Most of us tend not to trust guarantees. They sound good, they look good, but rarely are the guarantees all they are cracked up to be. Unfortunately, we also tend to take that skepticism and apply it toward our application of Scripture as well. We take absolute statements that God makes with “a grain of salt” and then rationalize our skepticism with statements like, “there are always exceptions to the rule.” Consider two guarantees God made in Scripture that many Christians will not accept as fully factual.
“For if you do these things you will never stumble” (2 Pet. 1:10). We often treat our relationship with God as though we are on the cusp of failure, in danger of falling off the cliff of faith, and balancing on the pinhead of righteousness. We see no guarantee of salvation and answer questions about our eternal security with statements like, “I hope so.” Yet, God made a guarantee. It is possible for us to live our lives in such a way that we will never fall, never turn from him no matter what happens. Some Christians argue that you can never know what you will do in a situation until you are there; God disagrees. He says you can prepare yourself so that you will know exactly what you will do in any given situation: it’s called training.
However, this guarantee is not universal, it is conditional. It is predicated with the phrase, “if you do these things.” The things under consideration are what we commonly call the Christian Graces (2 Pet. 1:5-8). Do you want to know how to make sure you will never fall? Learn what the Christian Graces are, how they interact within your life, and make it your life’s pursuit to implement them fully in every respect. If you fall away from God, it will only be because of your failure to implement the recipe God placed before you. He has given us the means to ensure we will never fall, but it is up to us to utilize them by the ways and means he has detailed.
The second phrase is: “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Pro. 22:6). I’ve seen so many parents automatically qualify that by saying, “but that’s not guaranteed.” God did. He said if you train your children in the way they are to go they WILL NOT depart from it. The problem is in the way we have commonly explained the word “train.” We have taken that to mean “tell them,” or “teach them” and it will automatically be ingrained in them. Such is not the intent or meaning of the statement.
The word “train” means, in the Hebrew, “to dedicate, inaugurate.” Parents have taken it to mean that you tell them what to do, then let them make their own decisions because it’s “their life.” God says do not just tell where the path is, take them down the path. Do not wait for them to make the right decisions as children, make the right decisions for them. I know it goes against conventional wisdom, but you are the parent. You decide what they watch, listen to, buy, consume, read, do, and say. God says if you “train them,” in the truest sense “indoctrinate them” (Indoctrinate actually means “to instruct in rudiments or principles”), in the paths of God by placing them on that path and taking them down that road: they will not depart from it.
If our children leave the road, we did not train them properly; and as much as we hate to admit failure, the blame will lay at our feet. It is why we must take so seriously the admonitions to not be of the world, to transform our lives, to be separate from the world; because we do not want our children to leave the path for the world.
God makes guarantees. If our lives do not fit the mold of the guarantees made, then we need to re-examine our own lives; for the failure will not be with God, but with us. However, let us never try to demean the promises of God because of our own failures, for then we make God a liar. Let us instead put our trust in the guarantees he has made and then implement the standards that carry his stamp of approval. For when we buy his goods, his guarantees are always accurate.