What Hope?

 

tombstones in a cemetery

We said goodbye to her today,
A perfect time to give Good News—
But different folks have different views.
It seemed he had not much to say
To all those seated in the pews.

In prayers, he thanked God for our hope,
But hope for what? Sir, please explain;
For someone here, break Satan’s chain.
Don’t simply tell us we must cope
With life now lost and heart-felt pain.


This is not one of my usual posts, but it is burning on my heart, and I must speak.

My mom and her best friend “Jaye” met back in the 1970’s. They were like sisters, and her sons were like brothers to us girls. When Mom told me that Aunt Jaye was very sick, I promised her I would be there for the funeral, and this past Saturday I kept my promise.

The church was packed out because Aunt Jaye—Miss Jaye to most—was friendly and well liked by all who knew her. Even so, I am sure plenty of people were there who did not know the Lord. We seldom think about life after death more than when we are sitting in a funeral service. What a wonderful time to make sure all is right between one’s soul and the Savior. What a wonderful privilege the preacher had to share the Good News of salvation to all those listening ears. But he missed his cue.

Twice the preacher thanked God for hope, but never did he offered any. He missed a golden opportunity to tell a packed-out church how each person there could be assured of eternity in heaven. That made it the saddest funeral I have ever attended.

If I have your attention, and you are wondering what he could have said, then keep reading, for I am not ashamed of the Gospel….

What hope?

Acts 16:30-31  And [the jailor] brought them out, and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” And they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved.”

Our sins separate us from a holy God. It is not mean of Him to deny entrance into heaven to anyone marred by sin. It is impossible for God to be in the presence of sin. Period. But God is not willing that any should perish, so He made a way for us to be made clean.

We are not saved by our own works, but by believing on the work of Christ, God’s Son. He paid the penalty for our sins on the cross. He was the only acceptable sacrifice because He was the only perfect Man. He is fully God, and He became Man so that He could be our Savior. You don’t have to understand it, you simply have to believe it. And when you do, then the God of hope fills you with joy and peace.

Romans 15:13  Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.

And let me say just a word about hope. Hope is not the same thing as a wish or desire, for hope includes a reasonable expectation of fulfillment. For that reason, hope always yields joy or pleasure, whereas a wish or a desire can often be accompanied by fear and anxiety.

The hope to which the preacher all too vaguely referred was the hope of eternal life. Those of us who know the Lord as our Savior don’t just think we will live forever in heaven. We don’t simply wish for it. We know that it will be so. We know that someday our fight with this frail body will be over and we will receive a new body that will never grow old. We know that we will see our loved ones again, and somehow we’ll recognize them, even though age will not take a toll on their glorified bodies either. But best of all, we know that we will see Jesus someday.

Just exactly what will our permanent bodies look like? I don’t know. What does Jesus look like? Again, I don’t know. But I’ll know Him when I see Him.

1 John 3:2  Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it does not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is.

Scholars take this verse many different ways. I choose only to understand that we, like Jesus, will have bodies that will never perish, and we will be free from sin. As concerning the appearance of age and gender, I’m content to wait until I get there to find out.

Who goes to heaven?

Heaven is not for wicked people. Nor is it for good people. The only people who get into heaven are righteous people. And the only righteousness that is acceptable in God’s sight is the righteousness of His Son, Jesus Christ.

To be accepted before God and allowed into His presence, you must let Jesus take your sin upon Himself and let Him give you His righteousness in exchange.

1 Peter 2:24  Who His own self bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes you were healed.

Ephesians 1:6-7  To the praise of the glory of His grace, wherein He has made us accepted in the beloved. In whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.

Why should I get ready now for heaven?

Aunt Jaye was 74 when she passed into eternity. To some that is old while to others it is quite young. In the last fifteen years I have lost family members whose ages were 5 years, 7 years, 24 years, 95, 78, 63, 55 years, and 1 month old.  Death is no respecter of persons. We all know that, and yet most of us live as though we will never die. The time to prepare for death is now. Being ready for death is the only right way to live. When your soul is at peace with God, then your mind can be at peace with the world.

1 Corinthians 15:51-57  Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your sting? O grave, where is your victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Victory over sin and death? Now, that is hope!


“What Hope?” Copla Real
Copyright © 2018 Angela Umphers Rueger – All Rights Reserved

Photo taken in Montgomery, Alabama, 2017

 

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