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Salvation:  Are you certain that you have it?

Gary Googe Mar 21

Over the course of my life, I’ve known many people who were not certain of their salvation.  I’ve known many others who once felt sure they were saved but later realized they were not.  As I would sometimes say, they were “religious” but not “regenerate.” I’ve known others who expressed the idea that they felt like they were saved but I knew they were not because of what they told me they were depending on as a basis for it.  What is your thinking about your salvation?  If you’re not sure, you can be.  If you’re depending on something or some combination of things you’ve done or that you’re doing to achieve it, you’re not. So much of the confusion on this comes because so many people have never had any good teaching on what is called the right division of Scripture or if they have, they fluffed it off, thinking it was not something they believed in or needed to take the time to learn.  But this first passage we’ll note is of extreme importance to your understanding of the Bible.

2 Timothy 2:15

15 Study [SPOUDAZO = be diligent] to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth [Emphasis added].

Even most modern Bible translators don’t understand the meaning of that verse.  I know that because instead of translating it as it is in the Greek text, they interpret it in their Bible translation in such a way as to make it harmonize with their beliefs, their theology.

What most people don’t realize is that what you read about the means to salvation in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John and many other parts of the Bible is not the same as what you’ll read in the writings of the apostle Paul.  For instance, Paul tells us we’re not saved by our works, but in the writings of James there’s the requirement of them for salvation.

James 2:18-20

18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.

19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.

20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? [Emphasis added]

Then note what James says just a few verses down from that.

James 2:24

24 Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. [Emphasis added]

This is quite different from what we see in the apostle Paul’s writings.  While there are some things in the writings of James that are consistent with Paul’s teachings, there are other things that are not.  There’s no doubt at all that the life of one who has been saved should manifest good works, but this is not the means to one’s salvation.  But it should not come as a surprise to us that there’s a difference in messages here because the book of James was not written to us, but to Israel.  We’re not to ignore the significance of that.

James 1:1

1 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting. [Emphasis added]

Notice also what is said in this next passage in James’ writing.

James 2:20-26

20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?

21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?

22 Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?

23 And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.

24 Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.

25 Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?

26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also. [Emphasis added]

The teaching of these books is often thought to be the same, but they are obviously not.  James requires works for the manifestation of one’s faith but Paul’s teaching does not.  Some maintain they’re not both talking about salvation.  What some people fail to realize is that in the time before the revelation given to the apostle Paul, works were required by God as the way people were to manifest their faith for salvation.  For instance, what did the apostle Peter tell people they needed to do to be saved on the Acts 2 Day of Pentecost?

Acts 2:37-38

37 Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?

38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. [Emphasis added]

This was perfectly consistent with the commission they were given.  In Matthew 28 we have one account of it, but let’s look at the account given by Mark.

Mark 16:15-16

15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.

16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. [Emphasis added]

Is this the same or even similar to what the apostle Paul tells us one must do to be saved today?  Here’s what Paul tells us.

1 Corinthians 15:1-4

1 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;

By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.

For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;

And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: [Emphasis added]

Do those two passages look the same to you? As you can see, they do not!

From the time the new revelation was given to the apostle Paul to now what has been demanded for salvation is not the same.  Furthermore, you won’t see anything like these next verses outside the writings of our apostle, the apostle Paul.

Romans 3:28

28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law. [Emphasis added]

Romans 5:1

1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: [Emphasis added]

Then Paul says essentially the same thing in his letter to the Galatian churches.

Galatians 2:16

16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ [meaning because of His fidelity, not ours], even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. [Emphasis added]

Galatians 3:11

11 But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith. [Emphasis added]

Galatians 3:24-26

24 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster [PAIDAGOGOS = lit. child-leader] to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.

25 But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.

26 For ye are all the children [HUIOS = sons] of God by faith in Christ Jesus. [Emphasis added]

Could he possibly make this matter any clearer? Not the works commanded by the Mosaic Law nor anything else is demanded.  It is faith alone in the work of God through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ that is required for salvation.

While it is true that faith has always been at the heart of the matter, it is that which is to be the object and/or the manner of expression of one’s faith that has changed from time to time.

If I were to speak to you personally about your salvation, I’m confident I could find out quickly whether you are truly saved.  Most people would think a person’s conduct in how they run their life would have something to do with it, but such is not the case because, as we’ve already noted, our own works of righteousness and any other kind have nothing to do with it today. 

Ephesians 2:8-9

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

Not of works, lest any man should boast. [Emphasis added]

Romans 4:4-5

Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.

But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. [Emphasis added]

Here is a list of things I’ve heard in my lifetime in answer to this question about the means to one’s salvation.  These are things I’ve heard people say they were depending on to have it.  They, along with a lot more information about it, are all listed in chapter six of my book 22 Key Promises you can count on.

I’ve been baptized.

I try to live a good life.

I’ve repented of my sins.

I’ve asked God to save me.

I’ve given my heart to Jesus.

I went forward at my church.

I committed my life to Christ.

I try to live by the Golden Rule.

I do the best I can to please God.

I asked Christ to come into my heart.

I strive to live by the 10 Commandments.

I’ve asked God to forgive me of all my sins.

I’m a member of … [they name their church].

I’m hoping that the good works I’ve done will qualify me.

I don’t think I’ve done anything that makes me deserve hell.

I think the good things I’ve done outweigh the bad things I’ve done.

Does any of this sound familiar? I know people may be sincere about whatever they believe about this, but I think you’ll recall that sincerity about your answers on a test in school never helped at all.  It played absolutely no part at all in the matter.  Such will be the case on such an important matter as your salvation.  God has taken the initiative to explain the means for one’s salvation in the writings of Scripture, and He’s given us the responsibility of taking this seriously enough to investigate the matter thoroughly.  If you’ve been told that one or any combination of the things listed above will get you into Heaven, you’ve been told wrong.  The truth is that there’s not even one thing in that long list that would carry any weight at all in getting you or anyone else into Heaven.  As common as they are, what you have there is a long list of wrong answers to the question at hand.

Again, the expression of one’s faith has always been at the heart of this matter of securing one’s salvation.  There are passages of Scripture that tell us that it is faith that pleases God.

Hebrews 11:6

But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. [Emphasis added]

But what must be the object of one’s faith for salvation today?  Believing in God is a start, but that alone doesn’t provide salvation.  As it is often said, even Satan believes in God.  The question that must be answered has to do with what God has provided that needs to be the object of one’s faith for salvation.  The answer to that is wrapped up in what Jesus Christ accomplished through His death, burial, and resurrection.  All that’s been provided as the basis for one’s salvation today was accomplished through the Lord Jesus Christ.

2 Corinthians 5:18-21

18 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;

19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.

20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.

You’ll notice that he says they are to BE reconciled.  God has done a work of reconciliation for us all, but for anyone to be saved there must be a faith response.  That’s why he says one must BE reconciled.

21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. [Emphasis added]

Yes, it was Jesus Christ who provided a way for our reconciliation and resultant salvation. It was Christ on the cross Who addressed our sin problem fully by paying the price due for all our sins.  It was there that the justice of God was fully satisfied or propitiated.  It was Jesus Christ who satisfied the just demands of God as full payment for all our sins and those of all mankind.

1 John 2:2

And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. [Emphasis added]

What He did there was done for all mankind so that anyone can be saved.  Even what you would think of as the worst person you know could be saved.

1 Timothy 2:5-6

For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;

Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. [Emphasis added]

Have you personally accepted this work of Christ as full payment for your sins? If you’ve not and if you’ll do that now, you’ll be saved immediately and permanently.  You could never lose your salvation because there’s no sin you could ever commit that was not judged and paid for at the cross of Christ.  All your sins were in the future at the time this payment was made.  This is a part of why one’s salvation is perfectly secure from the moment they put their faith in Christ to obtain it.

Anytime someone is not sure of their salvation it may be a sign that they’re not saved.  Why would I say that? Answer:  Because many people depend on their own works as a part of their means to salvation, and they often wonder if they’ve done enough to secure it.  What they don’t realize is that they’ll NEVER do enough to deserve it and secure it.    That’s because their salvation isn’t based on anything they’ve done or that they’re doing.  It is based solely on what God has done through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Therefore, salvation is only gained by faith in what He did.

Again, Romans 4:4-5

Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.

But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. [Emphasis added]

Therefore, if you’ve not put your faith solely in Him, why not do that right now and be saved forever? Then, for once, you can have complete peace about it.

Again, Romans 5:1

1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: [Emphasis added]

This “peace with God” is complete reconciliation with Him.  Only this provides the full assurance of one’s salvation that provides complete peace of mind.  If you don’t have that peace of mind, that can change right now.

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