Summary: How do we know our salvation is assured? We know because our salvation is God’s work from start to finish. God has poured out his love on us in Jesus Christ. He’s filled us with his Spirit as the sign and seal of the salvation to come. It’s God who’s begu
Well, it’s July 7, the year is half over, and today we reach the end of the first part of the letter to the Romans. So I thought it might be good to stop and think about where we’ve come over the past five months.
We began with the realisation that all of us, no matter what our background, have a problem when it comes to standing before God on the last day. The problem we have is that no matter who we are, we’re unable to consistently do what’s right, what God requires of us. All have sinned and fall short of God’s glory. But fortunately for us, God is able to do something about it. In fact God has done something about it. He solved our predicament by sending Jesus Christ to live as one of us and to die a death, that he didn’t deserve, on our behalf. So that now, by God’s grace and mercy, we can be justified, counted righteous before God.
Even when we fail again and again to do what pleases God, he continues to forgive us. But he does even more than that. He gives us his own Spirit to live within us, to change us, to shape us to his will. He assures us of his presence within us by His Spirit speaking to our spirit. And he assures us when things go bad that even though we don’t yet see the glory that he’s promised for those who love him, that glory will be revealed on the last day when Jesus returns to take us to be with the Father forever.
In the meantime we have this assurance: in the end all things will work together for good for those who love God.
So we come to the point of today’s passage: Christian assurance. I think this issue is one of the greatest bugbears for lots of Christians. We’re happy assenting to the theological statements; we’re happy learning about how to live the Christian life, how to be better disciples, how to love one another better; we’re happy to come and worship in whatever tradition we’re used to. But when it comes to whether we’re totally convinced about our salvation, about where we’re going when we die, lots of Christians aren’t quite sure. Oh, we think we know where we’re going. We hope we’re going to heaven. But there’s still that niggling fear that maybe we’ve got it wrong. Maybe we’re not good enough after all.
Well, what does Paul conclude from all that we’ve discovered in these first 8 chapters of Romans? His conclusion, as we saw last week, is that "all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose." God is in control. God is bringing an end to all things, shaping outcomes to his purpose. And what is his purpose for us? That we would be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn within a large family. God chose us before the beginning of the world to form his family, That’s what it means by that word predestined and by its predecessor in the passage, "foreknew". He chose us long before we even imagined that he existed. He knew us long before we knew him. So there’s nothing in his choosing of us that depends on our righteousness. There’s nothing in our coming to a knowledge of him that makes us in any way worthy. He’s done everything necessary to make us his children. Of course when God first made human beings, he made them in his own image. And now, by his Holy Spirit dwelling within us, he’s remaking us in the image of his son, who in turn is the "very image of the invisible God. (Col 1:15)"
And look at what God has done about this plan of his? He’s called us, he’s justified us and he’s also glorified us, or at least he’s doing so as we become more and more conformed to the image of his Son.
So can you see how that leaves us as far as our assurance is concerned? If God has done all that for us already, if God is for us to that extent, what do we have to worry about? Who could possibly stand against us if that’s who we have standing on our side. You may remember a kids’ movie some years ago, called "My Bodyguard." It was about a little boy who kept on getting bashed up by the bigger kids, until one day he befriended another boy who was about 6 foot tall and weighed about 12 stone. And the result was that the little kid didn’t get bullied any more. The big kid became like a bodyguard. Well, I think we can all relate to that sort of image can’t we? It’d be great to have someone bigger and stronger looking after us whenever we’re in danger, whenever we’re threatened by someone more powerful than us.