Hope for a happy ending

Does your faith in Jesus have a future? This is the question a recently published doctrinal essay asks. It covers subjects such as trust, trials, and signs, but above all the return of Christ.

“Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?” This familiar verse from Luke 18: 8 introduces the article, which ministers are already familiar with from a Special Edition of the Divine Service Guide (No. 2/2021) and which has now been published in the latest issue of community. “In posing this question, Jesus simply wanted to underline the importance He will assign to faith upon His return,” Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider writes.

But what constitutes this faith?

A faith with a future

Belief in Christ implies belief in our own resurrection, in eternal fellowship with God, and in the new creation. And: “In order to be accepted by Christ at His return, we must obviously believe in His return!” Unfortunately, a significant part of Christendom no longer shares this future hope. It has receded into the background. “But without this eschatological dimension, the Christian faith has no reason for being,” the Chief Apostle says.

A significant part of Christendom no longer regards the return of Christ as a real event, a divine intervention at a specific point in history, but rather as a spiritual process unique to each believer. We are strongly opposed to this interpretation, the Chief Apostle writes. Because: “He who brought about the incarnation of the Son of God, the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and the ascension of Christ can also bring about the first resurrection!”

Trust instead of proof

Faith in God consists of having unconditional, unshakeable trust in His word. To believe is also to adhere to the divine truth, even without understanding it. “God is not asking us to give up all human knowledge, but He does suggest that we take the path of faith in order to access truths that elude human reason.”

In order to be genuine and true, faith in Christ’s return must be based on His word alone, not on signs. The Chief Apostle says that the Bible makes quite a number of statements concerning the return of the Lord, but “it would be foolish to try to determine when the return of Christ will occur, or to try to describe how it will take place, on the basis of these predictions.”

Aware of our own limits

In order to separate human beings from God, the evil one seeks to destroy our trust in the word of God. “God allows such temptations because they can contribute to our salvation. God is omniscient—He does not need to test us in order to know our faith or to choose who will be saved.”

But: “The trials permitted by God are designed to enable us to appreciate the strength of our faith on our own, to be aware of our limits, and to make the necessary adjustments.” So He wants us to have a proper appreciation of our faith and wants us to be able to react before it is too late.

The right reaction consists of coming to Him in humbleness and saying, “I believe! Help my unbelief!” (Mark 9: 24). “Let us examine ourselves without complacency, and let us humbly ask God to strengthen our faith. He will do so,” the Chief Apostle writes and cites 1 Corinthians 10: 13: “God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10: 13).

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Andreas Rother
Doctrinal statements