Classic Christianity – A Closer Look at Faith, Hope & Love P36 (07-08-20)
You are growing in grace, but you sense in your Spirit that you are not really experiencing all that God wants for you. You read about the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-24, and you ask yourself, “Am I really experiencing those things in my life?” If you are not, you ask yourself, “Why not? What is preventing me from experiencing what is truly life; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self control?”
Could it be you are looking in the wrong places? Could it be that you are still thinking like the world thinks, that money will buy you happiness? Why is it that the world seems to value people who are rich and famous, successful people, who are influential in the eyes of the world. In 1923, Bob George read from the Be Born Free gospel tract about the lives of nine successful men, and what happened in their lives 20 years later. They learned how to make money but they never learned how to live.
Now, you know that Christ is your life, and you know that this fruit of the Spirit is something only God can produce. Then why am I not experiencing this fruit? Is it that you are weak in faith, and you need to be built up in or by the body of Christ? You know the truth. You read the bible and you have listened to gifted teachers, who accurately handle the word of truth. What is it then? Could it be that you are not fully persuaded of God’s unconditional love and provision for you? You know that God is love and you know the scriptures.
It is like talking to someone just born again, having lived a life of addiction to drugs, in poverty, having ruined his family, and is at the very lowest point in his life. He comes to Christ. Do all his problems just go away immediately? No, he is an infant in Christ. He may be free of his addiction, and even in that he has a tendency to fall back into it. But what about all the broken relationships he caused? See, he has to grow into the depth of understanding of what God has truly done for him. He has to see by faith that he is a new creation, even though every day he sees the devastation he left behind. But little by little, his life changes and people see God at work in Him. See, we truly are a child of God, we who have put our faith in Christ. It takes time to grow. But God has promised that he will complete the work he began in us. Sometimes in life, that one promise is the only hope that carries us through one day at a time.
We learn that though our flesh is very weak, that we find our strength is in Him. We learn to boast in our weaknesses that Christ’ power may rest on us. And in Him is where this life is. We find ourselves rejoicing when the world wonders why? For they see the way the world sees. But we see by faith. There is always hope in Christ. Without this hope, who then can survive? Even a rich man thinks he has life, but finds out it is all meaningless, a chasing of the wind. What did Solomon discover in this matter, as you read through the book of Ecclesiastes? What did the apostle Paul discover on this matter?
20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for 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 one 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 like 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?]
The world does not admire people who have moral fortitude. The world does not admire people who are in Christ, who speak truth in love. No admiration at all for that. The world admires people who have gained wealth and popularity. [We too can be caught up in the thinking of the world, of natural man.] Those are the people the world admires, knows and votes for. Give a name. It makes no difference who the name is about, whether Madonna or Warren Beaty. It is a recognizable name, and if that is the case, then maybe they can get elected. That is the mindset of the world. I am not being critical of that one way or the other. We do not get any deeper than that. The issue is, does that man have wisdom from God or is all of his wisdom just worldly wisdom?
1 Corinthians 1:19-21
19 For it is written:
“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise;
the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”[Isaiah 29:14]
20 Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe.
There is a tendency that when you get rich, you get arrogant. We fail to listen to Solomon, who said, “All is vanity. It is all chasing after the wind”. Solomon is saying, “You think you have women. I have had more women than anyone. I have more money than anyone in the world”. Then he said that he found it to be totally empty. That is so true. You think that those things are going to buy enjoyment. But, do they? If wealth brought happiness, then all you would have to do is drive through Beverly Hills, and look into all of those gorgeous homes. Behind those doors, people are just as happy and as joyful as you can be? Is that true? No, that is not true. Money can buy a house but it cannot buy a home. Money will buy entertainment but it will not buy enjoyment.
We must understand our riches are temporary. That alone will be left behind. I have never seen a hearse pulling a u-haul. It is going to be left behind. It is temporal. Yet, we grab a hold of this. We put our faith in it. We forget that God richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. We say, “No. My money provides everything for my enjoyment. It is my money, my wealth, my resources that provides me with everything for enjoyment ”.
It says to command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, not rich in money, but in good deeds, to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasures for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so they may take hold of the life that is truly life. Life that is truly life. Not the life the world has to offer, but what true life is all about.
In my early days, when I came to Christ back in 1969, I was a businessman in Southern California. That was a booming economy. It was at the time there was 114 percent financing going on. You could get a loan and make 14% on whatever the loan was. It was a time of unbelievable opportunities for wealth. Many, many people gained terrific wealth during that period of time. It was a time in California where you could buy real estate at a very low price compared to today. In a very brief period of time, that property would be out of sight. I remember I went down to San Clemente. I used to watch the sunset with President Nixon. He did not know it, but I was doing that. Homes in San Clementi on a golf course with an ocean view for $29,000. And, I bought that home. If I am not mistaken, either no down payment, or at the minimum 1%, which is next to nothing. I put that on a 90 day escrow. I flipped that house in 90 days and made $2000 and thought I was Howard Hughes. I thought I had really done a deal. Here was a beautiful home right on a golf course with an ocean view. You could drool over that place. It was so nice. To me, this was a way to make money. I do not know the Lord from a lamp post.
I was going to make money on this. Howard Hughes all over again. You could not touch that house today for $900,000. The last time it sold, it sold for $800,000. That is a good way to become rich. With no down payment, $289,,000 for a home and 20 years later to have a million dollars in your pocket. I missed it. Every time I drive by San Clemente, I get a little sick in my stomach. You see, I thought that would make me happy, and it didn’t. Every time you shoot for a little more. Always a little more.
In 1923, I am reading from what we have placed in the book of our born free booklet. [Bob George is reading from the introduction to Be Born Free, a biographical sketch of what happened to nine highly successful people twenty years later. Their money could not buy lasting joy. Their money could not give them life.]
Again, I mentioned as an example that in Ecclesiastes, Solomon wrote about that.
1 The words of the Teacher, son of David, king in Jerusalem:
2 “Meaningless! Meaningless!”
says the Teacher.
Everything is meaningless.”
3 What do people gain from all their labors
at which they toil under the sun?
4 Generations come and generations go,
but the earth remains forever.
5 The sun rises and the sun sets,
and hurries back to where it rises.
6 The wind blows to the south
and turns to the north;
round and round it goes,
ever returning on its course.
7 All streams flow into the sea,
yet the sea is never full.
To the place the streams come from,
there they return again.
8 All things are wearisome,
more than one can say.
The eye never has enough of seeing,
nor the ear its fill of hearing.
9 What has been will be again,
what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun.
10 Is there anything of which one can say,
“Look! This is something new”?
It was here already, long ago;
it was here before our time.
11 No one remembers the former generations,
and even those yet to come
will not be remembered
by those who follow them.
He is talking about a pretty depressed guy, but he had everything.
9 I became greater by far than anyone in Jerusalem before me. In all this my wisdom stayed with me.
10 I denied myself nothing my eyes desired;
I refused my heart no pleasure.
My heart took delight in all my labor,
and this was the reward for all my toil.
11 Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done
and what I had toiled to achieve,
everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind;
nothing was gained under the sun.
12 Then I turned my thoughts to consider wisdom,
and also madness and folly.
What more can the king’s successor do
than what has already been done?
13 I saw that wisdom is better than folly,
just as light is better than darkness.
14 The wise have eyes in their heads,
while the fool walks in the darkness;
but I came to realize
that the same fate overtakes them both.
15 Then I said to myself,
“The fate of the fool will overtake me also.
What then do I gain by being wise?”
I said to myself,
“This too is meaningless.”
16 For the wise, like the fool, will not be long remembered;
the days have already come when both have been forgotten.
Like the fool, the wise too must die!
1 There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
2 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
6 a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
8 a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
15 Whatever is has already been,
and what will be has been before;
and God will call the past to account.
16 And I saw something else under the sun:
In the place of judgment – wickedness was there,
in the place of justice – wickedness was there.
17 I said to myself,
“God will bring into judgment
both the righteous and the wicked,
for there will be a time for every activity,
a time to judge every deed.”
Again, we could just go on and on and on in these writings of the wealthiest and wisest man that probably has ever been on the face of the earth, and we see that as he looked back on everything, he finds out that all of these things are worthless. What counts? Our relationship with Jesus Christ. We read some very important passages from scriptures as it relates into Paul’s command and admonishment to us to take hold of life that is truly life, and this is the life of Christ Jesus, and to lay up treasures for yourself in heaven, where moth and rust will not destroy, and to have a firm foundation in this coming age.
19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Read again what Solomon said in the 5th chapter in the 10th verse.
10 Whoever loves money never has enough;
whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income.
This too is meaningless.
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