Summary: A sermon on the assurance of salvation from Romans 5:1-11 (Material adapted from Dr. Jack Cottrell)
A lady said to me some time ago: “I think it is great presumption for a person to say he/she is saved.” I asked her if she was saved. “I belong to a church,” she said. I asked, “But are you saved?” “I believe it would be presumption in me to say that I am saved.” How sad!
Thesis: From Romans 5:1-11 let’s talk about the relationship between justification by faith and assurance of salvation.
I. There is just one way to know we are saved: TO KNOW WE ARE JUSTIFIED. Rom. 5:1-2.
Sin makes us guilty and under condemnation. This is what keeps us out of heaven.
1. Justification is a legal term. It refers to standing before a judge in a courtroom and hearing the judge's declaration: "NO PENALTY FOR YOU!"
2. When we know that God the heavenly Judge is saying to us -- "No penalty for you!" -- then we can know we are saved.
II. There is just one way for a SINNER to be justified: BY THE BLOOD OF CHRIST. Rom. 5:9.
A. There is another way to be justified: never do anything wrong! A totally innocent person is justified by his works, i.e., because he is 100% good.
B. But what about a sinner? Can God justify (declare "No penalty for you!") even a sinner? YES! Rom. 4:5: to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness.
C. But how--on what basis--can God justify sinners? Not because they are 100% good (i.e., works), but because they are 100% forgiven through the blood of Christ.
D. Thus the blood of Christ is absolutely basic for grace, for justification, and for assurance.
1. What was Jesus doing on the cross? Paying the penalty for our sins! Thus He is our redemption (Rom. 3:24) and our propitiation (Rom. 3:25).
2. So if we are under His blood, our sins are covered; they are "hidden" from God's sight. When God looks at us, He does not see our sins! Therefore He can say, "No penalty for you!" Rom. 8:1: Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
3. The blood of Christ is the "robe of righteousness" in Isa. 61:10: I delight greatly in the LORD; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
III. There is just one way to be under His blood: BY FAITH. Rom. 5:1.
A. Justifying faith includes two elements.
1. ASSENT: believing that certain things are true. John 20:31: But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
TRUST: believing in Jesus as our Savior. John 3:16
B. But here is the question: What does it MEAN to be “justified by faith”? What does faith have to do with our being under the blood of Christ? We begin to be justified, i.e., we initially come under the blood of Jesus, BY FAITH.
1. Takes place in baptism: Acts 2:38 "by faith" is not the same as "as soon as we have faith."
2. But even in baptism, the main thing God looks for is FAITH. Col. 2:12: having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.
3. Because we believe God’s Word about the significance of Christ’s death, and because we trust God’s promise that Christ’s death satisfies God’s wrath that our own sins deserve, in that moment of baptism God cancels the debt of penalty that we owe to him as the result of our sins.
C. We continue to be justified, i.e., we continually stay under the blood of Jesus, BY FAITH.
1. Here is the lesson every Christian needs to learn: after baptism we STAY justified, i.e., we remain in a state of forgiveness, through our continuing trust in Christ's blood.
2. Why is this lesson so difficult to learn? Why is this basic truth, that we as Christians continue to be justified by our faith in Christ, so hard to accept? Because many (especially in the Church of Christ) have fallen prey to three crucial errors:
(a) The error of thinking that baptism is for the forgiveness of PAST sins only.
-- It was taught by Alexander Campbell and continues to be taught and believed in many Churches of Christ “When one believes in God and the atoning sacrifice of Christ, repents of all past sins, confesses that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and submits to the waters of baptism, the blood of Christ cleanses all past sins” (Winston Temple, “Grace and Law in Man’s Salvation,” Gospel Advocate, September 1993, p. 22).