Friday, 18 July 2008

Hope - All About it!

All About Hope

Who Has What Hope?

As we study the Bible we learn that God who cannot lie Tit.1:2, keeps His promises and will do all for Israel and their fathers as He declared. Israel is to be a “great and mighty nation”, a “kingdom of priests” and a “holy nation” dwelling safely in their land under Messiah's rule. Israel's hope and the hope of those blessed with faithful Abraham, is the earth. Resurrection is the doorway for most of Israel to receive their God given promises. Hebs.11:13.

Many members of the Body of Christ will need resurrection as well. Resurrection is the same for all, a rising up out of sleep but it is not the doorway to the same destination. This one thing is clear, whether we are Israel going to the earthly aspect of the Kingdom, or the Body of Christ destined to the heavenly aspect of the Kingdom, our present bodies are only temporary;

    1Co 15:50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.
    1Co 15:51 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
    1Co 15:52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
    1Co 15:53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
    1Co 15:54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.

All of God's children will be either changed or resurrected to enter into the inheritance God has promised them. Hope is directed at the inheritance in view.

All hope is made possible through the Saviour and His finished work, but not all hopes are the same. It could be said that Abraham's hope was the Lord but He is our hope as well. All will be raised or changed to be with the Lord Jesus, but not all will be with Him in the same part of God's Kingdom. God's Kingdom stretches from the heights of heaven to the earth beneath. Contrary to popular belief, not all of God's children are going to the same place.

When the apostle Paul was invited by Agrippa to speak for himself, Paul said this:

    Act 26:1-3 …..wherefore I beseech thee (Agrippa) to hear me patiently.
    Act 26:4-5 My manner of life from my youth, . . . that after the most straitest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee.
    Act 26:6 And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made of God unto our fathers:
    Act 26:7 Unto which promise our twelve tribes, instantly serving God day and night, hope to come. For which hope's sake, king Agrippa, I am accused of the Jews.
    Act 26:8 Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you, that God should raise the dead?

This passage shows us that hope is linked with promises made by God and in this case, promises made to Israel's fathers. Paul mentions resurrection as the doorway for many to that hope. Hope is an earnest expectation that God will do all he has promised. In Acts 26 the promises of God were made to Israel's fathers, not us. During Acts Paul was looking for the hope of Israel to be realized (Acts 28:20), and one of the clearest passages he wrote concerning the hope of that time is found here;

    Rom 15:4 For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
    Rom 15:8 Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers:
    Rom 15:9 And that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy; as it is written, For this cause I will confess to thee among the Gentiles, and sing unto thy name.
    Rom 15:10 And again he saith, Rejoice, ye Gentiles, with his people.
    Rom 15:11 And again, Praise the Lord, all ye Gentiles; and laud him, all ye people.
    Rom 15:12 And again, Esaias saith, There shall be a root of Jesse, and he that shall rise to reign over the Gentiles; in him shall the Gentiles trust.
    Rom 15:13 Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.

This is a very important passage. Before Israel was placed to one side at the close of the book of Acts, before Ephesians was written, Paul tells the Roman saints that the hope before them was all Old Testament based and on the earth. Paul turns to a few Old Testament passage in Romans 15 but here is just one he brings forth. Isaiah 11 speaks of Israel's returning Messiah at which time the Gentiles will be blessed through and with them. This is one confirmed by the Lord Jesus (Gen.12:3, Matt.8:11;

    Isa 11:1 And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots:
    Isa 11:2 And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD;
    Isa 11:3 And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears:
    Isa 11:4 But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.
    Isa 11:5 And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins.
    Isa 11:6 The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.
    Isa 11:7 And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
    Isa 11:8 And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice' den.
    Isa 11:9 They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.
    Isa 11:10 And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious.

Notice, this prophecy is about the Lord Jesus and His return and destruction of the “wicked” one (2Thess.2:8). Notice, it is about man's dominion over the animals restored and about the “Lord's holy mountain”. This has nothing to do with us. It is a prophecy promising Messiah's reign when the Nations or Gentiles will be blessed on the earth. This is the hope anticipated in Romans.

In Romans, Paul writes about the great gospel of righteousness by faith in the Lord Jesus without the deeds of the Law, but the hope before him and his readers at that time was the Kingdom of Heaven upon the earth. The Kingdom of Heaven does not mean the kingdom in heaven; it means the kingdom of, or from, or having its origin in heaven. The Kingdom God will set up under his Son who is also the Son of David. (2 Samuel 7:12-13).

In the last chapter of the book of Acts, Paul calls the chief of the Jews together. Acts 28 does not record Paul's fellowship with the believers in Rome. Paul proclaims the following things to the Israelites who had not accepted the Lord Jesus as their messiah;

    Act 28:20 For this cause therefore have I called for you, to see you , and to speak with you : because that for the hope of Israel I am bound with this chain.
    Act 28:23 And when they had appointed him a day, there came many to him into his lodging; to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets, from morning till evening.
    Act 28:24 And some believed the things which were spoken, and some believed not.
    Act 28:25 And when they agreed not among themselves, they departed, after that Paul had spoken one word, Well spake the Holy Ghost by Esaias the prophet unto our fathers,

This is the final record of the witness to Israel concerning their Messiah. These Israelites of the dispersion refused to believe and so they were “let go”. The Greek word for “let go”, is “√°poluo” which means “to set free”, to dismiss”, “to send away”, “to release of debt” but it is also is also used of divorce;

Mat 1:19 But Joseph, her husband to be, being just, and not willing to make her a public example, he purposed to put her away secretly.

At Acts 28 Israel was “let go”. At Acts 28, the promises God made with them were also set aside until a future day. God will resume his purposes with Israel but for today God has declared a new set of conditions with a new hope.

We live in the dispensation of the grace of God and our hope today is not found in the OT. The hope for today came by Christ through the human agency of Paul and Paul alone. Here is the hope found in Ephesians. Remember, Ephesians was written after Romans; after Israel were put aside at the end of Acts.

First of all Paul tells the Ephesians that they did have a previous hope in the Lord;

Eph 1:12 for us to be to the praise of His glory, the ones who had previously trusted (previously hoped) in Christ; LITV (E-Sword).

Then Paul prays for the Ephesians but before he does he acknowledges their faith and love;

    Eph 1:15 Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints,
    Eph 1:16 Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers;
    Eph 1:17 That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him:
    Eph 1:18 The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,
    Eph 1:19 And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe,

Notice Paul's prayer is not that they will understand righteousness by faith through grace which truth had not changed. No! Paul wanted them to know the new hope which God had brought in. The hope they held before had been set aside with Israel. There are four things we should not miss in this prayer;

  1. That they would be given by God a “spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Christ”.
  2. That they would know the hope of His calling.
  3. That they would know the riches of the glory of His inheritance.
  4. That they would know the surpassing greatness of his power toward us.
Hope, power and inheritance are all linked together. To describe the power in us, Paul begins by describing the results of the power in Christ as follows;
  • Christ was raised from the dead, Eph 1:19.
  • Christ was seated at God's right hand, Eph 1:20.
  • Christ is seated at God's right hand “in the heavenlies”, or as another version reads “in the heavenly places”. Notice, Christ is “far above all” heavenly beings so he is not seated among them but above them.
  • Christ is given a new title of corporate relationship. Our Lord Christ is now the Head of the church which is His Body. Eph.1:22-23.

    What incredible power God worked in his Son, and Paul goes on to show this same resurrecting and raising power has been worked in us, the ones believing with similar wonderful results:

    We, the members of Christ's body, have been quickened, that means made alive. Eph 2:1,5. Our raising from the dead comes later.

    We, the members of Christ's body, have been raised up together. Eph. 2:6

    We, the members of Christ's body, have been seated together. Eph.2:6.

    We, the members of Christ's body, have been seated together in the heavenlies, or heavenly places, the same place in which our Lord Christ currently dwells.

    Notice this is all in and through Christ. We are not so blessed by anything we have done or will do. This is God's promise to us, and so far as God is concerned, He has already seated us there. All we can say to this is a faithful, believing “Amen”!

    This is our hope, that one day, the promise God has given us in Christ will be a wonderful reality. One glorious day we will be seated in the heavenlies. This inheritance is not on the earth, far from it. This inheritance is in front of God's face where Christ is seated. Isaiah, Moses and all other OT prophets knew nothing of this hope, it can only be found in those writings of Paul written after Israel were put to one side.

    The apostle Paul instructs us to test the things that differ;

      Phi 1:9 And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment;
      Phi 1:10 That ye may approve (dokimazo to test) things that are excellent (diaphero differ); that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ;

    Here are two hopes as different as black and white. The hope of Romans written during the Acts period, and the hope of Ephesians, written after Israel were set aside. Both from the hand of our Apostle but we do not have any option here; we cannot pick and chose.

    The hope before believers today is the later one of Ephesians. To mix these two hopes is to create confusion; to inject Ephesians' dispensational truth back into Romans is not distinguishing between things that differ.

    Please search and see if these things are so and may the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ grant unto each of you the wise and revealing spirit in the knowledge of Christ concerning this glorious hope.

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