(July 17, 2020) Dr George Forbes, former director of Australia AoG (ACC) World Missions, shares an important reminder…
Daily we learn of more Covid-19 cases not only in our own nation but around the world. One learns of troubled people, even Christians, and of increased suicides and crime.
Yes, it’s a time of desperation and madness around the world – but also a time of opportunity to share the gospel of hope for the world!
If ever the world needed hope it is most certainly today and Jesus is still the answer!
In my lifetime I’ve heard the declaration that the gospel of Jesus is the hope of the world voiced by several preachers all around the world. And I too, I confess, have preached many times that ‘the hope of the world is Jesus.’
And here in this article I would refer to a scripture of the apostle Paul’s that I’ve often quoted – Ephesians 2:12, ‘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.’
Remembering is mentioned some 164 times in scripture, sometimes relating to God remembering, but often about people who faithfully remembered God or his commandments. Actually it’s a necessary action for every Christian – if we do not remember we will not fulfil our God-given purpose on earth. In relating this scripture to today’s need of hope, I share as follows…
What we were without Jesus
Paul’s graphic words above challenged the Ephesian believers to consider their spiritual state before they became believers in Christ. He reminded them of their past condition before he proceeded to describe their new relationship.
And this is important today too! It is critical that we all ‘remember’ that we too were once –
- ‘Separated’ from Christ
- ‘Alienated’ from Israel
- ‘Strangers’ to God’s promises
- ‘Without hope’
- ‘Without God’ in the world.
Sadly it appears that it is all too easy to forget the pit from which we were dug: that we were once enemies of God, lost souls without hope!
What we are in Jesus
Paul next states good gospel news in a wonderful declaration of the grace of God to those Ephesian believers (indeed to all believers!) – ‘But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ’ (Ephesians 2:13).
As the Message Bible puts it, ‘– you who were once out of it altogether are in on everything.’
Three great truths about being in on ‘everything’ are –
1) Heirs of eternal life
We – you – are now brought near by the blood of Christ. Your sin is atoned, forgiveness is assured and future secured. You are no longer distant from God, you are now near him.
That is we’re brought close to God who is now every believer’s Father in heaven. We are now children of God, ‘So that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life’ (Titus 3:7).
This was not just for the Ephesian believers, but for all Christians in every place in their country, in every age, in every place near and far where people live… including all Israelis, indeed all people of every nationality.
Both friends and foes cross-culturally need to hear God’s offer of forgiveness and eternal life! And every born-again Christian is brought near to God to experience all his grace and his power, to live our lives according to his word and will – and to be lights in our part of the world.
2) Gifted with lasting hope
This is not just hope for the present but eternal hope. Hope that will last, 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). Because of God’s love, Jesus Christ 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, ‘God’s love wraps it all up.’
3) Saved to share hope to the world
Every person on earth today needs to hear that the God of eternity loves them. That they can come to him, be forgiven, granted eternal life and serve him in the ensuing ages of his glorious kingdom on earth.
And we who know this were saved to share this good news of the gospel! The hope of the world is indeed still 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, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom’ heard the Lord’s reply: ‘Today, you will be with me in paradise’ (Luke 23:42-43). Since then, millions who have called on his name have been forgiven, accepted and made children of God by their faith in Jesus Christ!
Many more need to accept Jesus today and discover the hope that we have – and we must take every opportunity God gives us to share wherever we are in this needy world!
In remembering we are called to communicate…
As I wrote last month, every Christian is called by God to serve, to communicate God’s love and message of salvation. I would again draw attention to the important matter of what we term the ‘call’ of God. ‘Call means ‘invited’, ‘appointed’, ‘selected’, or ‘favoured.’
These are words that should be fully considered by every person dedicating themselves to the fulfilling of the call of God in their lives and to the Great Commission both at home and overseas. I praise God that many have responded to God’s calling to be missionaries overseas… and for Christians at home reaching out locally.
Some more associated scriptures in respect of remembering what we were…
- The Old Testament too encourages remembering – the Preacher (traditionally King Solomon in his old age) wrote in Ecclesiastes 12:1 ‘Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth…’
- ‘But you, beloved, remember the words spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ’ (Jude 1:17).
- And back again to Paul – ‘Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my gospel’ (2 Timothy 2:8).
As I pointed out earlier, it appears so sad that it is all too easy to forget what we were. I encourage us to remember what not only what we were but what we now are in Christ and to move ahead in serving our master and sharing the good news of the hope that God offers in Jesus!
Dr George Forbes has been internationally recognised as a missionary spokesperson. With his wealth of missionary knowledge and unique ability to communicate the global picture, although ‘retired’ he still has a heart for the lost of the nations. (Editorial note: Do keep praying for Dr Forbes as he trusts the Lord for physical victory during this time of medical treatment. From his current recuperation accommodation he reports that he’s been taking opportunity to share hope and pray for others!). Link: Carol Round’s let-your-light-shine