Friday, October 10, 2008

No Hope Without It

I enjoy reading the biographies of Christian leaders of the past. But each October, I make it a point to read a biography leading up to Reformation Day. This year I am reading about the life and work of J. Gresham Machen in Stephen Nichols book J. Gresham Machen, A Guided Tour of His Life and Thought. Below is a telegram sent by Machen, on his deathbed, to John Murray. Machen died on January 1, 1937.

I am so thankful for [the] active obedience of Christ. No hope without it.

What a glorious statement to make upon ones deathbed. Even at the end, Machen, a stalwart defender of orthodox faith among the liberal uprising of his day, put his hope in the truth of doctrine - the doctrine of Christ substitutionary work for him. He declared that without this truth of Christ active obedience, he had no hope. May all of us who call ourselves Christians breath our last breath with this truth upon our lips. Without Christ's work, there is no hope. When we come to this time of our lives, and yes we will come to it, may we be both thankful and hopeful. Yes, may we live well, but may we also die well. May the song on our hearts be that of the hymn "Solid Rock" by Edward Mote:

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly trust in Jesus’ Name.

When darkness seems to hide His face,
I rest on His unchanging grace.
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.

His oath, His covenant, His blood,
Support me in the whelming flood.
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my Hope and Stay.

When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh may I then in Him be found.
Dressed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne.

On Christ the solid Rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

I tend to think this was the song on Machen's heart when he sent that telegram to his friend. He knew he would soon cross the river of death. What a magnificent joy and anticipation he had realizing that the one he had walked with on this earth in spiritual communion, he would soon see face to face in all of His glory. Indeed, there is no hope without Christ.

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