Foundation for Reformed Theology

Late in his life, Karl Barth preached at the prison in Basel. Some of those sermons were published as Deliverance to the Captives. Several  years later, others were published as Call for God: New Sermons from Basel Prison, London: SCM Press, 1967.

These sermons powerfully present the gospel promises of God. I commend them to you. Read them, believe, and learn how to preach!

Here are three excerpts from his sermon on Psalm 31:15, "My time is secure in your hands":

"It is worth looking rather more closely at the word 'secure'. My time does not lie around somewhere like an attaché case which someone has forgotten or lost in a tram or somewhere else. It does not roll along like a skittle-ball hurled by some unseen hand. It does not tremble like an aspen leaf in the wind. It does not stagger along like a drunk man. It is secure. It is held. It is carried. It is safeguarded. It is not secure because I am perhaps such a steadfast fellow: after all, none of us is that. It is secure because it is in God's hands. What is in God's hands is secure. So my yesterday is secure, my today, and my tomorrow, with everything that belongs there, whether hidden or open to view. So my time, my life story, I myself have been secure by God's decree for a long time, from long before I was born and so from all eternity. And it will continue secure: not only until my death, but beyond it, for ever. Nothing, nothing at all of what came then and still comes into existence and now is, will ever be lost, forgotten or obliterated. I am, I shall live, though I were dead, because my life is secure in God's hands." (p. 43)

"Yes, you may ask me, but does God have hands? Yes indeed, God has hands, quite different from these claws of ours, much better, much more skilful, much stronger hands. What does it mean to say: God's hands? Let me put it this way first of all: God's hands are his deeds, his works, his words, which, whether we know it and want it or not, surround and embrace, bear and sustain us all on all sides. But after all, that could be said and understood merely figuratively, symbolically. There is a point where the figurative and symbolic ceases, where the question of God's hands becomes quite literally serious--that is, where all the deeds, works and words of God have their beginning, middle and end: 'Your hands'--these are the hands of our Saviour Jesus Christ. These are the hands which he held outstretched when he called: 'Come unto me, all you that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.' They are the hands with which he blessed the children. They are the hands with which he touched the sick and healed them. They are the hands with which he broke the bread and shared it out to the five thousand in the desert place and then again to his disciples before his death. Finally and above all, they are his hands nailed to the cross, so that we might be reconciled to God. These, my brothers and sisters, these are the hands of God: the strong hands of a father, the good, soft, gentle hands of a mother, the faithful, helping hands of a friend, the gracious hands of God, in which our time is secure, in which we ourselves are secure. Of him, of this our Saviour, it is in fact said that time was fulfilled in his coming, meaning that in him time--all time and so also the time of each of us--has received its meaning and its direction and its goal. Let us leave it at that: in your hands--in the hands of your dear son--my time is secure, my life is secure, and I may be secure. He, your dear son, has indeed said: 'None shall pluck them from my hand.' Just listen: No one, no man, no angel and no devil, not even my sin and my death! No one can and shall pluck them from my hand." (pp. 44-45)

"I come to a close with a word of advice or a request: How would it be, if we--each man and woman among us--tonight, before we went to sleep, were to say once more to God, aloud or softly, what we heard just now: 'My time is secure in your hands'? If that were our last act in the old year, then its ending would be marked by our telling the truth. For this is the truth! 'My time is secure in your hands!', and God is waiting for us to tell the truth at last--even in this last hour. What an ending to the year that would be!

"And how would it be, if, tomorrow morning, when we awaken, we were to say, again aloud or softly, exactly the same thing: 'My time is secure in your hands'" Our first act in the new year would then be to tell the truth once more, looking now to the future. God is indeed waiting for us just to begin to tell the truth, and this is the truth: 'My time is secure in your hands'. What a beginning to the year! Yes, what about it? What about that for an ending, what about that for a beginning! Amen." (p. 46)

I have been saying and praying this a lot lately, and I invite you to join me in doing so.

For more about preaching, click on the following links to our website:


Karl Barth for Preachers

Preaching Jesus Christ: Karl Barth and the Christian Story

Dr. James C. Goodloe IV
Grace and Peace,

Dr. James C. Goodloe IV, Executive Director
Foundation for Reformed Theology
4103 Monument Avenue, Richmond, VA 23230
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