Hope For Those Who Believe
Hope that we have as Christians is a glorious thing. Christ living in us is our hope for eternal life after death.
Alright, thank you very much. And hello again, dear radio friends. How in the world are you? Yes, you are dear to me. That’s more than a stereotyped expression. I feel as though I belong to you and you to me. And I like that, don’t you? Anyway, we’re together for these precious moments, sharing from the Word of God, and you and I are walking around in the Fourth Chapter of 1 Thessalonians. We come now to this classic passage that deals with the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
He said, “I don’t want you to be ignorant concerning them which are asleep.” I remember hearing a sermon long years ago from someone who was not too highly schooled, but very earnest. He said, “I want to preach on this text. I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren. It is terrible to be ignorant.” Ha,ha. Well, that’s true.
The ignorance of which he speaks here has to do with the condition of our friends and loved ones who have died in faith in Christ. If you take out the word “brethren,” he says, “I would not have you to be ignorant concerning them which are asleep,” (or have passed away) “that ye sorrow not even as others which have no hope.” Elsewhere in Paul’s writings, he says, “The sorrow of the world bringeth death.” It’s a bitter business when there isn’t any hope beyond the grave.
I remember seeing the unconsolable grief of a father who had lost his only daughter. I suppose it’s nearly a half-century now, and I can tell the story without hurting anybody’s feelings, I guess. The man was absolutely devastated, because he had doted on this precious gal and now she was gone. He bought a solid copper casket, which I think, even in those days would have cost a great many dollars, and lavished all sorts of floral display around the body of his daughter. And someone asked him, “Why are you spending so very much on this. He said, “That’s all there is left. There isn’t anything else.”
It was a sad business, because the man, I believe, never did have a real faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. “That’s all there is. She’s gone.” Well, for a believer, thank God, that isn’t all there is. Hallelujah for that.
I, of course, was just a 16-month-old toddler when my mother died. But the relatives who were around have told me that after the second operation within a few hours and the hemorrhaging that took her was continuing, she looked up and said to my father, “I guess I’ll have to leave you, Charlie,” and smiled at him, and then she was gone. But there is a hope in the believer’s heart that simply will not die.
And so many years later, (well, not that many) I was, I suppose, fifteen, and chief cook and bottle-washer for my father. He and I were now living in a rented room in Toledo, and after he had finished his evening meal, he would move over to his favorite rocking chair (a cane-backed, handmade rocker that he had kept from his own boyhood days on the farm; comfortable to sit in and beautifully made.) He would sit down in that old rocker and pick out a songbook from his stack of songbooks (maybe two or three hundred there in the bookcase at his left as he faced toward the stove, sitting between the table and the stove in that one room.) They used to call it “light housekeeping.” Remember that, old-timers? Now they call them “efficiencies.” Cold word, isn’t it? I like “light housekeeping.” I think that’s great.
But anyhow, there he sat, and he would pick out a song. Sometimes he would sing, “Oh, they tell me of a home far beyond the skies/Oh, they tell me of a home far away/Oh, they tell me of a home where no storm-clouds rise/Oh, they tell me of an unclouded day.” He would sing that, and then, like as not, I’d be standing on the other side of the room by the sink, washing the dishes. There was just one cold-water faucet, and you had to heat the dishwater. I would have heated it on the stove and poured it into the dishpan and saved a little out to rinse the dishes as they were placed on the rack beside the sink. He would turn to me and say, “You know, my boy, one of these days, I’m going to walk down those golden streets, and I’m going to find your mother, and we’re going to walk together, and we’ll sing together the song we sang ten days before she left us: ‘I shall know Him by the print of the nails in His hands.’ Hallelujah, my boy!”
You know, that’s hope! And that’s what a Christian has. But somebody who doesn’t know the Lord Jesus Christ doesn’t have that at all. And sorrow is so bitter. I remember being called to the hospital because a little seven-year-old boy had, with his playmates, been playing with gasoline and the inevitable happened. The gasoline caught fire and that little boy was burned over all of his body. And I came into that emergency room, and he lay there with little wisps of blackened skin curling from almost every part of his body. He was still conscious. It so happens that I had led that little boy to the Lord Jesus the week before in Vacation Bible School.
I asked him, “Are you trusting Jesus? Do you know that He saves you now?” And he said, “Yes, sir.” Well, he didn’t survive. After a few hours he was gone. He simply couldn’t survive the shock trauma of being so badly burned. And so, there we were at the funeral service. And his father was sobbing with great heaving sobs; he was a strong man, grieving over the loss of his child. I endeavored to speak with him about the Lord. He said, “No, no, no, no, no.” That’s all he said: “No.” He was refusing the Savior even in that hour when his heart was breaking. But he didn’t have any hope. There was nothing there.
You see, the bitterness of the troubles of life is compounded by sin, and there isn’t any hope. There isn’t any way out, any release of the pressure. There’s nothing you can do if you don’t know the Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul speaks of those who are unsaved, and he said, “At that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.” (That’s Ephesians 2:12.) So Paul said, “I’ve got to tell you something about those that have passed away in faith because I don’t want you to sorrow like people who don’t have any hope.”
The hope of the believer is a glorious thing. Sometime, for your own sake, run down the verses that speak of the believer’s hope. Peter says, “We’ve been born again to a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. He said, “Because I live, ye shall live also.” The resurrection of the Lord Jesus guarantees that you and I will be raised, and as Job said, “I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that He shall stand in the last day upon the earth, and that after my death worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God Whom I shall behold for myself and not another.” The hope of the resurrection is based in the very person of your Lord. For the believer, you look to that empty tomb and you know that the Lord Jesus Christ is alive, and so Peter says, “We’ve been born to a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” “Christ is our hope,” says Paul to Timothy. Jesus, who is our hope (the Person; not just the event of the resurrection, but the living Person…He is the one in whom we base our hope for eternity.
“Tribulation worketh patience, patience, experience, experience, hope, and hope maketh not ashamed because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts.” Hope, by the Holy Spirit. And then, Paul says, “Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing that you may abound in hope through the power of the Holy Ghost (Romans 15:13.) “Abounding in hope,” because that wonderful Person, the Lord Jesus, through His Holy Spirit dwelling within you, gives you hope. And you are a partaker, then, of that hope, and it is a steadfast hope. We are called with one hope of His calling, and Christ in you, the hope of His glory, the indwelling Savior, is the basis for our hope for things after physical death. “Christ in you, the hope of glory.”
See, the very essence of God’s life is what comes to you when you trust the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior. When you talk about “being saved,” what is involved? First of all, you’re forgiven. Christ paid the penalty for you: “God commendeth His love toward us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” The penalty for sin is death; Christ paid the penalty so that you are forgiven, and you are then given His very life. Jesus said, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God. What is this being “born again?” It is the infusion of the very life of God. Eternal life is not simply the duration of life forever; it is a quality of life, the very quality of God’s life.
“Christ, therefore, in you.” That’s what Paul says: the hope of glory. Do you see the idea? So there is an essence of eternity infused into your life the moment you trust the Lord Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, so that the Lord Jesus becomes the basis for our hope and the essence of it. And so, you have a full assurance of hope (Hebrews 6:11) unto the end. And you have this hope as an anchor of the soul, steadfast and sure.
And then, of course, it’s a purifying hope. John says, “Every man that hath this hope in him purifyeth himself, even as He is pure.” If I know that the Lord Jesus is coming again, then I shall stand at the judgment seat of Christ to be judged not for my salvation, but on the basis of what I’ve said and done throughout my lifetime, and I want to live clean, and right, and pure before my Lord. God help us all to do that, because we have this hope in Christ.
Now, if I’m talking to someone who’s never trusted Christ as Lord and Savior, do it today. Talk to Him: “Lord Jesus, please forgive my sin, and come into my heart, and make me a child of God. Pray that prayer, and God will answer it. I promise you.
Father, thank you for the hope you’ve given us in Jesus. Help us to live for Him today. Amen.
Till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!
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