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Author: Rick VanderHorst
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Congregation:Grace Canadian Reformed Church
 Winnipeg, Manitoba
 www.grace.canadianreformed.ca
 
Title:Our only comfort is belonging to Christ
Text:LD 1 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:Comfort in a World of Pain
 
Added:2024-05-13
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Psalm 35:1,4

Hy 1

Ps 56:3,4,5

Hy 64

Hy 71

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rick VanderHorst, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


Beloved congregation of the Lord Jesus Christ

The faith described in Lord’s Day 1 is the faith of believers throughout the ages.

The faith described in Lord’s Day 1 is the faith of the church.

 

This confession we make is essentially the same as the Apostle Paul’s. We hope to see that from 2 Tim 1.

This confession we make is essentially the same as King David’s already in OT times. We hope to see that from Psalm 56.

 

In 2 Tim 1, Paul was reminded of Timothy’s sincere faith.

This is a faith that lived first in his grandmother Lois and then in his mother Eunice.

Then, Paul was sure it also lived in Timothy.

They all shared the same faith.

That faith was that all of them belonged in body and in soul to their faithful saviour Jesus Christ.

It might not be stated in those exact words, but it was at the heart of their faith.

 

And by God’s grace, that faith lives in us today too.

This is the confession of the church of all times and places.

We belong to Jesus Christ our saviour through his precious blood alone.

 

Not only is this our faith but this is our treasure.

There are hardly more precious words than what we confess here.

This is our only comfort in life and in death. Let us explore these precious things this afternoon.

 

Belonging to Jesus Christ is my only comfort in life and in death!

This comfort…

1) Springs from Christ’s saving work

2) Softens all our sorrow

3) Spurs us on to live for God

 

This comfort we confess is all-encompassing.

We have this comfort in life and in death

We belong to Christ in body and in soul.

Christ has fully paid for all our sins.

He has set me free from all the power of the devil.

And all things must work together for my salvation.

 

 

What gives us certainty that these things are a reality?

And from where does this comfort come?

 

This all-encompassing comfort springs from Christ’s all-encompassing saving work.

Our confession is certain because it’s built entirely upon what Christ has done.

 

All of Scripture points us to Christ for this confidence.

One great example is our reading from 2 Timothy 1.

I want to go through some things in this passage to show this.

Just consider the opening words of this letter:

Verse 1 says that life is promised in Christ Jesus.

And this means true life – immortal life.

Eternal life is promised in Christ

Verse 2 then gives that familiar greeting:

Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.

Through Christ Jesus God’s grace, his mercy, and his peace comes to us who believe.

 

Paul then encourages Timothy to share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us

  and called us to (or with) a holy calling.

Christ has saved us.

He has saved us from our sin

He has saved us from God’s punishment upon sin

He has saved us from hell

He has saved us in order to give us eternal pleasures at God’s right hand.

Christ has saved us by his blood and righteousness!

 

You see, salvation is not just something in the future – although there is a future aspect to it.

It is something we enjoy here and now.

We enjoy it now because Christ has done these things in his death on the cross

 

We enjoy it now through the call of the gospel.

God has called us with a holy calling to faith in Christ Jesus.

Christ purchased us by his death on the cross,

God then applies that salvation to us through the call of the gospel as he works faith in our hearts.

 

This gift of God is not by our works.

If it were, our comfort would be uncertain.

But the Spirit says through Paul,

“God has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began.”

 

This grace to us is given through faith in Jesus Christ alone!

Our hope is not in ourselves,

Our hope is not in other people

Other hope is in Christ alone!

 

This is what gives us the rock solid comfort we need in life and in death.

If our hope were in anyone else but Christ our hope would disappear.

Only Christ has overcome death and so our hope is in him.

 

Listen to what verses 9 and 10 say:

God saved us by his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Saviour Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.”

 

This is our comfort as Christians.

It’s statements like this in Scripture that form the basis of LD 1.

This is why our confession of faith in LD 1 is the same as the Apostle Paul’s and Timothy

Along with Timothy’s mother and grandmother and all true believers of every age.

 

Christ has abolished death for us!

What an awesome saviour we have.

Death is the great destroyer.

Death causes living things to lose their power.

Death abolishes life and brings it to an end

But Christ has turned the tables on death for those who trust in him alone.

Christ has put death to death for believers.

He has rendered it ineffective

He has broken its power; he has removed its sting

He has taken death and wrestled it into submission

Christ has made the grave powerless over believers.

 

You see, as Christians we can confess that we are in Christ - that means we are united to Christ.

Christ has overcome death by his death and resurrection.

You who believe can confess

“I am in Christ and have been raised with Christ and so I have overcome death in him.

“Physical death has been robbed of its curse {for believers} and has been turned into gain.” (William Hendriksen)

Life and immortality have been brought to light in Christ.

We can see eternal life in Christ

We have it in Christ.

That certainly changes your perspective on life doesn’t it?

 

You can see that perspective of faith in David from Psalm 56.

He confess that all day long an attacker oppresses him.

His enemies trample on him all day long

Many attack him proudly

 

But he confesses his comfort in God his saviour like this:

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.

     In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust;

I shall not be afraid.

     What can flesh do to me?”

 

Those words are packed with meaning: What can flesh do to me?”

You see, if your faith is in Christ you can know that he has abolished death for you.

Christ has brought you through death into everlasting life by his resurrection.”

Because that is true, we can say with David, “yes, what can flesh do to me?”

 

This is the massive change brought about by Christ

You would think that humans could do a lot to David.

They could hurt him,

They could steal his possessions,

They could even put him to death!

 

But David knows, I have true life in God.

Humans might do their worst, but they can’t take away my God or my salvation.

I have something my enemies do not: Eternal life.

Therefore, I will not be afraid of them.

 

David confesses in verse 9: This I know, that God is for me.

Those are four of the most powerful words ever written. God is for me.

Believers can confess that in Christ: God is for me.

Don’t you see: David in psalm 56 confesses essentially the same confession we do in LD 1.

God is for me in Christ.

Because God is for me in Christ, all things must work together for my salvation.

This is the sure comfort that springs from the gospel of Christ.

 

2) Softens all our sorrow

 

This comfort that springs from the gospel of Christ changes our perspective on life.

This world is a world full of trouble ever since the fall into sin.

As believers we are not immediately transported out of the suffering.

It can also happen that the suffering increases for believers in this life.

 

Christians do experience trouble, trials, and sorrows.

This is true for believers of all times and all places.

Take for example what David writes about in Psalm 56.

He says that his enemies trample on him all day long.

God allowed enemies to attack him.

David confesses that there are times when he was afraid.

 

He also talks about his tossings and his tears in verse 8.

The word tossings or wanderings can refer to his changing life circumstances

It can refer to his miseries and sorrows.

It may even refer to restlessness or sleepless nights.

He shows that believers can go through turmoil

They can go through periods of sadness.

Believers at times will cry.

 

But even so, David could confess, God is still for me.

All the thoughts of his enemies were against me for evil

But all the thoughts of God toward him were for good.

And so all the turmoil he went through in life and every single tear that fell from his cheeks were

      for his good.

 

Notice what David says in verse 8 about his turmoil and his tears:

You have kept count of my tossings – my miseries

Put my tears in your bottle

Are they not written in your book?

 

This is the change brought about through Christ’s sacrifice.

And what a change!

The Lord Jesus describes hell as a place of weeping and gnashing of teeth.

It’s a place of sorrow and crying.

That’s where David deserved to go

He too shared in the original sin of Adam

He too had actual sins he committed every day.

Like David, we deserve to go to that place of weeping also.

 

But the cross of Christ has changed all that.

Instead of sending us to a place of weeping as a punishment for our sin God is compassionate

     towards us in our suffering.

Now, through Christ’s sacrifice God looks upon our tears in compassion.

In his love, he carefully keeps track of all of our sorrows.

 

When we go through turmoil and tears in this life we might wonder, “Does God care at all?”

Why am I going through this sadness if he loves me?

Sometimes in this life it looks like a barrier is set up between heaven and us.

But Psalm 56 shows us that God cares enough to write down all of our sorrow

Are they not all in your book?” Says David.

 

Think of someone who writes in a journal or diary every day.

People write in a diary to remember events that matter to them, to help themselves process things, or to allow themselves to look back on their life later on.

 

God of course doesn’t have a physical book.

But the picture is somewhat the same.

God cares so much about our sorrows that he, as it were, writes them down.

He remembers our trouble and keeps track of it.

He’s not indifferent to our trouble, whatsoever!

 

God also cares enough to keeps track of every tear.

He puts them into his bottle.

It’s like he is keeping them for safe keeping.

We confess in LD 1 that God is concerned about every hair on our heads.

David confesses in Psalm 56 that God is concerned about every tear that falls from his eyes.

Can you see it?

We confess the same faith

We have the same comfort that David did so many years ago.

 

Our tears are precious to God.

And one day, he will take care of them forever.

In Revelation 21 the Apostle John saw the new heaven and the new earth and the new

Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God.

And he writes

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

 

That sure hope in Jesus Christ sustains us through this broken life.

John Calvin put it so beautifully when he wrote:

This salvation bestowed on us swallows up all the evils we endure in this world.

It doesn’t mean that you never are sad

It doesn’t mean you never suffer.

But that sadness and the suffering can never swallow up this comfort.

Let us live every day of our lives from that perspective.

 

 

 

3) Spurs us on to live for God

 

Yes, let us live every day of our lives from that perspective of faith and comfort in Christ.

As we live by that perspective it will change us.

We confess in LD 1

Christ by his Holy Spirit also assures me of eternal life and makes me heartily willing and ready from now on to live for him.

Those who have been saved by Christ will live for Christ by the power of the Spirit.

 

This faith we have does not make us indifferent toward God.

It does not produce apathy about Christ.

Actually it’s the opposite.

This comfort and this gospel spur us on to live for God. 

 

Look at David’s confession in Psalm 56 and look at how it changed him.

David confesses in this Psalm “God is for me.”

Make no mistake: That is our confession in LD 1 in a nutshell

God is for me. That’s our faith!

 

And what does David say at the end of this psalm in light of his confession that God is for me?

I must perform my vows to you, O God; I will render thank offerings to you.

For you have delivered my soul from death, yes, my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of life.

David says

“I MUST perform my vows to you, O God!

I WILL render thank offerings to you!

I will walk before God in the light of life!

How can I not do this seeing what God has done to save me!!

 

Let me stress again: this is what we have in LD 1!!!

God has delivered our souls from death through the blood of Christ.

He has kept our feet from falling into eternal destruction.

Like David, these precious truths spur us on to live for God.


And notice that it’s a thank offering that David offers

That’s what we do in light of God’s salvation, we offer to God thank offerings.

That’s why the entire third section of the catechism is titled “Our thankfulness.”

Our obedience does not have the character of merit, but of thankfulness.

 

In light of God’s mercies, we offer ourselves as living sacrifices to God.

Christ has brought both life and immortality to light through the gospel

And so we confess with David we will walk before God in the light of life.

The love of God in Christ compels us to serve him. (((((

 

We see similar things in 2 Timothy 1.

The Apostle Paul affirms glorious gospel truths to Timothy

He says:

God has saved us and not by our works

Christ has abolished death for us.

Jesus has bought life and immortality to light for us through the gospel.

These are the precious truths of the good news we have Timothy.

 

But notice also how Paul exhorts Timothy to live.

He does not say to Timothy,

“Hey great news, Timothy, we have this salvation from God so let’s take life easy. Let’s forget about other people and serve ourselves.”

No!

He exhorts Timothy in light of what they have.

 

He says, “Fan into flames the gift of God.” That is, so that you can serve the body of Christ!

Timothy should do this because,

“God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”

Or as one translation puts it,

“The Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and

self-discipline.”

 

Sounds kind of like LD 1, doesn’t it?

By his Holy Spirit he makes me heartily willing and ready from now on to live for him

We have the Holy Spirit, so this is how we will now live.

We will serve God and we will serve God’s people.

 

The Apostle Paul adds one more thing.

Do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord.

Those who know that death has been destroyed by Christ have nothing to fear

And so we are not ashamed to testify that we belong to Christ.

 

Not only that but Paul says

Join me in suffering for the gospel by the power of God.

The Apostle knows he has been saved through the gospel of Christ

And so he is not afraid to suffer for the gospel of Christ

It is worth it, because by spreading the good news of Christ will surely mean that more people will

    be saved.

 

Beloved, it is true, living for Christ is not always easy.

It might bring suffering

It might bring hardship

But Christ has saved us with an eternal salvation.

Let that truth grip you and idt will change you.  

In light of our confession let us live for our triune God everyday offering our lives to him. Amen.




* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rick VanderHorst, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright, Rick VanderHorst

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