After finishing high school, I spent three years as an ocean lifeguard, serving the city of Hollywood, Florida. Despite all the lifesaving and water safety training we received, you are never quite prepared for the challenge of physically controlling and calming a struggling swimmer in order to get them and you to safety. The rescuer is taught to approach from behind, in order to keep the panicked swimmer from grabbing the rescuer and pulling him or her down. If this “stealth approach” was impossible, we learned to approach from the front, always keeping a flotation device between the victim and the rescuer. To be sure, the victim does not desire to be “reluctantly rescued,” but their fear causes them to fight against the rescuer all the way to the shore.
I believe this serves as a marvelous picture of the Christian’s redemption.
As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.”
The apostle Paul echoed the Old Testament to precisely describe what happened to you and me as a result of the fall of Adam and Eve. Our first parents sinned by eating the forbidden fruit; when they heard the sound of God approaching in the Garden of Eden, they ran and hid . . . and we have been on the run ever since. We are rebels on the run, hiding from the only One who can help us! Because of our unrighteousness, we are both reluctant and resistant to the things of God. We are seeking everything other than God, and in the process, we shrink the size of our lives down to the size of our lives.
The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.
(1 Corinthians 2:14)
However, in spite of our reluctance and rebellion, just like the struggling swimmer in the open ocean, our Rescuer grabs hold of us and brings us safely to the shore of our salvation. And just like the struggling swimmer, without the divine rescue operation, we will inevitably sink into the depths of despair and ultimate destruction.
It is important to note that God’s rescue doesn’t end the day we are saved. It continues every day until He brings us home into glory. As Dr. D. James Kennedy often said, “God saved you then, and He is saving you now!”
God is constantly rescuing us from ourselves, because, deep within, the battle rages between the old and the new nature. Paul makes this truth abundantly clear in the seventh chapter of Romans. He closes that remarkable passage with this passionate cry:
What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God — through Jesus Christ our Lord!
What an encouragement it is to know that God will never stop rescuing rebels on the run!
Jonah knew this truth personally; after he ran from God’s call on his life, God rescued him from the stormy seas and the belly of a great fish. David knew this truth personally; God used the prophet Nathan to rescue him from his adultery with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband.
I can find no greater comfort than to know God will never let me go. We talk a lot about faithfulness in the church today, and well we should; but if the whole counsel of God is declared, we know that we are secure in our redemption, not because of our faithfulness to Jesus, but because of His faithfulness to us!
God’s mercy, grace, and love will overcome our resistance and reluctance and carry us all the way into glory!
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!