Monday, April 30, 2012

Living the Christian Life: Hope for the future

Hope for the Future

Having gone through the manner of the Christian life, we would now look into its goal. What is the hope of believers?

Many believers will mention that our hope is eternal life, to be with God forever. This is most certainly true (Jn. 3: 16; 1 Jn. 5:12). But what exactly does this mean?

First of all, the Gospel is not hell insurance. Professing faith in Christ is not a "Get out of hell free" card. Rather, the Gospel brings Christ to us in the here and now. We are united with Christ through true faith now.

All of the Christian life is therefore with an eye to the end times, which in theological terms is called eschatological. In Christ, we are no more to see things as we used to do so. Rather, everything has to be colored by the hope of Christ's second coming.

We believers are now pilgrims on this earth just like Abraham (Heb. 11: 8-10). This world is not our home. We are not to lose sight of this truth. Yes, as those who are younger grow up, find a career, get married and so on, it is easy to be distracted. It is easy to focus on the things of this world. That is another reason why of course you should be attending a true church of Christ.

“Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters;
and he who has no money, come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. (Is. 55:1)

Come to the weekly gathering of God's people to be fed. Come to hear God speak through the preaching of His Word. Come to be fed through the Supper of our Lord, for it is the table of feasting and partaking of the body and blood of our Lord through faith.

Just like Abraham, we travel in this world. We have careers, spouses and so on. Yet we must always keep in mind that this world is not our home. Like Abraham, we look forward to the city whose designer and builder is God. Here we can have no lasting city, but our bodies age and even our names and reputations and legacies disappear in the sands of time.

The issue is one of faith. It is not about idealism or supposed maturity in realism. The key question is this: Where is your faith? It is not idealist to hold to our blessed hope and order our lives accordingly. To think of this view as being naive and out of touch with basic living in this world is a mark of unbelief. Jaded cynicism is a spiritual disease. Is God a god of your inner emotions only? Your "god" is too small. Is he only an old grandfather who has warm affections of love towards you? Your "god" is also too small. Is he a god who dies only to make sure you wouldn't face God's wrath and therefore go to heaven? Your "god" is too small.

The Christian God is the God of this whole universe. The nations are as nothing to him. He mocks at the bravado of those who deny Him ad ridicule His Name. He sees the scheming of the wicked and notes them in His record book, to pour out on them His wrath and judgment at the appointed time.

He who delivers the Jews from their oppressors is the same God who rules even now. O you of little faith, why do you doubt God? Why are you cynical? Trials and tribulations you may face now, and probably are facing now (Jas 1: 2). But why compromise instead of accepting hardship? Where is your light in this world?

Behold, these are the wicked;
always at ease, they increase in riches.
All in vain have I kept my heart clean
and washed my hands in innocence.
For all the day long I have been stricken
and rebuked every morning.
If I had said, “I will speak thus,”
I would have betrayed the generation of your children.

But when I thought how to understand this,
it seemed to me a wearisome task,
until I went into the sanctuary of God;
then I discerned their end.

Truly you set them in slippery places;
you make them fall to ruin.
How they are destroyed in a moment,
swept away utterly by terrors!
Like a dream when one awakes,
O Lord, when you rouse yourself, you despise them as phantoms.
When my soul was embittered,
when I was pricked in heart,
I was brutish and ignorant;
I was like a beast toward you.

Nevertheless, I am continually with you;
you hold my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will receive me to glory.
Whom have I in heaven but you?
And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. (Ps. 73:12-26)

Let us stand firm in our faith, seeing ourselves as pilgrims in this land, and put our hope and trust in Christ our savior.

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