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The Word on the Week

Plough in Hope

The hope which the ploughman has of course is that the end result of his labour will result in a profit. Thanks to others misfortune (this year it was fires in Russia caused by exceptionally hot weather) the grain fetched good prices. Such are the vagaries of the global market that hope is always an ingredient for those involved in ploughing. Indeed in the Baptist Association of Churches Marquee hope was consistent component in the conversations with those who enjoyed the tea and talk in the hospitality tent. They came with their hopes in their family; in their abilities; in their prayers; in their mass going; in their keeping of the commandments; in the sacraments; in their not doing anyone any harm; in their – and this was the big one – living a good life. If good works could get us to heaven there would be no need of gospel preachers or, for that matter, the cross of Christ. It would have sufficed for Jesus to live the life and leave us with a model to follow. After all a saviour is only required if there is someone requiring to be saved. If everyone is basically good and their hopes are firmly anchored in their goodness, then God must surely receive them? Of course no-one wants to presume on God’s favour so that is where hope comes in. It is so full of humility that any further comment evokes the sin of presumption! What does the Bible say about all this? It says that Jesus came to save his people from their sins – so spoke the angel to the virgin Mary. The Bible says the sin problem in universal but God’s love in sending Jesus provides the remedy for all who believe. “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (Saint John Chapter 3 verse 16.) But surely everyone in Ireland believes in Jesus? It’s what they believe that is important. So what is it about Jesus that we have to believe? Is it in the miracles? These endorse what was foretold in Israel’s history as the marks of the Messiah – God’s anointed One. Is it in the parables? These earthly stories with a heavenly meaning. They also provide clues to His identity. All these and his teaching mark Him as the promised One spoken of by Moses in Deuteronomy chapter 18 so that to the Pharisees he could say, “if you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be, you will indeed die in your sins.” (Saint John chapter 8 verse 24). The Apostles had a gospel to proclaim that this was the Messiah, God’s own son, who went to the cross bearing our sin that faith in His work brings salvation. His work not ours. We turn from our efforts and trust in His. We make our little journey of faith. He took our place on that cross that we who believe in him may have our sins forgiven and a new life in union with the risen Jesus. No more hoping! Reconciliation between God and man has been accomplished. Our hope is in Jesus. He has completed the work. We can enter into it now. Not anxiously waiting till we die. We have peace as a present possession. “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ”. (Romans Chapter 5 verse 1.)