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Jack Graham - The Eternal Security of the Gospel

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    Jack Graham - The Eternal Security of the Gospel
TOPICS: The Gospel of God, Gospel, Eternity, Security

Well, let me tell you something greater than knowing that you have eternal life. You say, "What on earth can be greater than knowing that you have eternal life"? It's this: Knowing that you have eternal life and that you can never lose it! That's why today I want to speak to you on the subject "The Gospel and our Eternal Security". So get your Bibles open, put your seatbelts on: we're going to take a fast ride through Romans chapter 8 and I want to show you four affirmations or four assurances, four certainties, securities that I believe guarantees our salvation forever in Christ, the eternal security of the Gospel. And the first one of these is found in the first four verses, what we're going to describe as we believe in the eternal security of the Gospel because of the sufficiency of God's Son, and therefore, His salvation.

Look at verse 1: "There is therefore now (present tense) no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life", that's one of the most powerful descriptions of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of life! The one who gives us the life of God is the Holy Spirit, "the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law (whether it would be the commandments or the laws of the Old Testament) what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh". When did He do that? Of course, when He bore our sins on the cross. In His humanity and in His deity He bore our sins, and He condemned sin in the flesh, "in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit".

This is the description of the justification that we have in Christ now; that "we stand in His righteousness alone, faultless to stand before the throne". We are no longer living under the condemnation of the sentence of sin and the death that goes with it, but we are now alive, by the Spirit of life, we are now empowered by God Himself. When this chapter begins with "Therefore, now", of course, it's referring to what Paul has been writing and saying earlier. And what Paul has been writing and saying earlier, it is as though he is a prosecuting attorney and he is pointing out word after word the guilt of all mankind; that every person is guilty before a Holy God; that man has sinned; and that there is a witness in creation; there's a witness in the human conscience; there's witness in Christ of God's Gospel; and that everyone, therefore, is accountable and responsible to God! And he declares, therefore, the whole world guilty of sin and all of us standing in the face of a fearful judgment!

Two verses exemplify this: Romans 3:23: "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" and Romans 6:23: "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord". Scripture says: "There is therefore no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus". Key phrase that Paul uses! Two words that describe this relationship. We are no longer standing in judgment and in sin, but we are now in Christ; therefore, we are secure in Christ. A good illustration of this is Noah and the ark. In fact, Peter uses this as an illustration of salvation and eternal security in his own writings. And it was When God put Noah and his family in the ark, they were secure in that ark. And though judgment fell upon the earth and the earth and every inhabitant of the earth was condemned in that judgment, Noah and his family, along with the animals on the ark, they were saved. Why? Because they were in the ark! Noah invited everyone in; God invited everyone in, but there came a day when the door was shut!

So Noah in the ark! That ark is a picture, an illustration of Christ. And as someone said, "Noah may have fallen down many times in the ark, but he never fell out of the ark"! Christ is the ark! We are in Christ! And therefore judgment cannot touch us! We are secure. We can never be severed from the presence of Christ in our lives. We are in a place of protection where God's judgment will never touch us, where the wrath of judgment can never reach us! Verse 2 of Romans 8 says, "For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death"! This is the truth in which we stand! This is the truth in which we are secure! This is the truth in which we live! We are in Christ! There was a definitive moment in our lives when we made a decision to follow Christ; to turn from our sins and our journey to hell, and to follow Christ all the way to heaven! We are forever forgiven! We are freely and forever secured because of what Christ has done for us.

Now salvation, therefore, is not trying harder, promising to do better, chalking up points with God, trying to do our best. Salvation is not man-centered. Man-centered salvation is what we do for God. You're not saved because of what you do for God. You're not saved because of what you do for yourself, promising to be a better person, or promising to try harder. You're not saved because of what you do for others. Some people have the idea that if I help enough people... I had a man say to me one time, "Look ah, you know, my Gospel, my salvation is the Sermon on the Mount and the Golden Rule". But salvation is not in keeping the Golden Rule; it's not in helping others. That's man-centered salvation! Our salvation is God-centered! It is Gospel-centered! It is centered in Christ and His cross and His resurrection! It is knowing what Christ has done for us, we could never do for ourselves. Therefore, that same love that saves us, keeps us. We are loved eternally. We are secure in Christ. It is a provision of Christ. It is what Christ has done. We are now in Christ. And as Jesus said, "No man shall pluck them out of My Father's hand".

Secondly, the second section of Romans chapter 8 deals with our eternal security as it relates to the sanctification of God's Spirit. The word sanctification, if I could just say it plainly, means that we're being made more like Christ. We are being more set apart from the world and like Christ. We are made holy even as God is holy. We are now righteously living in Christ. But how does that happen? Look at verse 5: "For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit". Now earlier Paul in the seventh chapter of Romans had described a spiritual struggle going on inside of him. Though he was the greatest Christian whoever lived, there was a time in the Apostle Paul's life when he was fighting this war within, a battle within. And that was the battle, the conflict, the competition that exist in all of us between the flesh and the Spirit.

The flesh, sarx in the language of the New Testament has to do with the old nature, who we are before Christ, but the flesh doesn't disappear when we come to faith in Christ. We still live in human bodies. We are still subject to human frailties, to the flesh; and therefore, to temptations. And this struggle, this conflict, maybe that surprised you when you began to follow Christ. You thought, "Well all of these old fears and temptations and struggles and addictions, the habits, they're just going to go away just like that". And many times God instantaneously, miraculously removes habits and addictions and things like that. But many times people struggle throughout their entire lives with these kinds of conflicts, sinful habits, sinful behaviors, sinful actions, and Paul went on to express that he was fighting. He said, "The very thing that I want to do, I don't do"!

I want to pray, I want to read my Bible, I want to share my faith, I want to be faithful to my church! Those are things I want to do, but I find myself pulled away. You know, I want to sleep in on Sunday morning and, you know, the Bible, I'd rather read the sports page, or pray, I go to sleep when I pray! I mean the flesh is struggling constantly, you see. Paul said, "The things that I want to do, I don't do. And the things that I don't want to do", some of those old sinful behaviors and some of those attitudes and dispositions, those are the very things I find myself doing all over again. Paul said it in 7:18 of Romans: "For I know that nothing good dwells in me".

Now again, this is one of the greatest men, believers that ever lived. He said, "In me there's no good thing"! If there's anything good about me, good about you, it's Jesus! In our flesh there is no good thing! I have a desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out! Have you made the discovery that the Christian life is not hard, but impossible! There's no good thing in us. We can't do this ourselves. We concluded, as the apostle did, in Romans 7:24: "O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death"? Then in the eighth chapter he tells us the wonderful discovery that he made, that we made, that we are now no longer living under the dominion of sin and the power of sin, but now we can live in the freedom of the Spirit; that we have life and power in the Spirit to overcome. Sin no longer controls our attitudes, our appetites, our ambitions, our assets, our actions! We are no longer under the dominion of sin and its power!

Now if you still have the mindset of sin, if you are still living in sin, if you still... Somebody said, "When God saved us He didn't fix us where we couldn't sin anymore; He just fixed us where we couldn't sin and enjoy it anymore"! But if you are still living under the dominion and the power of sin, that's your mindset, that's your motivation, there's a good chance that you don't know Christ as Savior. But if you know this struggle that Paul's talking about, that we're talking about today. If you understand that the Spirit of God is in you and that when you do something wrong or don't do something you ought to do, you're convicted of that and you're no longer controlled by this thing of sin and the fleshly nature, then that means that God is at work by His Spirit.

You see, it's not that we can't sin; it's that we cannot now live in sin! "If anyone is in Christ he's a new creature; old things are passed away and all things become new". We are brand new. We are born again. We have a new nature now. You say, "Well how do I stop these old habits? How do I deal with these constant temptations? This struggle that I have, these addictions, these habits, these behaviors"? When you became a Christian the Holy Spirit of God entered your life! That's why Romans 5:5 says, "God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given unto us". When you came to Christ the Spirit of God moved in! He lives in you! Romans 8:14, "For all who are led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God"!

You have now by God's Spirit the power to overcome the world, the flesh and the devil; to live and win over sin! You don't have to lose; you can win over sin by the power of God's Spirit. And the key to that is being controlled by the Spirit which the Bible calls the filling of the Spirit. Ephesians 5:18 "Don't get drunk with wine, that's debauchery; but be filled with the Holy Spirit". For what you need to do, the Spirit of God now lives in you; He inhabits you, He indwells you, He lives in you. He is dormant in you but is He dominant in you? Are you feeding the things of the Spirit? You feed the flesh, guess who wins?

You feed the Spirit with the Word of God, with prayer, with worship, fellowship of God's people or God's wisdom. You feed the Spirit and the Spirit of God will dominate the old life and the old nature. Allow God's Spirit to continuously control your life: think as He thinks, do what He does and He will dominate your life! Saturate your mind with the Word of God, the will of God, the wisdom of God in His truth and you will discover there is power to defeat the enemy every time! Living the Spirit filled life is not something that happens just one time, but it is a daily decision to honor God and to ask the Spirit of God to control your life! Therefore, we are secure because this is the work of the Spirit of God!

Thirdly, you're eternally secure in this Gospel because of the sovereignty of God's purposes. Verses 18 and following deals with the problem of pain. First, the problem of pain in creation. It says all creation groans. In the beginning God's creation was perfect, but now because of sin, it is scarred and stained by a curse, and so the earth and everything and everyone in it is impacted by suffering and groaning. Look at the word Paul chooses to describe the condition of the world. In verse 18 he describes it as sufferings, the sufferings of this present time. Verse 20, "as the creation was subjected to futility; that is meaninglessness, aimlessness, going nowhere". Verse 21, "Bondage to corruption that is the decay and the demise".

You know, it's like the human body. We're affected by the curse of sin upon the world. The body gets older and older because of the impact of creation. We don't know exactly how creation and nature. Science is trying to tell us how we can improve our lifespan and so on, but you know as you get older you just, it gets, you know, it just goes away. I don't know what to tell you. The other day I tried to get out of the... I was getting out of a chair and I heard myself going "Augh!!!" I said, "You know that's the sound my grandpa used to make getting out of a chair"! We groan! And then there's pains. I guarantee you, most everybody in this room, something's hurting right now. But not only does creation groan but the Christian groans.

Now listen to me. We know that suffering is not funny. And everyone, I mean everyone suffers in life. We as Christians are not immune to pain and suffering, of heartache and heartbreak. You know it's true. But verse 18 is a key verse. "For I consider the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is revealed in us". You see when it comes down to it, the questions regarding why we suffer and how we suffer, when we suffer and how long we suffer, that's not really the question. The question we need to answer is this: To what purpose and for what purpose. For what purpose?

Romans 8:28: "And we know that for those who love God, all things work together for good for those who are called according to His purpose". This isn't a blanket promise to everyone. It says "We know", that's a family secret, a promise to believers. In fact if you're not a believer, all things don't work together for good; all things work together for bad! I hate to tell you that but it's true. We know, not that we wish, not that we hope so, maybe sometimes, we know all things are working together for the good! Now there are many times in life when I talk to people about tragedies and trials and struggles and suffering, different "why" questions and people are struggling with their pain.

There are many times in life I simply have to say, "I - don't - know". I learned a long time ago as a young pastor that I didn't have all the answers to the questions of pain and evil and suffering and why things happen. As long as we walk around on this earth, we're going to have to walk around with some unanswered questions. We are! You have them, I have them. Questions like: "Why did I lose my job? Why did my career fall apart? I trusted God. I believed God. I thought I was doing God's will. What happened"? Or "Why did my child die"? Or "Why can't we have children? We've prayed and prayed. We can't have children. I see little babies walk in with their parents and it breaks my heart. God, why can't we have a child"? "Why did I miscarriage"?

You may not know it but Deb miscarried three times in our marriage. We have three children. We have three more that I totally expect to see in heaven someday because I believe life begins in the womb. I'm looking forward to meeting those children. We've been through that. What happens? "Why did my husband leave when I gave him the best years of my life? And he just walked out! Why, God"? Many times I just have to say, "I don't know". But here's what I love to say: "Don't trade what you don't know for what you do know"!

And what we know is that our Savior and our God has conquered sin and death and hell! What we know is that we are God's children, that we can cry out Abba, Father, Papa, Daddy, Father to a God who loves us and cares for us! What we know is that all of our sins and impact of sins are forever forgiven! What we know is that we are in the grip of His grace and that God will never let us go! What we know is that our circumstances in life, good or bad, are under the control of a sovereign God and everything that goes through my life is permitted by God and is filtered through a nail-scarred hand! A God who understands! That's what we know! What we know is that one day we will be with Him forever and ever. If you're going through a dark time, remember, God is changing you and conforming you. We're not here just so God can make us comfortable, but make us conforming to His will and to His dear Son.

One final word, and that's we believe in the eternal security of the Gospel because of the steadfastness of God's love. That's this great hymn of praise that closes Romans 8. You see, when God works in your life in the way we've been talking, He gives you a greater capacity to experience His love and to express His love. Your heart opens up to Him in times like these and, therefore, to others.

And so the Apostle says: "What can separate us from the love of Christ"? He ransacks heaven and earth. He talks about the things in heaven, the things in earth, the things above, the things below. He says this, the grace of God is greater than time and space! That the love of God will last! Neither height nor depth, past, present, future, any created thing will be able to sever us and separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord: "not tribulation, not distress, not persecution, not famine, not nakedness, not peril, not sword". No foe, no fault, no failure will defeat us or destroy us! Why? Because of the steadfastness of God's love! The steadfastness of a God who never will stop loving you. Therefore, we exclaim: "If God be for us, who can be against us"!

You say, "How do we know that God is for us"? All you have to do is look at verse 32. "If He didn't spare His only Son Jesus, will He not freely give you all things"? If He would hang His own darling Son upon the cross to die for you, accept the suffering, the pain and sin and the guilt, don't you think if He gave His Son for you that He will freely give you all things? That He will bring you through every circumstance in life? What God starts, He finishes. "He who began the good work in you will perform it unto the day of Jesus Christ"! No wonder we can say with the apostle: "We are more than conquerors through Christ".
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