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Acts 10:43

“To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”

If the only true comfort for human beings in life and death is for us to belong to Christ, then enjoying this comfort is possible only if we know how we become the Savior’s special possession. This broad theme is covered in the answer to the Heidelberg Catechism’s second question, which lists three things we must know to possess the comfort of belonging to Jesus and to flourish therein. Our passage today looks at two items in that list — the knowledge of “how great [our] sin and misery are” and the understanding of how we are “set free from all [our] sins and misery.”

One fundamental difference between biblical Christianity and every other religion and philosophy lies in the understanding of human nature. Other worldviews generally believe that human beings are basically good people who occasionally do bad things. At worst, we come into the world as neutral individuals who have the ability to choose the good. All that we need is the right teaching or the right rituals, and we will, in the grand scheme of things, do more good than evil. Biblical Christianity, on the other hand, tells us that “the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth” (Gen. 8:21). Apart from Jesus, no natural-born descendant of our first parents, Adam and Eve, can do what is truly good without the sovereign work of the Lord in his heart. Even deeds that appear good to outside observers are but filthy rags, for all of us have fallen short of the glory of God (Isa. 64:6; Rom. 3:23). Impure motives taint even the best deeds. To gain any comfort from the work of Christ, we must be convinced that we actually need His work in our behalf. We have to know the heinousness of our sin in the sight of a holy God. We must realize that the Lord’s wrath justly remains on those whose sins, be they “major” or “minor,” have not been forgiven (John 3:36).

Once we begin to understand the depth of our wickedness and despair of any right we have to comfort before a holy Lord, we can begin to comprehend our need for His pardon and the depth of divine grace in forgiving us through Christ. Acts 10:43 touches on these realities, promising that we can find pardon through believing in Jesus. This pardon is a great comfort in itself. It tells us we belong to the Savior, for God forgives only those who receive Jesus as Lord and Savior. Only through faith in Christ can we become blessed children of God (John 1:11–13).

Coram Deo Living before the face of God

Biblical Christianity does not teach “the universal fatherhood of God.” Our Creator does not look with favor on everyone but only on those whose sins are forgiven through Jesus. This is a scandalous belief, but all who understand something of the depth of their sin and their need for divine forgiveness affirm their need for Christ. This is possible only through the regenerating work of God the Holy Spirit. Do you know your sin and your need for forgiveness?


For Further Study
  • Psalm 51
  • Isaiah 6:1–7
  • Nahum 1
  • Hebrews 9:22

Abundant Comfort in Christ

Grateful Proclamation

Keep Reading The Apocalypse of John

From the January 2012 Issue
Jan 2012 Issue