Sinners can convince themselves they are saved in two main ways:
1) Change the character of God
2) Change the character of themselves
The problem with this strategy is that it won’t work, it merely makes you a liar.
If you change the character of God–pretend He is loving like you want Him to be loving–it won’t actually change God, just your take on Him.
If you change the character of you–pretend you are not as sinful as you really are–it won’t fool God because He knows your heart.
If either of these strategies is employed to give you assurance of your salvation, you may indeed experience assurance in your mind. But whether you feel assured means next to nothing.
“Yet thou sayest, Because I am innocent, surely his anger shall turn from me . . . the LORD hath rejected thy confidences, and thou shalt not prosper in them.”
Theology is not always based on Scripture. Much theology is based on what some guy said about Scripture. We then take a stand on our theology, build a reputation for standing for that theology, and we get stuck.
Even if we see cracks in our theology, maybe even the walls start to crumble around us, but we’ve got our group and our guys and we’ve bought all their books and it would hurt our reputation to admit we were wrong and to change.
For the sake of keeping our guys, our reputation, and keeping our people happy, we continue to believe error. In order to do this, we avoid Scripture, we don’t want our beliefs challenged or changed, we just want peace with our guys.
The major problem with giving a rip about what anyone else thinks is that all those people will one day be dead. Having a good reputation among dead people doesn’t count for much. A living dog is better than a dead lion.
Isaiah tells us that “all flesh is grass.” The problem with grass is that it fades away quickly. Two verses later Isaiah adds, “The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.”
The Word of God is our foundation for our theology. If it’s based on what a guy says, it won’t help you much. The Word will last longer than any guy.
This is not to say that guys can’t help you theologically, they can, as long as what they say is helping you know Scripture more than it’s helping you know them.
“You never know how much you really believe anything until its truth or falsehood becomes a matter of life and death to you. . . . Only a real risk tests the reality of a belief.”
C. S. Lewis
It’s quite easy to say you believe something. People talk too much. We say stuff all the time. We ourselves rarely ever listen to ourselves.
Facing death is the ultimate test of our eternal beliefs. I’ve seen people die. I’ve gone through the process beside several folks. Some of them have called me crying, wondering if they really believe, they look back at their life and they doubt.
Conventional wisdom tells me that my job is to comfort, to reassure them that they do believe. But I never do this. I don’t do it because I don’t know if they believe or not. I’m not the judge. My opinion means nothing.
Most of us are not facing death today. Since that’s the case, few of us will make much time for thinking about our faith. Even fewer will actually do anything about it.
But one day you’ll be dying. You’ll be faced with where you’ll be in a few hours. Heaven or hell? Is my faith real?
Then again, some of us will die suddenly with no time to think about it at all. You won’t be contemplating heaven or hell; you’ll just show up at one or the other.
Dirty little secret that Satan doesn’t want you to know: you’re dying right now. Take care of your faith.
We live in an age of irresponsibility.
Students don’t study for their tests and yet demand good grades. Employees play solitaire all day, drink coffee, and steal pens and yet demand more pay. Singers who can’t sing get mad when Simon Cowell tells them they stink.
The whole world is screaming, “Don’t judge me on what I do; judge me on who I think I am.”
What a dumb world, eh? Wonder where they got that philosophy from?
The Church is to be the moral lighthouse in the foggy harbor of this age. Yet rather than point out sin, error and demand repentance, we’ve changed the Gospel. We’ve made God into a kindly, somewhat-senile grandpa.
We have the idea that we can claim to be believers and yet live like heathen scum and that this is OK because “God won’t judge me on what I do, He’ll judge me on who I think I am.”
Feels good to believe that doesn’t it? Won’t feel good on judgment day.
“These things hast thou done, and I kept silence; thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself: but I will reprove thee, and set them in order before thine eyes.
Now consider this, ye that forget God, lest I tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver.
Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me: and to him that ordereth his conversation aright will I shew the salvation of God.”
Most servants know who their master is. They may not like or respect their master, but they know who the master is. If they want a job, they keep serving the master.
This is true for all servants except God’s. The Bible tells believers they are God’s servants. Yet being a servant is demeaning, especially to us freedom minded Americans.
“I’m my own master” is Americanism 101. “I call my own shots. I’m the captain of my ship” etc, etc.
The American Gospel reflects this anti-submission mindset. We skip over the multitude of verses that tell us we’re servants of God’s to get to the one that says “we’re no longer servants but sons.” This is true, but all the other verses saying we’re servants are true, too.
God does not need us. He doesn’t need your money even though your pastor will tell you giving to his church is “giving back to God.” He doesn’t need your service to keep His plan working. He also doesn’t beg us to listen to Him, as though He needed the assurance He was still acceptable to us.
Nope. God doesn’t need us. Let Psalm 50:12 beautifully state God’s point of view, “If I were hungry, I would not tell thee: for the world is mine, and the fulness thereof.”
Oh that’s beautiful! Even if God were starving to death, He wouldn’t ask us for food! If we were starving to death I guarantee you’d ask Him for food.
God is awesome. He calls the shots. I suggest we serve the Master
Societies create standards of success. These standards are frequently in opposition to God’s standards.
Americans celebrate getting a good education, finding a good job, working hard, getting a house, couple nice cars, electronic gadgets and on and on. If a guy has these things he has “done well for himself.”
In order to continue “doing well for yourself,” you have to keep up with what that means as society and trends change. If you fall behind in your electronics or your house or car, you are no longer doing well.
Soon your life is behind you. You’ve lived for your reputation. You’ve lived so that others may tell you you’re “doing well for yourself.” What’s the harm in living your life so you can do well for yourself?
Oh, I don’t know, maybe we should ask God.
Be not afraid when a man becomes rich,
when the glory of his house increases.
For when he dies he will carry nothing away;
his glory will not go down after him.
For though, while he lives, he counts himself blessed
—and though you get praise when you do well for yourself—
his soul will go to the generation of his fathers,
who will never again see light.