Monday, September 19, 2011

Knowing Where We are Going

Our European rental
     As my husband and I have recounted our trip to Europe with our friends and family,  one detail remains crystal clear to him.  He had a nerve wracking first day as he drove in Scotland.  Not only were we driving on the left hand side of the road, but we were not well acquainted with the roundabouts that are common in the United Kingdom.  Here we have four way stops.  Over there, they have a circle which you go around until you find the right road to get off on.  It works very well if you know where you are going.  On that first day, however, we weren't even certain we could program the "Tom Tom".  We were used to our Garmin and the system of putting an address in to find our way to our destination.  In the U.K., you need a specific postal code.  If you put that in the "Tom Tom", you can be directed to the exact location without any difficulty.  We didn't know that the first day.  As a result, we went around a roundabout five times before we could figure out where to exit.  It was one of those white knuckle days even though we thoroughly enjoyed the sights we saw.
     In a similar fashion, many of us "white-knuckle" our Christian walk wondering how secure we are in our salvation.  I had a friend many years ago who did not believe in security in Christ.  She truly believed that if she sinned she lost her salvation and had to start all over.  Therefore, she lived in constant fear that she might do something wrong and be cut off from God.  From a biblical perspective, this is an unfounded fear for several reasons.
The Church of the Holy Rood Stirling, Scotland
     First, salvation comes from God.  We do not save ourselves.  We are brought to salvation by God's regeneration of our dead souls.  He calls us unto Himself and gives us the faith to believe in Christ as our Savior and Lord.  Paul's letter to the Ephesians speaks clearly to this:  "And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience - among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind and were by nature children of wrath like the rest of mankind" (Ephesians 2:1-3).  Now think this through with me.  Dead men/women cannot raise themselves.  They cannot do anything for themselves.  We were once dead in sins spiritually and happily followed the desires of our flesh.  However, Paul doesn't leave us there.  He goes on to say:  "But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ - by grace you have been saved - and raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages He might show the immeasurable riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus" (Ephesians 2:4-7).  Please note that it clearly says "But God" in the passage.  It doesn't say "But God with a little help from us or by our agreement".  He does all the work.  He raises us up from death to life.  It is all of His grace not any of ours because we have none within us.
The Angel's window - The Church of the Holy Rood
     If we continue to read in this letter, we see this famous and oft quoted passage:  "For by grace you have been saved through faith.  And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.  For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them" (Ephesians 2:8-10).  It cannot be overstated that it was at God's institution and choosing that we were called from death to life.  There was no work which we did or could do that brought us into right relationship with Him.  We are, as Paul said, His workmanship.  So how does this relate to our security?
     Quite simply, if He called us to Himself and awakened us spiritually out of our soul death, He is able to keep that which He has brought to redemption.  Jesus speaks to this in John's Gospel account:  "All that the Father gives me will come to me and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.  For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of Him who sent me.  And this is the will of Him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that He has given me, but raise it up on the last day.  For this is the will of my Father that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in Him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day" (John 6:36-40).  Jesus goes on in this discourse to say this:  "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.  And I will raise him up on the last day" (John 6:44).  Again, in verse 65 of this chapter, the Lord said:  "...This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father."
     Two things are clear in the passages.  First, Jesus will never lose hold of those who come to Him in faith.  He, being God in the flesh, is able to keep that which we have committed to Him until the time He comes again.  He paid the price in His blood for our redemption, and as Paul says in Romans 8:38-39, nothing shall ever be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Secondly, Jesus makes it clear that it is God who calls us to come through faith to Christ.  It is not of ourselves.  Therefore, if it doesn't depend upon us and depends wholly upon God, we should feel secure in our calling and election.  Nothing...absolutely nothing can tear us out of the hands of Christ.
     With all this said, we have to add that this does not mean that we will not fall into sin for we are not yet perfected.  However, once we come to Christ in saving faith, we have a choice to sin or walk in righteousness.  When we were dead in sin, we had no choice.  We followed that which we desired in the flesh only.  We did not seek God nor did we love Him.  However, once we were made new in Christ, our hearts were changed and the chains of sin were broken.  If we do sin, we confess it to our Lord and seek His forgiveness by the blood of Christ. (I John 1:9)  Our relationship is renewed through repentance.  We do not lose our salvation, but we do lose relationship until we repent.
The statue and burial place of Ebenezer Erskine the founder of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church
Stirling, Scotland
     Having security in a relationship brings peace of mind and builds trust.  Only God can offer us this kind of eternal security because He does not change.  He is the same yesterday, today and forever according to the Bible.  What is written in His Word is trustworthy too because He inspired it and we know that not one jot or tittle shall pass away.  If He does not change nor His Word, we can know that what we have believed is true and will remain.  This should be a cause for joy in our lives to know that He has called us, will keep us and will deliver us safe to heaven one day.  What He says, He will do.
     When I look back on our trip, after that first nail biting day in the vehicle, we learned how to use the navigational system.  Each day of driving got easier and better for us.  We felt more secure.  This is how it should be in our Christian walk as well.  When we are new believers, we may have some doubts or feel uncertain.  Yet, as we get into God's Word (our navigation system in this world), we will find greater confidence each day to walk by the Spirit's direction.  We need to understand what the author of Hebrews wrote and make it our own:  "Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God" (Hebrews 12:1-2).  Remember...Jesus is the author of our faith and the perfecter of our faith.  With Him, we will never lose our direction. He will guide us home.  Selah!
   

7 comments:

Thelma Decker Hill said...

Thanks, Barbara, for another interesting article! So glad you and Glenn had a chance to take that most interesting anniversary trip. You have created some wonderful memories!

Gospel One To One said...

Another good one Barbara.

Bless You

Moray

Christina said...

Wonderful post dear sister!

I can speak to the "roundabout" experience all too well. And oh, how right you are -- our assurance comes when we understand that it is only by His grace that any of us can know Him and that He who began the good work in us will be faithful to complete it. I thank God for the Doctrines of Grace and sound biblical teaching that helped me find my way out of the roundabout!

Great post!

Barbara Thayer said...

Thank you of your kind words Thelma. God indeed blessed us with a wonderful trip and along the way showed us His great grace. Every day is an adventure walking with Him by my side! Blessings to you!

Barbara Thayer said...

Thank you Brother Moray.....I do think we have the roundabout worked out now and could do it again if we come back. I do hope one day we can travel back to England for a visit...a longer one so we can see all parts of the UK.

Your work of evangelism is so important...may God continue to bless and strengthen you as you share the Word of Truth!

Barbara Thayer said...

Thank you Christina. Isn't it good to know that we do not have to worry. God never changes nor does He let go of us. He calls us, regenerates us.....and keeps us. What a blessing! He is to be praised daily! Always appreciate your insight and visit!

Pam said...

Can really relate to your driving in the U.K. experience. Drove an hour in the wrong direction the first time we went to England due to our unfamiliarity with roundabouts. :)
Just found your blog and am loving your posts, Barbara! Growing up I thought that good works were what saved me. Thankfully God showed me the truth that you mentioned: "There was no work which we did or could do that brought us into right relationship with Him."
Thanks for sharing!
Blessings,
Pam at www.2encourage.blogspot.com