New City Question 1: What Is Our Only Hope In Life and Death?
Topic: Hope Passage: Romans 14:7–14:8
What is a catechism and why is it such a helpful tool? Well, the word catechesis simply means to teach or instruct orally. And a catechism is a way in which Christians for centuries have learned the foundational truths of the Christian faith. Usually a catechism is structured in a question and answer format with supporting scriptures. And a catechism is only as good as its faithful reflection of what the scriptures actually teach.
The New City Catechism is a modern catechism that I believe does faithfully reflect the teaching of scripture in 52 questions and answers. We live at a time in which biblical illiteracy is high, doctrinal concern seems to be low, and secularism is on the ascendency. At such a time, learning or re-learning the foundational truths of our faith is a safeguard for you and your children and children’s children.
6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:6-9)
So, let’s look at the New City Catechism question 1.
Question 1: What is our only hope in life and death?
Answer 1: That we are not our own, but belong body and soul, both in life and death, to God and to our Savior Jesus Christ.
We once were slaves of sin. We lived for ourselves, without any concern for God and without hope. But Jesus Christ, the God man, lived a sinless life and died an atoning death in order to purchase us for God. And therefore, through faith in Christ, we now belong to God and we are no longer slaves or sin and Satan. God the Father withheld nothing from us, but gave his own Son to adopt us into his family, and so we now belong to him. It is not just our bodies in this life, nor just our souls in death that belong to God. It is body and soul - our whole person; both in life and death - our entire existence in time and eternity that belong to God. We are not our own, but belong body and soul, both in life and death, to God and to our Savior Jesus Christ.
The Christian hope is real and massive. For it alone can give us the confident assurance we need to face all of life and to face death, because we now belong to God. If we really believe this, how should we respond? Well, there is only one reasonable way to respond. By giving ourselves unreservedly to God. And that means, we don’t get to decide for ourselves what is right and wrong, what we want to do with our lives, and so forth. Rather, we submit our plans, wills, and entire lives to God - motivated by love and gratitude to God. We are not our own, but belong body and soul, both in life and death, to God and to our Savior Jesus Christ.
Romans 14:7-8 (written to Christians) - 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.
Lord, let this truth be on our hearts, lived out, and on our lips to your praise and glory. In Christ's name. Amen.