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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 Covenant faithfulness

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

The Ends of All the Earth Shall Hear
God, Be Merciful to Me
Jesus, Savior, Pilot Me
To God Be the Glory

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

“The Eternal Guarantee of Our Faithful God”
2 Corinthians 1:18-24 (text: vss. 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 lamp, 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 or replacement out of pocket anyway! But that is not the way it is with the guarantee God gives.
In verses 21 and 22 we see the great differences between human guarantees and the Lord’s guarantees. Verses 21 and 22 speak of an eternal guarantee: “And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee. 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, frail, and fragile. 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 the better they work, and how can you destroy cast iron? Those pots and pans will probably be used by our children long after we have passed into glory. It would be easy to guarantee those with a lifetime 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: “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.”
Considering that truth, how amazing is it that God would take those who are dead in their sins and trespasses 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 and given new life would hold up as it faced not only innumerable potholes, but also the eroding effects of salt in the winter, and the intense heat of the summer? 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 bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” And he says we can be confident; we can be sure of that (Phil. 1:6).
In other words, the guarantee that God 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 our destination, from reaching our heavenly home in the “city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.” (Heb. 11:10)
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.”
Many times persecution reaches the fever pitch of martyrdom. But nothing, not even physical death can keep us from our destination. As Jesus said to Martha, at the tomb of Lazarus, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” Martha replied, “Yes, Lord, I believe…” (John 11:26, 27)
And Paul echoes that same truth in Romans 8. He assures us, by the Holy Spirit’s inspiration, of the inability of physical death to separate us from the love of our gracious God. He concludes the chapter with this blessed assurance: “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. (Rom. 8:38)
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.”
To avoid those pitfalls and dangerous detours, the Lord has given us a perfect GPS. The perfect GPS to guide us through life is his word which is a lamp to our feet and a light for our path (Psa. 119:105). By the Spirit’s work through the word, we are guided with a heavenly guidance far more accurate than the most sophisticated satellite-inspired GPS. That is why Proverbs 3:5, 6 tells us that in our pilgrimage through life we are to:
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
    and do not lean on your own understanding.
 In all your ways acknowledge him,
    and he will make straight your paths.
And Jesus lovingly, yet forcefully, warns us: “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” (Matthew 7:13, 14)
Even though we face both the hostility and the seduction of this fallen world, the Lord gives us his perfect guidance. And he guarantees that we will reach our destination, not by our strength or wisdom, but by his grace and indwelling Spirit through saving faith in Christ alone.
The Arrows of the Enemy
Not only are the travelers weak, not only are they traveling treacherous terrain, facing the hostility and seduction of the world, 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 the crossfire, rather than being in the wrong place at the wrong time, we who are Christians are the bull’s-eye target of the evil one. We face his constant attack. 1 Peter 5:8 warns, “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” And it is a Christian he looks for because those who reject Christ are already in his hand; they are 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.” (Eph. 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? How can he guarantee that we will reach our final destination in the heavenly city? We are like that old car in the junkyard, dead in sins and trespasses, but graciously given new life. But the road 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. 
You have undoubtedly discovered, as I have, that the person in the mirror is often your own worst enemy as the sinful nature within us battles against the Holy Spirit. We experience the truth of Galatians 6:17 every day of our pilgrimage: “For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.” Considering these impediments and our own sin, how is it possible that the Lord can give us this eternal guarantee, written about in these verses, that we will stand firm in Christ?
He can do so because, first, it is the Lord who establishes us, and thus makes us stand firm in him. We could never finish the course marked out for us in our own strength. Verse 21 begins by assuring us that “it is God who establishes us with you 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 you will bring it to completion” is ironclad. It is a guarantee that rests upon the finished, redeeming work of Jesus Christ. We are established in our salvation through the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ (his “passive obedience”), which propitiates – covers – our sins, removing God’s righteous and proper wrath from us. And also, we are established and stand firm, clothed in the righteousness of Christ, through his life of perfect obedience (his “active obedience”) imputed to us through the gift of saving faith in him.
Having been established in Christ, verses 21 and 22 go on to describe how he “has anointed us, and…has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.” 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 assures us: “But you have been anointed by the Holy One...”
The Holy Spirit anoints us – sets us apart – as he gives 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. Our salvation is based on our triune God, not us. We persevere in the journey of life because of his enabling power and grace. We stand firm, not in ourselves, but in him.
Verse 22 describes another reason why God's guarantee is eternal and ironclad. It describes how he “has also put his seal 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: “And a stone was brought and laid on the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet and with the signet of his lords, that nothing might be changed concerning 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 has “given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.” 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 as God establishes us: 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 as a deposit guaranteeing 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, despite the hostility and seduction of the world, despite the arrows of the evil one, despite our sinful nature working against us. In verse 24 we read: Not that we lord it over your faith, but we work with you for your joy, for you stand firm in your faith.”
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 truly 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 the gift of saving faith in Christ alone.
Most extended guarantees are expensive. If you buy a new car and get the extended warranty, you might have to pay several thousand dollars. But the eternal guarantee offered by the Lord is already paid for. It is paid in full, not with silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Jesus Christ. None of us could buy the guarantee of our salvation from sin, not even if we had all the money in the world. And that is why the Lord offers a guaranteed salvation from sin to you and to me without cost to us. In Isaiah 55:1 we read:
Come, everyone who thirsts,
   come to the waters;
and he who has no money,
    come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
  without money and without price.

That verse is speaking about salvation, about the eternal guarantee of Christ that His blood alone pays the cost for your sin and mine. And if you have been in the church all your life and never accepted the extended guarantee of salvation, or if you just come across this sermon on the internet, take to heart the words of Isaiah 55:6-7:
“Seek the LORD while he may be found;
     call upon him while he is near;
let the wicked forsake his way,
    and the unrighteous man his thoughts;
let him return to the LORD, that he may have
    compassion on him,
and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
Then look to the Lord Jesus Christ with humble repentance and saving faith. Find your strength in Him. Rest in the assurance that although you and I are weak and frail sinners, God the Father has guaranteed our salvation through the redeeming work of His Son, Jesus Christ, applied and further guaranteed by the Holy Spirit.
And then speak the “Amen” to the glory of God. Verse 20: “For all the promises of God find their Yes in him (Christ). That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory.” Amen!
sermon outline:
 And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us,
and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts
as a guarantee. - 2 Corinthians 1:21-22
                      “The Eternal Guarantee of Our Faithful God”
                                  2 Corinthians 1:18-24 (text, 21-22)
I. Our salvation, given by God’s grace and established through saving
    faith in Jesus Christ (21a), is guaranteed eternally 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. Application: God’s eternal guarantee has been fully paid (1 Peter 1:18-19)
      and is freely given to all who have saving faith in Christ alone (Isaiah 55:1, 6-7;
      John 14:6; Acts 16:31)



* 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, Rev. Ted Gray

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