by Allan Knapp
1 Corinthians 15:3–9
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.
Q1: What is your only comfort in life and in death?
A1: That I am not my own, but belong—body and soul, in life and in death— to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ. He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood, and has set me free from the tyranny of the devil. He also watches over me in such a way that not a hair can fall from my head without the will of my Father in heaven; in fact, all things must work together for my salvation. Because I belong to him, Christ, by his Holy Spirit, assures me of eternal life and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready from now on to live for him.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
I am old-ish. My hair is gray-ish. I pray about the future of our congregation and wonder how the coming generations will fare. I am comforted by the attention we pay to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Preaching the Word is one of the signs of a healthy church.
Many of you recall that we changed denominations in 2015. During the process we were required to select a new denomination to move to; we were not allowed (and did not want) to take a non-denominational approach. As we did our research, one of the quotes we heard often concerned the difficulty a congregation or denomination has in staying conservative for more than 50 years: “The first generation preaches the gospel. The second generation assumes the gospel. The third generation loses the gospel.”
Most of you recall when we changed senior pastors two years ago. Fewer of you recall when we changed pastors in 2004. Both times, there were options. Both times God brought us a man who felt intensely the primacy of the scriptures and the need to have God’s word as the light unto our path, continuing what URC had done since its beginning.
To remain a healthy church, the Word of God must be our vital guide in all we do: sermons, worship, teaching, fellowship, missions, prayer, devotions, everything. Wise men have suggested we preach the gospel to ourselves every day; this would be a good habit to develop. The three selections above are excellent summaries to review regularly. May we all stay alert and hold fast to the Word, praying that none of our future generations only assumes the gospel.