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The Cross GivesTrue Hope

Everyone needs hope for the future.  Hope for love, hope for better financial conditions, for recognition, social status and myriad other things.  But if we get those things we find that we are no better off than we were before. And,  we really don’t expect to get what we are hoping for.  The feeling of not having any hope leads to despair, which often leads to alcoholism, drug use or other vices.  Hopelessness leads to the misconception of personal devaluation.  In some people this feeling can lead to actions designed to gain recognition from others so the person feels important.  This is one element in the physiological makeup of mass murderers.

 The popular concept of hope really isn’t hope, it’s wishing.  We don’t actually expect to get what we hope for:  “Hope for the best and expect the worst.  That way you won’t be disappointed” is a popular expression.  The first error here is hoping for material gain or recognition from other people, or both.  The second error is not understanding the true nature of hope.  “Hoping” for material things, or the recognition from others is vanity, according to King Solomon (Ecclesiastes, Chapter 3).  Material things become corrupted and fail, and people are fallible by nature.  But the real reason that material things and other people can’t satisfy or hope is that deep down on the spiritual level what we really hope for is a personal relationship with God.  This is the perfect relationship with the perfect Person that never fails.

Our orientation toward material things is misguided because in reality we are eternal spiritual beings who have a physical body for an unmeasurably short blip of time, which exists only in the physical world.  The spiritual  realm is outside of time.  So, we are hoping for things which really have no value at all.  Such “hope” is vanity.

The definition of hope is much different than we believe it to be.  The biblical words for hope in both Hebrew and Greek mean to trust, be confident, assurance, expectant refuge.  Hope then is the confident, assured expectation that we can trust God to be faithful in fulfilling His promises to us that are recorded in the Bible.  And, all of His promises, from Genesis through Revelation, are founded on Christ dying in our place on Calvary’s cross and His subsequent resurrection.  It is only by Christ’s work on the cross that people who accept Jesus as Savior are restored into fellowship with God.  We are saved by His grace through faith, not by works or ourselves in any way (Ephesians 2:8,9).  “We are buried with Him in baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we should walk in the newness of life” (Romans 6: 3-21).  God loves all people, but He can’t commune with or associate with people who haven’t accepted Jesus’ atoning work on the cross to remove their sin.  Those who practice godlessness are alienated from Him and reap His wrath.  When an unsaved person dies “his expectation will perish, and the hope of the unjust perishes” (Proverbs 11:7; Job 4:8-11).

God so loves all people that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should no perish, but have everlasting life (John 3:16; compare, Romans 8:11-17).  The definition of everlasting life here means being with God in heaven.  Perish means to be alienated from God for eternity.  In Jewish tradition a family member who has a falling out with his family is banished.  He is “dead” to other family members from that point forward.
They may not acknowledge him in any way should their paths cross in public or private settings.  This is the condition of unsaved people in respect to God.  He cannot acknowledge them in any way.

Calvary is the pivot point of the entire Bible.  It is the foundation of God’s relationship with born-again people.  All of God’s promises to us rest on Jesus’ death on the cross to pay for our sins because “the wages of sin is death”.  His resurrection from death gives believers new life in Christ. God is faithful to keep His promises to His people.  Too many promises exist to explain all of them here.  A few of the ones directly related to Calvary are below.

God will not forsake those who come to Him.  Paul wrote, “Yet in all things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.  For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things to come, nor height nor depth; nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 9:37-39; compare, Matthew 28:20).

It is those who are not truly committed to Christ that will not gain their inheritance.  They don’t lose their salvation, they were never saved to begin with.  To those Christ will say, “I never knew you, depart from me, you who practice lawlessness” (Matthew 7:23; emphasis added).

God is faithful to bless those who do His will for their lives.  To paraphrase President Kennedy, ask not what God can do for you, but what it is that God wants you to do.  “Be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.  For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was.  But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does” (James 1: 23-25).  Doing God’s work doesn’t save us.  It is the new nature of those truly reborn in Christ.  Apple trees grow apples.  Christians do the work God has planned for them to do since eternity past.

God loves you.  He wants you with Him always.  But if you haven’t made a decision for Christ it is the same as making a decision against Him.  You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you, but without Him you can do nothing because it is he who created the world and maintains it in existence (John 1:1-3,14).  It is through Jesus that we have our breath and life.  Now is the time of salvation.  Jesus loves you.  Accept Him as Savior now and be adopted into His family.  You may not have another chance.

 

 

 

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