Are you truly Saved?

[Audio http://ab86qw.bay.livefilestore.com/y1pf59iO-YHyiJJZi5c1eScm-H9ID8RgSLiWJ6UpTsuAHzTiwmgpbz_N2eVZoGzsTr_5hG6Lmd6m5uAY-jDYXu-q9bsfKgMVX_G/6-1-08areyousaved.mp3%5D

Title: Are You Saved?

Text: Acts 2:36-41

Time: June 2nd, 2008

Today, we come to that all important question: are you saved, are you born again, do you have salvation, have you escaped the Judgment, have you eternal life, are you forgiven of your sins – all of these are really the same question – is your invisible, eternal soul in a state of grace or not? What could be more important than the eternal status of your soul? “What does it profit a man (or woman) to gain the whole world and lose his (or her) soul?” Jesus said. What could be more important a question than what is the state or condition of my soul, of your soul? If the Bible is true, if what Christianity teaches is true, if what Jesus and the Apostles taught is true – that this life is only but a prelude to an eternal existence, then the most important issue before me, before you, is what is the status of our soul before God. What difference does it make how much money or property or possessions you had in this life if you lose your very soul to eternity? What difference would it be if you achieved all earthly success, achievement and status before the world and lost your soul? What would it gain you if you enjoyed every pleasure and experienced every type of excitement or adventure only to eventually lose your soul in eternity. No, the words of Jesus are still true, “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world (gain everything in this earthly life) and lose his own soul (lose everything in the life to come)?” The answer is obviously, “Nothing, it would gain him nothing.” So we need to revisit the most fundamental question from time to time, “What is the state of my soul before God?” or in other words, “Am I truly saved?” Because the stakes are just too high to ignore such an important issue. Now when we ask ourselves such a question, there will always seem to be a lot of people who will quickly seek to reassure us of a positive answer. For example, if you ask the typical pastor or clergyman about salvation, or more specifically the state of your soul, if they know you or have known you they will probably be eager to reassure you that you are indeed saved. They’ll seek to calm your fears and doubts about the matter in order to give you peace of mind about the whole thing. But even though we can understand how they might want to make you feel better and give you peace about it, are they really helping you if they quickly pass over the real profound question of salvation simply to make you feel better? No. The great Reformer Martin Luther had a similar situation occur to him repeatedly in his early life. As a monk, he’d go to his superior and inquire as to the state of his soul, and he’d always be assured that he didn’t need to worry, that God will save his soul, but somehow he never could believe that these men, these clergymen, could or had the absolute authority to speak for God concerning his soul. He wanted assurance from God , not some man trying to make him feel good. And that’s the problem we face today. We don’t need the assurance of some man, or his opinion about our soul, we need the authoritative Word of God on our salvation, because after all, in the final analysis, it doesn’t really matter what some man believes, or even what you or I might believe or wish to believe about the salvation of our souls; all that really matters is what God decides is the status of our soul before him. If my soul is saved, it’s because God says so, not man! So today, as we grow older and older every week, every year, let us revisit the important, the most important question: am I really saved? Is my soul, is your soul, in a state of salvation before the Almighty and Living God today? 

The only voice that can give us full assurance one way or another in respect to the state of our soul is God alone. So let us turn to God – in the form of God’s Word found in the Bible – to get the answer to the all-important question: Am I saved? We’ve been studying in the Book of Acts lately, so let’s turn again to it, Acts 2:36-41, “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ. When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to peter and the other apostles, ‘brothers, what shall we do?’ Peter replied, ‘Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off – for all whom the Lord our God will call.’ With many other words he warned them: ‘Save yourselves from this corrupt generation. Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand souls were added to their number that day.” So we see the Pentecost crowd respond to the preaching of the gospel by the Apostle Peter by saying, “What shall we do?” In another place in the Book of Acts, a jailer put to Peter a similar question and more specifically, “What must I do to be saved?” So we are dealing with the issue of salvation. We are dealing with the very topic we are asking about this morning – how do I know that I am saved, if indeed I am saved? It’s a little different in that these people were asking the question, “What must I do to be saved” while we are specifically asking the question, “How do I know if I am saved” but when you think about it, it boils down to about the same thing because if I know exactly how to be saved, then I can determine if I’ve done the things to be saved, and that will give me the answer to my question, “Am I saved.” Later, I’ll explain how we can be certain that we’ve done what it takes to be saved by examining whether we exhibit evidences that we’ve done the things it takes to be saved. But for now, we see that Peter basically says there are three things it takes to be saved: first, you must be convicted of your sins; two, you must confess and repent of your sins; and three, you must trust in Jesus whole-heartedly by faith to save you from your sins. So in answering the question: Am I saved, you must ask yourself, “Have I done all three things that are outlined here in the Book of Acts in order to obtain the salvation of my soul?” I would think especially people who are getting older – we are all getting older – but especially those people who are nearing the end of their lives, it would be wise to periodically revisit this important question towards the end of your life. Why? Because what could be more important than getting this question right? You don’t want to make a mistake on this one because it could cost you your eternal soul. So everyone must be willing to ask themselves and answer honestly the question: “How do I really know that I’m saved?” Let’s find out.

First, Am I convicted of sin? Acts 2:37, “When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, ‘Brothers, what shall we do?” Do you see what was taking place? Do you feel the emotion of the people as they asked Peter what to do? They were convicted of their sins. The Gospel of John tells us in the words of Jesus that one of the primary roles of the Holy Spirit is to convict the world of sin, righteousness and judgment. Here is evidence of the Spirit’s work in the hearts of people because they appear to be convicted of their sins as Peter preaches to them the gospel. What is being convicted of sin? It is to be grieved over your own sinfulness. There are two convictions that can occur. One, there is the conviction of the Holy Spirit for our sinful nature, the inherited sin we received from our original parents Adam and Eve. They sinned the original sin in the Garden of Eden in disobedience of God and then they passed along that original sin to future generations. You were born into the world, and so was I, with a sin nature. It is said that the doctrine of original sin is one of the most humanly verifiable teachings of the Bible, because all we have to do is look at the world today and see that this is true. It’s true from our own experience because we see that little children, even little babies, have the natural tendency to be selfish and go wrong. They don’t need to be taught bad, they naturally move towards it. They must, on the contrary, be taught to be good, but they naturally become bad. That’s because of their sin nature, which we all share. You must be sad about that. You must feel grief over that fact that you are a sinner by nature. You must feel bad about the fact that the whole human race is in rebellion against God and His laws, and that you are part of that rebellion against God. But two, there is the conviction of the Holy Spirit for your specific sins, not just your sin nature. We inherited original sin, but we acted out specific sins in our life. Think back upon your life, think about each and every time you’ve committed sin. That should bother you. It should cause you grief and anguish. The Holy Spirit’s aim is to convict you of your sins, to make you feel miserable and uncomfortable about them. Why? Because unless you are convicted of sin, unless you show remorse over your sins, you can’t be saved. Now naturally as sinners, as members of a sinful and rebellious human race, we naturally sin, and we also naturally don’t feel very remorseful about it. Yes, we all do things that bother our consciences, but most of the time, naturally speaking, we can live with ourselves and our sin. But if the Holy Spirit is working salvation in a person, he or she will be convicted of their sins. Are you convicted of your sins? If you can sin and not feel bad or bothered, that isn’t a very good evidence of salvation. If you can repeatedly sin and it doesn’t bother you, and you don’t feel convicted, grieved by the Spirit for it, that’s a bad sign. It might mean the Holy Spirit isn’t convicting you, and that you aren’t saved at all. Conviction of sin is essential. Do you have it?

Second, Have I confessed and repented of my sins? Acts 2: 38, “Peter replied, ‘Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.’” So in answering the question: “am I saved?” we see that the first test we must pass is the conviction of sin test – am I convicted of my sins? For many or even most people, there is a carelessness and casualness about sin; that’s the natural sinful state belittling the whole issue of sin. Are you casual about sin? Do you rationalize or belittle the sin in your life as nothing? If so, you have no right to think you are saved. You have no right to take any comfort in the salvation of your soul, because if you don’t understand conviction of sin, if you can treat sin so lightly, it shows that you truly don’t understand your deep problem, our deep problem, which is separation from God by our sins. If you don’t understand that, you can’t be saved, I’m sorry. But let’s suppose that you are grieved and bothered by your sins. Let’s suppose you are feeling the conviction of the Holy Spirit towards your rebellion against God and it bothers you greatly. Then you pass the first test. The next question becomes: have you confessed and repented of your sins, all of your sins, to God? It isn’t enough to feel bad about our sins, we must also be willing to turn away from them, to forsake them, but first we must be willing to acknowledge them fully to God, ourselves, and others. What sins do you specifically confess? You can’t just confess sins generally except in as far as the sin nature is concerned. In fact, I can only confess my general sinful heart disposition towards God generally because that is the biggest sin of all – that I am in rebellion against God generally. My general attitude towards God is sinful disobedience. But I must also confess and repent of specific sins. Do you do so? Do you confess and repent of your sins to God? Some people who are told they are saved, and believe they are saved, never confess and repent of their sins before God. Now how can that be? If the Holy Spirit convicts us of sin and motivates us to confess and repent of our sins, then how can a saved person fail to confess and repent of their sins? Are you concerned about sin in your life? Do you confess your sins frequently, daily even, and repent of your sins, which means turning away and forsaking your sins. Or, do you act like a unsaved sinner who isn’t concerned much over sin, and hardly ever admits or confesses to them, and still less frequently ever repents or turns away from sin? This is a very, very important test for the state of your own soul – are you concerned over sin in your life or does it hardly ever cross your mind? If you are saved, if your soul is in a state of salvation before God Almighty, you will have a sensitivity towards sin, and you will be convicted of it and you will confess and repent of it. Peter tells the people to repent, do you repent of your sins?

Third, have I trusted in Jesus whole-heartedly for salvation? Acts 2:38-39, “Peter replied, ‘Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off – for all whom the Lord our God will call.’” Their acceptance of the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior was evidenced by their willingness to be baptized, but that comes at the end of the salvation process not at the beginning. The baptism of a person means that they have understood and accepted the gospel message. It means that they understand that they are sinners headed for the Judgment Day guilty and deserving of eternal condemnation and punishment. It means that they acknowledged their own sins and take personal responsibility for them. It means that they willfully renounce, turn away, and forsake their sins. It means that they whole-heartedly and without reservations trust Jesus as their only Savior, their only hope for salvation from judgment and damnation. And then, because of the change within their hearts, they evidence their trust through continuing in a life of confession and repentance from sin, and also, and mostly importantly, a new desire to serve and obey God with their lives. In Acts 2:42, it says, “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teachings and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” In other words, their lives after their conversions evidenced their internal, spiritual decisions to repent and believe. The final test, the final assurance that you can have that you are truly saved is that your life reflects a new obedience to God and God’s Word. In other words, you walk the walk and not just talk the talk. The most assured way you can know that you are in a state of grace, in a state of salvation before God – according to God’s Word the Bible – is that you evidence the fruit of salvation. We are not saved by works, but rather by faith alone, but a saved life will evidence itself by works. There will be a new attitude and rejection of sin. There will be a new hunger for reading God’s Word. Do you hunger to read God’s Word? Do you? Do you read it? There will be a new hunger to pray to God? Do you have a hunger to pray to God? There will be a new desire to love God and others, and to put away selfishness. Do you exhibit this evidence? Do you? Don’t believe somebody when they tell you that you are saved? What do they know? Don’t even believe yourself just because you wish to believe it. Look at your life, examine yourself, as the Apostle Paul teaches us in another place. Look at your heart and life – are you a saved person? Does the Holy Spirit convict you of sin? Are you willing to confess and repent of sin in your life? Do you? Have you given yourself whole-heartedly to trusting in Christ’s death on the cross for your sins? Do you see evidences of God working salvation in your life through a greater hunger for God’s Word and prayer, and by God turning you away from past sins? These are the ways you can know you are truly saved. If you see all of these working in your life, you may be confident of your soul’s salvation. But if you don’t see yourself passing these simple tests, you’d better go through them again and get it right. There is nothing more important.

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