Tag Archive: salvation


Imperishable

From Pastor Bordwine

 

“I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish;

and no one will snatch them out of My hand.”

(John 10:28)

Recently, a woman relayed to me the sad story of how her marriage had ended. She had been with her husband for 30 years when, without warning, he announced that he wanted a divorce. This woman was astonished, of course, because, as she said, she had assumed that this relationship would continue until death. She admitted, therefore, that she had taken her marriage for granted because it had endured for so long.

I would not find fault with this woman for the assumption she made regarding her marriage. From her perspective, she had every reason to feel secure. The woman had no way of predicting what her husband was going to do. This story illustrates a miserable truth regarding this life: Even our most cherished relationships are vulnerable.

There is one wonderful exception, however, and that is our relationship with Christ. Our union with Christ is forever. This fallen environment cannot weaken or destroy our salvation. This makes our relationship with the Savior all the more precious and a source of tremendous confidence and peace.

There one basic element in our relationship with Christ that makes it indestructible. The truth is that God chose us, we did not choose Him. He established our relationship with His Son. We were incapable of establishing such a relationship. This means that the attributes of God are responsible for safeguarding our union. God’s unequaled power, for example, protects us from all assaults. Unless there is a power somewhere in creation that is greater, we can rest assured that we are eternally secure.

The nature of our salvation, therefore, should be of great encouragement as we live out our days on the earth. We need never doubt our everlasting redemption. We have no reason to question the end of our spiritual journey. We will arrive in heaven just as surely as if we were already there. We should also be fully convinced of our safety as we seek to live as servants of Christ. We do not have to worry about being overcome by the adversary regardless of how ferocious he may sound.

Living in the context of our relationship with Christ offers all of these advantages and more. When we face obstacles or encounter hostility as we learn and do the will of God, we should remember that all obstacles, all hostility, and all threats have already been met by our Savior and they have been defeated.

The next time you find yourself struggling with some aspect of your Christian life or the next time you face hostility due to your Christian convictions, return to the truth of your safety in Christ. There you will find courage to face what may be a frightening situation. There you will find strength to rise up and try again. And there you will find God’s wisdom that will enlighten you and guide you so that you might glorify the Father and the Son.

And by all means, hide these words of the Savior in your heart and believe them and rejoice in them:

“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. I and the Father are one.” (John 10:29-30)

Our union with Jesus Christ is imperishable. Glory to God!

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All Saints Weekly Devotional

Volume 1 Number 33

September 20, 2012

Holy Fatigue

From Pastor Bordwine

 

Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. (Galatians 6:9)

Some aspects of our experience in this world involve life-long obligations. These commitments are specific and have well-defined goals. I’m going to use marriage to illustrate a couple of points.

To function properly and profitably, a marriage requires diligence and a measure of self-sacrifice. During the course of a marriage, there are times when the husband or wife experiences fatigue in regard to the duties of that relationship. A stable marriage, one that honors God, therefore, requires each party to persevere in doing what God, who ordained this institution, commands.

If the husband, for example, allows the challenges of his marriage to deter him from giving all that he should, then that relationship will suffer and deteriorate. He must always be on guard against mental and emotional exhaustion. The husband must keep in mind both the teaching of God concerning this relationship and the ultimate goal, which is to fill the role assigned to him with distinction. These same things, of course, could be said regarding the wife’s involvement.

My point is simple. Any relationship that involves life-long dedication is going to present many challenges and, to put it plainly, will wear us out from time to time. That is when our focus on the ultimate goal can be most helpful. With that goal in mind, we will find it easier to fight against complacency and frustration. We’ll also be motivated to take steps that prevent fatigue.

When we are born again, we enter into another life-long relationship, one that is the most important relationship we will ever know. We become children of God and that calling comes with specific directions and a well-defined goal. It is a calling that puts us in direct contention with the world in which we live, however. Moreover, we find that our own flesh is set against the accomplishment of the work that the Spirit is doing in us.

In summary, we are commanded to live contrary to our natures. Our goal is to become a reflection of Christ. But along the way, we must endure opposition. And this opposition is not the kind that comes only once in a while; this opposition is constant. Although it varies from day to day, obstructions to our pursuit of holiness are never completely absent. It should not be difficult for us to understand, therefore, that it is possible to grow weary in our attempts to please God.

It is not a case where we tire of loving God or tire of being loved by Him. It is a case of being involved in an unending battle that inevitably drains us of spiritual strength. In that state, we are in danger of taking our focus off the path of righteousness. We may find ourselves almost overwhelmed because we live in a world that actively seeks to prevent us from living as God commands. This hostility never disappears.

These facts are behind Paul’s exhortation quoted above: “Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.” Paul understood the struggles of the Christian life as well as any man could. He knew that God’s people have been given instructions and are expected to conform to God’s will in all things. Paul also knew, of course, that this assignment is not fulfilled with ease.

Notice that Paul defines our calling as “doing good.” We are in the process of doing good as our days come and go. As Christians, our very existence is characterized by that which God approves, that which Paul labels as “good.” We live for God’s glory. We live to prove the reality of the gospel. We live to show the sure victory of Christ over the adversary and all of his assets.

And notice also that the apostle teaches that, if we are faithful in living according to our calling, which is another way of saying we are “doing good,” we will realize a blessed end to our struggles. Perseverance through this fallen world is no small accomplishment. And when we do find ourselves growing weary, when the challenges leave us exhausted, and when the schemes of the wicked astonish us, there is an effective way to respond so that we are not overcome. We respond by reminding ourselves of this counsel from the apostle Paul.

The Christian life is not just the passage of years, it is the one opportunity we have to honor God and our Savior by resisting temptation, building up that which has fallen, encouraging those who have lost their way, speaking well of Christ, and giving ourselves to God as humble servants through which He accomplishes His holy will. It is true that the Christian life is filled with impediments, but it is in the overcoming of those hindrances that the grace of God shines through us.

The world comes against us, but we continue our journey. The world seeks to deplete our strength and undermine our determination. Nevertheless, even though we sometimes feel as if we have reached the end of our endurance, we do not give up. We may slow down, but we never stop. We may stumble under the burden, but we never fall. We may tire, but we never quit. This is holy fatigue and I think there is a particular beauty in it.

Our redemption, according to God’s design, rests upon His willingness to provide a Substitute to pay for our sins without requiring any works or merit from us. Salvation, as the Bible teaches so clearly, is a gift of God. We are not required to earn it, nor are we able to contribute to it. We are saved apart from our absolute lack of merit (John 5:24; Rom. 3:23, 24; 6:23; Eph. 2:8-10; etc.). Throughout the history of Christ’s Church, however, this pure gospel has been opposed, misrepresented, and misinterpreted. Various efforts have been made to destroy the message that salvation is by grace, through faith alone, by which God receives all the glory. Fallen man seems determined to invent a system by which his labors contribute to our salvation.

A perversion of the gospel that is prevalent in some contemporary evangelical circles is clearly works-oriented, although its proponents insist that their perspective is not the “same old heresy” that has troubled the Church down through the centuries. In this more modern corruption of the gospel, the idea of “formula” dominates. By this I mean that some believers maintain that the salvation of our children is virtually guaranteed if a particular pattern (or formula) is followed. They insist that the Christian household must be characterized by a particular set of beliefs and practices in order to produce believing offspring.

Moreover, those who hold this idea that the salvation of children is largely a matter of parental obedience are ferociously defensive of their views to the point that non-conforming families are ostracized and considered to be in rebellion against the Scriptures. And if a Christian family should include a rebellious teenager or young adult at some point, blame is immediately and confidently placed on the backs of the parents who obviously failed to maintain a consistent application of all the necessary elements of the model.

Rigidness and intolerance are the chief attributes of this mechanical approach to raising children. As a result of this perspective, proponents maintain that all Christian households should basically function the same way, follow the same rules, and employ the same approach with every child regardless of differing personality traits or abilities or interests. It is certainly true that God assigns an incredible responsibility to parents, which includes certain principles that should, indeed, be found in every Christian home. But the Bible does not teach that the salvation of the child is in any way assured based upon the conduct of the parents. In fact, this would be contrary to the notion that salvation is of grace.

Every parent should desire to train a child to live in the fear of the Lord with thankfulness and humility. The crucial element involved in such an endeavor, however, is not within the realm of potential accomplishments for any parent. This is because salvation requires a renewed heart and only God can bring that the pass. It is possible, therefore, for parents to be consistent and diligent in raising their children according to the teaching of Scripture and still have a child who eventually refuses to continue in the faith or who conducts himself in ways contrary to the teaching of the Bible. This does not necessarily mean that the parents failed.

We should be very careful when assessing the relationship between parent and child when the child exhibits signs of rebellion. It may very well be that the parents have been negligent and allowed the fallen nature of the child to go unchecked, but we cannot allow ourselves to put confidence in a particular model of parenting when it comes to salvation of our children. We must not even approach the thought that we can obligate God to save our children based on our efforts as parents.

There are many dangerous consequences if such thinking prevails. I already mentioned the condemnation that is often heaped upon parents with disobedient or unfaithful children. Beyond that, there is also a genuine risk that the child will come to think in terms of reward or merit for pleasing behavior. The gospel, however, will not accommodate a belief that God may be required to reward parents with the salvation of their offspring. Grace is blessing apart from worthiness; grace is divine favor in spite of imperfection. Parents should endeavor to live in holiness and teach their children to do the same. But they should also constantly remember that salvation is God’s gift and should, therefore, prayerfully seek His mercy for their little ones every day. Simply put, grace is not an equation.