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New City Catechism 1.3

Question 1: What is our only hope in life and death?

Answer: That we are not our own but belong, body and soul, both in life and death, to God and to our Savior Jesus Christ.

One of the titles ascribed to Jesus is that of “Savior.” “She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21). We don’t often use that term in modern society outside religious references, but it simply means a deliverer or rescuer. The title, by definition, puts us in the place of need: we must be saved from something, and Jesus alone is the one capable of coming to our rescue. “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time” (1 Tim. 2:5-6).

What is it that poses a threat to us? Is it Satan? Is it our enemies? Is it our own sins? Yes, all these things threaten us, and the work of Jesus Christ for us addresses them all. But fundamentally, what hangs over us as the greatest threat is the coming wrath of God against a sinful world. God has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness (Acts 17:31), and those who persist in sin without repentance are simply storing up greater and greater wrath on that day (Rom. 2:5). Images in Scripture that depict the horror of that coming day are striking: blood that runs up to the bridle of a horse over an area of almost two-hundred miles (Rev. 14:20); torment with fire and sulfur, the smoke of which rises forever, denying rest to the wicked day and night endlessly (Rev. 14:9-11); the casting of the wicked away from the presence of God into an abyss of fire from which there is no escape (Rev. 20:15).

God is completely good, and his coming judgment will demonstrate forever that, as the supreme Good, God is utterly opposed to all that is evil. The final judgment will sweep away all sin from God’s creation, purifying his people and preparing the way for a new heaven and a new earth in which righteousness dwells (2 Pet. 3:13). Our only hope for surviving this coming day is that we may be covered in the righteousness of Jesus Christ, our Savior.

Suggested passage for family or personal reading: John 14:1-14. What does this passage teach us about who Jesus is? What does it teach us about what it means to pray in Jesus’ name? What would you say to someone who said that all religions ultimately lead us to the same place?

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