Gospel Driven Assurance

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Category: Full Sermons

Contrary to what some have taught, full assurance is possible in this life for every believer because Jesus Christ has secured their justification by His finished work. Assurance of salvation is resting in Christ’s finished work. If we look to ourselves, we will never have a well-grounded hope of eternal life.

Transcript

I'm not being frivolous when I say the best part of any sermon is the reading of the text. It's a weighty responsibility to unpack the Word of God. And sadly, in this day and age in which we live there's so many people that are not students of the Word of God. They're not diligent in their study. And some people are looking for a text to twist so they can make a point and promote their own agenda. But really, every time we come together, we should never minimize the importance of the reading of the Word of God. And so this morning, if you would, once again as another part of worship, would you take your Bibles? Look with me in Hebrews 10. Hebrews 10. Follow with me in the Word of God verse 1 - I'm reading from the New King James. "For the law having a shadow of the good things to come and not the very image of the things can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect. For then would they have ceased to be offered. For the worshipers, once purified, would have had no more consciousness of sins. But in those sacrifices, there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is not possible that that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins. Therefore, when He came into the world, He said, 'Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, but a body You have prepared for Me, in burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin, You had no pleasure.' Then I said, 'behold, I have come. In the volume of the book it is written of Me to do Your will, O God.' Previously saying, 'Sacrifice and offering, burnt offerings and offerings for sin You did not desire, nor had pleasure in them, which are offered according to the Law.' Then He said, 'Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God.' He takes away the first that He may establish the second. By that will, we have been sanctified through the offering of the blood of Jesus Christ once for all. And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But this man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God. And from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. For by one offering, He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified. (v. 15) But the Holy Spirit also witnesses to us. For after He had said before, 'This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days,' says the Lord. 'I will put My laws into their hearts and in their minds, and I will write them.' Then He adds, 'Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.' Now where there is remission of these, there is no longer an offering for sin. Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil - that is His flesh, and having a high priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a pure heart in full assurance of faith. Having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He Who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the day approaching." This morning, I'd like to begin with a lesson. Really, it is a test. Listen carefully. When you look back in church history, there was a very formidable character within the context of the Roman Catholic Church whose name was Robert Bellarmine. It is interesting. He was Pope Clement the Eighth's personal theologian, and one of the most able ministers in the Roman Catholic Church to refute the Protestant Reformation. On one occasion, he wrote this: "The greatest of all protestant heresies is (and I'm going to let you put your answer in the blank.) The greatest of all protestant heresies is..." Think about it. Some may say they would suggest justification by faith. Someone else would say Scripture alone. Or perhaps it would be the priesthood of the believer. But none of these answers make logical sense. None of these really complete Bellarmine's statement. What he wrote was the greatest of all protestant heresies is assurance. Assurance of salvation. It is impossible to attain such assurance independently of the Roman Catholic Church he taught. But on the contrary, it's impossible to attain that assurance through that papal system of works. Listen carefully. A moment's reflection explains why. If justification is not by faith alone in Christ alone, by grace alone; If faith needs to be completed by works; If Christ's work is somehow repeated; If grace is not free and sovereign, then something always needs to be done and to be added for final justification to be ours. Listen carefully now. If justification is dependent on something we have to complete, it is impossible to enjoy assurance of salvation. For then theologically, final justification is contingent and uncertain. It all depends on us. And Rome believed that it was impossible to secure a well grounded assurance of their system of good works. So, with this in mind this morning, we must understand if Christ has done everything and justification is by grace without contributory works; it is received by faith's empty hands, then assurance - even full assurance - is possible for every believer. Every believer. Now, I will say this, to qualify this statement. There were some great giants in the faith. Men that you and I, on occasion, will quote. Or even women who made their mark with the Gospel upon their generation, who went to their dying hour, to their grave not having full assurance of faith. For some reason or another, there was a lack, a deficiency of full assurance in these people's lives. But when you look at this whole matter of assurance, from a Gospel perspective, friend, full assurance is attainable. Now with that said this morning, consider with me some things from our text. Here's a thought. A good friend of mine who pastors a church in Atlanta told me: every time I preach on assurance, we get more hits and more downloads concerning that topic than anything else that I address from the pulpit on Sermon Audio. It's a great need, is it not? Perhaps you've come these days, you're full of vigor, and maybe the Lord has increased that since you've been here under the sentence of God's Word. We're so grateful to God for what God has done afresh in your life. But if the truth was known, perhaps there's some tad, some measure of a lack of assurance of salvation in someone's life here this morning. And so I want to encourage you. Once again, our text. Hebrews 10 Mainly v. 11 - 23. In my study and meditation over the subject of assurance, I've discovered, brethren, that there are two biblical ways by which a person can attain this well-grounded assurance of faith. . Resting in the finished work of Christ alone. And 2. Casually observing the marks of the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit. Both are important. You see, the Son provides a foundation of saving faith, while the Spirit produces the birthmarks of sonship. And once again, a well-grounded faith is a product of a proper understanding, a proper balance of both. For example, some never attain a well-grounded assurance because they only embrace the finished work of Christ. They don't look. They don't observe the marks of the work of regeneration. Oswald Chambers said that the great miracle of conversion is not the changes that other people see in you, but the changes that you witness in yourself. I look back at my life, friend. And I see certain things that are attributed to the transforming work of the Spirit, and I stand in awe and marvel that only God could have produced that. Any religious energy that I would have sought to employ to produce that mark was impossible. To forgive my enemies was impossible without the aid of the indwelling Spirit. So I ask you this morning, not fixating your mind continuously upon yourself, just glancing at yourself, can you see things in your life that can only be explained in terms of the supernatural activity of God? We look this morning at the subject of assurance. It's interesting as you read this text in Hebrews 10. You find that the writer does two things: First, he shows how much greater the person of Jesus Christ is compared to the Hebrew levitical priests. I believe that assurance oftentimes is attained through a proper aprehension and appropriation of the atoning work of Jesus Christ alone. As you read the text, you find that the writer does two things: First, he shows how much greater the person of Jesus Christ is compared to these other priests of the Hebrews - the levitical priests. And you see this for example - look at the contrast now in our text. First of all in Hebews 10:11, you find the Jewish priests - the human priests were human and sinful. In contrast, God's Great High Priest the Lord Jesus Christ was divine and without sin in Hebrews 4:15. The priests stood daily offering the sacrifices in Hebrews 10:11 again. But in contrast, Christ sat down at the right hand of God to acknowledge that His work was finished and fulfilling before the Father. Furthermore, you find the Hebrew priests offered the same sacrifices continually. Hebrews 10:11 again. While Christ offered one sacrifice forever (v. 12). Secondly though, there's something else to notice about the text. And that is he expounds three glorious aspects of the Gospel. By the way, I've entitled the message this morning, "Gospel Driven Assurance" This makes all the difference, brethren. This is cutting edge. This explodes before our very minds. It has such a transforming effect upon the soul as a divine catalyst that God has ordained in the Person of His Son and Him crucified. Listen carefully. The writer here mentions in Hebrews 10:19 the blood of Christ. We'll look back at that in a moment and what that means. In v. 20, he speaks of a new and a living way. There is a gold mine of implication in that which we'll see also in a moment. But then thirdly, is the Person of our Great High Priest. Hebrews 10:21 Brothers and sisters, listen carefully. When we read the book of Hebrews to reap Gospel benefit, we should always remember that over and over again, the author keeps bringing you back to a Person, a propitiation, and a promise. The Person is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ. The propitiation, emboldened I might add in my own mind, represents that God's wrath against sinners has been fully satisfied in His Son. And thirdly is a promise. And you find this from text to text. It's administered on a personal level in the way of practical implication. So with that said this morning, let's look at these three things. First of all is the blood if Jesus in v. 19. Notice that if you would. Hebrews 10:19 "Therefore brethren, having boldness to enter the holiest by the blood of Jesus." By the blood of Jesus. Now, this phrase "by the blood of Christ," represents the shedding of blood and the death of Jesus Christ that satisfied the righteous demands of God's Law. The soul that sins must die. But Christ fulfilled the Law, endured the curse, endured the wrath of God, that you and I might be made the righteousness of God in Him. Listen carefully. I heard the story of a Syrian boy who escaped a terrorist holocaust. His family was massacred. But he survived. You want to know why? Because he soaked himself in the blood of his brother. It's interesting, friend, if I could draw an analogy from that picture. That's the only way that you will escape the wrath of God and ever attain a full assurance of faith is you must be soaked in the blood of another. Notice, I said, soaked. Without any help of saving yourself. Without any moral uprightness or good deeds. You must be soaked - so thoroughly soaked in the blood of Jesus Christ. Which means that you look to Him and Him alone for salvation. It is the blood and only the blood of Christ that is acceptable to God. Listen to this. During the passover, when the death angel hovered over the dwellings of the Israelites, he did not take into account - listen now - he did not take into account of the sincerity of their confession, nor their performance in maintaining the ceremonial law, or how they felt about God. All the angel was looking for was the appropriation of the blood. That's tremendously encouraging to me. I don't have to tweak anything. I don't have to improve on anything. I don't have to look at my performance every day to secure such assurance. I look to Christ and Christ alone. It is surely sufficient for me. It is surely sufficient for me, if the blood of Christ is sufficient for God, it is surely sufficient for me. That's good news. That ought to have you dancing in the aisles. And I wouldn't be bothered by that. Secondly, it is by a new and a living way though the veil of His flesh. V. 20 What does it mean, first of all, a new way? New refers to newly killed. Just dead. And then fresh. Something recent. Listen carefully. It does not so much convey the idea that it's new in the sense that it has never existed before. It is a way that was recently disclosed is the idea. And which has all the freshness of novelty. It's like before the mind, the eyes of God, it was just shed. It's infinite in it's power. And I remind you that it will never lose its power. It speaks on our behalf before the throne of God continuously. Secondly, the writer refers to this way as living. It is called a living way. Because it is a method that imparts life and because it leads to life and happiness. The blood was to be offered as soon as it was shed. And that it could not be offered when it was cold or dried up. The idea here was that the way through Christ was always open. His blood was always fresh and as if it had been recently shed. The word here "living" also has the sense of a fountain always running, in opposition to a pool that dries up. Listen, brethren. It is constant. Like a fountain that always flows. For it is by a sacrifice whose power is perpetual and unchanging. That's the Lord Jesus Christ. Good news. Good news. Infinite good news. But then another thing to point out in this verse is the veil. The veil. The veil of His flesh. The simple idea here in reference to the veil is it seems to have been in the mind of the apostle that the veil of the temple and the body of Jesus were alike in this respect: that they were the medium of access to God. The curtain was rent from top to bottom. The Son was pierced. The Hebrew word is "perforated." Rent in two. Under the wrath of God to give you and I access to the Father. What an infinite price was paid. But then in v. 21, notice something else here, and that is the Great High Priest. The idea here is that as under the former dispensation it was regarded as a privilege that the people of God might have access to the mercy seat by means of the high priest, so it is true in a much higher sense now, listen to this, a much higher sense that we may now have access to God through our greater and more glorious High Priest. The truth of the matter is with all the human priests, the levitical priests, no one ever gave his life for the people. Only Christ as God's High Priest laid down His life to bring many sons to glory. So, here's the conclusion. And please, I really encourage you to listen. I pray the Holy Spirit would take what I'm about to share that I really sought to make firmly grounded upon the Word of God to encourage and help and perhaps even in this moment His eye may diffuse a quickening ray of hope and assurance in your own hearts. Listen carefully. Assurance of salvation is resting in Christ's finished work. If we look to ourselves, we will never possess a well-grounded hope of eternal life. If you look to yourself. Now watch. There are three things that believers do that keep them from assurance. First of all, they dwell too much on their performance; how well they conduct themselves spiritually. What they say, what they do, where they traffic, it's all self-focused. They dwell too much on their performance. Secondly, they overly analyze the worthiness of their intentions - their motivation in coming to Christ or walking with Christ. And we'll talk about that in must a moment. And thirdly, oftentimes, assurance doesn't come because they spend too much time testing the sincerity of their feelings. Now let me explain those three things. The first problem is that some believers are kept from assurance because they focus exceedingly upon what they do - their performance. Some measure God's approval of them by their obedience. Good days are determined from bad days by how well they perform spiritually. Consequently, their lives are characterized by a sense of never feeling that they measure up before God. Let me be transparent. I get up relatively early in the morning. I go out to my office. I battle. But I go and I open my Bible and I begin to read the Scriptures. And as I read, there are mornings that certain things seem to be illumined to my mind. Indeed, it is nothing short of something divine. God is speaking. God is showing me some things. My spirit is invigorated. The spinoff of that is as I begin to pray, there is a sense of God. As I offer up my petitions or confessions or whatever, I sense that the Lord has drawn near. That He hears. He forgives. He's ready to answer. There's a sense of excitement and vitality and spiritual reality in it all. And then, in a little while, my wife - she's up and she's in the kitchen. She's prepared breakfast. She calls me on the intercom. And I go over, we sit down at the table. We pray together. We have this wonderful breakfast. We start talking about different things. And then we have our devotional time as a couple. And right now, I might add we're just reading a couple of pages from Thomas Brooks. The little book is what inspired Spurgeon. He compiled it for he and his own future wife Susannah. It's called, "Smooth Stones from Ancient Brooks." And so we read those things. We talk about those quotes and those paragraphs that he writes. And bring it into more of a biblical focus. To understand what Brooks was conveying. And then we have prayer together. And this particular morning, friend, as we pray together, there's such sweetness and love between us, and it's like corporately, we're really drawing near to God, and I sense God is pleased. Then I'm ready to go to town. I go to town that morning, and somebody cuts me off on the highway. Hey, no problem. I just rejoice in the fact. It's OK. They've got an agenda. And I just need to defer. So I go to town, and while I'm going around fulfilling my errands, I go into a particular place and I just sense the prompting of the Holy Spirit and I share Christ with the person that I'm doing business with. And I'll tell you, friend, there's such liberty and such boldness and love that exudes, and I say, man, this is great! Then I come back home in the afternoon. I go out to my office and start to study or write emails, and I say, man, this is wonderful. I come to the evening and I think to myself, Good day. This has been wonderful. Thank You, Father. Next morning, I get up. I get up later than I wanted to. I know how much I've got to do during the course of the day, so I rush out to the office. I pick up my Bible. I begin to read. I read rather quickly. There is no sense of God. Then I have to reread some things. Lord, I really want something here and I want it quickly. And so I get to the Bible reading, but there's no sense of God. There's nothing that opens up to me. It's like the Bible's a closed book. And then I try to pray and it's more mechanical and superficial. I'm just not getting through. And then I come to the breakfast table. My wife and I, we begin to talk and suddenly an issue comes up and we have a disagreement about it. And I say some unkind things. And the way I say it is very unbecoming to Christ. And I leave without reconciling with my wife at the table. I don't want to have devotions. I don't want to be a hypocrite. So I go out to my office and I pout for awhile, and then I have to get ready to go to town still not having resolved things with my wife. I go to town that day and somebody cuts me off on the highway, and this time, I'm muttering under my mouth, my lips some very un-Christlike things. I'm frustrated. I'm angry. I have no sense of God. There's no confidence in my witness. Even though I see the need before me as I go to a certain place, a certain establishment to do business, I don't want to witness because I don't want to feel like a hypocrite. So I go back out, get in my car, I go home. I'm frustrated. I'm burdened down. There's no sense of God. I come to the end of my day. And even though I reconcile with my precious wife, I think to myself, bad day. Guess what, friend? When you see your days from a Gospel vantage point, from a biblical perspective, from the precious, magnificent atoning work of Christ, every day is a good day. It is the best of days! You think about that Puritan who sat there with just a cup of water and a piece of stale bread and said "All of this and heaven too?" You have no idea, friend. Every day is a great day when you look at it through the lens of Calvary. Secondly, here's a thought just in passing. Remember this. This is so important. It is not our performance, but Christ's propitiation that the Spirit delights in giving a well-grounded assurance. It is not your performance, but Christ's propitiation that the Spirit delights in in affording His people a well-grounded assurance. So, secondly, here's another thing that deprives us of assurance. Some believers keep themselves from assurance by overanalyzing their intentions. They wear themselves out scrutinizing their motives for coming to Christ. Some imagine that their faith has fallen short of salvation because they only wanted a fire escape out of hell. How selfish of me. How self-centered. The only reason I pray and ask Christ to forgive me is because I want a fire escape out of hell. But I say to you, friend, what's wrong with that? You're praying to the Savior - the only One that can deliver you from the bondage of sin and give you eternal life. Some people just simply think through the comforting promises of Calvary and they are born again as they look to that Christ. And some people are terrorized by the law and by the promise of wrath upon all those who don't believe. But yet, it drives them to the Savior and God delights in saving them. Listen... Others worry over whether they were sincere enough when they called on the Lord. Once again, now listen, doubt will be replaced with confidence when the believer who lacks assurance, understands that it is Christ's sacrifice, not their sincerity, that God is pleased to honor in assurance. I hear people say, at times, to me brother, I just don't think that I was sincere enough or my motivation was genuine enough. What difference does it make? Look to Christ. I'll tell you, at times, I get a little concerned about Charles Spurgeon. He threw the gate to heaven wide open. Is this guy an advocate of easy believism? Is he a proponent of decisionism? Well, he makes it so simple! Let me ask you something. What more can we do? The Scripture tells us believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved. While we are opposed to the false doctrine of easy believism, listen, brethren, it is easy to believe. It is easy to believe. So then, thirdly, here's a third impediment to assurance. And that is subjective feeling. Subjective feeling. Listen carefully. While God has made us emotional beings, how we feel about conversion experience is of little consequence in our standing before God. To allow our relationship with God to be governed by feelings will bring ongoing frustration and continual doubts. John Wesley said, feelings come and feelings go, and feelings are deceiving. And they are. Subjective impression is an untrustworthy guide and should be avoided at all costs. Here it is, friends, simply. It is only faith's gaze in the dying Lamb that is sufficient to lift a soul out of spiritual death and impart to it eternal life and subsequent assurance of salvation. Looking to Christ. As I wrap things up, this is rich. The weakest faith can yield the strongest assurance if Jesus and Him crucified is our object in believing. Robert Murray McCheyne said, "A weak faith lays hold of a strong Christ." That's great news. Therefore, it is an understanding of Christ and Him crucified that is the best means for acquiring this well-grounded assurance. So I close with this. Listen to these words as a benediction from A.W. Tozer: Rich. He says, "That man who has struggled to purify himself and has had nothing but repeated failures will experience real relief when he stops tinkering with his soul and looks away to the Perfect One. While he looks at Christ, the very things he has so long been trying to do will be getting done in him." So what's my responsibility? I'm going to look at the mighty Christ. God's High Priest. Friend, if you're constantly looking at yourself, tweaking this and proving this, thinking subconsciously, this has something to do with my acceptance before God, assurance is impossible. But if you will look to Christ and Christ alone, and bathe yourself in this Gospel that is full of eternal promise, God will give you a well-grounded assurance. Let's pray together. Our Father, we want to thank You for Your Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. What a precious Savior! Thank You that You took pleasure in smiting Your Darling, that we might have Your imputed righteousness and full acceptance before You. We bless You that He - Christ - Who knew no sin, was made sin for us that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him. And there is one God and one Mediator between God and man, and it is not us. It is the man Christ Jesus. Lord, bless Your people with peace and assurance. We ask in Jesus' name, Amen.