12/05/2008

Sermon The faithfulness of the divine being

1 Thessalonians 5:24 Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.

Under all our despondencies it is good to be looking unto God. We should not say, This enemy is too mighty, I cannot resist him; this duty is too difficult, I cannot perform it; this trial or affliction is too heavy, I cannot sustain it. We should not so much think what we cannot do, as what God can and will do. "Trust in the Lord for ever, for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength." This holy confidence the apostle would inspire in the Thessalonian believers, when he says, "Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it."
Here we may notice, first, that concerning which the apostle expresses his assurance; and, second, the grounds of that assurance. First, that concerning which the apostle expresses his assurance: "Who also will do it." "My Father worketh hitherto," says Christ. God is ever doing; and if he were not, we should be for ever undone. Now this may refer,

1. To the blessings just before prayed for, which are two:
(1) Sanctification. "The God of Peace," says the apostle, "sanctify you wholly." This God claims as his prerogative; "I am the Lord which sanctifieth you." His people, sensible that their own efforts, and all external means, without his blessing, will be ineffectual, apply to him for it.
(2) Preservation. God sanctifies those whom he will preserve, and preserves those whom he has sanctified; preserves from enemies, and from falling entirely, through the wilderness to the heavenly Canaan. The inheritance is kept for them, and they are kept for the inheritance.

2. To the duties before enjoined. Is it our duty to "rejoice evermore," to "pray without ceasing," "in every thing to give thanks," and the like? Well may we say, "Who is sufficient for these things?" What difficulties attend the discharge of one of these duties; how much more of them all! To animate us, therefore, and prevent those discouraging thoughts, which would otherwise arise in our minds, it is good to remember that it is God who must and who doth work in us " both to will and to do of his own good pleasure." It is necessary that he should do it; it is certain that he will. Without him we can do nothing; by his assistance we can do every thing. We can only act by being acted upon. His omnipotency will be a sufficient remedy for our impotency. Hence, it was a saying of one of the ancient fathers, "Lord, give thou what thou commandest, and then command what thou wilt." "The Lord is faithful," says the apostle in his second epistle to the Thessalonians, "who shall stablish and keep you from evil:" and then he expresses his confidence that they did, and would do, the things that were commanded them.

3. This may be applied to any other good thing necessary to be done either by God for us, or by us for God. "My God," says the apostle, "shall supply all your need, according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus." In my text there is something very beautiful. The apostle says, God will do it - without saying what; so that, whatever we can conceive of as needful for us, and conducive to his honour, he will perform. Dost thou want, O soul! to have thy sins pardoned, that dreadful weight of guilt removed, which almost sinks thee into despair? Dost thou want to have thy corruptions mortified, which create so much uneasiness to thyself, and, by breaking forth into. actual sins, have brought so much dishonour to God? Dost thou want to walk in a humble nearness to God, to have freedom of access to him now, and to appear before him with holy confidence at last? Dost thou want to be sincere, spiritual, and useful - to have all thy fears suppressed, all thine enemies trod under thy feet - to live in peace, and die in triumph, and then brought safe to heaven ? Then, "wait upon the Lord, and keep his way." Faithful is he that calleth thee, who will do it. Something like this is that request of the Psalmist, " Do thou for me, O God, the Lord, that which is fitting."

I proceed, secondly, to consider the grounds of the assurance here expressed. And as the temple of old had two pillars, Jachin and Boaz, both which signify strength and power, to support it; so the apostle's confidence in my text rests upon a twofold foundation, the faithfulness of God, and the good work that he has wrought in the hearts of his people; and if these foundations were to fail, well may we say, what would the righteous do?

1. The first foundation, then, is the immutable faithfulness of God.
Not the Christian's faithfulness to God, but God's faithfulness to him .... The Christian, therefore, even in the greatest affliction, may draw comfortable conclusions from the faithfulness of God. Thou, O Christian, art deceitful, and changing as the wind; but God is faithful! Thou canst not trust thyself, but canst thou not trust God? Cast all thy burdens, throw the whole weight of thy concerns upon him, and the event will be honourable to himself, and happy to thee. What he hath promised he will do, for he cannot violate his engagements or break his word. The promise and oath of God are those two immutable things, whereby God affords strong consolation to all true believers; but neither the one nor the other would be a solid ground of comfort, were it not for his own inviolable faithfulness and

2. The other foundation is the good work that God mightily wrought in the hearts of his people. We have a similar passage 1 Cor 1:9.
(1) This may refer to that effectual calling whereby we are brought out of darkness into light, and from under the power of Satan into the kingdom of God's dear Son.
(2) It may also refer to those calls which are consequent upon the former. You may observe, that it is not said in my text, "Who hath called you," but, "who calleth you;" or, as it might be rendered, "who is now calling you." As the saints have need to be continually calling upon God, so they have equal need to be continually called by him; so that it may be said of calling, as one said of conversion, " If I have been converted once, I have been converted a hundred times over."

Upon these remarks we may found the following inferences.
1. Whatever we do for God should be looked upon as the fruit of what he does for us, and therefore we have no reason to be proud of our best performances.
2. The great thing necessary to internal sanctification and all practical religion is our calling of God. Here God's work begins and here begins our working for God.
3. While saints rejoice let sinners tremble at God's faithfulness. As God is faithful to his promises so is he also to his threatenings. He is as unchangeable in his wrath as in his mercy.

No comments: