Making Sure of Your Salvation
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“Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall.” —2nd Pet. 1:10.
This text is addressed primarily to Christians. There is one little word here that I wish to mention before expounding the text: “sure”—making your calling and election sure.
If there is anything people ought to be sure about, it is their soul, where they will spend eternity, whether or not they are saved. The Word of God gives great emphasis to this: “Make your calling and election sure.” Now you and I had better be sure that we are saved, know that we are saved and know why we are saved. “Make your calling and election sure.”
The Bible speaks of those of us who have been saved as God’s elect. “Elect” means “chosen.”
A fact that has been a blessing to me through the years is that God knew I would be saved before He ever hung a star in the sky:
“According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love.”—Eph. 1:4.
We have been chosen of Him. If God knew you were going to be saved long before you were, then everything about your life was known of Him beforehand. All your sins, all your problems, all your weaknesses—nothing has ever slipped up on the Lord. To be elected means God has chosen you beforehand.
Now notice the teaching of the Scripture. Romans 8:33 says, “Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect?” In the sight of God, there is no charge against elect people, saved people. Thank God for that result of election!
First Peter 1:2 says we are “elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father.” This election, this predestination, has nothing to do with unsaved people. “Elect according to the foreknowledge of God” simply means that God knew before the foundation of the world that in August of 1935, in a little country church, this preacher would be saved and called into the ministry. God knew about my life step by step, moment by moment, from before the foundation of the world to this hour.
Whenever you talk about election and predestination, some will say, “Well, if it means some were elected to be saved, it means others were predestinated and elected to be damned.” The Word of God never teaches that anybody is foreordained to be lost.
Second Peter 3:9 says, “The Lord is not…willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” Election has absolutely nothing to do with an unsaved person. It has to do with the family of God. Like all Bible doctrines and most Bible truths, it is for God’s children and God’s own intimate family.
You say, “Preacher, why are you giving emphasis to that?” Because of the insecurity, the frustration, the confusion and the instability that I observe in so many Christians, and often in my own life. Christian friend, you today are in the hands of God. He chose you before the foundation of the world. You are written upon His records in Heaven. You are the elect one!
This verse says, “Make your calling and election sure.” There are five ways to make your calling and election sure. Now, it is already sure in the mind of God. There is no question in God’s mind whether or not you are saved. “The Lord knoweth them that are his” (II Tim. 2:19). God knows His own sheep. God knows whether you are just a church member or are really a child of God. This verse is telling you to give diligence to it, make it sure in your own mind.
I. Make Your Calling and Election Sure by
Public Confession of Your Faith
The more I read the Bible, the more I believe God is in this matter of a public confession of your faith. Jesus said in Matthew 10:32, “Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.”
You ask today, “Are you a Christian?” “Are you saved?” “Have you been born again?” “Do you know that you are right with God?” The answer will be: “Yes,” but it will be said with uncertainty.
Some folks are like those described in John 12:42: “Because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue.” Many have a historical head belief in Jesus Christ, but for fear of what it might cost to be an out-and-out, born-again Christian, they have never made a public confession of their faith in Him.
This Bible says we should make a public confession of faith. Romans 10:9 and 10 says:
“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
“For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”
When your heart believes unto righteousness, it should open your mouth. You should not be ashamed, reluctant or hesitant about making a public confession of faith.
I was recently in the home of one who was a blessing to me. The man is bedridden and will not live long. He has been sick for two years. I had never met him before. This man was born in Ireland; he still speaks with an accent. He began to talk. His mind was wandering and reminiscing, going back across the years to his childhood.
He said, “I knew a fellow by the name of Malone when I was a child. We never called anybody by their nickname. If a man’s name was Patrick, we called him Patrick, never Pat. If a man’s name was Thomas, we called him Thomas, never Tom. I knew a man by the name of Malone once,” and he reminisced. Then big tears began to roll as he said, “I’ve always known that I was a sinner.”
I listened. I gathered what he wanted a preacher for was to let it be known that he had trusted Jesus but had never made a public confession of his faith. There on what no doubt was his deathbed, this man said, “In my heart, I want you to know that I believe in Jesus Christ.”
When I got ready to go, his wife said, “How much do I owe you?” I knew how much she had ministered to her sick husband, bedridden for two years.
I said, “You don’t owe me one thing.”
I saw him lift up a little withered hand to his wife and say, “Bring me my pocketbook.”
She said, “What do you want your pocketbook for?”
He said, “I want to pay him.”
I went back to the bed and said, “You don’t pay me anything. If you could pay me for coming into your home and praying with you and fellowshipping in the Gospel and helping you to know that you are a Christian, I’d lose my blessing; so don’t try to buy it away from me.”
They both looked startled. As I walked out of that room, I thought, In God’s name, when, where and how did people ever get the impression that preachers have to be paid for winning souls to Jesus Christ!
O God, help me never to give the impression that I have to be paid to minister the Word of God. I’d preach the Gospel and try to win souls and get people to make a public confession of faith if I never got a dime. I think I can say this morning with as much feeling and emotion as the old apostle said, “Woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!”
The other night I went to see my uncle in Kentucky. He is sixty-five years of age, and I think my favorite uncle, because he took so much time with my brother and me when we were boys. My uncle had one of his kidneys removed. There was a large cancer on it the size of a grapefruit. The doctor said that he had gotten it all and that he hoped he would be well. He has never been an out-and-out Christian, has never made a public confession of his faith.
When I walked into his hospital room, I reached out and took him by the hand. He held onto my hand, his cheekbones high, his hair as white as this shirt, sixty-five years of age; they had just given him some oxygen to help him breathe—my uncle looked at me and said, “I’ve made it right in here. Tom, I know my heart is right, and I am praying and hoping that God will let me get well.”
Make your calling and election sure by a public confession of your faith in Christ.
The Bible says “before men.” “Make your calling and election sure.”
II. Make Your Calling and Election Sure by an
Absolute Trust in the Word of God
Oh, the power of the Word, the comfort of the Word, the conviction of the Word, the assurance of the Word! This is the foundation of the whole thing. This is the abstract, the title and deed, the description of all I have in Jesus Christ. The reason I know I have it is that the Bible says I have it.
There is no more certain and wonderful way to make your calling and election sure than by faith in the Word of God. Listen to I Peter 1:23: “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.” There has never been a soul saved apart from the Bible.
Romans 10:17 says, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” It is all by the Word of God. You are saved by the Word of God. You have assurance by the Word of God.
First John 5:13 says, “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.”
Repeatedly in the First Epistle of John it says K-N-O-W: “that ye may know that ye have eternal life.” “Make your calling and election sure” by your absolute trust in the Word of God, not upon emotions. Emotions are important. I wouldn’t give you a nickel for a religion without emotions. And don’t rest your faith upon tears. I wouldn’t give you a nickel for a religion without tears. But rest your faith upon the eternal truths of God’s unchanging Word.
John 5:24 says, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.”
You say, “Preacher, how do you know you are saved?” I know it because the Word of God tells me that I am a Christian. I know I am saved even when I don’t act like it. I know that some of you are saved when you don’t look like it. Thank God for the good old Word of God!
I used to hear a preacher preach on John 5:24. He was what we call Arminian, not by nationality but by doctrine. He was not scripturally well versed, so he did not believe that when you are saved, you have eternal life. This preacher believed the Lord was going to keep him, but he believed that he could lose it if he tried hard enough! He would say, “Take this verse, ‘Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life.’ No, don’t say ‘hath, hath, hath,’ and don’t spell it with capitals. Just use it as the Bible uses it.”
While he was preaching and talking about that verse, that Arminian made something else out of me, because as I listened to him read it, I said, “Bless God, if it says ‘hath,’ that is what it means, whether you say it once or a million times.” One who believes in Jesus “hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.”
Oh, isn’t it wonderful to be saved and know it!
III. Make Your Calling and Election Sure by the
Recognition of the Holy Spirit in Your Life
In John 3:5, Jesus answered Nicodemus, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.”
Now listen to Romans 8:14: “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.”
Verse 16 says, “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.”
When they said to Simon Peter on the day of Pentecost, “What shall we do?” he said, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2:38).
My friend, when you and I were saved, we were given the gift of the Holy Ghost. When you became a Christian, the Holy Spirit came into your body. This Bible describes your body and mine as the temple in which the Holy Spirit lives. “God…dwelleth not in temples made with hands” (Acts 17:24), but in bodies of men and women like you and me. The Holy Spirit of God is in the life of every Christian.
Notice the teaching of Paul in his Corinthian epistle:
“What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?
“For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.”—I Cor. 6:19,20.
In order to have full assurance and great confidence, you must fully recognize the blessed presence of the Holy Spirit in your life. Now every Christian has the Holy Spirit. Notice the Scripture, “Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his” (Rom. 8:9).
It is said that years ago there was a beautiful, old, unoccupied mansion, a part of a large estate. Heirs were waiting for the settlement of the inheritance to see who got the old homeplace. In the meantime, a widowed lady with six children, homeless and poor, moved into the beautiful and palatial old residence. No one knew she had moved in for several weeks.
Then one day the estate was settled, and one of the sons was awarded the old place. Soon, when he went with his fine, cultured family to occupy the home which was now rightfully his, he was amazed to find the house occupied by other people. “You must move immediately,” he said to the poor old woman and her ragged children.
She was reluctant: “I have no home.”
“I am sorry,” he replied, “but this is my home, and you must move.”
It is said that she moved downstairs, and then later into the two back rooms, and finally, one day, after much pressure, she moved out. The owner was so happy! “We can occupy every room now; it is all ours to enjoy.”
When I heard this story, I thought how, in many instances, the Holy Spirit has waited many years to occupy every part of our body, which is His home, His dwelling place. “Ye are not your own….ye are bought with a price.” Make your calling and election sure by the recognition of the Holy Spirit in your life.
IV. Make Your Calling and Election Sure by
Winning Others to Christ
The expression “after his kind” is found several times in the first few chapters of Genesis. It is God’s will that everything bring forth “after his kind.” Surely we are right in saying that God wants you as a Christian to produce other Christians.
Jesus spoke much of soul winning and fruit bearing. “Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples” (John 15:8). One of the marks of true disciples is fruit bearing or soul winning. Again Jesus said, “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain” (vs. 16).
I am afraid that many of God’s people are described in II Peter 1:8: “For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Barren and unfruitful—what a tragic expression! Oh, the tragedy of the hour is the sad fact that many of God’s people never reproduce themselves spiritually. “After his kind” is God’s will.
Thank God for the great soul winners of the past who have fervently loved the souls of men. One of these was Katherine Booth of Salvation Army fame. One of the great incidents of her fruitful life is the story called “Who Kissed Me?”
One bitter-cold night in the slums of London, a wretched old woman was being arrested for her infamous crimes. It is said that as the policeman dragged her kicking and screaming across the sidewalk to throw her in jail, Katherine Booth came along and walked up to the poor fallen woman and kissed her. “Who kissed me?” she cried as she was dragged along. “Who kissed me?” was her cry throughout the whole long night in jail.
The next morning Katherine Booth was at the jail. When she was ushered into the cell of the poor sin-sick derelict, she heard her cry out again, “Who kissed me?”
Katherine Booth said, “I did. I kissed you because I love your soul and because Jesus died for you.”
The poor woman of ill repute said, “Since I was a little child, I have never known such an expression of love.” She was overwhelmed that one would love her so much. She was, of course, gloriously saved.
We so often say the world is dying for a little bit of love, but we still don’t seek the lost, don’t love them, don’t pray for them, don’t win them.
Make your calling and election sure by winning others to Christ.
V. Make Your Calling and Election Sure by
Growing in Grace
People who do not grow need not expect to be really sure and confident about their souls’ salvation. Hear the Word of God on this subject: “But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (II Pet. 3:18).
Simon Peter could speak with authority on this subject. There was a time in his life when he certainly didn’t grow. In fact, he even denied that he was a Christian. To grow physically one must have health, food and exercise. To grow spiritually, God’s child must be healthy spiritually! He must have victory over sin, the flesh and the world. He must feed upon the Word of God and exercise his soul in dedicated service for the Lord Jesus Christ.
Perhaps Peter failed his Lord “in grace, and in the knowledge.” He was not dealing in “grace” when he cut off the man’s ear in the Garden of Gethsemane, nor was he manifesting much knowledge when he failed to realize that the kingdom of Jesus is not of this world.
When Christians “grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ,” they have assurance and sweet peace. They make their “calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall” (II Pet. 1:10).
Will You Respond?