Fearing for Good (Jeremiah 32:40)
I will make with them an everlasting covenant, that I will not turn away from doing good to them. And I will put the fear of me in their hearts, that they may not turn from me. —Jeremiah 32:40
Perhaps you have heard the common Christian phrase, “Once saved, always saved.” Although you will not find those exact words in Scripture, it is a wonderful truth affirmed in God’s Word. In fact, as we see here in the opening statement of Jeremiah 32:40, this permanency is at the very heart of God’s new covenant promise. “I will make them an everlasting covenant, that I will not turn away from doing good to them.”
Do you hear that good news? When God enters into a covenant with you and commits himself to working for your good, he will never abandon that commitment. This promise is true for all those who have been saved from God’s wrath through faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “Whoever comes to me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me” (John 6:37-38).
But did you notice the way that God will fulfill this promise? He tells us in the second half of our verse: “And I will put the fear of me in their hearts, that they may not turn from me.” God fulfills his promise to permanently do his people good by working in our hearts so that we will never finally turn away from him. The previous verse puts these two realities together even more clearly: “I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear me forever, for their own good and the good of their children after them” (Jeremiah 32:39).
Fearing God is for our own good. And his people will fear him for good (that is, forever!). Giving God our supreme allegiance, worship, and trust is the pathway to true joy. And we must persevere in this to the end if we are to truly experience that joy. Sometimes those who appeal most strongly to the promise “once saved, always saved” are those who most clearly live out their lives with no fear of God in their hearts. They have no desire to worship with God’s people. They don’t practice generosity. They would never speak up about the Lord at work. In some cases, they may be living in blatant immorality. However, since they can point back to a time when they prayed a “prayer of salvation,” or got baptized, or joined a church…they are confident that God has committed himself to their eternal good.
Those who live this way have misunderstood the promise of Jeremiah 32:40 and are in danger of being deceived. Those who truly fear God and receive his promises will fear him now and forever. And the amazing news is that even this perseverance is God’s gracious gift to us in Christ. We can be sure we will not finally turn away from him, because he promises to put the fear of him in our hearts and to keep it there for good!
How does the saying “once saved, always saved” fit with the promise of Jeremiah 32:40?
Does your life evidence a fear of God in your heart? What can you point to that shows this is the case?
Why can you be confident that you will not finally turn away from the Lord?