Sunday, July 18, 2021

Certainties Found in an Uncertain World

By Gerald Cowan

       Most things in our world are subject to change and are therefore not to be depended upon. The value of money and its availability are very unstable.  Physical health and life expectancy are subject to change. Machinery wears out or is made obsolete by advancing technology. Science tells us to disregard today many things it assured us were true yesterday. Communications, news, advertising media, and reporters cannot be depended upon to tell the truth, to “tell it as it (really) is.” We are often given biased or slanted views, even outright lies, designed to change our minds, to persuade us to feel, believe, accept and act in certain ways, or to buy whatever product is being peddled. We sometimes reach a point where we want to cry out, “Is there anything in  this world upon which one can safely depend?” Yes, there is, but it is often necessary to cut through and scrape away the prejudice, pretense, perfidy, prevarication and fabrications of man and his illusions of permanence before we are able to find and accept that alone which is permanent, dependable and sure.


      A moment’s thought shows how much better it is to trust in God than in things, persons or possessions, circumstances or conditions. Things pass quickly and never return. People also pass away and do not return – their perceptions, pleasures, positions, and promises can change in the blink of an eye. But the Lord God does not change but is immutable, always the same. I am the Lord. I do not change (Malachi 3:6). He abides forever, and so do those who abide in Him and do His will.  Jesus Christ (the incarnate Son of God) is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). The world is passing away ... but he who does the will of God abides forever (1 John 2:17). God is all that He claims to be: source, creator and sustainer of life (John 1:1-3, Colossians 1:15-17). The Lord is author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:1-2).  God can and will do all that He has promised: receive, save, bless and preserve us (Hebrews 7:25, Ephesians 1:3, 1 Peter 1:5). One who comes to Him will not be cast aside (John 6:37).


      It was written down by men who had reason to know it was true, adequate for instruction in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16-17), all-sufficient, containing everything pertaining to life and godliness (Psalm 19:7-11, Psalm 111:7-8, 2 Peter 1:2-4).. The message was not fictional, not cleverly contrived fables or myths, not the fruits of one’s own imagination or interpretation, not a fabricated compendium or a group-think of disciples of Christ, not words of some mystic guru interpreted and applied by other mystics — it was  given by direct input from the Holy Spirit of God  (2 Peter 1:16-21). No one who has lived by God’s words has ever had cause to be disappointed by it.  Whoever believes it ... shall not be put to shame (Romans 10:11).  The word of the cross may appear to be foolishness to unbelievers who perish, but to us who believe it is the wisdom of God and the power of God (1 Corinthians 1:18).
    God’s word is true.  Not because it is pragmatic, achieving its stated purpose, though it does do that consistently. God promises that His word which He sends out will not return to him void, without accomplishing what He sent it to do (Isaiah 55:11). We would probably reject it if it did not “work” the way He intends and promises. It is not true just because we want it to be true, though we love every word of it (Psalm 119:97), and meditate – not just listen to it or read it – we think carefully and deeply about it. It is not true because we believe it, though we walk by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7).  It is not untrue just because some do not believe it.  Some simply do not want it to be true. They do not like what it says one must do or must avoid doing (the Lord’s commandments are not always easy — they are seldom if ever designed to make us feel good, but rather to enable us to achieve rightness, righteousness according to His standard rather than our own or society’s or culture’s. The dishonest person may reject it because it doesn’t say what he wants it to say – it doesn’t agree with him and he refuses to believe and agree with it. God’s word has been investigated, tried, tested and proved wherever possible since it was first written down. That should always be the case. Be as noble as the Bereans who verified preachers and teachers by testing them by the contents of the acknowledged scripture (Acts 17:11). Do not be afraid to question and prove God’s word. It has nothing to fear from an honest investigation. God’s word is true because God himself is true (Psalm 119:105, Romans 3:3-4).          


      God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son (John 3:16).  God did not give Jesus to and for the created world, the material universe. He gave Jesus to and for the world of mankind, the only creatures in the material world who could understand and believe in him, who could make a rational choice to receive him, believe him, submissively and obediently follow him, perfectly righteous and holy, perfectly submissive and obedient to God  – not by constraint or divine fiat but by personal choice – to be a sinless sacrifice able to redeem everyone in the world.  He proved himself to be of and from God , the one and only suitable savior. The words about him and from him recorded in scripture are true and provable.  Those in the religious world – self-identifying as Christianity – too often follow their chosen icons and idols but fail to obey God and His Christ (Matthew 7:21-23). They will fail to receive God’s gift . To be effective His gift must be received and validated by the designated recipient. One who rejects him, disbelieves and disobeys him is inexcusable and unforgivable (Acts 4:12). The true words of the True God cannot be disproved though they are widely rejected and neglected even by those who claim to be saved by them.    


      Jesus promised that after his resurrection from death and his ascension to God the Father in heaven he and God would send the Holy Spirit as comforter, helper and continuing guide for his people (read John, chapters 14-16).  A part of the Spirit’s work was in the production of the unimpeachable scripture as God’s infallible instruction for all the time yet to come before Christ’s return to raise the dead, judge the world and usher in the eternal afterlife, heaven and hell, to which all who have ever lived on earth will be consigned, as is made appropriate in their own lifetime.


      Goodness  does make one a saint, an outcast from the world. The world may not want you, but God does. In God’s view the saints stand out as lights in the darkness of the world (Philippians 2:15-16). Even the honest part of the unbelieving world admits that the glory of God is reflected in His people (Matthew 5:14-16).  Unrighteousness only makes one popular with other ungoldly people outcast from God (Galatians 5:19-21). It may be appropriate to suggest at this point that the results of both righteousness and unrighteous are predictable, if not in the present at least in the ultimate future. The sowing and reaping principle applies (Galatians 6:7-8). The seed determines the harvest. The ultimate fruit of righteousness is eternal life (Romans 8:14-16). The ultimate fruit of unrighteousness is eternal spiritual death (Romans 6:23).


      Our hope is built on nothing less that Jesus’ blood and righteousness. Not upon youth, age, friends, family, society, church, or self.  Here is the only basis for dependable hope. The foundation of God stands sure, having this seal: The Lord knows them who are His and let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity (2 Timothy 2:19). Furthermore: God, desiring to show the immutability of His counsel, interposed with an oath, in order that by two things (the oath and the promise) in which it was impossible for God to lie, we may have strong encouragement ... to lay hold of the hope that is set before us.  Which hope we have, as a n anchor for the soul, both sure and steadfast.

    CONCLUSION: You will notice that the Word of God, the righteousness and the hope of man are all anchored to and dependent upon God Himself. It is difficult but always possible and right to rely completely upon God as one should. But if we do not we shall perish and pass away.  God’s offer reads like this: Everyone who believes and is baptized into Christ is saved (Mark 16:16) and puts on Christ (Galatians 3:27). There is no condemnation for anyone who is in Christ (Romans 8:1). No one who comes to him will be turned away (John 6:37). Whosoever will, let him come. He is invited (Revelation 22:17). Remember, the Lord knows all those who are his (2 Timothy 2:19).
- Gerald Cowan, a longtime preacher and missionary, is retired from full-time pulpit preaching. Gerald publishes an e-mail newsletter entitled GERALD COWAN’S PERSONAL PERIODICAL WRITINGS. He is available for Gospel Meetings and he may be contacted at

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