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Sustaining Essentials of the Christian Faith

Greetings Friends,

In times of change and stress and the looming unknown, people often turn to see if there is a contemporary voice crying in the wilderness offering some new insight or spiritual counsel to get them through. I listened to one such person who said he had heard from God and God had told him that the scenario the experts were painting was not God's plan. But the problem I had was that when he shared what God had told him, it sounded an awful lot like the American Dream put in God's mouth - health, wealth and prosperity. Others seem intent on trying to keep everything positive, having learned the lesson of painting a dreary outlook which led to people making a run on the banks and causing the stock market crash leading us into the Great Depression.
But don't get me wrong: I'm not opposed to optimism, or giving people hope! As a minister of the Gospel that's part of my calling! But I do need to be clear: My hope is not in optimism. My hope is not that things will simply go back to the way they were before this unseen worldwide interruption fell upon us seemingly out of the blue. My hope is that people's focus will be changed and reoriented in a God-ward direction. My hope is that we will all learn and grow and be different people as a result of going through this time and experience. My hope is that we will be brought back to our spiritual roots. That much of the "cultural stuff" that has been blended into Christianity so tightly that people can't tell what is Christian and what is cultural, will be sifted off like chaff from the wheat. My hope is for a return to the purity of the simple Gospel and a Christ-centered and Christ-honoring faith.
Call me old fashioned, or whatever, but I tend to turn to the people whose counsel is time-proven. The rich counsel of people from the past. So, today, I simply want to remind you of some hope-sustaining truths which I consider some of the most substantial bits of spiritual counsel outside the Bible. I could listen to many voices today, but few match (in depth and helpfulness) the encouragement offered in these statements written hundreds of years ago. Thus I offer them to encourage and strengthen your soul. Enjoy.

Heidelberg Catechism, 1563.
Question #1: What is your only comfort in life and death?
A. That I am not my own, but belong with body and soul, both in life and in death, to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ. He has fully paid for all my sins with His precious blood, and has set me free from all the power of the devil. He also preserves me in such a way that without the will of my heavenly Father not a hair can fall from my head; indeed, all things must work together for my salvation. Therefore, by His Holy Spirit He also assures me of eternal life and makes me heartily willing and ready, from now on, to live for Him.
Westminster Confession of Faith, 1647:
What is the chief end of man?
The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.

What is God?
God is a Spirit, in and of himself infinite in being, glory, blessedness, and perfection; all-sufficient, eternal, unchangeable, incomprehensible, everywhere present, almighty, knowing all things, most wise, most holy, most just, most merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth.
What is God’s Providence?
God, the great Creator of all things, does uphold, direct, dispose, and govern all creatures, actions, and things, from the greatest even to the least, by his most wise and holy providence, according to his infallible foreknowledge, and the free and immutable counsel of his own will, to the praise of the glory of his wisdom, power, justice, goodness and mercy.
What sustains my soul in trying times is the reminder of the essentials of the Christian faith. A needed reminder of the nature and qualities of God and our Christ. Consider what is said, and may such truths minister to your soul as we all go through these times together.

In His Grace, Pastor Jeff

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