hope

Christ Liveth in Me

Sunday, April 16, 2017

“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20 KJV).

“He is risen” is not a simple blasé cliché!

When Jesus’ disciples came to His tomb on that glorious Sunday morning nearly 2,000 years ago, they were startled to find it empty! Angels inform them that He has resurrected, but they are still in shock (Matthew 28:1-8; Mark 16:1-8; Luke 24:1-8). Jesus Christ Himself must later explain the Scriptures to them regarding what happened those last few days (Luke 24:44-46).

However, until Paul’s ministry, Christ’s finished crosswork is not preached as good news for salvation. Peter and Israel’s other apostles simply preach that Jesus Christ is now resurrected to “sit on [David’s] throne” (Acts 2:30)—that is bad news for much of Israel, for they still reject Him, weeks and months after His resurrection and ascension. Throughout early Acts, Israel’s apostles warn her that Jesus Christ is coming back to judge them.

When we come to the Apostle Paul’s ministry, we learn that we Gentiles can benefit from Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork. Israel’s rejected Messiah is now our way to heaven! Yes, Israel hated Him, and demanded that He experience the most awful method of execution devised, but God allowed it in order to accomplish His will. Satan attempted to hinder God’s will by having Christ killed, but all that did was provide the method whereby God could save us pagan Gentiles. Calvary’s finished crosswork frees us from Satan’s evil system and gives us a chance to be God’s people (Acts 26:17,18)!

As people who have trusted Jesus Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection as sufficient payment for our sins, that crucifixion is our death to self and sin, and that resurrection is our raising to walk in newness of life—His life (today’s Scripture; cf. Romans 6:1-11)!

Indeed, Jesus Christ is alive, and He lives in and through those who walk by faith in God’s Word to them, Paul’s epistles of Romans through Philemon! 🙂

HAPPY EASTER!

*Adapted from a larger Bible study by the same name. That study can be read here or watched here.

Until We Talk Again

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord (1 Corinthians 15:58 KJV).

Dear Christian friend, are you longing for Home—Heaven? You must remain focused on your current location!

Some brethren in Christ and myself were recently online, remembering the birthday of a mutual Christian friend whose untimely death caused him to tragically leave us. He graduated to Heaven nearly a year ago. My advice to them was that I was quite sure he would want us all to continue our labor in our Lord. I encouraged them to keep on in that labor, until we talk to our dear brother again!

If our deceased brothers and sisters in Christ could return and tell us something, it would be in the vein of today’s Scripture. After all, that verse was a Spirit-filled Christian exhorting other believers to be Spirit-filled. We should not simply be about the Lord’s work, but rather “always abounding” in it. That means constant, plenteous works, not sitting idly by and/or doing the absolute bare minimum. Christian ministry—which is really for all believers, not just preachers—is about maintaining good works” (Titus 3:8). These “good works” have nothing to do with religious rites, rituals, and ceremonies. It has to do with sharing God’s Word with others. That means preaching the Gospel of Grace to lost people, and teaching the Message of Grace to saved people. In addition to using the printed page, electronic devices, and our voices, that sound doctrine should also be communicated in our actions (daily living).

In the context of today’s Scripture—the whole chapter—we read about the reality of bodily resurrection. Our labor is not in vain in the Lord because physical death does not end our Christian service (see especially verses 50-57—the Rapture, our resurrection as Christians). Our earthly Christian sojourn will end one day. All of our earthly ministries will cease. Still, there is in Heaven waiting for us, a reward… and a reunion with the saints of the ages. We will talk again, and all work together in eternity to the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ! 🙂

Scrooges and Christians

Friday, December 16, 2016

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17 KJV).

To the old identity, we say, “Bah, Humbug!” To the new, we say, “God has blessed us, everyone in Christ.”

Other than Jesus Christ’s conception and birth as found in the Holy Bible, there is one other classic story associated with Christmastime. British author Charles Dickens’ 1843 book, A Christmas Carol, focuses on the transformation of Ebenezer Scrooge (the novella has some Christian influence).

From the onset, Scrooge is a wealthy, miserable, mean, stingy, and selfish old man. His employee, Bob Cratchit, is underpaid (yet, strangely, Ebenezer observes, Cratchit is cheerful). Scrooge refuses to donate to charities collecting for the destitute—to him, Christmastime is a time for others to “pick his pocket.” He even refuses to attend his nephew’s Christmas party. What a miser!

Through visitations by four Spirits—his deceased business partner, Jacob Marley; and the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Christmas Present, and Christmas Future—Scrooge is forced to realize what a thoroughly rotten man he is. Once confronted with his future, the awful events that lie ahead, he asks for another chance to make things right (which, thankfully, he receives and does!). The Scrooge at the end of the book is drastically different from the Scrooge at the beginning. Scrooge is now loving, warm, cheerful, and generous—he is a brand-new man.

Bible-believing Christians recognize parallels between Dickens’ work and the Holy Scriptures. The sinner starts off rotten, a rebel from birth—selfish, miserable, and mean. When he or she comes to realize that pitiful condition he or she is in, and comes by simple faith in Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork as sufficient payment for their sins, God gives him or her a new identity (today’s Scripture). That identity is designed to influence subsequent actions. Scrooge did not simply change his outward activity; he had a change in heart first. This Christmas, let us be submissive to God’s Holy Spirit working in our hearts, as He uses sound Bible doctrine to manifest in our behavior our identity in Christ, that we be not Scrooges.

Our final Bible Q&A for 2016, article #335: “What is true forgiveness?

To See the Invisible Hope #5

Monday, November 7, 2016

“For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that which we see not, then do we with patience wait for it” (Romans 8:22-25 KJV).

How do we see the hope that cannot be seen?

When today’s Scripture says, “We are saved by hope,” this certainly does not mean, “We hope we are good enough to go to heaven when we die.” No, that is not Christianity—that is vain religion masquerading as Christianity! When we come by simple faith in Jesus Christ dying to pay for our sins, His burial to put away our sins, and His resurrection to give us a right standing before God, then we are just as sure of going to heaven as if we were already there with the door locked behind us!

To be “saved by hope” is not referring to being saved into heaven, or being declared righteous before God. It means, “delivered from misery and depression.” If all “life” was was this brief time before death, existence in a sin-cursed world filled with evil and suffering, we would have every reason in the world to feel depressed beyond words. As Paul said, “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable” (1 Corinthians 15:19). We would be most miserableindeed! In fact, the Corinthians, who were denying bodily resurrection, had robbed themselves of such Christian joy.

Thankfully, brethren, we are not trapped in these limited, weakening bodies forever. As we would change clothes, God will take these earthly bodies and exchange them for heavenly bodies (see 1 Corinthians 15:36-58; 2 Corinthians 4:16–5:8). We will then share in Jesus Christ’s glorification in the heavenly places forever (Romans 8:18-25). Let us take our stand by faith in these simple truths, thereby letting us “see the invisible hope,” until we see the hope we cannot see! 🙂

To See the Invisible Hope #4

Sunday, November 6, 2016

“For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that which we see not, then do we with patience wait for it” (Romans 8:22-25 KJV).

How do we see the hope that cannot be seen?

“While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18). This is certainly an unusual exhortation—“look not at the things which are seen, but [look] at the things which are not seen.” What is one of the things we should look at today, which cannot be seen? It would be the first eight verses of chapter 5, which are an explanation of the context of today’s Scripture (Romans 8:18-25).

At the head of its great “Hall of Faith” chapter, the Bible says in Hebrews 11:1: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (And then, the writer lists dozens of names of believers from ancient Bible days.) When we hope for something, we cannot see it with the physical eyes. But, we assume it is coming. It may or may not come. However, when the Bible speaks of hope, it does not mean, “I sure hope it comes.” “Hope” in today’s Scripture, as well as in Hebrews 11:1, is a “confident waiting.” As today’s Scripture says, “we with patience wait for it.” The day of the resurrection of us Christians is coming, the Rapture is imminent, but we must not rush it.

While we cannot physically see our glorified bodies today, while they do not exist today, God’s Word plainly declares they will exist and we will indwell them. We just believe those verses, counting them as true (for they are true), and that hope delivers us from misery and depression….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “‘Epistle’ and ‘letter’—same or different?

To See the Invisible Hope #3

Saturday, November 5, 2016

“For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that which we see not, then do we with patience wait for it” (Romans 8:22-25 KJV).

How do we see the hope that cannot be seen?

What Paul only mentions briefly in today’s Scripture, he provides great detail in Second Corinthians.

Chapter 4: “[16] …[B]ut though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. [17] For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; [18] While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.

Now, chapter 5: “[1] For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. [2] For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: [3] If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked. [4] For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life. [5] Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit. [6] Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: [7] (For we walk by faith, not by sight: ) [8] We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.”

Rather than using physical eyes, we employ the eyes of faith….

To See the Invisible Hope #2

Friday, November 4, 2016

“For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that which we see not, then do we with patience wait for it” (Romans 8:22-25 KJV).

How do we see the hope that cannot be seen?

If we begin reading in verse 16, we better appreciate Paul’s words in today’s Scripture: “[16] The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: [17] And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. [18] For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”

Follow the logic in these verses. Since we are the children of God, we are heirs. Because we are heirs, we are heirs of God, and we are joint-heirs with Christ. Since we suffer with Christ (suffering here being groaning and travailing in pain; cf. today’s Scripture), we will be glorified together. Because we will be glorified, the sufferings we now endure “are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”

Verses 19-21 further explain: “[19] For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. [20] For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, [21] Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.”

In God’s program, there is a day called “the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body” (today’s Scripture). That is, we wait for that day when we are freed from the presence of sin, when we leave behind these weakening, ailing, fallen bodies riddled with sin….

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