A Promise for the Righteous

For the righteous will never be moved; he will be remembered forever.” (Psalm 112:6, ESV)

Sometimes while reading through the Bible, one verse, a verse you’ve read countless times, will jump off the page in front of you. You see it in a whole new light, finding depths which before went unnoticed.

Psalm 112 was one of my devotional readings this morning. It is a Wisdom Song, and psalm that extols the man who fears the Lord, focusing on the moral character, and benefits, of those who delight in the commands of God.

Standing right in the middle of this Psalm is a message of tremendous promise: “The righteous will never be moved; he will be remembered forever.” I’d like to take just a moment to unpack that small verse.

The first question we must ask is this, “who is the righteous one?” This psalm praises the one who fears the Lord, who delights in His commands, but who could that be? Throughout the scriptures, we are reminded of the deceitfulness of the human heart (Jer. 17:9), how all have turned from God, how no one seeks Him, no one is righteous, no not one (Psalm 53).

That’s the problem, isn’t it? There are wonderful blessings for the righteous, but righteousness is unattainable.

Except that God has made a gracious way to righteousness through faith in Jesus Christ. The Shorter Catechism teaches, “Justification” (God declaring a sinner to be righteous) “is an act of God’s free grace, wherein he pardons all our sins, and accepts us as righteous in his sight, only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to us, and received by faith alone.”

God, in His grace, gave us His Son, who fulfilled the righteous demands of the law, and yet also suffered the wrath of God for sin upon the cross. When we are united to Christ by faith, we are reckoned righteous in God’s sight, because Jesus was reckoned cursed for us. By this gracious exchange, we are declared righteous by God.

By faith in Jesus, we are declared righteous. What God has spoken is sure. It is declared, and therefore unmovable. God cannot, will not, go back on His word. If God did, He would cease to be God.

Not only that, the righteous one, those who are declared righteous, are secure unto the end, remembered forever. In theological circles we call this the Perseverance of the Saints. Those who are declared righteous, whose whose name is in the Book of Life will never be blotted out, never be forgotten (Rev. 3:5). He will not lose one that he has given him (John 6:39-40).

“He is not afraid of bad news…” (Psalm 112:7) The Psalm goes on to describe the practical application of the doctrine of the Sovereignty of God in salvation. Because of this grace which has been so lavishly poured out upon us in Christ, because the sovereign God has called us righteous, and the righteous shall never be moved – because of this I can rest secure.

The Heidelberg Catechism frames this confidence this way:

“My only comfort, in life and in death, is that I am not my own, but belong – body and soul, in life and in death – to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ. He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood, and has set me free from the tyranny of the devil. He also watches over me in such a way that not a hair can fall from my head without the will of my Father in heaven; in fact, all things must work together for my salvation.”

There is a lot that he world is throwing your way right now, things that would cause terror and dismay. When that voice of fear stalks you, remember this promise! “The righteous will never be moved, he will be remembered forever.” Know that by faith in Jesus Christ, you are counted among the righteous, declared justified in God’s eyes, and you will be remembered by Him. Stand firm, be filled with joy and peace of believing.

SDG

The Found Prophecy for You

“In accordance with the prophecies previously made about you…”
(I Timothy 1:18 (ESV))

Until recently, I don’t know that I had ever really paid much attention to the verse listed above.  It is something we normally just gloss over as we read the letter to Timothy.  Still, it has tremendous value; at least it did for Timothy.

Paul’s first letter to Timothy was written to encourage this young pastor to faithfulness in his calling, to stand against the false teaching that had crept into the community of faith, “to wage the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience.”  Timothy had a lot going against him.  He was young – even Paul kept referring to him as “my child” – and so might have had a hard time being received with authority and respect.  He was from questionable lineage; his mother was a Jew, his father a gentile.  In a church that had been plagued with a false teaching preoccupied with myths and genealogies, Timothy’s heritage didn’t help his reception as a pastor.

So Paul writes to encourage Timothy.  In one of the most wonderful treatments on the grace of God in Jesus Christ Paul shows how, if he, who once persecuted the church in his ignorance and unfaithfulness, could now be considered worthy and faithful for the proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ for the glory of God, then it is no stretch of the imagination that Timothy should also be entrusted with this calling.  Timothy’s age, heritage, or brokenness neither supports nor negates his calling.  Rather, his sufficiency is from God, “who has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant” (2 Cor 3:6).

But there is one other thing that Timothy had going for him: he had a prophecy.  There is not account of this, no record of what was said.  We see in Acts how prophets were instrumental in calling and sending individuals in the church.  When Paul/Saul is blinded on the road to Damascus, Ananias receives a prophetic word from the Lord to share with Paul (Acts 9:10-17).  When Paul and Barnabus and others were gathered in Antioch for prayer, the Spirit of God gave them a prophetic word that Paul and Barnabus were to be set apart for the work to which God had called them (Acts 13:1-3).  Apparently, there was a prophetic word concerning Timothy (actually, more than one, since the word is plural).  It would be pure speculation to try to guess what was said, but it was received as a word of the Lord.  For Paul, this prophecy should have been the driving force behind Timothy’s ministry.  He had been called to this.  In accordance with the prophecies, Timothy would wage the good warfare, hold faith and a good conscience.  The road ahead would surely be difficult; there would be opposition and frustration.  However, considering the nature of his call, the charge with which he was entrusted, and the prophesies concerning his faithfulness, Timothy had a treasure of encouragement and strength to equip him for anything he could possibly face.

But what about you and me?  Wouldn’t it be nice to have a prophecy about you, something to say, here’s how you’ll fare?  Harry Potter had one, look how he turned out.  Neo, from the Matrix, had a prophecy about him, and sometimes learning to believe the prophecy in spite of all the evidence to the contrary gave him the confidence to become what he was supposed to be.  Is there a prophecy, a promise, something out there to give us strength and encouragement for these days?  Wouldn’t it be comforting to have a word from the Lord that we could fall back on when we feel like giving up?

We do have such a promise.  The word of the Lord might not mention you by name, but it is yours nonetheless.  Consider the following verses:

  • Jer 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
  • Rom 8:11 “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.
  • 2 Cor. 4:1 “Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart.”
  • 1 John 5:4 “For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world.  And this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith.”

I could go on, but there is no end to the promises afforded to us in God’s Word.  Whatever you may face today, God’s word for you will bring peace, contentment, joy, satisfaction, hope, and encouragement.  Won’t you take it up and read?

May you be strengthened and encouraged by the time you spend before God in His Word.

SDG