Sermon #1271 Miscellaneous Sermons
Title: Salvation and the Knowledge of It
Text: Luke 1:77
Reading: Luke 1:57-80
Subject: The Purpose of Gospel Preaching
Date: Sunday Morning - January 12, 1997
Tape # T-28
While Zacharias the priest was ministering before the Lord at the altar of incense in the temple, the angel Gabriel appeared to him with a word of promise from God. The angel of the Lord told the old man that he and his wife, Elizabeth, were going to have a son who would be as Elijah, a son who would be a mighty prophet sent of God “to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”
The angel told Zacharias to name his son John and promised that through his preaching ministry many of God’s elect would be turned “to the Lord their God.” Zacharias was an old man; and his wife was an old woman. They had no children. And, when Zacharias heard this word from God, he simply did not believe it. Therefore, because of his unbelief, God tied his tongue and made him speechless until his word was fulfilled.
When John was born, the Lord loosed Zacharias’ tongue and filled him with his Spirit. Then, the old man sang unto the Lord, and in his prophetic song, he declared by the inspiration of God the Holy Spirit why God had given John the Baptist. In doing so, he tells us what the purpose of all gospel preaching is. I take my text this morning from the words of Zacharias in…
Luke 1:77 "To give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins."
Proposition: With those words we are taught that the purpose of gospel preaching and the work of all who are sent of God to preach the gospel is to convey to God’s elect the knowledge of salvation by the remission of their sins.
My subject this morning is Salvation and the Knowledge of It.
Divisions Look at the text carefully. I speaks of three things. God’s servants are sent into this world preaching the gospel…
1. “To give knowledge of salvation…”
2. “Unto his people…”
3. “By the remission of their sins.”
May God the Holy Spirit be our Teacher as we consider these three things together.
I. First, The Lord God has sent me “TO GIVE KNOWLEDGE OF SALVATION.”
SALVATION - What a blessed, blessed word! God’s servants are not sent to save, or to persuade you to be saved, or even to get people saved, but “to give knowledge of salvation.” I do not preach to you a possibility of salvation, but the fact of it. I am not here to tell you how salvation may be accomplished, but how that it has been accomplished by Christ.
The watchmen of Zion all see eye to eye. They all lift up their voices together as one, and “publish salvation” (Isa. 52:7-8). This what the Lord God commands all his servants to do.
Isaiah 40:1-2 "Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. (2) Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the Lord's hand double for all her sins."
Salvation is that vast, indescribably glorious thing accomplished by the Son of God as the sinners’ Substitute. It is the deliverance of our souls from all our enemies, from sin, death, hell, and the grave. Yet, it is much, much more. Salvation is the destruction of all our enemies and his by his own omnipotent arm. Still, there is more. Salvation is deliverance from all sin and all the consequences of sin by Christ; and it is the deliverance of our souls into the full, perfect, “glorious liberty of the sons of God” by his sovereign grace. Salvation includes all that God has one for us, all that he is doing in us, and all that he shall do with us in Christ by his almighty grace. When our Lord Jesus Christ entered into heaven with his own blood, he “obtained eternal redemption for us” (Heb. 9:12). He obtained, by the merit and virtue of his precious blood all that is involved in the deliverance of our souls into his heavenly kingdom in perfect righteousness.
A. I want you to understand that this salvation is God’s work alone.
It was planned and purposed by God the Father. It has been purchased and obtained by God the Son. And it is effectually executed and applied to the heats of chosen sinners by God the Holy Spirit. It does not, in any measure or to any degree, depend upon us. It is not, in any measure or to any degree determined by us. “Salvation is of the Lord!”
While all three Persons in the Holy Trinity are united in the affair of salvation, be sure you understand this - The Triune God devised a plan and purposed a method of salvation that was designed to give all the glory, honor, and pre-eminence to the God-man Mediator, our most glorious Lord Jesus Christ. It is the purpose of he Triune God “that in all things Christ should have the pre-eminence”
Psalms 21:5 "His glory is great in thy salvation: honour and majesty hast thou laid upon him."
The burden and responsibility of the work of salvation was laid upon the back of our Savior. He agreed to it as our Surety in the covenant of grace. The Father trusted him as our Representative to accomplish it. The Holy Spirit prepared a body for him in the womb of the virgin in the incarnation in which to perform it. And when he came into the world, just as he had done before the world began, our great, glorious Savior avowed that he would “save is people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21).
Psalms 40:6-8 "Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire; mine ears hast thou opened: burnt offering and sin offering hast thou not required. (7) Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me, (8) I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart."
Hebrews 10:5-7 "Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: (6) In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. (7) Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God."
Hebrews 10:10 "By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all."
Now, either he did it, or he didn’t. If he did it, then this Book is true. If he did not do it, if there is so much as one minute particle left to be done by us, then this book is a fraud and he is a phony. Those who preach that salvation is to any degree incomplete deny, in reality, that this Book is the Word of God and declare that Jesus Christ is an impostor. This Book declares that Jesus Christ accomplished the salvation of his people; and that is exactly what he did.
By his obedience unto God as a man, our Lord Jesus Christ brought in everlasting righteousness. By his death as our Substitute, the Son of God satisfied the justice of God for the sins of his people. Thus, he has, as the prophet said he would, “magnified the law and made it honorable.”
Please understand what I am telling you. Salvation is not something yet to be done, but something already done by Christ. It is yet to be experienced and known by some for whom it was done; but it is already done. Peter tells us that it is yet to be revealed to us all; but it is already done. I am not speculating about this at all. This is a matter of crystal clear revelation.
Galatians 3:13 "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:"
Colossians 2:13-15 "And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; (14) Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; (15) And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it."
Hebrews 1:3 "Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;"
Hebrews 9:12 "Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us."
Hebrews 10:11-14 "And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: (12) But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; (13) From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. (14) For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified."
1 Peter 1:18-21 "Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; (19) But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: (20) Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, (21) Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God."
The incarnate God, our Savior, has recovered for his people all that we lost, all that we justly forfeited by the sin and fall of our father Adam. He has obtained for us, by his own mighty arm alone, that that glorious inheritance to which we were predestinated from eternity. He has done so eually and fully for everyone of his people.
Not only has he redeemed us from the curse of the law, he has robed us with perfect righteousness. Not only has he redeemed us and robed us, he has been received up into glory for us. Yonder, he sits possessing and holding for his redeemed ones, holding by legal right, all the glory of heaven itself in the perfection of that glorious righteousness and holiness to which we were chosen from eternity.
This salvation, which God has sent me to preach to you, holds within its embrace eternal life here and eternal glory hereafter. It includes all the fullness of grace here and all he fullness of glory hereafter forever. Salvation is the perfect, full, complete restoration of sinners to God in holiness, happiness, and blessedness forever, by Christ alone.
1 Peter 1:3-9 "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, (4) To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, (5) Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (6) Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: (7) That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: (8) Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: (9) Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls."
So complete, so thorough is his salvation that God sees no sin in Jacob and no perverseness in Israel (Num. 23:21). He sees no sin in us because Christ has put away our sins!
1 John 3:5 "And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin."
Jeremiah 50:20 "In those days, and in that time, saith the LORD, the iniquity of Israel shall be sought for, and there shall be none; and the sins of Judah, and they shall not be found: for I will pardon them whom I reserve."
Our Redeemer’s name is Jehovah-tsidkenu, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS; and we are the righteousness of God in him.
Jeremiah 23:6 "In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS."
Jeremiah 33:16 "In those days shall Judah be saved, and Jerusalem shall dwell safely: and this is the name wherewith she shall be called, The LORD our righteousness."
This great, glorious salvation is the work of our great and glorious Lord Jesus Christ. Be sure you understand that; but be sure you understand this next statement, too.
B. This glorious salvation is, in all its fulness and entirety, the present and everlasting possession of every believer.
You may be thinking to yourself that I meant to say, This salvation shall be the possession of all believers in eternity. That is not the case. This salvation s the present possession of every sinner who trusts the Lord Jesus Christ. With him, because we are in him, we have it in full possession presently! The weakest, most insignificant believer lacks nothing! Am talking now about God’s salvation, not man’s notions about God’s salvation!
All that Christ did and experienced, he did and experienced as our Representative and Substitute before God. Because he did it as our Surety and Substitute, we did it in him. It is as though we did it personally. Christ did not obey the law for himself. He obeyed it for us; and we obeyed it in him. He did not die for his own sins (He had no sin!), but for our sins; and we died in him. He did not rise from the dead for himself, but for us; and we rose in him. He did not enter into heaven and take possession of it for himself, but for us; and we ascended into heaven and took possession of it in him. Is this, or is it not the language of the Bible?
Ephesians 2:6 "And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:"
Hebrews 6:20 "Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec."
Gospel preaching is designed and intended to be the means by which God’s salvation is published and made known. Here is the importance of gospel preaching. - There is no other way by which God’s salvation is made known to men.
II. Secondly, our text speaks of a specific people to whom God’s salvation is made known by the preaching of the gospel. I will not spend much time on the subject now; but I want you to see this second thing set before us in Luke 1:77. God has sent me as a gospel preacher - “To give knowledge of salvation UNTO HIS PEOPLE.
The text itself identifies and defines the people to whom the knowledge of salvation is given as “His People.” There is a people in this world, scattered among the fallen sons of Adam, a people scattered abroad by God’s providence into every nation, kindred, tribe and tongue, whom the calls, “His People.” They are the people of his choice, the people of his covenant. Christ came to redeem and save “His People.” Everything God does, he does for “His People.” If you and I are numbered among God’s saints, it is because “It pleased the LORD to make you His People.” The Lord God is long-suffering toward us “His People” because he is not willing that any of “His People” should perish, but that all should come to repentance and knowledge of the truth. And in the fulness of time, he will make known His Salvation to every one of “His People” by the preaching of his gospel. We preach the message to all who will hear us; but our message is for and shall be heard by “His People.”
III. Now, let’s look at the last part of our text. God sends his servants out preaching the gospel to every creature - “To give KNOWLEDGE of salvation unto his people BY THE REMISSION OF THEIR SINS.”
Much more could and should be said here than I will be able to get said today. Time simply will not permit me to expound this last part of the text fully. Perhaps the Lord will allow me to come back to it another day. For now, let me show you just two things taught here by the Spirit of God.
A. The Holy Spirit here declares that God’s salvation is something that his people are caused to know in this world.
I know that there are many who struggle with assurance. No doubt, some of you do. There are some who will tell you that it is not possible for us to know in this world whether or not we are “his people.” I would do nothing to discourage our weaker brethren; but I do want you to understand that this Book speaks about a salvation that God himself makes known to his people through the preaching of the gospel.
Listen to me now - If you are struggling with this matter of assurance, if you do not know whether or not you are saved, the problem is one of two things: either you are not saved, or you are looking in the wrong place for assurance.
Assurance is not found in ourselves, but in Christ. My assurance before God is not based upon what I think, feel, know, or do. It is not even based upon what I have experienced. My assurance is my Savior!
“Feelings come; and feelings go;
And feelings are deceiving.
I trust the living Word of God.
Naught else is worth believing!” Martin Luther
This Book talks about a salvation that is known by those who experience it.
Romans 5:8-11 "But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (9) Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. (10) For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. (11) And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement."
2 Timothy 1:12 "I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day."
1 John 5:11-13 "And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. (12) He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. (13) These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God."
How could we ever be his witnesses, if we cannot determine whether we even know him? Peter speaks of us looking with confidence and hope for the coming day of the Lord (2 Pet. 3:12). But how could any mortal, sinful man anxiously await that great and terrible day of judgment, if he does not know that God’s salvation is his? Paul describes Christ’s coming as being a matter of blessed hope (Tit. 2:13). But how can it be called a blessed hope by a people who do not have an assured hope before God?
B. Listen carefully - This knowledge of salvation accomplished by Christ is imparted to chosen, redeemed sinners by the supernatural work of God the Holy Spirit in regeneration and conversion “BY THE REMISSION OF THEIR SINS.”
The remission of sins is the release from or dismissal from sins. When a sinner is born again, God the Holy Spirit convinces him of sin (His Own), of righteousness (Christ’s), and of judgment (God’s Judgment of Sin in Christ). He gives the regenerate sinner faith in Christ. And he sprinkles, or applies, the blood of Christ to his heart and conscience. Thus he speaks in the heart, in the conscience, forgiveness and remits or dismisses the ransomed sinner from sin.
Hebrews 9:11-14 "But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; (12) Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. (13) For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: (14) How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?"
This knowledge of salvation by the remission of our sins should be, in every believing heart, a fixed, unwavering, assured fact of life in Christ. Indeed, just to the degree that we trust Christ alone, having no confidence in the flesh, it is an assured fact. “We have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins according to the riches of his grace” (Eph. 1:7). We have it; and we live upon it, just as a man lives upon a piece of property that he rightfully owns. Thus it I written, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee, because he trusteth in thee” (Isa. 26:3).
Look at Galatians 1:15-16. Here, the apostle Paul uses himself as an example for us, of the believer’s experience of grace. Here are five steps of grace common to all believers. “When it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by his grace, (16) To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood."
1. Separation - When it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb.”
2. Calling - “and called me by his grace.”
3. Revelation - “To reveal his Son in me.”
4. The Effect - The destruction of all confidence in ourselves - “immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood."
Philippians 3:3 "For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh."
I ask you now - Where is your confidence? Upon what grounds do you hope for acceptance with God? What is the basis upon which you claim for yourself God’s salvation? Upon what grounds do you have, or think you have, the remission of your sins?
Every believer here will have but one answer - Christ! The more we look to Christ, the more fully we see his all-sufficiency and the more we see our own utter vileness and worthlessness before the holy Lord God. The remission of my sins was not obtained by my merit. It was not attained by my merit. And it is not maintained by my merit. My only merit with God is his dear Son.
“Naught have I gotten, but what I received;
Grace hath bestowed it, since I have believed.
Boasting excluded, pride I abase -
I’m only a sinner, saved by grace!”
2 Timothy 1:12 "I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day."
LUKE 1:5-25 and 57-80
Luke 1:5-25 "There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth. (6) And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. (7) And they had no child, because that Elisabeth was barren, and they both were now well stricken in years. (8) And it came to pass, that while he executed the priest's office before God in the order of his course, (9) According to the custom of the priest's office, his lot was to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord. (10) And the whole multitude of the people were praying without at the time of incense. (11) And there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. (12) And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him. (13) But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John. (14) And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth. (15) For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb. (16) And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. (17) And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord. (18) And Zacharias said unto the angel, Whereby shall I know this? for I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years. (19) And the angel answering said unto him, I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to show thee these glad tidings. (20) And, behold, thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day that these things shall be performed, because thou believest not my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season. (21) And the people waited for Zacharias, and marvelled that he tarried so long in the temple. (22) And when he came out, he could not speak unto them: and they perceived that he had seen a vision in the temple: for he beckoned unto them, and remained speechless. (23) And it came to pass, that, as soon as the days of his ministration were accomplished, he departed to his own house. (24) And after those days his wife Elisabeth conceived, and hid herself five months, saying, (25) Thus hath the Lord dealt with me in the days wherein he looked on me, to take away my reproach among men."
Luke 1:57-80 "Now Elisabeth's full time came that she should be delivered; and she brought forth a son. (58) And her neighbours and her cousins heard how the Lord had showed great mercy upon her; and they rejoiced with her. (59) And it came to pass, that on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child; and they called him Zacharias, after the name of his father. (60) And his mother answered and said, Not so; but he shall be called John. (61) And they said unto her, There is none of thy kindred that is called by this name. (62) And they made signs to his father, how he would have him called. (63) And he asked for a writing table, and wrote, saying, His name is John. And they marvelled all. (64) And his mouth was opened immediately, and his tongue loosed, and he spake, and praised God. (65) And fear came on all that dwelt round about them: and all these sayings were noised abroad throughout all the hill country of Judaea. (66) And all they that heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, What manner of child shall this be! And the hand of the Lord was with him. (67) And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Ghost, and prophesied, saying, (68) Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people, (69) And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David; (70) As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began: (71) That we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us; (72) To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant; (73) The oath which he sware to our father Abraham, (74) That he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear, (75) In holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life. (76) And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways; (77) To give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins, (78) Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us, (79) To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace. (80) And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his showing unto Israel."