Michael Youssef - From Valley to Victory - Part 6
I want to tell you the way so many Christian believers live their Christian life. They know they are saved, but they are not sure of their eternal future. There are some who think so they are saved today, but will they be saved tomorrow? There are others who are certain of their salvation, but they're fearful what would happen to them when they close their eyes in death. They live in a state of spiritual terror. I've met them and you have too. Why? Because we're so used to hearing about products that are guaranteed for life. We're so used to seeing guaranteed product, when you read the fine print, says the one thing about that guarantee is it cannot be guaranteed. And that is why Romans 5:1 to 11 will bless your socks.
Now, if this passage does not ring your bell, your clapper's broken. If that does not set you on fire for Jesus, your wood is wet. He is telling us here that our salvation in Christ comes with eternal guarantees, eternal guarantees. Not temporary guarantees, but eternal guarantees. In a moment, I'm going to show you from the Word of God there are six guarantees that salvation, our salvation, come with. But let me first remind you of the last message. Paul is saying that we can only brag about the grace of God because it is only by grace that we are eternally saved, not by works lest any of us can boast. We saw also that salvation, salvation is a gift from God. God gives it to us as a gift. We saw also that the faith that helps us to believe is a gift from God so that God does it all from beginning to end. And here in chapter 5, verses 1 to 11, Paul is anticipating the reader's questions.
If faith is by grace, if faith is a gift from God, then how are we going to maintain this faith. How are we going to maintain this salvation? How can we continue this salvation in the rest of our lives and then for eternity? How are we going to experience that salvation all the way to the end? Great question. In Romans chapter 5, verses 1 to 11, Paul gives us the answer. And he tells us that the gift of salvation comes with sixfold eternal guarantees. The first guarantee is in verse 1. It is peace with God. The second guarantee is in the first half of verse 2, chapter 5. It is having a favor with God. Three, the third guarantee is found in the second half of verse 2, and it is having hope in God. Fourthly, you're guaranteed that you have a purpose in your suffering for Christ, verses 3 and 4. Number five, a guarantee of Christ's overwhelming love, verses 5 to 10. The sixth guarantee is overwhelming joy, verse 11.
The first guarantee of our salvation is that we would have peace with God. Look at verse 1, "Therefore". Remember the rule about the word "therefore"? If it is therefore, you find out why it is there for. Therefore, because salvation is a gift from God, "Therefore since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through the Lord Jesus Christ". This peace that he talks about here is in the present tense. Why is it in the present tense? Because it means that peace you have with God not dependent on your feelings, but it's a fact. This peace with God is not down the road sometime. No, it is now, wherever the now is. This peace with God is not pie in the sky in the by and by, but it is a reality.
This peace with God is not on occasions when you feel peaceful; no, but always. You have to look around and you just listen to the news for a few minutes and you realize there is a desperation for peace in our world today. There are people desperate for a peace of mind, the peace in the home, peace in politics and society, and even internationally. Yet the real peace of God can only come through surrender to the lordship of Jesus Christ. Every human being, without exception, is born in a state of enmity with God, regardless of how they feel. They are born with a state of enmity with God. I did and you did.
Sometime ago, a friend of mine was saying, "You know, Michael, I'm not at enmity with God. I'm neutral about God. As a matter of fact, I don't fight God". Here's the answer, listen carefully. Just as those who have been justified by God have peace of God and peace with God regardless of how they feel, those who are not in Christ Jesus are at enmity with God regardless of how they feel toward God. There is no such thing as neutrality toward God. Either you are a member of the kingdom of God, or you are a member of the kingdom of Satan. You either belong to the kingdom of heaven or the kingdom of hell. You are either for God or against him. Hear me right, there is no dual citizenship here.
First guarantee is what? Second guarantee is a favor with God. I hear people sometimes, they only say, "God give us favor with you". You already have God's favor. You already have, here it is, first half of verse 2, "Through whom also we have obtained access by faith into his grace, into his favor in which we stand". We saw in the last message that that grace, that favor, that unmerited and undeserved and unsolicited favor is unconditional. This grace, this favor of God is not just merely a proclamation or an announcement. No, no, no, listen to me, it is an atmosphere in which we enter. This favor is a privileged posture in which we stand for the rest of our lives and for eternity. It is a privileged position to be in now and forever. Are you with me? Once you enter into that atmosphere of grace, once you enter into that atmosphere of the favor with God, you stay there until either Jesus comes back or you go and see him face to face. Amen belongs here.
Please understand this. You do not stay in that atmosphere of grace by how hard you grit your teeth, your spiritual teeth. You do not stay in that atmosphere of favor with God by how high can you pull your spiritual bootstraps. No, no, no, no, no, it is because God himself guaranteed it, therefore God himself sustains you, God himself holds you, God himself strengthens you. God himself convicts you when you sin. God himself forgives you when you confess and repent. God himself restores you every time you confess and repent. He's an indisputable fact.
Listen to me, when the supreme judge of the universe declares you in favor, there is no higher court that can overturn that decision. There is no higher judge that can overturn that verdict. There is no higher authority that can overrule that acquittal. The very purpose of God's grace and favor is to free you from sin. Listen to me, the person who said, "Hurray, now that I'm saved, I can sin freely," that person was never saved. Paul says, "Having been freed from sin, we have become slaves to righteousness". The believer who is constantly doubting his or her eternal salvation, they're doing two things. They are giving the devil the chance to drag you back to sin, and they're doing something else. They are questioning the power of God. They're questioning the integrity of God.
First guarantee is what? Second guarantee is what? And the third guarantee is hope in God. Look at the second half of verse 2, Romans 5. "And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God". Now, let me explain this. The word "hope" here needs explanation. When you make an appointment and you're going to see somebody, you hope that that person will be there when you go there, right? If you are organizing outdoor activities, you hope that it doesn't rain. If you're having a surgical procedure, you hope it will be successful, right? But that kind of hope has nothing to do with the word "hope" here in Romans chapter 5, verse 2. The word "hope" here means a sure knowledge. It means a definite assurance. It means an absolute certainty.
My hope or absolute certainty is based upon trust in God and his words and his promises. This absolute assurance is certainty, is guaranteed by the death and the resurrection of Jesus Christ himself. That assurance makes me live in a state of rejoicing. It makes me live in a state of jubilation. Even when my whole world is falling apart, even when darkness surround me, even my circumstances are not all that congenial, Paul writes Ephesians chapter 1, verse 13 and 14 tells us why. The reason you have that absolute assurance is because Paul said in Ephesians 1:13 and 14, "Every believer is sealed by the Holy Spirit," and nobody can break that seal.
First guarantee is what? Second guarantee? Third guarantee up in the balcony? Fourth guarantee, is there a purpose in suffering? If you look with me at verse 3 and 4, "We also rejoice in sufferings, because we know that sufferings produces perseverance; and perseverance produces character; and character produces hope". Now, I need to give you an explanation about the word "sufferings" here because this is not talking about the suffering of the aches and pains that we all experience in life, okay? This is not talking about fear and anxiety and suffering that way that many of us will go through certain periods of time. This is not the pain of disappointment that we all face from time to time. But the word "suffering" here is referring to suffering for the sake of Christ. And yes, it does not refer to suffering that comes as a consequence of our foolish decisions.
I've experienced a lot of suffering that came as a result of foolish decisions that I made. That's not the suffering he's talking about. This type of suffering is a suffering that experienced whether you're a high school student, whether you're a college student. This is the kind of suffering that comes when you take a stand for Christ in your school and in your college, and then you get mocked. That's the kind of suffering he's talking about, when you take a stand for Christ and you pay a price for it. This type of suffering results from obedience to God, and knowing that you are doing the very will of God in your life, and yet you suffer. This type of suffering comes directly from living righteous, holy, and pure life before God. In Romans 5:3 and 4, Paul said, "This particular type of suffering produces perseverance; and perseverance produces character".
Some time ago, I read about John Wesley. Wesley suffered so much for the sake of Christ, that became second nature to him, that he really worried if he didn't suffer for Christ. And this happened one day, he was walking alongside the road, and he was thinking, he said, "My goodness, it's been three days since no one has thrown an egg or a tomato or a stone," which he was used to on a regular basis. "Three days, nothing happened. Nobody's persecuting me, nobody's throwing anything at me". So, he goes immediately on his knees right there in the countryside where he was walking, and he said, "Lord, is there a sin in my life and why I'm not suffering for you"? And he tried to examine himself.
And as he prayed and he was praying, a peasant came by and recognized him, and he threw a stone at him. It missed him by an inch. He immediately leaped to his feet and began to praise God that he's okay with God now that he's being persecuted again. You and I would say, "Oh, thank God for those three days' break," right? But not Wesley. He thanked God that he was paying a price for his stand for Jesus Christ. Don't miss this. God does not effectively use people who have never learned perseverance. You notice I said effectively? Effectively. God does not effectively use people who have never been broken. God does not effectively use people who have never learned to lean on him alone. Look at the people who have effectively served God and honored God in the Scripture.
As we see them, if you ask Abraham, he will tell you about the crushing experience on Mount Moriah. If you ask Jacob, he will tell you about the pillow of stone in which he slept his nights. If you ask Joseph, he will tell you about the Egyptian dungeon. If you ask Moses, he will tell you about the wilderness and dealing with pharaoh. If you ask David, he will tell you about being hunted down by Saul. If you ask Job, he will tell you about the song in the night when there was nothing to sing about. Oh, but that should not surprise us, for it's only the crushed rose that gives off its sweetest fragrance. It is only the pain of childbirth that the joy of motherhood is experienced. It's only the crushing of the wheat that makes bread, it's only the grain of sand that wounds the body of the oyster that yet, for out of that irritation comes a beautiful pearl. Suffering for Christ produces perseverance. Perseverance produces character. And my beloved friends, character cannot be learned from a book.
The fifth guarantee is God's overwhelming love. Look with me please, verses 5 all the way to 10. You know what I have grown to discover? That the greatest problems with humanity is their inability to comprehend, to comprehend the love of God. I don't care how long you live, you're going to find that that is the case. People, they just cannot comprehend it. Some turn their back on it, some just accept it, but it's impossible to comprehend it. And part of the reason is because people love those who love them, so they think, "If only love God, God will love them".
Other people think that the love of God is dependent on us, of how much we love him or how much we do for him. But beloved, if this is the case, listen to me, then our salvation is dependent on our treacherous hearts, and it's not. Thanks be to God it ain't so. Paul tells us that God's love for us is not dependent on our lovingness. When we were utterly helpless to bring ourselves to God, he loved us. When we're utterly unworthy of his love, he loved us. When we were totally powerless to escape from sin and death, he loved us. When we were totally powerless to resist Satan, God loved us. When we were totally powerless to please God, God loved us, and he sent his Son to die our death.
Listen carefully to verse 9 and 10. Here's what he's saying. If God had the power and the will to redeem us from the first place, how much more does he have the power and the will to keep us redeemed? Did you get that? Say amen. If he loved us when we were enemies, how much more does he love us when we are his children? If the dying Savior reconciled us to God, surely the loving Savior will keep us reconciled to God. If God had already secured our salvation and rescued us from sin and death, how on earth can he not continuously save us or our salvation can ever be in jeopardy?
The first guarantee. The second guarantee. The third guarantee. The fourth guarantee. The fifth guarantee. Finally, the sixth guarantee is an overwhelming joy. Look at verse 11. In the last message, again we saw how the religionists, those religious people who bragging about their good works, and Paul said you can't do, you're bragging about the wrong thing. You're bragging the wrong way. And Paul showed us in the last message how to brag the right way, to brag about Jesus and his cross and his salvation. And here he is telling us our gratitude to God for all he has done for us should give us such joy in life that nothing can take that joy away from you. Every time, every time you are tempted to allow circumstances to get you down, every time you allow your circumstances to cause you a loss of joy, you must deliberately and intentionally focus on your peace with God, your favor with God, your hope in God, his purpose in your suffering, his overwhelming love, and his joy is going to... you every time, will... you up.
Are you experiencing some crushing circumstances only you and God know? Are you grieving so deeply over the loss of a loved one? Are you experiencing emotional pain that nobody seem to understand? Have you been rejected by the near and the dear? Have you been maligned for doing good? Are you experiencing ingratitude from those who should be filled with gratitude? Are you experiencing confusion or discouragement of any kind? None of that will stand when you compare it to the joy of your eternal salvation. Can I get an amen? Allow nothing and no one to steal your joy. Say that with me, "Allow nothing and no one to steal your joy". Give God praise. Give God praise.