Answers from God’s Word
(Two parts) © C. O. Bishop 2010 revised 2021
Introduction: (Part one)
There are many questions we all seem to have in common. How can the believer have assurance that he/she is saved, and that “peace with God” is a settled issue? How can one overcome doubts and self-condemnation? How can one know God’s will for one’s life? These are common questions that come up over and over, and in some cases never get answered. Where do we look for answers? Can our own wisdom and/or reasoning provide solid answers? Should we simply, blindly, trust that “everything will be all right?” To whom should we turn for the answers?
God has the answers.
We need to begin by establishing a confidence that God himself has all the answers. We can’t count on ourselves or any other human being to have complete knowledge, insight and wisdom. But God does have it! Proverbs, chapter two, tells us that He is the source of all wisdom. James 1:5 echoes this idea. But the key, in Proverbs 2:6, is that “…out of his mouth comes wisdom…” God’s Living Word is the link between Himself and us. He prompts us by his Spirit, and via other people, etc., but the written Word is our “…more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place...”(2 Peter 1:19)
Establish a pattern of reading, and study, to begin familiarizing yourself with God’s Word. If you don’t understand something, don’t fret: just make a note of the passage, and come back to it later. When you find something that seems to speak to your particular need, write it down, and perhaps select a verse to memorize. Keep building a supply of material that God can use to teach you.
Attend a good church regularly: this means you need to find a body of believers who teach the Bible as God’s Word, and who don’t teach “peculiar doctrine,” or twist the scripture to make it say something unusual. Let the Holy Spirit guide you. Ask for a doctrinal statement from them, and read it carefully. Not every group calling itself “Christian” is actually teaching the pure Gospel. But it is important to find believers with whom to fellowship, and from whom to receive encouragement and teaching. As you study God’s Word, and as you fellowship with other believers, you should begin gaining a solid understanding of the answers to the questions most of us have.
So, let’s talk about some of those specific questions:
How can I Know I’m Saved?
This is a very common question, and probably the most important question one can ask. If you have no confidence that you are a child of God, then there is no point in trying to live like one.
A simple way to find an answer is to first ask, “What does it take to be saved?” and then, “Have I satisfied that requirement?” So: what does it take? How is salvation accomplished? The Philippian Jailer, in Acts 16:30, asked, “…what must I do to be saved?” Acts 16:31 says “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved…” That was Paul’s answer! There is nothing complicated about that, but perhaps it bears clarification.
In John 3:14-16 Jesus was talking to Nicodemus, explaining to him how to be born again. He adds some insight as to the nature of belief and salvation, but still says “believe”. “14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: 15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. 16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
(Remember that, in Numbers chapter 21, the children of Israel were in trouble with God, and He sent migrating vipers among them as punishment for sin: people were bitten, and they were dying! Moses was commanded to make a bronze serpent and hang it up high, where everyone could see it (bronze or brass were symbols of judgment.) Anyone who was bitten was called to look to that bronze serpent…thus confessing that this judgment was from God. The result? They did not die. It does not say that the pain went away, or that the punctures in their flesh were miraculously healed. But, having looked to God’s solution, they escaped death.)
John 5:24 gives a conditional promise: it has two conditions which have to be fulfilled, and a three-clause promise. “24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.” Jesus was talking to a crowd, and told them if they heard his Words, and believed (placed their trust in) the One who sent him, then they had eternal life—right then! And furthermore, He said that they would never be condemned: they had permanently crossed over from death into life.
Romans 10:8-17 gives more detail: “8 But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; 9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. 10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. 12 For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. 13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. 14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? 17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
Paul said that if a person calls upon (invokes, places their faith in) the name of the Lord, they will be saved. Then he said that one could not call upon someone in whom they did not believe, and they couldn’t believe what they hadn’t heard, and couldn’t hear without one to tell them. This is why we practice evangelism, and support missions!
Romans 1:16 says that the Gospel, being believed, is the power of God to save people…and it is the only thing so called in scripture. Jesus’ death at the cross is “Plan A:” there is no “plan B!”
1 Corinthians 15:3, 4 defines the Gospel. “3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:”
The Gospel is the good news that Jesus died for our sins according to the scripture, that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures (in fulfillment of prophecy). This message, being believed, is what Romans 1:16 says is God’s power to save those who believe.
1 Corinthians 15:22 defines two “positions,” with their respective results. Paul says, “all in Adam died; all in Christ shall be made alive”. Then, we can apply these verses to our own position, to ask–“Am I in Christ, or am I still in Adam?” This is a question that only you can answer. But, according to Jesus’ promise which we read in John 5:24, if you have:
- listened to, (or have read, or heard it in some other way) the Good News concerning Jesus’ death and burial and resurrection, and have
- believed that His blood sacrifice is enough to pay for all your sins, and so have truly placed your dependence on Him as your Savior,
then God says you have eternal life already, and that you now belong to Him. He wants to begin to change your life, to make you more like Himself. If you rebel against him, he will not change his mind, and take away the eternal life He promised, but you will be unhappy and unfulfilled until you correct the problem, whatever it is, because you won’t be free to fellowship with Him.
So, what do I do when I don’t “feel saved?”
Many believers face this problem now and then. What I have done, when I found myself questioning my salvation, was to go back, mentally, and review what it took to be saved: I asked myself, “Has there ever been a time when you placed your full dependence in Jesus’ completed work at the cross as being sufficient to pay for all your sins?” The answer in my case is “Yes.” So, I was forced to conclude that salvation was not the issue, and that probably I was simply out of fellowship with God. (Incidentally, as I have gone through this sequence a number of times, I have more and more quickly arrived at the correct conclusion: I was out of fellowship with God.)
What breaks fellowship?
In a word, “Sin!” Sin breaks fellowship with God. Amos 3:3 says that two cannot walk together unless they are in agreement; Psalm 66:18 says that if I am holding sin in my heart, God will not hear me.
Romans chapter 6 assures me that I do not have to sin. Romans 6:16 says that when I choose to submit myself to sin, I temporarily become a slave to it again.
1st John 1:5, 6 says, “God is Light, and in Him is no darkness at all.” So, if we say that we have fellowship with Him, and our lives don’t match His truth, then we are fooling ourselves. We are not in fellowship. How do we restore fellowship? By confession. 1st John 1:9 “if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just, to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
How do we maintain fellowship? By obedience. 1st John 1:7 “If we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the Blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanses us from all sin.”
Walking with Jesus
Can Sin be eradicated from our lives? I don’t believe it can: 1st John 1:8, 10 says that if we think we have no sin, we are fooling ourselves, and that if we simply think we have never had a sin problem, then we are making God a liar. So, just as Paul struggled with his indwelling sin nature (Romans 7,) in the same manner, we have to fight it.
Colossians 2:6 says we are to walk in Christ in the same way we received Him–(by faith). Walking implies a continuous action, not a “one-time” action. It also implies a step-by-step, relatively slow action, not an idea of “moving by leaps and bounds”, nor of coasting, gliding, or sprinting. I think, in light of the verses listed above, and the wealth of information given to believers concerning how to live the Christian life, that it is safe to say that we will not be without sin until the day we go to be with God. Then, according to 1 John 3:2, “…we shall be like him, for we shall see Him as He is.”
The Christian life has battles, in which we are expected to stand fast. (Ephesians 6:10-18 describes the armor and tells who the enemy is; James 4:7 says we are to submit to God and resist Satan; 1 Peter 5:8, 9 says that the enemy is deadly, and that he stalks us, but that we are to resist him steadfastly.) The key is to be filled with, or to walk in, or be led by the Holy Spirit. (Ephesians 5:18 “be filled with the Spirit”; Galatians 5:16-23 “…walk in the Spirit”; Romans 8:14 “…be led by the Spirit.”). All three are the same idea. The Christian life is not difficult; it is impossible apart from the indwelling, presiding Holy Spirit living that life through us, day by day, and moment by moment.
I trust that each of you is looking to God for the whole life He has to offer you. Please come again, next week, and we will discuss some specific issues in the Christian life.
Lord Jesus, please teach us to find our answers in You: in Your Word, by your Spirit, and always as a manifestation of your Wisdom. Help us to apply your wisdom to each of our personal lives, so that we become the Men and Women of God that you have called us to be.