(…continued) The Bible has a great deal to say about confidence. There is a little bit there about self-confidence, a little bit more about having confidence in others, and quite a few verses about confidence in God. Proverbs 3:25-26 says, “Have no fear, for the Lord will be your confidence;” and Proverbs 14:26 says, “The fear of the Lord gives strong confidence, and his children shall always have a place of refuge.” Psalm 27 says: “The Lord is my light and my salvation– whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life, — of whom shall I be afraid? Even though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; even though a war break out against me, even then, I will be confident... I am confident of this; I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” Isaiah 30:15 says, “In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.”
The New Testament builds on those Old Testament expressions of confidence. In Philippians chapter three, Paul speaks of Christians as those who glory in Christ, but put no confidence in the flesh; this ‘frail, frail flesh’ as Shakespeare described it. We do have to depend on this frail flesh for a while. You wouldn’t be sitting here today without it. But we can’t depend on it for very long. 75-80 years, or perhaps a few more, and that’s all. So Paul says, it’s no use putting much confidence in such a temporary thing as that. Those of you who watched Ray die saw in these last few weeks saw how ‘frail‘ this flesh really is, and what happens when it does fail.
But Paul has more to say on the subject. In II Corinthians chapters four and five he wrote: “Therefore, we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away… (that’s what happens to flesh), yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles here, are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal… Therefore, WE ARE ALWAYS CONFIDENT.” Paul goes on to say that when we leave this body, we go home to be with the Lord. That is our ultimate confidence. That is the confidence that will get us not just a long ways, but all the way to our eternal home.
“If a man die, shall he live again?” asked the desperately ill Job in the Old Testament. ‘No problem,’ says the Lord. The Lord who put our soul and our spirit into this body and this flesh, can certainly have for us another body ready to go when this wears out. In that same passage from II Corinthians that I referred to above, Paul said, “Now we know that if this earthly tent (this body) is destroyed, we have a building from God, (another body), an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.” Even when weakened by old age, riddled with cancer, and finally destroyed by death, the Bible tells us there will be a building for us, a body, from God, an eternal house in heaven. And so God says, we can be confident. This, says Romans 5:5, is a hope that will not disappoint us.
Ray died at home last Friday afternoon with his family around him. When it was looking like the end was near, someone started praying the Lord’s prayer. Right after they all said ‘Amen’ Ray breathed his last. The very last words Ray heard on this earth were the words of that wonderful prayer of Christian confidence: “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven… for Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever.” Even in death we are in the hands of that God, and that is a good and safe place to be. As the New Testament says, nothing, not even death can separate from the love of God. Believe that and you will have a hope and a confidence that will never be disappointed.
Jeremiah 9:23-24a — This is what the Lord says: “Let not the wise boast of their wisdom or the strong boast of their strength or the rich boast of their riches, but let the one who boasts boast about this: that they have the understanding to know me.”
II Corinthians 3:4 — Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God.
II Corinthians 5:8 — Yes, we do have confidence, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.
Hebrews 10:35-36 — Do not, therefore, abandon that confidence of yours; it brings a great reward. For you need endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised.
Romans 8:38-39 — For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
AMAZING GRACE, John Newton, verses 4-6:
The Lord has promised good to me,
His Word my hope secures;
He will my Shield and Portion be,
As long as life endures.
And when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess, within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.
When we’ve been there ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we’d first begun.