2013

Happy New Year!  Thank you for reading Uncommon Faith this past year.  God has taught me much through the writing of these blog posts and I’m hopeful you have enjoyed what I’ve had to say.  I’m grateful for this small platform to have an opportunity to share what God is doing in my life and what I hope He will do in the lives of others through the thoughts He has given me.

With that being said, I wanted to share something I desire to accomplish for the upcoming year.  Every day I wake up with new topics that I wish to discuss.  They always seem so rich and real in my life and I don’t have enough time to write about them all.  I’m grateful that God refocuses my mind to the things I believe He wants me to discuss.  Sometimes those are topical; sometimes they are a brief series or occasionally just random musings.

sure guide

Next week I’m going to begin a series on the book called A Sure Guide to Heaven by Joseph Alleine.  Consistent readers of this blog will notice I speak of Alleine and this book often.  My church family will know I speak of Alleine and this book often.  Why?  Because I believe it’s one of the most significant writings next to the Bible that exists today.  If you are ever going to read any Puritan writings I would recommend this along with John Bunyon’s The Pilgrim’s Progress.

Quoting from A Sure Guide to Heaven:

Countless editions of this book have been issued since it first saw the light in 1671.  Dr. Calamy wrote concerning it in 1702: ‘Multitudes will have cause for ever to be thankful for it.  No book in the English tongues (the Bible only excepted) can equal it for the number that hath been dispersed; there have been twenty thousand sold under the title of the “Call”, or “Alarm”, and fifty thousand of the same under the title of the “Sure Guide to Heaven”, thirty thousand of which were sold at one impression.’

Practically I want to write about this little book because many people will never pick it up despite urgings to do so, also I’ve personally seen two people come to saving faith this past year in response to Alleine’s writing.   I don’t say his writing saved them, but God used his words along with His Word to show these two their sin and the need for a remedy through Jesus Christ.  There are countless professions of just this same thing happening all over the world through this powerful book.

My desire is to post once a week about A Sure Guide to Heaven and then a more traditional post my other day.  For those newer to my blog, I typically post on Tuesday and Friday.  I can’t stress enough how beneficial this book can be to those in the church that are truly redeemed and those that are falsely converted.  Because of sin’s deceitfulness how can you test your faith?  What are the signs of true conversion and false conversion?  Alleine explores all these topics in such a wonderfully, powerful way.   The writing is a little difficult to read but is certainly worth the effort.

In an age of uncertainty when institutions regarded as “churches” preach a man focused theology there needs to be a call to look at the doctrines of regeneration and “true” biblical conversion.  These “churches” are in a wretched state and nothing short of God’s grace can save them and those that attend.  Without an understanding of the difficulty of salvation more will be lead to hell on that wide road that leads to destruction (Matthew 7:13).  This flies in the face of the “easy to believe” methods of today.  I may be speaking to you today if your testimony includes any of the following.

“I accepted Christ…”

“I prayed the sinner’s prayer…”

“I walked the aisle and prayed at an altar call…”

“I made a decision and asked Jesus into my heart…”

Friends these are NOT biblical conversions, nowhere is this modeled in scripture.

I encourage you to read along with me as we explore what it really means to be “saved”.  You can find A Sure Guide to Heaven available online for free if you follow this link

A Sure Guide to Heaven

I would encourage you to print it out as I believe you will want to take lots of notes.  It is also available from many online book retailers for about $7.00 per copy.  You might want to have several copies on hand to give out to friends and those professing Christ.

As Paul calls us to examine ourselves (2 Corinthians 13:5)  and this is a wonderful place to start.  Nothing of value comes easy and I believe if you invest some time into something that is this important God will bless your efforts.

Perverse sinner, will you begin where you should end?  Is not the word before you?  What saith it? ‘Repent and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out.’  ‘If you mortify the deeds of the body you shall live.’  ‘Believe and be saved’ (Acts 3:19: Romans 8:13; Acts 16:31).  What can be plainer?  Page 30 A Sure Guide to Heaven

Kevin

How do you know if you are saved?

This is a meaningful question for professing believers to be able to answer for themselves.  Can we really know if we are saved?

I recently had a great conversation with a friend that claimed you can never know if you are the elect of God until you stand before God in judgment.  I disagree with him and did my best to present a biblical case for him to examine.

Since my salvation I’ve never doubted this and I wondered why he was struggling with this and I did not.  I spent time going through some scripture, that I believe, points to an obvious conclusion.

“You begin at the wrong end if you first dispute about your election. Prove your conversion, and then never doubt your election”.  Joseph Alleine

1 Thessalonians 1:2-4 We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers, remembering without ceasing your work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the sight of our God and Father, knowing, beloved brethren, your election by God.

Paul certainly seems confident in his statement and I believe we can also be confident in our assurance.  I’ve come up with some items that I believe are crucial to understanding salvation and if we understand true salvation we can have full assurance of our election.

Testimony – do you have a testimony?  Can you articulate who you were before God saved you and who you are now?  Do you remember clearly when that happened and under what circumstances.  Is your life radically different and if it’s not why not? 1 Peter 3:15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.

Scripture – Did God’s word have anything to do with your salvation story?  God’s word reveals our sin and the need for a savior.  It is the means by which most are saved.  Do you have a life verse that is meaningful in your testimony? Romans 10:17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

Broken – Were you broken over your sin?  Not sorrowful over getting caught or upset over the consequences of your sin but on your face broken that your sin has offended the one true God; knowing that your sin had you headed to hell and eternal separation from God.  2 Corinthians 7:9-10 Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance.  For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing.  For godly sorrow produces repentance, leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.

Hunger & Thirst – Do you hunger and thirst for righteousness? (Matthew 5:6)  If God has redeemed your soul do you now seek after Him more than anything else? (Matthew 6:33)  Does He occupy much of your thought life? (Psalm 1:2) Do you desire to read His word and learn more about Him? Psalm 119:11 Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You.

Obedience – Does the sin you once enjoyed now repulse you?  Do you only desire to please God and do His will?  (Psalm 119:2) John 14:15 “If you love Me, keep my commandments.”

Denial – Do you deny yourself? (Luke 9:23)  Do you deny yourself from the movies that cause you to think violently or lustfully?  Do you linger too long on a web image that scrolls across that news screen or the girl serving you coffee at Starbuck’s?  Do you continue in your same old patterns or do you actually hate your old life?  John 12:25 He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.

Fellowship – Do you love the fellowship of other believers; do you spend time with them and minister to them?  (Hebrews 6:10)  Are you committed to a local assembly and are you a member of that assembly?  Hebrews 10:24-25 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.

Authority – Are you under church authority and the guidance of a pastor and elders?  Hebrews 13:17 Obey those who ruler over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account.  Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.

Preach the word –Do you preach the word and share the gospel of salvation with other people; if not why not?  I would argue your either ignorant of God’s word, a self preservationist or not saved.  See my article called Ashamed of the Gospel from August 31.  It comes down to that ugly self denial again.  Luke 9:23 Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.  For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.

I’ve only scratched the surface of scripture that I believe supports my statement and I’ve not included all I could say about a true believer.  We know the warnings in scripture are clear.  We know many think they are right with God and they are not.  The Lord himself teaches us this horrible truth in Matthew 7:21-23.

So how do you know for sure?  If you don’t know for sure I ask you today to examine yourself and see if you are in the faith?  Seek counsel from a faithful bible believing pastor or elder.  Don’t be put off by challenges to your faith but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Only then will you prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. (Romans 12:2)  I certainly hope my friend will stay in the struggle.

Lastly here are some verses that give assurance of salvation.

2 Corinthians 1:21-22, Ephesians 1:13-16, 1 John 2:3, 1 John 4:13

I also strongly recommend “A Sure Guide to Heaven” by Joseph Alleine.  It’s a free download and worth your time.  http://www.redemptivehistory.org/sureguide.pdf

Kevin