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Beliefs Matter: “It Does Really Matter…What One Believes About One Hope” – Ephesians 4:4; John 14:1-3 H

25 Oct

Hope is something that God gives to help us keep our lives together until the very end.

Ephesians 4:4 (ESV)
4  There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—

John 14:1-3 (ESV)
1  “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.
2  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?
3  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.

Halford E. Luccock, in Unfinished Business, tells the story of a man who fascinated his dinner companions one night by telling of his experiences in the little town of Flagstaff, Maine, in Somerset Count. The town was to be abandoned and flooded and become a part of a large lake. A dam was being built which would submerge the little town. In the months before it was to be flooded, all improvements and repairs in the whole town stopped. What was the use of painting a house if it were to be covered with water in six months?

Why repair anything when the whole village was to be wiped out? So, week by week, the whole town became more and more bedraggled, more unprofitable, more miserable. Then he added: “Where there is no faith in the future, there is no power in the present.” And I wonder if that’s not a good parable for many people’s lives today.

Hope is something that God has offered us to help us keep our lives together until the very end.

Where are we in our study of these seven 1’s?

There is only one body of believers, the church, which is composed of every saint who has trusted or will trust in Christ as Savior and Lord. There is no denominational, geographical, ethnic, or racial body. There is no Gentile, Jewish, male, female, slave, or freeman body. There is only Christ’s body, and the unity of that body is the heart of the book of Ephesians.

Obviously there is but one Spirit, the Holy Spirit of God, who is possessed by every believer and who is therefore the inner unifying force in the body. Believers are individual temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 3:16-17) that are collectively “being fitted together [and are] growing into a holy temple in the Lord,… being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit” (Eph. 2:21-22).

The Spirit “is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory” (Eph. 1:14). He is the divine engagement ring (pledge), as it were, who guarantees that every believer will be at the marriage supper of the Lamb (Rev. 19:9).

If all Christians were walking in obedience to and in the power of the Holy Spirit, first our doctrine and then our relationships would be purified and unified. The spiritual unity that already exists would be practically manifested in complete harmony among the people of God.

It is one of the 7 key truths listed in Ephesians 4 that hold God’s people together. Belief matters.  Not so much because we’re going to have a doctrinal test in order to go to heaven, but because healthy beliefs lead to healthy spiritual lives, and unhealthy beliefs lead to unhealthy spiritual lives.

Our hope, in short, is that Jesus is coming back to take us home.

More broadly, based on several texts, our hope is that Christ will return, raise us from the dead or meet us in the air, transform us so that our bodies are like his glorious body, take us to heaven so we can see God face to face & live with him there forever.  Salvation will be complete & we’ll enter into eternal life in heaven.

Our hope is solid. It is not wishful thinking or an outside chance.  According to Heb. 6 it is firm and secure and can serve as an anchor for our souls.

The reason it is secure is the basis it has. Our hope does have a foundation: (1 Peter 1:3 NIV)  Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 

(1 Peter 1:21 NIV)  Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God. Our hope is based on God raising Jesus from the dead. 

So, because God raised Jesus from the dead, we have a solid hope that he will return and take us home.

The question isn’t whether we have a thorough understanding of hope but whether our hope is transforming the way we live. Are our lives noticeably different because of our hope that Jesus is coming back to take us home? 

Here are some of the ways the Bible says our hope should affect us:

Give us Joy — (Romans 5:2 NIV)  through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.

(Romans 12:12 NIV)  Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.

Lead to Praise: (1 Peter 1:3 NIV) Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,                

Give us Endurance: (1 Thessalonians 1:3 NIV)  We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Cause us to Purify ourselves: (1 John 3:2-3 NIV)  Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. {3} Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure.

Speak openly even courageously to others: (2 Corinthians 3:12 NIV)  Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold.

The Bible teaches that our hope should have a noticeable effect on how we actually live our lives.  The one hope of the Christian has always rested upon the return of Christ and the blessings of the- future life” (Titus 2:13 ; I Peter 1 :13).

“Set your hope perfectly on the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

“If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable” ( I Corinthians 15 :19).

Strengthening our Hope (Bible gives several, I’ll mention 3).

Make sure our hope really is in God (not government or my own abilities; not here & now; not health & wealth gospel)

(Hebrews 13:14 NIV)  For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come.

(1 Timothy 6:17 NIV)  Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.

 (1 Peter 1:21 NIV)  Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.

 Choose to trust God. 

(Romans 15:4 NIV)  For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.

(Romans 15:13 NIV)  May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

(Hebrews 10:23 NIV)  Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.

Be willing to learn from our suffering (Rom. 5:3-4).  (Romans 5:3-4 NIV)  Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; {4} perseverance, character; and character, hope.

       Ironically, one of the things that often robs me of hope is intended to be a means of increasing our hope.  When we suffer, whether it is for our faith or not, it is a God-given opportunity for us to develop perseverance.  If we persevere, that affects our character. If our character becomes more like God’s, then we have all the more reason to hope. So, suffering gives us an opportunity to develop hope, but it isn’t automatic—we have to be willing to learn from it.

       Be diligent in doing good. (Hebrews 6:10-12 NIV)  God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. {11} We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, in order to make your hope sure. {12} We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.

     Sum: we have a hope that Jesus is coming back to take us home, our hope has a solid basis: the resurrection of Jesus, & we can strengthen our hope by making sure it really is.

In the 1800s, when he was just a small boy, John Todd lost both of his parents.  A kind-hearted aunt raised him until he left home to study for the ministry.  Later on, this aunt became seriously ill, and in distress wrote Todd a letter.  She asked whether death would mean the end of everything, or could she hope for something beyond?  Here is the letter John Todd wrote in reply:

   “It is now 35 years since I, as a boy of six, was left quite alone in the world.  You sent me word you would give me a home and be a kind mother to me.  I have never forgotten the day I made the long journey to your house.  I can still recall my disappointment when, instead of coming for me yourself, you sent your servant, Caesar, to fetch me. 

   “I remember my tears and anxiety as, perched high on your horse and clinging tight to Caesar, I rode off to my new home.  Night fell before we finished the journey, and I became lonely and afraid.  “Do you think she’ll go to bed before we get there?” I asked Caesar.

   “Oh no!” he said reassuringly, “She’ll stay up for you.  When we get out of these woods, you’ll see her candle shining in the window.”

   “Presently we did ride out into the clearing, and there, sure enough, was your candle.  I remember you were waiting at the door, that you put your arms close about me—a tired and bewildered little boy.  You had a fire burning on the hearth, a hot supper waiting on the stove.  After supper you took me to my new room, heard me say my prayers, and then sat beside me till I fell asleep.

   “Some day soon God will send for you, to take you to your new home.  Don’t fear the summons, the strange journey, or the messenger of death.  God can be trusted to do as much for you as you were kind enough to do for me so many years ago.  At the end of the road you will find love and a welcome awaiting, and you will be safe in God’s care. “

 
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Posted by on October 25, 2018 in Church

 

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