4Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! 5Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. 6Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
One of our distinctives as a congregation is what we sometimes call Sunny Calvinism. What do we mean by this label? Just this – Calvinism, rightly understood, is nothing but the declaration, as Charles Spurgeon once said, that salvation is of the Lord. And that is supremely good news – news that should make us joyful not grumpy.
Salvation – the glorious glad tidings that though we rebelled against our Creator and brought upon ourselves and all creation ruin and destruction, God acted to deliver us from our folly and rescue all creation from the darkness of death. He sent His Son to bear the punishment for our sin; He raised up His Son victorious over the grave; He gave His Son, as the Exalted Ruler over all creation, the right to pour out the Spirit and renew the face of the earth. What we could not do, weak as we were, God did. Salvation is of the Lord.
But there’s more. After all, for Christ’s work of redemption to apply to us individually more must happen. Each of us by nature is a child of wrath, devoted to the service of other gods, selfish, self-centered, worshiping the creature rather than the Creator. We are, as Paul announces, dead in our trespasses and sins – unable to rescue ourselves from our folly, unwilling to turn from our sin and embrace Christ. Christ’s death on the cross, His resurrection to the right hand of God – neither would benefit us if not for the work of the Spirit. God doesn’t just set up some mechanism of salvation and then say to us, “OK, put the coin in the slot and pull the lever and make it work.” No! Salvation is of the Lord. The Spirit must make us willing to turn from our sin and turn to Jesus. So if you are in Jesus, if you believe in Him and rest on Him for forgiveness and newness of life, then the Spirit of God has done this for you. Though you were stubbornly set against God by nature, by grace He has given you new life. Salvation is of the Lord.
And not only this – not only has God rescued and redeemed us – we know also that our Sovereign Lord governs all things and holds us and all things in His hands. Whatever the Lord pleases He does – in heaven and on earth, in the seas and in all deeps. He is sovereign. Not one hair falls from our head apart from our Father’s will. No enemy of ours shall separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. No plot of the wicked shall upset the righteous reign of our Christ or thwart His determination to establish justice in the earth. Salvation is of the Lord – the Ruler of all and whose purposes none can frustrate.
So what ought to be our response? Joy! Rejoicing! Delight! Sunny Calvinism. In the words of Paul, “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand.” The Lord – He who rules over all things and reigns supreme for the benefit of all those who are in Christ – is at hand. Hence, the fruit of the Spirit is joy. God has rescued us; God has done that which we were not able to do for ourselves; so how can we be anything but joyful? Salvation is of the Lord.
But often rather than reflecting such joy – joy that we have been redeemed, joy that God has us right where He has us for some good purpose – we grumble, complain, grow sour, live anxiously. So today as we enter into God’s presence, let us confess that we have failed to rejoice always; and, as you are able, let us kneel as we confess together. We will have a time of silent confession followed by the corporate confession found in your bulletin.