“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” ~Genesis 1:1 The first and second chapter of Genesis gives a grand account of God’s divine activity on this earth, its formation and His finished handiwork – and it was very good. Sadly as we read on into the third chapter, we read of the temptation and fall of mankind.
As God stepped in, with His divine law broken, justice needed to be executed against Adam. It was then that justice heard somebody stepping forward and with the sword of justice, justice executed judgment. The cost amazingly was not Adam’s life, but the cost of a Lamb. The body of that innocent little creature lay dead; mercy had dressed Adam with the skin of the Lamb. When Jesus said to Adam that the day he ate of the tree of knowledge of good and evil he would die; that day in effect it was Jesus Christ Jesus the Lamb that was really slain from the foundation of the world. Adam did die, but ultimately Jesus paid the final price in full.
For you and I today, at some point we will be called to account for our lives in the judgment throne room. As we experience our conversion and submission to Christ our Saviour, as our names are called to come forth to the bar of judgment, Jesus steps in between us and His Father, and cries “My blood, My blood”. Yes, Jesus did die the death for us and only His blood will cover us in the final judgment day.
Today may not be our day of account, but none-the-less it will come. For me, I should die – all should die to self every morning. Then as we hear the voice of God in the cool of the day, He calls us to walk and live by faith. In our unconverted state, we stand on the gloomy side of the cross, but as we cross over in our experience, we step into a river mingled with the blood that came from that cross into that river, water and blood. As we dip ourselves in that crimson river, and submerge entirely in that water, we come up with hands of mercy and love dressing us with this white garment of light – the garment of angels. Now as we look back we see the cross, but it is not gloomy. It is not sad and painful; it is a glorious beam of light, which is the Light behind me. Our heavenly Father tells us that He loves us and gives us a new heart. “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh.” ~Ezekiel 36:26
Sadly, so many Christians live on the ugly side of the cross and never cross over to the world of faith that Christ so much wants to give to us. The title of this message is called 'Saved By'. Now if the question was asked, “What are we saved by?”, most everyone would say ‘by grace’. And that is a true statement, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:” ~Ephesians 2:8. We are definitely saved by grace, but the text continues to say, “through faith”. So yes, we are saved by grace; the mechanism is through faith. This is a gift we do not deserve. When our name is called for judgment, our Saviour steps forward and the Father looks – not upon us – but upon our Substitute and as our name is addressed, Jesus has taken our name and wonder of wonders, has taken our punishment also. As Jesus has taken our name, this can only mean we have taken His name as He covers us – that we do not deserve.
So then with such a wonderful message as this, we would have to ask, why is the world in such a lost condition? It is because they don’t walk by faith. They walk in the reality of this world. We ask another question, Is faith real? Yes. Yet another question; can there be faith in this world? Yes definitely. We have a powerful example in the Old Testament of faith being exercised. In 2 Kings 6:17-20 we have the story of Elisha in Israel with the army of Syria outside. Elisha’s servant expressed concern that the army outside was far greater than Israel. Elisha remained calm and bid his servant to him, and God opened the eyes of the servant, and he was enlightened with seeing an even greater army in the mountain beyond. Were they there before? Yes they were. What was the problem? The servant was not able to see by faith. The faith of true reality in Christ Jesus.
Faith Our Hope
Remember His kingdom is not of this world. How is it that we who profess to be Christians are contented with this world, when the Lord has invited us and called us to His kingdom, far superior to this world? “Thy kingdom come” – today. Today the kingdom of God is at hand for every one of us. If we will grab the hand of the kingdom of God today, then today will be a sunny day. Let’s explain. We are saved by grace through faith. What is faith? “Now faith is substance of things hoped for...” ~Hebrews 11:1. But to have faith in something, you also need to have hope in something because if you don’t have hope in something you don’t have the skeleton to build faith; and if you don’t have the skeleton of faith, you don’t have hope. The mechanism is grace, but we get hold of grace by faith, through hope. And then Hebrews 11:1 continues, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” What are the evidences of things not seen? Let’s illustrate. If our spouse picks us up from the airport and we ask if the fire is on warming our home and the answer is yes, it is, what is the evidence of the things that I can’t see at this point? In this case it is the fire in our home. What is the evidence of the things I can not see but am hoping for? It is our spouses words. It is God’s Word that gives us the evidence of the things that we ought to hope for though we don’t yet see them. It is God’s word that is the evidence. His word is the assurance that the things that we can not see are real because we hoped for and we have faith in them and we are saved by that grace.
Yes, we have proven beyond a doubt that we are saved by grace, but now for a change. “For we are saved by hope!” ~Romans 8:24. So with this text added, we need to ask; Which hope? Which grace? It is His grace, but which faith? It is His faith, and again, which hope? It is His Hope. We are saved by this hope, by His hope to us. So there is Jesus Christ on that cross, and He has our name at the bottom and He says, ‘Father forgive each and every one of your children, because they know not what they did or what they are doing.’
What does it mean to live by hope? “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” ~2 Corinthians 5:17. In this text, the old has passed the new has come. But the previous verse gives significance, “Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more.” ~verse 16.
What is happening here? We meet Christ according to the flesh – on the gloomy side of the cross. When our sins crucified our Saviour; when He stepped forward in our name, we knew Him according to the flesh. But when we die on that cross in Jesus Christ, we are now crucified with Christ, because when Christ died, we died. We are crucified with Christ, therefore a new creature, a new creation. The old has gone. You know how the old has gone? That gloomy place that dark place of sin now is behind us. We step forward through the doors by faith and the days are not gloomy any longer because we have entered into the reality of faith. Our heavenly Father dresses us with a robe of light and He says 'I love you, I give unto you now, my name; you are my lamb.' This is what is the reality of hope, and the reality of faith. Because grace is the mechanism that without faith and hope, you can not be saved.
Heaven is real through the eyes of faith, and now that we see darkly through a glass dimly, one day we will see face to face, that is our hope. In Romans 8:24 we read “For we are saved by hope but the hope that is seen is not hope.” For why does one still hope for something that he already sees? Because of the promise given by our Saviour. It goes further than that. Our hope has a transforming power to change us, our children, our spouse; to change everyone else in our sphere of influence, because they will grab onto our hope. Why do each of us have hope? Because of Jesus’ hope in us. When He looked upon that cross, when He endured that cross, it was with a hope to get all these children to heaven – you and I who profess Him.
Now we know that not all are going to cross from darkness to the marvellous light. But what about if you are hoping and praying for someone and then that person is lost? Well wouldn't it be better to hope than to give up and make them a lost soul before their time is up, because even our attitude may be the trigger to cause the loss of a person. We sadly let go of the arm of faith all too soon, because of circumstances we find ourselves in.
With those of us with children and families, God has promised us that our children are our heritage and we are to bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. But what about if someone comes and challenges me about what happens if one of our children turns away and becomes a prodigal? We can reply, “I don’t see that. I see the promise of the evidence of the things that I cannot see.” Yes, we may physically see our child in their wayward condition, but what we cannot see are the evidences that God has promised to each of us; “I will save your children.” So when we are praying in the morning and we walk into the glorious light, we pray for our children not to be on the dark side of the cross, but on the other side of the cross, in the bright beams of His righteousness.
Then we open our Bible and claim, “But thus saith the LORD, Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken away, and the prey of the terrible shall be delivered: for I will contend with him that contendeth with thee, and I will save thy children.” ~Isaiah 49:25. We put our finger on that verse and say, ‘Father you have promised your word to be the evidence of the things that I ought to see and the things that I ought to hope for. You promised you would save my children. Now Lord I want to thank you because your promise is as good as gold of Ophir.’ Our promise is to have – and to receive as if you are already receiving the gift. That puts us in the living by the hope that is to come – the salvation of my children.
When we look at our children, we need not look at them as a hopeless case, going the wrong way. No, no, we have to continuously send a message of hope towards them. Will some family members go astray, be they children, siblings or even parents? Most probably some will, but that’s only a chapter on this earthly life, it need not necessarily be the last chapter at the end of the book. A book that is interesting takes you through different pathways to a happy ending, and it is the end that we should all be interested in for our families. Should we not all have confidence for the ending of our families? We should all have the hope of an eternal ending to our books.
Saved By Hope: Story 1
There was a man that left New Zealand for Australia some years back. A friend met him recently and his occupation was dairy farming. He left his faith very early as a teenager, his Mum died with the hope of salvation for her son; his Dad also died with the hope of salvation for his boy. As that young man arrived back home in New Zealand for the funeral of his father, he said he was as lost as lost can be. His Mum and Dad never saw with their eyes, but they held on to the hope with spiritual discernment, for the salvation of their son. As he travelled back to Australia, daily duties soon came to the forefront to occupy his mind. One particular day he was in the tractor harvesting silage for winter feed and planned to listen to the current cricket match. He knew that channel 3 in the radio was dodgy but none-the-less he pressed channel 3 and amazingly 3ABN radio came up. That programme had a great impact on his heart and six months later he was baptised.
Mum and Dad died and never saw it, but they had lived by hope. Their son was never able to give his parents the physical hope of his conversion, but the hope his parents had will only be fully realised on the resurrection morning.
This has to bring us to some questions;
How are we treating others in their daily lives?
How are we treating our children?
How are we treating our husband or our wives?
How are we treating those at our church who disagree with us?
How are we treating those at work that disagree with us?
How are we treating the most disciplined person in the world?
By the flesh or by hope?
“Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies.” ~Psalm 23:5 What is this table, friends?
There’s only one table that God is preparing for us and that is the long table for the supper of the Lamb, and guess who he wants to sit next to you?
Going by that text, it is very likely someone that could presently be our enemy.
Could it be that sometimes we read that our God is preparing that table before me in the presence of mine enemies and we think, “Well God will be happy with me, but I will leave it to him to sort the others out!!!”
That’s not what it is saying. What it is saying, is that at that long supper table of the Lamb, those sitting next to you and in front of you will be those – even though they may be or may have been enemies – but they are the ones that you pray for by hope to be in heaven. And even further, treated them with the hope that the promise is a reality.
Saved By Hope: Story 2
A pastor was called to the local hospital where he was to anoint one of his flock, a lady that had terminal cancer and was dying.
As he settled beside her, he asked the woman, “Is everything all right between you and the Lord?”
She replied, “Yes Pastor.”
Then he quietly asked again, “Is everything all right between you and every other living being?”
Again, she replied, “Yes Pastor.”
The pastor then brought out the oil as counselled in the book of James, “Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up.” ~James 5:14,15
With the counsel of James, that pastor read out Psalm 103 and as he read out and claimed the promises, he applied the oil to the forehead of that frail, very sick lady. Her breathing was very raspy and slow. As the pastor read the verses of this beautiful Psalm, “Bless the Lord oh my soul and all that which is within me. Bless his holy name. bless the lord oh my soul and forget not all his benefits. Who forgives all your iniquities.” “And sister you have already told me that that is the case.”
“Yes, Yes Pastor”
“Who heals all your diseases. Who redeems your life from destruction. Who crowns you with loving kindness and tender mercies. Who satisfies your mouth with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle.”
“Sister do you believe this.”
“I am sick Pastor, I’m still sick Pastor” she replies a little dejected.
“The Lord has promised that when your iniquities have been forgiven He will heal you from all the diseases. Do you still believe this sister?”
“I believe Pastor.”
She is so tired she closes her eyes and the Pastor goes and says,
“Do you see how Jesus is placing a crown on your head?”
She hesitates a little and then replies, “Yes, I do.”
“Do you see the white robe with light?”
“Can you see how you can walk towards him?”
“Yes, I see it.”
“Is there any sickness in you?”
[She takes a deep breath] “No, Pastor.”
Where is he going with such questions? He is living by hope and faith, and offering that very hope to this dying lady.
“Sister, He has promised that He will heal all your diseases.”
“Yes Pastor, I understand.”
The dying lady upon the bed doesn’t respond, and soon the Pastor hears from the heart monitor, beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep [flat line].
Friends, how long is it going to be for that woman, from the moment of hope and faith she was about to grab the hand of Jesus, dressed in a robe and a crown, healed from all disease, until the moment that it actually happens? For her, it will be in the twinkling of an eye. Next, that dear lady, will feel like she is just waking from a normal evening’s sleep to the glorious resurrection morning, to the outstretched hand of her guardian angel, and there will Jesus be in all His glory with ten thousand and thousands of thousands of angels. From beeeeeeep – that flat line on her heart monitor to a split second later, the morning of the resurrection. She is definitely healed from her terminal disease.
Treat Others As Yourself
The justified shall live by faith, and faith is the evidence of things hoped for, and your hope is sure because He has given us the evidences in his Word.
We can’t see it, but we believe it.
Thank the Lord for it.
Live by it and treat everyone with a robe and crown.
Tell the world about it.
Make sure you treat your brothers and your sisters as yourself. Why? Because if you are in Jesus you wear a robe and a crown. Treat others as yourself and heaven will be filled up by your hope and you become the instrument of hope of Jesus. In closing, continually observe the shining face of Jesus and that will have an effect upon your own experience in every day life. Even our faces will shine for the glory of God on this earth, because we have His hope in us and with that hope in us, we will have more of His presence.
~ Adapted from Oscar Sande’s message, ”Saved By?” Summer Camp 2014