Three Grounds for Assurance of Salvation (Romans Sermon 27 of 120)
May 13, 2001 | Andrew Davis
Assurance of Salvation
I. Assurance of Salvation
Please, if you would, take your Bibles and turn to the book of Romans. We're looking this morning at Romans 5. We're going to be zeroing in on verses 3-5, but we are also looking at the flow of argument spanning verses 1-11, so we can understand what is in there. Now, the Scripture testifies that, someday, there's going to be a wedding banquet of the Lamb. There's going to be an incredible feast. And there's going to be seats at the wedding banquet. Jesus said, "Many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the banquet table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the Kingdom of Heaven."
I remember some time ago, I went to the most lavish wedding reception I've ever been to in my life. It was in New York City. The wedding itself had taken place in the United Nations chapel, and one of the most expensive hotels had opened its doors to this family for the wedding reception. And I have come to know, since then, about how much a wedding reception costs, and that must have been in the billions… Maybe millions… But it was very, very lavish. And at each place was a name card. And my name was on one of those cards. I had a place to sit down. And I thought to myself, today, as I prepared this message, how do you know that there is a place card at the wedding banquet of the Lamb for you? How do you know you're going to sit down there? On what grounds is your assurance? What is the basis of your certainty that you're going to be there?
I believe that Scripture gives us three types of assurance, and I think we see all three in the text we're going to look at today. But some would say, and some have said, in church history, that, assurance of salvation, an absolute certainty that you are going to Heaven, an absolute certainty that your sins are forgiven, is impossible. That God does not give it. For example, the Roman Catholic Church, shortly after the Reformation, they convened together on what was known as the Council of Trent. And they said on January 13, 1547, their sixth session on justification... Remember what justification is? The doctrine that, by faith in the blood of Jesus Christ, all of your sins can be forgiven. By faith in Jesus Christ, you can be declared not guilty by the Judge of all the Earth. How precious is that? But they said in their doctrine on justification, chapter nine, it says, and I quote, "No one can know with a certainty of faith, which cannot be subject to error, that he has obtained the grace of God." You can't know for sure, unless God testifies directly to you, by some special thing, like you're a prophet, you cannot know whether you're justified. You'll find out on Judgment Day.
But even some Protestants, afraid that a sure and certain conviction, that all your sins are forgiven, that you will most certainly end up in Heaven at the end of your life, would lead to a sinful life. "Let us sin all the more, so that grace can increase. If I'm secure, I can do anything I want. I can murder, steal. I can treat my family any way that I want. I can do anything I want, any given day, and I'm forgiven." And so, therefore, pastors or leaders have stood up, and said, "Don't think that way. There is no sure and certain hope. You've got to stay with Jesus, day by day. You've got to be holy. You've got to work out your salvation every single day. There's no guarantees. You could be lost. You could be saved today and lost tomorrow, so you got to keep with it. You've got to keep walking with Jesus."
And so they give no assurance of salvation, because they want you to stay with the program. But the Bible doesn't do this. And as a matter of fact, God labors that we would have an assurance of salvation. Jesus said this, "Fear not, little flock, it is the good pleasure of the Father to give you the Kingdom." That's assurance language, isn't it? Fear not little flock, it is God's good pleasure to give you the Kingdom. And the whole book of 1 John, seven times, the Apostle John says, "This is how we know." This is how we know. This is how we know. Over and over. "This is how we know that we are in Him." "This is how we know that we belong to the truth." "This is how we know that He lives in us."
You want to know the grounds of assurance? Read 1 John. There are tests in there, so that you may know that you're a Christian, a genuine Christian. He culminates the whole thing, 1 John 5:11 and following, "And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life. And this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life. He who does not have the Son of God does not have life." Verse 13, "I write these things to you, who believe in the name of the Son of God, in order that you may know that you have eternal life." God intends His children to have a sure and certain assurance of their salvation. And that is Paul's purpose here in Romans 5:1-11. That's what he's getting at.
Now, last time, we looked at Verses 1-2, and we saw already, three of those words of assurance. He talked about having peace with God. He talked about an access into a permanent standing in grace. And he talked about, also, a joy, or an exalting in the hope of the glory of God.
Now, what I'm going to do, is read Verses 1-11, but as I said, we're really going to be zeroing in on Verses 3-5.
"Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace, in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance, character, and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts, by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us. You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely, will anyone die for a righteous man. Though, for a good man, someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by His blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through Him? For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to Him through the death of His Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through His life? Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation."
Now, that is the ground of your assurance, the Scripture.
Now, Paul, as he's looking at this, is facing, realistically, some threats to assurance. We've been talking, since we began the study in the Book of Romans, about a Gospel message, which is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes that message. We've talked about how there's nothing in us that can respond to that message, that we are sinners, that we are lost, we are depraved. We do not see God. As it says in Romans 3. "There was no one righteous. No, not one. There is no one who understands, no one who seeks God." And so they wonder, "How can we be saved? How can anyone be saved?" But God and His mercy has given us Jesus Christ, and Jesus Christ stood in our place. He took the punishment on His body on the cross. He absorbed the wrath of God, the righteous, just, condemnation for sinners. And He died the death we deserved to die. And He rose from the dead on the third day, to give us that sure and certain hope of our salvation.
Threats to Assurance
Threat #1: Justification is invisible...“It’s all just words...”
And then, in chapter 4 of Romans, He talked about justification by faith. How are any of us sinners made right, simply by faith? Well, what is the faith like? It's just a believing in the Word of God, a simple trust. And so Paul is coming at us now, in chapter 5, and saying, "Well, how can we be sure we've received it?" You don't get a gold certificate from Heaven. Wouldn't that be great, if an angel came down and said, "Here's your certificate. As long as you have this, you know you have eternal life." Boy, I'll tell you what, wouldn't that be something? But God doesn't do that. Instead, He gives us these words. We read them on the page and we believe them. We trust them, and then we're open to doubts, aren't we? We're open to tremblings and to wonderings, "Have I really been saved?"
Threat #2: Am I a real Christian?
And then there's other threats. There's the threat of the issue of sham faith, a fake Christianity. "How can I know for certain that my faith is real?" I've heard stories about people who came to church for years, and then the temptations came, and they fell away. And it seems like they've lost their salvation. Now, I've heard of doctrine saying, 'Once saved, always saved,' but what about this person? What about this person? What happened over here?" And so we're shaking, were wondering, "Is my faith genuine? Is it real? Will it last? How do I know I'm not a sham Christian? How do I know I'm not fake?" That's a threat.
Threat #3: Suffering in life... “How can God be at peace with me if I’m suffering all these trials?”
And then there's the threat of suffering in life. There are some people sitting around you right now, that are going through unbelievable trials. All you need to do is say, "What are you going through right now? Tell me what's going on in your life," and you'll hear. There are incredible sufferings that we all go through, some more than others. And as we go through tribulations, we go through trials, we go through sufferings, you say, "Now, wait a minute. I thought we had peace with God through our Lord, Jesus Christ? I thought God was all powerful and that He loved me in Christ. Why is this happening to me? Why these trials? What's going on here? It used to be so easy. It used to be so good in my Christian life. I'd pray and God would answer. I'd share the Gospel and somebody would come to Christ. I would love to go to worship, but now, it's different. And I wonder sometimes, 'Have I lost it? Has He lost me? What about these trials? What's going on in my life?' " Suffering in life, a great threat to assurance.
Threat #4: Will I persevere? How can I know for certain I will finish my life believing in Christ?
And then, finally, that question, "Will I persevere? Will I finish? I don't just want to start. I want to finish the race. Will I be one of those ones, who, laying on my death bed, is clinging to Jesus Christ and to Him alone, and saying, 'Praise, God. Yes, I'm going through struggles. I'm facing death, it's true, but I have eternal life in Jesus. I know that when I pass through the veil, I'm going to come into His presence.'" Or are you going to be those that are going to be wondering, are going to be, perhaps, even at some point, repudiating Christ, or even blaspheming, because of some things that happened in your life? How do you know that won't happen to you? Because you're such a good believer? Because you're so strong in your faith, it's not going to happen to you? What is the ground of your assurance? That's the issue of Romans 5:1-11.
The Terrible Threat of Sham Christianity
Now, on the issue of the terrible threat of sham Christianity, this is not something that I, as your pastor, have invented. This is something that the Word of God talks a great deal about. If you look at James 1:22, it says, "Do not merely listen to the Word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says." Now, that brings up a topic of self-deception, the fact that you can lie to yourself. You can assure yourself, when God is not assuring you. Deceive yourself, be a listener of the Word, but not a doer. You're deceiving yourself, you're self-deceived. And then Jesus, very, very clearly in the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew Chapter 7:21 and following, it says, "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father, who is in Heaven. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name, drive out demons, and perform many miracles?' And then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers'" Oh, that that might not be said to anyone in this room. Do you realize how terrifying that is? And if it's true of you, wouldn't you want to know today? Wouldn't you rather know today, when you can still repent and trust in Christ?
What is a sure and certain ground of assurance, not a sandy one, but a solid one, that'll survive Judgment Day? What's the modern version or the Baptist version? Did we not walk the aisle, sign the card, get baptized, go to Sunday school, get involved in a church? Be the chairman of this or that important committee, serve for many years, and then die in the church? Is that a sure and certain ground of salvation? Well, what is? What is a sure and certain ground? I want to give you that. I want you to walk out, knowing that you're saved. I want you to walk out, knowing you're going to go to Heaven when you die, and base it on what God has based it on, not on a sham faith, but on a genuine one.
Now, people have talked to me before about my preaching style. I'm an expository preacher. I just move through passages of the Bible. But, today, I'm going to give you three points in a poem. That's what I'm going to do today. As a matter of fact, if you look at your outline, I haven't even filled it in for you. I haven't done anything. I'm just giving you the three grounds of assurance, because I want this to be utterly clear. Here are your three points: What is the poem? I've rewritten verses to "Jesus Loves Me." We're going to sing it as the closing hymn, based on what I'm preaching today. That's your poem, three points in a poem. I'm not going to do that next week. This is it.
This one time. This week, you're going to get your three points in a poem. What are the grounds of assurance? Assurance number one, assurance reasoned out in the mind. Second level, assurance worked out in the life. Third level, assurance poured out into the heart, by the Holy Spirit. That's it. That's what the Bible offers you, for your assurance of salvation. Let's see if we can understand them.
II. Assurance Reasoned Out in the Mind
First, assurance reasoned out in the mind. By the way, did you see that odd cover? You say, "What a strange thing to put on Mother's Day. What in the world does that have to do with Mother's Day?" Actually, it doesn't have anything to do with Mother's Day. It does have to do, however, with the message. My desire is, over the next two weeks, you will understand this diagram, including that odd looking swoosh at the top. We'll talk about the swoosh next week. Come back for the swoosh next week.
Assurance that the Holy Spirit pours out into your heart. We'll talk about that fully next week. But you've got the three levels there: Reasoned out in the mind, worked out in the life, and poured out in the heart. That's an assurance that God is giving us for salvation. You could write right across the top, which I'll probably do for the bulletin next week, "This is how we know." That's just Scripture. That's 1 John. "This is how we know," First John 2:5, First John... Well, seven times, I'm not going to quote them all... "This is how we know." This is how you know: Reasoned out in the mind, worked out in the life, poured out into the heart. That's how you know. First, reasoned out in the mind. What is the basis of this? How does it work? The basis of it is God's unchangeable Word and His awesome promises. When God makes a promise, He never takes it back. He means what He says when He makes you a promise. And you can have an assurance based on the trustworthiness of God to keep His promises. Remember how Abram got saved? How did Abram get saved? On what basis is Abram, that sinner, going to stand before God on Judgment Day? On faith and faith alone. How did that faith get expressed? You remember the story? God took Abram out of the tent and said, "Look up at the stars, all the starry host." He pointed to them and what did He say to him? "So shall your offspring be." That is a promise, isn't it?
What happened next? Abraham believed the promise. What happened next? God justified him. He declared him righteous, based on the fact that he believed the promise of God. That's how you get saved. There's no one in this room that's going to stand before God, acquitted on Judgment Day, on any other basis than that. You simply believe the promise of God, justified by faith and the promise. Now, God has made us better promises, hasn't He? We've got better promises than Abram had, much better. We're not going to a better Heaven. We get the same Heaven. We get the same God, but we get better promises. Like what? Like John 5:24. Write that one down. Absolutely spectacular verse. Jesus Christ said, "I tell you the truth, whoever hears my Word and believes Him who sent me, has eternal life and will not be condemned. He has crossed over from death to life." That's enough to hold onto the rest of your life. "Whoever hears my Word and believes Him who sent me, has eternal life and will not be condemned. He's crossed over from death to life." Can you ever cross back? How do you go back? You don't. You've got eternal life, simply by hearing and believing.
Now, what is the reasoning out? How does that work, reasoned out? What happens is, you accept those promises, and then start to extend them in your life. You start to reason out by faith, and extend it to all areas of doubt and trouble in your life. That's exactly what Paul does here in Romans Five, as we'll see. He's working with us through reason and through logic. Now, the best description of assurance reasoned out the mind I've ever heard, is in the hymn, "Jesus Loves Me." How does the first verse go? "Jesus loves me, this I know." How do you know it? "For the Bible tells me so." That is assurance reasoned out in the mind.
The Bible is secure. His promises are certain, therefore, I'm going to Heaven. That's how it works. Now, I'm telling you right now, if that's the only assurance you have, you have no assurance. You need the others as well, because the Bible makes these promises indiscriminately. "Many are called, few are chosen," the Scripture says. Anybody can pick up a Bible and read. How do you know it's true of you personally? We'll get to that. But the bottom line assurance is assurance reasoned out in the mind. God gives us a promise and He keeps His promises every time. Paul seeks to reason with us. The best reasoning you're going to see on this, is in verses 9-10 of our section today.
I'm going to preach on this more in a couple weeks, but just look at it right now, in verse 9-10. It says, "Since we have now been justified by His blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through Him? For if when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to Him through the death of His Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through His life?" The 'how much more,' which He says in verses 9-10 is reasoning language. He's arguing from the 'harder to do' to the 'easier to do.' It is harder for God to justify an ungodly sinner and an enemy, than it is for Him to finish saving an adopted child of God. It's harder to start, than to continue and finish. It may not seem that way to you. It didn't feel like anything when you got justified, but it was a huge thing for God, because He's so holy and we were so ungodly.
And so, therefore, he's arguing from the greater to the less. It was hard to get you justified. It's easier to finish the whole way. Reasoning out in the mind is working it out. And he was reasoning it out. He's saying, "Look, if I began this good work in you, I will carry it to completion, until the day of Christ Jesus."
There's other forms of reasoning. I reason with myself all the time. Like eternal life, if you were saved for six years, three months, and two days, and then you fell away, did you receive eternal life? No, you received six years, three months, and two day life. That's not eternal life. Eternal life's eternal, and you receive it, when you trust in Christ. There's all kinds of reasoning you can do with this, and it's all based on the Scriptures, based on the Word of God. Reasoned out in the mind.
III. Assurance Worked Out in the Life
Secondly, assurance worked out in the life. Now, I told you there's a whole book dedicated to this, it's 1 John. You want to understand what God does in you when you get justified? Read 1 John. Everyone who gets justified, this is what He does in their lives. And if He hasn't done this in your life, you're not justified. That's how it works. It's an assurance based on things done in your life. He works things out in you. You change. You begin to grow. You begin to be more and more like Jesus Christ. This is what we call the proving ground of justifying faith. Do you know what a proving ground is? You ever heard of the Aberdeen Proving Ground? 73,000 acres in Maryland. Anyone who wants to sell a weapons system to the Army, has to bring it to the proving ground, and prove that it works, show that it works well in various types of testing and circumstances. You bring the weapons system to the proving ground and it's proved out. Well, what is the proving ground of justifying faith? Your life. Your life. What happens in your life.
Now, the Book of James talks about something called a dead faith. It's a faith that produces nothing, a faith that produces no works. Nothing comes of it. The Book of James also talks about a demon faith. It assents to all the right answers. It knows that there's one God and it shudders. There's no love. There's no obedience, no submission. Dead faith doesn't save; demon faith doesn't save. Justifying faith, now, that saves. How do I know that I've received justifying faith? It's proved out in your life. Things happen in your life as a result. Justifying faith always produces fruit. Jesus put it this way in John 15, "I am the true vine and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit. While every branch that does bear fruit, He prunes, so that it will be even more fruitful. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me, and I in him, he will bear much fruit…so proving himself to be my disciple."
Do you see how it works? 'Fruits' is the proof of discipleship. 'Fruit' is the proof of justification. If you are engrafted into the vine, the sap will flow through you and it will bear fruit. No fruit, no justification. That's how it works. And so it's an assurance based on things that happen in your life. Now, what is the fruit? What comes as a result? Well, Jesus told a parable about this. Remember the parable "The Seed and the Soils"? The Kingdom of God is like a man who went out and scattered seed. Some fell on the path and the birds came, and ate it up. Some fell among the rocks, and it grew up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants withered and died, because they had no root. And some seed fell among the thorns, and the thorns grew up, and choked the plants, making it unfruitful. Now, there's three categories, and all three end up in what? Unfruitfulness, nothing comes of it.
Action Fruit and Attitude Fruit
And then there's the seed that falls in the good soil, producing what? A crop, a harvest, 100, 60, or 30 times what was sown every time. Justifying faith, every time, bears fruit. And you say, "What is fruit?" John MacArthur divided it into two categories: There is action fruit and there is attitude fruit. Action fruit and attitude fruit. Now, I know we Baptists love evangelism. We tend to think of fruit, as only that you lead somebody to Christ. Well, that is a form of fruit, but it's not the only fruit God has in mind.
What kind of attitude fruit? It has to do with what you love and what you hate, what your character is, what you're attracted to, what you're yearning for. It has to do with the fruit of the Spirit. What kind of person are you? Galatians Five, "Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control," these character attributes, the Holy Spirit works in you. It's a characteristic. It's what kind of person are you? It also has to do with what kinds of things do you rejoice in? What do you enjoy? What do you exalt in? Look at our text. Look at verse 2. What does it say we exalt or rejoice in there? It says, "We exalt or we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God." That's what a Christian rejoices in. That's what they get excited about: "The hope of the glory of God." What about Verse Three? What do we exalt in there? Our sufferings, our tribulations. How does that fit? We'll talk about that in a minute.
And then, in Verse 11, what do we exalt in, or rejoice in? "We exalt in God through our Lord, Jesus Christ." This is attitude fruit, what you rejoice in, what you delight in. You delight in the Word of God. You love to hear about the advance of missions. You're excited when somebody comes to Christ. These are the things that drive you and interest you. These are things you love. And what do you hate? Well, you hate sin. You hate your own sin more than anything. You'd love to see it out of your life, every last part of it gone. That's character. It's who you are.
What about action fruit? Well, it's all the stuff that flows out of that character. Jesus said, "Make a tree good and its fruit will be good. Make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad. A tree is known by its fruit." So what kind of fruit flows from a justified person? Well, many good things, prayers and generosity, opening your heart, and your purse, or wallet, or your home. Serving God in bold ways, evangelizing, using your spiritual gifts. Many good deeds, so many I can't list them here. But God has listed the good deeds that flow out of a justifying faith: Action fruit and attitude fruit.
How does this assurance work? Scripture says I will bear good fruit in my heart and my life, as a result of my faith in Christ. In 1 John and other places, tell me what that fruit is. Step two, I see that fruit in me. I see it happening in me. Praise God, He gets all the glory, but I see it happening in me. As a result, I know I'm a true Christian. I'm not a sham Christian. It's genuine.
How does God work that into us? That's what Verses 3-5 talks about. Look at it again. The Holy Spirit works these in us through tribulation, sufferings, and trials. "Not only so," verse 3, "But we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance, character, and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts, by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us."
In verse 2, we have the hope of the glory of God. We start with hope. We then go into the fiery furnace of trial. The trials works in us perseverance, perseverance works in us a proven or tested character, and the tested character becomes a sure and certain ground for a greater hope. You see, it's kind of a spiral. You start with hope and you end up with HOPE. You see how it works? And then you start next with HOPE, and you end up with... I won't do it.
But big hope and it just keeps moving up. And what fuels that whole thing in Romans 5:3-5? It's trials, it's difficulties, it's suffering that produces that. And so we end up rejoicing, saying, "God, give me more." Not because you're a masochist, not because you love to suffer, but because you see that it's the only way that you may grow in your salvation.
Rejoicing Because of Trials
What kind of trial should we rejoice in? Well, James told us, "Consider it pure joy whenever you face trials of many kinds" any kind, many kinds, all kinds of trials, "Because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work, so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." Turn that around: Without trials, you will be immature, incomplete, lacking something. But what kind of trials are we talking about? Well, there are trials that are common to all human beings, and then there are trials uniquely fitted to Christians.
What kind of tribulations are common to all people? Physical trials, sickness, cancer, diseases, or a loved one that has those. Everyone faces that, Christian, non-Christian alike. Relational troubles, marital difficulties, parenting woes, ruptured relationships, perhaps at the work, or in the neighborhood, or even with total strangers. These are trials that anyone and everyone faces. Financial difficulties and economic woes, these things everybody faces.
What are trials that only Christians face? I think there are two, in particular, that I'm thinking of. Persecution, because of Christ, and temptation. Now, you could say, "Temptation? Non-Christians face temptation." Well, they face it, but they cave in. There's no suffering there. They don't bear up under temptation, but Christians have to, and so there's a suffering that comes from that. These are the trials that God brings into our lives. And what happens as a result? We grow in character. How are we different from non-Christians when we go through the trials? Well, anybody, Pagan or Christian, anybody can rejoice when things are going well, isn't that true? You just had a baby. The baby's healthy. You're excited, you're thrilled, maybe, perhaps, even thought you were barren for a while, but now, you've got a child. Who can't rejoice at that? Anybody can rejoice in that. Or maybe you just got a promotion at work, or you just moved into your dream home, or you got a vacation coming up. Just good things happening, anybody can rejoice at that. The difference comes when the trials, and the difficulties, and the troubles come into the light. That's the difference.
Now, a non-Christian can rejoice despite the trial. You see? They can somehow, through stoic philosophy, or through a certain way of thinking, or their own religion, or whatever, somehow manage to make their way through that, rejoicing, despite the trial. But a Christian rejoices because of the trial, "Thank you, God, for this trial. I need it. I'm glad for it. I see it working in me perseverance and perseverance proven character. And so, therefore, I'm glad to have it."
What happens when you go through trials? Maybe some of you are going through them right now. What happens to your faith? What happens, so that God sustains and strengthens you? Well, there's two illustrations I'd like to give you. The first comes from our national anthem, "The Star Spangled Banner." Have you ever seen Fort McHenry or heard the story about Fort McHenry? What happened was, on September 13th, 1814, Francis Scott Key was standing on the bridge of a British ship. He'd been temporarily held. It was an envoy, and they were holding him through the night, and he was observing the pounding of Fort McHenry through a naval blockade, and a pounding. And all night long, as the bombs were bursting, and the rockets... He could see that the American flag was still flying over Fort McHenry. And when the dawn came up, and the sun came up... Have you ever pulled apart the first verse of our national... It's a long sentence, a question and another sentence, something like that. It's this long thing, but the whole point is, the flag's still there after all of the pounding, and all the trials, and all the difficulty, and all the rockets, and the bombs. It's still there.
God has raised a banner in your life, and there is nothing that's going to take it down. It doesn't matter how much bombing goes on. It doesn't matter how much Satan attacks. It doesn't matter how much trouble comes in. The flag's still going to fly, because nothing can take it down.
How does it happen though? We're so weak and frail. It seems, at times, like any trial will just knock us over. Well, the second illustration came from the Berlin airlift. Do you remember the Berlin airlift? Some of you maybe do remember from history. After World War II, Eastern and Western Europe were divided. The Allies, and then Soviet Russia. And then in Eastern Germany, there was Berlin, and Berlin itself was divided among the Allies and the communists. The part of Berlin that was controlled by the Allies, at one point, June 24th, 1948, they blockaded and they couldn't get in. The Russians wouldn't let anyone in. And so the Allies decided to airlift supplies in there, and they just started to airlift, and airlift, and airlift, and it went on for about 15 months, the Berlin airlift.
On one day, the day before Easter, April 16th, 1949, there were 14,000 air flights into Berlin, almost 13,000 tons of food and supplies. The Russians gave up. They couldn't squelch the city. They couldn't starve the city. They were eating better inside, than the others were eating outside. They couldn't quench it. And that's what happens to you, when you go through trials. Satan pouring on all…and God sustaining in the back, giving you what you need to survive the trial. The Berlin airlift. He's airlifting you everything you need, so that you can survive that trial. And in the end, you get proven character. You look at me and you say, "I'm real. I'm genuine. I'm not a sham Christian. I'm not like one of those seeds that fell on the rocky soil, and the sun came up, and as soon as it got a little tough, I fell away. I'm still here and I still love Jesus." Proven character.
And then, in the end, Paul says, "That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, and insults, and hardships, and persecutions, and in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong." A Christian actually rejoices, because of the trial, not just despite of or during the trial. We're glad for it. Now, how do we go through it? Not like robots. You're like, "Oh, this is wonderful, isn't it? Praise God." No, we're real people. Yeah, we cry. We get our friends over, they cry with us. We hurt, but in the heart, we know God is doing something good. He's sustaining us. Our faith is being tested. And in the end, it's going to prove genuine, and real, and I'm a Christian. And in the end, that hope that you get, it doesn't disappoint. Verse 5, "And hope does not disappoint, because God has poured out His love into our hearts, by the Holy Spirit."
IV. Assurance Poured Out in the Heart
And that is the third and final form of assurance. I told you I wasn't going to touch with it today. There's no way I can do it in just... I want to dedicate a whole sermon to this. And why? Because it's so important. This is the Holy Spirit pouring out the love of God into your hearts directly. Not through a reasoning process of the mind, not through seeing things in your life, but directly into your heart, telling you, "You are a child of God." Romans 8:16, "The Spirit testifies with our spirit, that we are," what? "Children of God." Next time.
And you're saying, "What is the swoosh?" Next time, okay? The Spirit can do things that you would just not believe. And any of you know what I'm talking about, the elevation of the Spirit, the way that He can pour out, so that you just say, "I don't know what happened, but Heaven was open that day. I've never had a day like that, never had one since." Those of you who know what I'm talking about, will you pray with me for the next week, that God would do something mighty in this congregation? What would happen here, if God did that? Unbelievable. We'll talk about it next week. But that's the third form of assurance, poured out into the heart by the Holy Spirit. Next time.
V. Application: Do You Know This Love??
My closing question to you is simply, do you know this love? Have you reasoned out, from the basis of Scripture, that God loves you? That He's made some promises to you, just like Abraham, you believe those promises and you know you're going to see God? That all your sins are forgiven through faith in Jesus Christ, do you know that? Can you say, "Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so. Promises, to me, He's made. On His Word, my trust has stayed." Can you say that?
What about the second? Do you see it in a changed life? Have you seen transformation in your heart? Do you see the battle with sin and do you see yourself succeeding? Not every time, but you hate it. You hate the sin and you want to grow. You see that power in you. Do you see the perseverance through trials? Do you see this? Do you see the changes? Action fruit and attitude fruit, do you see it? "Jesus loves me, this I know, for His power has changed me so. Every day, He transforms me, so that I may glorious be."
And what about the third? We'll talk about it next time, but have you ever felt poured out into your heart, a direct testimony of the Holy Spirit, that you're a child of God? "Jesus loves me, there's no doubt, for the Spirit pours it out. He has testified to me, I shall live eternally." Those three are the solid, firm, biblical basis for assurance. If you don't find yourself in there, it may very well be that you are not a Christian. Wouldn't it be better to know now? Wouldn't it be better to trust Christ now, than to have Him say, "Away from me, I never knew you?"
In a moment, we're going to close with this hymn. We're going to sing it. The words are printed in your bulletin. They're not in the hymnal, not yet. But they're in the bulletin, so just open it up, and read it, and sing along. And if God has moved in your heart, and you want to talk to me about eternal life, if you're not sure that you're justified, you're not sure your sins have been forgiven, come and talk to me. Don't put it off. Come forward and talk to me. A lot of people here, that would be eager to pray with you, and explain to you anything that you need to know. Let's come to Christ. Why don't you close with me in prayer?
Father, we thank you that, you, through the Scripture, have labored with us, that we might have a sure and certain assurance of salvation. Father, that we can reason it out in our minds, based on the promises of Scripture. This kind of how much more language, we can understand it, we can reason it out. And Father, we can see it working out in our lives, as you change us gradually by the Holy Spirit. And we can feel it poured out into our hearts, by the Holy Spirit, whom you have given us. Oh, Lord, I pray for my brother and sisters here, who are already assured in this way, that they would grow in their assurance, and so that they might be able to bear good fruit for you. And Father, for those that have no such assurance, Father, I pray that they would humble themselves, and in a broken-hearted way, come to the cross, and trust in you, Jesus, for their atonement. In Jesus' name, I pray, Amen.