Anchor On … The eternal hope
Saturday, November 5, 2016 12:42 AM
How is it the child of God is able to have such hope and comfort in times when it would only be natural to dwell on the grief and sorrow at hand? The difference is made in the focus of our hearts. We must decide if we will hold to that which seems to be right or to what God tells us is truly right.
Natural thinking can be superseded by that which is supernatural, “because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them” (Romans 1:19). Most folks aren’t looking for God in the same way that the crook is not looking for the sheriff.
The Bible will direct our hearts to see a bit of what God thinks. Scripture will unfold for us a better knowledge of the supernatural hope that can carry a Christian through times of bereavement and loss, “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and
Godhead; so that they are without excuse” (Romans 1:20).
What is displayed in the marvelous creation is also placed in every person’s conscience, and then it is depicted in the Bible account concerning the cross of Jesus Christ. Those who have heard the gospel message of salvation are indeed blessed when they believe it and receive Christ as personal Savior. We have no good reason why we should delay our decision in
favor of God – other than our self-will.
Putting off God translates into putting off comfort, consolation and a good conscience. Even in times of distress and despair, we can know, in the depths of our hearts, that God is in loving control of circumstances: “Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are
comforted of God” (2 Corinthians 1:4).
The focus of Christianity is its author and finisher, Jesus Christ. The goal is to be found “in Christ” and “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27). When we grow in this spiritual new birth and supernatural relationship, we become more at ease with giving up the possessions of this life and going forward to concentrate on things of eternal value: “For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ” (2 Corinthians 1:5).
John writes in 16:20 of his gospel account that “ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy.” The transformation is supernatural. Natural minds will never be able to sort through it all – yea, none of us will really understand it. We are encouraged to believe in our minds and receive into our hearts what God is able to do in our lives. It is all by His grace, and it is His grace for whosoever will.
Paul writes in the book of Romans that tribulation begins a sequence for the believer’s patience, experience, hope and unashamedness (chapter 5). He writes in chapter 15 “that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope” (verse 4) and that “the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost” (verse 15).
Titus 1:2 speaks of the “hope of eternal life” that God promises to His children. The Christian is to be “looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13). We are “justified by his grace” and “should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life” (Titus 3:7).
The world view today, and the Christian’s outlook for the future, is vastly different than it was before that man or woman/boy or girl received Christ. Prior to salvation, all a person can look forward to is a hopeless end that will never end. The opposite is true of the child of God. They possess an endless hope of Heaven’s bright home and a reuniting with loved
ones and acquaintances.
The disciples asked Jesus when He would return to take His family (the bride of Christ) to Glory. They also asked for signs that would point to His coming back for His own. He does not tell them about the time schedule, but He does give some signals that describe the times of the end, in Matthew 24. We are seeing an increase in the sequence and severity of those events, in our day, that are promised to abound prior to Christ’s return in the clouds.
Paul wrote that the “catching away” of the children of God would be sudden: “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:52). He uses the pronoun “we” and no doubt had hopes that he (Paul) would be among the living to see that event.
The “snatching up” from this earth of those found to be “in Christ” will also be surprising to many, “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” (1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17[a]). This mystery event will occur at a speed so fast that no make-believers will have time to comprehend it and then to change their minds.
John writes about the selectivity of this instant. God makes distinctions. That concept is not popular to the politically correct, but who will be concerned about the distasteful matter of politics in that microsecond?
John records the words of Jesus in 14:3 of his gospel: “And if I go and prepare a place for you (those who believe and receive Christ), I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” Our hearts will not be troubled about this graduation to Heaven if we are on the right side of scripture.
Not only will this be a signature event that is to be sudden, surprising and selective, but it will be spectacular beyond our expectation, according to a recent radio message by David Jeremiah: “But as it is written, ‘Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him’” (1 Corinthians 2:9). Like the queen of Sheba said as she went away from seeing the wealth
and wisdom of King Solomon’s domain: “the half has never yet been told.”
Won’t you want to see heaven’s “half that has never yet been told?” Receive Christ right where you are, and do not miss what God has for those who are His!
R.D. “Bob” Hottle is a retired schoolteacher, farmer and pastor of the Anchor Baptist Church.