By Pastor Bill Gaube
Watching cancer waste away a 37 year old friend causes you to think. What confidence can we have as we face death and yes, life? After all there is not only my dying friend but also his wife and two darling little girls who must go on. We clearly see that the sin principal has upset the whole God given order.
Paul spoke of certainty for us all in Romans 5:1-3 (Phillips): “Since then it is by faith that we are justified, let us grasp the fact that we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have confidently entered into this new relationship of grace, and here we take our stand, in happy certainty of the glorious things he has for us in the future. This doesn’t mean, of course, that we have only a hope of future joys—we can be full of joy here and now even in our trials and trouble.”
Paul speaks of confidence, certainty and hope. These come as a logical progression from Jesus defeating the corrupting power of sin on the Cross. Since we have been justified by faith in Christ, we take our stand in happy certainty! We can stand in certainty of future joys and present joy in the midst of trials and trouble.
Frankly for me future joys are like a poorly drawn backdrop in an elementary school play. They are there to set things in perspective, but they don’t seem very real. Yes, we read of the joy, peace, love and great fellowship from being in a reality that is God centered and where sin has been defeated. Yet a lot of details are not there.
But wait a minute. How could God communicate ALL of them to us? Think of trying to explain city skyscrapers to someone who lives in a jungle and only knows of a lean-to hut? What frame of reference – language can you use? That is why Scripture speaks of hope. Hope is the evidence of things not seen. Not vague feelings, but God given certainty that there is more than we can see.
Future joys are great, but I’m glad Paul also pointed out we can have present joy. Please note Paul does not white wash the trials and trouble of this life. They are real. But even more real is the fact that God is taking all this mess and bringing out of it “beauty for ashes.” That is the present certain hope we have in Christ.
Watching my friends in their present struggles causes me to challenge myself and them to deepen our understanding of what it means to have Peace with God. Our salvation brings us so much more than “fire insurance” from hell. It brings us a relationship with the God of grace. And that grace gives us certain hope. We can “take our stand in happy certainty” or we can collapse in despair and bitterness. Fortunately, my friends are standing in hope. May the Lord help all of us to grasp more of the glorious things he has for us!