Times of uncertainty can be disorientating for us. The inability to know what will come next can cause us to be uncertain and anxious. Such feelings are normal for finite humans who cannot see into the future. Yet, Christians ought to hold onto God in uncertain times because in Psalm 33 we see God as the God of History, the One who is in perfect control.
The Certainty of God’s Plans
Psalm 33 establishes that God’s plans stand firm forever (v.11). Whatever God plans will happen at exactly the appointed time. God has never been more or less in control. We can be certain of God’s plans coming to pass because they occur with his created world. The psalm shows God to be Creator in (vv.6-9) and we are included in that creation (v. 15). The truth of God’s control should displace any notion in our minds that God is the aloof Creator, who created the world, set the stage, gave us the props and then removed himself. God has not lost control. He exercises complete control, and his plans are certain to come about.
The Loving Content of God’s Plans
God is in control, but are his plans any good? Should we be worried? The thought of the world being overseen by a God without any standard of goodness is a frightening thought. Thankfully, that’s not the case. God is Holy and we see his character summarised in (vv.4-5). God’s ‘unfailing love’ is mentioned three times through this psalm (vv.5,18,22). This is the love that he shows to us, the undeserving. The love that has brought us into covenant relationship with himself. He has done all the work and orchestrated human history to bring about salvation for his chosen inheritance. God’s plans then are the purposes of his heart and so reflect his nature (v.11). We see the love of God towards his rebellious creation through the plan of salvation that took Christ to the Cross.
The Consequence of our Hope
When discussing the consequences, we can’t just say that the consequences of this truth are the same for all. No, how you respond and what you believe will have consequences.
For those who misplace their hope
Those who reject the offer of salvation through Christ are rejecting the only effective means of salvation. They are rejecting the only hope they have of eternal life with God in Heaven. You’re setting yourself up in opposition to the Creator of the world and the Director of world history. What a foolish position to put yourself in for God foils the plans of his opponents (v.10). We see the foolishness of misplacing your hope in (vv.16-17). Now is the time to change the foundation of your hope, whilst there is still time.
For those who hope in the Lord
If our hope is in the Lord, then, what he has done in the past for us cannot be undone and what he has promised for our future is certain. Christ’s decisive and victorious intervention in human history is the greatest demonstration of God’s unfailing love for us. Knowing that God is in control of all human history and knowing that he is the redeemer of creation should foster confidence in the mind of the believer. It should enable us to exercise faith even when we can’t see what God is doing. The final three verses of this psalm ought to be our own prayer.
In this letter to the Corinthians, Paul is addressing a church which has its fair share of problems. There are factions within the church, sexual immorality is prevalent, lawsuits are being carried out amongst believers and the resurrection of Christ is being denied. Here then was a Church of God (v.2) not acting as they ought to. How would you have approached this situation? Remarkably Paul begins with thanksgiving. He is writing to correct and address the issues in Corinth, but begins with thanksgiving. Paul’s hope for the reform of the Corinthian church is not in their ability to change themselves, but in a faithful God who supplies grace for change and endurance. From that place of confidence, Paul addresses the Corinthian Church.
Grace Given by God
Paul begins by thanking God for giving grace to the Corinthians (v.4). Saving grace must have been received as Paul refers to those ‘sanctified in Christ Jesus’. The grace that allowed Paul to legitimately regard these people as believers was from God, through Christ. It’s grace because it’s undeserved. Think of what these believers were like before grace. Nothing in that collection of people was deserving of God’s salvation. Give thanks then that God saves by grace and not by merit. We are all saved by grace. Paul doesn’t commend the Corinthians for their merits, but he thanks God for his grace towards these people. Salvation is a work of God and it is given to us. Do we recognise this and are we thankful for this?
Equipped to Await Christ’s return
Having received salvation, we still need to navigate living in a sinful world. A new heaven and a new earth await us but we aren’t there yet and we are called to wait for the Lord’s return. Thankfully, we are not left to navigate this wait on our own – grace saves and grace equips us to await for the Lord’s return. The Corinthians were enriched and gifted, so that they lacked no gift as they waited (v.7). In a sense, the Corinthians had no excuse. God had equipped them through Christ and the Spirit to endure and they had gone astray. They were neglecting and misusing God’s gifts. Yes, these people had been saved, but they had also been ‘called to be holy’. They are responsible for living holy lives. We have a calling and a responsibility to live holy lives before God as we await the Lord’s return. Thankfully God equips us for this.
Fellowship Guaranteed by a Faithful God
Even as we pursue holiness in this life, we fall short and this can cause believers anxiety about possibly losing their salvation. Yet verses 8-9 of our passage are a tremendous encouragement. Paul’s hope lay with a God who faithfully saves, preserves and delivers his people until the end. He is able to keep his people and has promised to do so. Christianity is a relationship, and we have been called into fellowship with our Lord Jesus Christ who is the Son of God. This is an eternal relationship. Those who trust in Christ as their Lord and Saviour will be forgiven and kept ‘strong to the end’ and ‘blameless’ on that last day when we will enter eternal and unhindered fellowship with Jesus. We often base our assurance of faith on recent performance and feelings, but we should base it on a faithful God. One who faithfully forgives those who call on him and faithfully provides all that we need to wait until the Lord’s return. Our salvation is secure because it is guaranteed by a faithful God.