Friday, October 19, 2007

Sustained by Sovereign Grace Forever

Jeremiah 32:36-41
36 “Now therefore thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, concerning this city of which you say, ‘It is given into the hand of the king of Babylon by sword, by famine, and by pestilence’:

37 Behold, I will gather them from all the countries to which I drove them in my anger and my wrath and in great indignation. I will bring them back to this place, and I will make them dwell in safety.

38 And they shall be my people, and I will be their God.

39 I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear me forever, for their own good and the good of their children after them.
40 I will make with them an everlasting covenant, that I will not turn away from doing good to them. And I will put the fear of me in their hearts, that they may not turn from me.

41 I will rejoice in doing them good, and I will plant them in this land in faithfulness, with all my heart and all my soul.

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Grace does not prevent pain, but ordains it in the lives of believers and then sustains us through it.
  • If God can manage (and He certainly does) all of the things necessary to sustain through trials, He could certainly have prevented the trials from happening.
  • He doesn't prevent trials, though. These are meant to be opportunities to glory in the grace of the Cross of Christ.

In the passage, God brought the trials upon the Jews because of His wrath and anger; however, He then also provided the restorative and sustaining grace they would need to endure. Indeed they would not have endured without it!

  • Sustaining grace, in order to be capable of sustaining in all situations, must be sovereign. It must have more power than whatever situation it finds itself in, or it would fail to sustain.

Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing v.3

"O to grace how great a debtor daily I'm constrained to be! Let thy goodness like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to thee. Prone to wander Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love. Here's my heart, O take and seal it, seal it for thy courts above."

Fetter = chain or shackle for the legs/feet. something that restrains.

  • If my heart was not bound/chained to the Lord by His grace, I would most certainly wander away from Him, because that's my very nature.
  • He must seal my heart and protect it from the attempts of this world to draw it away, otherwise I would have no hope. To think I somehow control my perseverance/desire for God is foolishness, and not supported by Scripture.

God is the primary agent acting on behalf of the Jews in this passage. He makes an everlasting covenant with them to not cease in doing them good. Though this promise is written for the Jews (and we must be very careful about taking promises made for someone else and claiming them as my own simply because they are good sound bites), I can still take comfort in this promise (the everlasting covenant) since I have been grafted into the children of Abraham as a believer (Romans 11:11-24). I have been inserted into the terms of this everlasting covenant.

  • In this passage, God does not stand idly to the side to see if the Jews will turn and fear the Lord. Instead, He places fear of Him in their hearts and makes them His own objects of mercy. Also, once this fear is present, He sustains it with grace, so they would not turn away.
  • This is still how He saves sinners. He does not stand aside (to be polite and not impose on my "free will") to see which way we will go, but rather He actively places the fear of Him into the hearts of those whom He chooses to demonstrate saving grace to, and then He sustains them with that same grace!

In the final verse of this passage, the Lord states that He will rejoice in doing good for those in whom He has placed the fear of Himself. What is the countenance of the Lord, in your mind? Here He is clearly a rejoicing, happy God. The good things that He does in the lives of His children, He does with all of His heart and His soul. Is it possible to even conceive of the intensity with which He sustains me and the magnitude to which He enjoys showing me good? God is infinite, so it follows that when He says He is giving all of His heart and all of His soul for my benefit, these must be equally infinite.

The grace of God is incredibly powerful and is definitely amazing. I don't know that I grasp the gravity of the word, "grace" when I use it or read it. It overcomes everything that would otherwise hinder me from knowing or being known by the Lord. I reflect on the fact that I rightly deserve hell, if judged by my merit, yet I'm bound by the grace of Christ, for eternity in His courts.