Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Hope in the Gospel

"We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you,  Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints,  For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel;  Which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and bringeth forth fruit , as it doth also in you, since the day ye heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth:  As ye also learned of Epaphras our dear fellowservant, who is for you a faithful minister of Christ;  Who also declared unto us your love in the Spirit." Col 1:3-8
  Verse 5 says that there is a hope available to us, and that hope is contained in the  gospel of Jesus Christ.  Most saved people would  say that  this hope is that  they will die and go to heaven and  spend eternity with Jesus. That's certainly true, but it's worth mentioning that, according to Hebrews 2:3 we have a "great" salvation.  Not "great " as in "really nice", but rather "great" as in  "really big".  There are elements to my salvation that are so large and so expansive that I'm like a man standing on a mountain that can't even see the whole mountain. Only by backing up  am I able to see the whole thing, and so I want to back up a bit suing the Scriptures and  show one little piece of this great  salvation and the hope contained therein.
"Wherefore , as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law.  Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come" Rom 5:12-14
  The one thing all men everywhere have in common is death.  The thing that binds the  Beverly Hills debutante with the kid squatting in a hut in  South America is  that they both will die. Men spend fortunes   trying to avoid it, and trying to postpone it, but yet it catches every single one of them without fail. If you eat too much you die, if you eat too little  you die. If you get too hot or if you get too cold you die. Whether you eat good food or junk food, you die. If you jog or don't jog, you will still die. You can die in a bar fight or die in a nursing home, you will be just as dead.  Even if you do everything right, if you just hang around long enough, you will die.   Regardless of brains or beauty or riches, regardless of reputation or position, culture or caste, you and I  both have an appointment with a  hole in the ground.  When this happens we weep because we somehow understand that this thing , this horrible  breath-stealing thief, is the result  of something  in humanity's past that went horribly wrong.  When death happens we  put what's left of that person in a box and put that box out of sight so that nobody has to face what happens next. We do our best to dress up and dignify what is a horribly undignified process.  There is no reason for death to be dignified; it's the result of  sin.
  When Adam fell, we all became horribly broken. Adam stood there, after having been made in the image of God, with a  soul that would never die, and a body that was subject unto death.  The first Adam put the penalty of physical death on all his descendants.  Every broken heart and every tear and every grave is the continuing fruit of Adam's transgression.  People  weep and cry and blame God, but God didn't invent death, man did.
  Knowing all that, and knowing that death is coming for you as sure as the next sunrise, what you really need is  not more money or more pleasure or more toys or cleaner drinking water, what you really need is some way to avoid that hole in the ground. What you need is  a hope.  
  "But I would not have you to be 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." 1 Thess 4:13-18 
  Our hope isn't just the redemption of our souls, and the washing away of our sins. It's not just  eternal life around the throne of God. It's so much larger than that.  Our hope is that, should death claim us, and we get put in the  wooden box, that the Lord Jesus Christ himself is coming to get us out of that box!  He'll rejoin our redeemed souls with our redeemed bodies and we'll be whole again, never to  die !  But it doesn't stop there!
"And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away ; and there was no more sea.  And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.  And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying , Behold , the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.  And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away ." Rev 21:1-4
  Someday Jesus Christ, who submitted himself unto death even the death of the cross and tasted death for every man. will make death submit itself unto him.  Jesus Christ who delivered us from the power of death and took away it's sting with his own  conquering hand, will destroy death itself so that it can never hurt anyone ever again.  Someday somebody will dig the last grave ever.  Someday somebody will shed the last tear ever. Someday the last Adam will have fixed everything that the first Adam broke!  That's the hope in the gospel.
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