek exegete, Kenneth Wuest, said:

"The translation says, "He hath said." But it is intensive in the Greek. 'He Himself hath said." That is, the Lord Jesus Himself personally made this promise. The word 'leave' is not from the usual Greek word which means 'to leave,' but from a word which means 'to uphold' or 'sustain.' In the Greek there are two negatives before the word 'leave,' presenting a very strong negation. The promise is, 'I will not, I will not cease to uphold or sustain thee.' Thus Paul can say 'I am strong for all things through the One who infuses strength in me' (Phil. 4: 13). We are assured therefore of the sustaining grace of God as we go through trials and testing times.

The word 'forsake' is a composite of three words, 'to leave,' 'down,' and 'in.' The first has the idea of forsaking one. The second suggests rejection, defeat, helplessness. The third refers to some place or circumstance in which a person may find himself helpless, forsaken. The meaning of the word is that of forsaking someone in a state of defeat or helplessness in the midst of hostile circumstances. The word means in its totality, 'to abandon, to desert, to leave in straits, to leave helpless, to leave destitute, to leave in the lurch, to let one down.' There are three negatives before this word, making the promise one of triple assurance. It is, 'I will not, I will not, I will not forsake thee.' Not only do we have the assurance of God's all-sufficient sustaining power to hold us true to Him and in perfect peace as we go through testing times, but we have His promise that He will never abandon us, never desert us, never leave us in straits but will come to our help, never leave us destitute but will supply all our need, never leave us in the lurch but will see to it that we are rescued from the difficulties in which we sometimes find ourselves. He will never let us down."

Wrote John again:

"My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him. For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things." (I John 3: 18-20)

Notice how John speaks of the assurance of salvation. "Hereby we know that we are of the truth," that we are saved. This is how we "assure our hearts before him." We find our assurance by our constant allegiance to Christ. No one but a born again soul remains loyal to Christ in times of stress and trial. Like Job they say -"Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him." (Job 13: 15)

When John speaks of our hearts "condemning us," he alludes to these times of doubt and fear and teaches us that the Lord is greater than our hearts, greater than our doubts and fears, and is there to strengthen us, to assure us.

It is impossible to have assurance of salvation as long as we are ignorant of God's way of salvation. If we can learn more about the Lord's way of salvation, then we will be better able to come to a full assurance of salvation. Notice these words from the Apostle John.

"And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him." (I John 2: 3-5)

Knowing that we know him, that is, knowing that we are saved, or born of his Spirit and washed in his blood. Notice the word "hereby." John is showing us the way to blessed and full assurance. Assurance comes through constant faithfulness and vigilance to Christ. Assurance then increases and grows, becomes stronger.

Also, having the truth in us brings assurance. To the degree we are in error about God's way of salvation, to that degree we will lack assurance and confidence of salvation. Also, to the degree we live in rebellion to the words and commandments of our Lord, to that degree we will lack certain knowledge of our salvation. By keeping Christ first in our lives we will enjoy a continual witnessing of the Spirit, a strengthening of our knowledge of salvation.

It is often a point of debate between Arminians and Calvinists as to which has greater assurance of salvation. I firmly believe that assurance and confidence of salvation cannot be enjoyed as long as we are trusting in our own abilities. We can only enjoy full assurance as we trust in Christ, and in his grace and mercy alone.

Now, as I said, assurance may be increased or diminished. Notice these passages.

"And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full." (I John 1: 4)

Sometimes our joy, and our assurance, may not be "full," but shallow or incomplete. How can we become full of assurance, confident of our standing with the Lord?

"Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith." (Heb. 10:22)

"And unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding." (Col. 2:2)

"And we desire that every one of you do shew the same diligence of the full assurance of hope unto the end." (Heb. 6:11)

These verses show us that we may lose assurance, lose confidence. Rather than casting away our confidence, we ought rather to be at work casting away our doubts and fears. We do this by living the truth, by praying in the Spirit to the Lord for an increase of assurance. They also speak of "full assurance."

This full assurance has its source in faith, hope, and understanding. If we would grow in assurance, then we must grow in faith, hope, and in understanding of the truth of salvation.

"And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life." (I John 5: 20)

Again, the knowledge and assurance of salvation is the result of having been given an understanding, of having had the truth revealed to us. To know that we are "in him," that we are safe and secure, comes from the Lord teaching us the truth about his salvation, showing us by the scriptures how we are eternally secure in Christ.

Notice these scripture passages on "confidence":

"In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him." (Ephesians 3: 12)

"Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward." (Hebrews 10: 35)

In this verse, in Hebrews, the word "confidence" is derived from the Greek word "parrēsia" and means

1) freedom in speaking, unreservedness in speech
a) openly, frankly, i.e without concealment
b) without ambiguity or circumlocution
c) without the use of figures and comparisons
2) free and fearless confidence, cheerful courage, boldness, assurance
3) the deportment by which one becomes conspicuous or secures publicity

When called upon to give testimony about God saving me, I need not hesitate. I can speak with confidence when I tell others what the Lord has done for me in the way of salvation. I don't have to say, as some, "well, I think I am," or "I hope I am," or "I might be." Rather, I can say assuredly, without reservation and circumlocution, the Lord has saved me. I can say it cheerfully, gladly, and freely, and with the deportment becoming one who knows.

Now that I have addressed the means of obtaining assurance, and the nature of assurance, let me call your attention to the -

Evidences of Salvation

"We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death." (I John 3: 14)

He who loves the brethren, the followers of Jesus, is one who has passed from death unto life. It is not that he loves them merely socially, but spiritually, because he sees the Lord himself in the lives of brethren. He identifies with them, with what they believe and feel. Love here is agape, and is more than a mere feeling. It is what they are compelled to do in their hearts and minds.

Children of God are known by what they love and like, by what they enjoy. To enjoy the fellowship and communion of saints is a sure sign of regeneration and new birth. Children of God love God's family. Who is God's family? Who is brother to Jesus? He that "does the will of God," said, Jesus, "the same is my mother, sister, and brother." (Matthew 12: 50)

"Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him." (I John 5: 1)

Here are two clear evidences of new birth. Those who believe in Jesus and who love the Father are the same ones who have been begotten of God. Do you believe in Jesus? Do you trust completely in him? Do you rely solely in him and in his power and will to save you? Do you see him as completely trustworthy? Are you persuaded of the truth of the gospel? Do you have conviction of the truth as it is in Jesus? Do you credit Christ alone for your salvation? Do you boast in him alone? Then, you may be assured that you are one of God's elect, one who has been born again. Do you acknowledge the loveliness of Christ? Do you own and confess him?

"I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day." (2 Timothy 1:12)

Notice that Paul is a man who has believed in Christ. He has been convinced of the fact that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and the only Savior of sinners. He has put his trust in the promises of God, which promise salvation to the believer in Jesus. He knows the many promises given by the scriptures, and by Christ himself, that promise salvation and forgiveness of sins to that one who has placed his trust in Jesus, and who is relying upon him alone for salvation. He is convinced that his salvation is in the hands of Jesus and is therefore eternally secure. He takes God at his word.

Do you know whether you have believed? Perhaps you do not doubt the fact that you believe in Jesus, but doubt whether he has saved you. But, if you do not doubt that you believe, then you ought not to doubt that you have been, and will yet be saved. Your assurance of salvation ought to be as strong as is your assurance of being a believer in Jesus.

Paul speaks of his salvation experience as involving his having "committed" or "entrusted" to Christ his soul's salvation. His confidence is not in himself, yet he also knows that he could have no confidence of salvation without the evidences of salvation, apart from his having believed and committed himself to Christ. Have you committed your life to Christ? Have you placed all your hopes in his salvation, in his ability to save?

We put money in banks because we believe the bank is trustworthy, that the bank will keep that which we have placed on deposit with the bank. So too do believers trust their lives, their souls, to Jesus, for the simple reason that they are fully persuaded that he is able to keep that which they have deposited with him. I pray that everyone here tonight can walk away from here saying, just as assuredly and confidently as Paul - "I know in whom I have believed and am persuaded that he is able to keep me."

"By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments." (I John 5: 2)

Again, you ought to know whether you love God and his people, or not love God and his people. We ought to know whether we are keeping his commandments. If we know this, then we ought to know that we have been saved.

"Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also." (I John 2: 23)

What does it mean to "acknowledge" the Son? Surely it is the opposite of "denying" him. The Greek word translated "acknowledge" is "homologeō" and is often translated "confesseth." It literally means to "speak the same things." The Scriptures testify that Jesus is the Son of the Father and Savior of the world. Do we agree and consent fully? Do we say the same thing? Do we concede this fact? If so, then we can be assured that we have been taught this truth by the Father and have been truly saved. What does it mean to "deny" the Son? Surely it means "to accept not, to reject, to refuse something offered."

"Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God." (I John 4: 15)

How can we be sure that God dwells in us? Surely a man who has God dwelling in him is saved. Well, the promise is clear. If you have confessed and acknowledged, in your heart, that Jesus is the only Savior of sinners, the only one who can deliver you from your sins, then you can be sure that God dwells in you.

"Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven." (Matthew 10: 32, 33)

Notice again the promise to the confessor of Jesus. Notice again how "denying" Christ is put in opposition to confessing and acknowledging him.

Salvation is not a complicated affair. Simply believing in Jesus, or trusting in him, or giving him full sway and credit for all one needs, is the surest evidence of a gracious and secure state.

Do we fit these descriptions?

If we do, then we can be assured of salvation. Do we believe these promises?

"And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted." (Matthew 23: 12)

Have we been humbled? Have we been abased? Have we prostrated ourselves before the Son of God? Have we begged him for peace? Have we implored him for forgiveness of sins? The proud heart will not do it. The soul who has not been shown the depraved state of his heart will not do it. Only those whom the Holy Spirit has convicted of sin will do it. Conviction of sin is the first step in the process of salvation. Surely we know whether or not we have been shown our lost condition, our depraved state.

"And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3: 14-16)

The gospel of John is filled with promises to the believer in Jesus. Nothing else is required for salvation than a simple trusting of Christ alone for salvation. If you believe in Jesus, then the promise is to you. You have been justified and forgiven of sins. Your sins have been put away "as far as the east is from the west." (Psalm 103: 12) Believing in Jesus is equated with "looking" to Jesus. God had said through Isaiah - "Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else." (Isaiah 45: 22) The believer in Jesus, who has savingly "looked" to the Lord, will not perish, but will surely have eternal life. Do we trust in his word? Do we believe that he is faithful who promised?

"But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life." (John 4: 14)

What does it mean to drink the water the Christ offers? Surely the water is the gospel, the good news about Jesus and his salvation. To drink it means to receive it, to digest it, to take it into our hearts.

"And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely." (Revelation 22: 17)

Notice the gracious invitation. "Come" and drink the water of life. Come to Christ who gives this water of life. The Spirit is calling. The church too is calling and inviting. Those who believe in Jesus are they who have drunk of this life giving water. Have you drank it? Surely you know whether or not you have.

"Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness. Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David." (Isaiah 55: 1-3) (26 min)

Notice what is promised and given to those who come to the waters, who come and partake of this glorious banquet. They are promised "life," eternal life, and participation in the "everlasting covenant" and the "sure mercies of David." But, the promise is only to those who "hear" and who "drink" and "eat." Surely you know whether you have heard, whether you have received and obeyed this word of promise.

"And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst." (John 6: 35)

Notice again how simple is God's invitation. Come to Jesus as the bread of life, receive him into yourself, eat his flesh and drink his blood. If you know that you have done this, then you may rest assured of your salvation and have no reason to doubt it.

"And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life." (John 5: 40)

One comes to Jesus for life. Those who have come are promised life, eternal life, in coming. Have you come to him? Have you received him? Have you welcomed him into your heart and soul? Jesus promises that he will enter into all who come to him. We all know what it means to "come." You are over here, in a state of utter depravity, in a state of condemnation and death. Over here, in Jesus, is righteousness, life, and justification. Will you make the "move"? Will you change your spiritual residence? Will you remain where you are or will you get up and "move"? To "come" to Jesus is an act of the mind and will. Why do people "move" from one house to another? Why do they sell one and buy another? Is it not because they are no longer comfortable in the one and because they desire a better? Is it not because they have become "tired" of the one and seek a more comfortable one? In your sins you are dwelling in a filthy pigsty, but to dwell in Jesus is to dwell in the most beautiful and comfortable of dwellings.

"Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." (Matthew 11: 28-30)

Here the gracious invitation is to those who are dwelling in a very uncomfortable house, a place where one cannot rest. Jesus is a house. Will you come live in him? Or, will you stay in your old delapidated house? Jesus is not a place to simply come and visit, or to vacation, but is a permanent dwelling place. Surely you know whether you have entered this glorious house or not.

"I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness." (John 12: 46)

Notice the word "abide." The believer in Jesus is one who has "come home" to Jesus. He is one who has "domiciled" in Jesus. Jesus becomes his dwelling place. He lives and abides in Jesus. He rests in Jesus. Jesus becomes his "den" or "living room." Jesus is the place of comfort and rest. It is a well lit place, not a dark and dingy place, as is the place of sin, the place outside of Christ.

"Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me." (Revelation 3: 20)

Jesus comes to where you live, to your house, to your heart. He knocks at the door of your house, the place where your heart and affections dwell. He calls to you. He desires access to your heart. He wants you to move, to change the place where your heart dwells. Have you heard his voice, his knocking? Will you let him in? And, if you have invited him into your heart, do you not know it? Have you made Christ the guest of your heart? Does he live there? His promise is clear and easy to understand. Will you lock him out? Those who have been saved have Christ dwelling in them. Christ has made his home in them. Likewise, the believer in Jesus has also entered the heart of Jesus and there abides.

"And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved." (Acts 2: 21)

"For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? "
(Romans 10: 10-14)

Surely you know whether you have sincerely called upon the name of the Lord to save you from your sins, don't you? Surely you know whether or not you have sought him with all your heart, don't you? Well, if you know you have done this, then you should also know that you have been saved, for God cannot lie, but is faithful to fulfill his promises, and to you who have called upon his name the promise is sure and certain - "you shall be saved," not in your sins, but from your sins. But, to call upon the Lord, as Paul says, you must first become convinced of your need of salvation, and of Christ. You must first believe or trust in him, that is, you must first become convinced of his power to save. Have you been persuaded of this?

"To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins." (Acts 10: 43)

Again, this promise is easy to understand, and precious too. Who will God forgive sin? All they who put their trust in him, and in him alone, for that is what it means to believe in him. This is the message of the O.T. prophets and of the N.T. apostles. There is no promise of forgiveness to any who disbelieve in Jesus. Do you know if you have believed? If yes, then be assured that God will surely fulfill his word of promise to you. Therefore, rejoice and be glad!

"Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son." (II John 1: 9)

Are you abiding in the doctrine of Christ? Are you resting in his promises? Standing upon them? Are you relying on Christ alone? If so, the word assures you that you possess both the Father and the Son.

"All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him." (Matthew 11: 27)

Has the Father revealed to you the person and work of Christ? Has he taught you this truth? Has it "dawned on you" that the scriptures are true, that God is true, that Christ is true? No one is saved but they who have experienced this revelation. It involves a glorious realization. And, you also know that you can credit no one but the Father for this saving revelation. Jesus said:

"No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me." (John 6: 44, 45)

Your coming to Christ is not because you had power to do so. The scriptures describe the sinner as being "impotent," one "without strength" (Romans 5: 6), being unable to come to Jesus unless drawn and taught by the Father. Has the Father taught you that you are a filthy wretch? That you cannot save yourself by your own deeds? Has he shown you the way to Christ?

"And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." (John 8: 32)

Do you know the truth as it is in Jesus? Do you see Jesus as "the way, the truth, and the life"? Do you believe and understand the truth about Jesus and his salvation? Do you understand the gospel? Then, be assured, you shall certainly be made free from sin, eternally justified.

"For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." (II Corinthians 4: 6)

This is a description of the salvation experience. Light shines into the human heart. What light is this? It is the gospel light, saving knowledge, knowledge of God's glory as it is reflected in the person of Christ. What does it produce? It produces life and understanding. It involves enlightenment and revelation. It is the result of God ordering it, of his commanding it to shine into your heart, whereby all darkness is dispelled, the darkness of ignorance and death.

"And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers." (John 10: 4, 5)

Salvation is the result of hearing and heeding the voice of Christ, the chief and great shepherd. We hear his voice in the gospel. In hearing it, we are saved. We pass from death unto life. Jesus said:

"Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life." (John 5: 24)

To hear the "word" of Christ is to hear his "voice." It is the voice of God himself. Have you ever stopped to consider how marvelous this is? Notice what the psalmist said about the voice of God.

"The voice of the LORD is upon the waters: the God of glory thundereth: the LORD is upon many waters. The voice of the LORD is powerful; the voice of the LORD is full of majesty. The voice of the LORD breaketh the cedars; yea, the LORD breaketh the cedars of Lebanon. He maketh them also to skip like a calf; Lebanon and Sirion like a young unicorn. The voice of the LORD divideth the flames of fire. The voice of the LORD shaketh the wilderness; the LORD shaketh the wilderness of Kadesh. The voice of the LORD maketh the hinds to calve, and discovereth the forests: and in his temple doth every one speak of his glory." (Psalm 29: 3-9)

When one hears this voice in salvation, it thunders in his soul. It is powerful and effective. It "breaks" the sinners heart, his stubborn will, and brings him prostrate before the awful majesty of God. It "shakes" him and all that is shakeable is taken away and all that remains is what is unshakeable. It "discovers" the wilderness of a man's heart and shows him his utter helplessness to save himself. Again, Jesus said:

"But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand." (John 10: 26-28)

Those who savingly hear the voice of Christ are sheep and they are drawn to this voice, and follow it. It guides them. It raises them from spiritual death. Have your heard this voice? Has it affected you in the manner I have described? Then be assured that you are one of the Lord's sheep and are safe in his care and will surely be saved.

"And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent." (John 17: 3)

Life eternal! Who can imagine it? It is almost too good to be true! This is what is given and promised to those who "know" the only true God and "know" Jesus Christ. Do you know that you know him? If so, then be assured that heaven is your eternal home.

"And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name." (John 20: 30, 31)

Why were the gospels written? What was the purpose of John writing his gospel? It was to make believers. What is the result of this believing in Jesus? "That you might have life through his name." Do you believe the record? Have you obeyed the gospel? Or, have you rejected it? If you have been, by God's grace and power, brought to believe it, to trust it, to give it full faith and credit, then rest assured, you are safe and secure and have no reason to doubt it.

"And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house." (Acts 16: 31)

This is what the Apostle told a trembling jailer, who was under fear of eternal torment and judgment. He was instucted to place his complete trust in Jesus, to call upon his name, and to fully credit his power to save. Such a placing of trust brings assurance. Notice how the message is that simple. Yet, though simple, it is impossible without the power and grace of God. When the apostle exhorted and encouraged this trembling penitent, who was clearly under conviction of his sins, to "believe" in Jesus for salvation, he did not thereby imply that he could believe on his own, apart from the power of God. Commands and exhortations do not imply ability. He told him to do what he could not do in himself. All are commanded to believe in Jesus. All have a duty and responsibility to believe in Jesus, but no one can do so unless God is present, accompanying the exhortation, to make it effectual. Notice these words in the Book of Acts:

"And the hand of the Lord was with them: and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord." (Acts 11: 21)

The hand of the Lord, or the power of the Lord, attended the apostolic exhortations to sinners to rely on Christ for salvation, and the result was that a "great number" both believed and repented. They could not take credit for their having believed or repented, for they were the products of the power of God attending the gospel invitations. Faith and repentance are gifts of God.

Strong Confidence

"Be not afraid of sudden fear, neither of the desolation of the wicked, when it cometh. For the LORD shall be thy confidence, and shall keep thy foot from being taken." (Proverbs 3: 25-27)

"In the fear of the LORD is strong confidence: and his children shall have a place of refuge. The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death." (Proverbs 14: 26, 27)

Webster - the quality or state of being certain: certitude, assurance

"Confidence in an unfaithful man in time of trouble is like a broken tooth, and a foot out of joint." (Proverbs 25: 19)

The strength of our confidence depends upon the one in whom confidence is placed. To place confidence and absolute trust in the Lord is to place it in one who is completely worthy of our confidence. He will never let you down. He is faithful. You can depend upon him and rest assured that he will do as he has promised. There is no reason to lose confidence. The best thing to strengthen our confidence is to get a fresh view of the one in whom confidence is placed. Do we doubt whether the Lord will do as he says?

The reason many lose hope, confidence, and faith, is because their trust has become misplaced. They have put their confidence in something other than in Christ. Generally, men doubt because they doubt themselves, have placed confidence in themselves.

False Confidence

"Yea, thou shalt go forth from him, and thine hands upon thine head: for the LORD hath rejected thy confidences, and thou shalt not prosper in them." (Jeremiah 2: 37)

No doubt but that the people had misplaced confidence, placing it it other things than in the Lord alone. To place trust in anything other than in the Lord and in his power to save will cause us to be rejected. Some place confidence in men, in what men say to them. They place confidence in themselves, in their own abilities. Paul spoke of this.

"For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh. Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ." (Philippians 3: 3-7)

Think of the worthiness of the one whom you should be trusting in, the one you should be confiding in. Is he not worthy of your trust and confidence? Are we trusting in ourselves, in the flesh?

"For thus saith the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel; In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength: and ye would not." (Isaiah 30: 15)

Notice the description of one who is wholly relying on Jesus for salvation. He is one who is quiet, who is free from the noise of doubt, who is not listening to the whispers of Satan or to the questionings of doubt. Notice also the linkage between confidence and strength. When we lose confidence we lose strength, and vice versa. We ought to seek our strength and confidence from the Lord and not from ourselves or from others.

Persevering in Assurance

"But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end." (Hebrews 3: 6)

"For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end." (Hebrews 3: 14)

God's people are they who "overcome," and this is true with regard to their doubts and fears. Their doubting is temporary, never permanent. They remain firm and stedfast in their trust for they have seen him who is trustworthy. It is the work of the Lord to re-assure his people when they grow weak in faith. When the Lord's people come to him crying, "Lord I believe, help thou my unbelief," the Lord hears and he strengthens their confidence and dispells their doubts and fears. He makes them to stand against doubt and fear.

"And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us." (I John 5: 14)

Notice that our confidence is "in him," not in others, not in ourselves. To overcome doubt we have but to stop looking within ourselves and start looking to Jesus.

Testing Ourselves

“Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall.” (2 Peter 1:10)

How can we know that we are one of God's elect? Notice these words of Paul.

"Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God. For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake." (I Thessalonians 1: 4, 5)

You can be sure of your election by examining yourself to see if you have received the gospel in this manner. Have you? Have you been powerfully and effectually convinced of the truth of the gospel? Are you confident that it is the truth of God? Has it changed your heart and mind? Has it changed your behavior and attitude?

"Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?" (II Corinthians 13: 5)

"But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another." (Galatians 6: 4)

How do we examine and prove ourselves to be saved? To be one of God's elect? Is it not by seeing if we "fit" the descriptions given? I want you all the pass the test and walk away assured that you are saved and of the elect.

Ways Not To Judge the Matter

We must be careful about comparing our experiences with other believers outside of those scriptural examples we have been given. Not all believers have the exact same experience. Did we all compare our salvation experiences with that of the Apostle Paul, we might all come away doubting. Though we all are saved in a similar way to that of the apostle, yet not in the same degree or in exactly the same manner. Don't doubt your salvation because it was not exactly like Dr. Griffin's, or like mine, or any other member of this church, but compare it with those given in holy scripture. To judge our salvation experience by others may cloud our assurance. Measuring our state by the experiences of others can be detrimental. Paul speaks of those who unwisely "measure themselves by themselves." (II Corinthians 10: 12)

Some teach that one is not saved unless they speak in tongues, and this leads some truly born again souls to doubt their conversion. So, don't measure your experience by unscriptural standards.

Some teach that one is not saved if the Lord does not daily talk to you in the same way I am talking to you. Measure your experience by the scriptures and the examples of saved people therein.

To measure ourselves by the standards of others may not only create doubt, but may also give false assurance.

How to overcome doubt

"Will the Lord cast off for ever? and will he be favourable no more? Is his mercy clean gone for ever? doth his promise fail for evermore? Hath God forgotten to be gracious? hath he in anger shut up his tender mercies? Selah. And I said, This is my infirmity: but I will remember the years of the right hand of the most High. I will remember the works of the LORD: surely I will remember thy wonders of old. I will meditate also of all thy work, and talk of thy doings." (Psalm 77: 7-12)

Notice the doubt of David. He doubted, in severe trying times, whether God really cared for him, whether he was truly the object of God's love and mercy. Have we not all had times like these? What was the outcome of these doubts, in the life of David, and in your life?

Notice that David recognized these doubts as arising from his "infirmity," from his inner weakness, from his flesh. Notice also that he did not try to deny his doubts, but embraced them, and dealt with them. He first confessed them, ascribing them to his weakness. Next, he knew the remedy. He said "I will remember." He knew that doubts arise because we have forgotten some things. Therefore, the sure antidote for doubt is to recall what God has done for you and in you. Has he not spoken to you? Has he not revealed his Son to you? Has he not assured your heart and caused you to rejoice?

"For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins." (II Peter 1: 8, 9)

Here is how to remember that you have been saved and how not to be like those who have "forgotten." Make sure you "abound" in the things mentioned by the apostle, that you are "fruitful" in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.