Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Righteous Will Never Be Moved

Today is day two of our ninth week, reading the Bible through in a year.  Our scripture is Leviticus 26-27; Hebrews 10; Psalm 112.

When I read these four chapters, the "gold nugget" that stands out to me is Psalm 112:6 (ESV):

 For the righteous will never be moved;
    he will be remembered forever.

Leviticus gives blessings for obedience, and punishments for disobedience.  Yet even in their disobedience, God says that if they repent and turn back to Him, He will restore them.  26:40-42, 45 (ESV) says, 

 40 “But if they confess their iniquity and the iniquity of their fathers in their treachery that they committed against me, and also in walking contrary to me, 41 so that I walked contrary to them and brought them into the land of their enemies—if then their uncircumcised heart is humbled and they make amends for their iniquity, 42 then I will remember my covenant with Jacob, and I will remember my covenant with Isaac and my covenant with Abraham, and I will remember the land...45 But I will for their sake remember the covenant with their forefathers, whom I brought out of the land of Egypt in the sight of the nations, that I might be their God: I am the Lord.”

God is more a God of mercy and restoration than He is a God of judgment and wrath.  Just as a good parent cannot withhold discipline lest the children become rebellious and uncontrollable, so God cannot withhold discipline from His people.  Sometimes that discipline is harsh because our disobedience is grave.  But God's desire is always restoration and redemption for the rebellious.

Hebrews seems to show the same double-edged sword of mercy and punishment--but always with an eye toward redemption.  10:9 (ESV) says, "...we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus." Verse 21 says that we should have "full assurance of faith."  In other words, when you're saved, you don't need to relate to God as someone who is constantly afraid of punishment.  

Yet, verse 23 tells us not to waver.  Verses 26 and 27 give a warning:  26 For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries."   

What does this mean?  That Jesus died for your past sins, but now your current sins, if you continue to sin, are on your own head?  Certainly not--because everybody continues to sin.  If that were the case then Jesus would have died in vain, and nobody would be saved.  Their subsequent sin, after they received His salvation, would cause them to lose their salvation just as quickly as they gained it!  This wavering isn't merely a lapse in behavior (as in Britney Spears' "Oops, I did it again!"), but a faltering of faith.  Verses 28 and 29 say that if Jews who are under the Law are punished for giving up the Law, how much more will a Christian who is under grace be punished for giving up the grace that was so freely given?  Verse 31 puts a punctuation mark on it, saying, "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God."

Now, this isn't the kind of language that I like.  I prefer to talk about mercy and grace more than judgment and wrath.  But Hebrews 10 is clear when it says:
“Yet a little while,
    and the coming one will come and will not delay;
38 but my righteous one shall live by faith,
    and if he shrinks back,
my soul has no pleasure in him.”
39 But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.

So, which is it?  Can you lose your salvation, or not?  Hebrews seems to disagree with itself.  (Notice, I use the word "seems.")

Somehow, when we get two scriptures that seem to disagree, or even when we have one scripture (as in Hebrews 10) that seems to disagree with itself, we have to reconcile the two.  When I don't understand scripture, it's not the Bible's fault or God's fault--it's mine.  So, rather than dismissing a passage as unintelligible, I pray for wisdom and very often the answer comes quickly.

Today that wisdom came through Psalm 112:6, reminding me that the righteous (those who are truly saved) will never be moved.  There may be those who think they're saved, who leave the faith due to their own apostasy.  But those who are truly saved will never be moved.  R.K. Kendall put it this way:

The faith that fizzles before the finish had a fatal flaw from the first.


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