|Vol. 1, No. 8||Page 9||August 1999|
By Bonnie Rushmore
Looking to Hebrews 11:1 will give us an insight to what Paul was speaking of in Romans 8:24. “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). Chapter 11 is often called the chapter of faith and the Bible Hall of Fame. Many Old Testament characters and their great faith are brought to our remembrance in this chapter. Middle way through we are told in Hebrews 11:13 “These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.” These Bible characters died believing the promise of salvation and an eternal home would come. They realized, as we must also, that our home on this earth is only temporary. This faith is not a blind leap in the dark. It is a faith based on the evidence around us and God’s Word. We must make preparation for our heavenly home.
The Christian can have comfort in the hope of eternal life obtained through salvation. In the opening verses of 1 Thessalonians chapter 5 Paul discusses the second coming of Christ. He goes on to remind the Thessalonians they are no longer in the world but are in Christ. Thus, they must be ready. They should wear the breastplate of faith and love and the helmet — the hope of salvation. These items will protect us from the fiery darts of the Devil.
Hope can have a spiritual or a material (physical) meaning. Physical hope would apply to things of this world, such as a child hoping for a puppy. Even adults have a physical hope for material wealth and good health. Spiritual hope has to do with our eternal destination, heaven. Christians should entertain the physical hope of things on this earth and the hope of a spiritual citizenship in heaven. Unfortunately, many people today have no hope or a false hope of the heavenly habitation.
Before we can truly understand what the hope of eternal life is, we must have a correct understanding of hope. Hope can be expectation, desire, anticipation, belief or longing. These are all synonyms for hope. The hope of heaven could be expressed this way. ‘Because of our desire for heaven, we live a righteous life, and with great anticipation, we expect to arrive in heaven some sweet day.’ We long with yearning and desire for the day that God will call us home. The Apostle Paul expressed it quite clearly in 2 Timothy 4:6-8.
“For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.”Thus Christian hope is built on desire and expectation that God can and will keep his promise (Titus 1:2).
On the other hand, if we do not have “Christian Hope,” we have no hope at all. “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable” (1 Corinthians 15:19). Whereas Paul was talking about Christian Hope, this verse is even truer of the hopelessness of non-Christians. If the only hope we have is what we can see and hear, ultimately and eternally we will have only despair, gloom and discouragement.
In the strictest sense, the visible result of our hope will not be realized until we reach heaven. However, we can see a byproduct of Christian hope. Hope can be seen through godly homes, living godly lives, peace of mind, true friends and the association with other righteous souls. All of these will help us attain our goal – the hope of heaven.
Godly HomesGod’s plan for the home has been the same from the beginning of time. In the days of creation, God made one woman for one man.
“And the man said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh” (Genesis 2:23-24).Again, we are reminded of God’s plan in (Matthew 19:3-8).
“And there came unto him Pharisees, trying him, and saying, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause? And he answered and said, Have ye not read, that he who made them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh? So that they are no more two, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. They say unto him, Why then did Moses command to give a bill of divorcement, and to put her away? He saith unto them, Moses for your hardness of heart suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it hath not been so.”God’s wisdom declared one woman for one man. He also gave divine instruction to the individual family members for a happy harmonious life together.
“Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them. Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord. Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged” (Colossians 3:18-21).Husbands are to be the head of the house, guiding the home and making decisions that are in the best interest of all family members. They may seek input from those involved but they must make the final decision. They are responsible for the family. Wives are to respect and submit to the decisions of the husband, rear the children and care for the home (Titus 2:1-5). Children are to learn to love and respect their parents. This can be accomplished by the parents showing love and respect to each other and to the children. If children love and respect their parents, they will more readily accept the chores and responsibilities given to them by their parents. If each family member understands his or her duties and responsibilities in the home and endeavors to fulfill those responsibilities, our homes will be pleasing to God. We will also have enjoyable family time and desire more time with our families, thus having a peek at what heaven will be like.
Living Godly LivesAll Christians must live godly lives in order to be Christ-like. This would include no drinking, smoking, dancing, premarital or extramarital sex, gambling, lying, stealing and a host of others. Drinking alcoholic beverages whether it is the glass of wine with dinner, the one bottle of beer with the co-worker (just to be sociable) or the attitude of ‘I drink until I no longer care about anything’ is a sin.
“Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10).The effects of alcohol allow one to do things he would not normally do. By not drinking, one does not have to wonder what he did at the party the night before. If you never take the first drink, you will not have to be concerned if you made the right decision while under the influence of alcohol.
Medical research has and continues to show the ill effects of cigarette smoke on the smoker. The discomfort and possible health effects to others who breathe that smoke should not be overlooked. There has been a warning of the dangers of smoking on packs of cigarettes for some time. God condemns the purposeful harming of our bodies.
“What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).Why would Christians do something knowing it could harm them or their loved ones? By not smoking, one does not have to be concerned about future health problems attributed to smoking.
As discussed earlier, God’s plan for the home must be followed. Sexual relations within the bounds of marriage will give peace of mind. Individuals will not be concerned with contracting sexually transmitted diseases. If divorce were not so rampant, children would not be torn between father, mother and stepparents. Grandparents could have a better relationship and influence on the children as Lois did on Timothy (2 Timothy 1:5). Looking again to 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, we see that adultery and fornication are condemned by God. Sexual relations within marriage will lead to happier homes.
Slot machines, lottery, bingo, raffles, football pools and sweepstakes are all forms of gambling. Some seem innocent. What is wrong with giving a dollar to the child next door to help fund his organization and maybe win something in return? What is wrong with entering a sweepstake hoping (false, earthly hope) to win a large sum of money? Anytime we try to gain something for nothing we fool ourselves and try to cheat others out of what is theirs. God’s plan is to work for what we gain.
“Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise: Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest. How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? when wilt thou arise out of thy sleep? Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth, and thy want as an armed man (Proverbs 6:6-9).God expects man to work for a living. Sometimes people need a helping hand because of uncontrollable circumstances; however, to continually wait for others to give you the necessities of life is wrong. If you never place that bet, you will have that much more money for food, shelter and clothing.
Stealing is another sin that is sometimes overlooked. We are swift to condemn robbery, shoplifting and embezzlement of company money. Being dishonest with our tax returns, intentionally taking pens, paper, etc. from work, a poor work ethic, changing price tags or purposefully damaging merchandise in order to receive the item at a discount are also forms of stealing (Matthew 19:18; Colossians 3:22-23). Paul commanded the Ephesians to no longer steal but to work. “Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth” (Ephesians 4:28). God gave to us the gift of salvation. We in some small way can gain an earthly reward by giving to those in need (Galatians 6:10; Matthew 25:31-46).
Have you ever told a little white lie? Did your conscience bother you after you told it? It should! Lying is a sin. “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death” (Revelation 21:8). In this list of sins, most of us are quick to condemn the murderer, but we tend to overlook ‘lying.’ Lying will cause your soul to miss the hope of heaven. It harms your reputation and others will not trust you when they know you tell lies. We need to be honest when talking to others (Ephesians 4:25). In so doing we will not have to try to remember what we told to whom so that we can keep our “stories” straight.
Some people would consider these sins as minor, not really affecting our souls. However, God does not categorize sin. “The wicked is driven away in his wickedness: but the righteous hath hope in his death” (Proverbs 14:32). Immoral, wicked living will lead to an unhappy life on earth with no hope of a future beyond the grave. Only by striving to live moral, godly lives will we have a hope of salvation in the life to come.
Peace of MindLiving godly lives will allow one to sleep at night without the worry of what the morning will bring. One does not have to be concerned about who might be seeking to harm him for the wrong he committed toward another. “When thou liest down, thou shalt not be afraid: yea, thou shalt lie down, and thy sleep shall be sweet” (Proverbs 3:24). If we mistreat or cheat others or live immoral lives, we will be compared to the wicked ones in Proverbs 4:14-16.
“Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men. Avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away. For they sleep not, except they have done mischief; and their sleep is taken away, unless they cause some to fall.”Godly living can give us peace of mind and a taste of the joy we will have when we receive our reward in heaven.
True FriendsTrue friends are a blessing on earth. Wise Solomon gives advice about friends and true friends. Compare Proverbs 19:6-7 with Proverbs 18:24.
“Many will intreat the favour of the prince: and every man is a friend to him that giveth gifts. All the brethren of the poor do hate him: how much more do his friends go far from him? he pursueth them with words, yet they are wanting to him” (Proverbs 19:6-7).“A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24).
True friends will be there to rejoice with us and lend a hand when we are in need. True friends cannot be bought with gifts. They will be our friends whether we are rich or poor. True friends will also reprove, encourage or give a pat on the back — whatever we need at the time. Wise Solomon said, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful” (Proverbs 27:6).
Christian AssociationAssociating with Christians will help us attain our goal of reaching heaven. Unfortunately, it seems that many Christians spend more time and have closer associations with non-Christians than with brethren. This should not be so! The early Christians went daily from house to house enjoying one another’s company (Acts 2:46). Paul commanded the Romans to prefer one another (Romans 12:10). It is easier to be righteous when we are surrounded by those who are trying to be righteous. It is when we are with unrighteous people that we begin to slip into our old ways. Remember the contemporary proverb “one bad apple will spoil the whole barrel.” Spending time with Christians while here on earth will give us a foretaste of what heaven will be like.
“By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us” (Romans 5:2-5).We must learn to be patient, not only in this physical world but we must wait patiently for our heavenly reward as well.
God has been very patient with his children. He spent almost 4000 years preparing mankind for Christ and the beginning of the Church. God patiently waited for Israel to repent and ask for forgiveness each time it strayed from God’s Word. He patiently sent judges and prophets to encourage repentance. Each time Israel repented God welcomed it back with open arms. Trials and problems in the physical realm will help us to grow and mature as faithful servants of God.
I am reminded of one Christian lady who stated “Each time I pray for patience, God sends me another son. I am not going to pray for patience anymore.” I am sure many of us could have similar sentiments. Each time we pray for patience something happens to hinder our patience. This is particularly true when our children are young or when they became teenagers. If everything always worked out well for us, we would never need patience. Trials teach us how to deal with the unexpected, how to overcome obstacles and how to mature into faithful Christians. Patiently living in this present world, not allowing the problems of the day to unnecessarily overcome us, will give us a glimpse of heaven.
WorshipOur worship is to be directed to God. We are commanded to worship God on the first day of the week. The five aspects of worship include singing, praying, giving, preaching or teaching and partaking of the Lord’s Supper. Of the five acts of worship singing will be the most prominent, if not the only surviving act of worship, in heaven (Revelation 15:3). Attending all the appointed times to worship God can encourage and uplift us. Singing praises to God while here on earth teaches those who hear the words and uplifts our soul (Ephesians 5:19). Faithful Christians should eagerly participate in singing praises to God. A building filled with voices joyfully singing praises to God is a wonderful experience and certainly just a hint to what heaven will be like when all Christians sing praises to God in heaven.
The Christian hope is Heaven. All Christians should
focus their hearts on the heavenly horizon. It is evident that we
do this by the songs that we sing. Many songs teach the hope and
wonders of heaven. When fathers, mothers, and children accept their
God given role and responsibilities in the home, we can have a glimpse
of heaven. Abstaining from worldly lust can give us a taste of heaven.
Learning to deal patiently with others will help to remind us of the patience
of our heavenly Father. Having true friends and associating with
faithful Christians will help us obtain our goal. We cannot have
a sinlessly perfect life on earth “For all have sinned and fall short of
the glory of God” (Romans 3:21). Compare 1 John 1:8-2:2. John
was writing to Christians in these verses. However, we can have a
glimpse of heaven if we with patience strive to serve God while abiding
on earth. Ultimately those who faithfully worship and serve God will
see heaven one day. In the meantime, hope can be seen
on this earth through the joys and comforts of Christian living.