Sunday, March 13, 2011

Ephesians 4:4-6 part four

Last time we looked at Pope Benedict's Spe Salve and how his encyclical relates to the Greek word St. Paul uses here in Ephesians (and elsewhere) for 'hope.'

The New Testament 'hope' is NOT a wishful desire -- for example, "I hope it doesn't rain tomorrow" (meaning, it might nonetheless rain -- or it might not). Rather, New Testament 'hope' carries the idea of a confident expectation of something promised by God. The reason St. Paul has such confidence (and why we can have such confidence) is because God doesn't lie. If He said something is true, then there is no way in heaven or on earth that it will ever be untrue.

Thus, if God says all those who trust Jesus Christ for salvation will be saved, then all those who trust Jesus Christ for salvation can declare it from the rooftops, "I am saved." (For example, see here, here and here).

That is why the writer to the Hebrews could be bold to say this and this about why every Christian who abides in Christ can have confidence in his or her salvation. And St. Paul reminds us that salvation is a gift. Gifts, of course, are not earned. They are unearned. They are given by God's grace alone, as the Catechism of the Catholic Church proclaims here, here, here, and here.

So, what are some of the many things St. Paul tells us are bound up in that confident expectation?
For example, take a look at these passages and write down in your notebook the promises -- the hope -- assured by God to the Christian:

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
1 Thessalonians 5:1-11
Titus 3:4-7
Romans 5:1-11

To reiterate, the reason we can have a confident expectation in God's promises to us is because -- and only because -- Jesus died as our substitute. He paid the penalty God required of us for our sin. Which is why all the promises of God to His children, baptized into His Body and abiding in Christ are "yes, and amen."

Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift.

No comments: