October 21, 2018

In this issue: All Those Who Obey Him by Lowell Sallee | Without Hope by David King

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Lowell Sallee

("he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him" Hebrews 5:9)

God the Father's Part: Grace. "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God" (Ephesians 2:8). God the Father's part in man's salvation might be summed up in the word grace (favor of God). Man did not deserve to be saved, however, God's grace has been extended to us (the whole world) that we might be saved. "For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men" (Titus 2:11).

God the Son's Part: Blood. "And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins" (Matthew 26:26-28). In Christ "we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace" (Ephesians 1:7).

God the Holy Spirit's Part: Revealing the Word of God. "Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come" (John 16:13). Paul explains from whom he received the knowledge of God's saving grace, "But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual" (I Corinthians 2:10-13).

The Apostle's Part: Preaching. Jesus commanded His apostles to "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen" (Matthew 28:19-20). Paul says of his commission of Christ, "And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation" (II Corinthians5:18-19).

Our Part: Obey. "Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him" (Hebrews 5:8-9). Have you done your part yet? ~

Without Hope

There are many things without which we can survive in this life — but hope is not one of them. God has gone to great lengths to give us something to inspire hope.

"At that time you were without Christ . . . having no hope and without God in the world" (Eph. 2:12). "I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope" (1 Thess. 4:13). "This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast . . ." (Heb. 6:19).

In Victor Frankl's autobiographical account of his experiences in a German concentration camp, he offered an insight into why some prisoners survived while others didnt. "The prisoner who had lost faith in the future — his future— was doomed. With his loss of belief in the future, he also lost his spiritual hold; he let himself decline and became subject to mental and physical decay. . . . He simply gave up" (Man's Search for Meaning, p. 95). It was hope, or a lack of hope, that usually spelled the difference between survival and death for these prisoners.

Humans must have a reason to live, some compelling motive to push through all the hardships and turmoil of life, to find the strength to keep on going. The expectation of some future reward or positive turn of events is essential to our survival.

Yet many people today stumble through life without hope. They are stuck in nihilistic lifestyles, chasing mindless pleasures that provide no benefit to themselves or others. Or worse, they are strung out on booze and drugs. They are not concentration camp inmates, but the outcome is not much different. They often end up in psych wards or morgues, victims of self-inflicted destruction.

Why is hope missing in the lives of so many?

In some cases, it's because they do not believe in God. They may not be committed atheists, but God is a distant abstraction to them. He plays no role whatsoever in their lives. They have no idea where they came from, why they are here, or where they are going. They stay busy in the daily toils of life to avoid the implications of their miserable emptiness, but as death draws closer, the absence of hope looms over them like a darkening cloud.

Others believe in God but have a distorted concept of who or what He is. They may view God as an impersonal force that can do little more than throw us back in the reincarnation hopper if we don't measure up to some vague standard. Or they might see God as a set of scales that blindly metes out rewards or punishments based on how our good and bad deeds are weighed. It's a lonely, sink-or-swim outlook on life— and most of us have a hard time seeing how we can swim our way out of this mess.

Others believe in a personal God of love and mercy but struggle to understand how He could ever love them with all their flaws, failures, and weaknesses. God is so distant, so beyond their ability to reach. Surely, He could never love them.

The gospel message is designed to educate people about the historical evidence for a real hope that God has made available to all humanity. In the epic story of Jesus, we see a demonstration of our value, of our capacity for improvement, and of the exciting expectation of a new life that awaits us beyond this life. Even in the face of death, this confidence of a glorious future gives us courage to stand tall and face anything that life throws at us. "If God is for us, who can be against us?" (Rom. 8:31).

God knows that life without hope is not just dismal, it's fatal, and He has gone to great lengths to fill that void. If hope is missing in your life, open your eyes to the gift He has placed before you, "an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast." — David King

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