Is There Any Hope?

We live in turbulent times. All one has to do is listen to the news for five minutes to realize that there is no peace in our world. Whether it is another corrupt politician caught in his self-centered agenda, a much-touted health-insurance program that doesn’t work, or fighting in some part of the world, the message is the same. Our world is falling apart. Mankind is busy doing all the evil their hearts can imagine. More unborn babies are killed every day by women exercising their “right to choose”, enabled by abortion-providers getting rich murdering babies. The “prince of this world” – Satan, is busy doing his dirty-work. This is, first and foremost, a spiritual battle…a battle for domination between Satan and God. Satan is the usurper, not God.

There is one organization which we should be able to count on to stand for truth – the church of Jesus Christ, but Satan has been having his way there also. We hear of another financial scandal, priests caught molesting kids, pastors having affairs, and the list goes on. In many churches, the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ has been replaced by a “social-gospel”, “feel-good-religion” or a “health, wealth and prosperity” message. “Pastors” are getting filthy-rich proclaiming a “name-it-and-claim-it” religion. We hear of yet another denomination that has started “ordaining” women as church officers, and ultimately, pastors. One such denomination has gone so far as to “consecrate” an openly-homo-sexual bishop. Perhaps many parts of the church are merely social-clubs. Will it ever end? Has God been reduced to our servant, obligated to give us what we want, or are we His servants, proclaiming the Kingdom of God? Lest we be surprised, Jesus Christ predicted these days.

As we descend deeper into this evil abyss, we may be tempted to despair. Is there any hope?

The great writers of the Heidelberg Catechism addressed this question in 1563. Things haven’t changed much. I believe their words bear repeating in our turbulent days also. Question one answers this most poignantly.

1. Q. What is your only comfort in life and death?                                                                  

A. That I am not my own,[1] but belong with body and soul, both in life and in death,[2] to my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ.[3] He has fully paid for all my sins with His precious blood, and has set me free from all the power of the devil.[5] He also preserves me in such a way[6] that without the will of my heavenly Father not a hair can fall from my head;[7] indeed, all things must work together for my salvation.[8] Therefore, by His Holy Spirit He also assures me of eternal life[9] and makes me heartily willing and ready from now on to live for Him.[10]

Scripture references:
[1] I Cor. 6:19, 20 [2] Rom. 14:7-9. [3] I Cor. 3:23; Tit. 2:14. [4] I Pet. 1:18, 19; I John 1:7; 2:2. [5] John 8:34-36; Heb. 2:14, 15; I John 3:8. [6] John 6:39, 40; 10:27-30; II Thess. 3:3; I Pet. 1:5. [7] Matt. 10:29-31; Luke 21:16-18. [8] Rom. 8:28. [9] Rom. 8:15, 16; II Cor. 1:21, 22; 5:5; Eph. 1:13, 14. [10] Rom. 8:14.

As we dissect this one phrase at a time, the answer should come more clearly in focus.

Q: That is your only comfort in life and in death?
The word “comfort” could easily be replaced with “hope” without altering the meaning.

* That I am not my own… All along we thought that we were what counted most in life.

* But belong with body and soul, both in life and in death… Body and soul encompasses our complete being. God hasn’t left any part of us out, or to chance.

* To my faithful Savior Jesus Christ… We shouldn’t have a nebulous sense of belonging to Him. Our belonging is real. He is perfectly faithful, so what He sets out to do, He does. Had God promised a Redeemer in Genesis 3:15, but not made good on His promise, we would have good reason to doubt His faithfulness, but He did make good on His promise, and in a grand way. God is ever-faithful.

* He has fully paid for all my sins with His precious blood, and has set me free from all the power of the devil... Jesus Christ didn’t just atone for part of our sins, and leave the rest to us. He did the WHOLE job, for ALL of our sins, so that nothing is dependent on us. He also freed us from the kingdom of Satan, so we are no longer his slaves.

* He also preserves me in such a way... God is the one actively preserving us, not us preserving ourselves. Even though we are called to “persevere”, “run”, “attain”, we don’t do those things in our own strength. We “persevere” because we are preserved. We can “run”, because Jesus Christ runs beside us, and carries us when necessary. We “attain”, because all that we need has already been purchased with His blood, and is given to us as a free gift.

* That without the will of my heavenly Father not a hair can fall from my head… God is Lord of all, and that includes even the minutest details of our lives and earthly, bodily existence. Not one hair will either turn gray or turn loose without the express consent of our Lord. Did your blood-pressure go up? He knew it would, and He allowed it to. Did your blood-pressure go back down to normal? He knew that too, and was actively-involved. We are His, in our entirety.

* Indeed, all things must work together for my salvation… Do you think it was an “accident” that you had an encounter with God? Did you “find Him” by accident? Not hardly! He planned it that way.

* Therefore, by His Holy Spirit He also assures me of eternal life… Our assurance of salvation isn’t based or predicated on what we did. He did it ALL, and He guarantees our salvation, as surely as He is faithful.

* And makes me heartily willing and ready from now on to live for Him… Last, but not least, comes our response to what He has done for us. We should have an “attitude of gratitude“, because we have been given a priceless gift beyond all measure – salvation.

Even as our world seems to be going to hell in a hand-basket, and true solutions seem few, our true and only hope MUST be in the Lord, because He alone is faithful. That doesn’t relieve us of our responsibility to pray that the Lord lifts up good leaders – in the church, in our land, and globally. We are His ambassadors, His agents for His kingdom in His world.

This world belongs to God, not Satan. There is hope, because we belong to God, and He IS our hope.

God bless!

Steve

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