…you know in your hearts and souls, all of you, that not one word has failed of all the good things that the LORD your God promised concerning you. All have come to pass for you; not one of them has failed (Joshua 23:14).
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about doubt and how we ought to consider our doubts as believers. And, yes, I think that believers can be “doubters” as well. I know a lot of people (myself included) who have in the past or are currently experiencing a lot of doubt concerning different elements of the teachings of Scripture, what they believe (or have believed for a long time), and even their salvation itself. I’m convinced that all of us will go through times of doubt, but that these times should not be a source of terror for us as they often are; rather, they are a time for us to grow in confidence of Who God is and the fact that our salvation, our continued faith, and our growth is the result of His promise and unilateral desire to bring to fruition everything that He has begun in us. When we have no strength to sustain ourselves, it is in this place where God’s strength makes itself most clear to us.
Our salvation is not primarily about us–it’s okay, you can read that again. Your relationship with God is not actually about you–I’m getting crazy I know, but bear with me. Your life isn’t really about you either–Oh man, I know, I know… I’m a lunatic right? Everything in your life–your salvation, your relationship with God, your life, your future–is all about and for God and the praise of His glorious grace. Let’s take a look at one passage:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.
This is one of the most powerful explanations of our salvation! And, the more that I read it, the more I am convinced that it all has almost nothing to do with us in an ultimate sense. Not to say that God is unconcerned for us–clearly He determined to show us great love, and that love is a personal love–but that His love for us has the end goal of glorifying Himself and displaying His awesome nature for all to see.
In love we were predestined to be holy and blameless in Him, adopted as children, all to the praise of His glorious grace. He determined before the foundation of the world to make known the riches of His grace to us ” to the praise of His glory.” And this eternal salvation for those whom He is determined to give it is assured by the seal of the Holy Spirit Who guarantees our inheritance–one that is not earned or merited by us, but given to us because of the righteousness of Christ that we receive by His death and resurrection. We receive everything we don’t deserve, not simply for our benefit, but to show that God is worthy of honor and praise and glory. God’s determination to work out all things in our lives for our ultimate good is absolute because of His unrelenting desire to reveal His glory to us by His grace being administered in our lives, that we may be blameless and holy. This is not something we can lose or escape.
J.I. Packer says it powerfully:
“What matters supremely, therefore, is not, in the last analysis, the fact that I know God, but the larger fact which underlies it–the fact that he knows me. I am graven on the palms of his hands. I am never out of his mind. All my knowledge of him depends on his sustained initiative in knowing me. I know him because he first knew me, and continues to know me. He knows me as a friend, one who loves me; and there is no moment when his eye is off me, or his attention distracted from me, and no moment, therefore, when his care falters.
This is momentous knowledge…in knowing that God is constantly taking knowledge of me in love and watching over me for my good. There is tremendous relief in knowing that his love to me is utterly realistic, based at every point on prior knowledge of the worst about me, so that no discovery now can disillusion him about me, in the way I am so often disillusioned about myself, and quench his determination to bless me.
There is, certainly, great cause for humility in the thought that he sees all the twisted things about me that my fellow humans do not see (and I am glad!), and that he sees more corruption in me than that which I see in myself (which, in all conscience, is enough). There is, however, great incentive to worship and love God in the though that, for some unfathomable reason, he wants me as his friend, and desires to be my friend, and has given his Son to die for me in order to realize this purpose. (Knowing God, pg. 41-42)
Long quotes, I realize, but these ideas can have transformative effects that I think each of us need to experience. The kind of assurance and inner strength that these teachings bring is unparalleled. God is for you! Why? Because He is for Himself! These are the things that Joshua reminded the Israelites in his time so that they would not stray. God is for you, and He has fulfilled all of His promises to you. You know in your heart and soul, all of you, that not one word of all the good things God has promised for you has failed.
This is the kind of God we serve and love and worship. He is a God who, even when “we are faithless, [will remain] faithful–for he cannot deny Himself” (2 Tim. 2:13). He will not let you go because to let you go would be like letting go of Himself, His purposes, His will, and His desires. He will not abandon Himself, and neither will He abandon you.
My hope is that, as you consider your own doubts, you will realize that it is absolutely true that God will not fail to bring about the perfect fulfillment of even one word that He has promised us in Christ. Face your doubts head on, tearing them down: “For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ” (1 Cor. 10:4-5). All the power of God and the hosts of heaven is behind you, and He will bring about everything He desires in your life for your ultimate good. Why? Because the story of our lives aren’t just about us. He won’t fail us. He won’t let even one word of His promise fail to come to pass.