How Can I Know for Certain I Am Saved?
Dr. Lutzer answers how you can know for certain you are saved, citing the teachings of Jesus in the New Testament.
you know, people can be wrong about many things. You can be wrong about sports, you can be wrong about your career choice, you can be wrong about who you should marry and where you should live, but don’t ever be wrong about the question of how you can be certain that you will spend eternity with God john you’re right. This is the most important topic that anyone could ever consider because when you stop to think of it, time is short and eternity is very long, it’s endless. And the moment that you die, you will either be in a place where you will see nothing but beauty and holiness and be welcomed or you will be in a place of darkness and abandonment. My guest today is dr Irwin looser who is Pastor emeritus of the moody church in Chicago Illinois where he has served as the senior pastor for 36 years and has authored over 50 important books today. Most people say they believe in God, but they are not certain that they will be accepted by God for all eternity and before they die they want assurance ahead of time that they will be accepted by God today. And in the weeks ahead, Dr Luther will give you a concise biblical answer of how you can be saved and the assurance that you are saved. On this important edition of the john Achterberg show. Welcome to our program. I’m john anchor Berg and my guest is dr Irwin looser many of you love hearing dr Luther and uh of course he is the pastor emeritus of the moody church in Chicago Illinois. He has been there for 36 years as the pastor right downtown Chicago. And we’re talking about a topic that’s really for you. And the topic is this, how can you not your wife, not your husband? How can you, whoever you’re listening right to, how can you know for sure that you will spend eternity with God? Do you think that’s an important question that you need to know you all know, we’re gonna die? The question is what’s going to happen when you die? And we’re gonna talk about what the bible says. You can know for sure that you are going to spend eternity with God, that’s the good news. But along the way, people have said, you know what, I’ve got doubts. Everyone says, well, if you accept jesus into your life, um you know what’s gonna happen. And some people have and they’ve had some doubts in their minds as well as in how they act in their life behavior. And some people have said, you know, I accepted the Lord, but uh, dr Irwin, I fell back into sin. And uh, I don’t know what’s the matter with me, what can I do? Well, the simple fact is this john that there are some people who have doubts and it’s a good thing they do because they aren’t really saved. And so what we need to do is to encourage the doubters who doubt their salvation, to continue to doubt if they are unbelievers, but on the other hand, there are those who follow christ who also have doubts, you know, thomas, he had his doubts that john the baptist had his doubts. So what we have to do is to help people to understand that not all doubt is wrong or unhelpful, but for those who have truly believed, what we need to do is to give them reasons why they need not doubt. Right. Let me just get this down to the real level where people are at in our audience, okay? Because we get thousands of letters, both of us, you and your ministry and ours and ours, We just uh, we have all kinds of people that will say things like this, you know, I’ve been saved 99 times and it still hasn’t taken or letters like this, she says, this is a woman that was brought up in church. And she said that I was taught wrongly that you could lose your salvation. And she said, I lost my salvation almost every day. And she says, what can I do? And then there was another one who was kind of a funny situation, he was in a little church and the pastor, I was there and every sunday night he would get saved again, okay? And uh monday he would get drunk and so he thought he lost his salvation. And so he’d be drunk all week, then he’d come back to the church and he got saved again and this happened so many times that finally the pastor said, you know what we ought to do on sunday night after you get saved, we ought to just shoot you, so you go to heaven. Now, the thing is none of that is good theology alright? And the fact is we can know for sure that we are in christ and there’s something in us that can change God, puts his holy spirit in us and we can change the habits that we’ve had. I don’t care what the habits are that you’ve got God can change those habits because he’s God all right. But the question is how can we know for sure that we are secure in jesus christ and we are going to be spending eternity with God. That’s what we want to talk about. First of all, the situation that you described would be horrible. Could you imagine living that way I received christ this sunday I sinned during the week, have to receive him again. I was on a plane one time talking to a man just like that and he said, I gave up on the christian faith and I’m gonna wait just before I died to receive christ because I constantly am sinning. Let me say categorically that that is not the gospel, that is not good news, but for those who have saving lee trusted christ, they may also have doubts, but I want us to turn to the eighth chapter of the Book of romans where the apostle paul shows us that if you genuinely believe in christ, you will be saved and you will be saved forever. Right? We want to give assurance to those who know that they are in christ because they have saving lee believed Yeah. And in essence paul, what he’s gonna do is he’s gonna say look before you ever got saved God has a plan. He’s thought this thing out. Let me lay out the plan for you and show you what God’s got in mind and you won’t have any doubts. You know when you stop to think of it, Even a builder doesn’t build a building unless he has a plan, unless he’s worked out the details. So let’s just kick back for a moment and think of the greatness of God and his eternal salvation and the fact that he created in order that he might show his glory in redemption. So let’s go back in time. Let’s look what paul says. I’m in the 8th chapter of the book of Romans and it says God works all things for the good of those who love him. But I’m skipping to verse 29 for those whom he four new. Now I want to warn those who are watching. There are five important verbs here that are linked together in a chain. And I’m going to explain these verbs and what you’re going to find is they do begin as john indicated in eternity past and they go all the way to eternity, future. And this is the plan that paul is laying out, right? It says for those whom he for new. He also predestination. So let’s take this slowly. For no for no. Doesn’t just mean to know ahead of time. Obviously, God knows all things ahead of time. But he says in the old testament regarding Israel only you have I known from all the families of the earth. Well, doesn’t God know everything. Of course, what it means is to for love. That’s why some translations there in the old testament say only you have I chosen. So if you’re safe today and at the end of this broadcast, we’re going to invite others to get saved. But if you’re saved today, you were loved from before the foundation of the world. And then the second word is predestination. And that word basically means what it indicates to. Predestination means to plan ahead of time. It was sometimes used of surveyors who wanted to have a city built like Washington D. C. That was laid out in terms of its avenues and its streets. It was laid out ahead of time. God predestined you to be conformed. It says he for new. He predestination to be conformed to the image of his son that’s God’s purpose. If you wonder what God is doing in your life he is conforming you to the image of christ and that’s why life is so hard and so difficult is because he wants to use trials to shape us and to increase our faith. And then it says in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. That is, we should be like christ that he that is, jesus might be the firstborn among many brothers and those whom he predestined nated. He called. Now we have two big words, those whom he fore knew he predestination. He called them. That’s the calling by which you receive christ as savior. For me, it happened at the age of 14 when I knew that I was called by God and I responded to that call. So that happens in time. And then he goes on to talk about the future and those whom he called he justified. We talked about that in a previous program. That justification means that God declares us to be righteous. And then this is breathtaking. Those whom he justified. He glorified. Imagine in God’s mind, john you’re already glorified. It’s a done deal. It means he’s taking me to heaven, right? It takes us from eternity past to eternity future. Now let’s look at these versus again, first of all, God is always the subject. God does this. He predestined. He calls, he justifies, he glorifies. And then the other exciting thing is it’s all in the past tense. You know, it’s already done. Even the word glorified. Well, you and I know that we’re not glorified yet we could check with our wives and they would certainly agree with that. But the fact is God says in my mind, you are glorified. Now here’s the exciting thing for those believers who doubt notice that the same group that he began with namely those whom he for new is the very same group that he ended with namely those whom he also glorified. And so what you have is this unbreakable chain of events that brought us to salvation and will keep us all the way home, right? And this the words in there are mind blowing okay, he’s got a plan for us and he called us to be like his son. And for some Christians it seems like an easy path for some other Christians like Johnny Ericksen, okay, 17 years of age, she breaks her neck. She’s a quadriplegic for all of her life. And yet she has one of the greatest ministries around the world. Okay. She suffers every day. I know other people that have sat in that chair and told me their stories and they’re christians and yet they’ve suffered. I know people overseas sometimes I tell people if you want to see a real christian, you need to go overseas because they’re willing to die for their faith okay. And God calls some of those people, not only does he save them, but he calls them two jobs that we wouldn’t necessarily want because you could die doing it. But then it also says he justified us. And I love this because here’s jesus coming to earth to do this. And the Lord jesus himself suffered and bled and died on a cross was buried, rose again and showed gave us proof that he is God himself, All right. And the fact is that he has the power to change us and to pull all this stuff off that he’s talking about. So these words are loaded with meaning and looking ahead to think that he is going to glorify us someday. He’s gonna bring us to heaven. And he’s talked about the magnificence of the things that he’s going to bring to us in heaven. It’s tremendous. Okay, people should be excited about this, but Irwin, we gotta be realistic right now. Some people are down in the dumps, they’ve heard this and they say, I have a hard time getting excited about this. How can they get excited about this? This is really the plan of God for their life. And if they’ve really invited christ into their life, the fact is this is what he’s gonna do for them, a couple of things. First of all, for those who are watching this program who disagree with us and you and I know that there are many people out there who believe that you can lose your faith and so forth, especially if you leave the doctrines and fall away And we understand that that is out there. And many people believe it. What we have to do is to realize that the bible is a consistent book and there are some passages that may teach somewhat differently or appear to teach differently, but the bible is consistent. And if you look at all the evidence, the fact is that over and over again, it teaches that a truly born again, christian who has received christ will make it into the heavenly kingdom. Yeah. One person would ask something like this, or a lot of people might ask this question, How do I know that I’m one of the chosen ones well. And the answer to that is simply this received, jesus christ as your savior and prove that you are one of the chosen ones. So don’t say to yourself, well, I don’t know whether or not I’m chosen. Don’t use that as an excuse if God has worked in your heart to bring you to faith, then believe on him right now as we’re going to give you an opportunity to do at the end of this program, jesus, He comes unto me, I will give you eternal life. Let me mention one other verse that confirms what we’ve been talking about. And that is John Chapter 10, jesus talks about the fact that he is the good shepherd and this is powerful. He says my sheep hear my voice and I know them and they follow me and I give unto them eternal life and they shall never perish neither or shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My father who gave them to me is greater than all and no one is able to pluck them out of my father’s hand. Eye. And my father are one at moody church. Years ago I preached a message entitled Hands in harmony. You have the hand of the Sun and the hand of the father and they’re holding us. But some people say, yeah, but you know, I can use my free will to wrestle myself out of their hands. It’s not quite that simple because actually, if you are a believer, you are already a member of his body, of his flesh and of his bones. So despite the fact that sheep sometimes stray, By the way, could you imagine a shepherd he leaves with 100 sheep in the morning and comes back with 95 at night and the other shepherds mock him. What kind of a shepherd are you? Well, you don’t know these sheep, they were so rebellious. They actually went through and they followed false paths. I don’t care. The fact is back by hook or by crook. So that at nightfall, 100 sheep that you were given are within the fold. And that was the illustration that jesus used. Exactly. And it’s because of that, that we can have the assurance. But the issue is this, john there are many people out there who perhaps have never saving lee believed on christ and that’s why they don’t have the kind of assurance that the bible very clearly speaks. Let’s define salvation clearly for people that might have missed it. Well, the simple fact is this, that jesus christ coming was a rescue mission and he came to redeem us from our sins. Now this is very important. There are some people who go to the internet and I’ve had this said to me, oh, you know, there are other religions that also demand a blood sacrifice, just like the new testament teaches. But john Christianity is the only religion where God himself becomes the sacrifice. God was in christ reconciling the world unto himself. That’s another important point. There’s all kinds of religious leaders and if you look at them, there’s only one who claimed to be God and that was jesus christ. And in this rescue mission, he comes to earth, he proves his credentials. He is crucified on the cross for our sins. It is a payment for sin. And as a result of that, he of course, because he’s God, he is buried because he is the God man, he has raised again, he has taken to heaven in triumph and he says that those who believe on me will participate in my victory over death, they will be with me forever. But the key is this, it’s not enough to simply have head knowledge, but the knowledge that we must have is the knowledge of the heart Where we are transferring our trust to Christ alone and have that assurance. You know, Spurgeon, who was a great preacher in England during the 19th century said, this he said I could actually float above hell with all of its flames hanging onto aflac stock if I knew that my faith was in christ alone. And so it is that God gives us the assurance that if our faith is in christ alone, we will not come into condemnation, but we will have passed from death unto life. And so I say to those who have believed today have that assurance, rejoice in the fact that you are held in God’s hands and not your own. Yeah. And I would just say this, the resurrection of jesus christ is the proof of his claims that he was the messiah. He was the son of God, he was the son of man. He did the miracles, but his resurrection was his coming out party if you want, I am who I claim to be. And nobody has done that And so intellectually with your mind, you can say he’s the one I should put my faith in. And right now, Irwin, we’re getting down to the point where people themselves at home that are listening that are saying, you know what, I am not certain that if I was to die tonight, that I would spend eternity with God because I don’t think I’ve ever put my faith in jesus and asked him to save me to change me, to forgive me of my sins and we want to give them a chance. This is a wonderful opportunity, This is the gift that God wants to give them, that they can’t do without. They’ve got to have jesus, jesus is God’s gift to them. If they will accept it, that’s their choice. But the fact is they’ve got to accept him and I’d like you to lead them in a prayer where they could invite the Lord jesus, They can invite them to come into their life to forgive their sins. They can put all of their trust, all of their confidence just in jesus that he will do it for them. You know, as I speak to all those who are listening and watching today, I want to say this, that there is a time coming when you’re going to stand before God and you’re going to need someone to stand in your stead. You know, there’s a story about a friend of mine. It’s a true story, A pastor who was asked to be a character witness for a friend of his and this friend asked if he would and the pastor said yes and later on during the trial, awful things came out about his friend because they had tapes on what he had said and what he had done. Well, the pastor agonized and was angry because he was to go there and be a character witness. But that didn’t work out and he was so upset that he had to fly to another city just to do this to be a character witness to a scoundrel though thankfully he didn’t have to be. But here’s the point on the way home. Suddenly he was so filled with shame. It was as if God said, look, I’ve got tapes on you, not only tapes but C. D. S. And D. V. D. S and they are all in H. D. Someday. Would you like to have somebody to be a character witness for you to stand in your stead and then it hit him, jesus is that character witness. He is our intercessor. He is our redeemer and he stands between us and God when you trust him, he’ll take you all the way to the finish line. Let me lead you in a prayer, pray this prayer after me, let it represent your heart and receive him as yours father. I thank you so much for sending jesus to this earth. I know that I need a savior. I need a shepherd. I pray today that as I trust him and him alone that you might grant me assurance of faith. I know that I have sinned, but I thank you that he died for sinners and I received him as mine in his name. Amen. Thank you Irwin and folks, thank you for joining us today and I’d like you to stay tuned because I have a personal word for you. Just a moment. 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Until then, May God bless you. And I’ll see you next week. Now what’s paul saying? He says, look folks, I sweat blood to come and I preached to you and you accepted the Lord. I told you there’s only one gospel and you’ve already been listening to other people that have led you astray. There’s not other gospels. There is only one gospel and it came by the grace of christ. No other way. All right. And uh he says, even in his day, there were different gospels going around. He says, why did you believe them and today folks, we’ve got the same thing going on. You’ve probably noticed there’s a lot of churches in your town, but they don’t all preach the same message. You can look on the internet and people have different religious beliefs and different ideas and they’re not preaching the same message. Here’s what I want to get in your mind as we start this program today. Biblically the apostles, the ones that saw the risen jesus and paul was one of them. On the road of Damascus, jesus appeared to him. He said all of us, we were preaching the same message. We were all on the same page that jesus christ came into this world. He was the son of man, He was the son of God, He was the messiah. He was horribly murdered on a cross. He shed his blood for our sins.