Wednesday, November 19, 2008

...unshakable assurance in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ

"So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you." 
(Colossians 3:12-13)

1 John 2:28-3:3, “And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming. [29] If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him. [3:1] See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. [2] Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we will be like him, because we shall see him as he is. [3] And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure."

Most people use hope today as a synonym for making a wish; fulfilling a dream or satisfying a desire. To some it maybe a roll of the dice to obtain something that is seemingly out of reach and unattainable: a new car; the longed for promotion; the right mate for life (are you single, saved, satisfied and searching?) or maybe a chance to win the lottery. Some are looking for hope beyond hard circumstances, impossible trials with presumably a ‘no light at the end of the tunnel’ situation. We’ve all been at that place at one time or another in our lives of feeling like we're walking around with both feet planted firmly in mid-air, haven't we?

Some turn their search for hope to the empty promises made by late-night salesmen offering you the latest fast ticket to success. Or some might look for advice from psychics or mediums, who claim "divine futuristic omniscience" into the deep hidden secrets of your life.

Some searches for hope though, are not so casual. We remember all too well the tragic deaths of thirty-nine people known as Heaven's Gate-cult in their emasculated mass suicide with the hope of rejoining together in a spaceship hidden behind the comet Hale-bopp.

But that's not what the Bible means when speaking of hope. Hope, biblically, is not a whim, a cultist dream, a roll of the dice, or even a simple wish. Biblical hope, is a reality; a fact not yet realized rooted in eternity; it is that which the Lord has pledged and declared to be true with the full assurance that it will come to pass in His sovereign plan. In other words, hope is:

Holy Obedience to Promises Eternal

Listen to these powerful words from Scriptures as to what real hope truly is: Hebrews 6:19-20a,
"This hope we have as an anchor for the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil, where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us…"
The writer of Hebrews says that our hope is, an anchor for the soul; sure; steadfast; fixed—connected with the One who entered as a forerunner for us. Literally, we are "chained with Christ" for eternity and that is good news.

1 Peter 1:3-5 reinforces the sure and steadfast hope that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected (kept) by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time."
How encouraging are those words. Our hope is living; obtained through the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And then listen to this list of promises: it is imperishable, undefiled, will not fade away, is reserved in heaven and protected (kept) by the power of God. Now that is hope beloved... amen?

The Apostle Paul gives us further reason to rejoice in our hope when saying in Colossians 1:5,
"because of the hope laid up for you in heaven which you previously heard in the word of truth, the gospel."
The hope that we have as Christians is in separable from gospel truth. How sure is this hope? As surely as Jesus died and rose from the grave; as sure as we are justified and are being sanctified; as sure as we have been born again; we have hope!

Therefore, based on the truth of God’s Word, we can define hope as being:
Hope, is undiminished trust in Christ in response to the promises of God as established in His Word by the Holy Spirit, and then waiting patiently for His sovereign fulfillment.

A World of Hopelessness
If to be in Christ is to have hope eternal, then to be without Christ is to be absolutely hopeless. There is no hope apart from salvation in the Lord.
Job 8:13, "the hope of the godless shall perish."

Job 27:8, "for what is the hope of the godless… when God requires his life?"

Isaiah 8:19-22, “And when they say to you, ‘Consult the mediums and the spiritists who whisper and mutter," should not a people consult their God? Should they consult the dead on behalf of the living? To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because they have no dawn. And they will pass through the land hard-pressed and famished, and it will turn out that when they are hungry, they will be enraged and curse their king and their God as they face upward. Then they will look to the earth, and behold, distress and darkness, the gloom of anguish; and they will be driven away into darkness.”

Ephesians 2:12, "remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the common- wealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenant of promise, having no hope and without God in this world."
Isn’t that a dim picture of the hope that the world offers? Even the hope that is depicted in most magazines, newspapers, sitcoms, talk shows, etc. is usually placed in three things: brains, bodies and bucks. That's why the Lord says through the weeping prophet Jeremiah, "Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, let not the mighty man glory in his might, nor let not the rich man glory in his riches; but let him that glories, glory in this, that he knows and understands Me, that I am the Lord" Jeremiah 9:23-24.

We do not build our hope on this world...
"the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life" for "this world is passing away and the lust of it…" 1 John 2:17a. Why? "For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal" 2 Cor. 4:18b. "Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to [fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches] but in the living God" 1 Tim. 6:17.

We do not build our hope on ourselves...
"Lord, make me to know my end, and what is the measure of my days, that I may know how frail I am. Indeed, “You have made my days as handbreaths; and my age is as nothing before You; certainly every man at his best state is but vapor." Psalm 39:4-5.

Listen to these penetrating words by Charles Spurgeon:
"Before the Eternal, all the age of frail man is less than one ticking of the clock. This is the surest truth that nothing about man is either sure or true. Take man at his best, he is but a man, and a man is a mere breath, unsubstantial as the wind. He is constant only in inconstancy. His vanity is his only verity; his best, of which he is vain, is but vain; this is true of every man, that everything about him is every way fleeting. Those whose glory is in themselves will hang the flag at half-mast;" for "all flesh is as grass and all its loveliness is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades because the breath of the Lord blows upon it; surely the people are grass…" Isaiah 40:6b-7a.

"Man who is born of woman is of few days and full of trouble. He comes forth like a flower and fades away; he flees like a shadow and does not continue… Since his days are determined, the number of his moths is with You; You have appointed his limits, so that he cannot pass" Job 14:1-2,4b.

Question: What comprises the foundation that this living, eternal, imperishable, sure, steadfast anchor for the soul is built upon? There are seven pillars in the Word of God that our hope is firmly rooted in and established:

1. the Source of our hope is God:
Psalm 43:5, "Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why are you disturbed within me? Hope in God…"
Lamentations 3:21, "This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope." The memory of God's devotion to His people brings hope out of hopelessness."
2 Thess. 2:16, "Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who has loved us and given us eternal comfort and good hope by grace, comfort and strengthen your hearts in every good work and word."
Titus 1:1-2, "Paul, bondservant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God's elect and acknowledgement of the truth which accords with godliness, in hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began."

2. the Security of our hope is Christ:
1 Timothy 1:1b, "Christ Jesus, who is our hope…"
Colossians 1:27, "Christ in you the hope of glory."

3. the Strength of our hope is the Holy Spirit:
Romans 15:13, "...that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."
Galatians 5:5, "For we through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness by faith."

4. the Scope of our hope is in the Word:
Romans 15:4, "For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope."
No one ever lives greater than their view of God; and our view of God is formed by what He has revealed concerning Himself, by His Spirit, through His Word. We may see His invisible attributes, eternal power and Godhead revealed through general revelation (Romans 1:18ff), but the self-revelation of who God is and His redemptive plan for man is solely revealed in special revelation - the Word of God. Therefore, if in our worship, we pervert the Word - we pervert a right view of God; if in our music, we distort His truth - we distort a true representation of His character; if in our songs, we misrepresent the Scripture - we misrepresent the Savior; and if in our worship, we twist His truth - we cause people to worship someone less than who He really has declared Himself to be. What a responsibility to handle accurately the word of truth.
Psalm 119:42, "So shall I have an answer for him who taunts me, for I [hope] in Your word."
Psalm 119:49, "Remember the word to Your servant, upon which You have caused me to hope."
Psalm 119:74, "Those who fear You will be glad when they see me, because I have hoped in Your word."
Psalm 119:114, "You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in Your word.”
Psalm 119:147, "I rise before the dawning of the morning and cry for help; I hope in Your word."
Psalm 119:166, "Lord, I hope for Your salvation and I do your commandments."

5. the Speech of our hope is joy and victory:
Romans 5:2, "we rejoice in hope of the glory of God."
Romans 5:5, "and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us."
1 Thess. 5:8, "and as a helmet, the hope of salvation."

6. the Sign of our hope is sanctification:
1 John 3:3, "And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure."

7. the Surety of our hope is the Lord's return:
Titus 2:13, "Looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ."

How tremendous and sure is our hope as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Question: Do you have the assurance of this living hope in Christ today? Do you have the comfort that your life is hid in Christ and that there is not any situation that can rob you of your joy in Him? If not, then trust in Christ this very hour, repent of your sin; confess Jesus Christ as Lord and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead; and know for certain that there is real hope through the gospel of grace that can never fade away.


Breuss Wane said...

>2. the Security of our hope is Christ:
>1 Timothy 1:1b, "Christ Jesus, who is >our hope…" Colossians 1:27, "Christ in >you the hope of glory."

Christ is Hope personified.

Great Post!

Paula said...

I felt chills as I read about our hope in Christ. I posted the other day about how I had to explain to my four year old that we don't believe in luck, that we're blessed. Your music takes me back in time, to the days of my youth. You were one of the first Christian artists that I listened to, you and Leslie Phillips, Petra, David and The Giants, etc. Thanks for sharing your writing, music, and faith!

Your Sister In Christ,

Bhedr said...
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Bhedr said...
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shekinah said...

oooo...this was a great post, thank you. I will share this with my cell-group.
I am really enjoying your blog. Thank you.

Jeremy Weaver said...

Our hope is that someday we will be like Christ, for we shall see Him as He is. This is the purpose of salvation. And He is faithful to complete it! Great post!

mxu said...

Thanks for a great post, I've linked it.

Bhedr said...
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Alexander M Jordan said...

Hi Steve:

This is an excellent post which I have highlighted in the "Blips on the Blogosphere"(#5) feature on my blog Jordan's View.

(I would have done a trackback link, but that doesn't seem to be possible on your site?)

Blessings to you,


Alexander M Jordan said...

P.S. I am an associate with a new site called Best of the Godblogs, and I also forwarded a link to this post to that site for consideration.


Anonymous said...

What a great post. Thanks Steve for your encouragement of where true hope is. Blessings.

Bhedr, I encourage you to be careful about talking about CCMers and commenting about few of them being anchored. When it comes down to it we don't know what is going on in the heart, only God knows. Don't get me wrong, there are some "Christian" artists that it would be best if they were not on a "Christian" recording label and we do need to be careful how we label "Christian" music. But, there are many CCMers that do proclaim God's glory and exhort both believers and non-believers to know God.

Blessings all!

Bhedr said...

Thanks Kevin. Thats from over a year ago. I've had a lot to learn in that span. Thanks for the caution just the same.