“Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look at the earth beneath; for the heavens vanish like smoke, the earth will wear out like a garment, and they who dwell in it will die in like manner; but my salvation will be forever, and my righteousness will never be dismayed.” (Isaiah 51:6)
When God saves, He saves forever. Everything He begins He finishes. What He promises, He performs. He is faithful. “Whatever God does endures forever” (Ecclesiastes 3:14).
- “When Christ appeared as a high…he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption” (Hebrews 9:11-12).
Eternal: that which always has been and always will be. Never to cease. Everlasting.
- “This is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day” (John 6:40).
Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. Everyone who is saved is saved forever.
I state this so factually because the bible does. I do not state it to raise an argument (the argument has been going on for centuries) nor do I state it to finish an argument (as long as man is man, the argument will continue). I state this truth in hopes that a storm-tossed and weary soul might find refuge and hope in Christ’s words.
I have never met a Christian that had this assurance from the start. Doubts are inevitable. Thankfully, we are not saved by the strength of our faith or in reverse-proportion to the measure of our doubts (as if the more we doubt the less we are saved), we are saved once for all by the object of our faith: Jesus Christ.
So if you have wrestled from time to time or are constantly seriously concerned, I implore you to rest in Christ. Rest in the knowledge of His eternal salvation. Get to know His word so that you can do battle with your doubts. And don’t think the doubts themselves are a sign that you are lost—you are working out your salvation, and that is healthy if you are seeking Him in the process.
I simply pray that you come to the conclusion that Christ is your Forever-Savior. I pray that you can say with confidence, like Paul, “I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).
2 Samuel 22:21-25
“The LORD dealt with me according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands he rewarded me. For I have kept the ways of the LORD and have not wickedly departed from my God. For all his rules were before me, and from his statutes I did not turn aside. I was blameless before him, and I kept myself from guilt. And the LORD has rewarded me according to my righteousness, according to my cleanness in his sight.”
According to my righteousness
I am struck by David’s boldness. How could a man, especially this man, stand before a nation, much less God, and claim he has perfectly kept God’s law? David the adulterer? David the murderer? How could he say his way was blameless? How could he claim that he was guiltless, innocent, or clean? As is says in the Proverbs, “Who can say, ‘I have made my heart pure; I am clean from my sin’?”
“The Lord dealt with me according to my righteousness,” he says in this Psalm, and I am tempted to laugh. I would consider him to be delusional at best, or heretical at worst if I didn’t look at the rest of the bible.
In the Psalms David reveals the reasoning behind his boldness. He says here in this text that God deals with him according to his righteousness, but in other Psalms he takes it a step further.
- Psalm 103:10-12; “[God] does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us;” Psalms 103:10-12.
- Psalm 32:1-2; “Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.”
Blameless before him
David understood that his righteousness was not a result of his ability to maintain his own perfection. David trusted in God who justifies the ungodly.
- Romans 4:4-8; “To the one who does not work [toil and strive to make himself right before God] but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works: ‘Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.'”
These words were not written for David’s sake alone, “but for ours also,” Paul continues in verse 24 of the same chapter. “[Righteousness] will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.”
We, like David, can confidently believe and confidently say that we are blameless. Not because we have kept the law or because we have abstained from immorality, but because Jesus Christ was killed for our trespasses and then raised from the dead for our justification: to declare us innocent.
- Colossians 1:20-22; “[Through Christ God reconciled] to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him.”
- Ephesians 1:4-7; “He chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace.”
Like David, we can say with confidence that we’re blameless, and we can say with confidence we are guiltless.
- 1 Corinthians 1:8-9; “[God] will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”
We are blameless, we are guiltless, we are righteous.
- Romans 3:21-25; “The righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it–the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.”
- 2 Corinthians 5:21; “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
- Philippians 3:8-9; “Indeed, I count everything [all my self attained righteousness] as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith.”
Righteousness before God is not something that is earned, it is something that is given. It is not something that fluctuates, it is something that is sure and stable. It is not something that can be lost but something that is kept by God in Christ. We stand before Him, if we have faith in Jesus Christ, 100% pure, 100% clean, 100% righteous, 100% perfect. We can share in David’s boldness because we are persuaged that we share in David’s blessing.
“For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life;” Titus 3:3-7
“Let not your heart envy sinners, but continue in the fear of the LORD all the day. Surely there is a future, and your hope will not be cut off.”
There is a future
There’s no reason to envy those who do not know God yet prosper in this life. He blesses the good and the evil. They are getting right now the best they’ll ever have while we have an eternity of joy ahead. We have a future, a blessed hope to look forward to.
- Jeremiah 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.”
- 2 Corinthians 5:1-7; “For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened–not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight.”
- John 14:1-3; “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.”
Your hope will not be cut off
The hope we have for eternity–the absolute, unchangeable expectation of God’s promise to us of eternal life–will never be cut off. We have confident assurance that He who is the resurrection and the life will give raise us who believe to incorruption.
- Titus 1:1-3; “Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness, in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began and at the proper time manifested in his word through the preaching with which I have been entrusted by the command of God our Savior.”
- Hebrews 6:17-20; “So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.”
“Not one word of all the good promises that the LORD had made to the house of Israel had failed; all came to pass.”
Not one word
The Lord is not loose with His tongue like we are. Every word He says, He means. Every thing He promises, He will carry out. He is trustworthy. He is reliable. He is faithful.
- Exodus 34:6; “The LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness….”
- Deuteronomy 32:3-4; “I will proclaim the name of the LORD; ascribe greatness to our God! The Rock, his work is perfect, for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is he.”
- Psalm 36:5; “Your steadfast love, O LORD, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds.”
- Psalms 40:11; “As for you, O LORD, you will not restrain your mercy from me; your steadfast love and your faithfulness will ever preserve me!”
- Psalms 57:9-11; “I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing praises to you among the nations. For your steadfast love is great to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds. Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Let your glory be over all the earth!”
- 2 Corinthians 1:18-20; “As surely as God is faithful, our word to you has not been Yes and No. For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, whom we proclaimed among you, Silvanus and Timothy and I, was not Yes and No, but in him it is always Yes. For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory.”
All the good promises that the Lord had made…all came to pass
God’s faithfulness to Israel serves as an assurance of His faithfulness to us. According to Romans chapter 11, we have been grafted into the olive tree of Israel and stand by faith. Furthermore, according to the book of Galatians, we are sons of Abraham by faith. We are the circumcision–Israel–who worship by the Spirit of God, glory in Christ Jesus, and put no confidence in our flesh. As surely as God was (and is) faithful to Israel, He is faithful to the church.
The promises He has made to us will be kept.
- 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24; “Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.”
Sanctification: practical righteousness here on this earth. Blamelessness at His coming: an eternal righteous standing before God. He who calls us is faithful, He will surely do it.
- 2 Thessalonians 3:3; “The Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one.”
- Philippians 1:6; “I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”
- 1 Corinthians 1:4-9; “I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge–even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you–so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”
In everything, God is faithful. Faithful to return for us, faithful to give us eternal life, faithful to make us righteous, faithful to guard us against the evil one. He is faithful to sustain us, faithful to present us to Himself without spot or blemish. And since He is faithful, let us now, with confidence, draw near to Him with a true heart in full assurance of faith, through the body and blood of Christ.
- Hebrews 10:19-23; “Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places [God’s presence] by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.”
“You shall cling to the LORD your God just as you have done to this day.”
Webster’s 1828 dictionary of American English defines cling as “To adhere closely; to stick to; to hold fast upon, especially by winding round or embracing; as, the tendril of a vine clings to its support. To adhere closely and firmly, in interest or affection; as, men of a party cling to their leader.” Brown-Driver-Briggs’ Hebrew Definitions defines the Hebrew word here translated as cling as “to cling, stick, stay close, cleave, keep close, stick to, stick with, follow closely, join to, overtake, catch.”
Clinging to the Lord is clinging to His word. It’s holding fast to the promise He has given us of eternal life. It’s believing Him. It’s regarding Him as faithful. It’s abiding in His love. It’s continuing with confidence in the gospel He has preached to us through Jesus Christ. It’s hanging on the certainty of forgiveness, righteousness, justification, salvation, eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ.
- Psalms 119:31; “I cling to your testimonies, O LORD; let me not be put to shame!”
- Luke 8:15; “As for [the seed that fell] in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience.”
- 1 Corinthians 15:1-4; “Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you–unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.”
- Hebrews 3:5-12; “Now Moses was faithful in all God’s house as a servant, to testify to the things that were to be spoken later, but Christ is faithful over God’s house as a son. And we are his house if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope. Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says, ‘Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, on the day of testing in the wilderness, where your fathers put me to the test and saw my works for forty years. Therefore I was provoked with that generation, and said, “They always go astray in their heart; they have not known my ways.” As I swore in my wrath, “They shall not enter my rest.”‘ Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God.”
- Hebrews 4:14-16; “Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
- Hebrews 6:17-20; “When God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.”
- Hebrews 10:19-23; “Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.”