Sun, Sep 30, 2007


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Ministry of Pastor Joe Guglielmo teachings through the Bible, verse by verse for a better understanding of Gods Word.
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GENESIS 15:9-21

Please turn in your Bibles this morning to Genesis chapter 15 as we look at part 2 in our study, AM I SAVED? Last week we looked at salvation THE WRONG WAY. And we saw that the Catholic Church and now in the Protestant Church they are believing in a salvation based in Christ and good works!  In fact, some are even taking Christ out of the picture and just looking to good works for their salvation!

Folks, there is no Scriptural support for a salvation based upon works.  I know some will argue, “But what about what James said, Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. (James 2:17). Doesn’t that mean that we need to add good works to be saved?”  Absolutely not!  You see, what does James 2:10 say, For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all.

In other words, if your salvation is based upon keeping the Law, doing good works, and you fulfill it 99.99999% of the time and yet blow it that 0.00001% of the time, you are guilty of breaking 100% of the Law because God demands perfection! “Then no one can be saved because no one is good enough!” That is true, our good works can’t save us, but if you receive the free gift of God that is found in Christ, you can enter in. You see, James is not saying that good works save a person but that good works are the evidence for our salvation. In other words, it shows that we are saved; it is the fruit of our salvation!

            Now, before we get to our text this morning, let me share with you the following story. We are told:

            Two fellow travelers were seated together in a railway compartment engaged in earnest conversation of a religious nature.  One of them, a skeptic, was evidently trying to excuse his unbelief by exposing the various evils which afflict Christendom, detailing with pleasure the hypocrisy and the craft, and the covetousness and divisions found in the professing church, and then he pointed to some of the leaders as the most markedly corrupt of all.

            In front of them sat a Christian who was compelled to hear all this. He knew the accusations to be true – too true to be concealed from the most charitable mind – so all he could do was to bow his head and bear the deserved reproach. Soon, however, the accuser, anxious to extend the circle of his audience, addressed this fellow passenger in front of him.

            “I see you are quick to detect evil,” said the Christian, “and you read character pretty well. You have been uncovering the abominable things that have turned Christendom into a wreck, and are fast ripening it for the judgment of God. You have spared none, but given all a good measure. Now, I am a Christian and love the Lord Jesus and His people. Not a word shall I offer in defense, but I solemnly challenge you to speak the first word against the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.”

            The skeptic was surprised. He seemed almost frightened and sheepishly replied, “Well, no! I could not find fault with Him.  He was perfect.”

            “Just so!” said the Christian. “Therefore was my heart attracted to Him, and the more I looked, the more I found I was not like Him at all, but only a poor, guilty, sinful man. All of the evil which professed followers of His may do cannot turn me away from Him. My salvation hangs on what He has done, and not on what they are doing.”

- A Treasury of Bible Illustrations, 728

            And let me add this, it is not hanging on what any person has done or is doing nor is it hanging upon what I have done or am doing!  You see, when we look at salvation THE RIGHT WAY we are going to see that we can have full assurance of our salvation because it is not based upon us but upon Jesus Christ and His finished work. Now, before we get to our text this morning, let me set the stage for what we will be looking at.

            Abram, with his 318 Special Forces goes on a search and rescue mission for his nephew Lot who was captured by four powerful eastern kings.  Abram not only rescued Lot but also the people that were captured in the area of the Jordan Valley, along with their possessions. And as Abram headed back home he began to be fearful. You see, these four powerful kings might retaliate and come after him and he only had 318 men as opposed to these soldiers from four kingdoms!  Thus, the Lord comforts him by telling him, “ . . . ‘Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.’  Genesis 15:1.

            Now, one of the problems for Abram was that God promised him that his descendants would be like the stars in the sky, like the sand in the sea and he had no children! Thus, God once again tells Abram this promise and Abram believes by faith, but how is God going to do it, how is God going to obtain all this land in Canaan and his descendants filling it?  That is where we will pick up our study this morning, in Genesis chapter 15, starting in verse 9 as we look at salvation THE RIGHT WAY!

GENESIS 15:9-21

            As we saw last week, this covenant that God made with Abram regarding the Promise Land where his descendants would live one day was a unilateral covenant that was based totally on the faithfulness of God and not Abram.  How do I know that? Because Abram was either sleeping or very groggy from sleeping when this deal was sealed by God, when God walked in the midst of the sacrificed animals, the deal was cut you might say.  Abram only observed what was taking place, it was not a bilateral covenant based upon God’s faithfulness and Abram’s.  If it were a bilateral covenant and dependant upon the faithfulness of the Jewish people, they would never inherit the land that God promised them! But, as I have said, it was not a bilateral covenant, but a unilateral covenant and what God has promised them He is more than able to bring to pass. They will inherit all the land that God promised them one day, not because of their faithfulness, but because of God’s!

            For us as Christians, there is a New Covenant that was established by Jesus on the night before His crucifixion on the cross of Calvary for our sins, to pay them in full. The penalty that was due us, the wrath of God that was to come upon us, came upon Him instead! In Matthew 26:26-29 we see this New Covenant established, And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, Take, eat; this is My body.’ Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink from it, all of you.  For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.  But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father's kingdom.’

            You see, this New Covenant is based upon the shed blood of Jesus for us. Then what did we add to our salvation? Now I don’t want to offend any of you, but I will anyway, I will just tell it like it is.  The only thing any of us have added to salvation is – SIN! I realize that is hard for some of you to believe, thus, let’s let the Word of God guide us down that path that leads us to our Savior, to Jesus Christ!

            Paul tells us in Romans 3:10, As it is written: ‘There is none righteous, no, not one.’ And in Romans 3:23 we are told, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.  How many of us are good?  NONE!  How many have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God?  ALL!  Not a pretty picture, but that is just the way it is. Then what can we do?

            In Romans 5:6 Paul tells us, For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.  Who did Jesus die for?  Did He die for those that were good, the beautiful people? No, Jesus died for the UNGODLY, He died for you and me because we were without strength to save ourselves! Paul sums it up for us in Romans 6:23 as he says,For the wages of sin is death, but the [free] gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.  If you want to work your way into heaven then you will be paid with death, eternal separation from God. But, if you receive the free gift of life that is found in Jesus Christ, then you will have eternal life!

            This morning as we look at THE RIGHT WAY of salvation     I want to examine two points. First of all we will look at – WHAT MUST I DO TO BE SAVED? And then we will finish up by looking at – IS THERE ASSURANCE OF OUR SALVATION? Again, listen to what some are saying in this Emergent Church movement or what I like to call the church of Laodicea. T. A. McMahon tells us:

            One finds a strikingly similar approach in the writings of the ECM leaders in regard to destroying faith in the gospel: Brian McLaren leads with doubts about what God had said:

            “The church latched on to that old doctrine of original sin like a dog to a stick, and before you knew it, the whole gospel got twisted around it. Instead of being God’s big message of saving love for the whole world, the gospel became a little bit of secret information on how to solve the pesky legal problem of original sin.”

            He says elsewhere, “I don’t think we’ve got the gospel right yet. What does it mean to be saved? . . . None of us have arrived at orthodoxy.”

            British emergent leader and Zondervan author Steve Chalke delivers the punch line unabashedly rejects the essential gospel belief that Christ paid the full penalty for the sins of mankind necessary to satisfy divine justice. Incredibly, he condemns that doctrine as a form of “cosmic child abuse” and a “twisted version of events morally dubious and a huge barrier to faith.” This is where these emergent pied pipes, wittingly or unwittingly, are seductively leading our youth.

- The Berean Call, September 2007, p. 4

            (See “Church Source” catalog, Fall 2007, Zondervan for ECM books and Conf.)

            Then how do we know who is right and who is wrong or if anybody is really wrong? How are we to know what to believe or are we to believe everything? It really is very simple when you think about it, I don’t like to make things too complicated. In Isaiah 8:20 we are told, To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.  In other words, don’t listen to those who are speaking against or apart from the truths of God found in the Word of God because they are speaking from darkness, there is no light in them!  Sorry, I didn’t say that, God did and if you want to walk in darkness, then listen to these doctrines of demons that are being taught. But if you want to walk in the light, listen to what the Holy Spirit is saying through the Word of God!

            Before we get to those two points this morning, let me show you how we are going to approach things, Biblically speaking. And folks, you can apply this to any teaching, any doctrine to see if it is of God or not. If it does not meet these criteria, then I don’t believe it is of God! Here it is:


That is as simple as it gets and it truly saddens me that Christians have become so lazy or they don’t care and they will believe any doctrine without checking it out first. We need to look to the Word of God.  Now, let’s examine our two points this morning.


            Obviously this is a very important question. In fact, it is a matter of life and death, eternal life with the Lord or eternal life apart from the Lord in the Lake of Fire, spiritual death and eternal suffering for your sins!  Thus, we want to make sure we get this right.  I know, today people try to tell us that all roads lead to God, it doesn’t matter what road you take, all will get there.  How foolish!  If that were true with directions, I would never get lost, but it isn’t and all roads don’t lead to God! In fact, if that were the case, where all roads lead to God, then we might as well party hardy, sin all we want because it doesn’t matter. The truth is, it does matter which road you take. Let me explain it like this. We are told:

            A party of tourists were scaling a lofty peak. The path along which the guide led them was very narrow, and in some places a wall had been built to keep the hikers from stepping aside. A young woman of the party complained loudly of the narrowness and inconvenience of the trail. “Let us take the path over yonder,” she said, pointing to a winding road a little distance away. “It is broader than this one; plus, it is shady and I can see such beautiful flowers on either side.”  The guide only shook his head, but when they had reached the summit he called the young woman to him and asked her to look back over the way they had come.

            Both roads were plainly visible. She saw that the one she had longed to take lay along a dangerous precipice, where a misstep would have resulted in death. The very flowers she had admired covered treacherous places. With tears in her yes, she turned and thanked the guide for having kept her in the narrow path.

So I believe it will be with you, if you let the All-wise Guide mark out your path for you.  There may be times when the broad roads seems inviting, but eternity will reveal the fact that the narrow way was just narrow enough to keep you from all the things that would have been your ruin.

- Practical Bible Illustrations from Yesterday and Today

            Remember what Jesus said in Matthew 7:13-14, Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.  The broad way is a “Have it your own way religion.” It is a do whatever you want, believe whatever you want to believe and it is the way of death. And folks, there are many false prophets out there waving people down this broad way, many of them are in the church today! Jesus tells us to enter by the narrow gate, what does that mean? It means that the only way to enter into eternal life is through Him, the Door, all roads don’t lead to God, only Jesus does!  In fact, that is exactly what Peter tells us in I Peter 3:18, For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit.

            Now let’s look at our criteria to see if this is true, if Jesus is the only way for salvation.  First of all did Jesus teach it in the Gospel’s?  You bet He did!  Remember what Jesus said to Nicodemus in John 3:16-21, For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.  He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.

            You see, we are saved not by works but by believing that Jesus is the Christ, faith, and that faith is manifested in our actions as evidence for our faith. The Devil and his demons believe that Jesus is God but they are obviously not saved? Why, because what they know to be true is not manifested in their actions.

            In John 6:40 Jesus said, And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.  Again, believing in Jesus, faith in Him and that is accounted to us as righteousness, not our good works which are like filthy rags!  We see this again in John 6:47 where Jesus said, Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life.  And in John 14:6 Jesus said, “ . . . ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.’ So Jesus taught that He is the only way to the Father in the Gospels!

            Now, do we see this practiced in the book of Acts, in the early church?  Once again, you bet we do!  Peter said in Acts 4:11-12, This is the ‘stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.’  Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. You see, it is not Buddha, it is not Allah, it is not Krishna or any other name by which we are saved – Jesus alone saves us!

            In Acts chapter 8, as Philip is transported by God to meet up with the Ethiopian treasurer who had left Jerusalem with a copy of Isaiah and as he is reading of the suffering servant, Isaiah 53 in our Bibles, he is unsure of who that is speaking of. He was searching for God and God brought Philip to share with him and in Acts 8:36-38 we are told, Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, ‘See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?’ Then Philip said, ‘If you believe with all your heart, you may.’ And he answered and said, ‘I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.’ So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him.

            Did baptism save this man? No, in fact Philip first asks this man if He believes Jesus is God because apart from that, baptism does nothing. In fact, baptism does not save; it is just an outward expression of what has already taken place in your heart.  Remember, Jesus saves!

            Let’s look at one more to show you that faith in Jesus for salvation was practiced in the early church.  Remember in Acts chapter 16 as Paul and Silas are cast into the Philippian jail for preaching Christ. And they are beaten and placed in the inner prison with their feet in stocks. That night, at midnight they are praying to God and singing songs to Him and an earthquake opened the prison doors and their chains were loosed so they could just walk out. Obviously the Lord did this. No earthquake would cause this.

            As the keeper of the prison sees this he is about to kill himself because if all these prisoners escaped, he would have to serve their sentence, and thus, it was better to die.  As Paul sees this he tells him to stop, that none of the prisoners have escaped, I believe because they were saved through the witness of Paul and Silas.  And this guard asks a great question, he says, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?  He wanted what they had, a relationship with God.  And listen to their response, So they said, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.’ Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house.  You see, faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior saved this man and anyone who will come to Him. That is what the early church practiced in the book of Acts!

            Lastly, do we see this spoken of in the Epistles?  You bet we do!  Paul tells us in I Timothy 2:3-6, For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.  You see, there is only way to be saved, through Jesus Christ.  Paul, in Romans 10:9-10 tells us, 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.  Again, apart from Jesus you can’t be saved

            In Colossians 1:19-23 Paul tells us, For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross. And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight — if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister.  You see, peace has been made with God by the shed blood of Christ on the cross of Calvary and because of that we have been cleansed as white as snow!

            Now, what about continuing in the faith, does that mean we can loose our salvation? I don’t believe it does and we will deal with that in a few minutes. I believe Paul is speaking of those that made a true profession of faith and continued on, not perfect, as opposed to those who made an empty profession of faith, their faith was not real!  It is as John said, 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. I John 2:19.

            In Titus 3:4-7 Paul tells us, But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.  Again, we are not saved by works but by faith in Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world and that gift is extended to all but not all will receive it!

            And lastly, in Revelation 1:4-6 we are told, John, to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne, and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. Who has cleansed us from our sin?  Jesus has, it is that simple. He is the only way to the Father, that is what the Epistles are saying!

            So, Jesus taught it in the Gospels, we see it practiced in the early church and it is spoken of in the Epistles. What must I do to be saved? Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved!


            The Devil loves to mess with our minds and get us to doubt God’s promises to us and we end up believing his lies. One of the big lies he tells us and we listen to many times is that our salvation is based upon our good works, the things we do and thus, we can’t have assurance of our salvation because we mess up, we fall short, we didn’t do those things we should have!

            Folks, instead of listening to the lies of the Devil, let’s believe what God has said to us in His Word, the promises He has given to us. Let’s start out by looking to see if Jesus taught this doctrine of the assurance of our salvation in the Gospels!

            In John 5:24 Jesus said, Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.  You see, believing in Jesus, faith in the Lord and you are saved. In fact, apart from faith you cannot be saved as Paul said in Hebrews 11:6, But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

            Also, in John 10:25-31 we are told, Jesus answered them, ‘I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in My Father's name, they bear witness of Me. But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you.  My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.  And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father's hand. I and My Father are one.’  Notice, we are His sheep, we follow Him, we have eternal life and no one can take that away from us, it is a gift of God, it is grace!  Think about it, who can take us out of the hand, the protection of Jesus or the Father?  No one!  I think that clears it up, Jesus taught us that we can have assurance of our salvation if we have faith in Him!

            Secondly, do we see this practiced in the book of Acts? I believe we do. Some of the Pharisees believed that it was necessary to be circumcised and to keep the Law of Moses to be saved and it caused problems. Thus, the first church council meeting took place in Jerusalem to discuss this matter, salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone or do we need to add works to it?

            In Acts 15:6-11 we are told, Now the apostles and elders came together to consider this matter. And when there had been much dispute, Peter rose up and said to them: ‘Men and brethren, you know that a good while ago God chose among us, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. So God, who knows the heart, acknowledged them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He did to us, and made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. Now therefore, why do you test God by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved in the same manner as they.’

            Notice what Peter said. The Jews are saved in the same manner as the gentiles. He did not say the gentiles are saved the same way as the Jews, which may indicate a salvation by grace and works.  No, both gentile and Jew are saved the same way, by the grace of God and thus, there is assurance of salvation based upon the fact of God’s faithfulness and not ours! So I believe the assurance of salvation is practiced in the book of Acts.

            Lastly, is the assurance of salvation spoken of in the Epistles? You bet it is!  Paul tells us in II Timothy 1:12, For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.  In other words, Paul committed his life to the Lord and the Lord will not lose him, he is assured of that fact!

            In I John 5:13 John echoes the words of Jesus in the Gospel of John as he says,These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.”  You see, you can KNOW that you have eternal life. Now, if it was based on our works, our efforts we can never know.  One day it might be okay the next not! But we can have full assurance of our salvation because it is based on His finished work, His faithfulness and all we must do is believe or have faith in Him!

            The clincher for me is found in I Peter 1:3-5, as Peter tells us, Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.  He is the one who saved us, He has given to us an imperishable inheritance in Him, it is undefiled and it will never fade away. How can I be sure?  First of all God has reserved a place for us in heaven and He is the one who keeps us, by His power, by His grace He has saved us, by His grace He sustains us and one day, by His grace He will take us to glory! You see, there is no room for us to get in by our own efforts, our way or take the credit for the work. He has done the work!

            It all boils down to this. “When a person is in Christ, he is safe. All the Devil may do is worry him.” (W. P. Loveless). Folks, we can have full assurance of our salvation if our faith is in Christ.

            As I begin to close this morning, let me share this with you that will sum up our two studies. We are told:

            The image of missionaries trekking through the deepest, darkest Africa to share the Christian gospel with the indigenous peoples is one of the most enduring in Christendom. On these trips the missionaries met with varying successes. One of the groups they sought to “convert” were the bushmen of the Kalahari desert. But even to this day the bushmen of the Denui village steadfastly refuse to become Christians in favour of maintaining their traditional religion. At night the women and children sit around the fire clapping, while the men shuffle around in a dance.  The rhythm gradually picks up and a chant grows. The resident shaman wears a headband with an ostrich plume rising from it.  He eventually falls into a trance, and during his trance the people believe he makes contact with the world of spirit.

            During the year 2000 a reporter from National Geographic spent some time among the bushmen, and here’s what the village leader at Denui had to say about their religion. “We are traditionalists here” he said. “We are not Christian. But we can talk to whoever Christian talk to. It is all the same God. There are just different ways of talking to him.”

            Is he right? What should we think of different religions and their attempts to access God?

- Information on Kalahri bushmen from National Geographic, Feb. 2001

            Folks, all roads don’t lead to God, Jesus is the Door and only by faith in Him can we enter in.  It is not by works and Jesus, and it is Jesus alone, a unilateral covenant made by God to us and thus, what God has promised He is more than able to bring them to pass. And we can have full assurance of the salvation that God has given to us. I will leave you with these words from Jude as he tells us, Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, And to present you faultless Before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, To God our Savior, Who alone is wise, Be glory and majesty, Dominion and power, Both now and forever. Amen.  Jude 24-25.

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