Holding Fast to the Blessed Hope
I just returned from the memorial services for a favorite cousin. Two days ago the newspaper published a lengthy obituary of 8 paragraphs on his life. Besides family information, it described the highlights of his life- accomplishments as an all-star athlete, professional achievements, awards and recognition as an educator and leader in the community, state and at the national level. His exemplary character and life lessons he expoused were extolled by the author of his obit.
BUT the most important paragraph was the first one which was a testimony of who he was- a child of God who had an intimate relationship with God, his Father in Heaven:
(He was) ‘lovingly surrounded by family and friends, and filled with the Holy Spirit’. . . ‘called home to enjoy everlasting life with Jesus Christ in heaven. His family laid hands, and prayed the Lord’s Prayer saying a final aloha, knowing goodness and mercy shall follow him as his spirit lifted to dwell in the house of the Lord forever.’
My cousin loved the Lord with his whole heart and knew WHO he was; he knew WHERE he was going when his time on earth was over; and he knew HOW he would receive salvation and eternal life by believing in the name of Jesus. He knew about the BLESSED HOPE and was holding on to it.
‘Looking for that blessed hope and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity and purify unto himself a peruliare people, zealous of good works.’ (Titus 2:12-14)
Hebrews chapter 11 says this about the ‘heroes’ or patriarchs from the Old Testament:
‘These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. . .
‘But now they desire a better country, that is an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.‘ (Heb 11:13, 16)
This is our BLESSED HOPE– That because Jesus was resurrected from the dead so we, too, can also HOLD ON TO THE BLESSED HOPE OF OUR RESURRECTION!
‘But I would not have you ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.
For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.
For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.
For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
Wherefore comfort one another with these words‘. (1Thess 4:13-18)
‘The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.’ (Psalms 12:6)
WHAT FAITH IN GOD IS ALL ABOUT
(This was the theme for a series of lessons I taught in our Adult Bible Class in January 2016. The lessons have been edited for viewers of my blogsite.)
#1 LEARNING GOD’S WORD AND ENCOURAGING BIBLE STUDY IN 2016
#2 WHY THE WORD OF GOD IS IMPORTANT
To recap last week’s lesson– The Bible is the blueprint of God’s plan and purpose for man. It gives us instructions to our heavenly destination by pointing us in the right direction. But unlike a map, compass or GPS that can also direct us to a location, the Bible most importantly, does that PLUS it provides clear guidelines to keep us on track with exhortations and warnings, as to who and what will prevent us from reaching the rewards that God has for us.
So, why is the Bible a bestseller and a very important book? It is because many people look to the Bible to find answers in life such as why am I here, what is life all about, is God real, is there a heaven and hell, and what will happen to me when I die? I have met people who turned to God out of desperation and despair over the condition in their lives. Some were in prison when they were handed a Bible and they found peace with God. In my Philippines Missions posts there are pictures and stories of individuals who found the Lord in jail or prison. We did marketplace preaching with a once ‘bad dude’ who dealt drugs and carried a gun until he was arrested in his tracks and his life was turned around! Many folks with bad backgrounds, as well as respectable people, have met God through the pages of the Bible, by hearing the gospel message and from the witness of Christian believers.
About Eternal Life– Eternal life can be found only by faith in Jesus Christ, God’s only begotten Son. (John 3:16). It is only by studying the Bible that one can receive revelation of who God is and about His provision for us to have eternal life. Titus 1:2 tells us that before the world began God promised us the hope of eternal life and God cannot lie. (Titus 1:1-2 AMP) The Bible has detailed instructions that are clear and repetitive, with no errors or contradictions: it tells us that we have an enemy or adversary called the devil or Satan who will use his many strategies and devices to ‘steal, kill, and destroy us’, to rob us of eternal life and to take us to hell with him.
Jesus came to show us the way to our Heavenly Father, to teach us about how we could have life and life more abundantly. Jesus said, ‘I am the WAY, the TRUTH, and the LIFE: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me’ (John 14:6).
Jesus came to teach us and warn us about deception, mentioned 4 times in Mt 24:4, 5, 11, 24. In Mt 24:3 one of the questions asked Jesus was about the sign of His coming and of the end of the world. His answer was that there would be widespread deception in the end times, and that His coming would be unexpected, and sudden, catching many by surprise. Also in Mt 24 are the signs of the world situation and extreme disturbances in the earth occurring everywhere. In addition the condition of the church is described as in great apostasy which it is today, at this present time. The Bible provides us with the daily news and future events on the horizon, but we must search these out by studying the scriptures for ourselves.
Why should we study God’s Word? One good reason is because God has commanded us to do so. Jesus said:
Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. (Mt 4:4)
If you continue in my Word, then you are my disciples indeed. (John 8:31)
To be a blessed person, one must love God’s Word and meditate on it day and night. (Psalms 1:1-2)
If we want to learn about God, we will find Him revealed in the books of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. If we want to have faith to believe in God, we must go to His Word to learn of Him since faith comes from hearing/reading His Word (Rom 10:17). By reading our Bible, we can increase our faith, overcome sin, and temptations to sin. When we submit ourselves to the Word of God and will of God, we are able to be strong and can resist the attacks and fiery darts of Satan. We can have answered prayers. (1John 2:14; John 15:7)
An important reason for studying the Bible is that it will help us to know what is going on in the world and why. We can know where we are in God’s timetable and how close we are to the return of Jesus Christ to earth. Jesus said in John 16:33:
These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.