YOU CAN CONFIDENTLY EXPECT GOD TO BE GOD FOR YOU
Eternal life is the promise from God that we are saved from sin, death and separation from him. We can have hope in the promise because the one who made the promise is able to keep that promise.
This is the crux of Christianity, we can trust the one who has made us promises. Problems arise when you don't know what he's promised. Debates arise over what he actually has promised.
We know for sure that God has promised eternal life to all those who come to him in the name of Jesus Christ, by grace through faith. So we can rest assured that we can hope for (confidently expect) to live with God, in God, for all eternity in a perfect place, the restored Eden, Heaven.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF ETERNAL LIFE?
How many can you think of? No more pain, sickness or disease, for starters. How about no more lack, no more achy knees, no more confusion or depression. No more arguments about whose doctrine is right. No more war. No more injustice, false accusations or imprisonment.
Those are just the freedom from negatives, what about the capacity to see God face to face, hear the angels sing all day and chat with Jesus one on one by the River of Life. Wow! Any more like that? It's fun to imagine all the things eternal life holds for us.
I recently challenged my church to make a list of all the benefits of eternal life they can imagine, you may enjoy that exercise as well.
WHEN DO THE BENEFITS OF ETERNAL LIFE BEGIN?
Well some of them obviously don't begin until we die or the Resurrection takes place, but is it possible that some of them are available now? Do we have the right to expect any of the benefits of the hope of the Gospel now? Scripturally, the benefits of the promise of eternal life are the promises that God has made to those who are in Christ.
Here's a few of them
He will supply all your needs according to his riches in glory
He has delivered you from the power of darkness and translated you into the kingdom of Jesus
He who knew no sin was made to be sin so you could be righteous
He has placed his spirit in you
He has given you a new heart
He has made you great and precious promises so you'd be a partaker of his divine nature
There is no condemnation for you
The same spirit that raised Jesus from the dead is giving life to your physical body
I could go on for a very long time. When I say those things, I am not just quoting scripture. These are promises from God that I take personally. These are promises from him to me because I'm in him and I believe that he will and has kept those promises.
We can have hope (confidently expect) God's promises to be available for us when we need them because we have faith (persuaded) that God has made and will keep those promises.
These are not just promises for the well deserving, they are covenantal promises that are secured for us by the faithfulness of Jesus. Covenantal promises are different from regular old promises, covenantal promises are decrees from God that he has bound himself to and sworn to uphold for those in the covenant.
CONTINUING IN FAITH, NOT BEING REMOVED FROM THE HOPE OF THE GOSPEL
Let me walk you through some points from the sermon at the top of this page...
Colossians 1:21 Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. 22 But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— 23 if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel...
This is pretty much the only "IF" in the Gospel, if you continue believing you get to experience the benefits of salvation. So keep believing and don't walk away from the hope of the Gospel, eternal life and the redemption of our bodies.
Romans 8:22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.
Hoping in the fruition of the promise of the Gospel means hoping in unseen elements, like the redemption of our bodies, but also for those things that relate to this life. Here are a few examples we can learn from Hebrews 11.
By faith, we understand. Faith comes before understanding. Be willing to trust God, because he's trustworthy, then patiently wait for understanding, if you even need it.
1 Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. 2 This is what the ancients were commended for. 3 By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.
Noah took action before the danger came because he trusted God was telling him the truth.
7 By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that is in keeping with faith.
Abraham followed God when he didn't know where he was going because he believed God was telling him the truth, he fully persuaded of what God said.
8 By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.
Sarah was too old and Abraham was so old he was as good as dead.
11 And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she considered him faithful who had made the promise. 12 And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.
Abraham said, "I don’t care if God has to raise my son from the dead, I know that he will keep his promise."
17 By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had embraced the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, 18 even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” 19 Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead, and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death.
Here's the conclusion
Hebrews 12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
Consider Jesus and keep your eyes fixed on him. Specifically his faithfulness and the promises that are for those who are in him, for you. You can confidently expect God's promises to you to be in your life because the one who made those promises will keep those promises.