Friday, May 24, 2013

The Joy and Resolve We Get in This Life From the Life to Come

Please read today's installment of Our Daily Bread. It's built around nine verses of the New Testament book of Hebrews' eleventh chapter, sometimes referred to as the "faith hall of fame."

It reminds us that Christians are citizens of a better country. Knowing this helps us see what happens in this life in a realistic way: The world and its "rewards" are of less interest to believers, yet we can care about this world and stand with Christ and for what is right without fear, knowing that we belong to God for eternity!

Death, whether the death of our old ambitions that clash with the will of God or our physical death, is not the worst thing that can happen to a Christian!

Far worse a fate for a Christian than death would be for us to cling to the favor, success, ease, or even physical life that this world offers and lose out on eternity with God because of our failure to faithfully follow Jesus wherever He leads!

This is what Jesus is talking about when He asks, "For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life?" (Matthew 16:26)

It's what Paul was talking about when he looked back on the prestige, honor, and ease he had given up to follow Christ and looked ahead to the virtual certainty of martyrdom for believing in Jesus and said:
...whatever gains I had, these I have come to regard as loss because of Christ. More than that, I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but one that comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based on faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:7-11)
Of course, this kind of joyful faith cannot come to those for whom the Bible is nothing but fairy tales or the invention of human beings.

A colleague recently reminded a group of us about this key issue recently. "The crisis in the Church today," she told us, "is that people need to decide where they are on the historicity of the Gospel."

By that, she meant that we have to decide if we truly believe the New Testament's proclamation of Jesus or not.

A willingness to believe that Jesus is Who Scripture claims He is--God and human born of a virgin, the Savior of the world, the only means of reconciliation between God and humanity, crucified, risen, ascended, and alive today--is the only way that a saving faith, a faith that rolls with the punches, and a faith that looks with confidence to eternity, can come to us.

Christians who believe, in the words of an old hymn, "I am but a stranger here, heaven is my home," have an enduring faith that cannot be stopped or overcome by a disbelieving world!

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