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  • I'm going to preach a message tonight that has angered many, many, many churchmen. It

  • has angered many of the older people. It has angered

  • many of the youth. Many of the youth that I've preached this to have become fiercely

  • angry, but the people that have become most angry at

  • hearing this message have been the parents of youth.

  • I have found that there is something quite amazing among parents that, if they can get

  • some sort of a claim out of their children that they

  • profess faith in Jesus Christ, they seem to hold onto that

  • and it gives them assurance and joy, and it seems that they're bothered any time someone

  • would come and question that claim. It seems we would rather hold onto a false

  • hope than to hear the truth.

  • There are many people who do not want to hear the truth because it will shake up the false

  • hope they have that they're going to heaven when,

  • indeed, they are not. There are so many people in

  • ChristianityAmerican Christianitythat believe themselves right with God, that believe

  • themselves saved because they were told that by a preacher who should have spent more time

  • studying the Bible and less time preaching. I hear people all over the worldand especially

  • in this countrytell me that they're saved, and I

  • ask them how do they know that they're saved. Well, because they believe. And no one asked

  • them the second question: How do you know that you believe?

  • If we were to dismiss this congregation tonight and send everyone out to every part of this

  • city, we would find out that the great majority

  • of the people in this city believe that they believe. And

  • we know that's not true. If we were to go to taverns and crack houses tonight, if we

  • were to go to casinos anywhere in this world, we would

  • find people who believe that they believe. And the

  • question ishow can we be sure that we believe when so many people say they believe and we

  • know they don't. In America, we have combined two doctrines,

  • and we have lost both of them. There are two very important doctrines in the Christian

  • faith. The first one is commonly called—a name I do

  • not like but I will use here tonightthe security of the believer, that every person

  • who has truly believed in Jesus Christ is born again and

  • they are secure. The very God who saved them will

  • keep them saved----security of the believer. But there's another doctrine which we do

  • not hear much about. It's not just the doctrine of

  • security, but the doctrine of assurance. It is true that every true believer is kept by

  • the power of God. That's the doctrine of security, but

  • the doctrine of assurance is this: How can you be

  • assured that you're a true believer? How can you know that you are a true believer?2

  • I've had people tell me, "Well, I just know that I know." I tell them there's

  • a way that seems right unto men. It leads to death.

  • I've had people tell me, "Well, I know in my heart of hearts that I am saved."

  • The Bible says that the heart is deceitfully wicked. It goes

  • beyond knowledge in its wickedness. So, do you

  • really want to trust a mind that is faulty? Do you really want to trust a heart that can

  • be wicked? I've even had people tell me, "Well, I

  • know I'm saved because the preacher told me I'm saved."

  • Since when did men have such authority? And, then, the worst of all—"I know I'm saved

  • because I have walked with God." My dear friends, let me tell you this, if you are

  • not walking with God now, you can have no assurance that

  • you have ever been saved. We're not teaching here tonight that, if

  • you walk with God and you're saved and then you stop

  • walking with God, you lose your salvation. What we're telling you is thiswe have

  • assurance that we have come to know Him not just because

  • one time we repented, but we are continuing to

  • repent today. It is not just that at one time we believed, but that we are continuing to

  • believe today. It is not just that one time we walked

  • with Him; we continue to walk with Him today because He who began a good work will finish

  • it. It says in 2nd Corinthians, chapter 13, verse

  • 5, Paul had come to a church, many of them professing Christ, many of them walking in

  • carnality, and he doesn't ask themhe doesn't say

  • to them, "Let me ask you something. When was the time that you first asked Jesus Christ

  • into your heart?" He didn't even refer to their

  • conversion experience. He goes right to present tense

  • and he says this: Test yourselvesin verse 5—to see if you are in the faith. Examine

  • yourselves. Or do you not recognize this about yourselves,

  • that Jesus Christ is in you unless indeed you fail

  • the test. If I see someone who, let's say, for three

  • or four years seems to have walked with God, loved the

  • saints, endeavored to pray, to know the Word, to congregate with other believers, and all

  • of such, and then they begin to fall away gradually.

  • They begin to walk away. They begin to allow the

  • world and sin and other things into their life. They begin to enjoy the fellowship of

  • the wicked. I don't go to them and tell them, "You

  • know you're a Christian and you need to avoid

  • backsliding." I go to them and say, "You have made the

  • good profession. You have declared among many that

  • you are a believer, but now you are beginning to live like an unbeliever. It is very, very

  • possible you never knew Him, that up until this point,

  • it has all been a very deceiving work of the flesh,

  • because, if a work of God does not continue, it never was a work of God.

  • Now what does Paul say to this person? He says, Test yourselves. Test yourselves. Take

  • a test. Let me tell you something, my dear friends.

  • Heaven and hell, eternity and death may not be very

  • much a reality to you, but it most certainly is to this preacher. I could care less whether

  • or not your bank account is balanced or you have

  • self-esteem. My only thing----the only thing that

  • might keep me up this evening and steal sleep from my eyes is the fact that many of you

  • will die and go to hell.3

  • Test yourself! This is not just some whimsical thing. This is not just something to worry

  • about for a day. We're talking about eternity.

  • Is it well with your soul? If you test yourselves in the

  • light of Scripture, will you be found whole and complete, born again, kept by the power

  • of God? It's time to take a test and stop relying

  • on your emotions and stop relying on what everyone is

  • telling you and stop comparing yourself to other people who call themselves Christians,

  • because the great majority of people in America who

  • call themselves Christians are lost. Some leaders in the Southern Baptist Convention

  • have said this: If we take seriously what the

  • Bible says about Christianity, we would have to say that less than 10 to 15 percent of

  • all our membership is even saved. And don't think

  • that just applies to Southern Baptists. It applies to

  • you all. He said test yourself. Examine yourself. Not

  • just some light examination. Not just hear the

  • words of this preacher and walk out there and allow Satan to steal the Word of God from

  • your heart. While you're here and while Christ

  • is present and while the Word is preached, examine

  • yourself. It is a deadly thing. Sin waits outside this door. It is crouching and its

  • desire is to have you. While you are here and Christ is present,

  • examine yourself. So many times in South America, working in

  • the Andes Mountains, I would have to cross footbridges----gorges that you almost couldn't

  • see to the bottom. Test the ropes. Test the wood.

  • Is this a sound bridge? Examine it carefully. Why? You get out in the middle of that thing,

  • it breaks, you're dead. In the same way, that

  • salvation that you hold onto, that you trust in, it might

  • be like a horse's hair. When you swing out into eternity, many of you are going to swing

  • out on nothing stronger than a horse's hair and

  • when the fires of hell blast up, you'll wither and you'll

  • fall. Examine yourself. Take the Word of God and

  • what the Word of God says about a true Christian, and examine yourself in light of it. And if

  • you fall short of the test, repent and believe. Throw

  • yourself upon the mercy of God. Cry out to Him until a work is done. And that's another

  • thing, isn't it? A whole other sermon. Until a

  • work is done. This silly Christianity in America. "Repeat

  • these words after me." No, you might have to wait

  • upon God. You might have to cry out to Him until the work is done—a true work, a finished

  • work, a complete work. How can we take a test? How can we test our

  • life? How can you test yourself tonight to see

  • whether or not you truly are a Christian? We just have to go to the Word of God to do

  • that. Go to 1st John chapter 5.

  • First John chapter 5, verse 13. John gives us the reason in his Gospel. In John chapter

  • 20, verse 31, he tells us why he writes his Gospel.

  • He writes his Gospel so that men might believe that

  • Jesus is the Son of God, that He's the Christ, that they might have eternal life. Why does

  • he write his epistle? He tells us here in 1st

  • John chapter 5, verse 13: These things----this epistle----I

  • have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God----those of you who profess

  • Christ----why?----that you may know that you have eternal life.4

  • You want to know whether or not you're born again? Read the book of 1st John, because

  • the book of 1st John is made up of a series of

  • tests, and we're going to take those tests this evening.

  • And I pray to God that God gives you ears to hear.

  • And I want to tell you something and I want to make it very, very clear. Do not listen

  • to your heart. Listen to the Word of God. Do not listen

  • to what your daddy says about your salvation. Do not listen to what your mother says about

  • your salvation. Listen to the Word of God. Compare what you know about your secret life.

  • Now, what did I say that for? So many of you young people, you have your parents so deceived

  • it's unbelievable, because externally you conform to their law, but it's not your

  • law. It's not in your heart. And in the secret place, you know

  • who you are. And then some of you who are not

  • children, but adults, teenagers that are older that are out in the world, you go out there.

  • You know who you are. Your mom and dad, they do

  • not know. Some of you adults, church members do not know, but when you are out

  • there by yourself, that's the person I want you to

  • compare to the Word of God tonight. Not the one in here that looks pretty, not the one

  • in here that's got religious makeup on. No. The

  • one out there when no one is looking. You take that

  • person and compare him tonight to the Word of God and see if he stands. See if he stands.

  • You say, "Brother Paul, you seem quite intense tonight." How would you expect me to be

  • if a train----a slow-moving train was going across

  • our path and to see my little boy just inches from

  • the wheel. Would you expect for me to whisper in his ear, "Back up, boy." Would you

  • expect for me just to not even make a commotion,

  • but kind of motion with my hand? Or would you

  • expect me to scream out, "No-o-o-o-o-o!" How would you expect me to preach about these

  • things? Let's take that secret life of yours and compare it to the Word of God.

  • First John chapter 1, verse 5. This is the message we have heard from Him and announce

  • to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no

  • darkness at all. What does that mean? As in all the writings

  • of John, he leaves things open. He leaves things

  • open. I believe that, as you look through this text, you will find out that there are

  • two things John is saying. First of all, whenever we're

  • talking about light, and we see this in John chapter

  • 3, we're talking about holiness, righteousness. God is a holy God. He is a righteous God,

  • has no sin, no flaw, no shadow, no speck of immorality

  • in Him. God cannot be tempted. You can be tempted because there's still an element

  • of evil in you that is drawn to evil. God has no evil in

  • Him. Evil cannot draw Him. He disdains it. He despises it. He's holy.

  • But that's not, I think, John's primary meaning here. John is dealing with a group

  • of false teachers who basically are telling everybody

  • that God is a very dark and shadowy and hidden figure, and that knowledge about God is esoteric.

  • It is hidden and dark and only some people know it. And I believe that John is contradicting

  • these false prophets and he is saying this, and

  • you listen very carefully. This is what he is saying. He's saying God is Light. And

  • he means this: God has revealed to us who He is and

  • He has revealed to us His will. He has made it very

  • clear.5 Now, let me just say something about how that

  • would change everything in America if the media

  • truly believed that. What kind of God do we have in America? What is the god of the politician

  • in America? It's this kind of god----it's a god you can pray to, but you cannot define

  • who he is. It's a god you can talk about in a political

  • speech, but you cannot define what his will is. And

  • that's a good god to have. Why? Because you're no longer accountable to a god like

  • that. You don't know who he is and you don't know

  • what he wants, so you just do whatever your carnal,

  • wicked heart wants to do. That's a very convenient god, and that's the kind of god

  • some supposed Christians have.

  • But John counters that and he says this: No, my friend, God has told you exactly who He

  • is and God has told you exactly what He requires

  • of thee, old man. He's not a hidden god. Now,

  • learning that, let's go to the next verse. He says this: If we say that we have fellowship

  • with Him. . . . What does that mean? If we say

  • that we are saved is exactly what it means. If we say that we know Him, if we say that

  • we abide in Him. For so many years in America, because

  • of a certain seminary that has propagated this,

  • we have been taught and led to believe that 1st John is talking about the difference between

  • a Christian who walks in communion with God

  • or a Christian that does not walk in communion with God. They take this text to mean that,

  • if we say that we know Him, if we say that we know

  • Him, if we say that we know Him and yet walk in darkness, we're just a confused Christian.

  • That's not what this text means. What this text is saying is this: If we say

  • that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the

  • darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. If we say that we are a Christian and yet

  • we walk in darkness, we are lying. Now, I know what's

  • going to happen in your heart right now. "Yeah, but you don't know my heart, Brother Paul.

  • I know that I know that I know that I'm saved."

  • I could care less, again, about your heart. Because that's not what John said. John

  • says, if we say that we have fellowship with God, that

  • we are a Christian and yet we walk in the darkness,

  • we are a liar. Now, what does it mean to walk in the darkness? Well, first of all, you need

  • to understand what darkness is. It's the opposite

  • of light. If we say we are a Christian and yet we

  • walknow what does it mean to walk----peripateo----to walk around; a style of life. If we say we

  • are a Christian and yet our style of life contradicts everything God has told us about

  • Himself and contradicts God's will, we're a liar.

  • That's what it means. That's what this text is saying. It's as

  • clear as a bell. Now, listen to me. Listen to me. I'm going

  • to tell you again. Look at this, in verse 6. If we say

  • that we have fellowship with Him----if we say that we are Christian and yet we walkwe