Our Weakness: Fearful and Fainthearted! Our Strength: The Sovereign Grace of God!

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

And the officers shall speak further to the people, and say,“Is there any man who is fearful and fainthearted? Let him go back to his house, lest he make the heart of his fellows melt like his own.”
Deuteronomy 20:8

I find it interesting that Moses, before sending the Israelites into the Promised Land, gives the exhortation, “When you go out to war against your enemies, and see horses and chariots and an army larger than your own, you shall not be afraid of them, for the LORD your God is with you, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt” (Deuteronomy 20:1). Let us think about the great, peaceful rest we can have in this truth. From the moment we are redeemed from the slavery of our sin, we are promised residence in the presence of God Himself.

As we struggle in this life, we wander in the desert of our sinful flesh and fallen world. Where is our vision? I hope we can say along with Paul that “to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better” (Philippians 1:21-23). We sit in Moab, pressing forward, preparing to cross the river Jordan. We are studying the Scripture, listening to the prophets and apostles echo the glorious revelation of Christ.

We must understand the basis of our redemption is the grace of the LORD. Our salvation is the work of God without any addition from us. He is the Author and Perfecter of our faith. He did not just make me savable in the Egypt of my sin, he actually saved me. He made the waters part and slaughtered my enemies. He provided His Gospel as manna in the desert to sustain me, so that my soul would not be found emaciated. Oh, the glorious love of Christ shines forth from the Promise Land across the Jordan, entreating me to come. Do you really feel the struggle of Paul and understand that “to die is gain?” The long-awaited hope of our life is before us! Being with Christ is set before us as our greatest joy. The years of listening to the biographies of departed saints, sitting at the feet of Moses as he teaches us about the glory of God, waiting for the Promise Land…the wait is almost over. But the problem becomes evident, the last war. We must die to enter into the Promise Land.

Now, we have two options. One option is to devalue the work of God, saying that the work God does in saving someone is not enough to save that person to the uttermost. We could have a “God could do that but not this” mentality. There, we find ourselves in verse 8. We would be a dangerous, weak person. Our lukewarm attitude toward the sovereign, saving grace of God leaves us with no salvation at all. We are left hungering for Egypt, wondering why we had to journey. Does this sound familiar? I bet it does more than you think. How many of us find ourselves with disgust toward going to church, reading our Bibles, praying long prayers, or even volunteering to teach Sunday School? At the end of our lives, we may despise the “lost time,” believing it to be a waste. We wonder why we gave up our “fun” life. For us, the death will be the end. It is something to be feared and hated. If we hate the things of God, if we hate the grace of God, then we are haters of God Himself. There is a dangerous epidemic among church-goers to be half-hearted, plagued by doubt of their salvation. We have now become a church that bases the assurance of our salvation in a decision made at some revival, Vacation Bible School, or youth-camp and not the power of God’s grace.

The best option is given in the first verse of this chapter. We should not be afraid, knowing that God has already defeated the enemy. Our victory is in God. Paul encourages us with the same sentiment, “For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?’ The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to the God, who gives us victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (I Corinthians 15:53-57). I do not think that it is coincidental that Paul makes this verse the foundation of the exhortation found in the next verse to be “steadfast” and “immovable.” We are called to be fixed, understanding the basis of our victory is Christ. Our hope is in Christ. This hope is so strong, so immovable that it will not waiver before the greatest threat we have, namely hell. We are to stand on the promises of God. We are to love God and all of His attributes. Our assurance should be found in the atoning work of Christ, knowing that we are to abound in the work of the Lord and that our labor in the Lord is not in vain (I Corinthians 15:58). We will be saved from the fierceness of the wrath of God the Almighty. Our hearts will not melt with fear. We will be carried into the Promise Land by the Holy Spirit with Christ glorified as the victor. We are to understand the grace that saved us is the grace that has been saving us, and it will ultimately be the grace that will save us. “And he [Joshua] said to the people of Israel, ‘When your children ask their fathers in times to come, “What do these stones mean?” then you shall let your children know, “Israel passed over this Jordan on dry ground.” For the LORD your God dried up the waters of the Jordan for you until you passed over, as the LORD your God did to the Red Sea, which he dried up for us until we passed over, so that all peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the LORD is mighty, that you may fear the LORD your God forever’” (Joshua 4:21-24).

Consequently, I implore the members of the Church to fight against a weak-kneed, pseudo-gospel. Christian men, stand firm and reclaim Biblical teaching, so that we may lead the Church across the Jordan.

“The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Revelation 3:21-22).

Amen! Soli Deo Gloria!

Army of Endeavor
by Fanny Crosby

Army of Endeavor, bear the trumpet call;
'Gainst the foe advancing, forward one and all!
Christ is our Commander; faithful let us be:
He will give to us the victory!

In His royal service, there's a work for all,
Cheering on the faint ones, lifting those that fall
Unto Him Who calls us ever faithful be:
He will give to us the victory!

Ever pressing onward in the cause of right,
Holding up the banner, walking in the light;
Keeping His commandments, great rewards have we!
He will give to us the victory!

Though the battle rages, what have we to fear?
In the wildest conflict, He is ever near.
Trusting in our Leader, faithful let us be:
He will give the victory!