Saved but remorseful for past sins by Pastor Don
Because of his TV ministry (TBN Say Amen – New York Area), Pastor Don has people calling in and asking questions of him. He cares enough to answer these questions. Recently someone called who was a deacon of their church, and because of the sensitive nature of the question, needed counsel from someone outside of their sphere of influence. This person as a youth, over 40 years ago lived a sinful lifestyle, had taken drugs and stole things to support their habit. Recently the person was wondering about if they should contact the police and report the old crime, the people that the person stole from are no longer around to repay, and now they are wondering about if they are qualified to serve in the church. The peace of God had been gone from this person’s life which is why the person called Pastor Don.
Pastor Don told us when we minister to people there may be similar questions coming to us so he thought he would take us to the Scriptures he used to help the above mentioned person.
Pastor Don pointed out that many people do not understand salvation or they get the concept of salvation wrong. When there is a spiritual battle it is important to recognize the players in the battle.
Salvation has NOTHING to do with anything you can earn. It is not based on works, good deeds, feeding the hungry, or any thing we can do in our own energy. Salvation is determined by WHOSE you are and what you BELIEVE. The pivotal thought that came when Martin Luther nailed that letter to the church door, was that we are saved by Grace, not by our own works.
So Pastor Don shared with us how he counseled this person:
Luke 23:38-40 Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, “If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us.” But the other, answering rebuked him, saying, “Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation?”
Luke 23:41 “And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong.”
This criminal who spoke up knew that he was guilty and deserved the punishment he received. As the holy days of Israel approached, the criminals, thieves and pickpockets would come out to rob those who came to celebrate the feast. If they got caught they were crucified. But Jesus’s behavior on the cross, with those who mocked him, and his forgiving of those who did not know what they did, caused the one thief to realize that Jesus was not guilty of any crime and did not deserve to be crucified. He had been in Jerusalem and probably (speculation) heard Jesus teach, or had heard rumors about Jesus. He heard the accusation brought against him and realized that the scribes and pharisees did not “dig” it that Jesus was teaching and saying what he said. But also probably knew Jesus had done nothing immoral or unethical.
Luke 23:42 Then he said to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when you come into Your kingdom.”
He called Jesus “Lord.” and recognized who Jesus was.
Luke 23:43 And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”
This is the GOSPEL (good news). This thief did not DESERVE to be saved, he was guilty, had done no good works, did not make a massive confession, say the sinner’s prayer, or anything. He just said, Jesus was LORD. By that confession of the truth, when the thief’s air passed out of his body for the last time, he was with Jesus in Heaven.
It had nothing to do with good works. Billy Graham, Mother Theresa, or any other servant of the Lord will not get to heaven because of the works that they did. They get to Heaven the same way we do. Someone asked about that, wondering why the good works then, and Pastor Don pointed out that there are rewards in Heaven for serving God, but getting into Heaven is not dependant on good works.
Paul, in Romans 10:9-13 (which we all read out loud together) “…that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For “whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.”
Notice, it says “Whoever CALLS ON THE NAME OF THE LORD shall be saved. It is not how many food pantries you run, how many babies you save from abortion, how many little old ladies you help cross the street. If a person who does many good deeds dies and they never called on the name of the Lord you will not see them in Heaven.
Someone asked about doubt, and Pastor Don pointed out that belief is always challenged by doubt. Someone commented that doubt occurs in the mind, belief in the heart. Pastor Don thought that was insightful.
Mark 11:22-24 So Jesus answered and said to them, “Have faith in God. For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.”
Here is the proof text that doubt is in the head, not in the heart. You can always tell when a doubter is a nonbeliever, because they doubt so much that it leads to unbelief. Whereas a doubter who is a believer will struggle with doubt and end up believing God. Even when you have doubt, that does not make you an unbeliever. Remember Thomas (unjustly called doubting Thomas) because he was brave enough to want to go and fight for Jesus when the going got tough, and the other disciples did not fully believe Jesus was resurrected until he showed up in their midst. But Jesus accepted Thomas’ doubt and met him at the point he needed to be able to believe. God is not afraid of our doubts.
When were we saved? Someone answered when we believed Jesus is Lord, which is true. But we were saved over 2000 years ago when Jesus went to the cross for our sins. We were saved way before the earth was created, when God and Jesus planned for our need for salvation. We were saved long before we were ever thought of, well before we were even born. When we doubt our salvation, we are saying in effect, “Jesus did not do a thorough job on the cross.” We have to decide, did Jesus pay for our sins completely or not. If we believe He paid for them completely we are saved, if not, we have rejected His gift of salvation.
Pastor Don gave an example of getting a traffic ticket for speeding and the police officer tells you that if you go to court you will get off for the ticket. You have a choice, send in the money for the ticket or go to court and hope that the police officer is telling the truth. When you go to the court and the officer writes off your ticket then you know that you received unmerited grace from the police officer.
1 John 2:18-19 Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us.
We can tell the true believers for they do not leave the church. If they walk away from Jesus and do not return, then they were not true believers. Only those who remain in Christ are the true believers. It isn’t if they have doubts, believers have doubts.
1 John 2:12-14 I write to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for His name’s sake. I write to you, fathers, because you have known Him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you have overcome the wicked one. I write to you, little children, because you have known the Father. I have written to you, fathers, because you have known Him who is from the beginning. I have written to you, young men, because you are strong and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the wicked one.
God forgave our sins for HIS NAME’S sake, not for anything we did. He proves to Himself that he can save us, that he is ABLE. He can save the dregs of the earth, the religious hypocrite, the spiritually blind, the legalist. We lucked out, for we are in the gospel. When we make a heart decision that Jesus is Lord, do we have it together, NOOOO. God knows we are not perfect. So then, why do we do good works? We do them because we Love God, and we want to do good. The good works will not save us, but once we are saved, we want to do good works.
So I asked Pastor Don, what did he tell that person about the past situation, once salvation was understood. And Pastor Don said that he told the person that they needed to identify the players in this scene. The Holy Spirit will convict, but not condemn. When this person was condemning themselves, it was not from God, but from satan that the condemnation comes for he ever walks to and fro seeking to bring accusation against the brethren. That this person was a new creation in Christ, the old had passed away, and the person was new. When this person prayed for salvation, and then doubted that they were saved, it was calling God a liar, and saying that God did not do a complete work.
God said that He will remember our sins no more, so why do we keep bringing up what is forgiven and forgotten YOU ARE FORGIVEN.
Pastor Don said, “MY DOUBT DOES NOT NEGATE GOD’S TRUTH.”
In church there are three reasons why people carry on so much guilt:
satan tries to convince us of our guilt to prevent us from doing God’s work
At some point we have to say, That was then, this is NOW. At what point do you accept the fact that you are grown. You have to grow up spiritually. When will the world have to stop paying us for the sins of our past, for the sins of what was done to us by others? No amount of love can fill the hole left by hurts in the past, it is impossible to re-do the past. What is gone is gone, and the next person can’t pay for what was done to us. We need a real healer, Jesus, in our lives to heal us. He paid for it all, and only the love from Jesus can fill that avoid with us.
I will continue this tomorrow. I am praying you have a great weekend.
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