What is our only hope in life and death?

Answer: That we are not our own but belong, body and soul, both in life and death, to God and to our Saviour Jesus Christ.

“For none of us lives for himself, and no one dies for himself. If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.” (Romans 14:7–8 CSB17)

I believe that this first question of the New City Catechism is so essential and relevant. We are living under one of the deadliest pandemics ever experienced by humanity. The United Kingdom is leading the way regarding the number of deaths related to the pandemic. We now have over 100000 people who have lost their lives.

I do not know if you have noticed, but we live under a massive cloud of FEAR, fear of catching the virus and fear of dying. I want to tell you how serious this is. It has affected over 100000 families. The death toll will continue to rise, and infection will continue to grow, affecting more families and communities.

This has affected us, even I, my dear uncle, my father’s brother, passed away last year due to COVID-19 complications.

Many are asking, where is hope? Is there any point in life and death? 

So, what will our answer be? When asked by our families, friends, colleagues, “you are a Christian, what do you think? Where is hope? Is it any point in life?

Peter, the Apostle, urging his readers to give an answer to those question the Christian faith he says 

“but in your hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy, ready at any time to give a defence to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.” (1 Peter 3:15 CSB17)

Can I put it to you that as we honour Christ with our lives and regard him as Holy, are we ready to answer everyone who asks for the reason the hope we profess? This hope is the Gospel, but more importantly, I believe that this hope, which is found in the Gospel. The Good News that of speaks of life, eternal life, which starts here on this earth.

This Gospel life is for us, and within the Gospel narrative, we find a new reality, and that is we BELONG to Christ.

We become a family. We belong to God and his family.

There is nothing more crucial and essential to know that we belong, accepted, and family.

The very first question of the New City Catechism is:

What is our hope in life or death?

That we are not our own but belong, body and soul, both in life and death, to God and to our Saviour Jesus Christ 

We Belong!!

Paul in Romans 14 says:

“For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s.” (Romans 14:7–8 ESV)

In this chapter, Paul is laying down the Biblical Principle of what it means to be weak and strong in the Lord.

He encourages to accept those whose faith is weak without quarrelling over disputable matters! He refers to those who may wish to eat anything, and those who can’t because of conviction prefer to eat vegetables.

Paul says that this should not be an issue that should divide the church, since God has accepted both, and therefore we should not judge. The same goes for considering some days more sacred than others. 

What Paul is saying that it is inappropriate to reject someone whom God has welcomed!!

It is in this context that Paul then speaks about what it means to belong to God.

So I would like to say three things about these two verses:

First, We live in Him

Let me ask the question: What does it mean to live in Christ?

Well, the Scriptures gives us so much teaching concerning this subject. It means to be in Christ. It is not just about repositioning our place before God, which is a gift given to us by his grace. But it has more to do who we are in the Spirit and what the Spirit does in us.

Jesus said after a long day of teaching and ministry that His Words are Spirit and Life, which means that when He speaks, the creating force and authority of his words are life-givers. Whenever God speaks, he creates, he gives life, he restores, he heals, he mends, he delivers, and he conquers death. It is the same with Jesus, and it is the same with the Holy Spirit, who teaches us the words of Jesus. When The Holy Spirit speaks and when he does bring life. 

There are many benefits of being, let me tell you of a crucial one!

Living in Christ means we are no longer condemned, listen carefully to what Paul says in Romans chapter 8 

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” (Romans 8:1–2 ESV)

This means that life in Christ is free from guilt and shame. Some of us carry guilt and shame for many years, and we have learnt to live with them. Well, I have good news! You can be free from guilt and shame by coming to Jesus because life in Christ means we are guiltless, we are shame-less!

What is our hope in life or death? That we are not our own but belong, body and soul, both in life and death, to God and to our Saviour Jesus Christ.

We live as people who are no longer condemned, guilty, but free.

What is our hope in life or death? That we are not our own but belong, body and soul, both in life and death, to God and to our Saviour Jesus Christ.

Second, We die in him.

What does it mean to die in him?

When my mum was diagnosed with stage four of lung cancer in 2014, it was shocking to all of us. My mum was a loving mother and a great grandmother, a faithful friend, and a loyal wife to my dad. So, her diagnose came to us a big blow. She was only 68. 

Somehow mum and I talked about death a lot, and maybe because I am the “minister” of the family or because I believe, she knew that deep within I was going to tell her the truth about dying in Christ. 

She sometimes almost resented talking to me because she realised the pain, she was going to release on us. She was aware of the burden that she was to become, and complained to me a lot. She was upset and sometimes angry at God. All that I did was to tell her the truth about dying in Christ.

I can be saying many more things about what it means to die in Christ-like, dying when we take the cross and follow Jesus, which is right and biblical. I can also remind you that we are dead to sin and sin has no more power in our lives. 

Yet, I believe I am led to say that when we die in Christ, we receive the gift of eternal life and the power of his resurrection becomes our power. 

I do not know if you remember this, but in Genesis chapter three, when humanity fell into sin, and God expelled them, Adam and Eve, from the garden and did it because in the garden there was also the tree of life, of eternal life.

Christ came to restore that right, dying in Christ means living in Christ eternally, there is a passage in Romans chapter six where Paul explains the meaning of dying with Christ, and he uses the pictorial language of Baptism, this is what he says:

“Do you not know that all of us who have been baptised into Christ Jesus were baptised into his death? We were buried therefore with him by Baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the father, we too might walk in newness of life.” (Romans 6:3–4 ESV)

Paul is painting a picture in our minds, saying that we were dead and buried with Christ, and just like the act of Baptism, which is a public declaration of our faith in Jesus, a belief that speaks of resurrection and newness of life!! 

This is why the words of 1 Cor 15 are so powerful, and the reason they are powerful because they are real and citing Isaiah 15:8 Paul says “Where. O death is your victory. Where, O death is your sting” 

Every time my mum and I talk about death I watered the seed of the Gospel in her heart, I watered the seed of God’s Word in her spirit so when that day came, she was ready, she was released from this life and found Christ. Because to die in Christ is to live in Christ. The Gospel promises us to walk in the newness of life!

What is our hope in life or death? That we are not our own but belong, body and soul, both in life and death, to God and to our Saviour Jesus Christ.

Third, we belong to Him.

What does it mean to belong to Him?

Let us listen again to what Paul says.

“For none of us lives for himself, and no one dies for himself. If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.” (Romans 14:7–8 CSB17)

Tim Keller commenting on John Calvin’s writing regarding the meaning of living the Christian life says that “He, (Calvin) could make us a list of the commandments we should be keeping or a list of all the character traits we should be exhibiting. But instead, Calvin, wants us to boil it down to the basic motive and the basic principle of what it means to live the Christian life”. 

Keller says that the primary motive is this: “That God sent his Son to save us by grace and to adopt us into his family. So now, because of that grace, in our gratitude, we want to resemble our father. We want the family resemblance. We want to look like our Savoir. We want to please our father.”

I believe Paul says here, none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself, because in life we want to please our father and when we do that, we become more like His Son. Why? Because we belong to Him, we are His Sons and daughters. We are his.

Paul says that we should avoid the self-pity and self-importance even in death, but to embrace what matters: we ARE HIS. 

This is only possible through the newness of life given to us by the Holy Spirit, Paul says

“For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our Spirit that we are God’s children.” (Romans 8:14–16 NIV11)

We Belong to Christ!

I trust that you can see this, we are asking similar questions about life and death, about hope and the lack of it, we are fearful and we long to belong, we long to be embraced. So, we must learn these Biblical truths.

What is our only hope in life and death?

That we are not our own but belong, body and soul, both in life and death, to God and to our Saviour Jesus Christ.

“For none of us lives for himself, and no one dies for himself. If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.”(Romans 14:7–8 CSB17)

“Christ our hope, in life and in death, we cast ourselves on your merciful, fatherly care. You love us because we are your own. We have no good apart from you, and we could ask for no greater gift than to belong to you. Amen.

Be Encouraged Blog Building Morning @First

darioleal View All →

Dario is a husband, father, pastor and passionate pursuer of Jesus and His Kingdom. He is a Pastor, loyal friend, and walks the walk when it comes to being a carrier of God’s presence. He expects things to happen when he prays for people. He loves having fun and eating olives (preferably at the same time).

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