March 7, 2021

Gospel and Assurance of Salvation

Scripture:

Assurance of salvation bothered and worried thousands or possibly millions of Christians. Assurance in salvation sounds very bold and prideful. Many people prefer to remain insecure, and humble about it. Nevertheless, this question is very important. The fact is that after Paul opened up the full picture of how God accomplishes our salvation (9:10-24), a thought may creep in – since all the attention was on God, and not on what I did, said or changed, then potentially such a person can doubt his personal salvation. Chapter 10 is for those kind of people!

What gives confidence to a believer? The answer is the Gospel! Not feelings, not any external signs… But how?

4 actions of the Gospel that instill confidence in salvation!

I. The Gospel Leads to Dependence on God (vv. 1-2a)

There are several potential reasons why Paul shouldn’t worry about Israel…

1) Due to his calling (11:14) – he was the apostle of the Gentiles. His main mission field is the Gentiles. It’s his job. This is his position in the Church. That’s what God took him to work for! But, but has a heart longing  for the salvation of sinners.

2) Personal offence. Israel persistently opposed him and caused a lot of pain (Acts 14:19, 21; 27-31; 22:22-23). They wanted to kill him! Looking at (10:2) we can see that. But, Paul has a heart longing for their salvation.

3) Theological reason. Not for Paul, but for many others… This reason arises after studying the issue of God’s sovereignty – if God cannot decide or change the lives and hearts of people, then there is no point in praying. But, because God can change hearts, circumstances, and save people, we pray! Moreover, understanding this, gives meaning to prayer!

Most importantly, we see what the Gospel did to Paul – he sincerely, earnestly prays for the salvation of others (v. 1), and witnesses to them (v. 2a). He talks to God about Israel, and He talks to Israel about God! He intercedes for them with God, and he intercedes for God with them!

The most striking manifestation of the work of the Gospel in the life of a believer is his dependence on God in prayer, and zeal in evangelism. A person who sincerely prays to God is the witness of the Gospel at work! A person who desires and participates in the rescuing of sinners for God’s kingdom is the person who learned to depend on God! He has already ceases to rely on himself! (Jer. 17:5) “Cursed is the man who trusts in man…” 

The question is this: Has this dependence on God come into your life? There are two striking manifestations of it: prayer and evangelism!

II. The Gospel Transforms Zeal (v. 2)

Zeal. Nowadays, zeal or passion is more common in politics, sports, fashion, literature, television, but this is religious zeal.

Again, the personal example of the apostle Paul (Gal. 1:13-14; Phil. 3:4-6). To be honest, such people deserve to be acknowledged and respected! If you believe, then you do it wholeheartedly! If you devote yourself to something, then completely and without any reserve! He was fully convinced that he held a correct understanding of things (Acts 22:3). The Jews followed their convictions very zealously – they developed 613 laws and the whole system to support these commandments. For example, they counted the number of steps they took on Sabbath. It hasn’t changed much today: Lights which will be needed on Shabbat are turned on before Shabbat. Automatic timers may be used for lights and some appliances as long as they have been set before Shabbat. The refrigerator may be used, but again, we have to ensure that it’s use does not engender any of the forbidden Shabbat activities. Thus, the fridge light should be disconnected before Shabbat by unscrewing the bulb slightly and a freezer whose fan is activated when the door is opened may not be used.

In the modern world it is becoming more and more popular to have: zeal, emotionality, passion or passionate desires… The main thing is sincerity! Sincerity in religion is all that matters!

Many people perceive Christianity as something that kills zeal, emotions and aspirations. All that remains is cold ascetism and self-denial. But the Gospel does not take away zeal, but rather, transforms it! The Gospel just gives a new direction to our zeal! (9:1-3; 10:1) – Paul was very zealous person (Col. 1:28-29). How? Through the knowledge (epignosis)! It is not just knowing the facts. This is knowledge that is built on confirmed facts, or personally experienced facts!

That is why Paul prays that believers will experience this knowledge – when knowledge about God turns into knowledge of God (Eph. 1:17-18).

The history of Christianity of both, the NT and in the church history later on proves that those who were zealous before their conversion, having experienced the new birth, became zealous in the right direction! Pray especially for those who fight against the Gospel! Pray for children who are very aggressive against Christ! Whey they submit to the truth, they will be soldier of Christ! If there is a zealous struggle against you at work, at school, pray for those who are most zealous – if God gives them salvation, they will be the most zealous Christians!

When these people turn to God, they truly become a miracle!

Do you have a zeal for God, His work, and the church?

III. The Gospel takes away self-righteousness (v. 3)

These are not idle people; they “are seeking to establish their own righteousness…” – apart from zeal, they had many good works, and even serious efforts! But there is a problem… They did not fully understand God and His righteousness!

What is the righteousness of God in this context? Many people think it is His just requirement or certain standard that a person will meet as a basis for his acceptance by God. But God says that His righteousness is an undeserved gift for which Christ paid, and on the basis of this righteousness we are accepted by God! This is exactly what Paul is talking about here! It is the act of God’s justice in punishing our sin in Jesus Christ (1:17; 3:21).

Why Israel is having such a problem? 1) They did not fully realize their total depravity and sinfulness! They thought they could produce good fruit by keeping the law (v. 3). But their heart has not changed! 2) They could not accept the fact that the Son of God should pay or redeem them by paying the appropriate or corresponding price to God! 

“being ignorant…” Ignorance is the cause of many problems! Not knowing how to cook food at home can lead to starvation. Not knowing how the traffic laws work, can lead to disaster. Ignorance of the laws of nature, for example, the law of gravity, can be very damaging… Ignorance of God’s standards leads people to a serious problem too. Paul knows this very well, because he himself used to live in it for many years (1 Tim. 1:12-13). A person is in ignorance because he doesn’t have faith!

How was this ignorance expressed? (Matt. 15:8-9) – These people honors me with their lips, but the heart is far from me…”   

The Gospel takes away this false approach! How? It reveals the problem of self-righteousness and gives the righteousness of Christ! A person ceases to trust in his good deeds, in his honorable works!

(3:20-22) – righteousness by faith… the imputed righteousness of Christ!

You will stand before God, and on what basis He should let you in?

IV. The Gospel leads to Christ (v. 4)

How does Christ become the end of the law? The Law pointed to Christ and let to Him.

The best illustration of this is the race: whether horse race, running or car race. The finish is both the end of the raced and the meaning and purpose of the race. If there was no finish, then there is no point in running. If there is no finish line, the race would never have ended. It turns out that Christ closed the era of the law, and moreover, became the very culmination of the Law!

In other words, if a person receives the righteousness of Christ by faith, he does not need to keep the law!

Conclusion: 1) The most important question in light of what we talked about today: what are you and I really relying on today for our salvation? On your own righteousness and works, or really on the righteousness of Christ? 2) Our text invites us to pray for and preach the Gospel to one specific category of people – these zealous, religious, self-righteous people who may not have done terrible evil, but who still need salvation! 

This is where our confince in our salvation is rooted in!

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