"He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything."
Colossians 1:18

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Sunday, June 23, 2013

Divinely-Imparted Faith in Divinely-Declared Faithfulness

Naturally, the salvation engineered by our Lord affords us no small degree of comfort, as He is the only One who could have accomplished such a thing, as well as the One in whom the greatest degree of fury was (justly) provoked by our sin.  We rejoice, then, to examine our salvation and to marvel at the exact blend of qualities that the Lord brought to bear in the unique purchase of that salvation.

There was grace, of course, as well as rock-solid holiness.  There was love, there was power, and there was justice.  We celebrate each of these, of course, but there is yet one more quality which was just as urgently vital, but perhaps not considered so often as it should be. 

It is a trustworthy statement:

For if we died with Him, we will also live with Him;
If we endure, we will also reign with Him;
If we deny Him, He also will deny us;
If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.
- 2 Tim. 2:11-13

In this brief passage, Paul makes four very stark conditional statements that lead back to the nature of salvation.  Indeed, some believe that these lines may have been lifted from an early Christian hymn, but whatever the case, these lines are charmingly direct and truthful.  To partake of Christ's death on the cross, à la Romans 6, is to partake of His resurrection life as well.  To persevere in one's faith until the end is to move to eternal glory at Christ's side, rather like Revelation 2:10.  To deny Christ is to be denied by Christ before the Father (Matt. 10:33).  And to respond in faithlessness to Christ (that is, to pridefully spurn repentance) will by no means induce Christ to respond faithlessly in kind (in other words, He will always be true to His gospel - in just condemnation).

It is this last truth that is so interesting in our present discussion.  The Lord cannot help but demonstrate infallible integrity to who He is; He never does anything unbecoming toward His holy and perfect name.  Paul's words therefore warn that Jesus will always be faithful to confer upon the unbelieving the just doom of hell.  To do anything else would be to violate His own principles and plans. 

In a like manner, this complete integrity by the Divine assures our enduring salvation.  It is the glue, do you see, that holds together all the rest of God's wonderful attributes in salvation.  All the grace in the world avails us little if the Bestower of such blessing becomes indifferent in its dispensation. Divine power is precious only so long as it accomplishes God's established purposes - if it does not, we lose the Romans 8:28 promise that all things happen for our good as believers (and thus naught can arise to rob us of salvation). 

We need constancy of gracious attention in the maintenance of our salvation.  Consider a moment how it would be if your Savior could, at any moment, choose to revoke His mercy, to repeal His pardon, to remove His sealing Spirit.  What terrors would visit you at every turn, what demons would constantly pluck at your sleeve, if this were a real concern!  His omnipotence would yield but small satisfaction, and His grace would offer only transient comforts, were He plagued with bouts of faithlessness to Himself.  What torment would wrack our tired hearts:  Do I stand in His good graces?  Have I somehow compromised myself?  Do His fancies run contrary to my wellbeing?

We could never know where we stood with a fickle God, but we would never be surprised to find that we had fallen from His grace.  Praise be to God, though, that this is wholly, utterly not the case.  "I, the Lord, do not change." (Mal. 3:6b, emphasis added) He stands so entirely apart from moral corruption, indecision, or second guessing that these lines of thought are bafflingly foolish.  He operates with an omniscient integrity and a sovereign wisdom - He can be assailed by no surprises, for His plan encompasses all things.

Rather, our Lord Christ says, "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.  My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand." (John 10:27:29) This, brothers and sisters, lies at the very center of our faith!  Our faith would be but a hollow sham, scarcely lip service, but for the fact of God's faithfulness!  His Spirit residing in us builds our faith by helping us to understand the truths of God, so in a very real manner, His divinely-declared faithfulness feeds our divinely-imparted faith.

This is the stuff of daily praise, my friends. 

The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease,
For His compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“Therefore I have hope in Him.”

- Lamentations 3:22-23


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