Sermon #14601 Miscellaneous Notes
Title: WHAT DOES IT TAKE
TO SAVE A SINNER?
Text: 1 Peter 4:18
Date: Sunday Morning –
Tape # W-49a
I hope never to look upon the salvation of my soul with anything less than utter astonishment. I am astonished that the Lord God would save any vile sinner; that he would condescend to take into union with his holy, august majesty such things as he finds in the dung-heap of fallen humanity.
As I look over this congregation, while there are many things in each of you that I admire as a man, I know enough about most of you to be astonished that the Lord would save you.
But when I think of God saving me, I am utterly overwhelmed by his amazing grace. I take my place before him in the dust, as the very chief of sinners, because I know by painful, bitter experience that is what I am.
“I was lost and undone, without God or His Son,
When he reached down His hand for me.”
People sometimes ask me, “Do you believe in miracles?” I answer, “No. I believe in God, that God with whom all things are possible, that God with whom miracles are an every day occurrence. You ask, ‘Do I believe in miracles?’ I am a miracle!”
“It took a miracle to hang the world in place.
It took a miracle to put the stars in space;
But when He saved my soul, cleansed and made me whole,
It took a miracle of love and grace!”
Most people seem to think that it is a very easy thing to be saved, that faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is very simple. There is no sense of astonishment, awe, and amazement among religious people with regard to salvation because the salvation they think they have is really no big deal. There is nothing amazing about the grace most people talk about.
Traveling back and forth, up and down this country for the past thirty-three years, I have met a lot of people, most of them have been very religious people. Most of the people I preach to are very sure they are saved. Most of them never disturb themselves by questioning the matter. They have walked down a church aisle, knelt at an “altar”, and said “the sinner’s prayer.”
· Some Because Of Tragedy
· Some Because Of Fear
· Some Because Of Pressure -- Peer Pressure -- Emotional Pressure -- Psychological Pressure, Etc.
They did what the preacher told them to do. They said “the sinner’s prayer.” They said, “In believe in Jesus.” I know many who had this experience, even as small children. They are confident they are saved, because they followed what is called “the simple plan of salvation.”
Some of you have had that same experience. You profess that you are saved, because you walked that church aisle, said that “sinner’s prayer,” and felt that unexplainable feeling of relief when it was all over. You were talked into a profession of faith by a slick “soul winner;” and you never question the reality of that profession. Perhaps you do sometimes question it; but you suppress those questions, fearing that they are satanic temptations.
Now hear me well. Salvation is not an easy thing. It is not a simple thing for a sinner to exercise faith in Christ. In fact, faith in Christ is, with men, an absolute impossibility. Is that not what we read in Matthew 19?
Faith in Christ is the gift and operation of God in us. It is not something conjured up by man’s imaginary free will, or religious excitement. No one has ever been saved by walking a church aisle, kneeling at an altar, or reciting “the sinner’s prayer.” If you are still clinging to such a profession as the basis of your hope before God, I urge you to give it up. Renounce it at once. It is a satanic delusion.
[Proverbs 14:12] "There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death."
[Proverbs 16:25] "There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death."
Proposition: My friend, it is not an easy thing to be saved.
I know that in this day of mass-evangelism, easy believism, and decisional salvation, the statement I have just made will not be popular, nor will it be quickly received. Some of you may even become angry at hearing it. But hear it you must. It is not an easy thing to be saved. Let’s see if the Word of God will back me up in that statement. It is not an easy thing to be saved.
· Matthew 19:25-26 - The Rich Young Ruler
· Luke - “Strive (agonize) to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.”
· “The gate is so strait that you can’t take anything in as you enter; and the way is so narrowe that you can’t pick anything up along the way.” – (Maurice Montgomery)
If saving faith is no more than saying a prayer, making a decision, walking an aisle, or believing in the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ (the historical facts), why did Judas perish? Why was Simon Magus lost? Why did Demas die? Why was Diotriphes destroyed?
True saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is such a rare thing that our Lord himself asked, “When the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8). The way of truth and holiness is so plain that “wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein.” Yet, because of the sin and hardness of our hearts, it is no easy thing for us to enter into that way, and no easy thing for us to continue in the way until we reach our everlasting home in glory.
Now, look at 1 Peter - “If the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?”
NOTE: The word “scarcely” is a very poor translation. Peter is not suggesting that God’s elect barely get into heaven, or that we shall enter in with fear, trembling, and hesitancy. God’s saints shall be ushered into heaven in a blaze of glory, triumphant and victorious by his grace! The word “scarcely” would better be translated, “with difficulty.” Peter’s meaning is this: “If the righteous are saved with great difficulty, what shall become of the ungodly and unbelieving?”
In the light of this text, I want to raise and answer one question in this message. The title of my message is this: -- What does it take to save a sinner? I have nothing new, deep, or profound to say; but what I have to say ought to fill your heart with gratitude, praise, worship, and devotion. Searching the Scriptures, I have found seven things which are absolutely indispensable in the salvation of a sinner.
· If you would be saved, give me your attention. Here are seven things which ought to give you hope and encourage you to seek the Lord.
· If you are one of God’s ransomed ones, give me your attention. Here are seven things which ought to fill your heart with utter, unceasing amazement, praise, and gratitude before God.
I. The Will of God -- The salvation of a sinner requires ELECTION AND PREDESTINATION. It takes a work of God’s sovereign, eternal, electing love and predestination (Eph. 1:3-6).
Salvation has to begin with someone’s choice. The whole world says it begins and ends with man’s choice. The Bible declares that it begins and ends with God’s choice. Election is God’s free, sovereign, eternal choice of his people in Christ unto salvation. Predestination is God’s wise, gracious, orderly arrangement of all things from eternity, by which he secured the salvation of his elect.
II. The Blood of Christ -- The salvation of a sinner requires Blood Atonement. It takes a work of effectual, blood redemption, the satisfaction of divine justice by an infinitely meritorious Substitute – The Lord Jesus Christ (Isa. 40:3-5; Rom. -26).
[Isaiah 40:1-5] "Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith
your God.  Speak ye comfortably to
Isaiah 40:4 describes great, apparently insurmountable, difficulties which lie in the way of God saving sinners. God could not get to us in mercy and we could not get to him for it, until these great difficulties were removed. The fifth verse tells us that the glory of the Lord is revealed in Christ removing them.
Mercy could never have been exercised toward guilty sinners so long as justice stood like a high mountain between the holy Lord God and us guilty sinners. But our all-glorious Christ, by his obedience and death as our Substitute, by satisfying the righteousness and justice of God for his elect, has leveled that infinitely high mountain.
[Psalms 85:10] "Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.”
There stood between us and our holy God the high mountains and hills of our sins, too, reaching up to heaven, calling for wrath. But, blessed be God, our great Savior leveled these as well, casting them into the depths of the sea (Mic. ). Precious, glorious Savior! He bare our sins in his own body on the tree and bare them away! By his own blood, he put away our sins forever!
That same Lord Jesus Christ, who leveled the
“Without shedding of blood is no remission.” God almighty cannot and will not save anyone, election and predestination notwithstanding, without blood atonement. There is no other way whereby he can be both “a just God and a Savior.” The Son of God came into this world as our Substitute because there was no other way for God to save his people.
· God requires righteousness.
· He requires satisfaction.
· Christ alone could give them.
What does it take to save a sinner? All things! Everything that is, has been, and shall hereafter be! Nothing in God’s universe is excessive, unneeded, redundant or superfluous.
IV. Irresistible Grace -- The salvation of a sinner requires A WORK OF GOD’S IRRESISTIBLE GRACE. It takes the infallible, irresistible grace and power of God the Holy Spirit in regeneration and effectual calling, by which chosen, redeemed sinners are raised from the dead and given faith in Christ (Eph. 1:17-20; Ps. 65:4).
The work of God the Holy Spirit is as necessary to the salvation his people as election, redemption, and providence.
By election and predestination, we were marked out for grace and the path by which God’s saving grace must come into our hearts was fixed.
In redemption, Christ met all the demands of God’s law and justice, removed our sins, and opened the way for grace to come.
In providence, God our Savior sovereignly manipulates all the affairs of the universe to bring his elect to the appointed time and place at which he will be gracious to them, and prepares them to be the willing recipients of his grace.
In regeneration, effectual calling, and conversion, God the Holy Spirit performs the work and operation of his grace in our hearts, making chosen, redeemed sinners willing in the day of his irresistible power to trust Christ. -- “Ye must be born again!”
Psalms 65:4 "Blessed is the man whom thou choosest, and causest to approach unto thee, that he may dwell in thy courts: we shall be satisfied with the goodness of thy house, even of thy holy temple."
Psalms 110:3 "Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning: thou hast the dew of thy youth."
How does God cause his chosen to come to Christ? How does the Lord of Glory make his chosen, redeemed people willing in the day of his power?
1. By Holy Spirit conviction!
2. By the gift of faith!
3. By almighty conversion!
4. By omnipotent, irresistible grace!
Salvation requires faith in Christ, not a free will, work of man, but a mighty operation of grace. You must believe on Christ if you would be saved; but you cannot believe unless you are saved. “He that believeth on the Son of God hath everlasting life!” Faith in Christ is not the cause of the new birth. It is the result, the fruit, and the evidence of it.
V. Gospel Preaching --The salvation of a sinner requires, because God has so ordained it, THE PREACHING OF THE GOSPEL. It takes a man sent from God with the gospel of your salvation (John 1:6-8; Eph. ).
I do not suggest for a moment that God could not save his elect without the instrumentality of gospel preaching. God almighty could regenerate sinners and cause his elect to believe on his Son by the buzzing of a gnat, or without any instrumentality at all, were that his purpose. But I am saying that the instrumentality of gospel preaching is absolutely necessary to the salvation of God’s elect “because it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe” (Rom. ; 1 Cor. -23; Heb. ; James 1:18; 1 Pet. 1:23-25).
Gospel preaching is not an optional additive, but an essential part of God’s method of grace. When the appointed time of love comes, when the time comes when a chosen, redeemed sinner must be saved, God will send a gospel preacher to him and send him to a gospel preacher, if he has to turn the world upside down to do it (Isa. 43:1-7).
Publius at Melita (Acts 28)
The Young Man At
VI. Divine Preservation -- The salvation of a sinner requires THE PRESERVATION OF GRACE. It takes a work of immutable grace, preserving the called in life and grace, causing them to persevere in faith, keeping them unto the end (Phil. 1:6).
It takes the same grace to keep us saved as it does to save us. We are “kept by the power of God.” And, blessed be our God, we are promised that we shall be kept forever by the power of his grace. Our Savior says, “I give unto them ETERNAL LIFE and they shall NEVER PERISH!”
· Ecclesiastes 3:14
· Malachi 3:6
· Psalm 89:24-37
Hear me now, my brothers, my sisters in Christ. – Though you are weak, Christ is strong. Though you are unstable as water, God is faithful. Though you are tempted, he has made a way of escape for you. Though you sin, his blood cleanses us from all sin. He will forgive. Though you fall, he will raise you up. Our God declares, “I will not depart from them.” Though we change, he changes not. Though our love for him varies greatly, his love for us never varies. Did you hear what I just told you? -- Our God declares, “I will not depart from them.”
· Neither in life!
· Nor when we fall!
· Nor when we fall again!
· Nor in trouble!
· Nor in sickness!
· Nor in sorrow!
· Nor in death!
Our God and Savior promises, “Lo! I am with you alway!” And he is!
· His presence is constant.
· His forgiveness is perpetual.
· His faithfulness is unfailing.
· His love is unchanging.
· His grace is immutable.
· His goodness is sure.
“The Lord has promised good to me. His Word my hope secures.
He will my strength and portion be As long as life endures.
And when this heart and flesh shall fail, And mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess within the veil A life of joy and peace!”
VII. Resurrection Glory -- The salvation of a sinner requires THE RESURRECTION OF THE BODY. It takes a work of resurrection glory, by which these bodies sown in corruption shall put on incorruption, mortality shall put on immortality, and God’s elect shall enter into that eternal state of bliss called “the glorious liberty of the sons of God” (1 Thess. 4:13-18).
[1 Thessalonians 4:13-18] "But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.  For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.  For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.  For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:  Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.  Wherefore comfort one another with these words."
Illustration: The Robin’s Eggs
Let me say just three things, and I am done.
1. “Salvation is of the Lord!”
2. This salvation, in its entirety, is found in the Lord Jesus Christ alone (1 Cor. -31).
Illustration: “Him!” – (2 Tim. 2:12)
3. Since this great salvation is by grace alone, in Christ alone, without anything you do, then there is no reason why you should not be saved, too. – “Welcome home, Sister!”
1 See Misc. Sermon #1356. Substantially the same message, preached at Danville on Tuesday night (8/24/99), Rescue, CA (6/30/00), Rocky Mount, VA (10/10/99), Rock Creek Baptist Church (8/14/00), Almont, MI (7/27/00) Ross, OH 8/6/01)