Summary: This message answers the most important question we can ever ask....how can I know if I am truly saved?
NAIL IT DOWN
“How can I know if I am Saved?”
There are many questions for most of us that we struggle with in the Christian life. Some of these questions sound like this...
• Why do my prayers never seem to reach God? How can I know if he is even listening? OR
• How can I know God’s will for my life?
We struggle with questions and many times if we’re not careful these questions can actually weaken our faith rather than strengthen it. Especially if we are going to the wrong source to look for answers. These questions can be very troubling.
You may be familiar with the board game called chutes and ladders. You may have played it with your children. You work your way up the board to get to your destination and as you do there are two things you are constantly on the lookout for. One of these you want to find as many of as possible—those are the ladders because when you get to a ladder you get to climb up and skip over a portion of the board but then there are the chutes and when you come to one of them you want to do everything possible to avoid it; because if you land on a chute it can drop you back down to the bottom of the board.
Now it occurs to me that often people think about religion, their relationships with God, as being like a game of chutes and ladders—on some days I make progress in my journey to heaven, I’ve really moved up in God’s eyes... I was here and now I’m here... So I’m getting closer to the top. And on other days, I’m doing so good---I ran into a bad spot I had a pothole, a pit, a chute and I fell back. And there are days when I feel like I went all the way back to the beginning.
There is an illustration that has been used for years, in churches actually, that teaches this: our salvation is based on a set of scales—on one side I place all of my bad deeds, my sins and on this side I place all of my good deeds-every good thing I have done on one side and every bad thing I have done on the other and whichever weighs the most, then that is where I stand with God on that particular day. Now immediately I want to tell you that there are at least two things wrong with this system.
1. It leaves us without any peace whatsoever. Because at any given moment our sins could outweigh our good deeds and our salvation would be gone. I find peace in knowing for sure that I am say that I want my salvation to be under scrutiny; to be undecided from day to day.
2. It is simply not biblical. Listen to what Paul says. Ephesians 8-9. You see it’s a lot like this game...
• We go to church-that’s a ladder
• read your Bible-that’s a ladder
• follow this rule-that’s a ladder
• put money in the offering plate-that’s a ladder
But as soon as I mess up-break a rule-sin, you slide back down to the beginning and your find yourself constantly trying to figure out a way you can get back up-back into the good graces of Jesus. And it is a very unfortunate way to live.
So we ask, how can I really know that I know that I know that I am truly saved? Is there really a more important question we can ask in life? 500 years ago people were asking the same question. And some of you are asking as well so I want to settle that question for you today. I started this series last week and I’m dealing with five questions every one of us ask and need answers to. Last week, we asked “how can I know the Truth?” The answer? Sola scriptura. Scripture alone.
Today-how can I know I am saved? The answer Sola Gratia. Grace alone. Now when Martin Luther pointed these truths out 500 years ago, they seemed like new ideas but they weren’t. They have been in Scripture all along. And they may sound like a new idea today but here they are in Scripture.
I do want to say something here-at the outset-if you think this series is about bashing the Catholic Church, you’re mistaken. That is not my goal. In fact many Catholics now look back at what happened during the Protestant Reformation and are now grateful because when you look at the church and its condition 500 years ago you would easily say, that is a church, an institution that badly needed to be reformed. I mean, let’s face it, the church was selling grace/forgiveness. At that time you could purchase an indulgence... Give a certain amount of money and your sin would be forgiven. And that practice is not biblical. The church in the 16th century badly needed Reformation.