What Does True Salvation Produce?
Scripture: Proverbs 4:18
What Does True Salvation Produce?Proverbs 4:18
Sunday, October 1, 2017
Pastor Randy Smith
I have been very saddened this week regarding the climate in our country. I am not talking about the dip in physical temperature that we witnessed this morning, but rather the dip in national morale. Whether or not you believe athletes should stand for the anthem is a discussion for another time. What bothers me is how people enter a serious debate that is emotionally-charged. We simply do not know who to respect and communicate with one another anymore! Incendiary comments, inconsideration for another's beliefs, distorting the facts, emotional and not intellectual discussion, manipulation, intimidation, demonizing your opponent, name calling, diversion tactics, and I can keep going. Maybe we need to expect this from the world, but this is never acceptable in the church and I am thankful it is not accepted here. In the church we work toward the end goal of loving each other and loving the Lord Jesus Christ and use love as a means to achieve that goal.
What also troubles me is that through all the rhetoric I believe the racial divide and political divide in America is only growing deeper. And while people are digging their heels in all the more, the true concerns that we Americans share are not being met. I am very pessimistic that genuine change will result.
Now there is a place in the church to discuss social issues (read the book of Amos if you want God's thoughts) but this sermon is about results that we can always achieve - results that should be measurable in our lives and in the lives of the Christians around us. These results are observable, they are attainable and they are promised by God. As a matter of fact, these results will be used by God as we seek to make a difference in the world around us.
What I want to discuss with you this morning are the spiritual fruits that will be produced according to the Book of Proverbs when someone turns to Christ and is truly saved.
Yet before we do that, I'd like to take a couple minutes and review the lesson from last Sunday. We will not experience this Sunday's message unless we first understand, believe and experience last Sunday's message.
Last week I reminded you that the Gospel, the message of salvation in Christ, can be best understood in four components.
First, there is the holiness of God. We must start all theological discussion on who is God and then allow our beliefs to formulate from there.
God is holy. Therefore He hates all that opposes His nature. One of the "Grace Quotes" from this week read: "God's holy wrath is poured out on what He hates because it damages and destroys what He loves (Sinclair Ferguson)" All sin is against God's nature and as Judge of the world He must respond.
So where does that leave us? Second, humans are not holy. We sin. Last week I took you through a series of Proverbs to prove that point. Bottom line: 20:9, "Who can say, 'I have cleansed my heart, I am pure from my sin?'"
Bad predicament! So where do we go from here? Do we invent a man-made religious system? Do we get angry with God and turn our back on Him? Do we simply ignore the reality? 12:15, "The way of a fool is right in his own eyes." 14:12, "There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death." Simply put, we are in need of God's mercy and desperate for Him to act on our behalf. 21:30, "There is no wisdom and no understanding and no counsel against the LORD."
And that is what God did in sending Jesus Christ (the third component). We can't save ourselves, but God saved us through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Christ took our sin upon Himself as our substitute. He faced the judgment of God in our place. And then He is prepared to give us His righteousness as a gift. According to 10:2, "Righteousness delivers from death." 12:28, "In the way of righteousness is life, and in its pathway there is no death." What we need is righteousness and that righteousness is found in Christ. 16:6, "By lovingkindness and truth iniquity is atoned for."
But (now in the fourth component) we need to receive this gift. And we receive this free gift of grace by believing in His work on the cross and turning from our sin.
We call it faith. 3:5, "Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding." 18:10, "The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous runs into it and is safe." And we call it repentance 11:19, "He who is steadfast in righteousness will attain to life." 28:13, "He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion."
Now, today's brief message. So what? Does it end here? Do we just get saved from hell and then go on with our own will and own plan and own lifestyle and own behavior. Not really!
You see, when we come to Christ, the expectation on our end is that we give Him our entire life. In other words, He is now acknowledged as our Lord and He has full permission to oversee our affairs and change us from within. What I am saying here is that if we are truly saved, there will be noticeable spiritual fruit in our lives. He will change us. He will use us. He will conform us to the image of Himself. Bottom line, there will be results!
With the time we have remaining, permit me to give you a few examples from Proverbs.
I suppose the best place to start is the reality that if we are truly saved we will be grow to be like God, especially in the area of holiness. We will love what He loves and hate what He hates. We will seek to be pure, separate from sin and the defilement of this world.
Verses from Proverbs: 2:20 "So you will walk in the way of good men and keep to the paths of the righteous." 3:7, "Fear the LORD and turn away from evil." 10:8, "The wise of heart will receive commands." 11:30, "The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life." 16:17, "The highway of the upright is to depart from evil." 19:16, "He who keeps the commandment keeps his soul." 23:17, "Do not let your heart envy sinners, but live in the fear of the LORD always."
It amazes me how much as Christians we need to be reminded of this fundamental truth. The command from Scripture is perfectly clear. "You shall be holy, for I am holy" (1 Pet. 1:16: Lev. 11:44).
But we have the flesh within us desiring sin. We have the devil tempting us to commit sin. We have the world telling us to pursue sin. And quite frankly, we simply give in oftentimes without even knowing it. Are you doing that right now?
We will be partaking in the Lord's Table shortly - a time for personal examination. Please examine yourself.
Who do you esteem? Is it the man who passed away this week that fought to normalize immoral sex and exploitation of a woman's body? Is it a famous actor, athlete or musician? Or is it men and women who love the Lord Jesus Christ and are seriously seeking to honor His Name? What kind of personal example of holiness are we passing on to our children? When they see you, how are you encouraging them to set holiness as their primary goal?
Holiness, it is adoring the Person of Christ so highly that we desire nothing more than to be like Him. Is there any greater act of devotion? Is there any greater pursuit than simply seeking to be what we will be for all of eternity? Heaven is about perfect holiness? If we don't love it here, what makes us think we will love it there? If there is no passion to be like God, we really need to question whose side we are on.
Let's get more specific because Proverbs has a lot to say about the specific character traits by God's grace that we should be "putting off" and the ones we should be "putting on."
How about the "put-off's" first. There are the things that characterize an unbeliever. The fruit of a believer will be the desire and ability to turn from them.
- Violence - 1:19, "So are the ways of everyone who gains by violence; it takes away the life of its possessors."
- Perversity - 6:12, "A worthless person, a wicked man, is the one who walks with a perverse mouth."
- Deception - 6:16-17, "The LORD hates…a lying tongue."
- Pride - 8:13, "Pride and arrogance…I hate."
- Anger - 19:19, "A man of great anger will bear the penalty."
- Gossip - 20:19, "He who goes about as a slanderer reveals secrets, therefore do not associate with a gossip."
- Strife - 17:19, "He who loves transgression loves strife."
- Drunkenness - 20:1, "Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, and whoever is intoxicated by it is not wise."
- Adultery - 22:14, "The mouth of an adulteress is a deep pit; he who is cursed of the LORD will fall into it."
These attributes characterize the devil. We will always bear the fruit in likeness to our spiritual father. Are we emulating Satan or are we emulating God? Are we revealing fruits of the flesh, just the stuff that characterizes natural man who lives outside of God or are we in Christ and walking in the Spirit whereby the Holy Spirit is producing fruit in us that imitates God?
- Kindness and Truth - 3:3, "Do not let kindness and truth leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart."
- Integrity - 10:9, "He who walks in integrity walks securely."
- Graciousness - 11:16, "A gracious woman attains honor."
- Generosity - 11:25, "The generous man will be prosperous."
- Diligence - 13:4, "But the soul of the diligent is made fat."
- Patience - 15:18, "The slow to anger calms a dispute."
- Righteousness and Justice - 21:3, "To do righteousness and justice is desired by the LORD more than sacrifice."
- Boldness - 28:1, "The righteous are bold as a lion."
So the question comes up repeatedly, how can I know if I am saved? The answer is not ultimately found in what you did in the past. The answer is found in who you are today. Are you convicted of sin, the things God wants you to "put off?" Do you hate them and fight against them in the Spirit? Do you see victory in your life in this area? Are God's fingerprints upon you? Is there evidence that His grace is making you more like Jesus Christ? Do you love Him and desire to be like Him?
If you are saved by Christ's righteousness, your new position before God, are you personally seeking to be righteous in the practical sense as well? Do you want this for your children and other believers in the church? Do you love holiness? Do you see results?
My friends, it comes down to our heart's desire. 16:2, "But the LORD weighs the motives." 17:3, "The LORD tests hearts." God is not impressed with religion. Frankly, much of it turns Him off. God is looking for heart desire. God is looking for a change in character that first results from a change in your heart. That's salvation - a heart transplantation that produces spiritual fruit. A desire to please Him. A desire to be like Him. A desire to be holy. 13:9, "The light of the righteous rejoices."
My friends, there is a lot on the line. Let me be clear, righteous acts do not save. We are saved by grace, through faith, in Christ alone. However, true salvation will result in righteous acts, holiness!
Listen to how Proverbs articulates that: 10:25, "The righteous has an everlasting foundation." 12:7, "The wicked are overthrown and are no more, but the house of the righteous will stand." 15:29, "The LORD is far from the wicked, but He hears the prayer of the righteous."
As we get ready to transition to the Lord's Table, let me ask you if you truly know the Lord. I am speaking to people who have rejected Him or claim to know Him, but are not demonstrating any fruit. Will you give your life to Jesus Christ today and begin to experience the blessed fruit that He will produce in your life.
And for those of you who love the Lord and can testify of the fruit He is producing in you, rejoice and be glad that He is making you more beautiful from the inside-out, using you as a clean vessel for His purposes and is preparing you for your eternal home.
4:18, "The path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, that shines brighter and brighter until the full day." 10:6, "Blessings are on the head of the righteous." 10:30, "The righteous will never be shaken."