STAND & COMFORT Newsletter|
Email NEWSLETTER #29 (Vol 2 No 14)
By Ed Tarkowski
PART 1: OUR HOPE MADE REAL BY THE RESURRECTION
On Pentecost, Peter told how David spoke of Christ being raised from the dead, that when Christ laid down His life for all men, He did so in the perfect, without-a-doubt hope of being raised again:
Acts 2:25 For David speaketh concerning him, I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved:
Christ suffered at the hands of the Jewish leaders of His time and eventually was put to death according to the foreknowledge of God. He went to the cross in perfect faith in the Father, knowing it would lead to His death. When it did, He died in perfect hope, knowing He would be raised from the dead. Jesus died in hope that was undergirded by faith in the One who said it was time to go to the cross. This is what Peter said regarding David's prophetic words, which describe one aspect of the hope we have in Christ: resurrection from the dead. Engulfing and saturating this perfect faith and perfect hope was the perfect love between the Father and the Son.
I think Christians sometimes have an old tendency to see hope as not quite a sure thing. When we hope for earthly things, there's an element of doubt; e.g, "Gee, I hope I get that job" or "Boy, I hope I can get this work done in time and make it home during the holidays." And we've all heard unbelievers say, "I sure hope I get to heaven when I die." This is not the kind of hope Jesus had. He didn't say, "I sure hope I will be raised from the dead." Instead, He rested in the sure fact of resurrection because He IS the Resurrection and the Life, and the Father commanded that He take up His life again once it was laid down.
Our resurrection is just as sure a hope. God's word was not written with an element of doubt in it. When it speaks of hope, IT DOES SO SIMPLY BECAUSE whatever the specific hope is, it hasn't happened yet:
Rom 8:24 For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?
Therefore we must wait for it, placing our faith in God that He is not a liar, but true to what He has said. The hope God gives is a promise given that something will definitely, undoubtedly happen, but the time for that which was spoken has not yet arrived. The resurrection on the last day is a sure hope because the promise has come from God Himself:
John 11:25 Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:
Jesus died in the sure hope of resurrection, ascension and glorification at the right hand of God. To Him, there was no doubt these things would happen, and He went to the cross with perfect expectation. By His resurrection, He established for all who believe the future resurrection into His visible presence. This hope is just as sure, just as certain.
HOPE 1679. elpizo, from G1680; to expect or confide:-- hope (for), trust.
Faith and hope are intertwined. Remember the song, "You can't have one without the other"? Well, concerning faith and hope, you can't have one without the other as well. It is hard at times to separate them to see the attributes of each, but I will make that attempt here. The definition we often use of the word "faith" is this":
Heb 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
There is a perverted faith and hope where, in order to fulfill his hopes and desires, a person confesses and confesses until his brains are inside out. This kind of faith is given birth by the human wants of man. But the God-given kind of faith and hope is birthed when God speaks to us and we are confident that God has spoken. When we say, "God has said this to me and this is what He will do in the future," it is a sure thing in our heart and we rest in faith in Him to bring it about. Crucial to this life of faith and hope is KNOWING that GOD HAS spoken to us, and that what was promised had no origins in the flesh or the whisperings of spirits not of God.
God is very merciful in this area. If you remember my doubts concerning the Scriptures I was "hearing" when my dog Bogie was missing, you'll remember that I hoped against hope. I saw no evidence that he would be found alive. The wooded areas for miles around made me doubt all the more that we'd ever find him. But God kept bringing Scriptures to mind that gave me a hope that wouldn't quit, even in the face of all my doubting as to whether or not it was God speaking. I knew that if it was God, Bogie would be found. This hope coming to me through the word of God hoped against my own personal, doubt-filled hope. One was a confident expectation, while the other hoped one minute and doubted the next. The one hope was of the flesh and brought confusion and doubt and a roller coaster experience. The other was filled with an expectation that when covered up by human hope rose again and again and again. God was being very merciful to me.
Now that Bogie is safely home, I can see the hope God was giving me in this situation. It was not a confusing hope; I was the one who confused things. True hope is a beautiful experience in the face of circumstances that are beyond our control. We only ruin that experience because of our fleshly nature that surfaces in such times. This was for me another lesson learned.
Concerning Christ, for a resurrection to take place, there must be a death, and Christ willingly laid down His life to establish righteousness as a free gift for all who would believe. For Christ to ascend to the Father and be glorified and then send the Holy Spirit to believers, there had to be a resurrection. Death is death is death. Without the resurrection we would have no hope There would be no hope of entering the presence of God, there would be no hope of union with God by the Holy Spirit, there would be no hope of Jesus' return to establish His millenial reign. We would be as hopeless as we always were. The resurrection is absolutely crucial to God's plan of salvation and Jesus walked through to Calvary in perfect hope and placed His faith in the Father without any hint of wavering. Out of death, He rose again. Hope and faith would be available to all. All one had to do was believe.
The substance of things hoped for was now seen by the apostles and disciples. Hope was now in Christ for the eternal future of all men who would believe. Our own resurrection or being changed is still in the future, yet we hope for it, believing at this moment the truth of it. It is a hope that WILL come to pass, and those who place their faith in the one who promises a complete redemption will not be disappointed.
OUR HOPE TELLS US WE WILL BE GLORIFIED AND IN CHRIST'S PRESENCE
Not only was Christ raised from the dead, but He ascended to the Father and entered His presence to be glorified:
Acts 1:11 Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven. . .
When Jesus ascended after His resurrection, He entered the presence of the Father as our forerunner:
Heb 6:17 Wherein God, willing more abundantly to show unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath:
The resurrection established a sure hope to be offered to all men. Jesus was God come in the flesh and these verses refer to His entering into the Father's presence as a risen man on our behalf, then becoming our High Priest before the Father. He was our forerunner, the first fruits of all who would follow. In this historic event, we find hope to be set free one day from the infirmities of the earthly body. Jesus rose bodily and entered the Father's presence bodily and then, being glorified, sent the Holy Spirit to indwell all who would believe. Jesus' dying was only one part of God's work to establish a full salvation that could be offered to all men. There had to be a resurrection as a sign to all that God had indeed established righteousness before Him, that we could enter His presence at death through the shed blood of Christ, and that one day He will, without question, back up His word and raise all believers in glory into His very presence. He will fulfill all His promises included in the one hope He has given us.
The resurrection is central to all the parts of God's one salvation. It establishes the hope of our own resurrection as a sure thing without doubt. Not only did He enter on our behalf, He was glorified on our behalf. Without the resurrection, the hope of glory would be an empty one. Because of the resurrection, Jesus entered God's presence and sent the Holy Spirit to indwell all who would believe. Praise Almighty God for the resurrection. Without the resurrection, the Holy Spirit could not have come to indwell us as the power of this full salvation which points to a living hope of a full redemption. Because of the resurrection, God could tell the world through Peter,
Acts 2:38 . . . Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
With the promised Holy Spirit sent, the way was established for the resurrection of all who believed Jesus was indeed risen from the dead:
Rom 8:11 But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.
The spirits of the dead saints in heaven could now look forward to the resurrection of their bodies to be like His glorious body, as could all who will be alive and changed when He returns:
Phil 3:20 For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:
HOPE! A SURE HOPE! Jesus would one day return to raise all who will be His at that time, and they will be raised without corruption. Death will harm these no more as they reign with Him in glory.
THE HOPE OF GLORY
The resurrection is central to the life of the Christian. Without it, he could not look forward to being glorified in Christ. The changing of our vile bodies to be like His, the glorification of the saints, and living in the visible kingdom could not occur without it. I can readily assure you, Jesus is not sitting on His throne thinking, "Gee, when the time comes for me to return, I hope I can raise them all from the dead." Jesus has said it is a sure thing because it is part of our eternal inheritance as believers in Christ, and the power to bring it all about lies in Him alone. The fullness of Christ's finished and future work are all contained in the words, "eternal life":
John 17:3 And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.
It is knowing Christ in all these ways (as our sacrifice, our forerunner, our High Priest, our baptizer in the Holy Spirit, etc) that gives us eternal life now. Knowing Him is not mere mental assent, but an experiential knowledge of Jesus and of Him who sent Him. It is in knowing the justification, the setting apart, the indwelling Holy Spirit, etc. that we know Him and thus experience eternal life now. Because of His death through the shedding of His blood, we can now have eternal life and all that that means. Some of these things we have now, yet our inheritance is not fully enjoyed. But He has given us a guarantee:
Gal 4:6 And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.
God has saved us:
Titus 3:5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;
God is saving us:
Phil 2:12 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
God will save us:
1 Th 5:8 But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, THE HOPE OF SALVATION.
Salvation (of the body which completes our salvation) is a hope, to be manifested at a future time, yet we are even now saved and being saved. We rest in it now while we work it out, and will be totally redeemed at the return of the only one who can raise the dead and change our mortal bodies to be like His glorious body:
Phil 3:21 Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.
Because God raised Jesus from the dead, Peter could boldy say:
1 Pet 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
NEXT ISSUE: Part 2