Published 6:13 pm Wednesday, April 4, 2012
To the Editor:
When I said it was Lent, my friend said he wasn’t into that stuff anymore. He had divorced himself from the church. To my wince he replied, “There are no guarantees.”
“There are,” I said.
“There are no guarantees,” my friend insisted. “We are all going back. We are all going back to the good place.”
This man would try to convince me that in the Christian church there are no “guarantees” and then turn right around and offer me one of his own: we are all going back to the good place. Claiming there are no guarantees, my friend guarantees he and I will both be fine, in the good place.
Dear friends, Christianity is all about guarantees. The Bible is about guarantees. Jesus is about guarantees. The law of God – both revealed by God in scripture and known by nature (Romans 2:14-15) – guarantees physical death and eternal death to the sinner. The Gospel of the forgiveness of sins and of the gift of eternal life guarantees eternal salvation to every sinner who repents of his sin and trusts in Jesus Christ for forgiveness. Those living “in Christ” are no longer under the law and its condemnation. Those outside Christ are under law and God’s judgment. Jesus puts it this way in John 3:17-18, “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” That is Jesus’ guarantee!
St. Paul writes of the Holy Spirit in Ephesians 1:13-14, “In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation – having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance….” Now what is interesting is that Paul does not translate the Hebrew word for “pledge” into Greek. He simply makes it a Greek word: “arrabone” in Hebrew is now “arrabone” in Greek. Look how the NASB translates it: “You were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance.” That is a good translation.
Job longed for such a guarantee in his misery. In Job 17:1-2 he chanted his own requiem while living: “My breath is corrupt, my days are extinct, the graves are ready for me. Truly mockery surrounds me and my eyes dwell on their pestering.” Job then cries to the Lord in verse 3, “Lay down a pledge for me with Yourself; who is there that will be my Guarantor?” How strange that Job should expect God, who is judge, to be the bondsman who pledges Himself for the innocence of Job the sufferer before God! How wonderful when Job later sings of his bondsman/guarantor, “I know that my Redeemer lives” (Job 19:25). Jesus risen from the dead guarantees your salvation. Repent and believe in Him.
– Pastor Thomas Olson
Trinity Lutheran Church