Robert Jeffress - Without a Doubt - Part 2
Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress and welcome again to Pathway to Victory. The Bible teaches that while all have sinned and deserve God's judgment, God's gift of salvation is freely available to anyone who will put their faith in Jesus Christ. And while the promise of eternal life is certainly something worth celebrating the benefits of a right relationship with God don't have to wait until we die. They can begin right now. Today we're going to look at four tangible benefits that come from getting right with God. My message is titled, "Without a Doubt" on today's edition of Pathway to Victory.
The Bible says, the assurance we have is that one day if we're in a right relationship with God we will see the full glory of the God in whom we have trusted. But you know what? Not only are we going to see the glory of God, we're actually going to share in the glory of God. 1 John 3:2, says, "Brethren, it has not yet appeared what we shall be like, but we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, because we shall see him just as he is". I don't understand this. But what I do understand is that one day, because of our right relationship with God, the Bible says we're going to see the fullness of God. And we're actually going to share in the fullness, the glory, the weightiness of God himself. That is the hope. That is the assurance of every believer.
It reminds me about what Max Lucado said one time. He said, "The older we get the better our vision should become". Not our vision of things on earth, but our vision of things in heaven. The Bible says one of the benefits of being in a right relationship with God is the assurance we have, that one day we will see and share in the glory of God. Thirdly, he says, "Another benefit of being in a right relationship with God is it gives us a constellation in present suffering". The benefits of a right relationship with God just don't begin the moment we die, they begin right now. And one of those practical benefits is a constellation in present suffering. Look at chapter five verse three, "And not only this, but we also rejoice exalt in our tribulations". That word tribulations literally means to be under pressure. It's a word that referred to the process by which a big grinding stone would press the olives and extract the valuable olive oil. That's what tribulation means, it means to be under pressure.
And Paul says we can rejoice when we're under pressure. And by the way, that word tribulation sometimes we use it to refer to the persecution that comes from being a Christian. That's a very real persecution. Many people around the country or around the world are experiencing now, I think we're going to experience it more and more, but I think we would be wrong to limit persecution or tribulation simply to persecution for our faith. The fact is all of us who are Christians or non-Christians for that matter, we all suffer tribulations. Jesus said in John 16, "In this world you will have pressure, tribulations". Sometimes that tribulation or pressure comes from family concerns. Sometimes it comes from money problems. Sometimes it comes from health issues. Sometimes it comes from problems at work. But what he's saying here is, "No matter what the source we can exalt in our tribulations".
Now to understand how strange that was for Paul to say, "Rejoice in tribulations". You need to understand this about Greek Philosophy. When Paul was writing these words there were two major schools of thought about how to handle problems in your life. One was founded by the Greek Philosopher Epicurus, he founded Epicureanism. That's the idea that if you're going through pressure you can dull the pressure you're experiencing with pleasure. Just have more pleasure, eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die. And that will numb out the pressure that you're feeling. That was Epicureanism. There was another group called the stoics. They promoted stoicism. They said, "No, no, no, no, no, don't try to a numb your pain, instead," the stoic said, "Just have a stiff upper lip, just press through as grin and bear it for as long as you can". That was stoicism. But Paul said, "No Christians have a better response to pressure".
Instead of trying to numb the pressure with pleasure, instead of trying to deny the pressure through stoicism, we can actually rejoice in times of pressure, why? And remember if you're in a right relationship with God you have the assurance that that pressure, that problem you're facing is not there by accident. It's not the result of an angry God who is trying to get even with you. Know that pressure is the result of God's perfect and loving plan for your life. And that's what he's talking about in verses three and four. He said, "Knowing that tribulation pressure produces perseverance". That word perseverance means to live under something, to live under something. When you're going through a difficult time you don't have to panic. You don't have to try to get out of the problem as quickly as you can. You can live under it, knowing God is doing something valuable in your life.
What is that something valuable? Follow it in verse four, tribulation produces perseverance and perseverance delivers or develops proven character. That word translated proven character is, in Greek. It's a word that was used to refer to a piece of pottery that once formed by the potter would be placed in a firing oven in order to be strengthened. And if that piece of pottery succeeded in staying in that firing oven without cracking under the heat when it was removed the potter would write on the bottom of the pot, the word, proven, tested. And another example, whenever people were fashioning a piece of Jewelry they would take the gold and they would heat it up to the molten state. And once the gold was liquid in form the impurities would rise to the top and the Jewel maker would take off the impurity, skim them off the surface. And now the gold was pure to be fashioned into that piece of Jewelry. What Paul is saying is in the same way trials are God's way of taking the character flaws, the impurities out of our life and preparing the kind of character he wants to develop in each of us.
Billy Graham used to tell the story about a friend of his who went through the great depression and during the great depression, he lost everything, his job, his money, his wife, all of his family. He was a strong believer, but he couldn't understand why God was doing this to him. And one day in almost a desperate state, he was walking down the streets of the large city where he lived. And he noticed that masons were doing a lot of stonework on a massive Cathedral. And he noticed one of the masons was chiseling on a piece of stone down on the sidewalk. And so he stopped and he asked the mason, "What are you doing? Well, what are you doing with that piece of stone"? And the mason pointed his direction to a spire at the top of the church. He said, "See that up there"? "Yes". "See that little opening up at the top of the spire"? "Yes". The mason said, "I am chiseling this down here so that it will fit up there".
The man said, "Suddenly tears started streaming down his face because he realized God had him meet that mason for a reason, he realized that God was allowing these difficulties in his life, not because he hated him, but because he loved him, he was chiseling away anything in his life that wasn't like Christ. He was preparing him down here for an eternity up there". That's what God's doing in your life if you're a believer. These difficulties are not because God hates you. It's because he loves you. I don't know if this is true for you, it's true for me. Have you found that you've learned the most in your life, not through the easy times, but through the difficult times. Even Christ, it was true of him.
Hebrews 5:8 says, "Though he was the son, he learned obedience by the things that he suffered". God has a reason for allowing these things in your life. It is to prepare you down here for the eternity that awaits you up there. I came across a tremendous quote this week in my reading from the late Dallas Willard. If you don't hear anything else, listen to this. He writes, "The most important thing in your life is not what you do, it's who you become. That's what you will take into eternity". That's what Paul was talking about. We can rejoice if we're in a right relationship with God when we're in tribulation, knowing that that produces perseverance and that perseverance produces proven character and that proven character notice what he says, "Produces hope".
One thing I have found is that Christians who have been chiseled on by God, who have felt the blow of his mighty hand out of love, it's amazing when people have suffered the loss of a job or the loss of a child or a marriage, or their health, if they are Christians, it's amazing how those losses cause them to be disinterested in the things of this world and to focus on the things of heaven. I think about one of our own members you know well. Lanelle Humphrey, a widow in our church. About seven or eight years ago, she lost her son, Jay, who died suddenly of a heart attack. Then a few years after that, she lost her husband, one of our deacons, Charles. And then several weeks ago she lost her other son Jed.
Imagine that kind of loss your husband, all of your children. Last Sunday afternoon, we had the memorial service for her son, Jed, here in our Truett Chapel. I will never forget this as long as I live. We were sitting there and we were singing that hymn, "It is well with my soul". As we were singing that hymn, seated there in those pews, suddenly Lanelle stood to her feet with her arms raised for God. What a testimony? What a testimony.? I'll tell you something, if you sit down and talk to Lanelle today I'll tell you what she won't talk to you about. She's not obsessing about where she's going to spend her next vacation. She's not talking about any additions she's going to make to her home. She's not talking about her investment portfolio. There's one thing Lanelle is thinking about right now and that's heaven. That's being where God is. That's where her treasurer is.
The Bible says, "When you go through tribulations as a Christian, God has a way of using those trials to hammer out anything that's not like Christ, and to fix your hope on the assurance of eternity". That's why we can rejoice as Christians. It gives us constellation in present suffering. But not only that, I want you to notice this. A right relationship with God gives you the assurance of eternal salvation. Verses six to 11, this section is probably one of the greatest sections in all of the Bible about the assurance we have of our salvation.
There's some people who would say, "Well, I believe, yes, it's through Christ death on the cross for me that I have eternal life, but what if I quit believing? What if I fall into sin? Does my status change from friend of God back to enemy of God? Do I go from being a child of God being a child of Satan? Do I lose my salvation"? Such a question is an important one. But it's a question that fails to take into account not only what Christ did for us, but when he did it for us. And that's what Paul points out here, look at verses six to eight. "For while we were helpless at the right time Christ died for the ungodly, for one will hardly die for a righteous man though, perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die".
I want you to notice when it is that Christ died for you and me it's while we were helpless. That is, we were completely incapable of doing anything to earn God's approval. Not only that he uses in verse six the phrase or the word we were ungodly. That's when Christ died for us when we were ungodly. That word ungodly doesn't mean just to be unlike God. The prefix un, means against. Apart from Christ, you and I are against God. One commentator says we apart from Christ are so against God that if we had the power to we would drag God off of his throne and destroy him. That's how much we are against the true God of the Bible, apart from Christ. But notice it is at that time that Christ died for us. Verse eight, "But God demonstrated his own love toward us and that while we were helpless, ungodly, sinners that is when Christ died for us". Notice in verse seven, he says "For one," we'll hang on verse seven, "One will hardly die for a righteous man though perhaps for the good man, someone would dare even to die".
We preach of times. We have this little arsenal of illustrations we use. You've probably heard them a 1.000 times, all of them, but there's one we use to try to demonstrate exactly how much Christ loved us in order to die for us. I know you've heard this story before. It's about this little girl, 10 years old with a rare blood disease. She needs a transfusion desperately. Time is of the essence and so they can only find one person who has the right blood type to provide the transfusion. And it's her six-year-old brother. So the doctor explains to him about what the transfusion will involve and ask him if he's willing to do this for his sister, he says, "Yes".
And so after the transfusion is finished successfully, the doctor padded the little boy on the shoulder and said, "Thank you for doing this". The boy looks up at the doctor. He says, "Doctor, how long before I die"? See he thought the transfusion would result in his death, but he was willing to die for his sister because he was a part of her family and she loved him. And people say, "Well, that's a good illustration of what Christ did for us". No, it's really not a good illustration. You see it's one thing for a little boy to be willing to die for somebody he's related to, for somebody who loves him, but Christ did not die for us when we were a part of his family. He didn't die for us when we were overflowing with love for him. No, verse eight says, "God demonstrated his love toward us and that while we were yet sinners". That's when Christ died for us. Not when we loved him, when we hated God. God was still willing to make the ultimate sacrifice.
You say, what does that have to do with the assurance of our salvation? Everything. Look at verses nine and 10, "Much more than having now been justified by his blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God, through him. For if while we were still enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his son much having been reconciled, we shall be saved by his life". Listen to this, if God was willing to reach down and save you when you hated him, when you were against him, don't you think now that you're his friend, he's going to keep you saved? I mean, if God alone has the power to save you, isn't it true that God alone has the power to keep you saved?
That's what Paul is saying here. The reason we have assurance of our relationship, of our eternal salvation is because we're in a right relationship with God. Look at what God did for you, when he was your enemy, how much more is he going to do for you now that you are his friend? See, the problem we all have is we think God is like us. We love only people who are lovable and we only keep loving people who keep loving us. If somebody stops loving us, we move away from them. But aren't you grateful, God is not like us. God loves us with an ever lasting love. As the hymn writer said, oh, the deep, deep love of Jesus, vast, unmeasured, boundless, free. That's the kind of love with which God loves you.