Sermon delivered March 18, 2000 by Pastor Donald J Gettys

McDonald Road Seventh-day Adventist Church

McDonald, Tennessee

Biblical quotations are from the New International Version unless otherwise noted.

Eternal Life

One day as a young student at Andrews University I was assigned to the Portland, Michigan church to try to start up a new church and they had authorized us to rent the funeral home. Kind of a cold place to start up a new church. It's near Lansing and Grand Ledge. We decided to do a religious survey, so one afternoon we were out and I was knocking on doors that afternoon. I came to this one house and the man was already outside raking the leaves. And I said, "Sir, I'd like to take a survey. Do you believe in God?" You know. And various questions. Finally he stopped me, and he said, "You man, are you saved?" Now, I was a Seventh-day Adventist! And I said, "Well, um, ah." I didn't even know how to answer the question. Nobody had ever asked me that question in my whole life. I said, "I don't know. Sure. Probably I am."

By the way, how many here are saved? By the show of hands it looks like about a third of you are saved. Most SDA's don't know for sure if they are saved. We still don't know for sure, do we. It's awful, it's awful. And to complicate the matter, Ellen G. White says in her book, Christ Object Lessons, p. 155, "Those who accept the Savior, however sincere their conversion, should never be taught to say or to feel that they are saved!" Now that complicates it, doesn't it. And here's one more: Selected Messages, Vol. 1, p.314. "No sanctified tongue will be found uttering these words (I am saved) till Christ shall come..." So we have a very hard time with this. It's tough.

So, too many Seventh-day Adventists sit back and believe that they cannot know if they are saved or lost! They don't have that assurance of salvation. My purpose today in this sermon is to show from God's word that we can know in our heart if we are saved or not. You can have assurance that you are saved.

    So what about the two statements that I just quoted from the Spirit of Prophecy (EG White)?
  1. I think what Ellen White is trying to tell us is that we shouldn't be boasting and saying, "I'm saved." Maybe there's some type of pride element here. Maybe it could lead to Boasting or self- sufficiency.
  2. Maybe we must never cease to advance and sit back and just and say: "Back in 1970 I was saved and there is nothing left for me to do. I am saved, I'm okay, nothing can change that. So here I sit." We shouldn't do that, should we.
  3. Maybe what she (Ellen White) is doing is similar to I Corinthians 10:12 (KJV) where it says, "Wherefore, let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall." So we need to be careful, don't we.
We are not fail-proof. We are not "fail- safe." We can fall. We might be saved this year and be lost next year. Things can change.

BUT--just as bad or worse I think is for a person to think that we can't know if we are saved. "Just can't be sure" "I just don't know?" That's bad.

It's like not knowing whether or not you are married! How many people here are married? How many of you don't know if you're married or not? I saw one feeble hand! Maybe I need to talk with you. How do you know that you are married? "Well, I know if I'm married or not." Well can you know if you are "saved?" Surely you can know. How many know that you are going to be married 5 years from now for sure? Wow! I saw about ten hands, thirteen or fourteen hands! The rest of you aren't sure, are you.

You know, the danger of saying "I will be saved when Jesus comes" is like a married person saying: "I will never get a divorce". Can you really say that? You don't know. You don't know. We can know if we are saved today, but only God knows the future. But let us not be bashful about knowing in our heart whether or not we are in a saved condition right now. We need to know that.

Let me read you another statement that will balance one of these first statements I read from Ellen White. This is from Selected Messages, Vol. 1, p. 373. "It is essential to have faith in Jesus and to believe you are saved through Him." Amen! I love that.

And in Steps to Christ, p. 52 "It is the privilege of all who comply with the conditions to know for themselves that pardon is freely extended for every sin." Praise God for that statement.

The devil doesn't want you to know if we are saved or not!

But Jesus wants you to know, and God wants you to know in your heart that you are saved. John 6:47 (KJV) "Verily, verily, I say unto you He that believeth on me hath everlasting life." He that believes on Jesus has everlasting life. If you believe, you have it. If you believe, you have. Is there a doubt there? There is no doubt. Do you believe that verse? That means that many Adventist did not believe that verse, and even John 3:16. John 3:16 says that "...whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." ..."believes...has eternal life." I didn't even believe that when I was going to the seminary. There is more to it than that. Today, I believe that verse, because you can read it over and over again. I don't believe in "cheap grace" as some put it. But hear me out. I want you to make sure of your salvation.

"He that believeth in me hath everlasting life." Is this saying, "He that believeth on me has a good chance of having quasi eternal life? Does it say that? No! He has it! The Greek word for "believe" means, (you need to get it out of the Greek. You don't get it out of the English.) "If you believe and keep on believing."

That's clear, isn't it? It's very simple. So, how do you know if you're saved or not? If you believe in Jesus, if you trust in Jesus, if you have faith in Jesus, you have eternal life. It's that simple.

Come over here to John 20:31, "But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name." How do you get that life? By believing. Isn't that beautiful? By believing you have life.

Notice that God does not say you have to feel saved. If you believe, you have it. You are saved, if you believe. The feeling will follow the faith. It might not follow automatically, it might not follow quickly, but it will come. You can have assurance today. You can know right now if you are saved. The salvation umbrella is basically, believe. There are several other steps:

  1. Confess your sins.
  2. Ask Christ for eternal life.
  3. Believe He did it and you have it.
  4. Receive His gift of eternal life!!

1. CONFESS Your Sins to Jesus. Not to some earthly priest but to our High Priest in the heavenly sanctuary. Confess your sins. (Step #1)

I John 1:9 (KJV), If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

It all depends on me. The "If" is my part. He is faithful. God is faithful. If you ask Him to forgive your sins, they're gone. You may not feel forgiven, but the sins are gone. God is a faithful and careful worker. Don't try to do God's work for Him. Don't do it yourself. This is where our doubt come in, because we're basing our salvation on our works. That's where the problem is. We need to base our salvation on Jesus Christ and His works, His righteousness. That's where we get assurance from. When I look at Don Gettys, I'm not so very sure. When I look at Jesus, I'm positive. That's where you get your confidence from. Not your own life. Too many try to cleanse themselves. "Well, I did it again! If you could possible forgive me one more time, I won't do it again I promise!"

God says, "I will cleanse you! I will make you whiter than snow. Though your sins be as red as crimson, they will be as white as snow." Who make them that way? He does! Let Him! To confess means to admit your sins in sorrow, and let Him give you the victory. Now I want good works in my life. Don't ever get me wrong on that. I want a victorious life. I want a life full of good works. How do I get those good works? By surrendering to Jesus, by believing on Him, by accepting Him as my Righteousness, then I'm empowered and motivated.

God says, "I will cleanse you." Let Him do it.

2. Ask Christ to save you, and He will. (1 Confess)

In Luke 11:9, we are taught that we should Ask and He will answer. We should Seek and we will find. We should Knock and He will open the door to us. It's up to us to do the asking, the seeking, and the knocking.

You see, Eternal Life is a gift (Romans 6:23). Can you earn a gift? At Christmas time, can you earn your gifts? At birthday times, can you earn a gift? You can't do it. And salvation is a gift. It's not a wage. We cannot earn it or any part of it. We cannot save our selves. We are all sinners (Romans 3:23). How many people will be declared righteous by the observing the law? No one. We are all sinners. God must punish sin. Romans 6:23, For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

But God's punishment was placed on Christ. He took Don Gettys' punishment. He took your punishment upon Himself. Jesus paid the full penalty for your and my sins. If we believe His promises to save us, and you claim those promises, you ask Him to save you, He will save you because He is a professional Savior. If we receive Christ and His salvation, we are saved, and we're saved right now. Right now! I JOHN 5:12 He who has the Son has life! It's that simple. If you have Jesus you have eternal life.

So, invite Jesus into you heart. Fall in love with Him. Ask Him to save you. Surrender your life, your whole heart to Him, accept Jesus as your Savior, accept His righteousness as your righteousness, and He will save you. Surely Christ is more faithful than I am. If a little child asks me for some peanut butter bread would I give him a rock? NO! So Ask HIM to save you!

3. BELIEVE (1-Confess 2-Ask)

Mark 11:22-24 (NKJV) ..." whoever says to this mountain: Be removed and be cast into the sea and do not doubt, but believes...he will have whatever he says." You will have whatever you desire if you believe.

Believe! You need to believe. I might believe in Egg Plant. I believe in that stuff, but, you know, don't eat too much of it. Try to avoid it if I can. Well, it's okay. You need to believe! Not like a person believes in skydiving. I believe in skydiving, but I avoid it. Some people believe in bungee-jumping. I believe in that, but I avoid it. You need to believe in it with your full faith something that you would trust. If you can have that relationship with Jesus, you have eternal life. You've got it. "I believe. Lord help my unbelief."

You see, it's not just a mere knowledge of Jesus. That's not what it's all about because the devil believes that Jesus is the Christ. It's trusting in Him that we're talking about. When we trust in Him completely. This old world needs more true believers. Are you a believer? "Yes!" Then you're one of God's people. Without real belief could anyone in the bible have been healed? Study Lazarus sometime. (Look up John 11.) Do some homework. Could Lazarus have been raised from the dead if his sisters Mary and Martha had the least bit of doubt? John 11:40, Then Jesus said, "Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?"

You see, none of us will see the kingdom of God either unless we really believe and trust in Jesus. Ask God to save you from sin..And He will. Ask God to forgive your sins. They are gone. Ask God to give you eternal life. You have it - If you believe it! John 5:24 (KJV), "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life." Has what? Everlasting life. There it is. He has it! No doubt about it.

And John 6:40 says, "For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day." That's how we're saved. By trusting in Jesus. That word is "trust."

I John 5:10-13, our scripture reading this morning. Verse 11: "And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life."

If you have Jesus you have life. Do you know what the Greek word for "life" is right there? It's not "bios," but it's "zoe." This is the word we get Zoology from; the study of life. What that means is "real Life." Life as God intended it to be. That's what kind of life you will have. Jesus is talking about veritable genuine true life. This is not plastic life made in China, but quality life made in Heaven! Life fresh from the creator as He intends it to be. Perfect life, vigorous life, robust life, the good life, the abundant life. He will give you that kind of life. And how do you get it? If you believe in Him. It is a gift.

Praise God, we can know that we have that kind of life. There is no doubting it. "If you believe the promise, believe that you are forgiven and cleansed, God supplies the fact; you are made whole." Steps to Christ, p.51. "...It is so if you believe it. Do not wait to feel that you are made whole, but say, I believe it; it is so! Not because I feel it, but because God has promised it." Steps to Christ, p. 53.

There may not be any feeling that we are saved. There is no proof that we can put our finger on. We must go on our faith alone. Job did that type of faith. I submit to you that is exactly how Job endured his crisis, because he had that faith. Remember what Job said? In Job 19:25 he said: "I know that my redeemer liveth." Without that assurance he wouldn't have made it through his personal time of trouble. Job 13:15- "Though He slay me, yet I will trust in Him." This assurance brought Job through his Time of Trouble. It will carry you through the Time of Trouble. Whatever your time of trouble is, you can go through it by trusting in Jesus.

Romans 10:9 That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. That is precious. And this is the present tense here: "If you confess and believe and you keep believing, as long as you keep believing you keep having eternal life. It happens. Verse 10: For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.

So, we confess our sins to Him, we ask Him for salvation, and we believe that He does save us. And then...

4. RECEIVE THE GIFT! (1-Confess 2-Ask 3-Believe)

You must receive it. At your birthday time you're never going to enjoy what's inside that package unless you receive it and open it, are you? It won't happen. How do you receive the gift? How does that happen? Let's go over here to John 1. (By the way, if you carry your Bible to church for ten years, you're going to wear it out looking up texts. That's what we hope to do. You need to get a new Bible now and then anyway.) John 1:11,12 (KJV): He came to His own and His own received Him not. But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name. So you need to believe, but you also need to receive, receive the gift.

Salvation must be received. You can't believe that it is yours and not take it or use it. You must receive it.

EPHESIANS 2:8 (KJV) says that salvation is a gift.. For by grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God. Romans 6:23 says, For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Again, salvation is the gift of God. It is a FREE gift. We cannot earn it. All we have to do is receive it. Our part is to take it.

(Get out free Bible, or book or $5.00 bill)

Let's say salvation is like as if I were to have a good book and hold it out and offer it free to one of you. And I say, "Here it is. If anyone wants it, come up and get it. It is yours. Take it. Come and receive it. It is free. But it will only be yours if you take it and receive it unto yourself. The gift must be claimed to be had." (Let someone get it) Do you have it? Yes or No? How do you know? Because you received it. How many of you could have had this gift? Anyone. How many can have eternal life? All! But you must receive the gift.

Now, how do we know we are saved? How can you figure that out? You have to accept these promises. You have to accept these statements. You have to believe in them, have faith in them, trust in them. Let me give you a little indicator of how you might know. If you know you are in a saved condition, Does this mean you will never fall? Come over her to Proverbs 24 Now here is something I was failing in, and once I got my mind wrapped around this, it helped me a lot. Maybe it'll help you, too. Proverbs 24:16 (KJV). Notice what this says: "For though a just man falleth seven times but he riseth up again. But the wicked shall fall into mischief." What does that tell me? What kind of a person falls? A just man. A Christian! He falls. Do you get that? I am not quite perfect yet. I'm working on it. A Christian falls, a just man falls. Now you may be thinking, "Well, the Pastor is telling me that if I believe I am saved. But when I look at my life I make all these mistakes. I know I'm lost." Don't look at your life. Where should you be looking? You need to look to Jesus. I occasionally slip. I do occasionally do unsatisfactory things. I occasionally sin. I make bloopers. So am a really saved or am I lost? The Bible says a just man falls, but he gets back up. He keeps trying.

Let me give you an illustration. Maybe you'll get the point. I'm going to answer the question, "How do I know I am save?" by asking another question. That's a good way to answer something, isn't it. So, here's the question: What is the difference between a hog and a sheep? You have two animals here. What's the difference between a hog and a sheep. If they both happen to come up to a mud puddle and fall in the mud puddle, one differences is, the hog enjoys it. He's down in it making the most of it. They throw the mud everywhere, and you look at the hog, he's smiling. He's in hog heaven, a mud hole. What happens to the sheep when he falls in the mud hole? Does he like it? No! He wants to get out of there. He cries to his master, "Please get me out of here." And when he gets out, is he happy with the mud that's on his wool? No! He says, "Please wash me. Make me white again." Do you see the difference between a hog and a sheep? They both end up in the mud puddle occasionally by accident, but the sheep hates it. The sheep wants cleansing immediately. He can't stand it. That's how you know the difference between a hog and a sheep.

Are you a sheep? If you sin, and you think, "That was kind of enjoyable. I'd like to do that again." You may be a hog. You'd better look in the mirror, you might be smiling.

But, friends, if you get in that mudhole, if you sin, and you hate it, when you get out of it, "I hope I never do that again. Pleas wash me. Please forgive me. Please cleanse me." You're on the way to the kingdom. That's a mark of a Christian. You need to stop falling in the mudhole. I don't want to fall in the mudhole. I don't want to sin. I don't want to disappoint my Savior. And, I'm falling in the mudhole less and less. Our live need to be more like Jesus' every day, don't they. So that how you can know. That's one indicator.

Come over here to Ephesians 2:8,9 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God -- not by works, so that no one can boast. I believe in that. You can be saved. You can know that you have eternal life. And with that assurance you can go through many a hard time.

Do I know that I'm married? Yes. How do I know that? My wife isn't even here today. Where is my wife? She's in California. She's worshiping at the Desert Hot Spring church this morning. How do I know I'm married? Well, one reason is that I just talked with my wife this morning. I was here at the church, it was almost eight o'clock ad I got a phone call and it was my wife. I said, "Dear, what time is it in California?" It was nearly five in the morning. I asked, "What are you doing up." She said, "I set my alarm so I could call you and wish you a happy Sabbath." Ah! You know! My wife! I'm married to the best wife in the world, Cindy! How do I know I'm married? You know you're married, don't you?

Do you know that you're saved? You are, because every morning, Jesus sends you a "Hallmark Card" of a beautiful morning. Did you see that sunrise? It's there. Every morning He renews His love with you, His covenant with you. His mercies are new every morning. He loves you. He's there. He's real. Connect with Him and I know you will be a better and a stronger Christian. You're going to be there in heaven. You are going to be there, I believe, because you have faith in Him, and you keep that faith and you will keep your salvation.

Hymn of Praise: #251, He Lives!
Scripture: I John 5:9-13
Hymn of Response: #428, Sweet Bye and Bye

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