Monday, 4 November 2013

Hope, Patience and Trust (Part 1).

Romans 12:12
Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
 Here are three commands from Paul that we need to consider. They stem from his message in verses 1 and 2 - that we need to offer our bodies as living sacrifices and not conform to the world. If we are truly living for God, we should be doing these things. And they should be a joy for us!

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Rejoice in Hope.

What is our hope in and why should that make us rejoice? Our hope is the gospel, and we most certainly have reason to rejoice in it. So what is the gospel - the good news? In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1). He created it all good, and he only had one command for Adam and Eve (the first Humans). But they disobeyed it and since then all humans have been living in rebellion to God and we have also rejected him personally in our lives. We all sin (Romans 3:23) and as a result we deserve God's perfect and just wrath against sin (i.e. death and hell eternally).

Nevertheless God is also merciful and gracious. Even though we did not deserve it or even ask him for it, he sent his son Jesus (who is also God, along with God the father and God the Holy Spirit - they are all the one God) into the world as a man. Jesus lived a perfect life. He did not disobey God and therefore he is the only human who did not deserve to suffer God's wrath. But he was also God - the only one who could be perfect and who's sacrifice would be enough to pay for sin.

He came to earth and lived among us, and then was murdered by us. We rejected even God's son who came with the good news. But God knew that that would happen - in fact he planned it to happen. Jesus' death was in fact the only way we could be saved: Jesus took the sins of everyone who did, does or will put their faith in him when he died on the cross. He didn't only take that pain, but while on the cross he also took God's wrath against every sin we (Christians) deserve to suffer in hell for eternally.

He was then buried, but he rose again on the third day - he came back to life because "the wages of sin are death" (Romans 6:23), and he had completely satisfied God's just punishment for sin, so death had no power to hold him. By coming back to life he proves that he is truly the one who has saved us, and he calls everyone to put their faith in him and repent of their sin - calling us to turn back to God. Everyone who genuinely does that will be completely and entirely forgiven. More then that, we are adopted as God's children and as co-heirs with Christ (Romans 8). We can trust in all of God's promises, and we know that Jesus will return to judge the living and the dead - and since we are forgiven we will go to be with him forever, glorying in his presence in heaven eternally with no pain or mourning or tears (Revelations 21).

That is the gospel. That is what we are to hope in and rejoice about. There is nothing better! Nothing fuller! Jesus is the only one who can save and if we turn to him we are saved entirely. We don't have to fear death. We don't have to fear hardship here. We can look forward to heaven and rejoice in that hope. We can look back to Jesus and rejoice in what he has done regardless of our earthly circumstances.

We have reason to hope! God is faithful.
We have reason to rejoice! Jesus saves wretched sinners who turn to him!
In Christ,

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