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The Hope: How to find Happiness

Christian writer C.S. Lewis defined hope as "a continual looking forward to the eternal world."  (Mere Christianity p. 104)

Our terrible condition in sin would be hopeless were it not for the great love God has for us.  The good news is that God overcame all our guilt and sin. This is called "the gospel." Paul said of it:

"I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile." (Romans 1:16)

The things God has given for man's escape and his forgiveness are all found in this good news. It is expressed in these beautiful words:

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16)

"But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we now have been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him!" (Romans 5:8,9)

Read also Matthew 27:29-50; Mark 15:15-38; Luke 23:27-46; John 1:29,  19:13-37.

The animal sacrifices offered by the Jews under the Old Covenant were the promise of something better. The blood of those animal sacrifices could not take away sins (Read Hebrews 10:4). However, the only blood having power to deliver man from sins is that of His own Son. His life was sinless and therefore His death - His sacrifice of Himself became the means of our forgiveness. Read carefully the following references: Hebrews 4:15; 5:8, 9; I Peter 1:18, 19; 2:21, 22.

Jesus Christ is the center of the New Covenant and His death is the theme of the gospel. Therefore, it is easy to understand why Paul (the apostle) summed up his work of preaching by declaring, "For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified" (I Corinthians 2:2). His death on the cross would have been in vain if He had not won over death by His resurrection. (Read I Corinthians 15:14, 20; Romans 4:25).

The power of the gospel involves His resurrection - as well as His crucifixion. Read I Corinthians 15:1-4.

We shall now consider different pictures of the escape Jesus offers us from our sins.

1. Salvation: Man is lost in sin and needs to be rescued. Jesus has done this for us.

"Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved." (Acts 4:12)

"She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins." (Matthew 1:21)

"For the Son of Man came to seek and save what was lost." (Luke 19:10)

"But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. In bringing many sons to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering." (Hebrews 2:9, 10)

Read Hebrews 7:25; I Peter 2:25; I Timothy 1:15; Romans 8:1.

2. Redemption (to ransom or buy back): We have sold ourselves to sin and Satan. Jesus came to buy us back. There is nothing we can do to effect this redemption. Jesus did it for us. The price was his precious blood. "In whom we have our redemption, the forgiveness of our sins" (Colossians 1:14).

Read also Acts 20:28; I Corinthians 1:30; 6:20; Hebrews 9:12). In doing this for us Jesus broke the power and work of the devil.

3. Justification: We appear before God "just-as-if" we had never sinned. We are justified or declared "not guilty" because of the redemption we have in God's Son Jesus. Please read Acts 13:38, 39; Romans 5:1, 9; Titus 3:5-7.

4. Reconciliation: This word means "to restore friendship after separation."

When we first sin we separate ourselves from God. But when we are saved, redeemed and justified, we are brought back into fellowship with God.

"Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. 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." (Colossians 1:21, 22)

"All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation." (II Corinthians 5:18, 19)

Read Ephesians 2:16, 17.

5. Forgiveness: In order to stand before God without sin our sins must be forgiven. This happens when we accept His Son's death in our place. It is through the blood of Christ that God forgives and forgets all our sins.

Read this powerful verse:

"In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace." (Ephesians 1:7)

Read Acts 5:31; 13:38; 26:18; Ephesians 4:32; Colossians 1:14; 3:13; I John 1:9; 2:12. Having the same meaning as "forgiveness" is the word remission."

Read Matthew 26:28; Luke 1:77; Hebrews 9:22.

6. Cleansing: Our sin makes our hearts dirty - even as dirt and grime do to our bodies. We use soap and water to cleanse our bodies. Just so, when we are immersed into His death (Romans 6:4), we reach the blood of Jesus that cleanses our hearts from all the filth of sin.

What a meaningful verse this is! " . . . and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin" (I John 1:7). Read also I Corinthians 6:11; Revelation 7:14; Romans 6:1-6.

To consider the wonderful fact that we are saved, redeemed, justified, reconciled, forgiven, and clean makes us aware of God's love, and grace. How meaningful is this passage of scripture:

"But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions - it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus." (Ephesians 2:4-7)

The word "grace" means that God has given us His kindness and mercy, which we did not deserve. This is unmerited favor from our Father. Not one of us deserves to be forgiven or saved. Indeed, we all deserve to be sent to hell (Romans 1:32). There is nothing we can do to merit the removal of guilt and sin. Our Father in heaven is rich in mercy and loves us - so He sent His Son to do what we could never do for ourselves. This is the unspeakable gift from God to each of us. Read Romans 6:23 and Philippians 2:5-8 as well as II Corinthians 8:9.

We do indeed believe that we shall be saved through the grace of our Lord Jesus (Acts 15:11).

JESUS CHRIST IS THE HOPE OF THE WORLD! If we desire escape from our sins and a place in the everlasting kingdom of God, we must be certain that we have come to God by way of Jesus Christ and His blood. Read John 14:6. But if we neglect so great a salvation, we will lose ourselves in everlasting hell.

"We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. For if the message spoken by angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, how shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him." (Hebrews 2:1-3)

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