Getting to the End
Finding Faith in the Eternal Promises of God
Over the past five months we’ve been walking through T.U.L.I.P. on Sunday nights at Bethany. Now, for those of you who may not know what that means it is an acrostic which spells out some of the basics of the Reformed faith. Those things that we believe about our redemption purchased by Christ. How we came to be in need of it, and the way that God has provided an answer for it. As an aside we’d love for you to join our merry little band on the Lord’s Day evening for this time of growing in faith together through the fellowship of the saints. One of the benefits of that second service is that it allows us to close the Sabbath with a word of reminder of God’s grace and love for His people, a booster if you will to get us ready for the week that is to come. But we’re not going to talk specifically about evening praise in this morning’s prayer and worship help. I want to go back to that whole T.U.L.I.P. thing for a second.
The “P” is what we are on now, and it represents the Perseverance of the Saints. First of all I am thankful for the little red squiggly line that appears in Microsoft Word, because for reasons unknown to me the word Perseverance is in the list of words, like pharaoh or irregular that I misspell all the time. I guess I just need to persevere until I get it right. But seriously, for the Christian outside of God’s sovereign election, Jesus’s atoning death for dead sinners, and the Lord’s gracious grant of faith the reality is nothing is more important for the believer than to be reminded that when we are told that our Redeemer has provided eternal life for His people we are to understand that the word eternal means what it says.
When Jehovah makes a promise we have the assurance that He will do it. Part of the witness of the Book of Hosea is to illustrate this truth. In the third chapter of that portion of Holy Scripture we see the prophet say, “And I said to her, ‘You shall stay with me many days; you shall not play the harlot, nor shall you have a man—so, too, will I be toward you.’” There is a clear exposition of what we mean when we talk about the doctrine of perseverance. Remember the situation in Hosea. He has taken Gomer, a loose woman, a prostitute, to be his lawfully wedded wife. She is depraved, a sinner, ungodly, but he has taken her on as his own flesh and blood, in accordance with Genesis 2 and Matthew 19. God has done what Gomer could not, and that is make an honest lady out of her. This is of course what Christ accomplished for His bride. Jesus came to save His people from their sins. Stained by the gross idolatry of the transgressions of the law we had nothing about us that would recommend us to the suitor handing out the rose, yet Christ died for us. He has washed us and made us white as snow, our wedding dress is spotless, and as Revelation 21 pictures there has never been a more prefect woman on her special day than the Church prepared for the end of days.
What does all this talk about the means and purpose of salvation have to do with the P in TULIP? God has not begun a work in you to see it go to waste. Look back to the verse from Hosea again. The Lord is saying that He will not act like Gomer acted. He will never commit adultery against His covenant people, they may violate the covenant bond, but He won’t. That doesn’t mean of course that the Church can go all hog wild and think there will not be consequences. Hebrews 10 is in the Bible for a reason. However, that kind of apostasy and sin against the Holy Spirit is a sign that the other four letters were never operative in the soul of the unbeliever. People may show outward evidences for sure. They can act Christian all day long. The Lord knows the heart. If as Paul says in that chapter noted above that it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God than the knowledge that our salvation is also held in His hands should fill us with an even greater sense of peace and contentment.
And at the end of the day that’s really what the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints is all about. Just recently Hallmark, who seems to drive our cultural holy calendar, had us celebrate our dad’s. For those of you blessed with a godly father probably one of the key words you would use to describe what he means to you is some form of safety, shielding you from the dangers and evils of the world. Well, what made him to be that for you? For most of us it wasn’t because he was out building a big, beautiful wall around your house equipped with a moat and alligators. No, it really wasn’t about any kind of external security. It was the inward knowledge that no matter what the situation he would be there to protect you in his strength. To add to that of course is the fact that your dad rarely had to tell you that he was keeping you safe. It was just a feeling you had. A sense of comfort that no one else could provide.
Well I have good news for you.
Your Heavenly Father does that for you in spades. Unlike an earthly father, especially for those who didn’t have one, or had one you’d rather forget, there are no holes in his defenses. When God makes a vow we have no reason to ever doubt His word. It is sure and without fail. That’s really what perseverance is all about. The deep knowledge that when the Lord has elected us before the foundation of the world to be His covenant people, He has fashioned a vessel of mercy to carry about in it the righteousness of His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. It’s such a gift that is beyond compare.
So what is the practical application of this for our day-to-day life?
The more we understand the love of our Father for us the more we will seek to worship Him, to give thanks to Him through our, at times certainly imperfect, obedience unto His commandments, and most of all by resting and trusting in Him for that eternal life which is to be ours by His sovereign decree. The more we will persevere to the end shouting, “Praise Him! Praise Him! All Earth Praise His Name!”.
Little more to help:
Blessings in Christ,
Rev. Benjamin Glaser
Pastor, Bethany ARP Church