I am doing something this morning that I rarely do—I am preaching a different sermon than the one you find in your bulletin outline.
The reason I am doing this is out of pastoral concern for you.
We have before us the second warning passage in the book of Hebrews.
The topic before us is the apostasy of the Exodus generation.
Apostasy is the falling away from the faith that manifests itself in rebellion and unbelief in God.
The end result of apostasy is eternal damnation in hell.
The warning is real.
Almost the entire Exodus generation died outside the Promised Land—which is a type or shadow of the Kingdom of God found in the New Covenant.
All but a few of that generation died under God’s wrath and judgement!
We see the reality of apostasy in every congregation today.
All of us know people who once professed faith in Christ, but now deny Him and live a life of rebellion and sin.
I think of the former Christian recording artist Amy Grant.
For years she made a bold profession of faith in Christ and sang songs of love and faith to Him.
Thousands, if not millions of believers followed her.
Today she denies Christ, has divorced her husband and is living in an adulterous lesbian relationship.
The reality of apostasy and the seriousness of the warning we find in this text naturally leads us to examine ourselves to see if we are in the faith.
Many Christians struggle with the assurance of salvation.
Passages like the one before us are deeply troubling to many people.
As I was thinking about what I was going to originally preach I realized that I was not addressing the topic of assurance of salvation adequately.
I also realized that to do so would take more time than I had for one sermon.
So I have decided that I need to spend two Sundays on this text.
As I read from our scripture lesson this morning note how often the word “today” occurs in this text.
“Today if you hear his voice...” It is Today, not yesterday or tomorrow that we must look to find our assurance of salvation.
Looking at yesterday or tomorrow will lead to either despair or presumption, both of which are deadly to assurance.
Lets begin with yesterday...
Don’t Look to What You Did Yesterday
Too many look for their assurance of salvation by looking at their past profession of faith or their past actions.
It is common in Baptist and Bible Church congregations to have the doctrine of Eternal Security expressed this way: “Once saved always saved.”
By this they do not mean the Perseverance of the Saints which we confessed earlier from the Westminister Longer Catechism.
What they mean by saying this is that they believe all a person has to do to be saved is make what they call a “decision for Christ”.
Perhaps at a crusade or at an alter call at the end of a service they come forward.
They say a prayer and are told that they “saved”.
No one really examines them to see if they really understand the gospel or if their profession is sincere.
They are just another number for the evangelist or pastor to brag about.
It does not matter if they live the rest of their lives in sin and unbelief—they are “saved” because they “made their decision,” “went forward” and “prayed the sinner’s prayer” some time in the past.
I hope you can see that this is not true saving faith, but is presumptuous false faith.
Jesus speaks of such false faith...
Looking to the past for our assurance does not just create presumption, it can also create despair.
All of us can look to the past and see plenty of examples of “lawlessness.”
As we remember our past sins and doubt we wonder, “Is my profession of ‘Lord’ just as vain as those Jesus spoke of?”
It does little good to look at past “fruit,” these individuals Jesus spoke of had a “fruit” of sorts.
Didn’t they prophesy, cast our demons and do many mighty works?
What about those Paul writes about in 1 Cor 13 who “give away all they have” and “deliver up their bodies to be burned,” but in the end gain nothing?
Looking to the past for our assurance of salvation is nothing but a quagmire that will either get us stuck in presumption or in despair.
The future is no better...
Don’t Look to What You May Do Tomorrow
Some of those in the Reformed and Presbyterian traditions who confess the Perseverance of the Saints fall into presumption as well.
We read in Scripture that “no one can snatch us out of Jesus’ hand” (Jn 10:28) and that “he who began a good work in us will bring it to completion,” (Phil 1:6) and we presume that we can live in sin and unbelief now and that at some later time God will straighten us up so that we will not die in unbelief.
Rather than making their calling and election sure as Scripture tell them, they presume they are members of the elect.
Consequently they are careless with their Christian walk, presuming that it will “all work out in the end.”
Looking to the future can also cause despair.
We read in our text that we will be saved only if “we hold to our original confidence firm to the end.”
(Heb 3:14) Consequently, we naturally ask ourselves: “Will I be holding on firming to the end?”
The more we look to our future faith or obedience the less assurance we will find.
This is because the future does not yet.
You may die or the Lord may come before tomorrow ever gets here!
You have no assurance that you will have a “tomorrow” in this world, consequently, you can find assurance of salvation there!
Looking at what we did in the past or what we might do in the future will never give us assurance of salvation.
The only person to look to is Jesus and the time to look to Him is Today!
Look to Jesus Today!
“Today if you hear His voice...” (Heb 3:7)
There are two things we must focus on in this verse if we are going to find assurance of salvation:
Hearing Christ’s Voice
What we will be seeing throughout the book of Hebrews is the author calls us again and again to listen and look to Jesus.
In chapter one we learned that Jesus was God’s greatest and final Word (Heb.
In chapter two we learn that Jesus is the Author of our salvation (Heb 2:10).
Now in chapter three we are urged to “consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession.”
(Heb 3:1) The focus is on Jesus, not on ourselves.
You will never find true assurance of salvation anywhere else but in Jesus.
When we look to Jesus we see a Savior whose blood covers our past, whose love sustains us in the present and whose power secures our future.
The only thing we look to ourselves for is faith and we can only look for faith in the present.
When you have doubts about your salvation you should always ask, “Am I now, at this present moment trusting in Christ alone for my salvation?”
Past professions of faith are gone.
Future professions of faith may never come.
The only profession of faith that counts is the one you are making right now.
As R.C. Sproul likes to says, “Right now counts forever.”
Right now, this very moment, trust in Jesus to wash away all your past sins and doubts.
Right now, this very moment, trust in Jesus to preserve you in your faith.
No one, can “snatch you from His hands.”
Conclusion: Today, Tomorrow, will be Yesterday
I want to conclude by reminding you that Today, Tomorrow, will be Yesterday.
Faith in Christ is something we must walk in daily.
Assurance of salvation is something we experience daily.
Faith and assurance are like the manna in the desert.
If you try to store it in a pot all you will find the next morning is a stinking mess!
Jesus said that He is the true bread that has come down from heaven.
Let’s make sure we gather Him into our hearts each and every day!
“Today, if you hear his voice do not harden your hearts...”
Let us pray.
Lord we thank you that our assurance of salvation is found in Christ alone.
All other hopes are sinking sand.
May we not look to the past or to the future, but look to by faith to Christ Today.