************ Sermon on Canons of Dort, Head V, Article 12-13 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on July 6, 2014
Canons, Head V Article 12-13
1 John 2:28-3:10
"The Fruit of Perseverance"
The Apostle Paul was sure of his salvation. He knew where he would end up when he died:
(Phil 1:21) For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.Can you say this? Can you say death is gain?
(2 Cor 5:8) We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.Paul wants to be away from the body. Why? Because he is sure of where he is going. He knows that when he dies he is going to be home with the Lord.
(Rom 8:18) I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.Paul thinks of all his suffering and trials – hunger, whippings, persecution, hatred, imprisonment, shipwreck – and they are as nothing compared to what he knows awaits him.
Paul knew where he was headed. He knew that death was gain. He knew that he was on the glory road.
Now, I need to ask, did this assurance make him careless and profane? Did his assurance of salvation make him proud and carnally secure? Did he pursue a life of sin taking the attitude that he was forgiven anyway so he could do whatever he wanted, that sin no longer meant anything or made any difference in his life? Did Paul, for instance, visit prostitutes or have a girl-friend on the side or practice homosexuality or regularly get drunk or engage in gossip? Did he sin with impunity? Did he say to God, "God, my job is the sinning and Your job is the saving." As rejection 6 puts it, was Paul's assurance of salvation harmful "to godliness, good morals, prayer, and other holy exercises"? As Article 13 puts it, "does the renewed confidence of perseverance produce immorality or lack of concern for godliness"?
Today we want to look at the lifestyle of the Christian who is sure about salvation. As Paul asks in Romans 6, do they "go on sinning so that grace may increase?"
I Two Heresies
A There are two errors or heresies that the Christian must avoid. First, we must avoid the error of those who teach that a sinless perfection is possible in this life, on this earth, and in our present flesh. How deluded are these people! Don't they realize that each advance in technology or culture or education or medical science also means new ways of sinning the same old sins? Don't they realize that man is not and can not gradually improve himself and his environment? Don't they realize that in this life and on this earth and in our present flesh sin is always present and active and very much at work?
B Second, we must avoid the error of those who are content with sinful imperfection, who are satisfied with unholiness, who justify a low standard of Christian living, who defend or excuse their sin. These people aim low when it comes to the standards they live by. These people shrug off their sin with the comment, "Everyone does it, no one can escape it, it is part of life."
I need to remind you, my brothers and sisters, that Jesus did not just save us in our sins but also from our sins. It is not just Christ who went to the cross and the grave, but the Christian did too. It isn't just Christ Who died to sin and was raised to a new life, but the Christian did too. The Christian faith is not just worship on Sunday, but the Christian faith is also having Biblical standards of personal holiness on Monday.
C Based upon the Bible the Canons of Dort tell us that the assurance of salvation is "an incentive to a serious and continual practice of thanksgiving and good works." Far from making true believers proud and carnally self-assured the assurance of salvation is rather "the true root" of things like humility, childlike respect, genuine godliness, endurance in every conflict, fervent prayers, steadfastness in cross bearing and in confessing the truth, and well-founded joy in God. The one gift of grace becomes the root of many other gifts of grace under the gracious influence and operation of the Spirit.
We planted two trees that started to send out shoots all over our yard. The trees are gone but the roots are still sending up shoots. Similarly, the root of grace sends up shoots in the lives of Christians.The list is not exhaustive; the Bible mentions other fruits that also should be found. But it is hitting on the main fruit that should be found in the lives of those who know that death is gain, who know where they are headed, who know they are on the glory road.
Our Scripture reading speaks to this. It draws for us the connection between hope and sanctification, between the assurance of salvation and the godly life.
(1 Jn 2:29) If you know that he is righteous, you know that everyone who does what is right has been born of him.As far as John is concerned those with hope lead the godly life.
(1 Jn 3:3) Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure.
(1 Jn 3:6-7) No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him. (7) Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. He who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous.
(1 Jn 3:9-10) No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God's seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God. (10) This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother.
There is, then, a binding, unbreakable relationship between the assurance of salvation and all the Christian virtues. Where the one is given, there the other is sure to be found. You will never find a true believer with the assurance of salvation who is at the same time proud and carnally secure. You will never find a true believer with the assurance of salvation who is without the fruits mentioned in Article 12 and throughout the Bible.
II The Fruit
A Those who know that death is gain, those who know where they are headed, those who know they are on the glory road, what is their life like? The first thing we should see in their life is humility. If we are sure of our salvation then we have humility rather than pride.
Humility, rather than pride, has to be the fruit of the certainty of salvation. The simple reason is that salvation and the preservation and assurance of salvation all come from free and sovereign grace. What is there, then, to be proud about? When it comes to salvation and its certainty, the true believer has absolutely nothing of which to boast. He has nothing of which to boast because he knows three things.
First, the true believer knows his weakness and his sin. He knows that on his own he can not possibly persevere in grace and salvation. He knows his daily sins and the blemishes that cling to even his best works. He knows that all too often he veers from the ways of the Lord and is seduced by the lusts and desires of the flesh. He knows that his sin has offended God, grieved the Holy Spirit, and earned guilt. He knows that within himself he does not have the power to return to God, to repent of his sin, and to seek forgiveness.
Second, the true believer also knows God's power and grace. He has tasted the power of a grace that never lets go. He knows the God Who never withdraws His Holy Spirit from His own people. He has met the God Who preserves in him the seed of new life. He has experienced the power of the Word and the Spirit that leads him to repentance, sorrow, and forgiveness.
Third, the true believer knows that there is no reason whatsoever that he should be the object of such grace. He knows there is nothing about himself that makes him deserving of abundant spiritual blessings.
I ask you, where is boasting? It is excluded! In its place is humility as the true believer falls on his knees before God and thanks Him for His undeserved mercies.
As you think of your salvation, as you are assured of your salvation, do find yourself on your knees before the Lord? Do find yourself thanking and praising Him for His undeserved mercies? You should, for that is one of the fruits of salvation.
B Those who know that death is gain, those who know where they are headed, those who know they are on the glory road, what is their life like? The second thing we should see in their life is childlike respect. What is childlike respect? A child depends upon her mother and father. Likewise, the Christian depends upon her heavenly Father. She knows that all is of God and nothing is of self. She knows she is totally dependent upon her heavenly Father. Furthermore, a child also obeys her mother and father. She delights in obeying her mother and father and doing their will. Likewise, the Christian's delight is in obeying and doing the will of her heavenly Father.
As you think of your salvation, as you are assured of your salvation, do you find childlike respect in your life? You should, for that is another of the fruits of salvation.
C Those who know that death is gain, those who know where they are headed, those who know they are on the glory road, what is their life like? The third thing we should see in their life is genuine godliness. Those who are assured of salvation lead a pious, holy, and godly life. I am sure you have heard of foxhole conversions – people convert when there are troubles and trials.
In 1951 comedian Red Skelton and a party of friends flew to Europe, so Skelton could do a show in London England. As they were flying over the Swiss Alps, three of the airplane's engines failed. The situation looked very grave and the passengers began to pray as the plane lost height, coming closer and closer to the ominous-looking mountains. At the last moment the pilot spied a large field among the slopes and made a perfect landing. Skelton broke the relieved silence by saying, "Now, ladies and gentlemen, you may return to the evil habits you gave up 20 minutes ago."Skelton's joking advice underscored the truth that whatever religious "commitments" those terrified passengers may have made were strictly temporary. The minute they stepped safely out of that aircraft, all deals with God were canceled. But it is not this way, it must never be this way, with those who are sure of their salvation. They are holy not just on Sunday morning but on Monday morning too. Holiness and godliness and piety, they know, is a whole way of life.
As you think of your salvation, as you are assured of your salvation, do you find genuine godliness in your life? You should, for that is another of the fruits of salvation.
D Those who know that death is gain, those who know where they are headed, those who know they are on the glory road, what is their life like? The fourth thing we should see in their life is endurance in every conflict. This is basically the same as steadfastness in cross bearing and in confessing the truth. Those who know their end, those who have confidence and hope about the future, those who are assured of their salvation, are able to endure trials and suffering and conflict. They know, as Paul puts it in Romans 8, "that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us" (Rom 8:18). Knowing that, you should be able to endure anything and everything life can possibly throw at you.
That verse has always struck me. Think of the worst thing that could happen: hurricane, tornado, poverty, bankruptcy, drought, flood, cancer, heart attack, death, paralysis, divorce, conflict. All of these are bad. We wish none of these on anyone. Yet, as bad as these are, none of them can compare to the glory that awaits God's children. Knowing the joys of the future life we are more than able to put up with the pains of the present life.
As you think of your salvation, as you are assured of your salvation, do you find patient endurance in your life? You should, for that is another of the fruits of salvation.
E Those who know that death is gain, those who know where they are headed, those who know they are on the glory road, what is their life like? The fifth thing we should see in their life is fervent prayers. This first means continuous prayer – not on again and off again. But it also means confident prayers. When we pray, does God want us to pray filled with doubt and uncertainty? Does He want us to wonder whether our prayers are heard and answered? We all know – or should know – that our prayers are to be prayed with confidence. We are to be confident that our Father hears us and wants to answer us and is able to answer us. Because I am sure of the most basic thing – salvation – I can also be sure of heard and answered prayer.
As you think of your salvation, as you are assured of your salvation, do you find fervent prayer in your life? You should, for that is another of the fruits of salvation.
F Those who know that death is gain, those who know where they are headed, those who know they are on the glory road, what is their life like? The last thing mentioned by Article 12 – and remember, there are other fruits mentioned in the Bible – is well-founded joy in God. What is this joy? It is a joy in God and what He has done. It is not a passing and fading joy; rather, it is an abiding joy. It is a deep-seated spiritual awareness that, because of God, all is well with my soul so I can rejoice and praise God and continually offer to Him thanksgiving.
As you think of your salvation, as you are assured of your salvation, do you find joy in your life? You should, for that is another of the fruits of salvation.
I started my sermon with the Apostle Paul. I want to end it with Paul.
Remember, I said Paul was sure of his salvation. And, I asked if this assurance made Paul proud and carnally self-assured.
As we look at Paul we see anything but pride and a carnal self-assurance in his life. There was no one who sought more earnestly for perfection; there was no one who strived harder to walk before God in obedience. Persecution and suffering – and he certainly had his share of these – did not hold him back.
We look at Paul, and what do we see in his life? We see the fruits of salvation: humility, childlike respect, genuine godliness, endurance in every conflict, fervent prayers, steadfastness in cross bearing and in confessing the truth, and well-founded joy in God.
Because of Christ, Paul was sure of his faith and his salvation and we see all the fruits in his life. Now I need to ask, do we see these fruits in your life as well? Not in full measure because that doesn't happen in this life and on this earth and in our present flesh. But do we see a measure of the fruit mentioned in Article 12 in your life?
Let me end with the final verse of our Scripture reading for this evening:
(1 Jn 3:10) This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother.
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