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Three Assurances for the New Year
Three Assurances for the New Year
2 Timothy 1:12; Romans 8:15-16, 26-31;               2 Corinthians 5:1
 
We live in a day of confusion and uncertainty. Many people seem to be bewildered and perplexed as they stand before circumstances over which they have absolutely no control.
 
It might be terrorism or violence like we’ve recently witnessed in Connecticut.
 
Or it might be a more common uncertainty like when we buy a used car and wonder if we got a lemon. 
 
Go to the store and buy an appliance and you are immediately told by the sales person that you need to buy a service contract which seems to me to be another way of saying, “This is a lousy product and it’s probably going to give you trouble.”
 
There's uncertainty about our health, our families, our finances, our jobs, and on and on the list goes. 
 
Well against the background of living in an uncertain world and being surrounded by people who are uncertain about almost everything, the Bible is a divine revelation that is filled with absolute certainties.
 
Let me just suggest a few of them:
 
Numbers 32:23, “Be sure your sin will find you out.” That's a certainty.
 
 
Psalm 19:7, “The testimony of the Lord, Scripture, is sure.” The Bible is certain.
 
The consequence of sin is certain according to Galatians 6:7, “Whatsoever a man sows, that shall he also reap.”
 
Romans 2:2, “We are certain that the judgment of God is according to truth.”
 
Romans 4:16, “The promise of salvation is sure.”
 
2 Timothy 2:19, “The foundation of God is sure.”
 
Hebrews 6:19, “Christ is a sure anchor in the presence of God.”
 
2 Peter 1:19, “Scripture is a sure word of prophecy.”
 
Revelation 22:20 Jesus said, “Surely I come quickly.”
 
That’s a few and there are many, many more. As Christians, we deal in certainties in an uncertain world.
 
And that is really a problem for those around us. It is offensive to say that you are certain about anything.  But it is the truth. The Bible is a book of absolutes. It's a book of certainties. We are certain how the universe began. We are certain how it will end. We are certain why God created it and how He is going to bring it to a conclusion. We are certain about why people behave the way they behave. We are certain about what is right and what is wrong. We are certain about the elements that make for good human relationships. We are certain about what is necessary to go to heaven.
We are certain that there is a hell and certain about how people get there. We are certain about all those things.
 
We are certain about God's promises, certain about His Son, the Savior. We are certain about His substitutionary death, His literal resurrection and His Second Coming. We are absolutely certain about all these things. 
 
God has even given us a guarantee of our salvation called the Holy Spirit.
 
God deals in certainties. He has bound Himself by His Word to those certainties.  Therefore, there is a whole lot we can be certain of because God told us. 
 
That’s why I love the Peanuts cartoon strip in which Lucy and Linus are staring out the window watching it rain. The conversation goes like this:
 
Lucy: "Boy! Look at it pour. What if it floods the whole world?"
 
Linus: "It won't. In Genesis 9 God promised Noah that would never happen again. The sign of that promise is the rainbow."
 
Lucy, turning back to the window with a big smile: "Whew! That sure takes a great load off my mind."
 
Linus: "Sound theology has a way of doing that."
 
Sound, reliable theology that offers reassurance and hope based squarely on God's Word is what we need.  It's not feelings or opinions or even logic that is our primary need.
We need to hear what God has said and rest our case there.  So as we get ready to launch a New Year, God willing, I want to share with you, from the pen of the Apostle Paul, three assurances for the new year.  These are bedrock solid promises.
 
The apostle Paul wrote his epistles under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, therefore, he had heard from God. These are things about which Paul was absolutely certain.  And his certainties give us a real sense of assurance today. 
 
First of all, there is
 
1. The Assurance of Grace
 
2 Timothy 1:12
 
The apostle Paul was absolutely confident that the grace of God had saved him, and that the grace of God would keep him all the way up until the return of Jesus Christ.  He was sure of his destination
 
There are a lot of people today who do not have that kind of assurance. They do not have that kind of peace. They get tossed about by every situation and every circumstance.  They never have peace and confidence.  They are up and down and hot and cold and tossed around and destined to a life filled with doubts and questions.
 
I was reading the other day about a man by the name of Patrick Sandfoss. He put a note in a bottle and threw it in the Ohio River on June 10, 1971. The bottle began to haphazardly bob along, edging its way into the current, and then disappeared as it floated downstream.
The weeks and the months and the years began to roll by, and five years later Sandfoss heard about that bottle again. In fact, he had almost forgotten the incident when he received a letter from Scotland written by James L. Bain. The note which Sandfoss received read: "My wife and children were walking on the shore of the west coast of this island today, January 17, 1976, and we found this bottle with the note in it. We thought you'd like to know."
 
It is amazing that this bottle traveled from the Ohio River to the Mississippi River and down the Mississippi River into the Gulf of Mexico, then around the tip of Florida into the Atlantic Ocean and up through the North Atlantic to Scotland. That is incredible. The bottle apparently floated 6,800 miles, bobbing here and there, washed by the waves and blown by the winds.
 
That is exactly the way many Christians live their life.  Just like that bottle, there is aimlessness and purposelessness and uncertainty.  And because they are unsure about the grace of God, they are unsure about the direction of their life. 
 
Others have a a faulty theology and they doubt that anyone can have assurance of their salvation, therefore they are never sure about the destination of their life.   
 
But to doubt the assurance of salvation is to question the grace of God.  Listen:  the security of your salvation is not guaranteed by your ability to always do the right thing and not make too many mistakes along the way. It is secured by the unchanging grace and power of God who saves us and keeps us saved.
 
The Bible says, "he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ."
 
The apostle Paul had availed himself of the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. He knew for certain that he was eternally secure. He could say, "for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day."
 
In other words, Paul says, "I know I am saved today.  I know that tomorrow I will still be saved. I know that the whole matter of my eternal salvation is settled forever. Jesus saved me and He will keep me.  I have committed the whole thing into His hands. My life, my happiness, my ministry, the keeping of my soul – I have committed all of it to Jesus Christ and He is able to keep or to hold or to take care of everything I have committed to Him.
 
Therefore, I have no fear, no embarrassment, no hesitation, no trouble of heart.  Present day salvation of my soul -- that is mine. The eternal keeping of my soul -- that is just as safe. I have committed it all to Jesus Christ. He is able and He will do it."
 
I’ve known a lot of people of trusted Christ as Savior when they were young and then got to doubting it later in life.  For most of them, no one took the Bible to show them how to be sure they were saved.
 
So here they were as a child, in simple child-like faith, trusting God as best they knew how. 
 
 
 
 
But then they get to wondering, "Did I really get saved?  Did I do everything right?  Why didn’t I cry like others cried?  Or why did I cry and no one else did?”
 
Then they get baptized and their name is on a church roll somewhere.  But no one ever disciple them and taught them and assured them of the great promises of Scripture.  Of maybe that conversion took place in a church that didn’t know the Bible well enough to understand eternal security. 
 
If that’s you, let me give you a verse that will help you.  Almost everyone here knows John 3:16 and can quote it, but it is almost embarrassing how few know the verses around verse 16. John 3 contains, not only the great salvation verse in 3:16 but a great assurance verse just two verses after it.
 
Listen to John 3:18
 
"He that believes on Him is not condemned."
 
Now let me ask you:  Are you at this moment, believing on Jesus?  Do you trust Him for your salvation?  If so, you are not condemned.  I didn’t say that, Jesus said that. 
 
Listen:  That’s where your assurance is.  It’s not in some experience that happened 30 years ago and now you can’t remember the time of the clock and the date of the calendar and all the emotions of that moment and you wonder did you get it. 
 
That’s not where the assurance is found.  It is found in believing on Jesus Christ and His finished work on the cross.
I will tell you, I don't remember how I felt. I haven't always lived as a Christian ought to live. I don't think I feel as a Christian is supposed to feel sometimes. But I know that I did trust Jesus Christ the best I knew how and I know that right now, my faith is in Him and my Bible says that I am not condemned, but that I have everlasting life.
 
How can you know you are saved?  The Bible will confirm or deny your salvation experience. 
 
The Bible says, "And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. 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" (I John 5:11-13).
 
One who puts his trust in the grace of Jesus Christ is saved.   Therefore you can have the assurance of direction and destination that the apostle Paul had when he said, "I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day." That is a certainty you can live with this next year.  Here’s another one:
 
2. The Assurance of Goodness
 
Listen to Romans 8:28
 
In Romans 8 Paul begins to give reasons as to why we can know that all things work together for our good if we love God.
 
The first thing that he mentions is the fact that we are God's children.
 
Romans 8:15-16
 
When we trust Jesus Christ as Savior we are God's children and He is our Father. No father wants anything but good for his children.
 
We have four sons and I have now been a father for 17 years.  I cannot recall one instance in all those years when I ever wanted anything but good for my children.  They would doubt that.  There were times when they desire took the strange forma nd appearance of discipline.  But even in those times it was because I refused to let the little devils grow up to become big devils. 
 
Now, if I as an earthly father want only good for my children, does it not make sense that God, our heavenly Father, wants only good for us?
 
I(n fact, that is exactly what Jesus said, "If you, being evil (compared to God), know how to give good gifts to your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father, Who is in heaven, give good things to those that ask him?"
 
What a blessed thing to be a child of God. No wonder the apostle John said, "Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God" (I John 3:1).
 
Therefore, can be assured that "all things work together for good to them that love God" because God is our Father and we are His children.
 
But there is another reason why we know that "all things work together for good to them that love the Lord." That is because the Holy Spirit makes intercession for us.
 
Romans 8:26
 
When we trust Jesus Christ as our Savior, the Holy Spirit Himself takes up permanent dwelling place in our bodies. And this Holy Spirit Who indwells every believer wants only the best for us. We finite human beings have our infirmities. There are times when we don't know what we should pray for, but the Spirit himself makes intercession for us.
 
If we only receive from God what we ask for, we might not get everything we need, since we are limited in our understanding. But even when we do not know what to pray for, the Holy Spirit makes intercession for us, making sure that we get the things that will work together for our good.
 
But there is another reason why we know "all things work together for good to them that love God," and that is the foreknowledge of God.
 
Romans 8:29
 
The foreknowledge of God means that our heavenly Father knows the end from the beginning, so nothing ever takes Him by surprise.
 
Someone wisely said, "Did it ever occur to you that nothing ever occurred to God? There is absolutely nothing that God does not know."
 
 
We earthly fathers sometimes make plans we are unable to carry out, simply because we could not predict the future. We have made promises to our children, and later disappointed them when we were not able to carry through on our promise because of something which unexpectedly came up at the last moment.
 
But our heavenly Father never finds himself in such a predicament, since He knows all things and nothing ever takes Him by surprise. I've made promises that I fully intended to keep, but found later that I could not fulfill them because I did not know the future.
 
But we know that "all things work together for good to them that love the Lord" because of the foreknowledge of God.
 
Then too we know that "all things work together for good to them that love the Lord" because of God's predestination.
 
Romans 8:29 again
 
God has a predestined, eternal purpose for His children. That purpose is that they might be "conformed to the image of His Son."
 
God has predetermined that someday every child of God will be exactly like Jesus Christ. He knows exactly where He is going with us, and He will get there in spite of all the devil and the forces of evil can do.  If God has predestined us to be conformed to the image of His Son, then we may rest assured that He will only allow things to come into our lives that will make us more like Jesus. And those things can only be for our good.
But then there's another reason why we know that "all things work together for good to those who love God," and that is because God is for us.
 
Romans 8:31
 
In fact, if you look closely at this passage of Scripture, you will discover that every person of the Trinity is for us.  God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit are all “for us”.  I would suggest that is an extremely strong alliance.  So much so that if God is for us and everyone else in the world is against us, then things will work together for good to them that love the Lord because God Himself will see to it. 
 
But there is another reason why we know that "all things work together for good to them that love God," and that is because all things are available to us. 
 
Romans 8:32
 
Is that not a tremendous promise?  If God Almighty gave us the dearest thing to His heart, His only begotten Son, then we can rest assured that He will give us all things.
 
Listen, if God "spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with him also freely give us all things."
 
The Bible promises in Psalm 84:11, "no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly."
 
 
 
Now put that in perspective.  God is pretty well off!  The Bible says, "The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof, the world and they that dwell therein." There is nothing in this world or this universe that is not God’s.  He has it all!  We should never hesitate to ask our heavenly Father for anything.
 
One day it dawned on me that if God is infinite and omnipotent, then His resources are also infinite. The thought occurred to me that we cannot get enough from God to leave Him with any less than He had when He started giving.
 
I love the old song that says:
 
He giveth more grace when the burdens grow greater,
He sendeth more strength when the labors increase.
To added affliction He addeth His mercy,
To multiplied trials His multiplied peace.
 
His love has no limit, His grace has no measure,
His power has no boundary known unto men;
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus,
He giveth and giveth and giveth again.
 
If we fail to have, it is not because God is unable to give, but because we do not ask. James 4:2 says, "Ye have not because ye ask not."
 
So, we have the assurance of God's goodness because all things are available to us. But that’s not all! 
 
 
 
We can know that all things work together for good because nothing can separate us from the love of God.
 
Romans 8:35-36
 
There we find seven of the most deadly, dangerous enemies on the physical or the material side of life, And the implication is these physical enemies press down upon us so that we are like sheep led to the slaughter.
 
But notice verse 37
 
Nothing on the physical side of life will ever separate us from the love of God.  In fact, t5he one trusting Jesus Christ and loving God is not only a conqueror, but more than a conqueror.
 
But not only is it impossible for anything on the physical side to separate us from the love of God, but it is also impossible for anything on the spiritual side to separate us from His great love.
 
verses 38-39
 
His love is unending. Every child of God can rely upon it.
 
Now, I have just listed several reasons as to why we know that "all things work together for good if we love God."
 
But I want to give you a warning.  Don't try to make this verse say something that it doesn't say. It does not say everything will be good.
 
What it says is "all things work together for good...." God knows how to blend the circumstances of life so the outcome is good. 
 
So He takes a little of the blessing, then a little of the trouble, then another portion of blessing, then another blending of trial. And He knows exactly what is going to work out best for you in developing you into the kind of servant that he wants you to be.  And when He gets through mixing His ingredients, it is perfect for your life.
 
You see, if everything in your life was good, it would spoil you. On the other hand, if everything in your life was trouble, it would discourage you. So He knows just what blend of the blessing and the trouble to fit into your life.
 
So we have the assurance of grace, the assurance of goodness, and finally,
 
3. The Assurance of Glory
 
2 Corinthians 5:1
 
Paul speaks of the "earthly house of this tabernacle." The word for tabernacle is the Greek word which means "tent." It speaks of the kind of tabernacle that the children of Israel erected in the wilderness -- the Old Testament tabernacle. It was a flimsy sort of thing.  He says this earthly tent is dissolving.
 
This body is like an old tent or an old house.  Stewart Hamblin was doing some hunting one time in the woods with some friends and they came upon an old house in the woods.
 
The gate was dilapidated. The fence was falling down; the door was ajar; the steps were all splintered; the windows were broken; the shingles were all blown off the roof of that old house. There was a scrawny old hound dog in the yard that looked like he hadn't eaten for a week.
 
They thought something might be wrong. They pushed that old creaky door aside and went in. There they found that the man who had lived in that house  had died, evidently, in the middle of a storm. 
 
Stewart Hamblin wrote a song about that experience. I imagine you've heard it.  It’s called "This Old House."
 
That thought was not original with him.  In fact, in very poetic language, God's word describes our bodies as an old house in the 12th chapter of the book of Ecclesiastes.
 
For instance,
 
Ecclesiastes 12:3
 
The Bible speaks of the day when "the keepers of the house tremble."  What are the "keepers of the house?"
 
Your hands are the keepers of the house. If somebody comes at you, you defend yourself with these. He's saying, "There comes a time when your hands shall get palsied and tremble."
 
That verse also mentions "The strong men bow down." What are the strong men? Your legs! 
 
There is coming a time when the strong men shall bow themselves. Do you remember when you used to run up the stairs; now you walk or better yet, take the elevator.
 
He goes on to say, "the grinders cease because they are few." What are the grinders? Your teeth; they come out.
 
One lady in a testimony meeting got up when others were talking about what they were thankful for, and she said, "I only have two teeth, but I’m thankful  they meet."
 
Then it goes on to say, "and those who look through the windows grow dim”.  Now he’s talking about the eyes. 
 
He says in verse 4, "The doors are shut in the streets." Those are the ears. We get hard of hearing.  The doctor diagnosed me with some nerve damage in one of my ears.  Lisa asked me recently how bad my hearing was.  I told her just enough o be convenient!
 
The old fellow finally invested in a hearing aid after becoming virtually deaf. It was one of those tiny, almost invisible hearing aids.  His doctor said, "How do you like your new hearing aid?"  "I like it great. I've heard sounds in the last few weeks that I didn't know existed."
 
"How does your family like your hearing aid?"  "Oh, nobody in my family knows I have it yet. I'm having a great time. I've changed my will three times in the last two months."
 
Then it says, "one rises up at the sound of a bird." Isn't it a shame that when you get old enough to retire and can sleep late, you don't want to anymore?
 
As soon as the rooster crows you're up and out. With dim windows, the trembling keepers carry you off in the direction of the bathroom!
 
He says, "and all the daughters of music are brought low." He's talking to you about the vocal chords and the quiver that gets in the voice.
 
Then he says in verse 5, "they are afraid of height and terrors in the way".  You can’t climb a ladder or get on the roof anymore!  And I think that second part is children running at church!  How dare anyone leave anything in the way for you to stumble over.  You might very well fall and break a keeper of the house!
 
And it says, "When the almond tree blossoms, the grasshopper is a burden."  That means when the hair grows white, little things that wouldn't bother some people take on immense proportions, and people are burdened down with the little things of life.
 
I’ve gotten to when I bend over to tie my shoes I look around to see if there is anything else I need to do while I’m down there. 
 
This growing old is the pits with so many decisions to make!
 
Pants up or down?
 
 
 And I’ve got a doctor’s diagnoses on it now!
 
ER Visit
 
And I’m telling you, you read that passage of Scripture and you hear God telling you every pain you have, every time you have to get eye glasses, every tremble you have, every time you have a little trouble hearing, God is saying, "That is my messenger telling you that you must die and the old tent is wearing out."
 
But look at the rest of verse 1 in 2 Corinthians 5.
 
That just means that when this body dies, it's going to be put into the grave and it's going to disintegrate and it's going to rot and it's going to decay. But in exchange for this old house, this old body, the Lord is going to give us a vastly improved body.
 
It will be the same one, but it won't be marked and scarred by sin, by sickness and age, and all of these things. It's going to be so different that you will hardly recognize it.
 
You see, we'll go into the grave and a wonderful metamorphosis will take place. That diamond that some of you ladies wear on your finger is a beautiful thing, but once it was pure coal. You see, a coal is a diamond in humiliation; a diamond is carbon in glory.
 
Our body is now in humiliation. It is sewn in dishonor. It is sewn in weakness. It is sewn in corruption. But one day it is going to be raised in glory. It's going to be a glorious body.
 
You cannot imagine how glorious and wonderful it will be to be raised incorruptible, to live forever with the Lord.  This is the assurance of glory.
 
Now, Paul had some certainties. His certainties were based upon the revealed word of God. If your life is full of confusion and doubt, the first thing that you need to do is come to Christ, for He is the truth, He is the certainty, He is the assurance that can set you free.
 
Let’s pray
 

 

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