How can I know that I’m really saved?
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“For as many (or all of you) as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.”
Listen, that’s very exclusive to us. I get a kick out of the Biblical Archeological Review letters of the editor. Because some of these people write in and condemn people for being exclusionists. Of course we are, because the Bible is! And what’s it excluding here? Lost people are not led by the Holy Spirit. They’re out there on their own under the power of the god of this world. But believers are led by the Spirit of God. That’s one of the indications that we have true salvation.
I had a letter the other day and it was a good question. “How can I know that I’m truly saved?” It’s a good question. I wrote back and said, “There are several ways: 1. Do you have a hunger for the Word of God? If not I doubt if there’s any true salvation because it just follows like daylight following dark, that when we become a child of God we hunger after His word. 2. Do you enjoy being with God’s people? If you don’t, then there’s something wrong and I would re-examine my so-called salvation experience. 3. Do you enjoy prayer time, and taking your needs to the Lord? If not, I doubt if there’s any relationship there.”
But whatever, it’s a thing of the heart and I can’t look on the heart nor can anyone else, but you can self-examine. And I think it’s Peter who wrote, “make your call and election sure.” Well, what did he mean by that? Don’t work a little harder, but just simply on the light of Scripture, examine yourself. Are you just depending on something that you have done, or are you depending on a solid faith in the Gospel wherein the power of God has been exercised? And when that happens, here it comes, as we saw in Galatians and now here in Romans, the Holy Spirit comes into our life and He begins to lead and guide and direct to the place where we don’t have to have rules and regulations. The Spirit does that. Now here again, if we’re led by the Spirit of God then we are the sons, or the born ones of God. That’s one of the proofs of footing. Now let’s go to verse 15 and again he’s talking to believers here.
“For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to (what?) fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba Father.”
Believers don’t have to walk around in constant fear. We have respect for God and we revere Him, but we don’t have to fear Him. Because we know He loves us. In fact, I’ll never forget, and I think I mentioned this on a program a long time ago, somebody sent me a tape of their pastor’s Sunday morning sermon. I learned a bunch from it. And that was that in John Chapter 13, where Jesus was dealing with Martha and Mary and Lazarus, all through that chapter, it wasn’t how much Lazarus and Mary loved Jesus, but what was it? How much He loved them! And it was an eye-opener! And this is what people have to realize. It isn’t dependent upon how much I love Him, although we’re certainly going to love Him. But you see, the thing that’s important is that we realize how much He loves us! Enough to die and suffer for us. Now then, when we have that kind of a salvation, the Holy Spirit bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of God.
Now do you see how that flies in the face of these people who say you can never really know? They say you can hope so or you can try and do the best you can, but you’ll never really know? That’s not what my Bible says. My Bible makes it so plain and mine is no different than anybody else’s. But it makes it so plain that we can know that we have passed from death unto life. And here is another one. It’s the witness of the Holy Spirit that we have that salvation, we have that we are children of God.
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“But since we’ve heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love which you have to all the saints,”
Have you ever had someone ask you, “How can I know that I’m really saved?” It’s a good question. I don’t mind a bit if someone calls me and says, “Now Les, you’re always talking about someone being a true believer. How can I know that I am a true believer? And not like multitude of others who are simply church members and sitting in their pew for an hour on Sunday morning and hope that they’re okay. How can I know that I’m a true believer?” You know what my first answer is? “Do you love the Word of God?” And then I follow that right up with the second one. “Do you love being with God’s people?”
In fact I just had a gentleman call last night and ask the same question and I said, “Okay. Do you have a love for the Word of God?” He said, “Yeah, I do for the last couple of years. I just can’t get enough of it.” I said, “Okay, then my next question is, do you enjoy being with God’s people or would you rather be in some night club instead of a Bible study?” He said, “I hear you. I hear you.” Well, that’s just exactly what Paul is saying here. What was the proof of their faith? Their love for fellow believers! See, the world doesn’t love us. The world would much rather have us be out there in some night club or some other place of amusement than to be in a Bible study. You know that. But we’re to be the other way around. We’d much rather be with fellow believers studying the Word than being out there being entertained in some ungodly way. That’s always the mark. And so here again he says that the proof of their faith was the love that they had for the saints or their fellow believers.
Now that doesn’t mean that every believer is perfect. I don’t think we even have to like every believer. There’s a difference between love and like. Isn’t that right? I hope I don’t get my foot in my mouth. But I maintain there is a difference between liking someone and loving them and you don’t necessarily have to do both. You’ve got to love them, but you don’t necessarily have to like someone who rubs you wrong and doesn’t have the same interests that you do. And you just certainly wouldn’t say, “Well I just wish I could spend every day of the week with that individual.” No, you don’t have to like people all that much but we have to love them. And there’s a big difference. Love is that which seeks the other person’s highest good. These people had a love for the fellow saints.
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I Corinthians 15:1-4
“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:”
Now that’s Paul’s Gospel, and our Gospel and we must believe that for our salvation. So this is the primary thing, it supersedes anything else in all of Christendom. Then of course other things follow in their rightful place. Naturally we are to grow in grace. We are to grow in knowledge of the Word. We are to grow in our works and our activities for the Lord’s business. Absolutely we’re to be givers, and to be witnesses, and this is why we’re left here. Because otherwise, would to God, that the moment that we’re saved, He’d take us out of here. It would be far better. When Paul said that after seeing the things in glory that eyes have not seen, nor ears heard, the things that were prepared for those that love Him, I have to think we’ve got some glorious things awaiting us. It’s going to be so glorious. Joy unspeakable, righteousness, music (I think), like mortal ear has never heard and it’s all awaiting us once we enter into His presence.