He will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful. 1 Corinthians 1.8-9.
Blameless on the day.
Those words leaped out at me when I read the first chapter of 1 Corinthians yesterday and I’ve continued to muse on them. The word translated “blameless” is anegklētos and it is formed from ana – which means “without” – and egkaleō – which means “to accuse in court”. Anegklētos, therefore, literally means “unaccused.” On the Day of Judgment I will be unaccused: that is the promise of God. Or as Paul puts it elsewhere: “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8.1). Why do so many Christians find that so hard to believe? Why do so many still have feelings ranging all the way from vague uneasiness to outright fear about what will happen on the Last Day?
The answer, I think, is that their focus is in the wrong place. They are looking at and listening to their own hearts. They see what is there and allow it to translate itself into a voice of accusation which will, they think, on the Day of Judgment, become the voice of the Accuser himself. But, says John in his first letter, we need to remember that, if our hearts condemn us, “God is greater than our hearts” (1 John 3.20.)
The reason we will be unaccused is not because there is nothing impure or selfish or corrupt or perverse in our hearts right now. Far from it. It is because we are in a state of grace and God is committed to preserving us in that state of grace to the very end. That is the meaning of “He will keep you strong” at the beginning of the passage I quote above. “He will keep you strong” is one word – bebaiōsei – from the verb bebaioō which means “to strengthen, make firm and preserve”. For Paul, the absolute certainty of being unaccused and uncondemned on the Last Day is nothing to do with us or the state of our hearts but is everything to do with God and his faithfulness. God is pistos – trustworthy, utterly dependable. As Paul says elsewhere: “The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it” (1 Thessalonians 5.24).
Because of his dependability, whatever God starts, God will finish. He cannot do otherwise – “If we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself” (2 Timothy 2.13). So, says Paul to the Philippians, you can be confident of this – “that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1.6). The completion of God’s good work is our perfection. And so certain is that future perfection that God can promise us now, in our present state of imperfection (Philippians 3.12), that we will be blameless and unaccused when the Day arrives. The truth is that then, when the day arrives, we will never even be put in the dock! We have that from the lips of Jesus himself: “Truly, truly, I say to you, The one who hears my word, and believes the One who has sent Me, has everlasting life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life” (John 5.24). What greater assurance do we need?