THE BIBLE - PART VI

                      IT'S CONSOLATION           

      

                               A LIVING HOPE 

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant

mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ 

from the dead.  To an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade 

away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for 

salvation ready to be revealed in the last time." I Peter 1:3-5 (NKJV)


     The Christian's hope, which is in the above verse designated as a "living hope" does not spring eternally in the human breast. Those not redeemed know nothing about it. They are ". . .aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world". Ephesians 2:12 (NKJV).

     This hope of the Christian has its origin in regeneration, which starts with the new birth. It begins when we are "born again". It is not the result of resolves. It is not the reward of works. It is not purchased by prayer. It is not the product of purity. It is not procured by our pleadings. It is planted in us by the new birth. God "begets us again to this living hope".

FOUNDED UPON THE RESURRECTION OF CHRIST  

    Peter praises God for begetting us again unto a living hope ". . . through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead". This vital relation between the resurrection of Christ and the hope of the Christian is more fully set forth by the Apostle Paul when he wrote:  "But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up – if in fact the dead do not rise. For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable." I Corinthians 15:13-19 (NKJV)

MEASURED BY THE MERCY OF GOD 

    Peter declares that God has begotten us again unto this living hope by the resurrection of Christ and that it is "according to His abundant mercy." This gives us the measure of the Christian's hope. The same thought is expressed in Titus 3:5 where we read: "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He has saved us, through the washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Spirit. (NKJV)

    In Luke 18:9 Jesus is preparing to speak a parable "to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others." He then continues with: "Two men went up to the temple to pray, one is a Pharisee and the other is a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, 'God I thank You that I am not like other men – extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even this tax collector. I fast twice a week, I give tithes of all that I possess'. And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me a sinner!'  I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other, for everyone who exalts himself will  be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."  Vs 10-14 (NKJV)

    The trouble with the Pharisee was that he measured his hope by his good works and his own righteousness. The blessing of the tax collector was that he claimed no good works or self-righteousness, but pled the mercy of God. We are told by Jesus that he went down to his house from the prayer meeting justified. He was justified according to the "abundant" mercy of God which is the measure of every Christian's living hope. 

OUR HEAVENLY HERITAGE

    The Christian's hope embraces a heavenly heritage. Peter wrote that God, according to His abundant mercy, had begotten us again unto a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead "incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven". Paul wrote: "The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs – heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together." Romans 8:16,17 (NKJV)

    This heritage is "incorruptible." This is the same thing that is said concerning our resurrected body in I Corinthians 15:53,54, and points to its imperishable duration. It is also the thought expressed by Paul concerning our heavenly home when he declares, "For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens." II Corinthians 5:1. Thus we shall have an eternal body, an eternal home, and an eternal heritage in contrast to this body of clay, dwelling place and earthly possessions of this life.

    Our heritage is said to be "undefiled". This means that it has no tarnish or taints upon it and points to its acquisition. It was not purchased by such "corruptible things as silver and gold,", but its purchase price was "the precious blood of Jesus Christ, as of a Lamb without blemish and without spot. He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you." I Peter 1:19 (NKJV) It indicates the same adoration as that given expression to by the new song of heaven ascribing our redemption to Jesus: "You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open its seals; for You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and have made us kings and priests to our God; and we shall reign on the earth" Revelation 5:9,10 (NKJV)

    We read that this heritage "does not fade away." I Peter 5:4 (NKJV) This points to its enjoyment by us. It is not an illusion. It is not a mirage. It is not cunningly devised fables. Its joys will never pass away, nor its glories ever grow dim. Its peace will never perish. It was this aspect of our heritage to which Paul was alluding when he wrote: "I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us." Romans 8:18 (NKJV) Then again, "For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of joy." II Cor. 4:17 (NKJV) 

    Finally, we are told that this heritage is "reserved in heaven." This is where Jesus said for us to lay up our treasures, because  ". . . neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal." Matthew 6:20 (NKJV) This is the heritage Jesus promised the rich young ruler when He told him: " . . you still lack one thing. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven and come, follow me." Luke 18:22 (NKJV)  

A RESERVED HERITAGE AND A KEPT HEIR

    Peter tells us that this heritage ". . . incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time."

    This heritage is "reserved" and the heir is "kept". God guards both. He reserves one (our heritage)  in heaven and keeps the other (the Christians) on earth. One is as safe as the other. His keeping power on the earth is just as great as His protecting power in heaven.

    "Kept by the power of God through faith!" When Jesus told Peter that he was to betray Him before the cock crowed, He also said: But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail. . ." Luke 22:32 (NKJV)  That was about all of Peter that did not fail. His courage failed. His devotion failed. His self-control failed. His integrity failed. He cursed and lied. Then when the rooster crowed and Peter saw Jesus looking at him his faith took hold of his heart afresh and he went out and wept bitterly. Forty days later, at Pentecost, Peter preached the greatest sermon ever preached that converted three thousand souls!! "Whosoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God . . . . For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith. Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?" I John 1:1, 4-5. (NKJV)

THIS HOPE AN ANCHOR OF THE SOUL

    The writer of Hebrews calls attention to God's promise to Abraham says that He ". . . determining to show more abundantly to the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath, that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold on the hope set before us. This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil." 6:17-19 (NKJV)

    Thus we have a strong consolation. The Christian's is his consolation. It is the anchor of his soul in times of stress and storm. Such an anchor is needed. Over each pathway some clouds must darken, into each life some rain must fall. All of us meet our obstacles. Social standards change. Political, industrial, economic and domestic strife arises. Creeds conflict. Plans go wrong. Friends betray our confidence. Life's earnings are often lost. Disease takes its toll upon our bodies. We must separate from loved ones. We face sunshine and shadow, sorrow and joy, life and death. How shall we meet them? 

    The answer is given us in The Holy Bible. We sorrow not as others who have no hope. We have fled for refuge and laid hold upon the hope set before us and we have it as an anchor of our souls both sure and steadfast. We can sing with Virgil P. Brock, who wrote BEYOND THE SUNSET:


                                             Beyond the sunset, O blissful morning, when with our

                                             Savior heav'n is begun. Earth's toiling ended O glorious

                                             Dawning; Beyond the sunset, when day is done. 


                                             Beyond the sunset, no clouds will gather, No storms will

                                             Threaten no fear annoy; O day of gladness, O day un-

                                             Ending. Beyond the sunset, eternal joy!


                                            Beyond  the sunset O glad reunion, with our dear

                                            Loved ones who've gone before; In that fair homeland we'll know no

                                            Parting, Beyond the sunset, for ever more.


     Just A Thought Across The Garden Gate by Parson Don (aka Donald Ray Brown).  

                    

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