(April 12, 2019) Missionary statesman Dr George Forbes reminds us what Easter really means for believers – and to pass on the great news of a risen Saviour…
Next weekend Christians worldwide will be celebrating that some two thousand years ago Jesus, the Son of God, died from our sins on Cavalry becoming the Saviour of the world – that the grave could not hold him and he rose victorious as our Saviour… the hope of the world!
I think of those first disciples in Ephesus. Paul’s Ephesians 2:11 comment was a reminder that they were once ‘Gentiles by birth and called ‘uncircumcised.’ Then he adds to this in verse 12: ‘Remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.’
But in the very next verse, Paul happily reminds them of their (and the world’s) great hope in Jesus through his shed blood on Calvary’s cross: ‘But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.’
Here is a wonderful declaration of the grace of God to not only those early Ephesian believers but to all peoples across our troubled world today! Paul was declaring that Jesus was and is the hope of the world – a reminder of John 3:16, ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but has eternal life.’
‘The hope of the world is Jesus!’
I have heard this phrase, this truth, declared by preachers all around the world. I have also read these same words many times and have personally preached many times that ‘The Hope of the World is Jesus.’
These words of the apostle Paul to the church in Ephesus include several important facts for Christians. It is critical that we ‘remember’ we too were once ‘separated’ from God. That we too were once ‘alienated’ from Israel, ‘strangers’ to the covenants of promise, without hope and without God in the world.
It appears that it is all too easy to forget the pit from which we were dug. To forget we were once enemies of God, without hope. We were once lost souls too. We must share with others Easter’s good news of a risen Christ, the hope of the world!
Remember who you were
Remember is a good word. A necessary action for every Christian. Because if we don’t act to share the gospel, we will not fulfil our God-given purpose on earth.
The word ‘remember’ is in Bible text 164 times. Sometimes relating to God remembering, but often about people who remembered God or his commandments. Here are some of these verses…
- ‘Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth, while the evil days do not come, nor the years draw near, when you shall say, “I have no pleasure in them”’ (Ecclesiastes 12:1).
- ‘Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my gospel’ (2Timothy 2:8).
- ‘But you, beloved, remember the words spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ’ (Jude 1:17).
The text in Ephesians contains several things that the believers needed to remember. Paul did not want them to forget that they were ‘separated,’ ‘strangers,’ ‘hopeless,’ ‘without God.’ These are graphic words that described their spiritual state before they became believers in Christ.
But now in Christ
We should take note that in Ephesians 2:11-12, Paul deliberately reminded them of their past condition before he proceeded to describe their new relationship.
Now in the next verse he states a wonderful declaration of the grace of God to these Ephesian believers.Paul declares, ‘But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ’ (2:13).
Brought near to Almighty God!
What a reminder to the Ephesians! You are…
- Now brought near by the blood of Christ.
- Atoned from sin
- Assured of forgiveness
- Future secured
- Children of God
- No longer distant from God – your Father in heaven, the God of every believer!
Remember… this is where every believer today stands! I think of Titus 3:7, ‘So that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.’
Saved to Serve
Brought near to God to…
- Experience all his grace
- Discover the power of his kingdom.
- Live their lives according to his word and will.
- Be lights in their part of the world.
This was not just for the Ephesian believers but for all in every place in their country, in every place near and far where people live…
- All Israelis
- All people of every nationality
- Friends and foes alike were equally to hearing God’s offer of forgiveness and eternal life.
- None worthy by their own deeds, but
- All were made worthy by the love of God in Christ.
This is the truth from God that every person on earth – this troubled world – needs to hear! That the God of eternity loves them. That through Jesus they can come to him, be forgiven, be granted eternal life –and serve him in the endless ages of his glorious new kingdom on earth. And the truth that every Christian must share.
The hope of the world
That’s Jesus the Christ, Son of the living God!
The shedding of his life blood on the cross at Golgotha opened heaven’s doors to all who would believe in the power of his redeeming sacrifice. The thief on the cross, who cried out, ‘Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom,’ heard the reply of Jesus, ‘Today, you will be with me in Paradise.’
Since then, millions have called on his name, and have been forgiven, accepted and made children of God by their faith in Jesus Christ.
Hope for eternity
And not just hope for the present but eternal hope. Hope that will last, that is not transient but based on faith and love. Hope that is like an anchor to our soul!
The Bible says that ‘These three abide, faith, hope and love, and the greatest is love’ (1 Corinthians 13:13).
Love! Because of God’s love, Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice for the sin of the world. Whoever believes (has faith) in him will experience the hope of eternal life. That is why we can say that God’s love wraps it all up!
But… we – whether on the mission field or in our home suburb – must not keep this great Easter biblical truth to ourselves! We must share with those around us in our troubled world who have not yet found this great Redeemer, our anchor for the soul!
Dr George Forbes is internationally recognised as a missionary spokesperson with a heart for the lost of the nations. With a wealth of missionary knowledge and a unique ability to communicate the global picture, he is widely known as the ‘story-teller.’ Link: firstname.lastname@example.org