Happenings around Antioch

Christ’s Triumph, our Hope!

Peter writes in his first letter Noah’s ark to make a point about our salvation in Christ. The ark was provided for sinners when there was no other hope for salvation. The ark was planned by God. The ark was a place of safety, the only place of safety. A man once said to D. L. Moody that he was worried because he didn’t feel saved. Moody asked, “Was Noah safe in the ark?” “Certainly he was,” the man replied. “Well, what made him safe, his feeling or the ark?” Christ, not our feelings, keeps us safe. He is our only safe place.

Peter makes the point that the ark also points to baptism, but we have to be careful here. He said “baptism…now saves you.” If we jerk that phrase out of its context we end up with baptismal regeneration, which is heresy. Baptism cannot save us. If we look at the whole verse in its context, we understand these things. Baptism does not remove dirt any more than the ark brought Noah’s family to safety. It was a safe place from the storm, but it was God who brought 8 people through the storm and to dry ground. Baptism is a recognition by a redeemed sinner that our appeal is to God the Father through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The one who suffered once for sins and is now at the right hand of God and all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to him. We are in a safe place in the arms of Jesus.

I was in Moldova last week to speak at a men’s conference. One of the things I talked about was how important it is for a father to be a protector for his family. It is part of our calling as men. But ultimately, we know that only God can protect our families. A good friend who was there with me shared the story of when he and his family lived in South Africa after apartheid was finished and Nelson Mandela was released from prison. There was a lot of unrest. Larry was driving his family to church one Sunday and his wife, pregnant with their third son, said about halfway there, “I don’t feel well. Can you take me back home?” Larry agreed and his two sons said they wanted to stay home with mom as well. By the time Larry got to the church by himself, he was late and couldn’t sit in his normal seat, near the front. He sat near the back, instead. The service had just started when armed gunmen came into the church at the front, near the pulpit, and opened fire on the congregation. Then men came in from the back and rolled hand grenades into the auditorium. A lot of people died. Larry said had they been on time, they would have died, as one of the hand grenades blew up right where they normally sit. Larry said to the men in Moldova, “I could not have protected my family from that. Only God could do that. And when our third son was born, we named him Joshua, which means ‘Jesus saves.’”

I believe Peter shared this message to the dispersed people of God to say, “Take heart! God can and will save his people.” Noah and his family must have felt all alone, surrounded by the wicked. They were so few and the wicked were so many. Their voices were muted compared to the raucous cries of the ungodly. They were few but they were faithful. The church in Moldova is very small, surrounded by unbelievers and agnostics. But they remain faithful. Just like the church Peter was writing to in the Roman Empire 2000 years ago. God is calling the church in Moldova, in America, and around the world to remain faithful, to put our trust in God.

Christ has triumphed, and he is our hope!