First, God does not forget his own. He never will. That is so good to know. And second, all this is based on the fact that Christ came to restore lost sinners to a right relationship with God. Those who turn to him in faith and repentance can experience the most glorious of homecomings – one that brings us deep peace and comfort now, and that will be fully realised when we meet him in the next life.
An eternal God who never changes is a great comfort and consolation to grieving, hurting and suffering people. That message is found throughout Scripture. ‘God is a very present help in times of trouble’ – and so is his word. When we are going through deep waters, it is amazing just how helpful and healing Scripture can be.
I write this piece because – as with all people – tough times continue. And sometimes it seems that one calamity and trial piles up upon another. As many of you know, I lost my wife to cancer a month ago. And ten days ago her dad was taken to hospital. This morning he too passed away.
It is tough on all of us, especially my sister-in-law who has now lost all of her immediate family (but she still has a terrific husband and two grown sons). Yes, we all suffer in so many ways, and I think that while we will have to go through another funeral and so on, some other folks certainly can seem to suffer so much more.
I think of those in Ukraine for example, so many of whom have not only lost many loved ones and family members, but often have literally lost everything, including their own homes and possessions. But all loss is tough to bear nonetheless, and each bit of suffering is unique and equally tragic.
Prayers of course are appreciated, especially for my sister-in-law. But as I say, Scripture abounds with words of comfort and hope. In my morning reading I came upon another such passage. It is found in Isaiah 49.
You Might also like
By Barry York — 2 years ago
Never tire of marveling over how the Lord elected you from all eternity to be His chosen one (Col. 3:12)! Recall continually the incredible holy love that He has for His people, and how He wants that exhibited in the church (Col. 2:12-14)! Marvel again and again over the peace He has brought to you in Christ – He tells you “to be thankful” for it (Col. 3:15)! Go to worship to fulfill your duty “to teach and admonish” your brothers and sisters with Christ’s Word so they remember His salvation as well!
As believers, we should not only be seasonally thankful but ever thankful. We can demonstrate our thanks to the Lord by obeying His Word, offering prayers of gratitude, and expressing appreciation to one another. But another means we have is that we can sing our thanks. The Apostle Paul told the church at Colossae:
Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. (Col. 3:16)
On a Saturday afternoon recently, I was invited by the director of the Pittsburgh Gospel Chorale, Dr. Herbert Jones, to be a special guest at their concert at a historic African-American Baptist church in the city. He actually asked me to take center stage in the middle of the concert. Now, I’ve tried to relate this to my children in such a way that is sounds like I was asked to sing. But they know better! Dr. Jones just actually asked me to give a greeting on behalf of Reformed Presbyterian Theologically Seminary.
This wonderful concert expressed joy and wonder for Christ’s salvation from beginning to end that was off the charts. While listening and watching, I was reminded of something my junior high school choir director would often tell us, “Don’t only sing with your voices. Sing with your faces.” That’s what this choir was doing.
By Thomas R. Schreiner — 9 months ago
Written by Thomas R. Schreiner |
Friday, December 16, 2022
All that is evil and defiling in this world will vanish. There will be discontinuity and continuity with the world we live in now. We will still reside in a physical universe, but it will be a world cleansed and purified from all sin. Some have interpreted 2 Peter 3:10–13 as teaching that the present world will be annihilated and burned up and then God will create a new universe out of nothing. This interpretation is certainly possible, but it is more likely that we should understand the burning to denote purification instead of annihilation so that the present world is purified and cleansed and renovated.
What will our heavenly existence be like? Some have envisioned believers as having an ethereal disembodied existence in which we float on clouds and strum on harps, but this picture does not fit with the biblical witness. The Scriptures teach that believers will be raised from the dead (1 Cor. 15:12–19; 1 Thess. 4:13–18) and that we will have physical bodies forever. Resurrected bodies can’t exist without a place, however, and thus there must be a new world that we will inhabit. We are not surprised, then, to discover the promise that there will be a new creation (Isa. 65:17; 66:22; Rev. 21:1), a new world that is free from sin. “The first heaven and the first earth” will pass away, and “the sea [will be] no more” (Rev. 21:1), and then the new creation will come.
The removal of the sea doesn’t mean that there won’t be waters or seas in the new creation. The sea stands symbolically for chaos, for evil, for all that deforms and defaces the present world. The cleansing of the world from evil accords with Romans 8:18–25, where we find that in the present time the created world groans and is full of futility. We see such futility and groaning with tornadoes, tsunamis, hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, and other natural evils. The world that God created is good (Gen. 1:1–31), but Romans 8:18–25 teaches that when Adam sinned, both the human race and the created world were marred by sin. Of course, creation itself didn’t sin, but the sin of Adam was not restricted to him. It also affected the world that he had been commissioned to care for and steward. When Adam fell, the world fell with him, and thorns and thistles sprang up (Gen. 3:18).
By Johann Christoph Arnold — 1 year ago
In speaking out against abortion, therefore, we must not forget that few other sins cause more heartache or anguish of soul. Very few women today are offered viable alternatives, and almost none of them are pointed to God, who alone can answer their need. A woman who has had an abortion suffers great torment of conscience, and her isolation and endless pain can be healed only at the cross – only by finding Christ. Christians need to feel the immeasurable pain that so many women bear in their hearts for their lost children. Who of us can cast the first stone? (John 8:7) Woe to us if we ever become cold toward a woman who has had an abortion!
Yet you brought me out of the womb; you made me trust in you, even at my mother’s breast. From birth I was cast upon you; from my mother’s womb you have been my God. Do not be far from me, for trouble is near and there is no one to help. Psalm 22:9–11
Almost a century ago, in response to the idea of “modern” family planning, Eberhard Arnold wrote, “In our families we hope for as many children as God gives. We praise God’s creative power and welcome large families as one of his great gifts.”1
What would he say now, in an era where contraception is standard practice and millions of unborn children are legally murdered every year? Where is our joy in children, and in family life? Our thankfulness for God’s gifts? Where is our reverence for life and our compassion for those who are least able to defend themselves? Jesus is very clear that no one can enter the kingdom unless he or she becomes like a child.
Sex without regard for the gift of life is wrong.
The spirit of our age is diametrically opposed not only to the childlike spirit but even to children themselves.2 It is a spirit of death, and it can be seen everywhere in modern society: in the rise of murder and suicide rates, in widespread domestic violence, in abortion, the death penalty, and euthanasia. Our culture seems bent on going the way of death, of taking into its own hands what is God’s domain. And it is not only the State that is at fault.
How many churches sanction the murder of unborn children under the guise of supporting women’s rights? The sexual “liberation” of our society has sowed tremendous destruction. It is a false liberation built on the selfish pursuit of satisfaction and pleasure. It ignores discipline, responsibility, and the real freedom that these can bring. In the words of Stanley Hauerwas, it mirrors “a profound lack of confidence that we have anything worthy to pass on to a new generation…We are willing our deaths.”3
The majority of people today have no qualms of conscience when the life of a tiny being is prevented or destroyed. Once considered the greatest blessing God can give, children are now considered in terms of their cost: they are a “burden” and a “threat” to the freedom and happiness of the individual.
In a true marriage, there is a close connection between married love and new life (Mal. 2:15). When husband and wife become one flesh, it should always be with the reverent recognition that through it new life may be formed. In this way their sexual union becomes an expression of creative love, a covenant that serves life. But how many couples view sex in this way? For most, the pill has made intercourse a casual act, divorced from responsibility and supposedly free of consequence.
As Christians, we must be willing to speak out against the contraceptive mentality that has infected our society. Too many couples have bought into the popular mindset of sexual indulgence and family planning on demand, throwing to the wind the virtues of self-control and trust. Sex for its own sake, even in marriage, not only cheapens sexual intercourse but erodes the foundation of self-giving love necessary for raising children. To engage in sexual pleasure as an end in itself, without regard for the gift of life, is wrong. It means closing the door to children, and thus despising both the gift and the Giver (Job 1:21). As Mother Teresa once said:
In destroying the power of giving life, through contraception, a husband or wife is doing something to self. This turns the attention to self, and so it destroys the gift of love in him or her. In loving, the husband and wife must turn the attention to each other, as happens in natural family planning, and not to self, as happens in contraception.4
Routine contraception undermines the fulfillment and fruition of two who are one flesh, and because of this we should feel revulsion toward the attitude that consistently seeks to avoid the responsibility of bearing children.
None of this is to suggest that we are to bring children into the world irresponsibly or at the risk of the mother’s health and well-being. The size of one’s family and the spacing of children is a matter of tremendous responsibility. It is something for each couple to consider before God, with prayer and reverence. Having children too closely together can place an especially difficult burden on the mother. This is an area where a husband has to show loving respect and understanding for his wife. Again, it is vital that a couple turn together to God and place their uncertainties and fears before him in faith (Matt. 7:7–8). If we are open to God’s leading, I am confident that he will show us the way.
To abort any child is to mock God.
The contraceptive mentality is but one of the manifestations of the spirit of death that makes new life so unwelcome in so many homes. Everywhere in society today there is a hidden war going on, a war against life. So many little souls are desecrated. And of those who are not prevented by contraception from entering the world, how many are callously destroyed by abortion!
The prevalence of abortion in our society is so great that it makes Herod’s slaughter of the Innocents tame in comparison. Abortion is murder – there are no exceptions. If there were, the message of the gospels would be inconsistent and meaningless. Even the Old Testament makes it clear that God hates the shedding of innocent blood (Prov. 6:16–17). Abortion destroys life and mocks God, in whose image every unborn baby is created.
In the Old Testament there are numerous passages that speak of God’s active presence in every human life, even while it is still being formed in the womb. In Genesis 4:1 after Eve conceives and gives birth to Cain, she says, “With the help of the Lord, I have brought forth a man.” She does not say, “With the help of Adam,” but “with the Lord.”