In the midst of people falling away from the faith, the apostle Paul gave these encouraging words: “Nevertheless, God’s solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: ‘The Lord knows those who are his,’ and, ‘Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness’” (2 Tim. 2:19) The solid foundation that the apostle Paul was referring to was none other than the Lord Jesus Christ. If we build our lives in him then we are standing on solid ground. Our faith in God should be as immovable as a rock so that we do not fall away. In declaring the stability of the church, Jesus responded to Peter’s confession that He is the Christ, saying, “On this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it” (Matt. 16:18).
On the solid foundation that God laid, the first inscription pertains to God himself and the second pertains to men. In the first, we are told that the Lord knows those who are his. In his own words, Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:14, 27). Indeed, Jesus, our good shepherd, knows us and calls us by our name. He knows us by the way we love him and by our obedience to his commands. And as we ourselves came to know him through his Word, we have familiarized ourselves with his voice that we obey and follow him. We do not follow false teachers, false prophets and even strangers because we do not recognize their voice.
Earlier through the prophet Isaiah, God made it clear to Israel that they are his. He said, “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze” (Isa. 43:1-2). Similarly, as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, we can appropriate these promises for ourselves. If we can only digest the significance and effect of these promises in our daily lives, we can be liberated from the fear of things that may come. In fact, even when we shall face a sea of problems, God will part it for us and we shall walk through it safely, just like the Israelites who passed through the Red Sea on dry ground. It is worth noting that God’s deliverance was complete in that he made it easy for Israel to overcome their challenges. He did not only part the Red Sea but he made the ground completely dry in order that Israel will not have to deal with the wet and muddy floor of the sea. As a result, even the youngest and the oldest of them were able to cross and walk through safely (Exodus 14:21-31).
There will be times also when we are so overwhelmed with the troubles of life that they will come like rivers cascading on us. Again, the comfort is that for as long as we have the Lord, these will not sweep over us. The Lord will be our shield of protection and we will overcome just as Israel overcame the Jordan River when the Lord stopped its flow (Joshua 3:14-17). As for those who find themselves in the furnace of affliction, what hope will they have? They can find comfort in the experience of the three friends of Daniel. While they were thrown into the fiery furnace because they stood firm in their faith in the Lord, God rescued them. They came out of the furnace untouched by the fire. There was no trace at all that they were in the furnace in that not even a strand of hair was singed; their robes were not scorched and there was no smell of fire on them (Daniel 3:26-27). We too shall overcome our challenges and shall come out unscathed if the Lord walks with us.
But while God is faithful, we need to do our part. The second inscription requires that we turn away from wickedness if we have truly received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. It is impossible for someone to claim to be a Christian and yet continue to live in wickedness. This truth was clearly presented in the Book of Hebrews which says, “It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age and who have fallen away, to be brought back to repentance. To their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace” (Heb 6:4-6). Therefore, let us stop sinning and start following the Lord. Our confession that Jesus is our Lord should be accompanied by our actions. It should be seen in the way that we live our lives. Let us be born again in words and in deeds. Hallelujah!