The Certainty Of Instruction
James L. Reynolds

(Luke 1:1-4)"Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us, {2} Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word; {3} It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus, {4} That thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed."

    The human writer of the book of Luke and the book of Acts is 'Luke, the beloved physician'. And both of those books are addressed to ' Theophilus'.
    There is uncertainty as to who Theophilus was and for our considerations this morning we will not engage upon any speculation as to his identity.
    Sufficient is our assertion that any instruction which God gave to Theophilus through Luke is also beneficial for all of His people, including us in this present age.
    Therefore we would like to briefly focus our attention this morning on verse 4 of Luke's divinely inspired narrative.
(Luke 1:4) "That thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed."
    From Luke chapter 1 verses 1 through 3 we can correctly surmise that Theophilus had received some instruction concerning the Lord Jesus Christ. The apostle Luke desires to assure Theophilus that those instructions are certain, that is that they were true and valid. One definition for certainty is sureness.
    It behooves all to make sure that the things in which they have been instructed concerning God and mankind are certain things, that is that they are sure and true things.
    The Greek word that is translated ' certainty' in Luke 1:4 is asphaleia, (as-fal'-i-ah). It is used two other times by the Holy Spirit in the New Testament. In both of those times it is translated ' safety' in the King James Version of the Scriptures.
(Acts 5:23) "Saying, The prison truly found we shut with all safety, and the keepers standing without before the doors: but when we had opened, we found no man within."

(1 Thessalonians 5:3) "For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape."

    We see here that the word denotes security or assurance. The prison was shut with all security. When they shall say Peace and security; then sudden destruction will come upon them.
    Luke desires that Theophilus have assurance, security and safety as a result of those things in which he is instructed relative to the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. And Luke's desire for that safety, security and assurance for Theophilus is primarily focused on those benefits for Theophilus which are everlasting ones.
    We all need to emulate Luke in this aspect. It is right and proper for us to have concern for the temporal safety and security of those we know and come in contact with. But it is infinitely more important for us to have a concern for their everlasting safety and security.
    The everlasting safety of anyone can only be assured if their instruction in things pertaining to the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ is certain, that is if those instructions are valid and true.
    And there is only one sure source, there is only one certain source, there is only one totally true source for instruction in things pertaining to the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ.
(John 17:17) "Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth."
    While the inspired Word of God is the ONLY wholly certain, and therefore safe, source of instruction in things pertaining to the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ God has also given mankind other sources of evidence of Himself. Speaking of the revelation of God in nature the apostle Paul confirms in the book of Acts that He was witnessed to by His goodness to mankind in general.
(Acts 14:17) "Nevertheless he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness."
    While these things are sufficient to reveal the certainty of God they are not sufficient to declare mankind's total depravity and the free and unmerited grace that God bestows upon some unworthy sinners through His only begotton Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
    With those thoughts in mind let us briefly look at eight things of which all of mankind need to be certain in order to have an everlasting assurance and an everlasting safety.
    1.) God is absolutely, entirely, utterly and totally holy.
    One of mankind's greatest and most tragic mistakes is their malformed concept of God's holiness. Because of our total depravity we can not on our own begin to correctly conceive the holy character of God. God charges us with that malformed concept in Psalms 50:21.
(Psalms 50:21) "These things hast thou done, and I kept silence; thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself: but I will reprove thee, and set them in order before thine eyes."
    Because mankind is so prone to ignore sin and iniquities we sometimes ignorantly think that God will also ignore it, that He will just turn His back on it and let it go unpunished.
    That is a very erroneous concept and for many it will be an everlastingly detrimental belief.
    Twice in the inspired Word of God we are instructed that God is thrice holy.
(Isaiah 6:3) "And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory."

(Revelation 4:8) "And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come."

    It is not only the lost world that has a malformed concept of God's holiness but much of the religious world is also lacking in a proper perception of God's righteousness being. Even the nation of Israel unto whom God had revealed Himself in a unique way was guilty of not comprehending God's holiness.
(Romans 10:3) "For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God."
    The certainty of God's infinite holiness brings us to our second point of consideration.
    2.) God hates sin.
    Because God is so pure and holy and because sin is so diametrically opposed to His holy character He hates it with a holy and perfect hatred. He will not behold it and it will never be permitted in His acceptable presence.
    But it is not only sin that God hates. He also hates 'all workers of iniquity', that is all outside of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ who persist in their sin and their rebellion against Him.
(Psalms 5:5) "The foolish shall not stand in thy sight: thou hatest all workers of iniquity."
    Perhaps there have been occasions in our lives when we were confronted with an immoral and sinful circumstance or event which we found to be loathsome and disgusting. We may have commented to ourselves or to another individual that we 'really hate' this situation and that we 'wish' we could do something about it. However, our weaknesses and frailties prohibit us from carrying through our design to take action against such injustices or wrong doings.
    Beloved, God has none of our limitations to constrain Him from taking appropriate action against wrong doers. He will in His due time ' render to every man according to his works'.
(Proverbs 10:29) "The way of the LORD is strength to the upright: but destruction shall be to the workers of iniquity."

(Proverbs 21:15) "It is joy to the just to do judgment: but destruction shall be to the workers of iniquity."

    Evil and sinful people may hide from the authorities and live their whole lives without being apprehended and punished for their crimes which they have committed. One of the currently popular television shows is fictitious drama called 'Cold Case' in which detectives solve murders that have been unsolved for years. This show is based on real 'Cold Cases' being solved, some of which are also shown on another television program. But for all those cases which are not solved, for all those criminals who escape the justice of mankind and think their sinful crimes are unknown there is no hiding from the holy justice and wrath of God.
(Job 34:22) "There is no darkness, nor shadow of death, where the workers of iniquity may hide themselves."
    In that day when all shall stand before the Lord many will hear the frightening and dreadful command to depart from the acceptable presence of the Lord and be cast into the everlasting torments of His holy hell.
(Luke 13:27) "But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity."
    3.) Mankind are all sinners and totally estranged from their Creator.
    There are many who give instructions to their fellow humans in matters pertaining to the spiritual condition of mankind and those instruction are false. Moreover those instructions are detrimental to those who receive them.
    There are those who will tell us that although mankind has somewhat of a tendency to make 'bad choices' that there is some goodness in all of mankind and that given the proper motivation a person will nourish and fan that spark of goodness until it breaks forth into a raging flame of righteousness which is acceptable unto God.
    While such concepts are certainly appealing unto the fallen nature of mankind, for they instill within them a false sense of power and ability, they are in reality diametrically opposed to what we see in our own lives and more importantly they are in direct opposition to the clear declarations and teachings of the inspired Word of God.
(Romans 5:12) "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:"
    As the representative of the entire human race when Adam sinned we, being in his loins, also sinned, and became sinners by nature.
    And it is just not a tendency to make 'bad choices' that all of Adam's posterity inherited as a result of his rebellion against his Creator. Adam, who had been created with a living soul and spirit died spiritually and all of his descendants came forth from their mother's wombs in that spiritually dead state. The apostle Paul speaks of this very real spiritual death when he writes to the Ephesian saints who had been made alive in the Lord Jesus Christ.
(Ephesians 2:1) "And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins:"
    In the physical realm a person can not be a little dead or partly dead. A person is either alive or dead. There is no middle state that a person inhabits. So it is in the spiritual realm that a person is from their birth dead in Adam and remains in that condition or they have been by God's sovereign power quickened and made alive in the Lord Jesus Christ.
    To contend that there is some inherent good in mankind is to contradict our own experience and again more importantly to deny the straightforward declarations of the Bible.
(Isaiah 1:6) "From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment."
    Speaking of the entirety of the human race as they are looked upon outside of the Lord Jesus Christ our Creator and LORD give us the 'certainty' of our condition.
(Psalms 14:3) "They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one."
    The apostle Paul refers to this divinely inspired assessment of mankind's condition in the book of Romans.
(Romans 3:10-18) "As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: {11} There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. {12} They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. {13} Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: {14} Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: {15} Their feet are swift to shed blood: {16} Destruction and misery are in their ways: {17} And the way of peace have they not known: {18} There is no fear of God before their eyes."
    God declares that 'every man at his best state is altogether vanity', that is altogether sinful. If at our best state we are in such a deplorable condition what is our condition when not in that ' best state'?
    God is not here talking about those instances when His people are engaged in those ' good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in' but He is talking about those things which religious and moral mankind engage in while seeking to commend themselves unto God thereby.
    4.) Mankind needs a Redeemer.
    Having shown that God is holy, that He hates sin and that mankind is unholy it necessarily follows that if there is ever going to be a reconciliation between God and man that it must be a result of the purpose and plan of God.
    There is an enormous debt owed unto the thrice holy God for violating His holy commandments and for offending His perfect holiness. Mankind is in an everlastingly desperate and dire predicament and it is a plight which he is entirely powerless to extract himself from. Speaking of the helplessness of God's people to extract themselves from their deserved wrath the apostle Paul explains what had to be done in Romans 5.
(Romans 5:6) "For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly."
    The same Greek word here translated ' without strength' is also translated ' impotent' in Acts chapter 4.
(Acts 4:9) "If we this day be examined of the good deed done to the impotent man, by what means he is made whole;"
    The ' impotent man' was powerless to make himself physically whole and all of mankind are ' without strength', they are ' impotent', they are powerless to make themselves spiritually whole.
    What can sinful, puny and weak mankind offer unto God for an atonement for their sins?
(Romans 11:35) "Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again?"
    What are we going to offer to God that He will judge acceptable in lieu of the everlasting punishment due unto us for our sins against Him?
(Mark 8:37) "Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?"
    Shall we give Him the totality of all of our earthly possessions?
(Psalms 50:10) "For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills."
    Perhaps one will rightly conclude that such a thought as offering material possessions unto God for our redemption is preposterous. But then they declare that we can give God our heart. That it is in our power to offer unto God something acceptable in exchange for the sin debt we owe and the punishment due us.
(Jeremiah 17:9) "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?"
    Can we honestly say after reading God's estimation of our hearts that we believe that a thrice holy God would want them. We do read in God's Word that His people get a ' new heart' and that it is Him who gives it unto them.
(Ezekiel 36:26) "A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh."
    5.) Mankind can not redeem themselves.
    It is impossible for us to remove ourselves from the awesome sin curse and resulting debt that is upon us. There is nothing in mankind that is acceptable unto God, nothing that is commendable unto Him. No action or effort on the part of mankind will bridge the chasm between a thrice holy God and a totally depraved sinner.
(Psalms 49:6-7) "They that trust in their wealth, and boast themselves in the multitude of their riches; {7} None of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him:"
    Not only are we unable to redeem ourselves from God's just fury but we are also totally powerless to redeem any of our loved ones from their justly deserved wrath of our holy Creator.
    There is not given unto mankind in God's Word any hope that they can in any wise pay the sin debt owed unto God. And we must be ever cautious and diligent so that we never present any false hopes unto them.
    However there is hope given in His Word that He has purposed to redeem a people from their hell deserving future and deliver them unto His everlasting bliss and acceptable presence.
    God has provided a Redeemer for His people. He has purposed to redeem a number from Adam's fallen posterity and that purpose will, in His due time, be openly manifest as having been perfectly and solely accomplished by Him.
(Ephesians 1:5-6) "Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, {6} To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved."
    Note that the Holy Spirit here declares clearly and pointedly Who it is that has brought to pass the redemption and therefore the acceptance of God's people. '... he hath made us accepted in the beloved.' God did all things necessary that His people would be acceptable in His everlasting presence. Those who are redeemed and acceptable are so because they are ' in the beloved'.
    The Father in His infinite grace placed those whom He had given to Christ, in the eternal covenant of election, in His Son. By divine imputation they became partakers of His perfect and sinless nature as that was the only way any one would ever stand acceptable in God's presence.
    But the imputation of Christ's righteousness unto His people was only one side of the redemption process. There yet remained the unpaid sin debt owed unto our holy God. His perfect and infinite holiness would not allow that sin debt to go unpunished so it was necessary that one be punished to pay the sin debt for those who were unable to pay that sin debt.
(2 Corinthians 5:21) "For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him."
   6.) The Lord Jesus Christ is God's only acceptable redeemer for His people.
    Although depraved but religious mankind may have a plethora of schemes and ways that they declare are satisfactory to make a person acceptable unto God, and that everlastingly so, the inspired Word of God declares all of those ways to be false, to be uncertain, to be unsafe.
(John 14:6) "Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me."
    Our dear Lord here, with the finality and veracity of His eternal Godhead, declares that He is ' the way' unto the Father and in so doing proclaims His singularity as ' the way'. He announces that He is 'the way' and in so doing excludes all other ways.
    All the religions of the world claim to have a way to make one acceptable into God's presence. Some will claim that Christ is a way but the are adamant that He is but one of many ways. All such claims are false, all such claims come from the father of lies, the devil, who will encourage lost and depraved mankind to be as religious as they like as long as he can keep them in a state of deluded uncertain, unsafe and false instruction.
    There is but one way that any sinful mortal will be permitted in the acceptable presence of our thrice holy God and that is if they are as holy as He is. Such a state of perfect holiness is only obtainable by being ' in the beloved'.
(Acts 4:12) "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved."
    When someone instructs others that there are other acceptable ways to redemption than the singularity of the Lord Jesus Christ they are not simply contradicting what you or I or any other of God's people believe. By those blasphemous statements they are contradicting the blessed and inspired Word of God.
(1 Timothy 2:5) "For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;"
    There is but one redeemer, there is but ' one mediator,' there is but one hope for a lost and perishing world and the sinless Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ is all of those and infinitely more unto all those to whom He has revealed Himself.
    7.) All who have been enabled to put their trust in the Lord Jesus Christ are acceptable in God's sight and that everlastingly so.
    There is a segment of 'instructors' who teach that after one has been made alive in the Lord Jesus Christ that they must maintain that acceptable state by their own efforts. They claim that if the newly birthed saint fails to keep themselves in God's favor that they may fall from that favor. If, according to those 'instructors', one dies in this fallen state they will be forever consigned to the flames and torments of God's hell.
    Before showing the terrible and God dishonoring fallacy of this lie let us make a few statements concerning people who engage in willful and continual sin.
    First we must wonder if those who once seemed to have a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus and then fell into and remained in sin were indeed recipients of His grace. Outward appearance can be deceiving. We look 'on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.' All those who claim to be partakers of God's wondrous grace are not necessarily accurate in those claims.
(Matthew 7:21-23) "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. {22} Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? {23} And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity."
    Secondly those who once seemed to have a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus and then fell into sin and were not chastened by the Lord are declared by His Word to not be sons.
(Hebrews 12:6-8) "For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. {7} If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? {8} But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons."
    Now let us proceed to see what instruction we are given on this matter from the inerrent and infallible Word of God.
(John 10:27-28) "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: {28} And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand."
    Our Lord here declares that His sheep will hear His voice and that they will follow Him. He also affirms that He will give them eternal life, that they will never perish and that no one is able to pluck them from His loving and caring hand.
    For those who have been truly enabled to trust in the Lord Jesus Christ as their exclusive means of acceptance in the Father's acceptable presence everlasting life is not something to be obtained at some future date when they take their last breath and have held out unto the end. For them everlasting life is a sure and positive current possession.
(1 John 5:13) "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."
    The inspired Scripture says that those who 'believe on the name of the Son of God', that is those who trust completely and totally solely in His person and work, ' may know that ye have eternal life'. It is a sure thing because God is the author and finisher of it. It is not up to puny and sinful mankind to begin, to maintain or to finish the work of redemption.
    In Romans chapter 8 the apostle Paul concludes that as a result of God's marvelous grace in electing him unto salvation and calling him in the fullness of time to be a recipient of that salvation that he is persuaded that there is no circumstance or creature that can separate him from that divine love.
(Romans 8:38-39) "For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, {39} Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
    The Lord Jesus Christ when 'instructing' His people on the certainty of their salvation and of Who instigated it and Who will consummate it gives them peace and comfort in those instructions.
(John 6:37) "All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out."
    If God's people were left to maintain their salvation through their own efforts there would not be a single redeemed person in heaven's glory. Because of our yet sinful nature and finite character we would all fail to keep ourselves. No one is kept secure by their own power or by a mixture of God's power and their own power.
    Peter says those truly saved have an heavenly inheritance awaiting them as a result of their being kept by God!
(1 Peter 1:4-5) "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."
    8.) Those who have been enabled to trust in the Lord Jesus Christ as their only means of acceptance in God's everlasting presence need to be obedient unto Him and serve Him as He has commanded them to do. The Lord's blood bought people need to be ' fervent in spirit; serving the Lord'.
    Service unto the Lord Jesus Christ is not a discretionary matter with His people. We do not have the option of doing what we care to do and ignoring what we don't care to do. We are to be totally consumed with a desire to be doing what He would have us to do. As the apostle Paul asked on the road to Damascus so we should daily ask, ' Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?'
    And then when we have done all that we are commanded to do we need to humbly bow and acknowledge that we are yet unprofitable servants who have only done their duty.
(Luke 17:10) "So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do."
    We all need to pray that the blessed Holy Spirit will lead us in performing all that we are commanded and permitted to do in His service that we may one day hear that blessed summation of our earthly sojourn by our dear Redeemer and Lord, ' Well done, thou good and faithful servant.'
    As we go through this life we are continually receiving instruction from others on a multitude of subjects. Much of that instruction is flawed and of little or no value or it pertains to things that will one day perish away.
    We are under no obligation to hear falsehood. We do not need to know falsehood we need to know the truth.
    Sometimes we may receive instruction on everlasting matters from someone who is in error. We need to turn from such instruction and refuse to hear it anymore.
(Proverbs 19:27) "Cease, my son, to hear the instruction that causeth to err from the words of knowledge."
    Not only are we not obligated to hear falsehood we are commanded to avoid those who disseminate error.
(Romans 16:17) "Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them."
But thanks be unto God He has given us His holy Word which is the only source of absolute 'certain' instruction, that is absolute safe instruction, in things pertaining to God's holiness and His hatred for sin, mankind's total depravity and their need for a redeemer and their inability to provide that redeemer for themselves. It declares that only the Lord Jesus Christ provides the substitutionary sacrifice for the redemption of His people and that He provides it for their everlasting redemption. And God's inspired Word declares the necessity of God's people serving Him and instructs them in the manner that they should serve him.
    Thanks be unto our thrice holy God for inspiring and preserving His Word and for the blessed Holy Spirit to guide us 'into all truth' that we might 'know the certainty of those things, wherein' we have ' been instructed.'

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