We have reached that point in time when we once more see the passing of the Old Year and the ushering in of the New Year. Tradition dictates that this is the time for revelry and merrymaking. This is when one “turns a new leaf” in order that he may now live much better, having set aside all his bad habits. The world does this, of course, apart from the fear of the Lord. The believing child of God does not make all kinds of foolish New Year’s resolutions which he knows he is not going to keep anyway. No, the child of God lives each day of his life putting off the old man of sin and putting on the new man which has been renewed in Christ Jesus.
Young people, this is very important that we remember our God especially at the turn of the calendar year. What do you see when you look back over the past year? Do you not shudder a bit? The year gone by reads like a very dirty book. Now certainly we do not condone such reading in our every day life. But that is what our life looks like when we view it in the light of God’s Word. How terrible! All our evil thoughts, desires, words, and actions are before us and we are mortified at the sight. And apart from God we would do as the wicked, flee terrified to the hills crying with a loud voice; “Fall on us.” We are so ashamed of our actions at home with respect to our parents and brothers and sisters, and of our attitude in school, and church, or at work.
Now it must not be condemned that you feel this way, that is, sorrowful for past transgressions. No, this certainly is our calling and one of the three things that we must know in order to live and to die happily. But what do we do now? As mentioned we certainly do not cry unto the hills to fall on us. Certainly not! The knowledge of our misery is only one part of a three-fold knowledge to live and die happily. We also have the knowledge of our redemption in Jesus Christ our Lord. In Him is our all. By faith we do not bury our heads in the sand, but fix our eyes upon the Lord “which hope we have as an anchor of the soul,”Hebrews 6:19. We flee not to the hills but unto the Lord Who “is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower,” Psalm 18:2. We can do this because we have the certain knowledge and assured confidence that “the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity,” II Timothy 2:19.
Let us pause a few moments at this point in holy writ and see what strength and encouragement it can give to us as the return of Jesus Christ upon the clouds of heaven advances one year closer. Paul is well aware of the many struggles that each child of God must endure. He had suffered many hardships himself. Even at the writing of this epistle he was in prison. Timothy was now in Paul’s place preaching in Ephesus. As a young minister he was facing many difficulties in the way of opposition from false teachers. But Paul gives Timothy and us, yea, the whole church of all ages encouragement to keep up the good fight of faith because the church of God stands, and it stands sure. This must be our incentive to be steady and faithful as we face the New Year.
Young people, do you realize what Paul is saying here? Remember, you are the body of Christ; you are the temple of the living God, the house in which God dwells forever. It is this house, you, that stands sure. I know that Paul here does not say house; he says, foundation. However, you do not have a foundation without a house. Furthermore, he speaks of a great house in the next verse. This is neither a new or a strange figure in the Scriptures. The figure refers to the temple of the Old Dispensation in which God dwelt in the Most Holy Place. There Israel saw the blood of atonement that opened the way for them to approach God. There they saw sacrifice for their sins after which they poured out their souls in thanksgiving and praise unto God. The blessedness of this was that in this way they experienced fellowship with God.
That temple, now realized in the gathering of the saints from all nations, tongues, and tribes, called the church, has a foundation. And it is because of this sure foundation that, we can face the New Year in confidence. The foundation is none other than the Word Incarnate, Jesus Christ and His righteousness. As the Son of God He is the revelation of the Father, the Father having appointed Him to be the first-born of all creatures, the first-begotten from the dead. He is the Head of the church, the Word, Who alone can reveal the Father to us.
That Word of God is recorded for us in the Scriptures. The Old Testament prophets were filled by the Spirit of Christ. Christ spoke of Himself and of His coming, of His redemptive work, whereby He makes all things new. That Word became flesh and revealed the mysteries of the kingdom. All that He prophesied He accomplished and He went to sit at God’s right hand from where He spoke through the apostles. We still have that solid foundation because Christ still works through that same Word. He made that Word the chief means whereby He gathers, defends, and preserves His church. Think of it! He is the Shepherd Who knows His sheep and calls them by name and leads them to glory.
That is the foundation upon which we stand. And the text has something very assuring for us as we contemplate our stand for another year. The assurance is three-fold: 1) It is God’s foundation; 2) it stands, 3) it stands sure. In other words, we can stand fearlessly upon this foundation because, in the first place, it is God’s. God wrote that Word, moving men by His Spirit so that always it was Christ speaking through them. The devil tries hard today to undermine that truth by saying that the Scriptures are the product of Godand man, or that they are no more than fables. But therein lies insecurity. Therein lies a feeble grasping for a renewed life based on New Year’s resolutions and the work of self. Whatever is built on that shall surely fall. But God’s foundation speaks of God and therefore it stands. That Word is just as sure and firm as God Himself. Times may change, but God never does, nor does His Word.
Therefore, it stands sure. Whatever false winds of doctrine may blow, however fiercely the devil shoots his darts at us, the foundation shall not be moved. What is so assuring in all this is that whatever is true of the foundation is also true of the house. This is true because when Satan attacks Scripture, the foundation, he does so with the express purpose of destroying the church, you and me and all the other saints. But if the foundation is sure then we who are the house will not be swept away by the storms because we are firmly grounded upon the rock, Jesus Christ.
I direct this to you especially, young people. I know that we all need this Word. But it is the very nature of youth to want to strike out on his own. In youthful exuberance one seemingly has the answers to all of life’s problems. And so often we are not patient enough to wait upon the Lord and let Him show us the way. Then we become like Jacob who sinfully tried to obtain the birthright and its accompanying blessing in his own way, a sinful way. We must wait upon the Lord and stand upon His foundation.
How then are we to be sure that we stand on that sure foundation? The text provides us the answer, “The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.” This is God’s seal, His sign of surety, His mark of genuineness. The seal here has two sides. Both sides say something different, but somehow we realize that the two sides belong together. On the one side we see the objective promise of God’s Word to us, and on the other side is the subjective experience of that promise in our lives. How do we know that we stand sure? Because “the Lord knoweth them that are his.” That, youthful children of God, points to nothing less than the sovereign election of God. Our God does not and did not choose His own out of a mass of people because of some redeeming virtue in them. But He chooses them, wills them, forms them, each according to His purpose for them in His house. These were given to Christ, His only begotten Son, Who in turn died for them on the accursed tree. Hear John in chapter 6:37, “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.”
What a comfort! What encouragement! We are engraven in the palms of God’s hands and no forces of darkness can ever snatch us out. This Word simply throbs with the love of God for us, eternal love, unchanging faithfulness, which keeps us forever founded on the firm foundation of the Word.
This brings us to the other side of the seal, “Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.” This is the blessed fruit of election, the carrying out of God’s promise in us. Here we see the evidence of what God promised us on the other side of the seal. The work of God in our hearts causes us to name the name of Christ, that is, to confess that Jesus is Christ, the Son of the living God. This means that we confess Him as the anointed of God, the promised Messiah, our only Savior. Further, it means that we have the Spirit in our hearts. Thus, in God’s house we stand as prophets, priests, and kings, vessels of honor which gladly serve to praise God Who dwells in that house.
That Word upon which we stand works in us and calls us to depart from iniquity. By the power of God’s Word and the working of His Spirit we love God’s law. In all that we do we seek to be pleasing to God and to our neighbor. We mentioned in the beginning of this article that there were three things necessary for us to know that we may live and die happily; here is the third, living a life of gratitude unto God.
This is how we seek the New Year, seeking the glory of God and the welfare of His church. It is only in this way that we manifest that we are on a firm foundation, the Word of God itself.