Friday, December 28, 2018

The Vision (12.28.18): But be of good cheer

Note: Devotion take from last Sunday's sermon on John 16:29-33.

These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world (John 16:33).

In the upper room Christ prophesied that when he went to the cross the disciples would be “scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave me alone” (John 16:32). He explains: “These things I have spoken to you, that ye might have peace” (v. 33; cf. John 14:27).

The Christian concept of peace has two vital aspects:

First, there is the foundational peace of salvation: “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God” (Rom 5:1).

Second, there is the peace of sanctification: “And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:7).

Finally, Christ says, “In the world ye shall have tribulation….” (v. 33b). This is what Christ’s disciples will experience in this present evil world. They are not exempt from suffering, but, quite the opposite, they will be prone to it, because they will elicit the world’s hostility (15:19).

In the face of this reality, Christ exhorts, “but be of good cheer.” The verb rendered here as “be of good cheer” has the sense of “to have courage,” “to have confidence,” “to take heart.”

And what is the ground of this “cheer”? Is it confidence in self? In effort? In others? No, it is confidence in Christ and his finished work: “I have overcome [nikao] the world.”

Calvin observes: “When, therefore, Christ calls us to the contest, he arms us with assured confidence of victory, though still we must toil hard.”

Word art is popular at this time of year. My guess is that you could go into more than one craft or home furnishings store and find a plaque that says, “Believe” or “Peace” or “Cheer.” But what do any of these things mean apart from Christ? What content do they have apart from Christ? They are empty of meaning and vain utterances unless they speak of Christ.

Believers can indeed be of good cheer, whatever our circumstances, because we know that Christ has overcome the world.

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

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