Monday, September 4, 2017

One Great Hope

"...the hope of eternal life" (Titus 3:7).

The Apostles' Creed ends with the words "and the life everlasting.  Amen."  In discussing "The Life Everlasting," the Explanation of the Small Catechism reads, "God gives eternal life to me and all believers in Christ," and then goes on to make three important subpoints.  Not one, not two, but three.

(1) Eternal life is a present possession (John 17:3, John 3:36).

(2) At the time of death, the soul of a believer is immediately with Christ in heaven (Luke 23:43, Phil. 1:23-24).

(3) At the Last Day the believers, in both body and soul, will begin the full enjoyment of being with Christ forever (Matt. 25:34, 1 John 3:2).

Now each one of these is a distinct promise, and yet the three are inseparable.  They behave something like a trinity.  Perhaps one could even say (as we do in the Athanasian Creed) that the first is a hope, the second is a hope, the third is a hope; and yet there are not three hopes, but one hope.

One great hope of eternal life - into which we have been baptized!