Knowing the One who saved us
He guards us till the last day
Lord’s Day 3rd September 2006, 9.00am
Moments of silent prayers
Call to worship
As the eyes of slaves look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maid look to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the Lord our God, till he shows us his mercy.
Have mercy on us, O Lord, have mercy on us. (Psalm 123:2-3)
Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before his throne,
and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, (Revelation 1:4-5)
Doxology Hymn No 23: “Holy, holy, holy” (Repeat with AMEN)
Prayer of Adoration and Thanksgiving
Hymn No 151: “Name of all majesty”
Prayer for others
Tithes, offering and dedication
While the tithes are waited upon, remaining seated, all sing
Hymn: “The one whose dwelling is with God” (Tune Rejoice! 168; 5 verses)
Scripture Readings Psalm 91
Sermon “Knowing the One who saved us – till the end!”
My dear brothers and sisters in the Lord Jesus Christ,
In the next week or so we will pause to remember the horror of September 11. Terrorists destroyed the World Trade Centre in America and thousands of people died in this senseless act of terror. One of the immediate effects of this dreadful day is the reality that here on earth we have no security. Thousands of people and businesses lost billions of dollars they had thought impossible to lose. The investments seemed rock fast, but in one moment of stupidity everything, as the Twin Towers, came crumbling down.
No doubt there were the sales people who had assured buyers to buy stock and insurance policies that the risk is low, and even secured itself; but that moment brought everything in perspective: nothing is sure and secure!
When one becomes a Christian one hears the message of eternal life in Jesus Christ. One hears your sins are forgiven and that by God’s grace one may prepare for your heavenly home which stands firm into all eternity. This is the message we bring to this morning; this is the truth of God’s Word that stands written in God’s own handwriting, sealed in the blood of Jesus Christ, affirmed by the Holy Spirit in your heart.
H.H. Hover wrote a poem which goes like this:
I have an insurance policy
Written in the blood of the Lamb,
Sealed by the Cross of Jesus,
Redeemable wherever I am!
The company will never go bankrupt,
It is bonded by God’s promise true;
It will keep every word of its contract,
Exactly what it says it will do.
I don’t have to die to collect it,
No premiums do I have to pay;
All I do is to keep God’s promise
And walk in His holy way.
No collector will ever come calling,
It was paid on Calvary’s tree;
It insures me for living and dying
And for all eternity.
The apostle Paul proclaims, driven by the Holy Spirit:
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)
But when he wrote to Timothy here in his second letter to him he found himself in prison. And he writes: “Do not be ashamed of me as the Lord’s prisoner.”
Paul, one can say, your September 11 has arrived! Your world has crumbled; your towers have come down! You preached the love and protection of the Lord, and look at you now. You even try to encourage a young man to keep going for the same Gospel that got you locked up!
Paul answer: Do not be ashamed. This word does not deny the circumstance of persecution and hardship for the Gospel. He who wants to follow Christ will have to endure hardship. Our Lord said, “They hated Me, they will hate you too. A disciple cannot be more that his master.”
The fact that the apostle is in prison is no embarrassment to him, and he wants Timothy to understand this. The word ashamed here means fear of embarrassment that one’s expectations may prove false. Timothy, it is not something to be embarrassed about when the enemy of the Gospel ask you about your God and your faith that seem to have forsaken you. The Psalmist of Psalm 42 had the same problem when people kept asking him, “Where is your God?”
If we believe in Jesus Christ only for this life, then, the Bible teaches us, we are the most wretched of all! If your faith in Jesus Christ is just to receive temporary relief for an earthly inconvenience of sickness, or financial difficulty, or insecurity, then my dear brother and sister, there is something dreadfully wrong with your faith. Or let’s put us this way: If your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ will suffer when hardship, disappointment, adversity, distress and rejection come your way, you might find yourself in the category of seed our Lord spoke about which did well for a while but it withered and died as soon as the sun beat upon it.
To be treated badly for Jesus Christ is something every Christian should expect some time or another. In fact, when Jesus called his disciples He had this to say to them:
Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.
Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 5:11-12)
Not good news for a new follower of Jesus Christ.
Our knowledge of Him is based on His knowledge of us
How do you handle persecution and false accusation and hardship for the sake of the Gospel? This is the crux of our knowing Him who saved us. This a few things to remember:
God called us to salvation – based on his grace
What does this teach us? I suppose many things, but in this paragraph it at least means that when we find ourselves in a difficult circumstance for the Gospel we need to know that we were save not by what we earned or merited, as if we haven now done something that brought God’s disapproval and judgement, making us deserving a hard time. No, saved by grace means that God saves us not because we merited it; this also means that the grace that caused us to be saved will be the grace that will carry us through difficulty.
God called us to be holy – based on grace
Next, God called us to be holy. Peter tells us a lot of suffering and God’s purpose with it.
In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.
These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. (1 Peter 1:6-7)
God called us by His power
Further, we are saved by the power of God. Nothing could stand in the way of God to save us. Nothing could frustrate the road of our Lord Jesus to cross of Calvary. The devil tried his hardest to distract the Lord from doing God’s will, but in the end He declared that He lay down his life out of his own accord. His blood is stronger than power of sin. He breaks the power of sin and hell and satan. By this power He called us and saved us. This is what we need to know.
God who knew us from eternity will know us into all eternity
Lastly, we know this because He knew us from even before the beginning of time. Will suffering separate us from Him? Will anything which comes our way in this world ever be able to snatch us out of the hand of God if, from all eternity He already apportioned the saving grace in Jesus Christ to us. If He saved us from all eternity, time can have not effect on the fact of our salvation! How glorious this doctrine from the Word of God! Listen, He destroyed death, and death is our last enemy. If there was something we could be frightened and anxious about it would be death. This is that moment when we step into the eternal, which for the unbeliever, is the darkness of Judas when he turned against Jesus. The other side of it is eternal darkness and torment and hell. That threshold is final; there is not coming back, no second chance, no purgatory. For the believer, on the other, death’s sting is gone, the enemy is defeated, and death is the door to eternity to spend with the Saviour in all glory.
This is the glory of the apostle to share with the young evangelist: Timothy, you need to know this. Really know! Then when all the hardship and adversity comes your way you will not be embarrassed. Your hope will not be ashamed. Know then that your salvation stands firm, and it might even be so close. You might be called to eternity and eternal glory. This is the time of your sanctification and refining. Glory in it, and never ever be ashamed. Don’t listen to the world who would want to argue otherwise. Trust God, take Him on his Word and promises. Yes, look at the wine and bread of Communion; they are God’s seal that stands firm; they are the sign of what already happened to secure the new Covenant in the blood of Jesus Christ; they are the signs and seal of the eternal feast which will happen when our Lord returns victoriously to take us to Him; when He will take away from us the pain and turmoil and insecurity of this world. He will be with us. He will wipe the tears from our eyes. There will be no death, or sickness or pain or disappointment.
Take it from Paul: He was willing to endure all sorts of sufferings because – and this is what we need to know: I know who I have believed. There was a day when he put his trust in the Lord, and that day God sealed his grace to Paul. He believed, and it stood firm.
He knew. This in the Greek is actually to have seen. It implies a intimate relationship with the Lord. It means that he believes because he saw. Like Job. Faith is after all to see the things unseen and to be sure of the things we hope for. This is what he believed. It is written in the perfectum = past tense, as if nothing can now be done to take that away from him.
He was convinced = to know for absolute truth. Of what is he so sure about? Listen to this, and O my dear brother and sister, it is my prayer that you have this same faith and security and certainty in your heart about your salvation today: He, God is able to guard the life of Paul which he gave to God in Jesus Christ to hold in heaven’s vault so that nothing can ever corrupt it or steal it. There the devil has no power or dominion; that’s God territory. The word is also used of a shepherd watching over his flock. Now we can apply the words of our Saviour about Him being our Shepherd who laid down his life for us, then adding to this marvellous statement: No one will ever snatch you out of my hand!
He who called us from eternity will guard what you give away to Him into all eternity. Entrust your heart, your life, your power, might, your mind into his care – and then, spend and be spent for his sake! Amen.
Prayer of Confession of sin
“Come now, let us reason together,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the best from the land; (Isaiah 1:18-19)
Hymn: “How deep the Father’s love for us”
The Table of the Lord Rev Kwangho Song
Hymn No 579: “I know not why” (verses 1,2,5 only!)
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. (2 Corinthians 13:14)