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If this church building blew up right now and you died do think your ultimate destination would be heaven or hell? Some Christians struggle with a question like this because they don't feel confident in their Christianity. Instead of answering with a resounding yes, they would say, "Well, I hope that I will end up in heaven." This type of answer shows a lack of confidence and it can cause you to be uncertain and nervous about your life, but this should not be the case.
You should be able to know if you are going to heaven or not. You know how you are living your life and you know whether you are faithful or unfaithful. God wants us to be confident in our salvation.
Hebrews 3:5 And Moses indeed was faithful in all His house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which would be spoken afterward, 6 but Christ as a Son over His own house, whose house we are if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end.
Notice we are the house of God IF we hold fast in our confidence in the Lord. Also,
Hebrews 3:14 For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end,
Again, we can see that our relationship with Christ is dependent upon on our confidence in God and the promises He has given us. This is why it is important for us to stop thinking that we might go to heaven because we can know with all confidence that if we are being faithful then we will have a home in heaven. We must maintain our confidence and faithfulness to the end of our life no matter what challenges we may face.
Paul is great example of a man with great confidence in his salvation and in others. Notice what he said in,
2 Timothy 1:8 Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God, 9 who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began, 10 but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, 11 to which I was appointed a preacher, an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles. 12 For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.
When Jesus said that He would show Paul how many things he must suffer for the cause of Christ, He wasn't joking because Paul suffered in many ways for his Christianity. In fact Paul gives a general list of the things that he went through in,
2 Corinthians 11:23 Are they ministers of Christ? -- I speak as a fool -- I am more: in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often. 24 From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; 26 in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; 27 in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness -- 28 besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches.
It would be fair to say that Paul has suffered more than any of this room will ever suffer for the name of Jesus, yet even though he went through all this suffering he put his confidence in God and trusted that He would help him through all of these hardships. Paul understood that God would be there for him and help him. Because he had this confidence, he was able to endure and press on to the goal of heaven. It was this same confidence that God would be with him and help him that caused Paul to be confident is his salvation and in every other faithful Christian's salvation. Again, notice what he tells Timothy in,
2 Timothy 2:8 Remember that Jesus Christ, of the seed of David, was raised from the dead according to my gospel, 9 for which I suffer trouble as an evildoer, even to the point of chains; but the word of God is not chained. 10 Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. 11 This is a faithful saying: For if we died with Him, We shall also live with Him. 12 If we endure, We shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He also will deny us. 13 If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself.
Paul's confidence in his salvation and ours is very clear in this text. He is full of confidence in the Word of God and he has no doubts that other Christians who live by the Word will obtain that is to lay hold of salvation. I love what Paul said in verse 11, IF we died with Him, We shall also live with Him. Here we have another conditional statement that is absolutely necessary for us to even confidence in our salvation. In order for us to live with Christ, we had to die with Him.
Since dieing with Christ must occur before we can live with Him we need to answer the question how does a person die with Christ? Paul gives a clear answer to this question in Romans 6.
Romans 6:1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? 3 Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. 5 ¶ For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, 6 knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. 7 For he who has died has been freed from sin. 8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him,
Friends, it doesn't get any clearer than that. When we figured out that we were drowning in our sins and that we were hopelessly lost without God, we made a decision. We choose to accept the grace of God by obeying God's Word. We believed that Jesus is the Son of God and we repented and started changing our ways to God ways. We made the great confession the Jesus is the Christ and as Paul has just stated we also were baptized into Christ for the remission of our sins. At the point of our baptism, we died with Christ. That is when our old self was done a way with and when we were united with Christ.
Baptism is the only way that we can be put into Christ and die with Christ because it is when our sin are wiped away by the blood of Jesus and this is all done by our confidence in God doing what He said He would do at our baptism. This is where confidence in salvation begins. When we are raised up out of the water grave of baptism, it is at that point that we can know that we are going live with Christ.
I want everyone to understand this because I want everyone to be able to have this confidence. If you are here this morning and you have never obeyed the Word of God and you have never been baptized into Christ for the remission of your sins. I hope that you choose to do so today. If you continue to deny the importance of baptism and do not submit to it for the right reason then you will never be able to have the confidence of making it to heaven because you have never died with Christ and your sins have never been removed. If you love God and want to have the confidence that Paul did, you must first obey the Gospel which includes being baptized into Christ for the remission of your sins.
Paul also said in our text 12 If we endure, We shall also reign with Him. Dieing with Christ is just the beginning and it is the easy part because after you become a Christian your journey down that narrow and difficult road to heaven has just begun. You will have to face many challenges throughout your life. You will have to battle against every temptation that is out there and sometimes the temptation will win, but you must defeat them and continue to have confidence in God that He will be there for you as Paul said,
1 Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.
You must be confident that God will provide you an escape route from you temptation and you need to be looking for it, so you can avoid sinning. Again the promise is conditional, IF we endure, we shall also reign with Him. God never waivers on His promises or His love for us and knowing that should boost our confidence in God and our salvation.
Another thing we learn from the Scriptures is that God is the source of our confidence.
Proverbs 3:26 For the LORD will be your confidence, And will keep your foot from being caught.
Ephesians 3:10 to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, 11 according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord, 12 in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through faith in Him.
Hebrews 13:5 Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you." 6 So we may boldly say: "The LORD is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?"
When we read passages like these, it shows us that that God is the source of our confidence. He is our rock, He is our anchor. When we put our trust in Him and we see that He is always there for it should give us great confidence in Him and our salvation. When you consider that God doesn't want anyone to perish and you step back and take a look at everything that God has done for us, you will see that we have a God that has done everything He can to make us successful in obtaining salvation because He is not against us, He is for us, but we have to choose to obey and endure until the end. Knowing this should help us to all the assurance that we need in our salvation.
Hebrews 10:19 Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, 21 and having a High Priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.
Do you see any room for doubt in the passages? No, you don't because the writer wants us to understand that we can full assurance in our faith and that we should never waiver in our hope of eternal salvation.
One thing that will help us to endure and the confidence that we need as Christians is by studying God's Word and living by it just as John said in,
1 John 2:3 Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. 4 He who says, "I know Him," and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5 But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. 6 He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.
The only way that you and can get to know God and what He wants from us is by reading and studying His Word. If we choose to neglect it, then we are setting ourselves up for failure and we are not going to have the confidence that we should. This is an easy concept to understand because all of us knows what it feels like to be confident and unconfident. For instance, when you were in school and you prepared for test by studying all the teacher told you to, you would be confident that you would pass the test because you were very familiar with the information.
However, if you didn't prepare for a test, then you would not be confident because you knew that you didn't know much about the topic and most likely your feeling was correct and you probably failed the test.
This is the same basic concept when it comes to having confidence in your salvation. If you know what God's Word says on this topic and you know that your are doing your best to follow in the footsteps of Jesus, then you can have confidence of your salvation. Just like our example if you don't study, then you cannot possibly have the confidence you need because you don't really know if you have been living a righteous life because have neglected the word of God. To neglect the word of God is = to throwing your confidence away and the Bible tells us not to do this,
Hebrews 10:35 Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. 36 For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise: 37 "For yet a little while, And He who is coming will come and will not tarry. 38 Now the just shall live by faith; But if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him." 39 But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul.
So, don't neglect God's Word and throw away your confidence in the Lord. The more confidence you lose in God, the more you tend to put your confidence in man, which is not a good thing because man will fail you.
Psalm 118:8 It is better to trust in the LORD Than to put confidence in man.
Jeremiah 17:5 Thus says the LORD: "Cursed is the man who trusts in man And makes flesh his strength, Whose heart departs from the LORD. 6 For he shall be like a shrub in the desert, And shall not see when good comes, But shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, In a salt land which is not inhabited. 7 "Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, And whose hope is the LORD.
You see, we should never put all our confidence in man because they cannot save us or give us eternal life. In fact Micah even tells us not to put all our confidence in our own flesh and blood.
Micah 7:5 Do not trust in a friend; Do not put your confidence in a companion; Guard the doors of your mouth From her who lies in your bosom. 6 For son dishonors father, Daughter rises against her mother, Daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; A man's enemies are the men of his own household. 7 Therefore I will look to the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation; My God will hear me.
The whole point is that we can always trust in God and have confidence that He will keep His promises and will always be there for us, but this same thing cannot be said of man and not even of our flesh and blood because we are all human and we are far from being perfect, but God is perfect and He never lies or fails to keep His promises.
When we can get to the point in our life where we are confident of God's Word and our salvation, then it will empower us to boldly speak out for God's love as,
1 Thessalonians 2:1 For you yourselves know, brethren, that our coming to you was not in vain. 2 But even after we had suffered before and were spitefully treated at Philippi, as you know, we were bold in our God to speak to you the gospel of God in much conflict.
When you have confidence in God, you will have no problem talking to people about Him and defending your faith. When you look at the growth of the church in the book of Acts, you see over and over again how the apostles and other faithful men spoke God's Word boldly even if it meant their death. In fact they rejoiced if they suffered for the cause of Christ because they knew that they were being pleasing to God.
This type of confidence will annoy people sometimes. This is why there some today that will say you people think you are the only ones going to heaven. The reason they say this is because we have the ability to give a book chapter and verse of why we have confidence in our salvation and what it takes to be a faithful Christians. Those who oppose our confidence usually cannot offer up any verses that support their way of life, so they resort to telling you how they feel instead of telling you what the Bible says. So, don't ever let the words and opinions of other take away from the confidence you have in your salvation because your confidence come from God through His Word.
When we learn to trust in God, we will also have confidence we need to pray to God and know that He will hear what we say,
1 John 5:14 Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15 And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.
We should never doubt that God hears our prayers and we should know that He will answer those prayer in accordance with His will and as James teaches us, we should not pray to God with doubt because God wants us to pray to Him believing that He will hear us and answer our prayers. Also John adds this,
1 John 3:18 My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth. 19 And by this we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him. 20 For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things. 21 Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God. 22 And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight.
This is why you and I can have confidence in our prayer life. If we know we are living by God's commands and we are doing those things that are pleasing to Him, He will answer our prayers and help us in our time of need.
Finally, when we follow the example Paul and have confidence in our salvation, we can know that we will be prepared for the day of judgment just like John says in,
1 John 4:17 Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. 19 We love Him because He first loved us.
If I could have asked Paul the question I asked you at the beginning of the lesson of where you destination would be if you died right now, I believe Paul's answer would have been something like this,
2 Timothy 4:7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.
Everyone Christian in this room should have this same confidence. If you love God and you studying God's Word and you are living your life by it, then you should know with confidence and blessed assurance that your destination is heaven.
However, if you are here this morning and you have not obeyed the Gospel plan of salvation and you have not been baptized into Christ for the remission of your sins then you are lost because you have not died with Christ, but you can make decision today to die with Christ so that you can have confidence in your salvation. If you are willing to do this then why not come forward this morning and die with Christ and begin your journey down that difficult road that leads to life.
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