Editorial: Antidote to Despondency
There is no need for despondency when we review God’s declaration of His mind toward the creatures of His hand. On the contrary, we are caused to marvel at His extreme love, forbearance, pity and mercy. Let us start with those with whom we should think God would have no patience -–the world, of which the apostle says, “the whole world lieth in wickedness”. Yet “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son”, because “God desires not the death of the wicked” but rather that “the wicked should turn and live”. Having “turned”, can we imagine that God, who desires his salvation, would at the last lightly turn him down?
Paul felt the force of this loving gesture of God, and so he compares man’s pettiness with God’s bounty. He wrote to the Romans: “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (5:6-8).
No wonder, then, that John declared, “We love him, because he first loved us” (while we were yet sinners). And seeing that God first invited us there is no need of fear when we reciprocate that love. We are on safe ground. God has graciously offered, and we gratefully accept.
“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear” (1 John 4:18).
Yes, but how do I know that I can count myself among the elect? The answer is simple (allowing that we have the truth), because no one can ever become acquainted with the truth without God working specifically on his behalf, for Jesus declared: “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him” (John 6:44). Among these we must reckon ourselves.
Now if we were told that we could choose a righteous man to pray for us (and “the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth MUCH), whom should we choose? Obviously Jesus. Do we then feel that our case would be in competent hands? Of course. Then listen: “I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me…Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word” (John 17:9,20).
Among this latter class we are found. Now having drawn us and prayed for us, is it rationally conceivable that Jesus would willingly allow us to prove abortive? God forbid, and so from thenceforth God hedges about our lives with the express intention of our ultimate salvation. This He has plainly declared through Paul: “We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). Of such it is written: “The eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayer” (1 Peter 3:12). And again He has said: “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Hebrews 13:5).
Paul asks the question: “If God be for us, who can be against us?” No one! And so he continues: “I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).
It is His love and His avowed intention of consummating the work commenced in us that causes our flagging spirits to revive. Again we listen to Paul: “God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us…” (Eph. 2:4). This being so, He will finish the work: “Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.” Do what? Preserve us “blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thess. 5:24,23). There is nothing to make us fearful here; rather is there assurance (not presumption). Rather does this contemplation impress us with an overwhelming consciousness of our insignificance and unworthiness – in a word, a contrite spirit. In this again we have cause for assurance and even joy, for, says God, “To this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word” (Isa. 66:2).
“Thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy: I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit” (Isa. 57:15).
In view of these things, how faithless and wavering must we appear to God when oftentimes we are weakened or turned aside from our steadfastness by pressure from the world. How often do we deserve the chiding of God through Isaiah?
“I, even I, am he that comforteth you: who art thou, that thou shouldest be afraid of a man that shall die…and forgetest the Lord thy Maker, that hath stretched forth the heavens, and laid the foundations of the earth; and hast feared continually every day because of the fury of the oppressor, as if he were ready to destroy: and where is the fury of the oppressor?” (Isa. 51:12-13)