Take they our life, goods, fame, child and wife

Published 9:31 am Friday, November 14, 2008

With the recent turmoil in the financial and economic areas of our world, I have been pointedly reminded of the last words of Martin Luther’s hymn “A Mighty Fortress is our God.” Those words state, “And take they our life, goods, fame, child and wife; let these all be gone, they yet have nothing won. The kingdom ours remaineth.”

Wow! What a statement to remember during times of turmoil such as this. A large percentage of investments and retirement accounts have been lost because of the foolhardy, reckless and selfish practices of stock market fund managers. Financial safeguards which could have prevented such chaos seem to have been inadvisably discarded. Mortgage practices were changed in totally unsound financial ways and then forced upon loaning institutions. Large packages of unsound house mortgages were marketed as being good solid investment prospects. Executives of many large corporations seem to have steered their companies into financial disaster while arranging huge financial holdings for themselves.

Politicians promise wondrous changes, tear the opposing candidates to shreds and yet often themselves become caught up in the very political corruption they detest. It seems as though the very moral fiber of our society and system of government is deteriorating rapidly. Credibility wanes as one begins to wonder who — if anyone — you can trust anymore.

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Then there are the many devastating disasters which have occurred within our nation and world over the past few years. We have seen houses, businesses, whole islands and cities turned into ruins and rubble by tsunami, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, earthquakes and fires. The entire life’s work of thousands have been wiped out within hours, minutes or sometimes seconds. Many times not only does the devastation take property and possessions, but also human lives.

It certainly reminds us of what the Bible tells us about the things of this world being undependable and wasting away. It warns us, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. (Matthew 6:19-20 NIV)

We live in a perishable world. Anything we call our own here has the possibility of being lost in any of a variety of ways. Sometimes these things are stolen. Sometimes they wear out, rust away, rot away, or become old and outdated or die. On a moments notice a natural or man-make disaster can take them from us. This applies to both our inanimate and our living possessions — indeed even to our own health or life also.

Living in such circumstances, it is tremendously comforting to understand that there are certain things which cannot be taken from us. Martin Luther shows in this hymn verse that the one thing they (the forces of chance or of evil) cannot take from us is our eternal salvation. The Kingdom of God (heaven) still remains with those who truly believe in the Triune God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) as the only true God and in Jesus Christ as their complete savior from their sins.

Yes, I said sins. Many in today’s world do not like to talk about sin. But in the Bible God speaks a lot about it. He states that, “There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23 NIV) God also has determined that, “The wages of sin is death.” And one more passage says, “Whoever does not believe will be condemned.” (Mark 16:16 NIV) In other words, every single person who ever lives would by themselves end up in the fires of hell forever because of their sins.

But God sent Jesus Christ to live the perfect life we cannot live as our substitute. Then Jesus took our sins upon himself and suffered the punishment for those sins on the cross. He was punished instead of us. He paid for every sin of every person. That is the Gospel — the “good news” of the Bible. Jesus paid for your sins! Believe it! Trust him as your complete savior and then heaven is yours! You will be with God forever in perfect joy rather than in the fires of hell forever. The Bible says this is given you by God. It says, “The gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” All that is necessary to be in the “kingdom of God” is faith. Paul told the jailer at Philippi, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved.” (Acts 16:31 NIV)

And if you are a member of God’s spiritual kingdom, then that is a blessing they can’t take away from you in this world. Your physical possessions might be lost or taken, but the spiritual ones they can’t touch.

Do we live in tough times? Yes! Have you perhaps lost a lot and feel betrayed? Yes! Do you feel as though there is nothing that remains firm, solid and dependable? Perhaps.

But then remember Luther’s words that reflect the Bible’s truths, “Let these all be gone, they yet have nothing won. The kingdom ours remaineth.”