Security or Insecurity
Heavenly Father, make known your truth and the balance of your truth to us. Our hearts are open, Lord. We want to know and have assurance of our walk with you. We thank you that you provide that for us.
Thank you, Lord, that you're in our midst, that it's not just a book that we read, but more than just the written word. We have Jesus, the living word and this Holy Spirit to make Him known to us. I pray that our hearts would be nurtured and through the nourishment that you'd motivate us to live out what we know is true in Jesus' name. Amen.
A couple months ago, someone walked up to me and was distressed. And she said, Skip, I've accepted the Lord not too long ago, but I'm not sure anymore. I said, what do you mean you're not sure? You're not sure of what? She says, I don't feel saved.
And one time, I did feel saved. I felt real saved, but now I don't feel saved anymore. And I assured her what the Bible says and that she's come to the Lord in repentance and faith.
And Jesus said, I'll never leave you. I'll never forsake you. If He has you in the palm of His hand, no man can snatch you out of his hand. He's able to keep you from falling and so on.
But she voiced an opinion. She voiced a feeling that many people are in touch with when it comes to their walk with God. And some people have doubts about that. Now the issue that we're dealing with today is an issue that you have asked about. And the questions that I solicited from the body, questions that you want answered, I didn't bring them all this morning, but I brought a couple.
Can a person who is a Christian and is killed when he's living in a backslidden state lose their salvation? I know that there have been times when I have been backsliding living in the world, but I still love the Lord. What does God do with people like that? Good question-- it's a good question.
Another one, God forgives us our sins if we confession repent. But at the same time, as Christians, we are accountable for what we think and do.
I am confused if he wipes the slate clean and remembers our sin no more, what will we be held accountable for on the day of judgment as far as our deeds and works are concerned? Another good question. We're dealing with a battleground, folks. It's a battle that's been raging for years, and there really doesn't need to be a battle.
But there's been a battle between once saved, always saved, and the people that say, yeah, you can lose your salvation. I had it yesterday, but I misplaced it the day after and who knows now. There's been a battle going on for a long time.
Now the fact that there's been a battle going on for a long time shows that there is no simple answer to this because if there was a simple answer to this thing, they would have all agreed on it a long time ago. There's just not a simple easy pat glib answer that I can give you. Now some of you think there is a very simple answer to this. It'd be simple if everyone would just agree with you. There'd be no controversy.
But it doesn't work that way. It's not that easy. We can't give a simplistic answer, but we can examine different scriptures. And that's what we want to do today.
In fact, there's one way to settle this whole issue. What is it? This book.
There's only one problem with that answer. Everybody says that. Both sides say that. No matter what side you're on, you can have a list of proof texts on this side to prove you can and this side prove you can't, and they're both supported equally by a good number of scholars and so on and so forth.
Now the theological term for this debate-- not that it's important that you know the names or the terms, but I'm going to give it to you, anyway. It's called Calvinism versus Armenianism, which are two different people that arose in church history that disagreed with each other as ability to always be saved and stand in God's grace forever, and those are many.
As you said, it's possible to fall away. And so people say I'm a Calvinist. I'm an Armenianist. And they go back and forth and play spiritual ping-pong, take out their swords, and beat each other with it instead of the real enemy, which is Satan. And there's an argument that goes on, and it goes something like this.
Well, I know you have those set of texts in the scriptures, but you misinterpret them. You interpret them wrongly. And the other guy turns it around says, no, you interpret it wrongly. I'm right. You guys have always been wrong.
As far as the debate goes and the position goes, I'm relatively unconcerned about the debate. What I'm concerned about is that the scripture motivates us to know God and to walk close to God and to know for sure that we're saved. And it's important that we do know for sure that we're saved, and you can know for sure that you're saved. Now why would some people doubt this?
When Jesus says, he shall not come into judgment, but he has passed from death into life, why would a person doubt that he's saved? Well, the first and most obvious reason is that maybe he's not saved. That's a good reason to doubt, isn't it? If a person isn't born again, hasn't been changed by God, that gives person a great deal to doubt.
Someone once asked me, well, how do you know you're saved? I said that's easy. I was there when it happened.
I know the changes that have taken place in my life. And giving my life to the Lord, there has been a change, and there's a constant process of change that the Lord is working out of my life. You know it.
If you have a relationship with God, you know it. You know when a baby is born, that baby is aware that something is happening. You might not remember it.
You might not say, no, I remember the day I was born. Oh, yes, as I first saw light and the doctor pulled me out, and I looked at his face. You don't remember that.
But a baby is still aware that something is changing because he is crying. And there is an awareness that goes on. There is a change that's taking place.
But unfortunately, there are those who will substitute something for a real walk with God. They will substitute ceremony for being changed and born again. They will substitute ritual for really knowing the Lord. And there are people in churches.
Churches are filled with people who think that because they should now live a good and moral life and they go to church, that connotes Christianity. And it does not. In fact, that person has no ability to help anyone spiritually because he's not changed himself.
How can he preach the gospel of God changing people? That's like a 300-pound man selling diet books. He has to experience it before he can get out any kind of news. So it is in the Christian church.
Second reason a person could doubt is because some people are told that you just never know till you get there. And so they think, well, who knows if you're saved. You can never know. I was taught that growing up. You'll never know till judgment day, then surprise.
And I remember asking a member of the clergy of my church about this growing up. And he said, now, I guess it boils down to this.
Skip, if you go to heaven, you'll know that you were saved all that time. But the most obvious question was, what if I end up not in heaven and I end up in hell? Then you know that you weren't saved. Now isn't that a little too late to find out you were wrong?
What if you went to a doctor and he said, now you may have cancer the tests indicate, but you may not have cancer. Well, how will I know? Well, if you die, then you've had cancer. That wouldn't be good enough.
You want some security. You want some assurance. You want a definite answer, and you can have a definite answer.
The scripture says right here, he has everlasting life. He will not come into judgment of God but is passed from death unto life. Now perhaps most Christians would fall into the next category of doubt because many of us doubt from time to time.
Do I really stand right with God? Am I really saved? I've been feeling things lately, and a lot of you can relate to this. It's that because we don't understand God's grace and we don't really believe in this book that God wrote, I mean, really, we start doubting.
And we start looking within ourselves to see if we feel saved today or if we don't feel saved today. Instead of looking to something that is reliable, like the scripture, we turn into ourselves to something that is pretty unreliable. And that is our feelings and our emotions, and they can vary from time to time.
But what happens is people will set a standard that they set up, and they become very unstable because if their conduct matches this little standard of doing this and not doing this, they feel assured and secure of their salvation. But if they don't match up that week or that day, they're very unstable, very insecure of their salvation because they've set up a standard of I can do this, and I can do that.
And if I do this, I'll be pleasing to God instead of resting in God's grace and His keeping power. And if you really are saved and have experienced the grace of God, you're going to be moving forward in the Lord. It's going to empower you and motivate you to walk close to God. But many people struggle and have so many doubts.
Listen, if God loved you while you were a sinner and God accepts you now and your faith and repentance turning to Jesus Christ. If God's happy with that and God can accept you, why don't you accept you? Now let me tell you why it's important to believe this.
It is essential that you know-- and you better make sure before you leave this room today-- that you know that you have a walk with God, not, well, I think I'm a good enough person. Well, I'm religious enough, or well, I have a Bible. But you know. I'll tell you why. Because knowing or not knowing, being sure or not being sure will make the difference between stability and instability the rest of your Christian walk.
Have you ever traveled somewhere, say, in a car, you're traveling across the country. And you're pretty sure, you think, that you're headed in the right direction. And you cruise, and you keep going.
Yeah, I know where it is, honey. Leave me alone. I know exactly where I am.
And all of a sudden, you come to the realization that you're lost, and you're running out of time. You have to be somewhere at a certain time. What do you do? You panic, usually, or you blame your wife.
But when you're not sure, you're unstable. You don't have the stability that if you knew where you were going you'd have. And so it is with many people when it comes to their walk with God.
You become a victim of your circumstances instead of a victor over your circumstances because when you're feeling saved, you have insurance. Your circumstances dictate to you it's OK. When your circumstances are a little bit rocky, your assurance is rocky as well. It is also the difference between an effective prayer life and a prayer life that is totally ineffective.
See, when Jesus told us to pray, He said say this. Our what? Father-- that denotes relationship. You have a relationship. It's not dear God who is far away but our Heavenly Father.
There's a relationship. And God as Jesus assured us to rest on a relationship with God. But if you are not sure that you're saved, then you're not sure you have a relationship with God.
If you're not sure you have a relationship with God, you're not too sure about approaching God. And if you're not too sure about a relationship with God or approaching God, you're not too sure he's going to answer your prayer. I mean, what right do you have to come to him and get your prayer answered unless you're sure you have a relationship with Him, and He's going to answer. I'm going to give you an example.
I admit it's a dumb example, but it's an illustration. You walk up to someone who is a biker-- someone in leather jacket who has a Harley, the mean looking time. My brother was one, so I can relate. And you go up to him and say, hey, man.
Let me borrow your keys. I'm going to take your scooter, your Harley for a spin. Would you be confident that he would say sure? No, you'd approach him in trepidation if you'd approach him at all because I'm not too sure that you have a good enough relationship with that person to warrant borrowing his scooter.
If he was your friend or your brother and you knew, hey, we love each other. What's his is mine. I can go up, and he'll let me use it. You'd have no problem in approaching him to ask for it.
If you don't have a real security and assurance, you can't stand on the promises that God gave you, then you're prayer life will be ineffective. Third, it's the difference between being powerful in the midst of Satan and being defeated. In any battle, the ground upon which the battle is fought is a determining factor. In Vietnam, many Americans had a tough time fighting the battle because they were not familiar with fighting in the jungles.
And when somebody who's used to this landscape goes over to the jungles and tries to fight in that kind of an atmosphere, it's very difficult. And it was a factor that worked against us because they were used to the jungle. We were not. So the battleground upon which the battle takes place is a determining factor.
Listen, Satan seeks to take you from the place of refuge with God, of security in hiding in God as a strong tower, and get you out on the battlefield alone in your own strength and your own power, not really tight relationship with God. He drags you out to the battlefield, gets his dark gun out, and go and shoots a dart of fear and doubt right into your heart.
You start saying, oh, I don't know. Maybe I am. Maybe I'm not.
Maybe I should. Maybe I shouldn't. And all the time, he's beaten you bloody. But if you can stand secure, you know your victory lives.
Example David-- the beginning of David's life, here's this little shepherd kid with a sling and a stone. And he walks through the camp of all of these fearful Israelites walks up to a giant. And he says, who are you, you big uncircumcised giant, that you would defy the living God? I come to you in the name of the living God.
All you have is your height. The taller they are, the harder they fall. Let's go. Boy, he was strong in God.
But at the end of his life, David became lax in his relationship with God, I believe. He started numbering his people to find out how many army men he had on his side, so he could brag about his own strength and his own army. And that caused a downfall of the nation. He left the strength of a relationship with God, and you get beat up when you're out there alone as many are. And fourthly, it's important because it's the difference between an effective witness and an ineffective witness before the world.
If there's one thing that characterizes our society, it is confusion. People are looking for answers. There is so much humanism and vagueness and doubt. And relativism, there's no concrete answers.
No one's really sure of anything anymore. And people come to churches. And I believe that the church by and large has failed in this.
They present Christ so vague and so philosophical, and people with real problems need more than a soft song and a sermonette. The sermonettes are for Christianettes. They want some answers. They want some real talk. It just doesn't cut it anymore to present God, oh, just way up and not real as He really is.
So when a man or a woman of God comes along who really believes in Christ and really lives it and points to Jesus who alone has the answers, that makes an impact in a person's life because he sees someone who in the midst of fluctuation and change and confusion really believes in something. And it really works in his life. So it's important for these reasons to know that you're saved.
But we have a problem. The problem is that as we look out in the world, or as we look out among the ranks of those who profess Christ, there's a bunch of spiritual casualties. You know what I mean by that?
Remember what Jesus told to the Ephesians in the Book of Revelations? You guys do a lot of great things. You're hard workers, but you've left your first love. Now I want you to turn with me to the book of James, chapter 5, and point out what James says toward the end of his chapter, as he writes to these Christians, these believers in the Lord.
In James, chapter 5 verse 19, he says, brethren-- speaking to brothers in the Lord-- if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone turns him back, let him know that view turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins. The problem is spiritual casualties.
There's people who wander. I'm sure you know some. The many people in our own nation in the good old US of A who have once professed to know Christ and said that they loved him with all of their hearts and they even serving him and preaching the gospel even who wouldn't darken the door of a church who won't have anything to do with the God whom they once said they loved with all of their heart and would never do anything but serve the Lord. And we see them now backslidden.
In fact, Paul said, I think it characterizes these days. He said that before the great time of the coming of the Lord, that there will be a falling away in apostasy, that people will fall away from the faith. I think we see it today-- people falling from the faith right and left, not that same walk with God. Do an experiment.
Ask the average cultist what he grew up believing in what church. Ask the average Sikh who goes up to the temple in northern New Mexico. Ask the average devotee to the gurus of eastern mysticism. I guarantee you most of them will say they grew up in a mainline Christian denomination. That's what they'll say.
They grew up presented with the gospel of Jesus Christ, and now they're not following Jesus Christ. And I think again the fault is the church.
McCall's magazine ran a survey. They asked 3,000 Protestant ministers. All sorts of questions about their fate. Astonishingly, they found that most of these ministers did not even believe in a personal God. We have a case of the blind leading the blind. They should just get out of the pulpit.
But we have all of these spiritual casualties. Who are they? What's going to happen to them?
Now we can glibly answer that. We can dismiss it by saying, well, they were really never saved, you see, because it's easier just to hold on to that. They would never really saved. It really wasn't a true commitment because they would have stuck out with it. So they never were saved.
Even when they said they believe and they reached out to Jesus, they were never saved. Or some will say that they had backslidden. But what's going to happen is that they will turn back to the Lord sometime in their life, even if it's a last moment before they die. And I'll have to agree with part of that. I have seen many people who make a profession to Christ and fall away who never really were Christians.
And I have seen the Lord turn back a lot of people who have backslidden. But I don't think that's true in every case down the line-- the experience and I think the scripture bears a different picture. Now I believe in the security of the believer. I am eternally secure in Jesus Christ.
Now, I want to share with you a balance of scripture. As I'm doing this, I can see the look on your faces. You're saying, well, OK, Skip, which are you? Give it to us straight. Are you a Calvinist? Are you Armenian?
Just give it to us straight-- we want to know if we're going to come back here or not. Well, I guess I'm a Calminist, calminium-- that's it. I'm right in the middle of both camps. I am. I believe that there's truth in both camps, and I believe if you take either position to an extreme, you're extremely dangerous ground.
There see there's two sides to every coin. I have a quarter in my hand. On the front of the quarter is a face of someone. Do you know who it is? Who is it?
George Washington, a few of you knew it. Some of you don't know your own quarters. I didn't know till I looked. On the back of this quarter, George isn't there an eagle with his feathers are out.
Now what if someone says let me ask you a question, is George Washington on a quarter or is an eagle on a quarter? Which of the two is correct? You'd say both are correct. They're both on there, and they happen to be next to each other on the flip side of the coin.
So it is with truth in the Bible. Many times, both are true, and they're not contradictory. They're on the same coin. Both positions are true, I believe-- both taken to an extreme or wrong. Let me illustrate it by two different people telling me two different things.
First of all, the girl that comes up and says, I don't feel saved anymore. I was saved yesterday. I'm not saved today. Back and forth, I believe that's wrong.
I think you can just run away, and boy, where's my salvation. I left it at the restaurant back there, I guess. I better go find it again-- having to struggle and worry from one day to the next because the result of that is a person will doubt his assurance of his salvation and his stability with Christ.
But the other position can comfort a person in their apostasy. And I've had people say, Skip, I went up. I raised my hand. I came forward in an article.
Why I even cried in the prayer room. They had to give me three Kleenex. I mean, it was emotional. It was real, and I gave my life to the Lord. I turned from my sins.
Yeah, but today, you're living in blatant open sin, and you've been doing it constantly for years. It didn't matter. I'm saved because I made a commitment to the Lord, and I'm secure in that.
And you can comfort a person in their apostasy if you take either extreme to an extreme. I think it's a wrong position. I think there is a balance of scripture.
I want you to turn with me to excuse me, John, chapter 10-- very astute. There is no James chapter 10. That's like turn to the book of Hezekiah-- turn to John, chapter 10.
We can take lots of them. And a lot of you have it as ammunition under your belt. You can quote all of them. I'm just going to pick out four scriptures-- two on each side and they don't contradict each other.
John chapter 10, verse 27. Oh, I love this promise. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them. And they follow me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish.
Literally, they will positively not perish-- no, never. Neither shall anyone snatch them out of my hand. That is, snatched by force.
My father who has given them to me is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of my father's hand. Now that's assurance, folks. And you can rest on that puppy.
I'm in God's hand. No one's going to snatch me from it. Turn to Romans chapter 8.
Romans chapter 8, verse 35. Paul asked the question, who is going to separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation or distress or persecution, famine, nakedness, peril, or sword? Verse 37, yet in all these things, we're more than conquerors through Him who loved us, for I am persuaded that neither death nor life nor angels nor principalities nor powers nor things present nor things to come nor height nor depth nor any other created things shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus, our Lord.
A better translation would be I have come through a process of persuasion, and I have come to a settled conclusion. And I will never change my mind. That's how sure I am that nothing's going to separate me. Nothing has the power to come in from the outside and separate me from the love of God. I'm secure in his hand.
Now not only is there assurance here, but over in verse 30, it's says that God predestined us. That is, in advance, He picked us. Now we have a problem. How does this work?
How can God pick us in advance and choose us for salvation, which the scripture says he does, by the way, and yet let us have a free choice in the matter? We can't figure that out. I can't. Can you?
And the reason that we can't is we lack an attribute that God has called foreknowledge. That is, God can see and think everything in advance before it happens. That makes all the difference in the world.
Let's say we watch a football game, and we're sitting before the football game. And I've already seen it. It's an instant replay for me. I've been at the game.
I know who is going to win. I know who's going to make a touchdown, and in the game, I say now watch this play. This guy's had a come downfield, grab the ball, make a touchdown. He's going to win by this many points, and I choose this team to win. I'm picking them in advance.
So how can you do that? Well, I have an unfair advantage. I've seen it before. You haven't.
Because I've already known what the result is going to be and what they're going to do, I choose this team to win. God already knows who will respond freely to His grace.
So in advance, he can say I choose that person. God has foreknowledge. He predestines people, yet there is the balance of God choosing and free will where we can make a choice. And so we're assured of our salvation even to the point that God picked us in advance. Now, I want you to turn to a couple other scriptures, Hebrews chapter 3.
In verse 12, beware, brethren, lest there be any of you, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God calls them brethren-- didn't say heathen. Beware, brethren, lest any of you or in any of you, there's an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God. One translation says that would move you to be an apostate or that would separate you. But exhort one another daily while it is called today lest any of you be hard into the deceitfulness of sin, for we have become part takers of Christ. If we hold the beginning of our confident steadfast to the end, turn to the 10th chapter of the same book. Hebrews 10.
Verse 26, for if we sin willfully, if we willfully persist in sin, literally, after we have received the knowledge of the truth, that is the full experiential knowledge by experience intimate full knowledge of the truth. There is no longer a means of sacrifice for sins but a certain fearful expectation of judgment and fire indignation which will devour the adversaries. Before we unravel all this and get to the bottom line, I want to warn all of us who are believers the Bible says to exhort one another daily, to encourage, to stimulate to grow. Stick close to the Lord. Don't rely on a theological position.
Well, I've always been taught that I don't have to worry about anything, and I accepted the Lord once. I'll do what I want and don't rely on the fact that well I got a struggle for my salvation. Maybe I have it. One day, I don't. Take the position.
You know what's important? Stick close to Jesus-- follow Him with all of your heart servant. If you don't, you're in dangerous waters. The best way to live is close to Jesus. It's sort of like an airplane, and I had this great revelation one time when I was flying that an airplane is so vastly different from every other mode of transportation-- pretty brilliant revelation, isn't it?
I'll tell you why. Every other mode of transportation, be it a boat, a car, horse and buggy, bicycle, you can stop that vehicle anywhere you want to, put it in reverse, and back it up. A bicycle is a little tough, but you can reverse the engines in a car and a boat. You can backup whenever you want to, no problem.
But in an airplane, it depends on momentum and constant forward and upward motion. Otherwise, it'll crash. Keep going onward with the Lord-- keep running the race. The theological position is important, but what's most important is that you stick close to Jesus personally.
Now the scriptures that I read provide the heads and the tails-- both sides of the coin-- and both are accurate. And God presented both positions. And if I can use a phrase what God has joined together, let not man separate. Both of them are true.
The reason there's two positions in the scriptures that are both true is because you've got God, and you've got man. And from God's side, He is able to keep you from falling to present you faultless before his throne. I don't worry about my salvation. I know I'm secure in the Lord.
I walk in that I trust in that, but it's not automatic, folks. Jesus said whoever believes in Him-- by the way, in Greek, that's present tense-- whoever believes now and continually constantly believes in Him will have everlasting life. I walk with the Lord. I'm not scared because Jesus said if you abide in me, you're going to bear for fruit.
Have you ever watched a branch sweat and fret that he would produce fruit and just worry so much and just go oh I'm going to struggle to bear forth fruit? Here goes, apple. Ooh, that was hard work, but I did it.
The only thing that produces fruit is that little branch, clinging to the source to the vine. Jesus had a bite and menial bear for much fruit abide means maintain a close intimate communion with Jesus Christ. Just stick close to Jesus, just abide in Him. You'd have to sweat the positions, the argument, stick close to Him. Years ago, I was traveling overseas to Israel, one of my favorite places to hang out.
I missed my plane, and they put me on this little plane. It was a brand X name out of London to Tel Aviv. I forget the name of it, but the plane didn't even look healthy as I was walking up to it. I felt a little bit antsy. And sure enough, my worst dream, my worst nightmare came true.
We're taking off, and we'd get to a heavy storm, electrical storm-- clouds and darkness. And you've ever been in all those planes? It just pop up and down in the clouds. This storm was so tough that the food tray on our lap hit the roof, no joke.
Now I was scared. I was panicking. I was grabbing on tightly as if the plane is going to be supported by my holding on tight. And I'm grabbing on and praying up a storm. And I'm thinking, Lord, I'm coming home. This is it.
The engines shut off in midair. About 10 seconds later, they came on again. I've never been in a plane like this. I'm thinking, great. Everybody's in Israel, and I'm going to end up dead in the Atlantic somewhere. And I was scared.
We finally smoothed out. Obviously, I'm here in one piece. As we got to a smooth part of the air, this is my comment, whew, we made it. We made it. As if all of my worrying, all of my struggling helped the plane.
What I failed to realize during that storm is all of the rigorous testing this plane had been through, all of the engineering that went into it, the capability of the pilot and the crew, the men on the ground, and that this plane had transported people to their destination thousands of times. And I'm worried about it. Jesus Christ has transported people to God millions of times. He knows what he's doing. He is powerful to keep you from falling.
But I admit to you I'd be an idiot if I was to jump out of that plane. Give me a parachute. I'm getting out of here. I'd be a fool to try to abandon the ship. Don't abandon the ship.
As long as you're in the ship and God has a hold of you, if you don't harden your heart by your free will, yo don't have to sweat it. You are secure in Jesus Christ. God did not save you against your free will, and He does not take away your free will once you become a Christian.
You can't slip in and out of your salvation this way and that way. That a person can come to a place to make an ultimate choice, and God will respect the choice. I never worry about it.
As I say, I abide in Christ, and I'm eternally secure. I'm in His hands. Now I'm going to give you a test as we close in the next minute, couple of minutes because I don't care about the argument of eternal security or insecurity. I care about you knowing that you're saved this morning.
Here's a little test you can take. It's all founded on the book of 1 John. He wrote it that you might know that you have eternal life.
Test number one, has there been a change in your life? Do you know that you have a relationship with God? Have you seen God change your life? From glory to glory, you've been changed. You have a real relationship with Him?
If you know the Lord, you know it. Can you imagine a son mistaking his mother for another woman? It'd be very difficult because he knows her. If you're a sheep you know him and then if you've come to him, there's been changes in your life. Second test, do you love God's people? It says in the book of 1 John we know that we passed from death into life if we love the brethren.
Well, I'm a Christian, but I just hate Christians. I don't like to be around them. They're all hypocrites.
Oh, you're a Christian, but you don't like them. You don't love them. You don't love the body of Christ.
Test number three, do you desire to obey his commandments? And hereby we know that we know him, John says, if we keep His commandments. Jesus said, if you love me, keep my commandments. There's a desire to obey God's word.
Now a final word to you who have-- I'll use the biblical word backslidden-- and you think, Skip, you don't know where I've been. You don't know how far I've fallen. You don't know what I've been doing the last several months in open flagrant sin. And I feel so invaluable.
I feel so worthless to God. And see, right now, you're just getting beat up by the enemy with those little fiery darts when God says, I'll take you as you are. There was a son of a family who'd been overseas fighting a war. And he came back to the United States-- hadn't seen his family for years.
He got on the phone and long distance called his family. His mom answered the phone. And they were so excited to talk to each other. She said, son, I can't wait to see you.
He goes, mom, I can't wait to see you. I'm coming home in a few days. But he said, mom, I've got to ask you an important question. My best friend, can I bring him home to live with us? My best friend saved my life, and he went on to explain that in a foxhole, a grenade went off, and his best friend saved his life, covering him up. And then the explosion, he said he'd lost his right eye, his right arm, or one eye, one arm, and one leg.
Says mom, I want to bring him home to live with us forever. I want to take care of him. He saved my life. I owe living for him like this. Can I bring him home? Can you be a part of our family?
And she said, oh, son, sure, bring him home. Bring him home. We'd love to have him. We can keep him for a few days. And after that, we'll find a place for him where he'd be happy. No, mom, you don't understand.
He saved my life. I want him to become a part of our family forever. Well, son, listen, we can keep him. Bring him home for a few weeks, maybe even a month or so.
But it's going to be very difficult to care for someone like that the rest of their life. It can be very difficult on that family. You understand, don't you, son? He said, yeah, I sure do understand, mom. Thanks, hung up the phone.
Next day at the door of the mother was an officer from the army who announced that her son had committed suicide. When the body was brought back home and there was the funeral, she looked in the casket of her son, and she understood. As she looked, she saw her son had one eye, one arm, and one leg missing, that he had tested her love.
And he found out that he lacked value to her because he wasn't completely whole like he used to be. It is the enemy who will say you cannot come back to God. You've tried it once, forget it. You've blown it. You're not valuable anymore. You come today as you are to Jesus Christ, and He will restore you back.
Forget the theological argument-- come and be assured that Jesus Christ. Let's pray. And could I have my staff and my board up here as well?
Heavenly Father, thank you that we know, and we can know our standing before you, Lord. Thank you for your word. It tells us that we can know that we're in right standing with you. And we're forgiven, and that we're of value to you.
And you take us as we are. Lord, I pray for those who don't know you this morning, that they will come to know you by their own free will, that they'll take a stand and also for those who have backslidden and fallen away. And they're unsure, and they need assurance. I pray, Lord, that you bring them to that place of assurance today. We ask--