Sunday 31 March 2019 – Kobus Swart
John 3:16; John 1:12; Heb. 11:8-11; Acts 7:2-6; Gal. 3:7; Eph. 2:19-22; (Eph. 3:15); (Matt. 6:10); Heb. 11:1 (NASB) (TPT) (MSG) (THE MIRROR); Rom. 10:17; 1 John 3:2-3; Rom. 8:23-25; 2 Pet. 3:11-12; Heb. 11:5-6, 40; Heb. 12:1-2; Eph. 2:6; John 3:13; John 10:9; (John 19:30); (2 Pet. 1:3); (Hab. 2:14)
When you promise something, you commit yourself and you do it. We sang this morning, “Lord I trust in You”, and that is because God made a promise. He made a promise in His Word, but more than that – the Word became flesh in the person of His son Jesus. He was the promise of God to the world (John 3:16). It is God’s heart that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life! That is God’s heart, but the responsibility ultimately is resting on us to receive by faith the wonderful promise of God through His Son (John 1:12).
Look at Abraham who represents a man of faith. He is called the father of faith in the Old Testament. By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going (Hebrews 11:8). It does not make sense to the natural mind. Many people who are called and take a big step and obey God, then expect everything to work out just fine. By faith, he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise; for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God. By faith even Sarah herself received the ability to conceive, even beyond the proper time of life, since she considered Him faithful who had promised (Hebrew 11:9-11). Many people reach the stage in their Christian journey where they feel they are too old for new things to happen in their lives. Sarah was beyond the age to conceive but because of the promise, she fell pregnant. Ponder about this because there are promises hanging over us. Do not look at your age, nor at the length of your journey; there is something new coming, there is a new breakthrough coming; it is part of the promise of God to us.
Sometimes we are looking for guarantees and for God’s wonderful provision to become visible. Abraham had to leave his country and his relatives and go into a land that God would show him (Acts 7:2-6). Abraham walked all the way in faith because he trusted in God. The Bible gives this identification to Abraham, be sure that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham (Gal. 3:7). We are part of the sons of Abraham because in Christ we become part of the Seed of Abraham. Are we happy to live as aliens in the land of promise? Through the finished work of Christ, we are no longer strangers and aliens, but fellow citizens with the saints! (Eph. 2:19-22). The saints the Bible is referring to include the cloud of witnesses, the family in heaven (Eph. 3:15). Remember Abraham was looking for a city with foundations. We have that foundation, the foundation of the apostles and prophets with Christ Jesus Himself being the cornerstone. You also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit. We must not lose sight of that reality, we are fellow citizens with the saints and they are all part of God’s household.
What does the word ‘promise’ mean? (Here are some insights from Moltmann)
Promise announces the coming of a not yet existing reality from the future.
The promise contradicts existing reality and discloses its own process concerning the future of Christ for man and the world. God has a promise over the world, and the earth belongs to the Lord. The glory of the Lord will cover the earth as the waters cover the sea (Hab. 2:14). Do not look at so-called “reality”, look at the promise.
A promise is a declaration which announces the coming of a reality that does not visibly exist yet. The fact that it does not visibly exist does not mean it does not exist.
The promise binds you to the future and should activate faith in you with expectancy. I feel bound to the future; I feel pregnant with the future because a promise has been conceived. I do not look at reality around me as the real thing.
The word of promise therefore always creates an interval of tension between the utterance (when it was said) and redeeming of the promise. This tension runs through the whole of the New Testament. There is a tension between that which is and that which is yet to come. So, to a degree, we look like “aliens” in the land of promise. This is why so much preaching is about heaven one day and we endure because we believe that one day we will be in heaven. But Jesus said, Thy Kingdom Come thy will be done on Earth as It Is in Heaven (Matt. 6:10).
What is faith?
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1 – NASB). The hope I am referring to is not wishful thinking but true spiritual hope. Hope is an integral part of faith; without hope faith falls to pieces. Now faith brings our hopes into reality and becomes the foundation needed to acquire the things we long for. It is all the evidence required to prove what is still unseen (Hebrews 11:1 – TPT). The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t see (Hebrews 11:1 – MSG). Persuasion confirms confident expectations and proves the unseen world to be more real than the seen! Faith celebrates as certain what hope visualizes as future (Hebrews 11:1 – The Mirror). The unseen reality is more real than the visible.
Unless this reality of faith grips us, supports us, we are going to be tested to breaking point. There is an invisible world which is actually more real than the visible. True faith stands on the shoulders of trust. You have to have a basic trust in God which will support faith (Romans 10:17). Trusting in the call of God is a decision pregnant with the future.
The role of hope
Christ in us the hope of glory. Now when He is revealed, we will be revealed with Him in full clarity and publicity and the finished works will come to light (John 19:30). He then sat down at the right hand of the Father – Jesus is in rest. Why? Because ‘it is finished’ and we have to make that a greater reality in our lives than what we visibly see. The ‘it is finished’ will come to light and we will suddenly see the reality, the real world of Jesus. Therefore the Christian hope expects from the future of Christ not only an unveiling but also a final fulfilment. The latter is to bring the redeeming of the promise which the Cross and resurrection of the Christ contains for His own and for the world. He has given us everything pertaining to life and godliness (2 Pet. 1:3). Beloved, now we are children of God… We know that when He appears, we will be like Him because we will see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure (1 John 3:2-3). Therefore, we must expect something new from the future! (Romans 8:24-25). What are we waiting for? The redemption of our physical bodies! There is something coming like the redemption of our bodies into immortality (Rom. 8:23). Anyone with hope is forward-looking and hastening the coming of the Lord (2 Peter 3:11-12).
We must not lose faith in His promises ever, even if everything visibly goes wrong, do not stop believing in His promises! By faith Enoch was taken up so that he would not see death. How was he taken up? By faith! (Hebrews 11:5-6). Enoch is the seventh from Adam, and to me that represents the finishing generation. Seven is completion, the final, the finishing picture. Enoch represents the finishing generation that will bypass death and go straight into eternal life.
What if we are not part of the finishing Enoch generation? In other words, what if it is still going to happen beyond our lifetime? Here is the answer. And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised (Hebrews 11:39), but they believed till the end (2 Timothy 4:7). Do not ever lose faith. Because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they would not be made perfect (Heb. 11:40). So if we do not make the final Enoch generation, we will be part of the other family in heaven, we will make the transition and God will say, “Well done, you have believed till the very end”. However, the possibility still exists that we might be part of the finishing generation! Therefore, I am not going to lose hope, are you?
These are the two families, the family in heaven and the family earth, uniting as one. We might be part of the finishing generation, Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith. We get faith from Him, He is the pattern son. … who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God (Heb. 12:1-2).
In the meantime, where are we? God seated (past tense!) us with Him in heavenly places in Christ Jesus (Eph. 2:6). That is the reality, it may not be visible yet, but it is a bigger reality than what we see with our natural eyes now.
Can we be like the pattern Son who was in heaven on earth? (John 3:13). I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture (John 10:9). Behold I’m standing at the door and I’m knocking (Rev. 3:10).