At times in our Christian experience we tend to be walking on such a high plane that we almost forget about the necessity of making certain we are still on the true foundation. This study is to call us back, to remind us to examine our foundation to make certain it will stand the test of trial and persecution.
Jesus said, “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like: He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock. But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great.” (Luke 6:46-49)
Notice that in this parable both men built a house. Both of them were trying to get to heaven, yet the one man, who refused to do what the Lord said, chose to build his house on the earth, while the other digged deep and placed his foundation on a rock. One man had a foundation for his house and the other man did not.
Paul said, “Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house.” (1 Peter 2:5) You and I, and every believer, are the house which is being built. A house for the Lord to dwell in. (See 1 Corinthians 3:16; 6:17.) We are building a relationship with God. Some people build that relationship on sand, hearing the Word of God but not doing what that Word says. Other’s hear the Word of God and do what it says, building their house upon the true foundation, the solid rock. My friends, let us make sure our house is built on the true foundation.
We are continually adding stones to our house, building higher and higher, one stone after another. We may say to ourselves, “I have given a meal to a poor man—one more stone in my house,” or “I have donated money to a good cause—one more stone in my house,” etc. We may think to ourselves, “The higher I build my house, the more sure it is that God will accept me into His kingdom. My friends, that is a tragic mistake. It is not how high the house is built but whether it is built on the foundation or not. Please do not get me wrong, these advancements in our Christian experience are good, but they, of themselves, can never save us.
How high do you think the thief on the cross built his house? Certainly not very high, but Jesus assured him that he would be with Jesus in paradise. Though the thief on the cross had no time to build his house high, he placed his house on the true foundation. Is your house built on the true foundation?
The Foundation of Christ’s Church
Jesus told us about the foundation of His church. He told us about the rock upon which He would build His church. Notice this interesting conversation He had with His disciples. “When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:13-18)
Did Jesus suddenly change the subject of the conversation and say that He would build His church upon Peter? Certainly not! Jesus said He would build His church upon the truth that He is the Son of God. That is the true foundation of His church. Our Christian experience is based upon the truth that Jesus is the Son of God. Understanding that truth gives life and vigor to our Christian experience because it reveals the immense love of the Father in giving up His only begotten Son to die for us. This is why Paul could say, “That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.” (Ephesians 3:17-19)
Our Christian experience must be rooted and grounded in a love relationship with God and His only begotten Son. That is the true foundation of our Christian experience. Intricately connected with this love relationship with God and His Son is an understanding of what they have done for us. The principal thing they have done for us is forgiving us of our sins.
Accepting God’s Forgiveness
I was talking with a dear sister and I asked her, “Do you know that your sins have been forgiven?” She replied, “I was always taught to answer that question by saying, ‘by God’s grace I shall be forgiven.’” Dear friends, this is a sad testimony. This is a very sad condition to be in. What does the Bible say about God’s forgiveness of sins?
John wrote, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9) There is no need to doubt the Word of God, for it is sure and will be fulfilled to the letter. When God promises to forgive our sins if we repent, He will certainly do it. If you have confessed and forsaken (Proverbs 28:13) your sins you can be sure that God has forgiven them and will not even mention them to you again. “If the wicked restore the pledge, give again that he had robbed, walk in the statutes of life, without committing iniquity; he shall surely live, he shall not die. None of his sins that he hath committed shall be mentioned unto him: he hath done that which is lawful and right; he shall surely live.” (Ezekiel 33:15, 16)
This is something we can be certain of. There is no room for doubt or uncertainty here. If you have confessed and forsaken your sin, God has certainly, without a shadow of a doubt, forgiven that sin. “But,” some say, “I am not certain if my repentance was genuine.” If you are not certain, then by all means make certain! Genuine repentance includes a sorrow for sin, a confession to God of your wrongdoing and a turning away from it. “For I will declare mine iniquity; I will be sorry for my sin.” (Psalms 38:18) “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.” (Proverbs 28:13)
If you find you do not have a sorrow for your sins, nor a desire to turn from them, ask God to give this to you and He will. For Jesus said, “And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.” (Matthew 21:22) Peter said, “Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.” (Acts 5:31) Repentance is a gift of God. (See also 2 Timothy 2:25; Proverbs 16:1)
Confession of Past Sins
Some people have the mistaken idea that every sin that was ever committed since childhood must be mentioned by name before it can be forgiven. While it is true we must be specific in our confession of sins, it is not possible to recall and recite every instance of every wrongdoing that we have ever done in the past. We can be as specific as possible by saying, “Lord please forgive me for all the times I have lied in the past, I am sorry for it and I am determined not to do it again,” and continue with the other commandments we have transgressed.
David was not even this specific when he said, “Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.… Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities.” (Psalms 51:1, 9) God is able to forgive all of our sins and we can stand before God as though we had never sinned.
Please don’t get me wrong. There is a time for mentioning specific sins as the children of Israel did in the days of Joshua. “And all the people said unto Samuel, Pray for thy servants unto the LORD thy God, that we die not: for we have added unto all our sins this evil, to ask us a king.” (1 Samuel 12:19) If we knowingly sin against God after we have given our lives to Him, it is not difficult for us to remember the specific sin in which we have transgressed, and therefore that sin should be confessed specifically.
It is a dangerous error to doubt whether God has forgiven our sins if that doubt is based upon the idea that we are required to specifically mention every incident that we have sinned against God. If you have come to God in humility and sorrow for your sins, asking God for pardon, and then forsaken those sins, you can be sure that God has forgiven you. God wants us to have an assurance that we have been forgiven. Jesus said, “as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee.” (Matthew 8:13) Let us consider how serious this statement is when we apply it to our own sins being forgiven.
The Assurance of Salvation
John wrote, “And this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life.” (1 John 2:25) God has promised us eternal life. Do you think God keeps His promises? “And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.” (1 John 5:11-13) John understood it to be very important for us to know that we have eternal life. In fact he said that was the purpose of him writing this letter.
Paul wrote, “Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.” (1 Timothy 6:12) It takes faith to lay hold on eternal life. We must have unwavering faith in what the Word of God says.
Some people came up to Jesus one day and asked Him, “What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.” (John 6:28, 29) The work of God is to get you to believe. Whatever happens in your life, whatever experiences you are going through, God is trying to get you to believe. This also is the work that God has commissioned His people to do. John wrote, “But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.” (John 20:31) The goal of John, in writing his gospel, was to get us to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God so that we might have everlasting life. This is the work of God.
One night Paul and Silas were in prison when a great earthquake shook the prison, opening all the doors and loosening all the chains of the prisoners. The keeper of the prison awoke from his sleep and saw all the doors open. Being certain everyone had escaped, he determined to kill himself rather than meet a worse fate by the hands of his overseers. “But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here. Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.” (Acts 16:28-31)
Here a man in desperate need to understand the way of salvation was told to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. Believing is vitally important to obtain salvation. Jesus said, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” (Mark 16:16)
When is a man saved?
Paul wrote, God “Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.” (2 Timothy 1:9) He also wrote, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.” (Ephesians 2:8) The RSV reads, “by grace you have been saved,” which is more accurate to the original Greek, being in the past tense.
According to Paul, he, along with his fellow Christians, were already saved. What were they saved from? “And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: forhe shall save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21) Jesus came to save His people from their sins. This mission was not a partial mission but a mission to completely save His people from their sins. He is able and willing to save us from the penalty of sin by forgiving us of our past sins, from the power of sin by giving us the power to overcome temptations, and from the existence of sin by finally destroying sin and the devil after the thousand years of Revelation 20.
Paul was not ashamed to declare that he had been saved. Yet Paul also said that we shall be saved in the future. He wrote, “Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.” (Romans 5:9-10)
Here Paul makes it very clear that we have already been justified or forgiven, but shall, at some point in the future, be saved from wrath. Evidently there is more than one aspect to salvation. First we are saved from the penalty and power of sin, and in the future we shall be saved from wrath. This is what the Bible is referring to when it speaks of us being saved in the future. Jesus said, “But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.” (Matthew 24:13) It is this aspect of salvation that is not sure to us until we have endured unto the end. It is only after we have endured unto the end that we can be saved from wrath.
At the second coming of Christ there will be two groups of people on this earth. One group will be crying for the rocks to fall on them and hide them from the presence of Christ, while the other group will proclaim, “Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us: this is the LORD; we have waited for him, we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation.” (Isaiah 25:9) If we have taken part in the first two aspects of salvation (being saved from the penalty and the power of sin) and we endure unto the end, we shall take part in the last aspect of salvation, which is a physical salvation from this world and wrath to come.
Anyone who will take part in the last aspect of salvation will have already been saved from the penalty and the power of sin. But being saved from the penalty and the power of sin does not guarantee that you will endure unto the end and be saved from this world and wrath to come. For being once forgiven of your sins, and even walking in victory over sin, does not guarantee that you will not fall into sin tomorrow and remain in that condition. If we are in that condition at either the end of our life or the second coming of Christ, we will not be saved from this world and wrath to come. We will then proclaim with the rest of the lost world, “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.” (Jeremiah 8:20) I pray that each of us will endure unto the end and be saved from wrath to come.
We can be certain that we have been forgiven of our sins. We can be certain that we have been saved. Certainty of our salvation and current condition is a necessity in our Christian walk. Paul wrote, “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?”(2 Corinthians 13:5) Paul admonishes us to examine ourselves and know for sure whether we are in the faith—to know what is our current condition and standing with God. This is not only something we can know, but must know.
Although it is necessary to be certain of our salvation we can be led to believe a lie and have a false hope of salvation when we are living in wickedness. Paul wrote, “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Galatians 5:19-21) There are people who commit such things yet boldly proclaim that they are saved. This is a sad delusion of the enemy. All such people, if they do not change their course, will find out too late that they have been sadly mistaken.
We must have a certainty of our salvation. Not a certainty based upon suppositions and assumptions, but, rather, based upon the plain statements of the Word of God. We must know where we stand with God based upon what His Word says. Having an assurance of our salvation is necessary. However, to make the claim that we are now beyond the reach of Satan is foolishness, for some of the strongest Christians have been deluded and turned out of the way of salvation.
Being saved from the penalty of past sins and the power of current temptations does not guarantee that you will be saved from wrath to come, for at any time in the future you could turn your eyes away from God and forfeit your salvation. It is only he who endures unto the end who will be saved from wrath to come. Let us fight the good fight of faith, endure unto the end, and lay hold on eternal life. ?