Monday, January 28, 2013

Past, Present and Future Hope

2 Peter 1:1Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ.”

As I think about the text we just read, the intended audience is described as “those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours”. In today's blog I am going to share some thoughts on the three kinds of hope that are made available through “the faith of the same kind” spoken here by Peter.  When you believe in God through the shed blood of Jesus Christ by the leading of the Holy Spirit, what occurs? What three kinds of hope become yours at saving faith as provided by Jesus Christ, the Christian's living Hope?  Note these three thoughts:

1. Past Forgiven.  2 Peter 1:1-2
2. Power to live presently.  2 Peter 1:3-10
3. Promise of future heavenly home. 2 Pt 1:11-12

A Testimony of hope
I recall one time talking to someone about their need to trust in the Lord Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of the their sins.  I quoted Romans 3:23 -  “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” In that verse we are told that in the eyes of God’s law, we were born dead sins and tresspasses, morally guilty and spiritually separated from God.  I then told them that unless they agreed with the testimony of scripture, they would die in their sins and live a Christless eternity in Hell.  The Spirit of God began to deal with the person and they suddenly realized that it was time to “receive that faith” spoken of here by Peter.  The following three kinds of hope became their's and can be yours when you by grace through faith trust in Jesus Christ...

The Past is forgiven.  2 Peter 1:1-2
God grants grace and peace.  Grace is God doing for you what you cannot do for yourself.  Peace is what takes place between you and God the moment you acknowledge by grace through faith the awfulness of your sin and the awesomeness of Jesus Christ.  Past sins are forgiven. (Eph 1:7)  But notice also....

Power to live presently.  2 Peter 1:3-10
These verses tell you what fruit you should see in your new found Christian life.  All the things listed hear speak of “addition” and “progression”.  According to 2 Peter 1:5-10 you add to your faith:

moral excellence-->to moral excellence, knowledge--> to knowledge, self control--> to selfcontrol, perseverance--> to perseverance, godliness--> to Godliness, brotherly kindness--> to brotherly kindness, love.

Onward and upward progression as a result of adding to your faith leads to multiplied blessings.  When a person believes in Jesus Christ for their salvation, the hope of a forgiven past is granted through justification.  However we have to realize that present hope is also given in the form of power to live the Christian life in an onward and upward progression - or sanctification.  The overall message of 2 Peter 1:3-10 is to "add to your faith".  The question is - how do you practically do that?  Let me make some practical suggestions:

1. In order to access that power, one first needs to read their Bible daily, such as 1 John or a Proverb a day out of the Book of Proverbs. 

2. Developing a daily prayer life is the second cornerstone to accessing power for Christian living. (1 John 5:13-15) 

3. If you are a Born-again believer who has not yet been baptized, let me urge you to get that completed.  Take the first major step of Christian obedience through believer's baptism, since obedience is how faith goes from standing still to walking forward.  Baptism comes after your salvation commitment, since in your new Christian faith you want to go public and set the tone for the remainder of your Christian life: faith moving forth in obedience. (Romans 6:4-11; Galatians 3:27) 

4. Then fourthly, join a local church, get involved, pray for your pastor and be a blessing. (Acts 2:38-42; Hebrews 10:24-25; 13:17) 

In thinking on the above provisions given by God for living an effective Christian walk: The Bible, prayer, believer's baptism and the local church,  I ask you: have you had your past sins forgiven through Jesus Christ?  If so, is your profession of faith characterized by power? Do you not realize that in accordance to our text here, you have been given everything you need for life and godliness.  

Now becoming a Christian not only sets you straight for the sweet by and by but gives you the power to live for Jesus in the nasty now and now.  Believing in God through Christ’s shed blood through the Spirit’s leading guarantees your past forgiven and power for present living and notice thirdly…

3. Promise of future heavenly home. 2 Pt 1:11-12
True believers in Jesus Christ will persevere.  Furthermore, an entrance is supplied for them into the Heavenly reality that is being prepared for them by Christ. We read in John 14:1-3 - “Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 “In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. 3 “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also."

How past, present and future hope can be yours in Jesus Christ
Dear friend, my question to you is this: Are you ready for eternity? James 4:14 states – “Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.”  Would you like to be ready? Read Ephesians 2:8-9  "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast."  Romans 10:8-10 gives us the step by step way to believe on Jesus Christ:  "But what does it say? “THE WORD IS NEAR YOU, IN YOUR MOUTH AND IN YOUR HEART”—that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, 9that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; 10for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation." Trust in Christ, receive Him by faith, and you too will have three hopes: the past forgiven, power for present living and promise of a future heavenly home.

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