God’s Merciful Grace!

Written by Larry M. Jaynes:

One day we received an e-mail from a woman wanting to know what our thoughts were regarding two religious denominations. I wrote her back and explained that as a Christian, I always endeavor to look at believers from God’s point of view, as God always looks at the heart, and He always loves us (John 3:16). I try to see the best in people and I am very happy to know that people love God, rather than worrying about where someone may fellowship around God’s love, mercy, and grace.

Romans 12:9 encourages us to “Let love be without dissimulation {or without discrimination}.” The next day she e-mailed back and stated that I was perfectly correct, then for about three pages she explained the evils of those two denominations, and warned me about how devilish and sinful they were (in her opinion). We have not been given the privilege from God to be dispensing condemnation or His wrath (Romans 12:19). She became a judge over other people and wanted to hold onto her anger about other churches and people simply because they did not go to her church or believe and practice her denominational doctrines.

We should be so blessed that God called us individually to His gracious Word, and be happy for all of God’s children. Jesus said in the Gospel of John 10:16 “And other sheep I have which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.” It is futile to worry about what other people may think or believe; as someone once said, “a man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.” In other words, it is next to impossible to change someone’s mind when they believe in a certain way ― right or wrong.

We would be much better off being concerned and content that we ourselves walk with God and that He has mercy and grace on our souls rather than worrying and being negative about what other people may or may not believe. We Christians could be much kinder, happier, and gentler, Christ-like people if we were more concerned about ourselves rather than worrying about what our Christian neighbors might practice or think (Galatians 6:10). Besides, what other people practice and think is honestly between them and God, and we really do not know for certain what people think in the heart of their hearts as stated in I Corinthians 2:11.

I Corinthians 2:11:
For what man knoweth the things of a man, save {except} the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.

Only God knows for sure what is in the heart of man “for the LORD searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts: if thou seek him, he will be found of thee” (I Chronicles 28:9).

Romans 2:1 reads, “THEREFORE thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things.” This verse is quite expressive in reflecting that one’s judgments will always and ultimately return back to those who assume to sit as judges over other people (not in the laws of the land, but in spiritual issues of the heart).

Matthew 12:36-37:
-36: But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.
-37: For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.

God’s merciful grace can be discovered and enjoyed anywhere by anyone because wherever you are, so is God, and where other Christians are, so is God because He dwells in believers without discrimination. Recognizing this is acknowledging the immensity of God’s merciful grace upon our own lives because we have not always walked perfectly with God and followed His will completely. Yet God still loves us and He has loved and forgiven us for our faults just as His loving grace and forgiveness is upon others who love and walk with Him to the best of their abilities.

Jesus said in Matthew 7:1 “JUDGE not, that ye be not judged.” This is the instruction from our Savior, and he always spoke for God: “For I {Jesus} have given unto them the words which thou {God} gavest me; and they have received them” (John 17:8). So the question is: Have we received the words of God, have we believed them, are we judged or are we not judged? If we judge not, then the promise of God is that we are not judged. Let us follow Jesus’ teaching of God’s words about judgment in Matthew.

Matthew 7:1-5:
-1: JUDGE not, that ye be not judged.
-2: For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged; and with what measure ye mete {measure out}, it shall be measured to you again {“for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap”― Galatians 6:7}.
-3: And why beholdest thou the mote {a tiny splinter of wood} that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
-4: Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?
-5: Thou {would be a} hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.

The beam and the mote are literally the same things with this one huge exception: the beam is like having a figurative “telephone pole” stuck in one’s eye causing one to not have good vision (nor comprehension in terms of judging others), as opposed to a fragment, a small mote that may be in someone else’s eye.

Just to judge for judgment sake and being critical of others is as Jesus said, hypocritical, and the same judgments will always return back to the giver. Jesus is teaching us that it is quite easy to find fault with others, especially when other’s faults are the same as our own (Romans 2:21-22). One of the great lessons in this teaching by Jesus is that as we get healed in our lives from our own faults when we are not judgmental, then we become truly able to, first forgive, and then help another walk with God without judging each other.

Proverbs 26:20:
Where no wood is {such as the beam or the mote}, there the fire goeth out: so where there is no talebearer (to murmur, whisper, backbite, slander), the strife ceaseth.

In the context of Jesus’ teaching, the lesson shows us that judging others is having a beam in our own eyes, but when one stops judging, then he or she will become healed from that temptation to judge. Ultimately, then one can begin to help others out of this same temptation of nitpicking away at people they may love or acquaintances or even others they may not even know personally, whether they are living in or out of their spheres of influence. Judging is always detrimental, for with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.

Psalms 15:1-3:
-1: LORD, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy holy hill?
-2: He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in {or from out of} his heart.
-3: He that backbiteth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his neighbour, nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbour.

As we become conquerors over our own shortcomings, such as being judgmental, then with God’s help we may show fellow believers the true graces that God has bestowed upon us can also become theirs. This is when we “clearly see” God’s merciful grace upon our own lives when our focus is to bless and help our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Romans 12:18, and 14:19:
-18: If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.
-14: Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and the things wherewith one may edify {build up} another.

God sees the motive behind thoughts and actions and He looks at His children with unconditional love and not on the underlying doctrines of establishments to judge one group more chosen or special or holier than He would another. No one group can stake claim to having a corner on all the truth; I do not know it all and neither does anyone else. It is when people think they know it all that they end up shutting all the doors of true outreach and forgiveness, for they will begin to imagine that everybody else is wrong except for themselves. The same thing happened to the Apostles back in the Gospels: “And John answered and said {to Jesus}, Master, we {the Apostles} saw one casting out devils in thy name; and we forbad him, because he followeth not with us” (Luke 9:49).

The Apostles shunned someone who was not following their religious practices, so Jesus further instructs them to “Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us” (Luke 9:50). Sure, not every place teaches everything accurately and more than likely, some will teach things that you or I do not agree with. If someone loves God and is fellowshipping with other likeminded Christian believers, then praise the LORD, because He is blessed and so are they.

I have no doubt that most Christian people are motivated and inspired by God’s Word, love, and grace, and to think evil or less of others is a waste of time. If they are teaching God’s Word and the people are blessed to receive it; then praise God for their efforts (Philippians 1:15-18); Paul wrote, “For we can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth” (II Corinthians 13:8). In other words, “the Word of God is not bound” (II Timothy 2:9) because God’s Word is always liberating and will always build up the believers with grace when it is planted in the fertile ground of the human heart.

“And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified” (Acts 20:32). God is all love and His Word encourages us to be followers of Him with and in His love, and not allow the temptation in our minds of judging others who also love God and who are, according to Jesus, “for us.”

Ephesians 5:1-2:
-1: BE ye therefore followers of God, as dear children;
-2: And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savour.

If we are blessed in our place of worship, then praise God for our ministers, teachers, and fellow believers. However, if we are being beaten down over and again with condemnation and hell fire, and if they are teaching us to dislike other believers from other places, then perhaps we should look for a better place to fellowship.

I do believe that there are wonderful ministers, teachers, and preachers living in almost every community who would love nothing better than to teach you the Scriptures, who are inspired by God to encourage, strengthen, and build up their congregation in love. If we need to move on for spiritual nourishment, we can be thankful that our former place of worship helped to propel us into searching for a better way, especially when we find it and our lives become ever more blessed for God’s grace and mercy in our lives.

Philippians 1:15-18:
-15: Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will:
-16: The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds: {Paul was in jail for preaching ― no freedom of speech for a man of God back then!}
-17: But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defense of the gospel.
-18: What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretense, or in truth, Christ is preached; I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice.

I enjoy reading verse 18 above, from the Amplified Bible:

Philippians 1:18 (The Amplified Bible**):
But what does it matter, so long as either way, whether in pretense [for personal ends] or in all honesty [for the furtherance of the Truth], Christ is being proclaimed? And in that I [now] rejoice, yes, and I shall rejoice [hereafter] also.”

Paul’s teaching is that regardless of who preaches Christ there is cause to rejoice, yea to rejoice repeatedly, for he will rejoice as we also can rejoice. When Christ is preached, then people receive the Word of God, and the Word can make people free. God’s graceful Word will bless and strengthen people regardless of people’s motivations for preaching (though most preachers and teachers have only godly intentions). God’s Word will always profit (II Timothy 3:16) and give blessings to the recipient, for this is how God designed His gracious Word!

Isaiah 55:11:
So shall my word {God’s Word} be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void {useless}, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.

God’s gracious Word encourages us to always look to Jesus rather than to look on man because the more we look at people, the more we will see error, the sin nature, and imperfection. However, the more we look to Jesus, the more perfect we will become and as we gain his perspective and incentive, we can learn to love believers to a much greater dimension. I Peter 4:8 encourages, “above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.”

Hebrews 12:2a (The Amplified Bible**):
Looking away [from all that will distract] to Jesus, who is the Leader and the Source of our faith [giving the first incentive for our belief] and is also its Finisher [bringing it to maturity and perfection] . . .

An honest concern and question for some people is: Which Church, or which group of people are truly the ones that God blesses? For some people the answer is obviously clear, the one they belong to! This is true; however, all believers have received an unconditional and eternal salvation in the sense that God Himself always looks at the heart rather than at the denomination or group we might belong to, “For the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart” (I Samuel 16:7).

God is love (I John 4:8, 16), and according to His Word anyone who is saved belongs to Him for eternity because God is no respecter of persons or groups. Anyone, anywhere, and under any circumstance can become saved and become a member of His household. We are members of the body of Christ (I Corinthians 12:27), and we may fellowship around God’s healing Word with whomever we desire.

God is our Father and He is blessed when we are blessed; He is never upset simply because we go somewhere to learn more about Him Who counsels and comforts us in our deepest spiritual thoughts. God loves us unconditionally right where we are, and He never thinks ill of us for fellowshipping with His children and wanting to know more about Him: “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end” (Jeremiah 29:11). When believers are receiving spiritual nourishment at their place of worship, then who am I to say that they are wrong, devilish, or whatever? Nobody, that’s who!

I John 2:9-11:
-9: He that saith he is in the light, and hateth {disdains, dislikes} his brother {in Christ}, is in darkness even until now.
-10: He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him.
-11: But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes.

God has given to His children tremendous light and understanding through knowing His gracious Word and the only thing that will turn the light off (spiritually speaking) is to dislike fellow believers, our brothers and sisters in Christ with whom we will spend eternity. The Bible records that we are to, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5), and Jesus always loved people, he is all love, and he is our daily example.

Acts 2:47:
{The believers were} Praising God, and having favour with all the people {How many? All the people!}, And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.

Who adds to the Church of God? God! God brings people to Himself; He draws us to Him through Christ who is the mediator between God and men (I Timothy 2:5). God is the searcher of all hearts (I Chronicles 28:9; Psalms 139:1; and Romans 8:27), and God never makes mistakes; His calling us to Himself is by His grace, and this alone should humble our hearts just to know that we were allowed into His household (Ephesians 2:19-22).

Romans 11:29:
For the gifts {of God’s graces} and calling of God are without repentance.

The gifts we receive from God are always by His grace (including our eternal life, Romans 6:23, Ephesians 2:8) and our calling by God is without repentance, meaning that He never takes it back. Our God will never be sorry for calling you nor confess or even imagine for one second that He has made a mistake in calling you because He is perfect and His calling to you is by, with, and through His grace and mercy.

John 10:28-29:
-28: And I {Jesus} give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.
-29: My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.

We have a wonderful section of Scripture from the Gospel of Luke expressing a vivid mind picture of how to look on others, showing us Jesus’ perspective for perceiving other people who walk with God.

Luke 18:9-14:
-9: And he {Jesus} spake this parable unto certain {people} which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:
-10: Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican {a tax collector}.
-11: The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.
-12: I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.
-13: And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven {a custom to show humility and reverence for God}, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.
-14: I {Jesus} tell you, this man {the publican} went down to his house justified rather than the other {the Pharisee}: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

The Pharisee practiced “good works” of tithing, giving, and fasting ― believing that by his own works he was saved, that his works made him a great believer; however, let us notice what he did not do. He refused to humble himself before God; he believed that his way of religion made him a better man than the humble tax collector. He literally separated himself out from the entire human race, believing in his heart that he was better than other men. He never recognized that he himself was a sinner, unlike the publican who knew it was only by God’s grace and mercy that he could be justified.

The word merciful in the publican’s prayer in Luke 18:13 in the Greek Text is the word for “reconciliation” as in Hebrews 2:17. The tax collector was earnestly praying to be reconciled back to God (he obviously knew that he was a sinner and that he needed God in his life), while the Pharisee believed in himself that he was already reconciled above and more than other men.

The Pharisee was more concerned about the condition of others than of his true condition; he was convinced that he was saving himself by all of his works, yet Ephesians 2:8-9 reads: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” However, only the publican went home justified, and the word justified literally means, “just-as-if-I’d never sinned.” By being humble before our God, our God-given justification can be thankfully received and enjoyed within our hearts. Jesus, in the verses from Luke above, sums up a wonderful Proverb for us:

Proverbs 28:14 (The Amplified Bible*):
Blessed (happy, fortunate, and to be envied) is the man who reverently and worshipfully fears {respects} [the Lord] at all times [regardless of circumstances], but he who hardens his heart will fall into calamity.

The publican fits into the first category of a blessed man, while the Pharisee will inevitably run into trouble for hardening his heart against other people. Sure, there will be times in life when we are down, when we do not walk in the light, when we have fear and condemnation because of the sin nature. Yet when we do come back to God, back to the throne of God’s wonderful grace like the publican did, then we can enjoy blessed verses of healing Scripture demonstrating God’s loving comfort to us that will always build us back up and strengthen our lives so that we may continue walking for God.

Psalms 34:18 (The Amplified Bible*):
The Lord is close to those who are of a broken heart and saves such as are crushed with sorrow for sin and are humbly and thoroughly penitent {sorry}.

James 4:10:
Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.

Our loving heavenly Father always sees our heart, and when our heart condemns us because we are out of fellowship, and we then realize it and become thoroughly penitent, God will forgive ― ALWAYS! The greatest blessings in life come to the believer when he can control his thoughts and actions (see James chapter 3) to be a blessing to his fellow man ― especially those who are of the household of faith.

Galatians 6:10 (The Amplified Bible**):
So then, as occasion and opportunity open up to us, let us do good [morally] to all people [not only being useful or profitable to them, but also doing what is for their spiritual good and advantage]. Be mindful to be a blessing, especially to those of the household of faith [those who belong to God’s family with you, the believers].

Enjoy your message because today is The Season for God’s Merciful Grace.

I John 1:5-9:
-5: This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.
-6: If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:
-7: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.
-8: If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
-9: If we confess our sins {to God}, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

*Scripture taken from THE AMPLIFIED BIBLE, Old Testament copyright (c) 1965, 1989 by the Zondervan Corporation.
Used by permission.

**Scripture taken from THE AMPLIFIED BIBLE.
The Amplified New Testament copyright (c) 1958, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation.
Used by permission.

Then Do We with Patience Wait (The Longer Version)

Written by Larry M. Jaynes:

 Romans 8:24–25:
-24: For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?
-25: But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.

 We glanced at the above verses from the Epistle of Romans in previous study, titled: “Our Comfort of Hope,” and now in this study we will delve a little further into our promised hope hope that the Scriptures encourage us to patiently wait for until we receive the prizes of our new and eternal heavenly bodies, and secondly our rewards that we have earned by our daily believing on God’s revealed Word. Our new bodies will be as perfect timepieces that will never break down but will last us forever while we enjoy eternal treasures.

Today we have been given a double promise from God; first being that we may enjoy this present life immersed in God’s graces received through our believing faith which is energized by our applying the love of God (Galatians 5:6), and second, we have a future promise of receiving eternal life with new bodies. Having promise of the life that now is, and {the promise} of that {life} which is to come– I Timothy 4:8b), and that which is to come is the focus of our hope. Knowing that the Christian believer’s future hope is assured and knowing that we will be given bodies that will live for eternity can certainty inspire us to continue living for our heavenly Father in the present tense, for then we become more enabled with patience to wait for our future rewards.

Throughout God’s healing Word we have been given tremendous insights about our delighting in faith, hope, and charity, as these spiritual truths are very liberating and inspirational. Jesus said in John 8:31–32 “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” You see ― the key to the freedom Jesus was referring to is in the continuing in his word, for through his word freedom is recognized, received, and then freely maintained in one’s life. Yet, truth is so often difficult for some people to handle when it comes up contradictory to one’s own personal convictions and beliefs or when it comes in such a large dose. Therefore, having patience becomes significantly important when learning new truths that are truly liberating. I am telling you this up front, because in this study we are on our way into some amazing biblical concepts that have been cloaked to the Bible student and some preachers alike for literally centuries.

Have you ever heard of the phrase that says, “Today was his or her last day on earth?” This implies that when one passes away, that he goes straight up to heaven to begin enjoying his new eternal life, but this is an unbiblical assumption, totally unsubstantiated in Scripture. If the dead are truly alive in heaven, then perhaps we should ask ourselves if we are willing to start cutting out Bible verses and rewriting our own versions just to suit our own taste. We could do this despite what God’s eternal Word actually imparts to us regarding our hope, and specifically that we are instructed to wait with patience for the return of Christ before the human body goes anywhere other than into “corruption.”

I Corinthians 15:42:  So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown {into the earth} in corruption; it is raised in incorruption {the hope of humanity}:

If the dead are not dead as many people today believe, but are already alive, and if they really are returning to earth from time to time (as claimed), to contact their loved ones and others, then spiritualism is a true biblical concept. However, it is not! Everyone who had ever seen a spirit or a supposed resurrected body has actually seen a manifestation of either “seducing spirits” (I Timothy 4:1–2), or “familiar spirits” (Leviticus 19:31), both of which God warns His people to stay away from for they are devilish. II Timothy 2:18, says, “Who concerning the truth {remember it is continuing in the truth that makes one free} have erred {and this is the error}, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some.” Paul’s concern was that this error would cause some people to start wondering if perhaps they had been or would be “left behind” which would definitely overthrow the faith of some. He was explaining to Timothy that the resurrection had yet to happen and the dead are not alive, as this would negate the truth that Christ is coming back to resurrect and raise the living Christians into eternity ― which indeed he is!

The concept of spiritualism with its “living dead” premise as foundational doctrine in its smallest common denominator is based on false religion having its roots steeped in Babylonian mysteries and pagan beliefs, yet these ideas still thrive nowadays and have morphed into a fundamental belief system that has reared its ugly head in many Christian doctrines and funeral services. A conjurer can certainly summon up “familiar spirits” that are familiar with the people they have followed, observed, and thus know their personal histories, but please bear this warning, calling on them is a forbidden activity in Old Testament Law (Deuteronomy 18:10–12; II Kings 23:24–25).

Ecclesiastes 9:10 says, “For there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goeth.” Psalm 146:4 also adds, “His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day {of one’s death} his thoughts perish.” Genesis 3:19 confirms, “for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” Therefore, since the deceased have no knowledge and wisdom, and given that the Bible says his thoughts perish, and because he is returning to dust, then he has no consciousness in the grave. Therefore (and logically), he cannot return to earth and relay secret messages or knowledge or wisdom to anyone until the resurrection, and thus at the time of the resurrection is when (and not until then) the deceased shall receive a new body, which is man’s only true hope for his future life! Therefore, the very next verse in Psalms continues with the truth that only with God is there genuine hope from the grave, “Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the LORD his God” (Psalms 146:5).

I Corinthians 13:12:   For now we see through a glass, darkly {in achieving total understanding}; but then {at the return of Christ, we shall see him} face to face: {However, right} now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. {We will be endowed with complete knowledge and wisdom that is to come with our new bodies.}

If the dead are already alive and people have seen them, then Romans 8:24–25 (above) says that hope is not hope and thus, we are not saved, for we are saved by hope. Thankfully, when our hope is in the future return of Christ and our gathering together up to him, then not only must we patiently wait (as instructed), but we will also be believing in the truth, and hoping with godly hope will reap eternal rewards for our heavenly future. Believing in error will not, and cannot, bring immediate or future rewards and blessings to our lives, not now ― not ever.

Jesus said in John 3:13: “And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.” Since no man hath ascended up to heaven other than Jesus, then the truth is no man hath ascended up to heaven other than Jesus. Now, honestly, could the Scriptures be any clearer!

John 6:39–40:
-39: And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me {Jesus}, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again {at the moment of their decease, NO, but} at the last day.
-40: And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth {or perceives} the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him {or her} up at the last day. {Well, could the words of Jesus be any plainer?}

Notice that Jesus used the word it in verse 39 to describe the deceased body, it is a proper usage because without life in the body, it has no consciousness, and thus it (the body he is referring to) is not living until the last day, the day of resurrection. On that glorious day, it once again becomes a dynamic person ― raised up again for eternity.

Peter said in Acts 2:29, “Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day.” It is obvious that David, who was responsible for the greater part of writing the Book of Psalms, was a great man, yet he was not raised up to heaven, and he should have been placed at the head of the line! However, King David is still dead and buried, and he was a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22), but David died, having the same hope we have been given today. Our hope is in the return of Christ Jesus, who was the very first man ever raised from the grave into eternal life and who will  (one day) return from heaven’s throne with the “keys of hell and death,” and then he will unlock the graves and allow the believers up – and out – and into eternal bliss!

Revelation 1:18:  I am he that liveth {Jesus Christ}, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and {I} have the keys of hell and of death.

The hope of humanity is in the return of Christ to appear with him in glory, always has been and always will be our hope until Christ returns for our gathering together up to meet him above in the clouds! However, for now our God has given us the assurance of our heavenly standing in glory with Christ at God’s own right hand (I Peter 1:7), which is recorded throughout His Word.

Colossians 3:4:  When Christ, who is our life, shall appear {and not until then}, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.

If immediate resurrection was truly a biblical concept, then Christ should have been immediately resurrected; however, he was in the grave for three days and nights (Matthew 12:40), then he was the first (ever ― and the only one so far) to be eternally resurrected (Acts 26:23; Revelation 1:18). Christ Jesus is our hope, and the Scriptures say we must patiently wait for him! In this life, we can wait for his return with great expectation for we have been given a “lively hope.” While in death ― God will remember our hope, because we will have no conscious mind to hope with, but we know that we will rest in peace, as David believed, “my flesh shall rest {peacefully} in hope {after he passes away}” (Acts 2:26; Psalms 16:9), for God will never forget us. As we read in some detail in our last study from I Thessalonians 4:14–15, “For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.” This is the hope we wait for just as has every single generation that has gone before us.

 I Peter 1:3–5:
-3: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
-4: To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you,
-5: Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

Our belief and confession in the resurrection affords us salvation (Romans 10:9–10), and a vibrant part of our salvation is our lively hope of receiving a glorious future that is still kept in store and reserved by the power of God for us.

Then so will perfection be granted to the children of God (Romans 8:21–23), and then we will know God as well as we are known of God Who has given us His magnificent and abundant love and His divine charity to enjoy our lives with Him and with one another. His love energizes our believing in order that we may receive His many hundreds of recorded promises. Our believing can bring the hope of Christ’s return into a lively assurance of his imminent and eminent return at any moment of any day. When our hope, Christ’s return finally comes, then we will be like him for we will see him as he is and be as he is– I John 3:1–3.

God’s wonderful Word is such a healing comfort to His children as we come to Him with a heart to want to discover His healing, comforting will for our lives (II Corinthians 1:3–4). His Scriptures are truly written directly to the heart rather than the head, and when the heart of man opens to the wisdom and guidance of God’s Word, His Word begins to grow within the hearts of searching (and receiving) men and women, young and old, as true spiritual revival awakens from within. God’s words are set like precious treasures, waiting for us to discover and accept them into our hearts and receive the blessings contained therein that have been prepared for us before the world began (Ephesians 1:3–4).

I Corinthians 15:51:  Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed.

When Christ does return, we shall all be changed (all the believers in Christ), and therefore receive changed bodies. Still, I can understand why Paul said that this is a mystery, as even today, nearly two thousand years later, the subject and understanding of our hope is still misunderstood and so often distorted, although the truth of our hope has been recorded here in I Corinthians and throughout the Bible for centuries. We shall not all sleep means just that, that not every Christian will die before Christ returns, for there will be one living generation that never dies, and they will receive the prize of this high calling (Philippians 3:10–14). You see, some of us will be living at that moment when Christ returns, and thus, at that very moment in time when Christ returns ― some of us will actually witness this splendor before our very eyes. It is our eminent hope to daily anticipate his imminent return. Some of us will be living witnesses of that great and glorious day, literally seeing Christ return in the clouds as we face the (heavenly) music with joy (I Corinthians 15:52; I Thessalonians 4:16) and suddenly feel our bodies change. In that one splendid moment of time, the living believer will experience a great insurgence of spiritual energy that will perfect his body for all eternity.

WOW ― THIS will be a precious moment in time, to be alive at the return of Christ ― as opposed to the hundreds of generations who will have to say, “Man, I slept through that one ― wish I could have been there,” because this will be a more life-changing event than any other in the history of man.

The multitude of believers that this world has been blessed to have, the souls who have passed away in hope, are too numerous for us to count, but they will easily outnumber any living generation fortunate enough to be alive at the time of Christ’s return. For the living, the return of Christ will be a spectacular day because only the living believers will see and feel what the past ages could only have hoped in and dreamed of with anticipation, because only the living will know and experience the changing realities of that glorious day of all our expectations coming to pass, the day of days of hope’s fulfillment!

You see:

I Corinthians 15:52–53:
-52: In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead {sleeping} shall be raised incorruptible, and we {who are alive} shall be changed.
-53: For this corruptible {those who are asleep} must put on incorruption, and this mortal {the living} must put on immortality.

There are two kinds of changes expressed in these verses, one is an incorruptible change for those who have died, and the other is an immortal change for those who are alive. The difference is that the living mortals will have never died; rather, when Christ returns, they are instantly changed into beings of immortality (from having a thinking consciousness to a complete awareness of all), while the deceased, the corruptible, will be resurrected from corruption and be changed into incorruptible beings (from no consciousness whatsoever to being completely awakened to eternal life).

The greatness of our lively hope is to be a member of that living generation (the only generation) that will bypass the resurrection to personally be there for the gathering together of both the living and the dead. As a whole, the Christian church has been robbed of the hope of Christ’s return by the false concept that the dead are alive now. Psalms 6:5 quotes, “For in death there is no remembrance of thee {of God}: in the grave who shall give thee thanks?” in other words, the deceased are not up in heaven giving thanks to God because they have no remembrance ― until the resurrection!

I Corinthians 15:54:  So when this corruptible {those who are decaying in the grave, the sleeping} shall {at a future moment} have put on incorruption {have been raised with an incorruptible body, “fashioned like unto his {Jesus’} glorious body” (Philippians 3:21)}, and this mortal {the living} shall have put on immortality {receive heavenly, immortal bodies}, then {and not until then} shall be brought to pass the saying that is written {in Isaiah 25:8}, Death is swallowed up in victory.

I know that the common belief today is that all those who have died are actually up there having the time of their lives living in Paradise or Heaven, while some less fortunate souls are in purgatory or are sweating it out in the fiery pits of hell. However, the Scriptures do not entertain these notions, and “there shall be {future tense} a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust” (Acts 24:15). If the dead are living and these unbiblical concepts were true, then, as I wrote earlier, we should get out our scissors and start cutting away the verses we disagree with, and we may as well start with those above. If everybody who has died is really living, then is there a logical reason or purpose for the resurrection or our gathering together or our changed bodies? Further then, hope would not be hope, and all the verses about the hope of resurrection would be completely negated. (Ezekiel chapter 37 details some of the future hope of resurrection.)

When the church (as a whole) allows the concepts of spiritualism into their sanctuaries as an accepted belief, then axiomatically society begins following right along, escalating the belief as is so evident in many of today’s books, movies, and TV shows. This can be seen especially in the medias that cater to children, which have become so inundated with the concepts of witchcraft and the apparitions and spirits of the so-called dead (of people, animals, and inanimate objects such as keys, books, and pictures), and these are leading our youths further and further away from the truth and any semblance of genuine hope. My family does enjoy some of these fantasy movies, books, and games, but we have come to learn and know the truth so that we are able to quench the fiery darts of error (Ephesians 4:14; 6:16), and we are grateful to be able to discern the difference and separate truth from error.

Society as a whole has been led to believe that the dead are still somehow alive and fluttering around in and out of spiritual dimensions. Even at funerals, we can easily look into the casket, we can see the lifeless body within just lying there, but then we hear words such as, “Oh, dear brethren in the Lord, he went off to a better place, because God took him,” then to add insult to injury, we often pay the minister for saying this. We then look again into the casket ― and sure enough, there is a body, it is still there right before our eyes. Yet we are told by a “man of the cloth,” that he is not there, that we should consider that what we are looking at in the casket is not true, that we must not accept the ever present reality of death, but rather what we were just told to assume. I know that so many believe that even if the body remains, the soul blissfully lives on (and to that, I would say ― chapter and verse please). According to God’s Word, the soul is only one’s breath life which begins with their first breath (Genesis 2:7), and expires out into thin air when one takes their last breath (Psalms 104:29; 146:4; and Ecclesiastes 3:19).

We so easily allow the concept of the living dead into our minds for immediate solace and comfort because we have been led to believe that accepting this will help relieve the mourning and agony we go through over the death of a loved one. To say the dead are actually living appears to sound more pleasant than to hear the harsh words, “he has died!” God Himself had to tell Joshua, “Moses my servant is dead” (Joshua 1:2), and Moses was very beloved of God, yet even God had to tell Joshua the truth so that he could continue forward with his life. God further said to Joshua “as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee” (Joshua 1:5). Notice God WAS with Moses, not that He IS with Moses or that Moses IS with Him, for even Moses will need to be resurrected before he can be with his God and that is still a future event. We think it lessens the shock to claim that a deceased person is now looking down upon us surrounded in perfect peace, and they are now content being so much happier up there than ever they were down here, but this false doctrine cannot bring us lasting comfort as it is disassociated from true hope. Rather, the ideas begin to stir up lasting anger and resentment towards none other than God, and this in reality begins robbing the Christian believer out of his or her personal hope that he or she was given for spiritual comfort (I Thessalonians 4:14–18).

You know, the Old Testament believers had the promise to inherit the earth (Psalms 25:13; 37:11), and specifically the surrounding area of Jerusalem is where the Promised Land is located, and Jesus confirmed this promise of inheriting the earth in Matthew 5:5 during his sermon on the mount. Hebrews 11:13 states “these {referring to the Old Testament believers} all died having NOT {emphasis supplied} received the promises.” Thus, there must be a resurrection in order for them to receive their promised inheritance. We can find no promises in the Bible that suggest that the Old Testament believers would inherit heaven. Heaven is offered and reserved for the Christian believer of the New Testament and so we exclusively are the recipients of this heavenly destiny, while the Old Testament people will receive the “new Jerusalem” that will come down from God in heaven (Revelation 21:2).

The believers before Christ knew in their hearts that at some future time they would rise to literally inherit the Promised Land, for they knew that what God had promised them, He is also able to perform (Romans 4:20–21). As Scripture decrees, the Old Testament believers such as Abraham, Moses, and David will not go to heaven ― ever, because their promise was to inherit the Promised Land on earth, and since no one has seen any of them walking around and teaching in Jerusalem, their resurrection must still be a future event. This is why Jesus said, “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day {for Jesus was his hope of resurrection}: and saw it {as a future reality}, and was glad {in his heart}” (John 8:56). Note, Jesus said that Abraham was glad (past tense), but Jesus did not say “Abraham IS GLAD” (present tense), because Abraham, as well as every Old Testament believer, as well as all the passed away Christians still need to be resurrected.

The standard explanation of the living dead suggests that in the resurrection the spirits or the souls of the deceased that have been (so-called) living in heaven then return back into the body. Oh, how misled have we become ― if the spirit or soul has been living up there with consciousness for years and years, then why would it need to come back and pick up his old, dead body? Plus, there is NO Scripture to back up this kind of foolery. This follows the same libelous error as when the Serpent (a synonym for the sly and stealthy movements of Satan, see Revelation 12:9), told Eve in Genesis 3:4, “And the serpent {NOT GOD} said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die.” This was, of course, a direct contradiction to God’s Holy Word, “thou shalt surely die” in Genesis 2:17. Now, someone has to be lying, either God or the Devil, but make no mistake that God is “the God of truth” (Deuteronomy 32:4), it is “impossible for God to lie” (Hebrews 6:18), and the Devil “is a liar and the father of it” (John 8:44).

Do you know what always follows the error that causes one to believe in, Ye shall not surely die? The belief and confession that God also kills and this is further followed up with the false belief that God takes from us, to include not only our loved ones, but also our hopes and our dreams! None of which is true! And if you really believe this, then I would suggest reading the eBooklet series The Golden Thread, wherein we look at literally hundreds of verses through both the Old and New Testaments about God’s true will for you and me, and the Devil and his devastating will of destruction for all humanity.

Oh, I know what some teach, they come along and tell us that God Almighty kills simply to humble the people He loves and now has new angels or rosebuds up there in heaven to enjoy ― talk about a hope killer! When we get real honest with ourselves and allow God’s Word to speak rather than what we have been handed, we would not only know it is a ridiculous belief and confession contrary to biblical thought and doctrine, but that it is blasphemy of the highest magnitude! God did not, would not, and could not kill simply to teach lessons in life or to collect bundles of little rosebuds to decorate His throne room, and that at the degrading expense of killing off the human race piece by piece; nor does God make people sick simply to test their resolve ― another demoniacal concept that diminishes one’s hope. Man was created in the image of God, as His masterpiece; He always has and always will love man, for God is not an “angry God,” but a God of love, peace and hope. Satan, on the other hand, will always hate man in his anger. He is nothing more than a “hopeless,” rotten slug who loathes humanity and he even hates his own kind ― he is the complete antithesis of everything God is.

Still, these days, have you noticed who receives all the credit for death and destruction? Our God does! Most of our present day weather people, insurance companies, lawyers, and the majority of our neighboring church organizations claim that disasters are “acts of God,” and are manifestations of His wrath simply to cleanse sin. Nothing could be further from the truth of His will or rile me more because I know my God, my heavenly Father, and He is the God of life, love, and light. But many people do not realize that our God is light, and in Him is NO darkness at all (I John 1:5). By the way, if God ever did “act” in the way they claim He really acts, there would be no witnesses, commentaries, or critics left to tell about a second act! We can be extremely thankful that because of God’s Word and His love for man, His creative acts are bound to His living Word and will, sealed in His love.

Today almost everybody blames God for almost everything, for the good and bad, because they do not know about Satan who is the “god of this world” (I Corinthians 4:4), the god of destruction, and the real perpetrator of the spiritual storms of this world. Hebrews 2:14 boldly claims that the Devil has the power of death, so the people who deliberately blame God are most assuredly wrong and some of them are spiritually on Satan’s payroll. To illustrate the lunacy and reverse logic that God would cause suffering ― we can carry it to an extreme by supposing the following scenario. What if my son or daughter came to me for help and guidance and love ― would I show how much I love them by humbling them over to my will by allowing them to get hurt? No, I would not and do not! We will only get tripped up on God’s Word to assume that He is the fault of all the wrong in the world. I would not and could not hurt my own children whom I dearly love and neither would our heavenly Father Who dearly loves us (John 3:16). Every innate instinct, thought, and function we parents or caregivers have to love and protect our very own children and loved ones was implanted in us by our heavenly Father back in Genesis when He formed, made, and created man. We would not hurt our children any more than would He Who formed, made, and created us in love, for man was NOT put on earth simply to suffer and die, but rather to live and enjoy life in hope with his God, and to accept our hope in Christ as we patiently wait for the promise of our future life!

God will wipe all our tears and He will right every wrong (as everlasting time is on His side and ours), He will answer all of our questions (every one of them) and He will heal, mend, restore, and make whole all our broken hearts. We are promised a new life, where righteousness dwells forever and ever; this will be enjoyed in the eternal age of the ages without end. Sorrow and bereavement, that poison of heart and mind will finally flee never to return, and never to be missed. Our hope is for this future life, where and when we will enjoy the free rights to the tree of life, and we will be able to see God Himself Who will always be present. Fear and death will never, ever exist and breed again because our entrance into heaven is already secured through our Savior’s work on our behalf. We can know that ― because we love and believe, we are assured of our lively hope in the here and now, and that we will receive in the there and then.

Isaiah 30:18 (The Amplified Bible):*   And therefore the Lord [earnestly] waits [expecting, looking, and longing] to be gracious to you; and therefore He lifts Himself up, that He may have mercy on you and show loving kindness to you. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) are all those who [earnestly] wait for Him, who expect and look and long for Him [for His victory, His favor, His love, His peace, His joy, and His matchless, unbroken companionship]!

Isaiah 40:31 (The Amplified Bible):*  But those who wait for the Lord [who expect, look for, and hope in Him] shall change and renew their strength and power; they shall lift their wings and mount up [close to God] as eagles [mount up to the sun]; they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint or become tired.

God freely gives us the anticipation through hope of this new, peaceful, divine, and eternal life, wherein we will walk in the garden of God with Him, and where we shall thoroughly enjoy rewards for eternity along with the everlasting reunion of our families, loved ones, and friends.

Truthfully, it is not our fault that so many of us (including myself at one time) thought that God was the cause or force behind so much misery in this world, for I had “no hope, and {was} without God in the world” (Ephesians 2:12). The notion that God kills has been passed down to us, being taught, accepted, and believed on for centuries, from some of our local churches, from the agnostics, and from the haters of God. Perhaps now we can begin to understand how clever Satan really is in giving God the credit for his dastardly work that he portrays out in the world in God’s Holy name (Ephesians 6:10–18).

Often we hear the Bible either misquoted or misunderstood at funeral services, such as Psalms 116:15, which reads, “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.” From the pulpit, we hear that the LORD God took the precious departed to heaven. Yet, the word precious means costly, as precious gems are – the more costly the gem – the more precious they become. You see, it always costs God something whenever a believer, a saint, passes away because he or she can no longer fellowship with God or partake of His “exceeding great and precious promises” (II Peter 1:4), until the resurrection. It also costs the family and the whole world a great deal whenever a shining star passes away, and this is the true meaning of Psalms 116:15.

When a loved one dies a horrible death in pain and anguish, not only are the families of the deceased devastated, but also all their acquaintances feel this distressing blow to a certain degree. Then on top of all that, to have a well-meaning, kindhearted, religious soul come along and mutter out, “This is how much God loved him or her, this is how precious they are to God, for He has called them home.” And we think in the recesses of our minds, “Why would the Creator of life inflict cancers or heart attacks and unspeakable cruelties of misery just to bring someone home to heaven?” This is why society, only as a last ditch attempt, prays, or rather begs God when something is wrong, for they may fear the price could be too high for His help.

Let us be honest for a few minutes and just think some of this through logically. Suppose I just lost my leg because of a disease or accident or war. Are we to believe that God needed a leg up in heaven? Doesn’t this just bless your heart to imagine that the Creator of the heavens and the earth so loved me that He would take my leg? Would this thrill our hearts and inspire us to want to drop down to our knees and pray, hoping we will live with this kind of cruel tyrant of a god forever and ever? Then to have someone else come along and say, “losing a leg is a small price to pay for eternal life,” yet this is what we have been taught about our God, and this is what we have been led to believe as a society. But these ideas are untrue because our God is not a barbarian and He is not a butcher, He is love and the true Father of all Fathers! The Devil has been (and still is) the culprit and has been getting away with it by giving all the blame to his archenemy, God; meanwhile unsuspecting people eat this stuff up as if it was their just desserts, and welcome “death” like a long lost friend rather than an “enemy” as I Corinthians 15:26 makes perfectly clear.

For anyone who has had the loss of a limb, or health, or has a chronic disease, it should be understood that when Christ comes into their heart and life, they are spiritually whole and complete, receiving holy spirit equally proportionate to every other believer. It is a shot below the belt for someone to claim that it was God and His will for him or her to suffer. Usually healthy people make these claims, but I wonder how many of them would drop to their knees and beg God for a little pain and suffering for themselves? It is a complete disregard for the words of truth to infer that the God of love has done evil and harm to His people. Recall Jeremiah 29:11 that we had in the last chapter, For I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you, says the Lord, thoughts and plans for {your} welfare and peace and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcome.” We have the promise from the Father for a new and perfect spiritual body for our future. So whether or not we can believe to be healed in this life, the Father loves us, and He has given us a lively hope, and a promise of a fulfilling future. God does care and is concerned about every fiber of our being with every fiber of His being (III John, verse 2). God has given us faith, hope, and charity and in these we can experience inner peace and a glad heart.

God, through our confidence, our trust, and our believing faith in Him can cause us, no matter what situation we may be in, to become more than a conqueror in this life. We should also know that God did not make life to be lived with any misfortune, the Devil did. I know that God has the power to restore all losses and what is not restored in this life will assuredly be restored in the next, giving us reasons to be thankful as we have a lively hope of even better tomorrows throughout all eternity (Hebrews 13:5–6).

How many times have you heard the saying, “When your number comes up you will be taken?” Well for our God this is not a true statement, He is not up there rolling the dice, hoping your number comes up. There is no crap game up there, but I will tell you what, the Devil has been crapping on the children of God in an attempt to get us to believe this “stuff” he is shoveling. The truth is ― God is the God of life, love, and light. The Devil is the god of death and suffering, and the chief architect of destruction and father of lies (John 8:44)! Hebrews 2:14 further states that the Devil is he who has the power of death, so I will certainly be blaming the Devil rather than my wonderful heavenly Father.

I have heard a minister smugly say, “Do not be mad or blame God when He makes your car crack up, it is because you have not given your money to the church.” Oh my word, how many of us fathers out there would cause our own children to crack up their cars and get hurt for not paying us extorted monies? Not one of us would, right? Well then, please just think about it for a minute, would God Who is our heavenly Father? Or are we just better than He is? God is our righteous heavenly Father and He loves us. He is not “the godfather” with a gang of hit men and thugs waiting to pounce on us for not paying for protection. That is extortion of the worst kind, and any minister who extracts protection money from the children of God is operating fearful principles and cannot be a true minister or servant of the true Father of lights. How could he possibly use the money for the glory of God and the furtherance of the Gospel whilst (James 1:8) accrediting the works of the Devil to God? Indeed, some so-called ministers are quite adept at using their “gift of gab” to induce fear rather than administering the “gift of God” (I Peter 4:9–11; Ephesians 4:11–12) to inspire one’s delight in faith, hope, and charity. Yes, God wants us to give – you better believe that – but from the heart, and without any coercion and most assuredly without any negative payback from Him if you do not. That is the “God’s honest truth!”

Jesus was frequently confronted with erroneous belief systems and sinful error, but he always loved people because he was able to separate the sin from the sinner. Paul taught that people believe as they are lead (I Corinthians 12:2), and this is still true today because people go about as far as they are taught and lead to believe. We are taught to be tolerant of those who think and believe the opposite of us, but we certainly can disagree with their beliefs and not allow false doctrine into our hearts that contradict God’s healing will whilst make a conscious decision to always love people to the best of our abilities (Romans 12:18). As a great example from chapter 18 of the Book of Acts, Aquila and Priscilla took Apollos aside, teaching him beyond what he was previously lead to believe and lovingly “expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly” (Acts18:26). As a direct result of this, Apollos became one of the great orators of his day, and a traveling companion with the Apostle Paul.

We have covered a lot of biblical detail about our hope in this chapter and often we cannot wait to tell our family and friends about what we are learning, but I would encourage you to walk in wisdom with what you are learning (as truth is powerful), because there is a right time and place to share God’s Word. It is best to first have a good foundation and understanding of the Scriptures before reaching out with the information in this chapter and believe God for the perfect opportunity to open avenues to share the Word.

When people are most saddened and vulnerable over the loss of a loved one is not the opportune time to come up to them and say something like, “Oh well, you know what I just learned? Your loved one is not in heaven yet ― but dead until the resurrection.” This would be unkind to say the least, and would be adding insult to injury instead of the consolation that is needed at a time of bereavement when emotions are fragile. It would be prudent to hold your tongue (James 3:5–10) and not tell all you know and, more often than not, this is the very best application of the wisdom and love of God (James 1:19). Instead, praying for them and simply loving someone with spiritual love ― as prayer and love (charity) never hurt anyone, but could very well be the catalyst to bring another to “know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge” and that they may “be filled with all the fulness of God” (Ephesians 3:19), as He is the epitome of all love!

I Corinthians 13: 5–7 (The Amplified Bible):**
-5: It {Charity, God’s love} is not conceited (arrogant and inflated with pride); it is not rude (unmannerly) and does not act unbecomingly. Love (God’s love in us) does not insist on its own rights or its own way, for it is not self-seeking; it is not touchy or fretful or resentful; it takes no account of the evil done to it [it pays no attention to a suffered wrong {to you personally}].
-6: It does not rejoice at injustice and unrighteousness, but rejoices when right and truth prevail.
-7: Love bears up under anything and everything that comes, is ever ready to believe the best of every person, its hopes are fadeless under all circumstances, and it endures everything [without weakening].

I Corinthians 14:26 and 40 read, “Let all things be done unto edifying,” and “Let all things be done decently and in order.” Colossians 4:6 instructs us to, “Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.” Paul said to “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2). The law of Christ is to “love” as “Christ loves” us (John 13:34–35; Ephesians 5:1–2), and I Corinthians 12:26 states, “whether one member suffer, all the members suffer.” I recall two more appropriate verses to help guard us against inappropriate behavior: “A fool uttereth all his mind: but a wise man keepeth it in till afterwards” (Proverbs 29:11), and “Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding” (Proverbs 17:28). Being know-it-alls (in the guise of spreading enlightenment) just to confront (rather than to comfort) the bereaved (or one who understands very little of God’s Word) is not walking “in wisdom toward them that are without” (Colossians 4:5). Rather, we are encouraged to be loving examples, as we can become the ones who have a shoulder to lean on for support. Perhaps saying nothing at all (I John 3:18), or saying as little as “I love you, and you are in my prayers,” can become the most powerful and appropriate things you could offer the bereaved in times of personal suffering and sorrow over the loss of a loved one or over the sick and/or the injured. The Apostle Paul taught us to “weep with them that weep” (Romans 12:15), and the practice of this concept will open many more doors to witness to and bless people.

Romans 14:19:   Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.

I Thessalonians 5:11:   Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.

We can always believe there will be an appropriate time to help reach out with God’s healing Word and present what we know about the hope in love after a healing process has taken its course in someone’s life who had suffered a loss, and this could be days, weeks, or even months later. The important thing is that they are comforted. It is always wonderful to witness the Gospel of redemption so that our family and friends can hear and receive God’s healing Word, but not everyone we meet and not everyone we know will want to believe what we believe and know, and that is just a fact of life. But we can certainly be prepared to speak (see I Peter 3:15 below) as opportunities present themselves.

Many people in our communities live without giving God a thought, and sin and error are all around us, but still, we are responsible only for our own personal fellowship with God. This is a tough lesson for some Christians to learn, as some have been schooled to bear all the sins and pressures of the world on their shoulders. Many do not realize, accept, or believe that Jesus already carried the sin and burden of the world on his shoulders so that they, as well as we, may walk without those burdens, see Matthew 11:28–30. Paul said that in order to escape all the errors and sins of this world one would need to go out of the world– I Corinthians 5:10, which is practically an impossibility (unless perhaps you are a lone astronaut). Jesus prayed: I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil- John 17:15. Every moment that Jesus’ prayer is fulfilled in our lives, we should be so humbly thankful, and simply being helpful and loving at every opportunity is paramount to becoming more Christ-like in today’s world and this will allow God to open more doors so we can walk through and speak the Word. Any witnessing that does not bring joy, comfort, and hope into someone’s life and home ― is not true witnessing (or it is not the right time and place); because witnessing will always deliver the Gospel of Peace into receptive hearts and homes.

 I Peter 3:15:   But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the HOPE {emphasis supplied} that is in you {in your heart and in your understanding} with meekness and fear {reverence and esteem}. {In this verse, The Amplified Bible instructs that you present yourself “courteously and respectfully” towards those who want to know the inspiring details about the hope that is in you.}

You see, people will usually read you first, and see the fruit you bear (John 15:16; Galatians 5:22–23), before they will take a serious look at the hope you have to present and offer with “love, and in the spirit of meekness” (I Corinthians 4:21). You personally are the living epistle of Christ (II Corinthians 3:2–3), and you are his spokesperson (II Corinthians 2:14, 17; I Peter 4:8–11). You are in Christ’s stead (II Corinthians 5:20–21), and you shine as lights in the world (Philippians 2:13–16), and you have been enabled by God to comfort your fellow man.

II Corinthians 1:3–4 (The Amplified Bible):**
-3: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of sympathy (pity and mercy) and the God [Who is the Source] of every comfort (consolation and encouragement),
-4: Who comforts (consoles and encourages) us in every trouble (calamity and affliction), so that we may also be able to comfort (console and encourage) those who are in any kind of trouble or distress, with the comfort (consolation and encouragement) with which we ourselves are comforted (consoled and encouraged) by God.

This is not the end-all and be-all of this study because there is no way that anyone could look at and study all of the biblical verses and details on the subject of hope in one sitting, but I have given you the overall theme of what the Bible teaches for a solid foundation based on our glorious hope. There is a great deal more that I have written on this subject and have dispersed throughout our Golden Thread series, as I believe this was the best way to present the inspiring magnitude of our awesome hope.

One aspect that we have not talked about in this study is that there are several resurrections that the Bible shows will take place in the future. The first resurrection would be more accurately called the “gathering together” because at that time will be the gathering of both the living and deceased (sleeping) Christians. All the other resurrections (specifically three) that the Bible describes are accurately called resurrections because everyone involved will be resurrected from death and the King of kings will be personally present here on earth to witness these. The resurrections are separated by specific future events and ages, and are descriptively detailed for us in the Bible, and as well, these events are meticulously brought to light through The Golden Thread series, and therein we have taken the space and the time to go through these for our readers.

The whole and greater truth about our God and His love and His blessings are available – not only to know, but even more so – we can enjoy God’s present benefits as we believe and confess the truths of God’s wonderful Word and continue delighting in our God-given faith, hope, and charity.

Faith, hope, and charity are balanced perfectly the way they are set in God’s Word, but when the hope is altered to fit into man’s opinions, the true scales of God’s justice and blessings can begin to tip unfavorably in our believing minds. Without the hope of Christ’s return and our burning desire to be gathered together unto him, our believing trust in what God has promised in His Word can become limited, and as well, our love can then stagnate. But by placing the hope of Christ’s return in our hearts, our believing in the promises of God can daily grow and the proof is that we will be receiving the desires of our heart, and our love can reach out to love the unlovable as well as the most deserving. Living in the love of God will activate our believing, and with our believing we can anticipate the hope of Christ coming (at any moment) to take us home!

We started with a study of the word charity (i.e., love), then faith (believing faith), and then onto our hope, and as we have seen, these three work together as a complete package, each augmenting the other. The first study was closed out with the following: “Love – God’s love – motivates our endeavors, faith – believing faith – appropriates the promises of God, and hope – Christian hope – anticipates the return of Christ. These three form a complete whole and enhance Christian character in an individual’s life.”

We saw how love energizes our believing, and how believing can aid our anticipation in the hope set before us. Romans 5:5 brings our hope back into focus with God’s love which completes the circle. We indeed have the spiritual love of God in our hearts by the holy spirit that is given to us and we hope steadfast in our believing of what the Scriptures reveal to us.

Faith, hope, and charity are spiritual qualities that augment your life to become more abundant, as they are God’s divine gifts to you, His child. I pray with my whole heart that you may not only receive them, but that you can begin walking and delighting in God’s precious gifts to you!

And now abideth {or ― remains here for you} faith, hope, charity.

I Thessalonians 1:2–3:
-2: We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers;
-3: Remembering without ceasing your work of faith {believing faith}, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father.

*Scripture taken from THE AMPLIFIED BIBLE, Old Testament copyright (c) 1965, 1989 by the Zondervan Corporation.
Used by permission.

**Scripture taken from THE AMPLIFIED BIBLE.
The Amplified New Testament copyright (c) 1958, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation.
Used by permission.