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When You Fear Your Faith May Fail

One of my favorite hymns to sing is “He Will Hold Me Fast.”[1] The first lyrics are:

When I fear my faith will fail
Christ will hold me fast
When the tempter would prevail
He will hold me fast
I could never keep my hold
Through life’s fearful path
For my love is often cold
He must hold me fast

Do you ever feel like your faith may fail? Does life ever seem like a fearful path? Do you feel like you are not strong enough to continue to hold onto Christ? Does your love for Jesus grow cold?

Yes, we all certainly walk through seasons where our love is cold, our faith is weak, and our strength wanes. As a Christian, we are weak and in desperate need for Christ (John 15:5). There exists in our life dark, trying, and depressing times that seem to rise as frequent as crashing waves upon the ocean’s shore. In those days, we may wonder about our ability to persevere and to keep hold of Christ by faith.

In the book of Jude, Jude writes, “Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy (verse 24).”

God keeps us from stumbling. God keeps us from falling away. God secures us. Our surety is not in our strength to keep hold of Christ, but in Christ’s strength to keep hold of us. We will fail to hold on to Christ. Yet, God “who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil 1:6).

Jude 24 doesn’t say that God might keep you from falling. God isn’t going to try really, super-duper hard to keep you from falling. No, He is able to keep you from stumbling. God is able to save to the uttermost (Heb 7:25). Christ Jesus has made you his own (Phil 3:2). God is mighty with a strong hand and an outstretched arm, for his steadfast love endures forever” (Psalm 136:12).

As found in Jude 24, God also keeps his people with great joy. He does not begrudgingly hold onto you. A verse that is a constant reminder of this truth is Psalm 149:4, “The Lord takes pleasure in His people.” It pleases God to save. It pleases God to keep his people saved. In verse 2 of “He Will Hold Me Fast,” the opening line is “Those He saves are His delight.” God the Father is delighted to save those He has promised to His Son (John 6:37). We do not have to complete tasks for God to delight in us, but we look to Christ’s life, death, and resurrection to understand that the task has been completed. God takes pleasure in us because of His Son. Christian, God takes pleasure in you and holds you fast.

It is in God’s promise and pleasure the Christian presses on, pursues God, and perseveres in the faith. It is from the safety of our heavenly Father’s compassionate love that we keep ourselves in that love (Jude 21). We operate out of God’s sovereign grace toward us which makes us eager to make our calling and election sure (2 Peter 1:10). He has supplied all we need and continues to supply all we need in Christ His Son. It is in Christ, we see God’s unfailing love and eternal pleasure that rests upon His people.

Your faith may fail, but God doesn’t. It is not the intensity of our faith in which we find security but the object of our faith – – Jesus Christ. God is able, and He alone is able. God keeps those that are his from falling away solely by his grace and because of His good pleasure. We have a promise to cling to! For those in Christ, He will hold us fast!

 

Listen to “He Will Hold Me Fast”

[1] vv. 1-2 Ada Habershon (1861-1918), Public Domain. Alt. words, new words (v.3), and music: Matthew Merker

Forgiven and Forgiving

Matthew 18:23–35
[23] “Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. [24] When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. [25] And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. [26] So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ [27] And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. [28] But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’ [29] So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ [30] He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. [31] When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. [32] Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. [33] And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ [34] And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. [35] So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”

Immediately preceding this parable, Peter asks Jesus a question. He asks, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Peter wants to know how many times he must forgive someone who sinned against him.

The common teaching of the day would instruct that someone was required to forgive three times. So, for Peter to say seven times was quite forgiving of him. It is double plus one! Jesus responds to Peter by saying, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.” The number seven has symbolic significance throughout the Bible, and it is usually identified with something being complete, finished, or whole.

The point here is not for us to keep detailed records of how many times we have forgiven someone. There is no forgiveness quota, no point after which we are no longer required to forgive. Jesus’ point is this: you are to forgive without keeping count. Infinitely. Jesus then launches into teaching this parable about the unforgiving servant.

I’m sure we have all been hurt by someone before. Hurt in such a way that it required us to forgive our offender. Perhaps needing to forgive an absentee father, critical mother, a wayward child, abusive spouse, unfair boss. The list could go on. We have all experienced a time where we needed to forgive someone.

What can we learn from this parable? Why should we forgive? How does the gospel teach us about forgiveness?

We owe an unpayable debt to God (verses 23-25)

The debt owed by the slave was ten thousand talents. This amount is roughly equivalent to $6 billion dollars today. I’m not sure how many of us have $6 billion under our mattress! Think about that. This master has brought this slave in who owes him an inordinate amount of money. A sum in which he could never pay back. In fact, the text says as much (v. 25).

The debt the slave owed was unpayable. He accumulated an amount of debt that could never be repaid. He could not work it off, there is no way he could earn or borrow enough money to pay back his debt.

This is a picture of the debt in which we owe God because of our sin. Our sin has offended a holy God. Our debt to God is insurmountable, it is unpayable, and there is no way we can work off our debt to God. Apart from Christ, there is no way our account can be settled. You can’t be a good enough person, and you can’t do enough good things to balance out the scale. Your account will always have an outstanding balance. There is simply nothing that you can do to pay back the debt that sin has accrued. Outside of Christ, our sin debt will forever be outstanding.

However, in Christ, we have been unquestionably forgiven by God (verse 26-27)

The servant realizes he can’t pay back this debt. He understands that he is standing there in front of the king with no hope of settling his debt. Therefore, he does the only thing he can do, he throws himself at the king’s feet. Pleading with the king to forgive him. He can only ask that the king be merciful.

You and I must throw ourselves upon the kind arms of a merciful savior. Surrender our lives and plead with God to be merciful toward us. It is in Christ, that we can be forgiven by God. If we would come by faith alone to God through Jesus Christ alone. Transfer our trust away from ourselves and place it in Jesus Christ’s righteous life, His death for sinners on the cross, and His resurrection.

Our sin debt transferred to Jesus Christ. He takes on our sin, and his righteousness is transferred to us. He pays our debt through his death. It is in Jesus Christ that we have the forgiveness of sins and our debt wiped clean.

We are no longer under the obligations of our debt because Christ has settled our account. He has paid it off. He has pardoned us from the debt that we accumulated. We are completely forgiven of all offenses toward God in Christ Jesus. Jesus paid it all.

Now, we keep in mind that we have sinned undeniably greater against God than anyone has ever sinned against us (verses 28-31)

In these verses, another debt is introduced. Another servant owes a hundred denarii to the first servant in the parable. This debt would be equivalent to about $12,000. This is the sharpness of this parable: how can someone who has been forgiven of so much be so resistant to forgiving someone else?

This is not to say that whatever happened to you isn’t significant or that it didn’t hurt. Your pain is real, and I am in no way trying to minimize that. You really might want to choke your offender just like the servant in the parable! After all, twelve thousand dollars is still a lot of money, but it is pocket change relative to $6 billion.

But to quote John MacArthur, “Compared with our sins against God…our debt is unpayable.  The other debts we incur with people are easily payable. The point is when we have received forgiveness so vast, so far-reaching, so comprehensive, how can we be so small as not to forgive another?”

When we think about the fact that God has forgiven us of our sin by giving us His Son, our grudges, bitterness, and lack of forgiveness can seem trivial in light of the gospel.

Where is God calling you to forgive today? Who is God calling you to forgive today?

Therefore, we should display unlimited forgiveness toward others (verses 32-35).

This servant forgot what he had been forgiven of and he didn’t show the same compassion that had been shown to him. When we will not forgive others, we are saying that we are forgetting what Christ has done for us!

We don’t forgive someone because they deserve our forgiveness. We didn’t deserve forgiveness. We were pardoned by God through Jesus Christ alone, and because we are living in light of the gospel, we can forgive others. In Christ, we have been forgiven of a far greater offense than what someone committed against us. We forgive because we know what it is like to be forgiven.

So, in light of the good news of Jesus Christ, we should not ask how often we must forgive, but tell ourselves when we are offended, how can we not forgive?

Suggestions for Prayer

Ask God to enable you to forgive and to view forgiveness in light of being forgiven in Jesus Christ.

For Further Study

Memorize Ephesians 4:32 as a reminder of God’s marvelous grace to you.

Grace Hill Joins The Pillar Network

Grace Hill has exciting news! We have officially partnered with The Pillar Network. In their words, The Pillar Network is a community of like-minded SBC churches that are doctrinally aligned, missional driven, and committed to fulfilling the Great Commission, TOGETHER.

At Grace Hill, we are committed to raising, equipping, and sending leaders to plant and revitalize churches. Based out of Raleigh, NC, The Pillar Network is a great fit for us. The DNA of Pillar is exactly what Grace Hill was looking for in a church planting network. This partnership will enable Grace Hill to better fulfill the Great Commission.

We are more than excited to announce the partnership between Grace Hill and The Pillar Network!

Click here to read Pillar’s official announcement.

VALUE 5 – MISSION

God is a missional God. An understanding of the grand storyline of the Bible provides us with this reality. God promises that he would send a rescuer from the seed of the woman that would crush the serpent’s head (Gen 3:15). God, instead of obliterating the human race after the Fall, seeks to redeem a people for Himself. We believe that “through Adam sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned” (Rom 5:12). He sends a second Adam – Jesus Christ to save (Rom 5:19). Now, since all humans are under the right condemnation and judgment of God, every person apart from Christ is destined for His wrath (Eph 2:3). An eternal hell and just punishment await people here and everywhere as payment for their sins. It is through Jesus Christ in which we can be saved from the penalty of our law-breaking.

God does not take pleasure in the condemnation of the wicked but calls them to repentance and faith (Ezek 33:11). We also know Heaven will be filled with such a great multitude that cannot be numbered from all nations, tribes, peoples, and languages (Rev 7:9). As the church, we go out with great assurance and promised success as we go into the nations and our neighborhoods to proclaim the gospel.

Missions is much more than social activism. It is more than making other’s life better but changing their eternity. Yes, in part, missions meet the practical, physical, and immediate realities of hurting and broken people, but something much grander is going on than that. Why? God has determined the mission, and his mission is about redeeming people. And God redeems people through his message. Mission is tied to God’s message, and that message is “that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve” (1 Cor. 15:3-5). Christ died for and redeemed a multitude of people.

He calls us as his disciples to go out in all the world and makes disciples of all nations. Disciples make disciples through the proclamation of the gospel. It is by faith that people are justified. We believe everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Rom 10:13). We do this by sharing the goods news of Jesus Christ – “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent?” (Rom 10:14-15). We must go to our neighbors and to the nations armed for our mission with the gospel – “the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (Rom 1:16).

We seek to live with gospel intentionality locally and globally. We desire to play our part in God’s mission through evangelism, equipping and developing leaders, and sending them to plant other like-minded churches in Chatham County and to the ends of the earth. As the church, we partake in an unstoppable mission.

VALUE 4 – COMMUNITY

Only God can create true gospel community, and He does it through his Word. At Grace Hill, we have a supernatural community that exists only because of the sovereign action of God. The gospel changes and shapes all our relationships. We are now united through Jesus Christ. We value community and place a high priority on personal relationships that disciple and hold one another accountable.

We live in a day where so many people search for transparent, genuine, and authentic relationships. Well, authentic community is achieved in the life of the church through covenant church membership. Through properly exercised church membership, God safeguards his gospel, protects the witness of the church, and stimulates healthy gospel community.

This community of people will covenant together as a church to live out the gospel. This means that discipleship, intentional relationships, and accountability must exist at Grace Hill for true gospel community to occur. Speaking the truth in love, doing life together, and unity around the gospel is what will make Grace Hill a God-honoring community. What brings us together – Jesus – is greater than what would pull us apart.

As a community, we will partake in the Lord’s Supper together, and watch the baptism of new members of this community. We will gather for corporate worship on Sundays and small groups throughout the week. We will strive to be a diverse and friendly gospel community welcoming people of all backgrounds and ethnicities. We belong to God, and we will love one another, pray for one another, serve and support one another, rejoice with one another, and bear the burdens of one another. As we live in community, we will point to the truth and power of the gospel.

* REMINDER: We would like to invite you to attend the Grace Hill Bible Study on Monday, April 23 at 7pm. For more information on our Bible studies, click here.

** We are still taking applications for our pastoral internship.