Promise of hope

PROFESSIONS OF FAITH

Editor’s note: This is the second installment of a two-part sermon by the Rev. Dr. James Barnes. The first part published in the Sept. 1 edition of The Sentinel.

When someone falls away it is because they were never really of us. But the statement in our text is not about standing on the earth. Being kept has to do with earth; standing has to do with heaven. It means he keeps us here and takes us there. Such astonishing grace, is it not? Standing in the presence of God is a place no sinner can stand. Rev. 21 says nothing unclean shall ever come into the heavenly city. To stand in His holy, glorious presence, you have to be without blame or guilt. Without fault or faultless was a word originally used to apply to sacrifices.

Right now we are not blameless, but we are treated as if we were blameless because Christ bore our sins and we have been given his righteousness. God treats Christ on the cross as if he lived our lives so he can treat us as if we lived his life. Right now we are not worthy to enter heaven. That is why we have to be transformed; we have to lose this body of flesh and go into God’s presence and receive a new body. That will happen! We will not only be free from sin and guilt but we will be blameless and faultless. We will not be able to do evil and capable of doing only right. We will be emancipated from every power and passion for evil and be devoted only to holiness. That is why joy defines heaven. And Zephaniah 3:17 tells us of another aspect of heavenly joy.

It says, “The Lord your God will rejoice over you with joy, He will joy over you with singing.” Isn’t that great? Not only will we sing praise to God, He will sing praise concerning us. He is going to rejoice over us. Spurgeon wrote, “I think that’s the most wonderful text in the whole Bible. God himself singing? I can only imagine when the world was made, the morning stars sang together, shouting for joy. But God didn’t sing. He said it was all very good, that’s all. There was no song. But when all the chosen race shall meet around the throne, the joy of the eternal Father shall swell, so high that God will burst into infinite song.” So rest dear Christians and join in the celebration of verse 25. “To the only God our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority before all ages, that’s the past, now, that’s the present and forever more, that’s the future. Amen. Let me close with a quote from Charles Spurgeon. “And when I heard it said that the Lord would keep his people right to the end, when I heard it said that Christ said, ‘My sheep hear My voice and I know them and they follow me and I give them eternal life and they shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of my hand.”

When I heard that said, I must confess that the doctrine of the final preservation of the saints was the bait that my soul could not resist. It was sort of life insurance, an assurance of my soul, an assurance of eternal destiny. I knew I couldn’t keep myself but if Christ promised to keep me, then I would be safe forever and I longed and prayed to find Christ because I knew if I found him, He would not give me a temporary salvation as some preach, but eternal life which could never be lost. The living and corruptible seed which lives and abides forever so no one and nothing could ever separate me from the love of God which is in Jesus Christ our Lord.” That is the thought that brought Spurgeon to salvation. I mean why come if there is no guarantee? But there is thus we can sing: To the only God and Savior be glory and majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore. Amen!

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The Rev. Dr. James Barnes is currently the pastor of White Memorial Church in Milroy.

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