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Saturday, November 3, 2018

Hope and Faith

Hope and Faith
We are presently going through C.S. Lewis’s famous book, “Mere Christianity” and touching on some of the highlights.  This book is all about describing Christian beliefs.  And today we will touch on the Christian beliefs concerning hope and faith.
Today the definition of “hope” means “wishing or wanting something to happen”.  One might say that he or she hopes their football team wins.  This is not what the word “hope” means in Scripture.   For Christians, hope is one of the Theological virtues.  The word “hope” in the Bible means “a continual looking forward to the eternal world”. 
Scripture says: “Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known.  But we know that when He (Jesus) shall appear, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.  Everyone who has this hope in him, purifies himself, just as he is pure.”  (1 John 3:2-3) These verses seem to imply that when we look forward to or when we “hope” for our eternal home, that our hope has a purifying effect on our souls!  Our hope in God changes us?  
In the Old Testament, hope is expressed by words meaning “safety”, “security”, “trust”, and “refuge” and “waited for”.  Scripture says that the coming of the Lord is called “the blessed hope”, that is, the act of expecting our future victory in Christ in heaven gives joy to the Christian.  (Titus 2:13) 
Most of us find it difficult to want ‘Heaven” because we have not been trained – our whole education tends to fix our minds on this world and not the next.  Heaven is present in us, but we often do not recognize it.  If most people would look into their hearts, they might find out that they do want something more that cannot be found in this world! 
Perhaps there is something we humans grasp at when we are young and idealistic that later never turns out quite as good as we had dreamed!  Never becomes as fulfilling as we had hoped!  Some put the blame on the thing itself.  If he had only married another woman, or gone on a more expensive trip, or made more money – then he would have caught that mysterious something we all seem to want.  Some spend their lives running from woman to woman (or man to man) or from job to job, always hoping that the latest is the “real thing”. And always becoming disappointed.  And others solve the problem of their disillusionment with life by telling themselves not to expect too much.  That some things are too good to be true.  
But what if it’s true and there is perfect love and joy and goodness in heaven?  And just suppose infinite happiness really is there for us? The Bible teaches, and Christians believe that we will live forever!  Forever in glory and our future in Christ will be more glorious and victorious than we can ever imagine. (1 Corinthians 2:9, Isaiah 64:4)   That hope is surely enough to make our earthly life joyful.
If we find ourselves desiring something which no experience in this world can satisfy, could it be that we were made for another world?  We must keep alive in ourselves the desire for our true country, which we shall not find until after our death.  And we must help others do the same.
We now turn to the subject of faith.  Faith simply means belief – accepting or regarding as true the doctrines of Christianity. Scripture tells us that Jesus is the author and the finisher of our faith.  (Hebrews 12:2)   And Scripture also tells us that if we believe in Christ as Savior we will be saved. (Acts 16:31, John 3:16)   And without faith it is impossible to please God.  (Hebrews 11:6)
Because our faith in Christ is so precious and so important – (without it we would not have salvation) we need to take care of it.  Nourish and feed it by prayer and praise, following Christ, Bible reading, helping others, giving to the needy and fellowshipping with other believers. If you look at people who say they have lost their faith in Christianity, it seems that some of them didn’t hold on to their precious faith tightly enough and when troubles came along their faith simply drifted away.
 Faith is the art of holding on!  Holding on in spite of your changing moods.  And holding on when there is bad news, or when you are very sick.  Or when false teachers or heresies try to tempt you away from Christ as Lord and Savior.  Holding on when your church throws you out or fellow Christians turn against you. And holding on when you are living among a lot of people who do not believe.  Holding on when all at once your emotions rise up and carry out a sort of blitz on your beliefs.  And holding on when you want to sin and find it would be more convenient sinning if Christianity wasn’t true.  Yes, the troubles and temptations will come, and the storms of life will blow on your little house of faith.  But faith is the art of holding on.  “He who endures to the end will be saved.”  (Matthew 24:13)

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