|Did you know that the insurance industry in the United States is the largest in the world in terms of revenue. Since 2011, its annual revenue, known to us as "insurance premiums," has exceeded the $1.2 trillion. We spend so much money on insurance as a nation because we lack assurance. I can't be assured that I won't get sick, or that I won't be in an accident, or that my property won't be destroyed, so I purchase insurance to protect myself from the unknowns and the unforeseeable future.
We'd all love to have assurance, but experience has taught us that it is elusive. One need look no further in history than this year to see how quickly our lives can be turned upside down by an unforeseen event like a global pandemic. Often times in life, we hope for the best, but we plan and prepare for the worst. This is touted as wisdom. To be human is to struggle for a semblance of control that often proves to be merely an illusion. So, we spend $1.2 trillion on insurance!
As a pastor, I'd love to be able to provide you with a biblical case for why you can save your money and cast off the shackles of insurance, but the biblical narrative provides no basis for such instruction. In fact, the Bible is replete with stories of calamity and chaos for mankind. These are the inevitable outcomes of a fallen and broken world. God is a god of peace and order, and he created the universe to reflect his character. However, our sin has marred that reflection. Rest assured, God is still in control, but as traitorous beings, we must suffer the consequences of our transgressions. Sin brings chaos and destruction wherever we find it, and we are up to our eyeballs drowning in sin!
If this is true, and I believe our human experience testifies that it is, what hope exists? Is there any hope of assurance? After all, the scriptures encourage us to be hopeful. What is the basis of our hope?
The narrative of the scriptures is the story of God's redeeming and restorative work in the world through Jesus Christ. God created all things with intentionality...he has a plan and a purpose in all things. Though we have rejected his plans and purposes in favor of our own, he is not content to simply allow us to wallow in our own mess. He has responded to our sin in Christ. This has been the ongoing narrative of our study through the book of Hebrews.
Jesus is our assurance because through him, God is fixing what sin has broken. The message of the gospel is one of hope and assurance because the work of the gospel is the restoration of peace and order to the chaos. Of course one might say, "Well, Jesus died 2000 years ago and things don't seem to be getting any better!"
I would be hard pressed to refute that argument. Sin begets sin and we are reproducing new sinners each and every day at an alarming rate. Scholars estimate that at the time of Jesus' birth, the world's population was around 300 million. That is less than the population of the US today. Our world population currently sits at around 7.8 billion. From 1960 to 2000 (a period of just 40 years) the world's population doubled. The truth is, we find new and disturbing ways to sin each and every day...and we pass our depravity on to the next generation. But all hopes is not lost. God is not losing the battle.
The ultimate hope of the Christian is a future hope. The promise of scripture is that the sovereign God of the universe has placed an expiration date on our sinning. He continues to tarry with us because of his great love and patience for his creatures, but he will not do so forever. A day is coming when he will exercise his just judgement on mankind and put an end to our sinning once and for all. On that day, he will put right what sin has broken. He will restore order and peace for his children. This is the assurance we find in the scriptures.
But though our hope is rooted in the future, our calling is to live in the here and now. The Christian life isn't one of resting on our laurels (or more correctly, Jesus' laurels), it is a call to radical love and service for the well-being of our fellow man. We live in trying times, and our world needs hope more than ever. It is our job, as Christians, to share that hope with our neighbors.
The author of Hebrews is writing to encourage his hearers to find hope and assurance in Christ. He has been making a case for Christ, his person and work, and, as Cody mentioned in his sermon, he is now beginning to turn to their attention towards the numerous practical implications for their lives as Christ followers. The gospel offers hope to all people because it speaks directly to our greatest need. We lack hope and assurance because we find ourselves in a world of chaos separated from the God of peace and order. When Jesus' disciples found themselves at sea in the midst of a terrible storm that threatened to swallow them up, they turned to their Lord for help. And how did Jesus respond? He rebuked the wind and the waves and restored peace to the waters. Thus same power is at work in the world through his children today offering hope in the storm.
If you missed this week's sermon (or just want to listen again), follow the link below to listen. Or subscribe to our podcast in iTunes.
Part 23 - Our Main Issue
Questions discussed in this sermon:
1. What issues are you most passionate about in your life?
2. Do certain issues distract you away from the gospel?
3. How confident do you feel when it comes to matters of faith?
Next week's lesson: Hebrews 10:26-39