Jesus Is Our HopeSeries: The Church Defined. James Dewhurst June 28, 2020
The Church Defined
Jesus Is Our Hope!
I hope I’m wrong, but outside of an incredible comeback, 2020 is not looking like it will go down in history as one of the most prosperous or peaceful years in U.S. history.
If you look for it, there is plenty to be discouraged about in our country right now!
In the year 1945, during WWII, after a B-29 bomber dropped the first-ever nuclear weapon on the Japanese city of Hiroshima, a reporter stood at the site of the carnage and he declared, “I am standing on the spot where the end of the world began.”
Where is our world heading? Global warming? Nuclear war? Socialism under a One World Government? A second Civil War? The reoccurrence of a Pandemic?
How should Christians respond when life is unpredictable? We respond with Hope!
The birth, death, burial, resurrection, and return of Jesus is what gives our world hope!
Over 2,000 years ago, Jesus brought hope to our hopeless world when He was born in Bethlehem and crucified on a cross. Guess what? My Bible says he’s coming again!
During the chaos, we have hope:
13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, (ESV)
16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. (ESV)
God sent Jesus to save the world once, and he’s sending him soon to do it again!
If you want to know what the forecast looks like for the future, my Bible says it’s bright! A white horse will appear in the sky escorting the Savior of the world, who will arrive with healing in his wings! The great hope of the church is that Jesus is coming again!
11 Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. 12 His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. 13 He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. 14 And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. 15 From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords. (ESV)
-In the Old Testament, there are 1485 different references to christ’s future coming.
-In the New Testament, there are 318 prophecies and passages about Chris’s return.
-Mathematically, 1 out of every 30 verses in the N.T. speaks about the return of Christ.
-For every one reference in the Bible to Jesus first coming to redeem the world, there are 8 references to Christ’s second coming to reign as king of kings and Lord of Lords!
The Bible tells us that before Jesus ascended into heaven, he took Peter, James, and John up on a high mountain, and he was transfigured before them. His face began to shine like the sun, his clothes became white as light and he ascended into the clouds:
9 And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10 And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, 11 and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” (ESV)
1 Thessalonians 5:2
2 For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. (ESV)
Jesus gave us something to look forward to when nothing looks good around us!
3 critical things that every Christian must do right now:
(1) We need to Look Up!
(We have to stop looking around, and start looking up!)
1 I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? 2 My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth. (ESV)
The first recorded martyr in the New Testament was a man named Stephen. For standing up to the corrupt religious leaders, and scolding the Sanhedrin for crucifying Jesus, Stephen was convicted of blasphemy and sentenced to stoning:
54 Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth at him. 55 But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56 And he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” 57 But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together at him. 58 Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. 59 And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep. (ESV)
+This passage tells us that as the stones came raining down on Stephen’s body, he didn’t look around, he looked up!
(If we focus on what’s flying, we will lose heart!)
+We later see Stephen pray a prayer that sounded strikingly similar to his Savior’s prayer on the cross. As Stephen was dying from the stones of an angry religious mob, instead of becoming bitter, he prayed, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.”
+Stephen had experienced the power of forgiveness from Jesus, so that’s what he prayed over his abusers. The forgiveness of the cross is the hope of our nation!
Proverbs 18 tells us that offended people are unyielding. We have people on all sides right now who are unwilling to budge, and the answer is not more arguments, more riots, or more division. The answer is forgiveness! Forgiveness breaks the cycle of offense!
> The only way you will ever end an offense in your marriage is through forgiveness!
> The only way you will ever and an offense in your family is through forgiveness!
> The only way we will ever the offenses in our nation is through forgiveness!
The debt is too great! The Bible tells us Jesus paid a debt he did not owe because we owed a debt we could not pay, then he calls us to forgive as Christ has forgiven us!
Jesus taught us that offenders need to be forgiven and the offended need to forgive!
(2) We need to Look Out!
(A great human flaw is only seeing from our perspective!)
Jesus was traveling and teaching large crowds and the Bible says something incredible happened to him, in:
36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; (ESV)
+This passage tells us that when Jesus saw the crowds he was moved with compassion, not frustration! Why? He saw they were harassed, hurting, hopeless, and helpless.
+Jesus doesn’t get angry by people’s pain, he gets moved to compassion by it!!!
+Then Jesus tells us that there’s a harvest of hurting people but few care enough to go!
If we can look past ourselves, we have a golden opportunity to share the love of Christ!
In 1956, Jim Elliott, along with 3 other missionaries went to a South American jungle to minister to the Auca Indians. The tribal chief sent out a raiding party and killed all four of these men. Jim’s diary was later found and his last prayer was, “Lord make me be a fork in the road to direct people to Jesus.” His wife Elizabeth answered his prayer, returned to that same village where Jim died, and lead the chief and his entire tribe to Jesus!
Our hurt, our offenses, and our frustrations are secondary to the gospel of Jesus Christ!
(3) We need to Look In!
(You will never be given an account to God for anyone but you!)
10 Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; 11 for it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.” 12 So then each of us will give an account of himself to God. 13 Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother. (ESV)
How you and I respond in moments of great pressure, we will answer for in the future!
When we respond with anger and judgment, it only reveals our lack of faith!
We need to settle our hearts down and be reminded that destruction is not our destiny!
1 John 4:17
17 By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. (ESV)