A few weeks ago, at the graveside service for my father-in-law, we sang a hymn I haven’t sung in ages, Children of the Heavenly Father. As you might expect, it was an emotional day anyway, but as we sang the words to that old hymn there was a moment that took my breath away. We didn’t sing all the verses, just the ones, I suppose, that the person leading knew from memory. The fourth verse says:
Though He giveth or He taketh,
God His children ne’er forsaketh;
His the loving purpose solely
To preserve them pure and holy.
Granted it’s old, old English, but nonetheless think on the last two lines. His the loving purpose SOLELY to preserve them PURE and HOLY. God’s purpose – his SOLE purpose – is to preserve us, his children, so that we might reach him in heaven pure – and holy.
I had to stop singing. I was blown away. And then I thought to myself, “I wonder if that’s scriptural?” I mean, does it really say that in the Bible? I didn’t have to wait long for my answer. I had planned on looking it up when I had a moment, but just a few days later I was reading through chapter one of Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, and when I got to verse eight I saw this: “He will keep you strong to the end so that you will be free from all blame on the day when our Lord Jesus Christ returns.” Free from all blame – holy. I thought to myself – “It is in the Bible!” Plain as day. Got will KEEP – preserve me – FREE FROM BLAME – pure and holy.
I read on. In 1 Corinthians 1:30 it says, “God has united you with Christ Jesus. For our benefit God made him to be wisdom itself. Christ made us right with God; he made us PURE and HOLY and he freed us from sin.” RIGHT THERE! It’s like the author of the song took it right out of 1 Corinthians. His the loving purpose solely – God has united you with Christ Jesus. To preserve them pure and holy – Christ made us right with God; he made us pure and holy and he freed us from sin.
How amazing is that? I guess it really goes back to the oft quoted John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” If I had to pick just one verse to summarize the gospel of Christ, John 3:16 would be it. It’s simple and easy to understand. For our benefit, because he loves us so much, God sent his son to be the sacrifice for all our sin. All we need do is say, “Yes, I believe living my life for Christ is the best way to live and I’m sorry for my sins,” and God blesses us with eternal life.
And then, to continue on in that love, he tells us that he’s going to keep us PURE and HOLY until that great day when we are all reunited in heaven. Such love. Such an awesome gift.
I love how God finds moments in life to remind me, through unexpected and creative ways, of his great love for me. Amazing grace!