Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News
August 16, 2020
Refuse to live in bondage to fear
Should I live that long, my next birthday will be number 89. Sometimes I wonder if the coronavirus will take me out before that birthday. After all, in the past six months the virus has claimed the lives of 163,000 people in the United States and many of them have been old folks like me.
You may wonder if this is fear or realism for me. Honestly, some of both I think. So, it is fair to ask me, how do you deal with this fear when it comes knocking on your door? Here’s how: I tell fear to keep walking because I am resolved not to live in bondage to fear. Instead, I choose to live with confidence in the future. This confidence is a gift of God to the children of God and I am a child of God through faith in Jesus Christ.
Does my confidence in the future lead me to think I am not going to die? No, on the contrary, I know I am going to die. But my life is in the hands of my heavenly Father who has already numbered the days of my earthly life. And as Stuart Hamlin says in one of his songs that I love dearly, “Until then, with joy I’ll carry on.”
Confidence springs from receiving the gift of eternal life. In the first of his three letters, John says, “God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.” This gracious gift is available to all who by faith embrace Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. And eternal life does not begin in heaven; it begins here and continues in our life beyond the death of our body.
One of my beloved mentors was Thomas Carruth. Tom was a man of prayer and as Christlike a man as I have ever known. One day I asked him the secret of his prayer life. He replied, “If I have a secret, it is that I have read the letters of John more than 3,000 times. I read them every day. The more I read John’s words, the more I am motivated to pray, and to love people with the love of Jesus. To love and to pray is the way of the Master.”
I am blessed because Tom touched my life and taught me to treasure the confident faith of John, the beloved apostle. John lived, and wrote, with confidence. He was certain that Jesus is the Christ, and that everyone who believes that he is, has been born of God. Eternal life is in the Son, and those who have the Son have, present tense, this life. This is one of the foundational truths of the Christian faith.
John’s confidence was so complete that he insisted that those who believe may know that they have eternal life. So, a believer can receive assurance of salvation beyond any doubt. This assurance enables believers to sing joyously with Fanny Crosby, “Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine! O what a foretaste of glory divine! Heir of salvation, purchase of God, born in his Spirit, washed in his blood.”
Some would have you believe that if you drink a certain beer on the beach that “It doesn’t get any better than this!” But here is something far greater than the sweet taste of that beer – the joy of knowing your sins forgiven amidst the thrill of realizing that, saved by grace, you are now a child of God!
When by faith we embrace Jesus as the Son of God and trust him for our salvation, he fills us with joy unspeakable, sends us out into the world with a sense of mission, and gives us the strength to serve him. We are amazed to discover the Lord has broken any chains that had bound us to the past. We are free because we have become alive to God.
And there is more! As we begin living into eternal life, we realize that our joy here is but a “foretaste” of the greater joy that awaits us in heaven. So the rest of our days may be lived in the blessed assurance that eternal life is ours now and forever – because he who has the Son has life! Such confidence allows even a poor boy from Elmore County the privilege of declaring, I will not live in bondage to fear! + + +