I ended last week’s sermon with Philippians 1:6, “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Ang ibig sabihin ng sola gratia ay ito: lahat-lahat sa kaligtasang tinanggap natin ay dahil laman sa biyaya ng Diyos. Salvation past. Salvation present. Salvation future. All by grace. Grace in the beginning, grace in the middle, grace at the end. Ito ang kumpiyansa ni Pablo para sa sarili niyang kaligtasan at para sa kaligtasan ng mga mananampalatayang sinusulatan niya, including us. I am sure of this. Tatapusin ng Diyos ang sinimulan niya.
We also need to have this kind of assurance. Kasi kung ang kaligtasan ay nakasalalay in whole or in part man lang sa gawa natin o sa contribution natin o sa participaton natin, then assurance is impossible. Ningas cogon pa naman tayong mga Filipino. Mag-aapoy ngayon, biglang aandap-andap sa susunod na araw. Mainit ngayon, malamig bukas. Kung ganun tayo, kung ang faith natin ay humihina, paano ka nakatitiyak na di yan tuluyang mawawala? Kung nahuhulog ka sa kasalanan, paano ka nakatitiyak na di ka tuluyang mahuhulog at hindi na makakaahon pa? Kung prone to wander ang puso natin, prone to leave the God I love, how can you be sure that you will not leave God completely? How can be sure that all is well, and all will be well sa buhay natin ngayon and for all eternity?
We need a rock solid foundation for our faith. And it does not depend on us or anything that we can do or even our determination to finish the race. Buti na lang. Ito ay nakasalalay sa biyaya ng Diyos. Sola gratia.
Our confidence and assurance in life and our future is in the grace of God alone. Last week nakita natin na meron tayong Trinitarian reason for praising God. Una, vv. 4-6, we were chosen by the Father. “He chose us in him before the foundation of the world…” Ang pagpili niya ay hindi nakabatay, hindi conditional sa anuman sa nasa atin, not in any qualification or contribution on our part. It is wholly in God’s decision to choose us, to love us, to save us. That’s why grace is grace, undeserved, unmerited, unlimited. God’s unconditional, gracious election of us is the basis, the source of our assurance.
This election is part of God’s lavish provision for our desperate need of grace. Hindi na nga tayo karapat-dapat, ibinigay pa niya kung ano ang kailangan natin. Hindi lang niya ibinigay kung ano ang kailangan natin, hindi lang sapat-salpat ang provision niya, kundi sobra-sobra, labis-labis. I used the word “lavish” kasi ito naman ang ginamit ni Paul sa v. 8, “which he lavished upon us,” talking about “the riches of his grace” (v. 7). This word means “abounding, overflowing, superabundance, extremely rich.” So when Paul talked about “grace” in 2:5, 8, he is talking about “the immeasurable riches of his grace” (2:7). More often we are like beggars begging for bread and money from people on the streets when the truth is we are already children of the King. Hinahanap natin sa iba ang barya-barya o mumo ng kanin samantalang limpak-limpak at fiesta ang nasa atin na.
Kaya simula pa lang sinabi na ni Paul, “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.” Lahat ng pagpapala ng Diyos, lahat ng kailangan natin noon, ngayon at sa hinaharap ay nasa atin na dahil kay Cristo.
Dahil kay Cristo, vv. 7-12, we were redeemed by the Son. Biyaya din ng Diyos, wala tayong contribution diyan. Verses 13-14, assured by the Spirit. Sabi ko last week, laktawan na natin yung vv. 7-12 kasi natalakay na naman natin yung solus Christus last month. Pero hindi pala pwede. We need to see that the cross of Christ is God’s gracious act for us. And it is the anchor, dito naka-angkla ang assurance natin. For if Christ died for us, to purchase our salvation, but we lose our salvation along the way, then Christ’s death has been in vain or is not powerful enough to save us. But the Spirit assures us that we will reach our final salvation to be with God forever because Christ died to bring us back to God now and forever.
Assurance anchored in the Cross (vv. 7-12)
Kaya simula ng verse 7, “In him…” And this phrase is scattered all thoughout this passage. Lahat ng pagpapala ng Diyos (who has blessed us in him, v. 3), including the gift of assurance, ay nakatali kay Cristo.
In him we have redemption through his blood. The language Paul used in “redemption” means that we were slaves in need of ransom or rescue. Someone needs to pay or purchase our freedom. Hindi natin magagawa kasi nga bankrupt tayo. We cannot work our way out. Our freedom is costly. We cannot pay the ransom. We don’t have any “merit” to tilt the scale of justice on our favor. The only sufficient ransom is the life and blood of Jesus. He purchased our freedom (v. 7 NLT) when he lived a perfectly righteous life, died on the cross and rose from the dead.
Ano ang contribution mo dun? Except the sins and the nails that brought him to the cross! Do you even has a part in devising this plan? May suggestion ba man lang tayo na naioffer sa Diyos to design this very good plan? No! Lahat ng ito ay nangyari, naiplano, naisakatuparan dahil lamang sa pasya at desisyon ng Diyos. Ito yung tinutukoy ni Paul na “the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time” (vv. 9-10). Tinadhana ng Diyos ito para sa atin “according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will” (v. 11). He alone is infinitely wise (we are not!) to devise this plan of rescuing us.
This rescue includes “the forgiveness of our trespasses” (v. 7). We were no longer guilty, but pardoned fully. No longer under condemnation, no longer required to pay. It is finished. Bayad na. Jesus paid it all! Kung binayaran na niya lahat, kung abswelto na tayo sa kasalanan natin at wala na tayong atraso sa Diyos, the right response is not to perform to gain his approval, not to do more good works to earn our way to heaven, not to try harder or be a better version of ourselves, and not even try to repay him little by little. That would insult and depreciate the value of the sufficient sacrifice of Christ on the cross. The only right response is to hope in Christ (v. 12). We “believed in him” (v. 13). But more about that when we talk about sola fide. Magkakakabit naman kasi itong sola gratia, solus Christus at sola fide. We are justified (or declared righteous in the sight of God) by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.
Dahil kay Cristo, pinatawad tayo, itinuring the matuwid, tinanggap na mga tunay na anak ng Diyos. “Predestined for adoption as sons and daughters” (v. 5). Dahil tayo ay mga anak, tayo ay mga tagapagmana. In him we have obtained an inheritance (v. 11). That is the reward of eternal life with him. He is our inheritance. God gave us himself. Jesus died to bring us to God (John 17:3;14:6; 1 Pet 3:18). Pero pwede naman niyang sabihing we will obtain, para future tense, kasi kung tutuusin, wala pa yan sa possession natin. Kaya nga sabi ni Paul sa v. 14, “until we acquire possession of it.” Hinihintay pa natin ‘yan. Nakikipaglaban pa tayo sa kasalanan, we are still far from being like Christ, the world we live in doesn’t look like “glory.” Our joy is not yet complete. We still wait for that. Ang problema, sigurado ka ba na darating ‘yan? Sigurado ka ba that you will finish the race? Sigurado ka ba that you will keep on believing anuman ang mga trials and temptations na kaharapin mo? Kung nakasisiguro ka, where then is your assurance? Not in your faith, not in your resolve or determination to finish the grace, but in the grace of God. Kaya ang tense na ginamit ni Paul sa v. 11 about our inheritance is not future. It is still future, but our assurance is certain that we already have it. Tiyak na iyon. Garantisado.
But what assurance do we have that we will get this “inheritance”?
Assurance as work of the Spirit in our hearts (vv. 13-14)
The Holy Spirit. “In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation.” Ang salita ng katotohanan na narinig natin ay ang Mabuting Balita. Ito ay mabuting balita dahil ito ay hindi tungkol sa dapat nating gawin, na hindi naman natin nagawa. Ito ay tungkol sa ginawa na ni Jesus para sa atin. It is not a message or advice how we can participate or what kind of performance we need to be acceptable to God. It is about Jesus’ “it is finished” performance on the cross for us.
Nang marinig natin ito, hindi naman din natin ito pinagtrabahuhan. “When you heard the word…” Dumating ang opportunity sa atin na marinig ang gospel, through a friend, through radio or a sermon, kahit sa panahong lumalayo tayo sa Diyos at ni hindi natin siya hinahanap. Of course some of us sought out for the truth, but we don’t know it, we don’t know that the gospel is what we need until we heard of it.
Narinig natin, pinaniwalaan natin, “…and believed in him…” Sasabihin ng iba, “O ayan, faith is our contribution, faith is our participation. Oo naman tayo ang sumampalataya, it is our decision, it is an act of our will. Pero ang faith ay not about “work.” It is about resting in Jesus’ finished work. It is not about our contribution, but receiving Jesus’ gift of righteousness for us. It is not about our participation, it is about accepting that there is nothing we can do to be made right with God. Yun ang “faith.”
Have you ever asked this question, “How come you believed in Christ when others did not?” We were dead like the rest of mankind (Eph. 2:1-3). Minsan napaisip si Charles Spurgeon:
One week-night, when I was sitting in the house of God, I was not thinking much about the preacher’s sermon, for I did not believe it. The thought struck me, “How did you come to be a Christian?” I sought the Lord. “But how did you come to seek the Lord” The truth flashed across my mind in a moment – I should not have sought Him unless there had been some previous influence in my mind to make me seek Him. I prayed, thought I, but then I asked myself, How came I to pray? I was induced to pray by readin gthe Scriptures. How came I to read the Scriptures? I did read them, but what led me to do so? Then, in a moment, I saw that God was at the bottom of it all, and that He was the Author of my faith, and so the whole doctrine of grace opened up to me, and from that doctrine I have not departed to this day, and I desire to make this my constant confession, “I ascribe my change wholly to God.”
Kaya wala tayong maipagmamalaki na anuman. Mula sa pagiging patay, God made us alive (Eph. 2:5). Biyaya lang ng Diyos yan. Wala tayong contribution. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, that we can do to remedy our situation, to effect our own rescue, or even to contribute somehow and help God save us. We were spiritually dead. “You were dead” (v. 1), “we were dead” (v. 5). Not half-dead, or somewhat dead, as if there are degrees of deadness. Ano nga ba naman ang magagawa ng isang patay? Kundi mabulok, umalingasaw ang baho, at kainin ng uod. There is nothing we can do, not even to will to be saved or seek God on our own. Try to picture Jesus, na nasa labas ng libingan ni Lazarus na apat na araw nang nakalibing, so possibly dead for a week. Sure dead na yan. Sinabi ba ni Jesus, “Ok, hintayin ko muna siyang humingi ng tulong sa akin o tumawag sa akin o gustuhin niyang mabuhay.”
Or Ezekiel sa valley of dry bones sa Ezekiel 37. Tinanong siya ng Diyos, “Can these bones live?” Sagot naman niya, “O Lord God, you know” (37:3). Of course not! But in your power they can! Ganoon nga ang nangyari, through the word of God, nagkadikit-dikit ang mga buto, nagkaroon ng laman at ng balat, at huminga (vv. 7-10). The dead became fully alive! Gospel? Ganoon din kay Lazarus, sabi ni Jesus, “Lazarus, come out!” Di nga nakakarinig ang patay, di rin makakabangon, lalo pa’t makalakad at lumabas ng libingan. But the words of Jesus has power to give life. The dead was raised to life. At yan ang ginawa ng Diyos sa atin, through the gospel of Jesus applied in our hearts by the Spirit of God, God “made us alive” (Eph. 2:5). From death to life, from nothing to everything, from tragedy to blessing. Grace undeserved, unmerited, unlimited.
Hindi lang siya ang nagplano para tayo ay maligtas. Hindi lang niya isinakatuparan ang plano niya. Nangalko siyang tatapusin niya. He who began a good work in us will surely complete it until the day of Jesus Christ (Phil. 1:6). The moment we believed in Christ, the Spirit, the third person (not the least!) in the Godhead took residence in us. And he is determined to stay forever. It is dependent primarily not on our faithfulness but on God’s faithfulness. Kaya nga tinawag siyang the promised Holy Spirit. Ipinangako ni Jesus sa mga disciples niya. Ipinangako ng Diyos noon pa through the prophets. We have a faithful God. He will remain faithful to the end.
You were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit. Sealed. Tinatakan. The image here is like that of a cow sealed with a label indicating ownership. Kung sino ang may-ari. Tinatakan tayo ng Diyos, at ang kanyang Espiritu ang tatak para sabihin sa atin, and to the Enemy who assaults us everyday, “This belong to me.” Sa first question ng New City Catechism na ginagamit ko ngayon sa mga anak ko. Ang question ay, “What is our only hope in life and death?” Answer, “That we are not our own but belong to God.” Tayo ay pag-aari ng Diyos, his treasured possession. And it will stay that way for all eternity. He will make sure that he will not lose us. That’s our assurance.
The Holy Spirit is also the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it. Deposit. Downpayment. Pag nagdown ka sa bibilin mong bahay o kotse, indication na you commit to pay for it para maging full payment. Pero may mga cases pa rin na di natatapos ang payment and you forfeit ownership. Because our resources are limited, because we are not in control of a lot of things. But God? His resources are unlimited. His power is unlimited. And his downpayment is himself. The Spirit inside of us. And one day, we will see him face to face, we will bow down to our Lord and Savior Jesus, and experience eternity of joy in the fullness of the presence of God Three-in-One. Sigurado ‘yan.
“Until we acquire possession of it.” Magfocus tayo dyan para makita natin kung ano ang application ng doctrine na ito ng biyaya ng Diyos na tayo’y assured by the Spirit in us, anchored in the cross of Jesus, and rooted in the Father’s election of us. Kung hinihintay natin yung “inheritance” na yun, ibig sabihin yun ang pinakamahalagang “possession” natin. Wala sa mundong ito. Wala sa mga bagay sa buhay natin na pansamantala lang. Not our looks, not our jobs, not our money, not our house, not even our families. God is our most treasured possession. He is our inheritance. Para kasi tayong mga bata, na meron nang nakalaan na billions of dollars na inheritance, pero not yet fully aware of the magnitude of that. Ang gusto lang muna ay maibili ng mga candies, at ang iniiyakan pa ay ang nasirang laruan. Pahalagahan mo at pakasabikan mong makamtan ang kayamanang nakalaan na para sa iyo.
Yung phrase na “until we acquire possession of it” sa v. 14 ay nag-iindicate din ng already and not-yet aspect ng ating salvation. From this moment hanggang sa pagbabalik ng Panginoong Jesus, many years will pass and we will struggles with fear of the future, anxieties sa mga daily needs, insecurities sa social standing natin, but if we understand that we have received grace upon grace, Mapapawi anumang takot, pangamba at pagdududa sa puso mo, at mapapalitan ng matibay na katiyakan at sabik na paghihintay.
Kung ang kaligtasan natin ay nakabase wholly or even in part sa magagawa natin, you can never be sure of what will happen tomorrow. Pero kung ito ay sola gratia, you can face tomorrow with confidence, you can face your problems with faith, you can rest and not be worried about what will happen if you stop working, and you can even risk your life for the sake of this gospel. And in the end you will be able to say with Paul, “By the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me” (1 Cor. 15:10).