“Because you have kept my word of patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial which is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell upon the earth. I am coming soon; hold fast what you have” (Rev. 3:10, 11a, RSV).

Whether we are living in the “last days” we do not know. We do know that we are living in days that try the souls of men, in days when, if it were possible, the very foundations would be shaken.

The spirit of lawlessness is abroad—mobs, demonstrations, protests, collusions of evil men to do evil, flagrant disregard for the law and resistance to those who would enforce it.

Violence, hatred, strife, and bloodshed are the order of the day. Contempt for God and man is so evident that even Christians would tremble for their own future were it not for one thing: the anchor of the soul, Jesus Christ and his eternal Gospel.

God tells us that such an hour of trial is coming, and he has promised those who are faithful to his Word in patient endurance, “I will keep you.” In him there is both peace and hope.

One of the most difficult truths for the Christian to grasp is the completeness of his own need and the completeness of God’s provision for that need.

More than a century ago these words, so relevant for us today, were written:

My hope is built on nothing less

Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;

I dare not trust the sweetest frame,

But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;

All other ground is sinking sand,

All other ground is sinking sand.

Today, in the midst of the tumult of a world that has rebelled against God and is rushing pell-mell toward judgment, the hope of the Christian rests solely on the word and work of God in the person of his Son, the presence of his Spirit, and the promises of his Word.

Not long ago, the newspapers carried pictures of the lifeless body of Dr. Paul Carlson, taken on the square at Stanleyville where he had fallen. As I looked at that peaceful face I could only think of the heroes of faith enumerated in the eleventh chapter of the book written to Hebrew Christians, those “of whom the world was not worthy” (Heb. 11:38a). The most impressive thing was the expression of perfect peace on Paul Carlson’s face—a peace that the world can neither give nor take away, because it is the peace of God, beyond the understanding of man.

The lesson we so desperately need to learn is that all our hope rests in what Christ has done for us. Living as a Christian is a matter, not of “being good,” but of exercising the righteousness of Christ imputed to us. We can do nothing to merit this righteousness; it is the gift of God to those who believe.

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The tremendous implications of this thought are difficult to grasp. God imputes the righteousness of his Son so that in his sight believers are covered as with a robe—sin blotted out and the perfection of his Son becoming our own.

The Chinese character for righteousness is a remarkable illustration of that thought. It consists of the character for a “lamb” above the character for the personal pronoun “me.” As God looks at me, a rotten sinner, he sees above me a lamb, his Son; he sees, not me, but righteousness—the righteousness of the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world.

During our Lord’s earthly ministry men began to turn away from him, going their own lost way. Jesus said to his disciples, “Will you also go away?” Peter answered, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life; and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God” (John 6:68, 69).

To us are given the words of eternal life, a life bestowed upon all who in childlike faith believe in and accept the redeeming work of Christ.

In our time iniquity is becoming increasingly bold; if it were possible, the faith of the elect would be shaken. We are confronted by those who call evil good and good evil, who defy every way of righteousness while they condone the works of Satan.

At such a time the Christian must keep himself unspotted from the world, a living witness to the transforming and keeping power of Christ.

It is tragic that so few Christians live as Christians should. What we say and do speaks so loudly that men see nothing to commend the Gospel we profess.

The Christian needs to learn that he must appropriate to his own life the things provided in Christ. He must learn that being a Christian is not “being good” but having in him the goodness of Christ by His indwelling presence. The righteousness of a Christian is not what he himself does but what Christ has done and does through him.

A transformation of this kind requires three things: a humble heart, a willing mind, and an obedient will—the humility to admit one’s condition and need, a wisdom that comes as God’s gift, and a will to walk by faith.

The thought that God expects us not to do but to accept what he has done for us is overwhelming. All of us are so anxious to earn our salvation, to merit God’s approval, that we have some difficulty in accepting the fact that “our hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.” But unless we hold fast to this word of the completeness of Christ’s work, we will find ourselves floundering and foundering in the chaos of a world that has gone mad in its rebellion against God.

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Stop, take a look, listen. These are days when the souls of men are being tried by the wickedness of the pride and rebellion we find all about us.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the perversion of Christianity into a new religion. This new religion is humanistic; it puts the physical and material welfare of man first. Even the Church seems more concerned about making the prodigal happy and comfortable in the far country than in bringing him back to his heavenly Father.

If you question this, take a look at multiplied programs for material and physical betterment that ignore completely man’s greatest need—the need of his soul for the cleansing, forgiveness, and redemption to be found in Christ and nowhere else.

In the midst of this world in turmoil, not only of action but also of outlook, how should the Christian live?

Most of us have seen the picture of a tiny bird asleep on the limb of a storm-tossed tree. The Christian also should exhibit a serenity of spirit, for he knows the God who has permitted the storm and the Christ who is the unshakable foundation.

Above all else, he should rest in the sure promises of God given to all who put their trust in him.

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