Jesus describes the Kingdom of Heaven as a pearl of great price and a treasure. And like the man that finds the treasure, it’s such a joy to discover the kingdom of heaven, overwhelming joy when you first hear that gospel that you will do all that you can, all that you need to do to gain such a wonderful reward.
And it is easy, all you need to do is accept Jesus as lord and master. Everything flows from that and as Paul says we become God’s
…workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
So having said that, who’s nervous about meeting God? Who’s 100% sure that they will get to heaven? I mean you don’t want to rock up and get greeted with this:
Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven,
I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me’
The problem is that no matter who you are or what you do, it’s impossible to consistently do what’s right, what God requires of us. The bar set by Jesus in the Sermon on the mount is so high. I mean, all have sinned and fall short of God’s glory.
Those who heard it said, “Then who can be saved?”
But he said, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.”
Paul’s letter today is all about that, he’s reassuring us that our future is secure!
Most Christians are happy to come to church,we’re happy learning about:
- how to live the Christian life,
- how to be better disciples,
- how to love one another better!
But when it comes to whether we’re totally convinced about our salvation, about where we’re going when we die, lots of us aren’t quite sure — there’s still that niggling fear that maybe we’ve got it wrong. Maybe we’re not good enough after all.
That’s what Paul is talking about here, he’s talking to people like us. People that have accepted Jesus as the Christ, as Lord an master — the only way to salvation. He is talking about Christian assurance. What does he tell us?
We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.
Never forget — God is in control — he is bringing an end to all things, shaping outcomes to his purpose. And what is his purpose for us?
For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn within a large family.
You know that expression, when you “were still a twinkle in your father’s eye” or maybe the milkman’s eye? This goes way before that… God chose us before the beginning of the world to form his family. There’s nothing in his choosing of us that depends on our being good enough! Long before we were bad or good, we were chosen
Paul gives us five reasons for this assurance:
1 God gave up his son for us
He who did not withhold his own Son, but gave him up for all of us, will he not with him also give us everything else?
If you want a measure of God’s commitment to our salvation, then this is it. He was so committed to bringing us back to himself that he gave up his own Son to death on our behalf. What greater treasure is there than God’s own son? Jesus is that pearl of great price!
What is it that you wish God would give you?
Ask yourself whether that thing is worth more than God’s only Son.
So when we ask him for things, we can ask with confidence, he’s already given us far more than we can ever imagine.
So don’t worry, Jesus promised to take us to be with him forever… He’s not going to forget our salvation.
2 God has justified us
Who will bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.
Paul reminds us that God has already justified us. He’s already passed judgement, and his judgement is that our wrongs have been paid for. Justice was satisfied for us when Jesus died that horrible death on the cross!
As Paul says who can bring any charge against us?
A lot of people have this problem, they know Christ is their saviour but they worry constantly. Satan comes and accuses them of their failure, of falling into sin again. Those little doubts that come in the middle of the night, feelings of guilt and anguish. That’s Satan tormenting us.
Satan has plenty of opportunity to throw accusations in our face.He says to us “You’re a sinner that deserves damnation”
Don’t listen to him, turn to him and say “Jesus died for me. Jesus death has wiped away ALL my sin. I am right with God. Don’t waste your lies on me!”
3. Jesus is interceding for us
It is Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us.
Not only did Jesus die and rise again to bring me cleansing from sin, but right at this very moment he’s seated at God’s right hand interceding for me.
Are you worried about some sin you’ve committed lately? (or sins?) Then confess them and ask for forgiveness. And know that even as you confess them Jesus is passing them on to God with a sticky note attached saying, “Already paid for. Covered by my previous payment.”
In Hebrews it says that’s what Jesus does all the time for us!
Consequently he is able for all time to save those who approach God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.
4. How strong is Christ’s love?
Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
Is there something that might separate us from his love perhaps?
Marriages and other human loyalties may collapse under worry over money, financial hardship. What about distress, suffering? Again, human relationships may fail, but the love of God is often felt more strongly in those times as we lean on him more for support. And the same with the rest of that list: persecution, famine, nakedness, peril, sword? They’re all things that might separate us from human loved ones, but God’s love transcends all that.
God’s plan for us runs through to eternity, to the realm of the spiritual, so no physical separation will harm it. All death does in that respect is to bring the fulfilment closer.
5. What do we depend on?
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
What is it that allows us to conquer sin and death?
Well we’ve seen over and over and over again — it isn’t our own efforts that bring victory. No, it’s God who gives the victory. God has done everything necessary to make us right with him. Jesus won the victory and then handed the prize over to us.
As Paul says, there is nothing that can stop us from getting that prize!
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
So how do we know our salvation is assured? If someone asks you that, this is the answer:
- We know because our salvation is God’s work from start to finish.
- We know because God has poured out his love on us in Jesus Christ.
- We know because he’s filled us with his Spirit as the sign and seal of the salvation to come.
- We know because it’s God who’s begun this great work in us and who promises to bring it to completion on the last day.
- We know because God has already shown us the measure of his love for us by giving up his own Son to bring us salvation.
Whenever you’re tempted to doubt your salvation, to wonder whether you’re good enough, or whether it might all be too good to be true, just remember that it’s
- God who justifies,
- God who saves,
- God whose love we’re depending on.
And then let’s join with Paul, stand up and we’ll say it together:
We are convinced that
nor things present,
nor things to come,
nor anything else in all creation,
will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.