Saturday, September 8, 2012

Our Sure Hope

I'm working on preparations for an upcoming Bible Study that I am leading. If you go to my Facebook page and view my posts you can join in the discussion! For those of you who are attending, we are actually beginning on the fourth week of this study. So, a lot of the discussion in the next several weeks will be on the first few lessons to prepare us to jump right in to lesson 4. Here are just a few initial thoughts to begin our journey through 1&2 Peter and Jude. Peter starts out his letter introducing himself and addressing the people he is writing to. His writings were to several specific groups of Christians, but an important note is that in verse 1 he refers to them as "pilgrims" or "elect sojourners", temporary residents, Christians who are living in a land that is not their home. In my opinion, this is a fundamental truth in the Christian's life. If you are born again through Jesus Christ then your home is Heaven and we are strangers on this earth. We are here for a specific purpose until we are finally able to go home. Understanding this seemingly simple fact will go miles in our ability to survive and thrive amid tough times. Verse 3 begins to talk about the "living hope" that God has so graciously given to us through the blood of Jesus Christ. This hope is not a wishful thinking kind of hope. Some people "hope" that they are going to heaven. They "hope" that they have done enough good things to outweigh the bad, or that they might make it if they give enough money or pray hard enough. This is not the hope that God speaks of. It is a "LIVING hope", a "SURE hope", a looking forward to that I know I will be in Heaven when my time on earth is over because I am trusting in the promise that Jesus Christ has covered me with his blood when I accepted Him as my savior. The passage goes on in verse 4 and 5 to tell us our SURE hope is for an eternal inheritance in heaven to those of us who are part of God's forever family. It is THIS hope that verse 6 tells us to rejoice in when we find ourselves in the midst of difficult times, trials, and griefs. Did you know that the vast majority of Americans consider themselves to be "Christians"? Do you also know that a lot of those people have no idea the truth about what a Christian truly is? Being a good, moral person will not make you a Christian. Saying the "sinners prayer" when your a kid does not necessarily mean you're a Christian. You aren't born that way, you can't go through a church ritual to become one, and you can't buy it. It is only through REPENTANCE of our sins and ACCEPTANCE of Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior that you can be saved. (Romans 3:23, Romans 6:23, John 3:16, Romans 10:9) Now that we got that cleared up, let's finish up by looking at verses 6-7 of 1 Peter 1. "...though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith.....may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ." I left out the phrase in the middle for clarity, to show the thought process of why we go through trials. The middle phrase compares the trying of our faith to the refining of gold in a fire. The fire is there to remove impurities from the gold, to test it and shape it. Peter says that our faith is so much more precious than gold and when it's tested the truth (genuineness) of our faith will be made known. We endure trials now, and we maintain our sure hope and REJOICE in that Hope through our trials, knowing that one day we will be home. This is only scratching the surface of this Bible study. Can't wait to get into it!!

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