We believe

… through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved. Peter compares these two contrary points – to have hope in the grace of Christ and to be under the yoke of the law.  So if we cannot receive salvation until the yoke of the law is removed then it follows that salvation is not in keeping the law at all and it also follows that those who have accepted the grace of Jesus are not subject to the curse of the law.   So it is that we hope for salvation by the grace of Christ.

To speak of salvation it is assumed that one would need salvation from something.  Jesus said He had come to seek and to save the lost.  What does it mean to be lost?

  • To be without hope and without God in this world.
  • To not know what it is to live now, and have no hope for life to come. 
  • Those who were dead while they were still alive.
  • It means to spend eternity in hell.

We believe…our church is doing a sermon series on the Apostle’s Creed – here is a bit of a taste of why such a statement of faith was necessary for the early Church.  Peter here is declaring his first statement of faith – “we believe through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved.” 

“Brothers, you know that some time ago God made a choice among you that the Gentiles might hear from my lips the message of the gospel and believe.  God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us.  He did not discriminate between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith.  Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of Gentiles a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors have been able to bear?  No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.” – Acts 15:6-11

We Believe – Kenneth Cope.wmv

 

They were all cured

When it comes to healing in general, I find myself not too well versed in either ministering for healing or receiving healing.  So I feel for my friends who run from spiritual conferences to healing revivals in the hopes that some person of incredible ministry involving healing may pray for their loved ones who are slowly dying without any hope of surviving unless a miracle happens. The hope is real, the placement of the hope might have been misplaced.

So how does it work with Peter’s shadow?  Is that any different or what is the difference?

First of all, people are healed at these events and people were healed when Peter’s shadow fell on them.  Jesus healed by direct word, sometimes with no contact at all, and sometimes with the use of another physical material like His garment or mud.  All that seemed to be needed was faith from the one who had need and a person from which supernatural power of the Holy Spirit resided and then from time to time a physical representation like Peter’s shadow or Paul’s handkerchief and aprons.  Today, I believe we use oil as James instructs us along with the prayer of faith.

The difference expressed here in Acts was that Peter’s shadow was an expression of the Kingdom of God breaking into their world.  They knew they were surrounded by the glory of God and they hoped to be touched by the power of God, to be changed by it, saved by it and healed by it.  That faith gave witness to the fact that they were all cured.

Yet more than ever believers were added to the Lord, great numbers of both men and women,  so that they even carried out the sick into the streets, and laid them on cots and mats, in order that Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them as he came by.  A great number of people would also gather from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing the sick and those tormented by unclean spirits, and they were all cured. – Acts 5:14-16

 

 

Treasures in heaven

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,  and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who are being protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.  In this you rejoice,[a]even if now for a little while you have had to suffer various trials – 1 Peter 1:3-6

The Narrow Way
What thousands never knew the road!
What thousands hate it when ‘tis known!
None but the chosen tribes of God
Will seek or choose it for their own.

A thousand ways in ruin end,
One only leads to joys on high;
By that my willing steps ascend,
Pleased with a journey to the sky.

No more I ask or hope to find
Delight or happiness below;
Sorrow may well possess the mind
That feeds where thorns and thistles grow.

The joy that fades is not for me,
I seek immortal joys above;
There glory without end shall be
The bright reward of faith and love.

Cleave to the world, ye sordid worms,
Contented lick your native dust!
But God shall fight with all his storms,
Against the idol of your trust.

Olney Hymns, William Cowper,
Cowper’s Poems, Sheldon & Company, New York

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal;  but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. – Matthew 6:19-21

Hank Williams “Heaven Holds All My Treasures”

Eternal hope

Those who are not followers of Christ find themselves always hoping for something better.  The line up buying lottery tickets in the hope of wealth and they seek positions that will give them increased power  At the end, death robs them and their hopes die with them.

What a contrast between the salvation offered by Christ and the destruction that is the end of those who reject Him. There are those who are justified by faith and have eternal hope and the others who have no hope other than what is offered in this world.

Yet it is still amazing that while they are living in this world, those who have rejected Christ keep up an air of confident expectation of a certain happiness.  Not sure what that means – is it more hypocritical or is not a form of denial and they are caught up in a web of lies that have entangled them to believe it all to be true. Money has always been the greatest expectation that they hope will ease their lives and increase their happiness.  Imagine their disappointment when they find that the absolute truth of death separates them from their imagined hope.

The concept of wealth and power in themselves are simple concepts of emptiness and as Ecclesiastes puts it – vanity.

He once flattered himself that though he lived in wickedness—that he would not die in it. He adopted many resolutions to amend, and forsake his wickedness toward the close of life, or upon a death-bed. But Oh! how sorely is he disappointed! After all his promising purposes and hopes—he died as he lived—in wickedness! – (Samuel Davies, “The Objects, Grounds, and Evidences of the HOPE of the Righteous”)

When the wicked die, their hope perishes, and the expectation of the godless comes to nothing. – Proverbs 11:7

Eternal Hope – Put Your Hope In God

Eternal Hope and Judgment

 

Living in hope

The world considers that the righteous are not worthy to live in the world, and God declares the world is not worthy of them. Though the righteous and the worldlings widely differ in their judgment, they agree in this, it is not fit that good men should have their rest in this world. Therefore God receives them out of it. The apostle tells the Hebrews, that God had provided some better things for them, therefore they might be sure that he expected as good things from them. As our advantages, with the better things God has provided for us, are so much beyond theirs, so should our obedience of faith, patience of hope, and labour of love, be greater. And unless we get true faith as these believers had, they will rise up to condemn us at the last day. Let us then pray continually for the increase of our faith, that we may follow these bright examples, and be, with them, at length made perfect in holiness and happiness, and shine like the sun in the kingdom of our Father for evermore. – Matthew Henry

What is the object of this patient hope, our Christian hope – it centres on the promise of entering the presence of God in His heavenly realm – the fulfillment of a life given to following God in obedience – it is the promise to all believers of an unshakable eschatological Kingdom.

Think about those faithful men and women of God who lived during the OT – they could not receive this promise.  They had to wait until we received it as well. That promise was fulfilled when Jesus offered Himself as a sacrifice providing the atonement necessary for our sin.  It was His blood that set us free. Today we are filled with His Holy Spirit, and have the privileges of communion with God and are sustained by the sure and certain hope of the resurrection of our own bodies ending with our final entry into the Kingdom of God.

So while faith is the object of a chapter in Hebrews, all those named therein may seem to have one thing in common – faith – true, but they lived in hope. That was the basis of their trust – looking to God to one day redeem them and in some cases they knew He was going to reward them. Faith was not about immediate fulfillment, it was the fulfillment of a promise. Here faith is tested most – where it matters most.

Yet all these, though they were commended for their faith, did not receive what was promised,  since God had provided something better so that they would not, apart from us, be made perfect.

– Hebrews 11:39-40

Joshua Price – Living Hope – Live

Living in Hope

Living in Hope