From yesterday’s bulletin at Glenquarie Anglican:
On Saturday the Australian Electoral Commission finally announced the result of the election in the Queensland seat of Fairfax. It couldn’t have been closer! Weeks of counting and shuffling preferences has led to the declaration that the mining magnate Clive Palmer has won by just 36 votes. In fact it’s so close that there will almost certainly be a recount. Just to be sure.
Some things in life are far more certain. For example, I have all the birth certificates of my children neatly stored away so that, if required, I can prove the exact details of their birth. It’s beyond doubt. In the same way our marriage certificate is a clear and unchanging declaration of our status.
But what about when it comes to your status in front of God? How do you think we ought to talk about it? Is it with the language of the birth of marriage certificate – certain and with no room for doubt – or is it more along the lines of a very uncertain win by a few dozen votes and the need for a recount just to be sure?
The great news, of course, is that when it comes to the Christian they can be rock solid sure. The Apostle Paul writes:
“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1)
No condemnation! Nothing. Zip. Nadda. Zero. If you are a Christian then you can be utterly confident in your eternal status! But why is that?
Well, it’s certainly not because of who we are. Quite the opposite. Just moments before writing the words above, Paul reflected on his own sinfulness and said,
“What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?” (Romans 7:24)
The whole chapter is worth a read through. Paul wants us to see that simply knowing the right thing to do is no good at all – it just shows us how we’re messing up! His conclusion is that he is a “wretched man” who needs rescuing. Which makes the very next thing he writes so wonderful:
“Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:25)
Up until this moment Paul’s spiritual status needed no recount, for all the wrong reasons. He was gone for all money, a wretched man with no hope in the face of God’s anger at sin. So what made all the difference? God Himself who “delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” It’s wonderful news, God Himself is the one who saves and if God is saving then you have to ask yourself, “who is going to stop Him?”
Jesus says the same thing in John’s gospel.
“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day.” (John 6:44)
Again, the opening is bad, bad news. No one can even begin to approach Jesus. In our sinful nature we don’t even want to. No contest, no need for a recount. We’re sinners through and through.
But God intervenes. No one can come to Jesus unless the Father draws them. And if the Father does draw them, well, they will be raised up at the last day. Put another way there is nobody that the Father draws to Jesus that is not raised up on the last day. No contest, no recount.
And once again, see clearly why this is so; because it is God who is doing the work. The Father draws and the Son raises them up. It’s all in God’s hands and so you have to ask yourself “who is going to stop Him?”
Here is a far more certain election than the transferable voting we get involved in. Here’s the “one man, one vote” you can utterly rely upon; Jesus Himself making absolutely certain. The Anglican Articles of Religion put it this way (Article XVII):
…our Election in Christ, is full of sweet, pleasant, and unspeakable comfort to godly persons, and such as feel in themselves the working of the Spirit of Christ, mortifying the works of the flesh, and their earthly members, and drawing up their mind to high and heavenly things, as well because it doth greatly establish and confirm their faith of eternal Salvation to be enjoyed through Christ, as because it doth fervently kindle their love towards God…
Which is a fancy way of saying “we see God at work in our lives by His spirit and we are renewed and encouraged in our faith and trust in Him because we know there will never be a recount.
The newspapers tell us that Clive Palmer has been fuming for a while over the uncertainty of the Fairfax vote. Christian, we ought to be the exact opposite – joyful at the certainty of our election. Thanks be to God who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord. No recount.