Classic Christianity – A Closer Look at Faith, Hope & Love P35 (07-07-20)
This blessed hope is that what we hold onto, the truth we have heard from God and have put our faith in. This faith and love spring from the hope that is stored up for you. When you know someone who loves you deeply and perfectly, then you trust what He says is true. God has made known to us that He has taken away all our sins, that He has prepared a place for us and that He has already seated us in the heavenly places with Him. There is this hope, a certainty, a fulfilled promised, of being made complete in Christ. Christ will never leave you or forsake you. He has made every provision for you, both now and in a new permanent residence of heaven where there is no more sorrow, sickness, pain, sin or death. We have everything when we are in Christ. That is the blessed hope.
This body of ours we live in today is a tent, a temporary dwelling place for the Spirit of God living in us. We will get a new body some day. This world we live in is temporary. We know from scripture that this present world will be burned up with fire. Knowing these things, what then should our minds be focused on, those things things that are temporary, or those things that last?
This blessed hope, not a hope of something that will be, but our present hope that we are already seated with Him in the heavenly places, a present reality of Christ in us, our only hope of glory. That motivates us to live as who we are, our new identity as a child of God. It would be like knowing you are going to be the best basketball player in the world. If God told you that, and you knew it was true, then you would do what you were created to do, learn to dribble and shoot, to become what God has promised you.
This hope in Christ is a springboard to action, those actions that are initiated by God and are true. You are motivated to live the life that God has told you about. You have this hope, this certainty of things Jesus has revealed to you. So you act in accordance with that hope, knowing it is true. You become skilled at the task assigned you by God. We have been given everything we need for life and godliness through our faith in Him. We learn to live in accordance with who we are and are amply supplied.
We have been told that we are a child of God, and not only that, but we are ambassadors of heaven, that our citizenship is in heaven. So we act according to who we are. We learn to do those things to represent the country we are from, and the place we are going to return to when our work on earth is done. We were born again, made into a new creation, when we heard and believed the message of the gospel, of grace in Christ Jesus. Having heard, we were marked in Him with a seal of ownership. We have a new citizenship in a place that is not of this world, and we now represent our new owner, Christ the king, and our new citizenship. We are currently an ambassador for Christ. So we live here temporarily on this earth, representing the things of God.
So, what kind of motivation does this blessed hope of ours affect how we live our lives down here. It has been said that you are not ready to live until you are prepared to die. For me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. How should we make decisions in terms of our time, money and resources, that are here today, and gone tomorrow? What priorities should we have when we realize the higher calling that God has placed on our lives? And when we realize the current events in our day, does it not seem time is drawing nearer to the day prophesied, a day of birth pains and tribulation. Yet, we realize that these even are temporary and we recall that Jesus, for the joy set before him, endured the cross, scorning its shame. What hope we have in Christ Jesus! Look at that in terms of the soon return of the coming king. But the prince of this world will come first before the prince of peace comes. Will you be ready to meet the Lord in the air to escape the wrath that is coming on this world? Do you know Him? If you do, what then should your purpose be, knowing what God has told you about the days ahead, and that God is not willing any should perish but come to repentance, the knowledge of the truth?
As we get into the last chapter, as it deals with this subject of hope, what we dealt with, as an example, in chapter 5, was faith lived out. In other words, how does faith spell itself out into our daily experience. Now, over the next couple of weeks, we are going to deal with hope. What does hope do for us? What does it do for us?
6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus
11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.
10 I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, ‘My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.’
6 He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life.
We are told in scripture (Ephesians 2:6) that we are already seated in the heavenlies with Christ Jesus. As far as God is concerned, who knows the beginning from the end, that is where we are already. If you are in Christ Jesus, you are already seated there. There is no chance of you not being seated there. You are already there. It is not the case that there will be. You already are. Those are hard concepts for us to understand.
I remember back years ago when I was in New York on St. Patrick’s day. There is a huge parade that takes place. I was in the Empire State building. I could see the beginning of that parade to the end of the parade. From that vantage point, I saw the whole thing in one scoop. If I was down there in that crowd, I would not see where I had been or where I was going. You could see nothing except people in front of you. It was so packed with people. But from that vantage point, I saw the beginning from the end.
Our problem is we try to bring both of those two together, those in the empire state building and those in the crowd, at the same time, but you cannot do that. You have to realize that from God’s vantage point, he is looking from the empire state building. He has got a helicopter view. From our vantage point, we are in the crowd. We must understand that even though I am here, I cannot see all that is there, but God does. He sees the beginning from the end. We cannot pull all of that together.
There is no way in our human experience whereby we can say, “I see what is going to happen tomorrow”, let alone ten years or a thousand years from now. We are limited in our humanity to the now. We can think back on what has happened. We can imagine what is going to happen tomorrow, but we cannot live tomorrow. It is just there. We are heading into it, but we do not have a clue what is in store for us.
We have to understand that it is a part of the limitation of humanity that is not the limitation of God, who sees the beginning from the end. But we can have the privilege of receiving information from God as to what is going to happen in the end. We know, as an example, what prophecy deals with. We try to understand the meaning of that. Certainly there are people who have gained great insight as to the meaning of the end times. We know Jesus is coming again. I can know that beyond a shadow of a doubt. How come? I did not know that, but God knows that. God revealed that to us in this world.
The thing we can rely on, and the only place I know of we can rely on, is God and what He has revealed to us through His word. Only God knows what is up ahead. When God says Jesus is coming back, I know something is going to happen in the future. I do not have to guess on that. I can know that. That has been revealed by the word of God as to what is going to happen in the future. I cannot even say for certain I am going to die because the rapture might occur before then. . I can say if the rapture does not occur, then I can say I am going to die. I would prefer to be raptured.
The future is in the hands of God. We know nothing about it except what has been revealed by God to us. We are told from God’s vantage point, the minute we come to Christ, we are seated in the heavenlies with Christ Jesus. We know that is where I already am. That is the blessed hope we have.
[As the reader may know already, Bob George went on to be with the Lord. He is there already. He was there already even when he was alive down here. But, now he is present with the Lord where there is no more death, dying, sickness or pain. He is at his permanent home. All of us, who are in Christ, will join him up there. Some of us will see him for the very first time.]
I do not have to use hope as if hope is going to happen. But I know it is going to happen. That is faith. Because I know this is going to happen, I have hope of the day that occurs. That is a blessed hope that is within me that says as hopeless as it may get down here, I have a blessed hope ahead of me, and that is, I know where I am going. At such a time, I am absent from the world, absent from the body, present with the Lord. I know I am going to live in eternity, totally separated from sin, totally separated from death, totally separated from trials and tribulations of this world and to be living in the presence of Jesus, becoming as He is, knowing Him, constant uninterrupted presence of the Lord Jesus Christ, never to see sin and death again, or trials and tribulations. That is a great hope. That is not saying I hope that occurs. Understand what we are saying. Hope does not mean I hope, I hope, I hope. The word hope means I know this is true. Therefore, that is my hope.
2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.
27 To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
11 For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. 12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope – the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.
That means there is no hope of glory apart from Jesus. In Jesus, you have total hope of glory.
You look at this, and think, if I know that this is my destiny, then how does that affect my life here on this earth? If you told one of your children or grandchildren, that I know everything in advance. You say to your child, “You will be the next Michael Jordan, the best basketball player that has ever lived. That is a done deal. That is who you are going to be”. If you told a child that, I do not think he would sit around on the coach wasting his life away. He would be out practicing. If that is who I am going to be, that I am going to be that good of a basketball player. If I am going to love basketball, then I need to start playing and get in action. That would be by-product of the knowledge of someone saying, “that in just twenty years, you are going to be the best ball player”, I think that would be a good incentive to learn how to dribble and shoot.
25 “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.
17 Then he adds: “Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.”
2 Corinthians 5:17
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus
There is hope that comes. There is what happens. God has said all sins have been removed, you are a new creature in Christ. Besides that I have already seated you in the heavenlies with Christ Jesus. Knowing that I am going to be with Christ Jesus the rest of my life, then I would like to have a clear conscience when I get up there. That becomes the motivator for life here on this earth. So that shows the importance of our study on hope.
3 We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, 4 because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God’s people – 5 the faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven and about which you have already heard in the true message of the gospel 6 that has come to you. In the same way, the gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world – just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and truly understood God’s grace.
Again, it is back to what we were talking about, when we realize there is a hope stored up for you in heaven. What does that mean, that something is stored up for you? It is waiting on you. It is not that you are going to work and get it. It is waiting on you. It is there.
1 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. 2 My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4 You know the way to the place where I am going.”
So God tells us, “I have prepared a place for you”, “Do not be anxious”, and “Do not let your hearts be troubled.” We have to realize that there is a place that we are going to be eternally and that place is in Jesus. If that is stored up for us in heaven, then what is said should be a springboard for us to enter into the faith and love that springs from the hope that is stored up for me.
So when we understand our eternal destiny, that when I am prepared to die, I am prepared to live by faith. If I cannot exercise faith in what the bible says is going to happen to me when I die, absent from the body and present with the Lord, then how can I trust Him with what is happening with me right now? That is the thing, many times, is what keeps us going, an understanding that even though, in the midst of trials and tribulations down here, there is a blessed hope that is stored up for us in Christ Jesus.
When you think about that for a moment and as we begin to tie in all of these things of faith, hope and love, we take a look at the hall of fame of faith in the 11th chapter of Hebrews. You look at this and say, “Well, what kind of faith and hope did they have to have to go through experiences like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego?” Those types of experiences they went through, they had to be motivated by something. That hope of that eternal life was the springboard for walking by faith and love. Abraham, in the sacrifice of his son, Isaac, what was his hope?
17 By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had embraced the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, 18 even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.”[Genesis 21:12] 19 Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead, and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death.
His hope was in God going to resurrect him. By sacrificing, he is going to be resurrected. He had a glimpse of the hereafter. We as Christians, have more than a glimpse of the hereafter. We have a good understanding, not in what it looks like, but we have understanding of what it is like, not what it looks like but what it is like. We know it is totally in the presence of God and we know we are there and we are free from all things that plague us in humanity of ours. That type of thing has to sustain you.
In Hebrews 11, you are talking about people who walk by faith. The first part of it sounds good.
32 And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets, 33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. 35 Women received back their dead, raised to life again.
Now, we look at that, and say, “that sounds good”. Or people will say, “That is what faith will do for you”, of name it and claim it crowd. “If you have enough faith, you are going to be strong and powerful. You are going to get your dead back. You are going to administer justice. You are going to be great”. Keep reading.
These are the ones that I think, when it comes down to it, you know there had to be a knowledge of the hereafter, for them to go through what they were going through. To me, it reminds me of a woman in pregnancy. Why in the world would she ever want to go through the pain of pregnancy, of delivering a baby? If God would have done such a way that man would have been the ones to deliver a baby, there would never be a second child.
2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
That is what a woman does. For the joy set before her, for giving birth to this baby, she endures the pain. It is the same thing here. For the joy set before us, with knowledge that whatever happens to us, we are in the hands of God.
21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.
There is the key attitude.
Now, it says in this other group.
There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. 36 Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated – 38 the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground.
That is not really what you would think what would look like as an abundant life. These people not only had faith, but they had hope. Therefore it says this.
39 These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised,
Even those people who were commended for their faith, yet none of them received what was promised. That is, at that juncture, none of them entered into the promised rest because the rest was not available to them in their day until Christ came.
40 since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.
So only together with us, after Chrsit came and completed the work, were they also made complete in Him.
So, I guess, what I am saying, in all of these instances, that this thing of hope is a springboard for our faith. We have faith in Christ. We have the love of the saints. We have hope that we know is stored up for us in heaven. All of those things pull together. It is interesting that the word hope is called like a springboard. Love that springs from the hope that is within us. It is vitally important for us to understand our eternal destiny. I believe it prepares us for life here on this earth. Until a person is prepared to die, they are really not prepared to live.
17 Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath.
We are told in scripture that Jesus became a priest by an oath. Others by natural means. He confirmed that by an oath. He is an eternal priest, and therefore, he is able to save completely those who come to him by faith.
20 And it was not without an oath! Others became priests without any oath, 21 but he became a priest with an oath when God said to him:
“The Lord has sworn
and will not change his mind:
‘You are a priest forever.’”[Psalm 110:4]
22 Because of this oath, Jesus has become the guarantor of a better covenant.
23 Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; 24 but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. 25 Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.
It is His completeness. He is the one who saves us completely.
18 God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged. 19 We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain,
I think we talk quite a lot about faith, and we talk as much as we can about love. But we do not talk about that too much because we do not know how to pull it off in the energy of our flesh. But I think, many times, we miss this talk about this hope and what it means to us. We are told that it springs us to faith and love. We are told that this hope in Christ is an anchor for our souls. An anchor is what keeps us steady. That is what keeps the boat steady in the water, an anchor. That anchor that he wants us to know, once again, is that truth as to where our ultimate destiny is.
What does that do for us? It shows us that our true home is not here. We are told that our citizenship is in heaven. This is a sojourn that we are down here. That is why our bodies are called tents. Tents are not a permanent place of residency. It is a temporary place. It is not grounded. It is temporary.
36 Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.”
20 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ.
So, we recognize that in this world. We are in this world but we are not of this world. We should hold onto things loosely. Our ultimate home is in heaven. That is why we are called ambassadors on this earth.
2 Corinthians 5:16-21
16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:[a] The old has gone, the new is here! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
You do not send ambassadors to another country with the intent to live there forever. They are going to come home one day. An ambassador is a sent one. They are in another country as a representative of the United States, or their country of origin, of where they were born, with the intent to come home. The hope of that is a realization that I am going to come home some day.
When I was in Germany in service. I was in Germany, and I would tolerate living there, even in military conditions, because I had this blessed hope I am going to come home someday. The blessed home to get out of these army fatigues. You can put up with anything with the knowledge that it is not going to last forever. It is temporary and it is not going to last forever. You can almost put up with anything with the knowledge of that.
When talking about this world we live down here, when we begin to see things from an eternal perspective rather than just a temporal perspective. We begin to see this is truly not our home. Our home is in heaven. We are sojourning down here. The older you get the more rapidly you see how life goes by. The realization of the fact that this is very, very temporary. So, if that is true, that we live in a temporary existence, why then should we be so preoccupied with the temporary instead of the eternal. Why are most of our thoughts on those things that are going to pass away rather than on those things that are not going to pass away? Why do we spend more money on face lifts and tummy tucks that we would in the promotion of the message of God’s grace, that is only things that these bodies sagging as they are, regardless of what you do with them, are going to go to the grave some day, and dissipate some day.
We almost live in denial of that truth. We fight it right up to the end. To a degree, we take a corpse and dress them up and paint them and put makeup on them and try to make them look good, right to the end, right to when the casket is closed. We do not come to grips with the fact that this body is going to be worm food and it is going to decay. I do not want to remember him that way. I want to remember him with suits on, dresses on, with flowers. So people walk by saying, “Don’t they look good?” All of that type of thing. Death is ugly. There is nothing pretty about death. You can dress it up. It is not pretty. It is ugly. There is something in our psych that we do not want to come to grips with the permanency of death. So we will dress it up. “Well, he will just live in his box for a few years and then everything will be okay”. Nevertheless, we refuse to see death for what it is, and it is a result of sin.
On the other hand, we spend all of our time thinking about temporary pleasures and temporal things instead of having our minds focused on the eternal consequence. In 1 Timothy 6:17-19, there is a reminder of this. Obviously, if this was not the case, there would not need to be a reminder. But there is.
1 Timothy 6:17-19
17 Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. 18 Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. 19 In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.
When we take a look at life itself, and we begin to take a look at this world in which we live, is life uncertain? It certainly is uncertain. Back in the 1920’s, look at the great depression that took place. People had their hope in their wealth. All of a sudden it was all gone. Could the same thing happen today? Absolutely. Everyone is talking about how the stock market is and the economy is. In fact, we elect presidents on that. If the economy is okay, I will keep a man in office. It does not make a difference about moral character. The issue is the economy is good. What is the issue with that. It is not understanding our home is temporary. This is not our home if you are born again. Our concentration is here. Therefore we are interested in the economy. We are interested in wealth. We are interested in things booming. He is saying to people like that. Warn those people who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant and to not put their hope in their wealth. Where should their hope be? In Christ. To put your hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.
What does the world think about that? “Oh, this is ridiculous. How does God provide everything for your enjoyment? Do you not understand he does not entertain you. He does not have slot machines and good shows. What does he have to do with television?” That is what wealthy people do with their money. They buy enjoyment. They buy pleasure. After you are so bored with pleasure, you run for politics. You get involved in politics and run for office. You have failed marriages and those kinds of things, and that evidently qualifies you for anything. So if you make big buildings, that evidently qualifies you for anything.
[That, in general, is the thinking of the world. Yet, God is involved in all of the affairs that goes on down here with men. He knows every person and sees the big picture.]
20 Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever;
wisdom and power are his.
21 He changes times and seasons;
he deposes kings and raises up others.
He gives wisdom to the wise
and knowledge to the discerning.
22 He reveals deep and hidden things;
he knows what lies in darkness,
and light dwells with him.
[So our eyes need not be on men, for who knows what God is doing in the heart of a man at various times in their life? What skeletons do we have in our closet? Our eyes are fixed on Christ Jesus. What grace and mercy he bestows on men. Who ever would have thought that Saul of Tarsus would be changed and become qualified as a missionary to the Gentile? Who trusted him in those early days after he was converted on the road to Damascus, and was given the name Paul?]
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