We will all perish. Death is the inevitable end to life. Yet, for all our fear of death I do not know a single person who hopes to live forever here on this earth, or even wants to. But those of us who are Christians do hope for eternal life, for the resurrection of the dead (Acts 23:6). However, it is a life removed from the pain and misery many experience during this lifetime. When Paul wrote of our hope beyond this life (I Corinthians 15:17-20; Titus 1:1-3) the eternity he envisioned was one in heaven, far removed from the sin and turmoil of the current world we live in. The Christian desires to overcome the dark things of this sphere, to rise above it into the light of a paradise we can as yet only imagine. Paul once wrote, “For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to His own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life” (Titus 3:3-7). Those who look forward to life ever-lasting do so with the understanding that the sinful nature they struggle against here will be left behind, that they will be renewed with a spirit of righteousness.
Paul likened it to leaving behind the tent we dwell in here to live in a heavenly dwelling (II Corinthians 5:2). When John recorded the revelation given to him by Jesus he described our new abode like this: “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband… And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, and its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there. They will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb's book of life” (Revelation 21:1-2, 22-27). According to John only the glory of the earth will be brought into it, but no unclean or detestable thing will be allowed in. It will be a perfect dwelling place and home of a perfect kingdom.
Naturally, everyone who gives their lives to Christ does so with the hope of escaping the damnation facing those who are disobedient to God’s will. As Paul informed the Thessalonians: “This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering— since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His might” (II Thessalonians 1:5-9). Of course atheists do not believe in the resurrection or eternal damnation. According to them when we die there is nothing for us but nonexistence. That possibility does not depress me, I just find it contrary to a deep-rooted feeling that something must have an eternal nature. Either the natural universe is ever-lasting or there is an Eternal Spirit. Even science no longer holds out much confidence in the idea that matter has always existed; more and more scientists are coming to the conclusion that the universe just sort of ‘popped’ into existence. The alternative to that idea is that something exists outside of and separate from the physical universe. An intelligent being who knows no beginning or end, and who created the universe. As I survey the world we live in, and the universe around us common sense tells me that it is the result of a creative and powerful intelligence that I recognize as God (Romans 1:18-22).
Not only do I have hope that there is a Supreme Being, but as a Christian I am confident that He is revealed in the Bible. I stand by the words of Luke, in Acts 24:14-15: “But this I confess to you, that according to the Way, which they call a sect, I worship the God of our fathers, believing everything laid down by the Law and written in the Prophets, having a hope in God, which these men themselves accept, that there will be a resurrection of both the just and the unjust.” I have profound confidence that God exists and that He rewards those who seek Him with life eternal in His presence (Hebrews 11:6). I believe the prophets of old and the testimony of those who witnessed the life and resurrection of Christ. The power of their inspired accounts of Jesus ministry and the development of the church have stood the test of time.
According to them Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah (Hebrews 6:19-20; John 1:41). Our hope as Christians is based on that assertion. Not only that, but we are told that those who trust in Him become heirs of the promises of God the Father (Titus 3:7; Ephesians 3:6; Acts 2:39; 26:6; Romans 4:16), and that those promises include eternal life in heaven with God (II Peter 3:13; I John 2:25). According to Paul, if we believe in God we can trust in His promises: “So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of His purpose, He guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us” (Hebrews 6:17-18). Not only do we have the promises of our Heavenly Father, but of His Son also: “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in Me. In My Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to Myself, that where I am you may be also” (John 14:1-3).
The hope they have given us has been laid out in the gospels (Colossians 1:3-5), the history of the establishment of the church (Acts), the epistles, and the Revelation of Jesus Christ. Through these works God’s truth has been revealed to His saints, who are in turn responsible for teaching the world about God and His Christ (Colossians 1:24-28). It is important for us to share our hope, recalling where we came from, as Paul wrote, “remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ” (Ephesians 2:12-13). As Christians each one of us is fortunate— eternally fortunate, that someone shared the gospel with us. How can we not in turn share it with others, with the hope that some will turn to Christ?
A friend of mine has recently been diagnosed with terminal cancer. His view of the situation is to enjoy the time he has left here on earth while rejoicing in the fact that he will soon be heavenward bound. And trust me, he views that journey as a FACT. He knows that his family and friends will be sad to see him go, but sees no reason for grief, hoping that we will be able to rejoice with him, knowing that as he leaves many loved ones behind he will be reunited with others he has not seen for many years. His attitude toward life and death, and his faith are an inspiration for all those who look forward to their eternal inheritance. As Paul told the Thessalonians: “But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord” (I Thessalonians 4:13-17).
These words of the apostle should give each of us a thrill of expectation. No matter when our time comes we have the greatest adventure of our lives (eternal) still awaiting us. On that day our hope will become a reality, and I have no doubt that reality will far exceed all of our wildest dreams.
by Roland W. Keith
“So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of His purpose, He guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain” (Hebrews 6:17-19). There is a phrase you may have heard on occasion: “to hope against all hope.” When someone uses that phrase, it is tantamount to wishful thinking— they are hoping for something with very little expectation of it actually happening. Compare that to what Paul wrote his fellow Jewish Christians. To describe the hope we have as Christians he used terms such as “strong encouragement to hold fast,” and a “steadfast anchor of the soul.” In other words, we, as Christians, are not hoping against hope. What we look forward to has a strong foundation. Yes, we look forward to something as yet unseen (Romans 8:24-25), but our confidence in the outcome is founded on an extraordinary life and an equally extraordinary event.
Jesus Christ lived His life as no other person has, setting the stage for the most singular moment in human history. Paul also wrote, “If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied” (I Corinthians 15:19). But we are not to be pitied, nor is our hope limited to this lifetime. All because of that single moment in time. The moment that the lifeless body of Yeshua bar Joseph was reanimated in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea. Jesus Christ rose from the dead. A fact attested to by the eyewitness accounts of over 500 people who saw Him after His resurrection. Have you ever stopped to think about how Christianity could have survived the first century if the claims of Christ and His disciples were false? Christianity was born in the crucible of a Jewish nation in turmoil, clinging to its national identity and unique religious heritage.
Many have written about the providential timing of Christ’s arrival on earth. The world stage had been set. It was a unique time in history, perfectly suited for the spread of the gospel. It also provided the perfect proving ground for God’s truth. During the first decades of the Church’s existence religious and secular forces would be arrayed against it to not only stop its spread, but to destroy it. A small group originally accepted by the world around them became an outcast community expelled from synagogues, falsely accused of heinous crimes, persecuted by their own nation and the Gentile world around them, men and women driven from their homes, and forced to identify themselves to each other with secret symbols as they sought refuge in catacombs and secret meetings. They were rounded up to be imprisoned, beaten and put to death. Yet their faith persisted. Not only that, but they found strength in their shared plight (II Corinthians 1:7; Romans 12:12).
In the end the church thrived because the evidence of Christ’s life and achievements, His miracles and teachings, were too much to be refuted. Even after His death the power of His teachings, validated by the miraculous powers bestowed upon His followers were too much for opposing forces to overcome. Yes, there were scoffers, there will always be scoffers. There were those violently opposed to the truth. There were the false teachers and the naysayers. But none of them were a match for the hope of those early Christians. They placed their hope on the amazing things that they had witnessed and the power of the living word, which they passed on to future generations. The words of Gamaliel proved true, when he told the other members of the Sanhedrin, “Men of Israel, take care what you are about to do with these men... So in the present case I tell you, keep away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or this undertaking is of man, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God!” (Acts 5:35, 38-39).
For over 2,000 years the world has railed against us. And still the Church stands. In his first epistle Peter wrote, “He [Jesus] was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you who through Him are believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God” (I Peter 1:20-21). The hope of the first century Christian lives on in the Christian today. The Gospel message and the other New Testament scriptures founded on it continue the witness of Christ, and those who stand against it find themselves in opposition to God. In describing his ministry for Christ Paul wrote: “But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you. Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, "I believed, and so I spoke," we also believe, and so we also speak, knowing that He who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into His presence. For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God. So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal” (II Corinthians 4:7-18).
Paul recognized something that is vital for all of us to know. That we are weak, but God is strong. Yet, in our weakness we need not be bowed down by the world. If our faith and hope is in Jesus Christ, we will prevail and be brought into the presence of God to spend eternity there. Even as we are momentarily oppressed we can be filled with joy, when we are being tossed about in the storms of life we can find peace. When darkness surrounds us, we can hope in the light (Romans 15:13). I have heard it said of someone who had passed on, “He lived life well.” A fine tribute to a man deemed successful by the world’s standards. But as Christians we should want more to be said of us. Maybe we are living life “well.” But are we living it Godly, in faith, in obedience, with joy, with faith, with hope? Can it be said at our passing “He lived for Christ?”
The world sees what it wants and goes for it. The golden ring. The promotion. The fame and fortune. As a Christian what do you want? It is alright to want a successful career, a nice house, and a certain amount of wealth. But all of those things are temporal. What do you want beyond what the world offers? Or, do you even think about it? Do you “hope for things unseen?” (Romans 8:24-25). Are you looking forward to the one hope that is in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 4:4-6)? Do you look forward to the promise of eternal life (I John 2:25)? And, if you want these things are you preparing yourself for them (I Peter 1:13)? These are questions we should all ask ourselves. Is Christ Jesus and the righteousness we find in Him truly our hope (I Titus 1:1; Galatians 5:5)? Usually when we consider such questions most of us probably become introspective and analyze the focus of our lives— how we are living. But here is something else to consider as something of a litmus test for our hopes and dreams. We tend to share them with others.
Speaking of his ministry Paul wrote, “To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil, struggling with all His energy that He powerfully works within me” (Colossians 1:27-29). How involved are we in bringing others to Christ? This is something of a failure in my own life. Jackie and I recently finished an evangelism class with several other brothers and sisters at our church, and it made me realize how frugal my efforts have been in this area. Over the years, like others, I have been active in teaching and have even given the occasional sermon. So, I thought I had been a pretty good servant, until we took the class and it dawned on me that sharing the gospel with others has never really been a focus in my life. I have not given others the same hope that someone gave me, something I must strive to remedy in the future.
Having said that each of us have different talents that are put to use in many ways in God’s service. Whether we are working in evangelism, benevolence, teaching or in other areas the main thing is that our hope drives us forward in the work of the Lord. As Paul wrote, “For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for His name in serving the saints, as you still do. And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness to have the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises” (Hebrews 6:10-12). If we are faithfully exercising the hope that is in us we will be rewarded. Keeping that in mind next week we will look at what exactly the Christian hopes for and the end result of our hopes.
To many people the Holy Spirit is the most mysterious member of the Godhead, yet when we look at all that the He does we may have a clearer understanding of Him than we realize. First, as with the other members of the Holy Trinity the Holy Ghost is spirit. He does not have a physical form (Luke 24:39). The Spirit exists outside of and separate from the created universe. Second, everywhere that the Father and Son are at work, the Holy Spirit is there with them. Third, as with God the Father and Christ the Son, the Holy Spirit is unique. We know Him when we encounter Him in scripture. When Jesus was preparing His disciples for His departure He told them, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you” (John 14:26).
Jesus had spent roughly three years teaching His disciples, and at His leave-taking He sent the Spirit to continue their education. However, that education would take a different form under the Spirit’s tutelage— being done through visions, revelation, and the opening of their minds as He worked within them to deliver all that He had been given to teach. Not only did He teach them all things as pertained to man’s salvation He also ensured their ability to remember or recall all that they had been taught and had experienced when called upon to witness Christ. The first century disciples, particularly the apostles and writers of the New Testament, were under the Holy Spirit’s perfect inspiration. The word was delivered to the world in all perfection and infallibility by the Holy Spirit.
In describing the work of the Holy Spirit Paul wrote, “these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For who knows a person's thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God” (I Corinthians 2:10-12). The early Christians were empowered by the Spirit to accomplish God’s will, even as His word and church were being written and established (I Corinthians 12:11). Today the Spirit continues to inspire and empower us through the word that has been passed down to us. Moreover, the Holy Spirit is there for us when we struggle in life as Christians. According to Paul: “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And He who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God (Romans 8:26-27; 15:30).
As we look further into the works of the Spirit we find that not only is He a guide and intercessor, under the Father’s authority, He also works to glorify the Son, declaring to the world what belongs to Christ (John 16:13-14; 20:31). Another task of the Holy Spirit, as Jesus revealed, is to convict the world of sin (John 16:7-8), which He accomplishes through the word. As Paul wrote concerning it, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, ‘The righteous shall live by faith’” (Romans 1:16-17).
It is through the word that we learn of what God accomplished through Jesus, and His expectations for man: “The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now He commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom He has appointed; and of this He has given assurance to all by raising Him from the dead” (Acts 17:30-31). We also learn something of the persistent resistance man has demonstrated toward the work of the Spirit through the ages in Acts 7:51-52, where the words of Stephen are recorded: “You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered.” His words may have been focused on the deeds of the Jewish nation, but all of mankind is just as guilty of rejecting their God.
When Paul analyzed man’s defiance of God’s will he came to this conclusion, “And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual. The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned” (I Corinthians 2:13-14). For those who cling to their natural attributes while denying their spiritual nature, the word of God seems to be nonsense. Even if the truth is gnawing at their heart, many resist it. To these the apostle posed this question: “how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard, while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to His will” (Hebrews 2:3-4). Not only is God’s truth attested to by mighty works and unimpeachable eyewitness testimony, but as Paul informed the Romans nature itself reveals God’s existence (Romans 1:19-22).
Peter also made an interesting point with regard to the word that he and Paul, along with many others had testified to, when he wrote, “knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (II Peter 1:20-21). According to Peter the word that they had received and delivered to man came directly from God via the work of the Holy Spirit. Moreover, the work of the Holy Spirit goes beyond simply delivering God’s word to man, as Jesus made clear when He said, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life” (John 6:63). Throughout scripture the Holy Spirit has been additionally called the Holy Ghost, the Spirit, The Spirit of God, His Spirit, the Spirit of Jehovah, the Spirit of Truth, and the One Spirit. Each of these names gives us a slightly different glimpse of His nature and position within the Godhead. Regardless, however, of how He has been described the thing that is at the forefront of our understanding of the Spirit and His activities is the fact that He is an integral part of God’s work in the redemption of mankind. A work that continues to this day and onward until the day of judgment.
by Roland W. Keith
As mentioned last week our faith is completed by our works of obedience (not of the law), that is belief plus works = the faith that God is looking for in His followers. God demands that we be men and women of action. We are all familiar with Jesus’ exchange with His apostles recorded in Matthew 16:13-17: “Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?" And they said, "Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets." He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" Simon Peter replied, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." And Jesus answered him, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven”. Each of these men believed, but unlike the Jewish leaders discussed in our previous lesson (John 12:42-43), they did not deny Christ, moreover unlike those James decried in his letter (James 2:17-26), Jesus’ apostles were men of resolve and action. In order to please God, we, like they, must put our faith on the line every day by putting it to work for all to see in everything that we do.
We find a man willing to do just that in the account of Daniel. A man who risked his life and defied a royal decree for his faith, trusting God’s will in the lion’s den (Daniel 6). Even today we receive accounts from around the world of believers who stand up for Christ upon pain of torture and death. Little attention is paid in the western news, but it is happening. A question we must each ask ourselves is “how much am I willing to give up, and do, for my Lord?”
In Hebrews Paul spends a good deal of time analyzing the faith of some of the Old Testaments most famous men and how they put their faith to work, along with discussing what they gave up in the process. Abraham gave up his home and all that he knew to go into a foreign land when God promised him an inheritance there (Hebrews 11:8-10). Later he was even willing to sacrifice his own son, the heir of promise, trusting that God would be able to raise him up again (Hebrews 11:17-19). Paul also reminds us that Moses, when he was grown, left the house of Pharaoh, aligning himself with God’s people against the abuses that they suffered at the hands of the Egyptians, eventually returning according to God’s command to lead the Israelites out of Egypt to the Promised Land (Hebrews 11:24-28).
According to Paul “These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth” (Hebrews 11:13). These men all died in their faith without receiving their reward. At least not on this earth. However, each looked forward to what awaited them on the other side of death. I think of this more often now that I am older, than I did when I was young. In fact, I was a lot braver then, in denying God’s will for my life, than I am now. Instead, over the years I have tried to replace that misplaced bravado with greater strength in the Lord, understanding now how brief the breath of life is and where my treasure truly lies.
In addition to these Old Testament accounts we can add the names of Paul and the other apostles, along with the many first century disciples. Men and women who gave everything, looking to the skies for Christ’s return, only to pass without their generation being witness to His second coming. Today the anticipation they felt is not as acute. Maybe it should be. If we thought Jesus was coming back in our lifetime would we be more diligent in preparing for Him? Well, guess what? Whether we ever see Him in the clouds or not the day of reckoning, in fact, does come for each of us in our lifetime. All of us have an appointed time when our lives end, and so do our chances to obey the Lord. Are we prepared? Paul wrote these words to Timothy, “But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that He is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me” (II Timothy 1:12). Have we entrusted our souls to the Lord?
What do we have to gain by putting our trust, our faith, in God? Someone once said that “the person who denies God has everything to lose and nothing to gain, while the person who believes in God has everything to gain and nothing to lose.” That is a powerful statement. In comparison John wrote, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” The person who believes has everything to gain, but as John pointed out, that person must not only believe, but must also “obey.” That is faith. And the person who has faith gains everything that God has promised His followers. Not because of our faith alone, nor our works (Ephesians 2:8), but because of God’s love (John 3:16) and grace we may come to Him in faith and obedience and receive the gift of salvation.
In describing his encounter with Christ to King Agrippa Paul told the King that Jesus had sent him “to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.” In response Agrippa asked, “In a short time would you persuade me to be a Christian?” (Acts 26:18,28). Paul’s response? “Whether short or long, I would to God that not only you but also all who hear me this day might become such as I am—except for these chains” (Acts 26:29). As Christians we must grow our own faith even as we seek to bring others to Christ— that is part of our call to obedience, to share our faith.
John’s first epistle contains these words, “For this is the love of God, that we keep
His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” (I John 5:3-5). When we have faith, our lives change. The world and its problems do not disappear, but we have a different view of them, and a different way of coping with them when they come upon us. We can overcome the dreariness and weariness of the world while enjoying the grandeur of God’s creation in part because we know that heaven awaits. As Peter put it we have “a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (I Peter 1:3-5).
If we believe that these things are true we will act on them— we will exercise our faith, giving all that the Lord asks of us. As Paul once told the Galatians, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). To love Christ is to obey Him. He gives us life, but never are we more alive than we are when we let Christ live through us.
There is a day coming for each of us. A day that we pass from life to life. A day we pass from the earth to eternal damnation or an eternity with God. Do we want to stand with Paul at the end of our lives and say with him, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved His appearing” (II Timothy 4:7-8)?
Hi! I'm Roland. I began writing after retiring from the Navy in 2015. I believe that we each should strive to learn from one another, by sharing our thoughts and ideas. As a writer my goal is to help other seekers of truth to find and grow in Christ.