The Bible Text for our consideration is: “Paul, a bondservant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God’s elect and the acknowledgment of the truth which accords with godliness, in hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began, but has in due time manifested His word through preaching, which was committed to me according to the commandment of God our Savior.” (Titus 3:1-3)
“…The last best hope of earth.”
In Christ Jesus, our living Hope, fellow redeemed,
In Abraham Lincoln’s 1862 address to the Congress, he concluded with the following:
“Fellow-citizens, we cannot escape history. We of this Congress and this administration will be remembered in spite of ourselves. No personal significance or insignificance can spare one or another of us. The fiery trial through which we pass will light us down in honor or dishonor, to the latest generation. We say we are for the Union. The world will not forget that we say this. We know how to save the Union. The world knows we do know how to save it. We—even we here—hold the power and bear the responsibility. In giving freedom to the slave, we assure freedom to the free—honorable alike in what we give and what we preserve. We shall nobly save or meanly lose the last best hope of earth.”
“…The last best hope of earth.” This is how the president saw the United States of America. There is a history textbook with these words in its title.
I assume that Lincoln was talking about earthly governments and political movements. He saw the Union as the one and only remaining nation on Earth where freedom can be preserved for the common man.
But is it true? Can the statement stand that America is “the last best hope of earth”? On a political level, who knows? God does, and history will reveal it.
God does. Doesn’t this knowledge make you think? Was not America forged because of God’s plans for the world? Throughout history God has always found a refuge for the gospel, a place where the gospel is preached openly for the salvation of souls. And when that place begins to despise the gospel, God sends it elsewhere. The Jews had it, and when they despised and crucified the Lord of glory, God sent it elsewhere. The Mediterranean world had it and, when they despised it, God sent it elsewhere. Ireland had it and, when they despised it, God sent it elsewhere. Northern Europe had it and, when they despised it, God sent it elsewhere. America had
it, and, when they despise it,
Finally, when “…this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as
a witness to all the nations,…then the end
will come” (Matthew 24:14).
So you see, America is not the last best hope of Earth. Rather, Christ and His gospel is the last—no rather, He is the ONLY—hope of Earth, and always has been the only hope! “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
After his conversion the apostle Paul’s whole life was lived “in hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began, but has in due time manifested His word through preaching, which was committed to me according to the commandment of God our Savior.” Even so, throughout time, this has been the one and only hope for every believer.
Before time began, this hope was created by God. In the fullness of time this hope was established through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the very Son of God. Afterward, this hope was manifested through the preaching of the Word of our Lord. “For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope” (Romans 15:4).
All other attempts at offering hope to the world have proven to be futile. “The hope of the righteous will be gladness, But the expectation of the wicked will perish” (Proverbs 10:28). Osiris, Zeus, Jupiter, Allah, Krishna, Buddha, and “… all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols, but Jehovah made the heavens” (Psalm 96:5).
However, we “… have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us. This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast” (Hebrews 6:18f). Jesus,
our Hope, is the solid rock in which every believer has
anchored his soul.
And today you come to ILC. Here we will continue to hold before you not only the last, best hope of Earth, but the first and last and only Hope! Wander where you will in the world and you will find few places where this hope is proclaimed. Ask the youth of our synod who went to Nepal this summer. In many places, they and our Nepalese brethren were the only ones holding out hope. In many parts of the world, you could travel for hundreds and thousands of miles and not find anyone proclaiming the gospel message.
Who then are we that we should be so privileged? I can say only this: we have not deserved this, not in the least. We are all sinners, born in sin like everyone else…destined for hell like everyone else. We were not even able—nor did we want to—approach the throne of God. We wanted only to cast Him aside and walk in the ways of unrighteousness.
Yet in the abundance of His grace, He rescued us from our death of sin, washed away all our wickedness, covered us with the righteousness of Christ, and filled us with the certain hope of heaven.
ILC is a body of God’s people who live in this hope. We are not perfect and we regularly confess our failures to the Lord, who continues to cleanse us in the blood of Christ. “Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure”
(1 John 3:2f).
Thus, purified in the blood of Christ, we continue to have hope…not in ourselves, but in Him.
God grant that this school year will be a year of hope for every one of us. God grant that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope this year and throughout our lives.
“Therefore gird up the loins of your mind,
be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is being brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:13).