“Choose you this day whom you will serve; but as for me and my house we will serve the Lord. Joshua 24:15
Much is written today in Christian circles of the need to emphasize the wonder and abundance of God’s grace. And so it is. It overwhelms sin and penetrates the hardest heart. It is why it is called “amazing grace. It is the truth of our theology. Yet there are times when thinking to lift grace up to an all-encompassing level, in doing so, the law of God and its purposes in our justification and sanctification are minimized. It is the age old battle of law and grace. If, as the Bible describes, the end or goal of the law is Christ, the law has a grace-benefit in driving us to Christ where grace abounds and the law doesn’t kill.
Many years ago in dialogue with a young man who believed he was “made a Christian deserving heaven because he had been “christened in the church of his parents, yet there was no current or past evidence of faith in his life to back up his claim of being a Christian. He didn’t pray, attend church, talk of the Lord, read the Bible, guard his tongue from profanity, or live or strive to live morally. Yet he had been led to believe he was “safe. There are many professing Christians who live a life much improved over his; they do attend church, read the Bible, at least a little, pray some, eschew most profanity, yet there is little victory in their life over those sins which so often lead to destructive addictions of substance or thought or actions or even inactions. Their lives seem to slide from bad to worse or fossilize in place. Yet Bible passages like Hebrews 6:4-6 appear to bring little if any fear to their presumption of salvation and eternal life.
Joshua’s final words and challenge to the Israelites brings a familiar verse to our remembrance which characterizes the life of one who has entered into a breathing relationship with Christ through faith and considers them self a true disciple: “Choose you this day whom you will serve. The English “choose is expressed only in a future tense, as Joshua saying “sometime in the future you need to choose to serve the Lord; the Hebrew is more expressive in its verb tense. In the Hebrew the tense reflects both past, at some specific point, and continuing on into the future, a continuous action that never ends. Once you have chosen to follow Christ, tomorrow you choose to do so again, and the next day you choose Christ as your Master, and on continuously every day. The first justifies, the continuance of choosing confirms to you regeneration and an increasing sanctification. This is Joshua’s challenge to the Israelites, and his own testimony for himself and the house he presides over as leader of his own family. The succeeding book, Judges, shows that many did not take up Joshua’s challenge as their own, yet others courageously did.
Therefore, the “always challenge to you from God’s Word is that an active and genuine faith incorporates a continuing daily choosing to follow Christ, to walk in His Spirit today, to hear His words and do them today. Many, constant decision points will arise in your life and you must and will make choices each day. His grace enables your choices to serve Him, but it is still an action of a redeemed will. Choosing is something your will, engaging your heart and mind, says yes or no to; I will choose to do this. I will serve the Lord; and as much as it depends on me, so will my family.
The Apostle Paul is all too aware that there is a constant temptation being under grace to succumb to complacency, to use grace as a license to sin and follow other gods, because the law is dead to you when you are under grace (Romans 6 and Galatians 3). Paul’s retort to such thinking is vehement: “God forbid! Your faith must prove itself sincere; choose today whom you will serve. And tomorrow do it again!
“Standing by a purpose true, heeding God’s command, honor them, the faithful few! All hail to Daniel’s band! Dare to be a Daniel! Dare to stand alone! Dare to have a purpose firm! Dare to make it known!
(1st verse and refrain from Philip Bliss’ hymn, “Dare to Be a Daniel, 1873)
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