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Author:Rev. Ted Gray
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Congregation:First United Reformed Church
 Oak Lawn, Illinois
Title:The Eternal Guarantee of Our Faithful God
Text:2 Corinthians 1:18-24 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:God's faithfulness

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

(Selections from the 1976 Psalter Hymnal):

425 - Jesus, Lover of My Soul

446 - My Faith Looks Up to Thee  

460 - Jesus, Savior, Pilot Me

378 - I Know Not Why God’s Wondrous Grace

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Ted Gray, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.

Pastor Ted Gray
“The Eternal Guarantee of Our Faithful God”
2 Corinthians 1:18-24 (text: v. 21, 22)
A common question in a store checkout line is, “Do you want to purchase the extended guarantee?” No matter what you buy, from a big purchase like a car, to a small purchase like a calculator, the offer is usually made to purchase an extended guarantee.
We are all familiar with the fine print in every human guarantee. And we all know that every human guarantee is limited by time. Often it seems as soon as the guarantee is over, then whatever we have bought breaks and we end up paying for repairs out of pocket anyway! But that is not the way it is with the guarantees God gives.
In verse 21 and 22 we see the great differences between human guarantees and the Lord’s guarantees. Verse 21 and 22 speak of an eternal guarantee: Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.” It is an eternal guarantee with no fine print and no exclusions for those who have true saving faith in Jesus Christ. There is no need for an extended service contract because this guarantee will never end; it is everlasting, eternal.
And what makes this guarantee even more amazing is that the guarantee is for something very weak and frail. It is easy to guarantee something that is virtually indestructible. For example, my wife and I have a set of cast iron pots and pans. The more you use them they better they work, and how can you destroy cast iron? Those pots and pans will be used by our children long after we are dead and gone. It would be easy to guarantee those with a life-time guarantee.
But God’s eternal guarantee isn’t for something that is cast iron solid. God’s guarantee covers weak, frail sinners. God’s eternal guarantee is for creatures of dust, destined to die a physical death. Suppose that someone went to the local junkyard – the local “You Pull 'n Save” –   and took an old rusty car from there, gave it new life and guaranteed that it would run forever. If someone made that promise you would exclaim, “That's impossible! There is no way that guarantee will hold up!”
But that is exactly what God has done for us. We are like that old rusted car in the junkyard that has died, because we, too, were dead in our trespasses and sins. You know how Ephesians 2:1-3 puts it:As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath.”
Considering that, how amazing is it that God would take those who are dead in their sins and give them new life?  How amazing that he would guarantee – with an iron-clad, eternal guarantee – that sinners who were dead in sins and trespasses are raised to life eternally and will never lose his gift of saving grace!
The Hostility and Seduction of the World
Not only is the material that God guarantees made of dust, weak, frail and sinful, but in addition, the terrain we travel on planet earth is both hostile and seductive to the Christian. In the analogy of the car that is given new life after it has been rusting in the junkyard, it is astounding that the one who gave that car new life would guarantee that the car would never die.
But it would be even more astonishing if the one making the guarantee would guarantee that car, even though it would be driven every day over every pothole that you can imagine. Can you imagine guaranteeing that a car that was dead in the junkyard would hold up as it faced the eroding effects of salt in the winter, and the intense heat of the summer, as well as the potholes? Who would make such a guarantee!
But that is what God guarantees for us. Although we were dead in sins and trespasses, he gives us new life, and then he guarantees that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6). In other words, the guarantee that he gives us – when by his grace we are given new life from above – is that all the pitfalls and potholes of this hostile world cannot keep us from reaching heaven.
The road of life for the Christian is a road through the hostility of the world. Jesus warned of that in John 15:18-20, when he said, “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.”
But the world is not only hostile toward the followers of Christ, putting every impediment and pothole possible into our pathway.  The world can also be incredibly seductive in an effort to move those of us who believe in Christ off the straight and narrow path onto the broad road that leads to destruction.
The seduction of the world is similar to the seductive “siren songs” of Greek mythology. In Greek mythology, the Siren was like a Mermaid except that Sirens were temptresses, sent to lure sailors from safety and cause their destruction. The sailors, entranced by the singing of the attractive Sirens, would be coaxed from the safe passage they were on to the rocky shoals that brought destruction.
But Scripture is no myth as it warns of the seduction of the world.  Considering the attractiveness of the world to the fallen eye, the Holy Spirit warns, in 1 John 2:15-17, Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.”
Yet even though we face both the hostility and the seduction of this fallen world, the Lord gives us his eternal guarantee that we will endure to the end, by his grace and indwelling Spirit.
The Arrows of the Enemy
Not only are the travelers weak, not only are they traveling treacherous terrain, but there is also an enemy around every curve, waiting to shoot fiery arrows. In the Chicago area we are familiar with drive-by shootings which have taken so many lives. Our hearts go out to those who have lost loved ones who were innocent people in the wrong place at the wrong time. They got caught in the crossfire, and their lives were snuffed out in a tragic moment.
But spiritually speaking, in the analogy of those who were dead but given new life and traveling the treacherous road of a Christian sojourner, there is also the constant danger of sniper fire. But rather than being caught in crossfire, being in the wrong place at the wrong time, we who are Christians are the target of the evil one. We face his constant attack. 1 Peter 5:8 warns, Your enemy, the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.” And it is a Christian he looks for, because those who reject Christ are already under his power.
Because we face such a furious foe, we are told in Ephesians 6 to put on the full armor of God as we travel in the pilgrimage of this life. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12).
The Fulfillment of God’s Guarantee
How is it possible that the Lord is able to guarantee eternally that we will stand firm in Christ? We are like that old car in the junkyard, dead in sins and trespasses, but graciously given new life. But now the road that we travel is so treacherous, and we have not only the devil as our enemy, but also the world and our own sinful nature which still lives within us.  So how is it that the Lord can give us this eternal guarantee, written about in these verses, that we will stand firm in Christ?
First, it is the Lord who establishes us, and thus makes us stand firm in Christ. We could never accomplish that in our own strength. Verse 21 begins by assuring us, Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ.”
The gift of saving faith in Jesus, and the entire work of salvation, is God's work from beginning to end. And that is why the guarantee that “he who began a good work in us will carry it on to completion” is ironclad. It is a guarantee that rests upon the finished, redeeming work of Jesus Christ, both his life of perfect obedience (his “active obedience”) and his sacrificial death (his “passive obedience”).
In verse 21 and 22 three specific aspects – or illustrations – of God’s redeeming work in Christ, wrought by the Holy Spirit, are mentioned: “He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.”
The last part of verse 21 says, He anointed us…” In the Old Testament era, anointing was used to show that a person was set apart for special service. For instance, prophets, priests, and kings were anointed. Their anointing showed that they were set apart for service by God. The same was true for the apostle Paul and the others who were set aside for special service in God's kingdom. But the same is also true for you and for me. 1 John 2:20 says: But you have been anointed by the Holy One...”
The Holy Spirit anoints us, giving us new, spiritual life through faith in Christ. You recall those familiar words of Jesus to Nicodemus, recorded in John 3:5-7: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’”
The reason why God’s guarantee of our salvation is ironclad and eternal is because it is rooted in God himself.  It is the Holy Spirit who comes in sovereign grace and gives us that gift of saving faith in Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit causes us to be born again, not with a physical birth, but with spiritual, eternal birth. By God’s grace we are born into his family, washed by the precious blood of Jesus Christ and indwelt with the Holy Spirit. Consequently, God guarantees his work in us eternally; that is why we can have such great confidence in his guarantee: It is based on our triune God, not us.
Verse 22 describes a second reason why God's guarantee is eternal and ironclad.  It describes how he sets his seal of ownership on us. A seal does two things. First, it shows the genuine character of something. For instance, a diploma has a seal imprinted on it to show the genuine character of the document. And then, secondly, a seal proves possession. The name written on the diploma, which is sealed with the imprint of the school, testifies that the person named on the diploma completed that course of study and graduated from that school.
When God seals us with his Holy Spirit, he verifies that we are truly born again and are given the gift of saving faith in Jesus Christ. And he verifies that we belong, not to ourselves, certainly not to the devil or the world, but we belong to him, the living and eternal God.
Do you remember, children, how Daniel was thrown into the den of lions? When that happened King Darius sealed the den with his signet ring. Daniel 6:17 explains, “A stone was brought and laid over the mouth of the den; and the king sealed it with his own signet ring and with the signet rings of his nobles, so that nothing would be changed in regard to Daniel.” It is that aspect of sealing – the aspect that nothing can change what has been sealed – that is represented in the illustration of God setting his seal of ownership on us.
We read of that in many New Testament passages, including Ephesians 1:13-15: “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.”
A third reason why God's guarantee of our salvation is ironclad and eternal is in the last part of verse 22 which describes how the Lord put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit guaranteeing what is to come.”
The imagery is that of earnest money, such as you put toward the purchase of a house. When you buy a house, you must put down your earnest money, which is a pledge that you will go through with the transaction that you have signed your name to. Sometimes people do not follow through on their pledge, and they lose their earnest money. But God always follows through on what he has pledged to do, and he gives us his Holy Spirit to be that deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.
Those three aspects of our salvation work together: We are anointed by the Holy Spirit; God has imprinted his seal upon us as his redeemed people, and he gives us his indwelling Holy Spirit to guarantee what is to come. 
Our Response
How are we to respond to such wonderful promises? How are we to respond to the ironclad guarantee of our salvation? Our response must include a focus of our faith on Christ alone as we journey through life. God’s eternal guarantee of our salvation should give us a joyful resolve to stand firm in our faith. In verse 24 we read: Not that we lord it over your faith, but we work with you for your joy, because it is by faith you stand firm.”
It is by faith in Jesus Christ alone that we stand firm in every aspect of life. Where do we receive assurance that our sins are forgiven, that we are right with God and heirs of heaven? Through saving faith in Christ alone. And the same goes for every aspect of life.  We are assured that our daily bread will be provided, that grace will be given for every thorn in the flesh, that nothing will separate us from the love of God – not even death – because of saving faith in Christ alone.
In your life right now does it seem as though the road before you is especially steep and winding, filled with potholes? Does it seem as though the arrows of the evil one are aimed directly at you as you travel the troubled road of life? Do you feel too weak to continue, as though all your strength is sapped?
Then look to the Lord Jesus Christ and find strength through saving faith in him alone. Rest in the assurance that although you and I are weak and frail sinners, God has guaranteed our salvation through the redeeming work of His Son, Jesus Christ.
And if, by God’s grace, you believe in the Lord Jesus this morning, then speak the “Amen” to the glory of God. Verse 20: For no matter how many promises God has made, they are ‘Yes’ in Christ. And so through him the ‘Amen’ is spoken by us to the glory of God.”
Speak the “Amen” by living a life of gratitude – gratitude that God has guaranteed eternally that you will stand firm in Christ through the indwelling power and presence of the Holy Spirit, for “He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.” Amen!
Bulletin outline:
Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set His
seal of ownership on us, and put His Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what
is to come. - 2 Corinthians 1:21-22
                                “The Eternal Guarantee of Our Faithful God”
                                                     2 Corinthians 1:18-24
I. Our eternal life, given by God’s grace through saving faith in Jesus Christ (21), is guaranteed
    even though we:
     1) Were dead in our sins and trespasses (Ephesians 2:1-3)
     2) Live in a hostile, yet seductive world (John 15:18-20; 1 John 2:15-17)
     3) Are opposed and stalked by a fierce enemy (Ephesians 6:11; 1 Peter 5:8)
II. The Lord accomplishes His eternal guarantee by causing us to stand firm in Christ (21, 24)
     as He:
     1) Anoints us with His Spirit (21b), giving us new, spiritual life through saving faith in Christ
         alone (John 3:5-7; 1 John 2:20)
     2) Sets His seal of ownership on us (22a; Ephesians 1:13-14)
     3) Puts His Spirit in our heart as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come (22b;
         2 Corinthians 5:5)
III. Our response: We are to stand firm in our faith in Christ (21, 24), speaking the
     “Amen” to the glory of God (20)


* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Ted Gray, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright 2017, Rev. Ted Gray

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