Thursday, August 11, 2011

"Faithful To the End, and Forevermore"

"I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith" (II Timothy 4:6-7).
"Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ" (Philippians 1:6).
I once heard a gentleman respond to the question "How do you want to be remembered?" with the answer, "That I was faithful to the end."
The Apostle Paul affirmed such devotion toward the end of his life, and certainly we remember and rejoice in our brother's faithfulness.  "Faithful to the end" might therefore be an appropriate memorial for every born again believer, with a caveat.  That is, a full reading of Paul's writings reveals an overwhelming preponderance of attention directed not to his own faithfulness, but rather to that of his Lord.
 "And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is He that calleth you, who also will do it" (I Thessalonians 5:23-24).
    Paul would tell us that his testimony of faithfulness should direct our attention not toward his devotion, but rather that of the Lord Jesus.  The Apostle's sanctification to the glory and will of God and his preservation unto blamelessness proceeded not from human dedication and devotion, but rather from the Divine presence and working of the indwelling Holy Spirit.  Certainly Paul determined to believe and submit himself to God, and to make choices accordingly.   Our brother of old was not a programmed robot, but rather a free and functioning son, as united to the Son.  Nevertheless, every moment of Paul's faithfulness flowed as a tributary from the river of God's unwavering loyalty to his trusting child.  Indeed, Paul was who he was because and only because the Lord Jesus is who He is.
 If we are to finish the course our Heavenly Father has given to us, God's faithfulness will be the source and supply thereof.  Our calling involves "looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith" (Hebrews 12:2).  To the degree that we know and trust Him will be the degree to which we can expect the affirmation anticipated by Paul upon the completion of his course: "Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing" (II Timothy 4:8).  The gold and jewels of that grace given diadem will sparkle and gleam with light that reveals "not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord" (II Corinthians 4:5).  His faithfulness, to the end and forevermore, will be our eternal song and testimony, even as the Psalmist so beautifully declared...
"With my mouth will I make known Thy faithfulness to all generations."
(Psalm 89:1)

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