Finding Security in Your Salvation

Steve Viars October 6, 2007 Romans 8:12-17

- This past week, I had the privilege of attending the NANC Annual Conference in Dallas...

- NANC is a biblical counseling association that our church is heavily involved in and each October they hold their national conference at various sites around the country...

- at Tuesday night they had a special dinner for all of those who have gone through the certification process and at that banquet one of the board members was asked to give her testimony...

- this woman has been a pastor’s wife for many years and now her husband teaches at a seminary...because of that, I was stunned by what she had to say...

- she has given me permission to share some of it with you in preparation for the text we are going to study this morning...

- the reason that I tell that story this morning is because the next verses in the passage we have been studying this fall make it clear that God does not desire to motivate people by fear and uncertainty...the apostle Peter said..

- 2 Peter 1:10 - ...brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:

- so your relationship with God is something about which God wants you to be certain...He purposely designed it to be characterized by security...

- now, on the other hand, one of the questions that I am most frequently asked is “how can I know for sure that I am saved?...how can I know for sure that I am on my way to heaven?...”...and if a church is going to do anything right, we have to provide practical, understandable, biblical answers to that...

- for those who are already sure...these truths can help you both rejoice in what you have, and identify areas that must be continually cultivated...so that over time your assurance increases as you grow in Him...

- with that in mind, would you please open your Bible to Romans chapter 8?...[page 123 of the back section of the Bible under the chair in front of you...

- this fall we’re doing a series entitled Reaching New Heights in Our Ability to Grow...

- we’re working through a very helpful, but very challenging section of Scripture, Romans chapters 6-8...

- this is all about progressive sanctification...how God’s people change and grow...

- and what we’re seeing is a theoretical contrast between how we would assume God would motivate us to grow, and how he in fact has designed it...

- and this is a clear example of Isaiah 55:8-9 -For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts.

- on our own, I think we would assume that the best way to motivate human beings to growth and personal holiness is by fear, and uncertainty...

- they would have to earn their salvation by their works, you would always keep them guessing about whether they really actually had it, and you would take it away from them the moment they messed...

- so, essentially Paul is saying...OK, let’s put that in one bucket and weigh it out on the scales in comparison to the way God actually designed it...

- if God is holy and human beings are sinful...then the only way we can be reconciled to Him is by His grace...that is why Christ had to come...that is why He had to be born of a virgin...that is why He had to be tempted...that is why He had to die...that is why He had to be resurrected...

- because a gracious act on the part of a loving God was our only hope...

- but here’s the argument...that won’t motivate people to grow...people will take advantage of that...God’s way won’t work if a changed life is the desired result...

- [so in other words, what’s in God’s bucket at this point is great—but it won’t be effective]

- so here’s what Paul is doing through this entire section of Scripture...

- putting more truth in the bucket...helping us to understand all that happens when a person becomes a follower of Christ...

- and the goal is not simply to fill our heads with theology, but to give us a foundation of truth on which to build genuine change and growth, in ourselves and others...

- so what else has Paul been putting in the bucket...

- the marvelous doctrine of our union with Christ and all that results from that – he spent a chapter and a half explaining all the ways that helps us change...

- then the power of authenticity at the end of chapter 7...if you’re “in Christ”, you don’t have to be afraid to acknowledge the ways you still need to change...your relationship to God is based on Christ’s righteousness, not yours...

- then those incredibly delicious words at the beginning of chapter 8 – “no condemnation” for those who are in Christ...

- then last week, the gift of the Holy Spirit...so you can begin to walk in the Spirit, and set your mind on the things of the Spirit...

­ - and what’s happening, or at least what should be happening, is that the scales are starting to tip...

­ - where we conclude that God’s approach to motivating us to grow is not only different than what we would have designed...it is superior to what we would have designed...

- now again, we don’t want to live simply in the realm of the theoretical...that is not where change occurs...so I hope that you are looking for specific opportunities to apply what we are studying to practical situations each day...

- now, this am we’re ready to put something else in the bucket...read Romans 8:12-17...

- we’re talking this morning about Finding Security in Your Salvation...

- that is what ties these verses together...

- and I realize that as I was reading them, you might have said...Paul just put several things in the bucket on this pass...there’s some truth to that...

- let’s use the rest of our time to find 4 characteristics of a person who truly knows the Lord.

I. You Are Putting to Death the Deeds of the Body – v. 12-13.

- I chose to use the wording right out of the verse, but if you find that unclear, we’re simply saying...one of the ways you can be sure that you know that you know that you know that you’re on your way to heaven is if you are using your body more and more to please the Lord...over time your lifestyle is characterized by personal holiness that is evident to everybody around you...

- now, there are several things that need to be clarified here to be sure we understand clearly what Paul is saying...

A. The place of the body in the growth/change process.

1. Is it intrinsically evil?

- some Christians have adopted what amounts to a Greek dualism when they think of the body...

- in other words, their body is entirely evil...

- that is not true...

- God made our bodies as part of His creation and at the end of that process He declared everything to be very good...

2. In Christ, your body can be used as an instrument of righteousness...

- 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 - Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.

- it would be impossible in this life for any of us to fulfill the goal of pleasing God if we didn’t have a  body...

3. Then why is the word “flesh” used as one of the descriptions of what we are fighting in the growth process?

-  in last week’s verses, there were several places where the word flesh was used...

- that is not talking about your physical body in its entirety...

- it is talking about that aspect of your body that is habituated to sin...

- why would that be?...because so many sins have a body component...

- its something we say...its something we do...or it involves our mind [which is more than the brain but certainly includes the brain...]

- so Scripture doesn’t teach that the body is intrinsically sinful...it teaches that our bodies are intrinsically weak and easily habituated...

4. What happens to our bodies positionally when we come to Christ?

- Romans 6:6 - knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin;

- that means that when you come to Christ, you are no longer enslaved to habits of the body that cannot change...there’s tremendous hope in all of that...

- now, that was a quick excursion on the body...

- let’s come back to the main point of verse 12 – one of the characteristics of a person who truly knows the Lord is that he/she is changing the way they use the body that has been given to them...now, please keep in mind...

B. The connection to last week’s emphasis on “setting your mind on the things of the Spirit.”

 - change always begins on the inside...in the heart...in the mind...in the will...

- so we’re not talking about behaviorism...

- but if it hasn’t reached the point of changing ones behavior...it isn’t the real thing...

- now, what about that phrase “putting to death” the deeds of the body?...

C. The importance of mortification in the Christian life.

- this is a bit of a shock statement on purpose...

- Christians believe in killing stuff...

­ - If a person says words with his tongue that displease God, he/she is working on putting that off, of crucifying that [and doing whatever I have to do to make that happen...]

- If a person has trouble watching things...going places...doing things...

- you name it...if they genuinely know Christ they are grieved about that and they are aggressively trying to do something about it...

- the overall point is...

D. Overall point – People who truly know the Lord are changing in their behavior.

- now, before we try to apply this...let’s bring verse 14 into the discussion [Re-read]

- here’s the principle...

II. Your Changed Life is Obviously Supernatural in Nature.

- now you might say, where did you get that?

A. What “led by the Spirit” means.

- here’s an important question -- is that just a stand alone verse, or does that have something to do with what we just read?...

- I hope your answer would be...it goes along with what we just read...words derive meaning from their context...

- see, sometimes folks take this verse entirely out of its context and try to make it say things it was never intended to say...

- God led me to do this...or God led me to do that...and the way they tell it, it is as if God is giving them new revelation outside of Scripture...

- that is not a careful way to speak theologically...

- the Scripture is completed...we’re not apostles--God is not giving us new revelation...

- that is why the Bible ends the way it does [develop...]

- the Holy Spirit can help us apply His Word to specific situations...

- but that is not the point here...

- the context, as we’ve been studying this morning, is Christian growth...and when Paul talks about being led by the Spirit, he’s talking about the Holy Spirit helping us do what the previous verse said...the Holy Spirit motivating us and enabling us to put to death the deeds of the body...

- so that gives us a second characteristic of a person who clearly knows the Lord....you are not changing, but you are changing in ways that can only be explained by the work of the Holy Spirit of God....

- now obviously each one of us is on a different journey in terms of what we brought into the Christian life...and the ways we still need to change...

- but the principle of this verse is very important...children of God are people who have clear evidence that the Holy Spirit is helping them live in a way that is demonstrably different...

B. The question that should cause each of us to ask.

- what question do you think it is?...

- are you seeing that kind of growth?...growth that can only be explained by the work of the Holy Spirit...you are clearly being led by the Spirit of God?...

- I know that many can say yes...[talk about people being baptized tonight...joining the church....]

- for those who can say yes, my guess is that you would also say...and that encouraged me and just makes it easier to be convinced that I am genuinely in the faith...

- [if not – will have to determine what that means – either never genuinely in the faith, or did not understand, or were not committed to making changes in the body that God desires – at which point it would be time to get with it...discuss accountability and/or counseling if you’re stuck...]

- now, what does Paul add in verse 15?...a third characteristic that is simply marvelous...

III. You are Experiencing Growing Intimacy with the Father.

- we’ve said several times that Paul is helping us see that God’s way of helping us grow is different than what we would have designed...

- we’ve used this illustration of buckets on a scale...and the more we learn about God’s way, I hope we would say, the more that we like it...

- well, we know that Jesus is involved in the process, because we’re united to Him...

- we know that the Holy Spirit is involved, because we can walk in Him...

- now we can see how the Heavenly Father is involved...because we are adopted by Him...

- I realize that sometimes adopted children are viewed as second class in our society---I certainly hope that is not true here...but sometimes that’s the case...but to understand this principle, it is important that we know a bit about...

A. Adoption in Bible times.

- in Roman culture, an adopted child sometimes had greater rights, privileges and prestige than the natural children...

- that would be because a father would select a child who had the qualities he desired...

- and there was a very formal legal process...

1. his legal and social relationship to his previous family had to be legally severed

2. he was then legally placed permanently in the new family

3. any/all previous debts were eradicated

4. seven reputable witnesses had to be present

- what verse 15 tells us is....

B. Your relationship with the Heavenly Father can be tender and intimate.

- the word “abba is this text could literally be translated “pappa” or “daddy”...

- and I realize that for some here this morning, that does not conjure up pleasant thoughts...but for most of us...there was a lot about our “daddies” for which we could be very thankful...

- the father the Lord gave me was a marvelous gift in many ways...

- he was an excellent provider for our family...he worked, and worked hard...

- he was very a funny man---he had this dry sense of humor that kept us laughing...

- he also was very sacrificial...he used to take one week a year and go fishing in Canada with some friends from down south...but when I was 10 years old, he started taking me...

- you’ve heard me tell stories of building in-ground pools during the summertime to earn money for school – my dad would often take vacation time to come and help us on the job...he used to say he was the only employee on the planet who not only didn’t get paid for his work, but in turn had to but our lunch...

- when Kris and I built our home...there were several small projects we took responsibility for...during that 11 week period of time, my dad came down every weekend to help me...

- he died several years ago, and there is seldom a day that goes by without me thinking of him...

- and again, I know that some here today will not have those kind of pleasant memories...but many of you do...

- and please think about this---that is the way God seeks to relate to you...

- if you have trusted Christ as savior and Lord, according to this passage God has adopted you into His family...

- and you can cry out to him as your pappa, your daddy---there is nothing trite or disrespectful about that at all...

- put that in the bucket...Paul is talking about a kind of growing intimacy that leads us to want to grow in Him...

- now you might say...what does that look like?...

- well, it certainly includes opening His Word, because that is the way in which He speaks to you...

- it certainly includes faithfully praying, because that is the way you speak to Him...

- if we were to examine the way you function in the spiritual disciplines, would there be evidence of growing intimacy?...

- do you find yourself speaking to Him throughout the day...just like you would your own father?

- is there evidence that you are leaning on Him?...trusting in Him?...seeking to please Him?...

- some of you know that one of our members, Priscilla Jamora, has gone through a series of difficult trials this year...

- her husband Tony has been away from the family serving in Iraq...

- a few weeks ago, her aunt died, and the very next day her father died...

- Priscilla was asked by the family to write a tribute to her father and then read it at the memorial service...

- with her permission, I would like to read a portion to you...

This past year while my husband was serving this country in Baghdad, Iraq, there was a name I called out every day, sometimes every hour in my prayers on behalf of his safety and on my behalf for strength.  It was the name Abba - the Hebrew word for “Daddy.”  It summed up what I needed from and felt for my heavenly father.

My brother, Jeff recently returned from a trip to Jerusalem and shared with me his experience of hearing little children in the streets calling out in Hebrew, “Abba, Abba - Daddy Daddy.  He also related that on one particular outing, their 30 year old tour guide was joined by her 60 year old father.  Her father at one point started leading the group and she, an adult, yelled up to him, “Abba.  Abba.  Daddy, Daddy.”

It doesn’t seem to matter if we are children or adults.  God has created us with a need for a Daddy.

It is with great humility and honor and reverence that I stand before you with the task of telling you about my earthly Abba, the leader of our family, my Daddy, Tom Brown, but it is with greater humility and honor and reverence that I will also share with you the message of my Heavenly Abba. 

I never had to worry about my Dad leaving us.  I knew he just wouldn’t.  I never had to worry that Dad would hurt us in a fit of alcoholic rage.  He didn’t drink. He never raised his voice much less his hand to us. I never had to worry that we might lose the house.  Dad’s work ethic not to mention his money management would never let that happen. I never had to wonder if he loved me, for even if he couldn’t say those words, his presence at swim meets and little league games and piano recitals let me know.  He was usually late due to work, but he was there, and believe me it was his love, not my musical abilities or athletic prowess that brought him to those various events.  (I would like to stop for a minute if I may and share with my siblings that in the last couple of years whenever I was home, Dad would always say, “You know, I loved all you kids equally and was proud of all of you.”  To which I would reply.  “Yes, Dad I know, but let’s be honest, you may have loved us all the same, but only Celeste got a pony.”)

 I never had to wonder if Dad loved God.  He read the Scripture to me every morning before school and was in church every Sunday.  Sometimes his eyes stayed closed long after the prayer ended, but he was there.

 I realize that there are those of you here today whose earthly fathers may fall far short of my father’s character. My Dad’s own father did.  There are those of you here today with overwhelming worries and cares. That’s why Dad would want me to tell you about our Heavenly Father.  Our great Abba and his son, Yeshua. Jesus.

We never have to worry about Abba leaving us.  As Moses told the children of Israel before his death, “Do not be afraid or terrified for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you. Nor forsake you.”  We never have to worry about Abba destroying us in an angry, hateful vengeance.  As the prophet Jeremiah told the Israelites, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you a hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come to me and pray to me and I will listen to you.  You will seek me with all your heart and I will be found by you.”  We never have to worry about our physical needs.  They are taken care of. As Jesus, God’s Son, our Redeemer, taught the masses who came to hear him speak in what we refer to as The Sermon on the Mount “Do not worry about your life or what you will eat or drink, or about your body what you will wear. Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in the barns yet your heavenly father feeds them.  Are you not more valuable than they?”  We don’t have to worry about the fact that Abba loves us.  Paul wrote to the church in Rome, “And hope does not disappoint us because God poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit whom he has given us.  You see, just at the right time when we were powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.  Very rarely will someone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die.  But God demonstrated his own love for us in this:  while we were sinners, Christ died for us.”

I am not worried about where Dad is right now.  I know without a shadow of a doubt he is in heaven.  I know the scars of death and destruction and war no longer plague his mind and body.  I am not worried that I will never see him again because I will join him on the day my Heavenly Abba has decided already for me.  I am not worried how my amazing mother will get through this time.  She shares the same Abba.  She has the same Daddy.  And his promise is simply this: “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved and your house.”  Dad believed.  Mom believes.  I believe.  And because we believe we have this promise from Jesus. “In my father’s house are many mansions. I go to prepare a place for you.”

My dear earthly Abba, like the tour guide’s father, has gone on before me. It is with great sorrow that I say goodbye, but I can’t wait to see him again for when I do, I will be meeting my Savior, my heavenly Daddy.  My Abba.

IV. The Holy Spirit Confirms the Genuineness of Your Faith.

Steve Viars

B.S. - Bible, Baptist Bible College
M.Div. - Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min. - Westminster Theological Seminary

Pastor Steve Viars has served at Faith Church since 1987. He and his wife Kris were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and two grandchildren. Pastor Viars’ gifted teaching ministry, enthusiasm for the Word of God, and organizational skills are instrumental in equipping Faith Church. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith ministries and serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video