Saturday, July 6, 2019

I Never Knew You

By Peter Hann 

Many people have different views on the passage in Matthew 7:21-23 where Jesus says: "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven". In a minute I'll give my personal view. 

Some people think Jesus' statement is addressed to believers who are living sloppy carnal Christian lives and they're going to lose their salvation if they don't correct. But you cannot lose your salvation! It's not dependent on how you or I live, it's all about what Jesus did. It's also all about grace otherwise it would be our works saving us and no longer grace (Rom. 11:6). Christians living carnal lives will face chastisement by the Lord but not condemnation (1 Cor. 11:32). 

Personally what I think Jesus is talking about in the Matthew 7:21-23 passage is people who think they are going to heaven because they have church membership, or they give money to the church, or Grandpa is a Christian so they think they're saved, or they've been baptized, or given to the poor, and the list goes on and on. These are people that have outward goodness or appear religious but don't have that faith in Jesus in a personal way. To be saved we must stop trusting in things like baptism and church membership and believe in our hearts that we are actually judgment deserving sinners. We must believe in our hearts that Christ died for our sins (Rom. 5:8), with His burial and resurrection validating who He is and what He did for mankind's sins. When we receive Jesus we truly know Him and He knows us, just like Jesus said: "My sheep hear My voice and I know them" (Jn. 10:27). It's like knowing Him on a personal level. It's knowing Jesus rather than just knowing about Him. 

A few years ago I sent a couple of photographs to Fox 6 Milwaukee's chief meteorologist Vince Condella, because on his weather forecast he shows feature photos that viewers send in to him and then he will display the photos during the broadcast. I gave him two pictures of Wisconsin scenery, like a shot of Lake Michigan and a view of a pond in central Wisconsin. As he was showing my photos it said on the T.V. screen: "Peter from Greenfield". I recorded the broadcast because I wanted to show it to a friend of mine but not tell her what it was. She was a little reluctant at first of seeing it but as soon as Vince Condella said "Peter from Greenfield" my friend started smiling. It was because she knew me and knew who I was. If it had said "Frank from Delavan" my friend wouldn't have been smiling because she doesn't know who Frank is but she knows who I am and that's why she was smiling. It's the same when we receive Jesus and we come to know Him on a personal level and now He knows us as well. So if you don't know Him receive Him today. Your eternity depends on it!


Anonymous said...

I've been Free Grace for a long time, but i was having doubts about my salvation. would you please clarify what you mean by "receive Jesus"? what do you mean by "heart"? I have trouble feeling real emotion and can't feel it strongly, even when i want to. does this somehow mean i can't beleive enough to be saved? And the pdf yoou linked in the library about assurance confuses me. You seem to be supporting this view that real born-again people will hate the sin in their lives, yet in another support a view that Christians can live carnal lives and be saved. Can you clarify please?

Jonathan Perreault said...

Sure, let me talk to my friend Peter because he wrote this blog post and I'll get back to you after I see what he meant, okay? And about that article on assurance by J. Vernon McGee, I haven't read it in awhile so give me this weekend to re-read it if you don't mind and I'll get back to you early next week with my thoughts.

But let me just encourage you with something I heard a pastor say one time about when we as Christians have doubts about our salvation. I remember the pastor kept emphasizing: "Doubt your doubts! Doubt your doubts!" And something that H. A. Ironside said comes to mind. In his book Except Ye Repent he quotes part of an old hymn, and I noticed that C. H. Spurgeon gives it more fully in one of his sermons. I believe the title of the hymn is "There's Life for a Look at the Crucified One," although I'm not exactly sure if that's the official title or not. But it goes like this:

There is life for a look at the Crucified One.
There is life at this moment for you!
Then look, Sinner--look unto Him and be saved!
Look unto Him who was nailed to the tree.
It is not your tears of repentance or prayers,
But the blood that atones for the soul.
On Him, then, who shed it--believing, at once,
Your weight of iniquities roll.
His anguish of soul on the Cross have you seen?
His cry of distress have you heard?
Then why, if the terrors of wrath He endured,
Should pardon, to you, be deferred?
We are healed by His stripes--
Would you add to the word?
And He is our righteousness made:
The best robe of Heaven He bids you put on!
Oh, could you be better arrayed?
Then doubt not your welcome, since God has declared,
There remains no more to be done!
That once in the end of the world He appeared
And completed the work He begun.

Jonathan Perreault said...

I just noticed that the website gives one last stanza of the hymn, and guess what it's about? Assurance! It says:

Then take with rejoicing from Jesus at once
The life everlasting He gives;
And know with assurance, thou never canst die
Since Jesus, thy Righteousness, lives.

Jonathan Perreault said...

I'm also adding more books and articles on assurance to my Free Grace Library, under "Assurance". So check them out; I added some good anecdotes on assurance by D. L. Moody and a book by H. A. Ironside called Full Assurance. Keep checking back because I plan to add more in the days ahead, Lord willing.

Something else came to mind that I want to share with you in regards to when you asked, "I have trouble feeling real emotion and can't feel it strongly, even when i want to. does this somehow mean i can't beleive enough to be saved?"

In answer to your question, the Lord brought to my mind a quote that I want to share with you. It's a poem by Martin Luther and I'll copy and paste it below:

"Feelings come and feelings go,
And feelings are deceiving;
My warrant is the Word of God--
Naught else is worth believing.

Though all my heart should feel condemned
For want of some sweet token,
There is One greater than my heart
Whose Word cannot be broken.

I'll trust in God's unchanging Word
Till soul and body sever,
For, though all things shall pass away,
His Word shall stand forever!"

Jonathan Perreault said...

I had a chance to re-read that article by J. Vernon McGee on assurance that you asked about. I'll go ahead and share a few thoughts with you about it. I hope it helps to answer your question and I hope and pray that if you have never trusted Christ as your personal Savior that you do so today, and if you have, that you come to the assurance of salvation. If I may just share a brief personal testimony, when I was young I lacked assurance of my salvation, and it was because I never had really understood the gospel, I had never really understood that Jesus died for me. I'm not saying that's your situation, you may truly be saved. I'm just sharing my experience. I remember whenever I was in the car and my parents were listening to a preacher on the radio and he would give an "altar call" or an invitation to salvation, I would always pray the "sinner's prayer" and ask Jesus into my heart and everything like that, but it never gave me assurance. Sadly, in looking back on it I now realize that those preachers never gave me the gospel, or they confused it so much that I didn't understand, or both. So I asked Jesus into my heart and prayed the sinners prayer, but that's not the gospel (or it was so unclear that I didn't understand it, like I said). So that's why I didn't have assurance. But then my dad started taking our family to a Free Grace church, and for the first time the pastor made the gospel clear. He would sketch out the cross and the blood and the empty tomb and all that on a dry erase board practically every Sunday. And so that's when I understood what Jesus did for me and how He died for my sins and I believed the Good News. After that I can honestly say that I never doubted my salvation like before. I finally understood that "the old account was settled long ago" (as the song says). It was settled by Jesus when He died for me on the cross. He paid for my sin debt and that debt has been settled and paid in full. And I think when we explain the gospel to people we need to make it clear so people can understand that and understand what Jesus did and how salvation is based on that, not on what we do in terms of any good works because all the work has been done by Christ on the cross and all a person has to do is receive it like a free gift!

But getting back to Dr. McGee's article on assurance of salvation, I like how McGee quoted Philippians 1:6; I think that's a helpful verse to keep in mind related to assurance. I also think McGee makes a helpful distinction between eternal security and assurance: the first is objective fact, and the second is subjective experience. I also think that it is possible, like McGee says, that some people who doubt their salvation may have never been saved (I think of my own experience that I just shared with you). But to me, the real or central question would them be, "Well, did they ever trust Christ?" If they did and they then have doubts, they are saved but lack assurance. But of course if they never trusted Christ in the first place and also have doubts, then of course they are not saved, but not because they doubt but because they never trusted Christ.

Jonathan Perreault said...

On the negative side, there are a few statements in the article that I didn't quite agree with or that I think could have been worded or explained more clearly. There is a statement by McGee that I would take issue with, when he says, “Deliberate and continual sinning, without remorse or without repentance, is a clear indication that one has not come into the place of sonship.” I think this statement by McGee is unclear. Personally, I believe that a Christian can sin so badly that God calls His child home early, like the apostle Paul talks about in 1 Corinthians 11:29-32 (in regards to taking the Lord’s supper in an unworthy manner; “sleep” is a metaphor for physical death). Other Bible verses that come to my mind are when Paul tells Christians to “grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption” (Eph. 4:30). The clear implication there is that believers can in fact grieve the Holy Spirit of God with whom they are sealed. Similarly, elsewhere Paul says not to quench the Holy Spirit, implying that Christians can in fact quench the Spirit (1 Thess. 5:19). And also in the book of Hebrews, the author is writing to believers and says that Christians can turn away from the living God, and their hearts can be “hardened by the deceitfulness of sin” (see Hebrews 3:12-13).

McGee goes on to list “some things that are evidence of salvation.” These evidences include a desire to obey God, reality in prayer, love for the brethren, and a consciousness of being God’s child. I agree that these things can be evidences of salvation, but I believe they are secondary evidences. They are not the main evidence of our salvation. The main evidence of our salvation is what God says in His Word: all the “great and precious promises” of God! For example, Jesus says in John 5:24, “Truly, truly I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes Him who sent me has eternal life, and shall not come into condemnation, but has passed from death unto life.” And similarly, in John 6:37 Jesus says, “whoever comes to me I will never cast out.” It’s important to remember that ultimately my assurance needs to be based on God’s promises, not on my performance, and not on my feelings. As Martin Luther said, "Feelings come and feelings go, and feelings are deceiving, my warrant is the Word of God, naught else is worth believing." I do believe that all Christians will bear fruit "sometime, somewhere, somehow" (as Charles Ryrie has put it in his book So Great Salvation). The apostle Paul says that at the Christian's judgment (which is for reward, not salvation), "every man will have praise from God" (1 Cor. 4:5). But as I said, I believe these (i.e. fruits in the Christian life) are secondary evidences of salvation, not the primary evidence of salvation.

We need to take our focus off ourselves and turn our eyes upon Jesus! The Bible says that we need to be “looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith” (Heb. 12:2). In the Gospels, what happened to Peter when he tried to walk on the water but took his eyes off the Lord? Peter began to sink! Likewise, when we take our eyes off Jesus we too will begin to sink into doubts and despair. The Bible says that Christ has been made unto us our righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption (1 Cor. 1:30). We have God’s Word on it, and that is where our assurance is found!

Jonathan Perreault said...

Hello again anonymous,

I talked with my friend Peter today and asked him what he meant when he said that to be saved we have to "believe in our hearts" that we are sinners and that Christ died for our sins, and I also asked Peter about what he meant when he said "receive Jesus".

What Peter said he meant by "believe in our hearts" is believing not just outwardly but on the inside, they are truly seeing their need for Jesus and really receiving Jesus.

Peter said that what he meant by "receive Jesus" is that it's another word for believe, and he meant believing we can't work for our salvation but instead we need to trust in Jesus alone for our salvation. That's what Peter meant by receiving Jesus. (John 1:12 comes to my mind.)

I hope this helps!
God bless

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much! this really helped! It's my fault i'm in this "emotionless" situation(i'd prefer not to talk about how i got myself into it) and have been trying to get out of it for so long. do you think Jesus can restore me?

Anonymous said...

Sorry i didnt clarify, the 2nd annonomys comment is from the same person as from the 1st. thanks!

Jonathan Perreault said...

Hi anonymous,

Yes, I believe Jesus can restore you and He can restore anyone! The Bible says, "With God all things are possible" (Matthew 19:26). I heard J. Vernon McGee say on the radio recently (I think he was preaching through the end of Hebrews chapter 13 in his Thru The Bible radio program) and he said that no one can ever get so low that the grace of God can't reach them. McGee said the only way God's grace can't avail for someone is if that person doesn't want it. It reminds me of a song by Petra called "Just Reach Out" (based on Psalm 34:16-18 and Romans 10:9-13). The lyrics that come to mind are when the song says,

"You say you've walked the thousand steps away,
But don't you know that it's only one step back?
Because the One who hears you when you pray
Is the One who's there beside you,
And He'll never walk away".

That's what Hebrews 13:5 says too.