Jesus Christ Our Greatest Hope
There is no greater hope for humankind than that hope offered by God by way of Jesus Christ. No human can do anything to save himself except believe in and on the one true God and the need for and presence of his mercy and grace, as embodied in the personage of Jesus Christ. Essential preaching aims to bring all to such a belief. It is true that we are not saved by our own works but rather by Jesus Christ work on the cross. Yet, we are saved to work the works of righteousness through obedience to God’s Word, Will, and Way in its entirety as described under the New Covenant.
Man As A Tripartite Being. Without going into too much detail, let’s talk about man as a three part (tripartite) being. In this sense, man consists of body, spirit, and soul (Hebrews 4:12; 1 Thessalonians 5:23; Genesis 2:7). In Genesis 2, we find
And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. (Genesis 2:7)
So in Genesis 2 we see the mentioning of body; the body is the dust of the ground, the flesh. Genesis 2 also mentions the breath of life; this is spirit, that life giving force. Genesis 2 goes on to mention soul. The soul refers to the mind, emotions/heart and will of man (Job 30:25; Psalm 43:5; Jeremiah 13:17). We are in essence a spirit being with a soul housed in a body. We have a spirit but God is completely spirit as he has no body of flesh. Thus, Jesus says God is a Spirit to worshipped in spirit and in truth for such the Father seeks to worship him (John 4:23-24).
The body without the spirit is dead (James 2:26); the soul without the spirit is dead (Gen 2:7). The spirit connects us with God who is a Spirit. It is our spirit that has a personal intimate relationship with God. The spirit and the soul leaves the body at death (James 2:26; Genesis 35:18) The soul is more important than the body. The soul is immortal; the body is mortal. The soul is eternal; the body is temporary. 1 Corinthians 15 speaks of the natural body and the spiritual body, the corruptible and the incorruptible, the mortal and the immortal. For a further discussion of spirit, soul, and body see Man A Trinity (Spirit, Soul, Body).
Salvation. Sample scriptures concerning salvation are:
John 3:5-8 says:
(5) Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
(6) That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
(7) Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.
(8) The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.
And John 3:16-18:
(16) For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
(17) For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
(18) He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
And Eph 1:7 says in speaking of Jesus:
In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;
And Acts 2:37-41 says:
(37) Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?
(38) Then Peter said unto them, 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.
(39) For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.
(40) And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation.
(41) Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.
And Acts 16:30-31 says:
(30) And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?
(31) And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.
(32) And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house.
(33) And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway.
And Romans 10:8-9:
(8) But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach;
(9) That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
And as Ephesians 2:8-10 says
(8)For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
(9) Not of works, lest any man should boast.
(10) For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
And as Philippians 1:6 says:
Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:
When we accept Jesus our spirit is reborn and we (our spirit) becomes a new creation (2 Cor 5:17; Rom 6:2-4, 5-6). But our body/soul needs to be cleansed, transformed and matured (Rom 12:1-2; Eph 5:26; 1 Peter 1:22-23). Our body/soul needs to be cleansed of evil including demonic spirits (Luke 13:11; Matthew 17:15,18).
Redemption is deliverance or salvation from sin. It is rebirth of the spirit by the power of the Holy Spirit (John 3:1-4, 5-8) and Jesus Christ in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins, through the shedding of his blood, according to the riches of God’s grace (Ephesians 1:7).
No human can do anything to save himself except believe in and on the one true God and the need for and presence of his love, grace, and mercy as embodied in the personage of Jesus Christ. Essential preaching aims to bring all to such a belief. It is true that we are not saved by our own works but rather by Jesus Christ work on the cross. Yet, we are saved to work the works of righteousness through obedience to God’s Word, Will, and Way in its entirety as described under the New Covenant.
Living a Saved Life. First let me say that God knows the sincerity of our faith, the sincerity of our desire to honor him, to glorify him, to please him in and by our lives. Other humans may think they know but only God really knows. Only God is with us 24-hours each day. Others see us sometimes but God sees us all the time. Only God knows the depth of our joy and pain.
Only God knows the depth of our disappointments, frustrations, struggles within ourselves and others.
Secondly, let me say that we should not give any person power over our lives to the extent that what they do to us cause us to turn our back on God. That is what Satan wants. He wants to use those who say they love us and yet they hurt us so bad that we draw back from God. Don’t give anyone that kind of power over your life. To do so means not only would they have hurt you down here on earth but they would possibly be hurting you for eternity. Your eternity depends on your not drawing back. To some extent the eternity of your children and other love ones may be affected by your giving up. For how can you train up your child in the way he/she should go if that child sees you going in a way that you should not go. What do you want for your child? Set the example for what you want for your child. Be strong in the Lord against Satan and by example teach your children to do the same.
It is true that we are not saved by our own works but rather by Jesus Christ work on the cross. Yet, we are saved to work the works of righteousness through obedience to God’s Word, Will, and Way in its entirety as described under the New Covenant. Jesus himself speaks of the importance of his disciples being obedient (John 8:31-32). And James says be not only hearers but also doers of the Word (James 1:22) and faith without works is a dead faith (James 2:20,26).
Jesus through the Holy Spirit helps us to work such works of righteousness.
Each person works such works through submission not to his self-will but to the will of God (Luke 22:42) for his own life as revealed to him by the Holy Spirit (John 16:7-11, 12-15) through the various ways God by his Holy Spirit speaks to us; this is the essence of walking after the Spirit rather than after the flesh (Romans 8:1; Galatians 5:22-26).
Yet, when we fall short he is there to lift us up; he simply requests that we allow him to pick us up by pulling ourselves up as he picks us up. Pulling ourselves up includes recognizing and confessing our sins; for the scripture says “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
Rom 6:1-2 says:
(1) What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?
(2) God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?
Yet, less we become discouraged by our sin, we should always be mindful of Gal 5:16-17 that says:
(16) This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.
(17) For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.
I don’t know of anyone, historical (except Jesus), or present day, who walk in the Spirit all the time; hence, the need for Jesus to pay the penalty for our sins on the cross.
Worshipping and serving God is a partnership. We are not robots but rather intelligent human beings with a will to make our own choices. (John 3:16; Hebrews 4:14-16; 9:27-28; 2 Corinthians 5:9-11; Romans 3:23; Ephesians 2:8-10)
Life presents many trials and tribulations and uncertainties through which all of us must go. We have both similar things and different things that we go through. What is difficult for one may be relatively easy for another and vice versa. But we all must go through them. Let us press our way and not give up. Let us look unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:1-4). As Hebrews 12:3-4 says For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds; ye have not resisted unto blood, striving against sin. Of course, we know that Jesus did resist and indeed shed his blood for us.
When Jesus began to preach he preached repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand (Matt 4:17).
The scripture says godly sorrow worketh repentance (2 Cor 7:10). So repentance from self righteousness and ungodly behaviour is a desire and goal and mission of the true believer even though he/she may sometime fall short of that desire, goal, and mission.
God knows our hearts even when others don’t or even when we don’t fully know ourselves. Indeed, the scriptures says “For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things” (1 John 3:20).
For outside of Jesus there is none totally righteous all the time (Rom 3:10, 23-26). Indeed, Jesus came that we might have life and have it more abundantly. So living a saved repentant life does not mean we cannot live an enjoyable life; yet, we must expect to suffer at times for Christ as he suffered for us.
Our lives are often miserable because we are living it out of the will of God. Our lives are often miserable because we don’t understand what thus said the Lord and instead rely on what man says. Our lives are miserable often because man has turned human wisdom and human standards into God’s commandments. Jesus speaks about this when he says in Matthew 15 the people have made the Word of God of no effect by their traditions, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men rather than the commandments of God (Matthew 15:1-6, 7-9).
God is Real. The universe and all therein were created by a power greater than any man or woman. The word God is the English word commonly used to communicate recognition of and witness (Isaiah 43: 10-12) to this greater power. Nature and the human reproductive process testify to the presence and existence of God. How humans treat one another does not invalidate the presence and love of God. Unrighteous wars, unrighteous slavery, economic oppression, wicked behavior (past, present, and future) of people, including Christians, and other evils do not invalidate the truth of the Bible nor the presence and love of God.
Pure Religion (James 1:27) is About Humble Caring Faith – Not Science and History. The Bible provides insight into scientific/historical aspects of creation, God’s interaction with humankind, and human past, present, and future, among other things. But the Bible does not purport to be a scientific nor historical book; atheist mistakenly look at religion that way. Religion humbly recognizes there is a supernatural power called God who is greater than any and all humans deserving to be worshipped and faithfully obeyed (James 2:19); the fool has said in his heart there is no God (Psalms 14 and 53). Faith is about hoping in God’s ever present, evident, and eternal love for us (Hebrews 11). We walk by faith not by sight, and not primarily by intellect but by the spirit and heart. Christianity says accept the Bible (King James Version and equivalents) by faith not by scientific or historical inquiry.
The Creation. Genesis 1 and 2 tell us that in six days God created heaven, earth, light, vegetation, herbs, fruit trees, sun, stars, moon, seas, sea life, air life, land, land life, etc. He created man and then woman for man (Gen. 2:18-25; 1 Cor. 11:8-9) and made man spiritual head of the family and congregation.
Sin and the Fall. God gave the first commandment to Adam (Gen. 2:16-17). Adam failed to fulfill his responsibility as spiritual head and he and Eve disobeyed God when enticed by Satan, the Devil; this was the first sin (Gen. 3). This tested man’s faith in and loyalty to God; man failed. All descendants of Adam inherit this sin, tendency to further disobey God, and penalty for sin (Rom. 5:12, 14, 18).
The Law – A Difficult Taskmaster. After Adam and Eve sinned, God kicked them out of the Garden of Eden less they partake of the tree of life and live forever in a state of unrighteousness. Later God gave humanity more commandments in the form of law. The purpose of law is to give us knowledge of sin (Romans 3:20; 7:7); thus, the law was a schoolmaster (Galatians 3:24-29). The Ten Commandments capture the essence of the law (Exodus 20) with love as its foundation (Matt. 22:36-40). The scripture contains many laws addressing various kinds of moral, civil, criminal, worship and other human conduct and behavior. The law condemns (Rom. 5:18) the lawbreaker since none are righteous according to the law. For when we fail to keep even one part of the law the law condemns us to death (Rom. 6:23; James 2:10-11). The law shows us that our works are insufficient to save us. So then all are in need of a Saviour. Jesus Christ is He.
Apart From Jesus Christ All Humans are Sinners Under Condemnation. For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23); Oh wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin (Rom. 7:24-25). In Jesus we are justified by faith and granted salvation (Rom. 3:24-30) by God.
Heavenly Kingdom Family Life Through Jesus Christ. Death is the penalty for sin; Jesus paid that penalty (I Cor. 6:19-20, 7:22-23). And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, of every tree of the garden you may freely eat: but of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat: for in the day that you eat thereof, you shall surely die (Gen. 2:16-17); for the wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23). Indeed, Jesus came to seek and save that which was lost (Luke 19:10). Even while we were yet sinners, even before we loved him (I John 4:19), God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16, Rom. 5:8-19); the gift of God is eternal life (Rom. 5:18; 6:23). For by grace are you saved through faith, and not that of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works less any man should boast… (Eph. 2:8-10). So then let not your hearts be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions… (John 14); …Let your light so shine that men may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven (Matt. 5); Wherefore we labor, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad (2 Cor. 5:9-10). Let’s endure trials and tribulations by faith and the power of the Holy Spirit (John 14:15-27) that we may receive of stored treasures (Matt 6:19-21). Only Jesus can decide where we end up; but, our faith and hope is that we are sealed and once saved always saved. Yet we dare not take God for granted and live devilishly. (Matt 7:21-23; 25:41; John 10:27-29, Rom. 6, Eph. 4:30, Phil. 2:10-11, Heb. 10, 12, Rev. 1:18)
Jesus came not to destroy the law but to fulfill it (Matt. 5:17-20); he rendered its condemnation of no affect (Rom. 8:3). The Gospel of Jesus moves us from the Old Covenant under law to a New Covenant (Heb. 9:17) under grace. We are now called to obey the spirit in contrast to the letter of the old and new testament (Rom. 2:29; 7:6; 2 Cor. 3:6). The Gospel redeems and grants grace through forgiveness of sin by the shed blood of Jesus Christ who died for the remission of sins (Eph. 1:4-7; 2:8-10; Rom. 4:5; 6:23; Acts 4:12).
We enter and see God’s Kingdom when we by the Holy Spirit become born again free servant-children of God our Lord/King-Father with biblical faith-based doctrinal relationships and behavior (Matt. 6:9-10, 33; 18:23; 22:1-14; 25:31-46; John 3:1-8; 8:31-32; 2 Cor. 5:17-21; Gal 5:13; Isaiah 55:1-13). To be born again is to become a member of the Church, the body of Christ, which is part of God’s Kingdom.
Sure Way to Avoid Hell. Some say God will not send anyone to Hell. Yet, all should remember God has the authority to determine where all end up and their condition therein. To accept the Bible as God’s Word is to accept the possibility that some will be condemned to Hell. So then, I am warned and must warn all of what the scriptures say. For Jesus himself speaks of an eternal place or condition of destruction and torment which none should desire and should do all he or she can to avoid; he speaks of some being cast into outer darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matt 8:11-12; 22:1-14; Matt 25:1-13). Is a relative few years of rebellious pleasure worth risking Hell for all eternity? Jesus also says we are not to fear him (Satan and man) who is only able to destroy the body but not the soul; instead, we are to fear him (God) who is able to destroy both body and soul in hell (Matthew 10:28-31). This fear of God is a reverent fear rather than a fear that thinks he is out to get us; indeed we are valuable to him. So then we should consider the possibility of the biblical hell. We should do all we can to avoid it and to help others avoid it. Belief in and following Jesus Christ is the surest way I know to avoid Hell; he holds the keys to hell and death (Rev. 1:18). There is no greater hope for humankind than that hope embodied in the biblical crucified, resurrected, and ascended Jesus Christ. Consequently, there is no religion greater than Christianity; no, not Judaism, not Islam, not Buddhism, etc. Let us love God, ourselves, our families, our neighbors, and strangers; our lives impact us and others.
Decision for Salvation. Jesus invites all to come to him, confess him, and have faith in what he has done at the cross (Matthew 11:28-30; John 3:14-21; Acts 2:37-38; Romans 10:8-13; Eph. 2:8-10). Pray that your Creator God (Father, Son Jesus, and Holy Spirit) will reveal what you need to know about him and save you and abide within and upon you. Believe, accept Jesus by faith and live an honorable saved life of grace.
Example prayer: Creator God, I know you are real and worthy of my worship. Due to sin, I am in need of a Saviour. So God please forgive me for my sins. I confess with my mouth that Jesus died for my sins; in my heart I believe you raised him from the dead. Please fill me with your Holy Spirit. By faith, I accept you as my Heavenly Father, Jesus as my Lord and Saviour, and the Holy Spirit as my Comforter and Guider. Please give me grace, wisdom, power and faith to worship, witness, and live for you. Connect me with other Christians to help me. In Jesus Name!
Community Assembly of Believers. Jesus made it a point to regularly assemble at the church-house (Luke 4:16). Especially for the Gospel, you, and your spouse/children sake, don’t allow imperfection of preachers, you, me, others, clothes, lack of money, etc., deter your regular orderly attendance AND membership (formal or informal) in a local church/congregation/assembly to worship AND serve in a way to honor God and exemplify, promote and resource cooperative ministry and give/receive help including times of personal spiritual and temporal crisis. Assembling provides opportunity for greater assurance for you and family. Don’t believe the Devil’s lie that because you or others sin you honor God by staying away from His church-house. Indeed, you honor Him by being in His church-house seeking Him and helping one another to repent (Matt. 12:30; Heb. 10:25; Rom. 1:20). Will not Jesus hold you accountable for being so judgmental and prideful not to regularly reasonably participate in his organized church assembly as able?
A Word on Giving.
In thanks to God, properly balanced ample religious giving by faith should cause one to consider giving first and largely to those entities with whom one largely associates and second to important others. Let all giving be cheerfully from the heart according to ability as you have prospered (Gen. 14:20; 28:22; I Cor. 9:13-15; II Cor. 9:5-12).
Let each properly balance obligation to provide for your own family, church family, and community (Acts 6; I Tim 5:8). Live modestly and not in resource mismanagement and wasteful excess. (Deut 16:17; Matt 6:33; 7:6; 18:19-20; 19:21; 25:35-40; Heb. 13:1-2; Acts 2:42-47; 6:1-7; Luke 10:35; 11:41; II Cor 8:11-14; 9:6-7; Gal 6:9-10; Phil 4:19; Pro 8:21).
Live in worshipful prayer!
To God Be the Glory!
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