Without the hope of eternity the heart of an unsaved person will inevitably journey to ever rising heights in which to fall from into despair.
In II Peter 3:9 we read that, "The Lord is not slack
concerning His promise."
The vastness and sheer splendor of this prophecy easily fades from our vision as we deal with the relentless trials of life.
We find ourselves becoming evermore jaded and weary as frustrations and anger overwhelm us at times. It becomes increasingly easy for believers to forget that a brilliant tomorrow is about to eternally dawn when one is afflicted with illness, downhearted by loss or burdened with financial difficulties.
Nonetheless, every believer is commanded to rise above the despair of this present world and seek the Lord's higher ground for the continual renewal of one's hope.
For a moment consider that you have been invited to an all expense paid vacation at one of the most beautiful spots on earth. Your accommodations will only be the finest. The invitation is extended to anyone that chooses to share in your great fortune. The festivities will include complete unhindered access to the finest entertainment, health, recreation and leisure facilities imaginable. Only chefs from four-star gourmet restaurants will prepare your meals with exotic foods of the absolute highest quality. To top this all off there is no time limit as to how long you may stay at this paradise resort. If you so chose you may stay there the rest of your life.
Not surprisingly there are a great many people who will experience a tinge of sadness after contemplating such an opportunity. The reason is that most people will be forced to recognize this as just an exercise in futility. Though there are some extremely wealthy people who could truly live a lifetime of pampered luxury, even they are unable to escape the inevitable trials of sickness, loss, aging and death which chains mankind to the heartache of life.
What is lacking is any true hope. Temporary, unrealistic hope will never bring about contentment or fulfillment of an aspiration, but only hope in something that is sure can give true, lasting comfort and joy.
This is what a believer has in God's promises.
In the first few verses of Ch. 14 of the Gospel of John the Lord made the beauty of His promise sure. He told every follower of Him that He is coming again, and when He comes He is going to take them to be with Him in heavenly dwelling places.
"Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. "In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you, I go to prepare a place for you. "And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also." (Jn. 14:1-3).
I Thessalonians 4:17 makes it clear that this is not going to just be a temporary arrangement, but a glorious, eternal provision where the believers from that point on shall forever be with their Lord.
Writing by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in I Corinthians 15:50-55 and Philippians 3:20-21 the Apostle Paul revealed that at that time believer's bodies will become immortal and will be glorified in perfection just as Christ's is today.
"Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed - in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: "Death is swallowed up in victory." "O Death, where is your sting" O Hades, where is your victory?" (I Cor. 15:50-55).
"For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself." (Phil. 3:20-21).
If you had allowed your mind to dwell awhile in the fantasy
paradise resort that we presented earlier perhaps you chose a
beautiful tropical evening at sunset to set the mood. The music,
rolling surf, balmy weather and sweet smells of ocean, flowers
and food were all the best you could envisage. Perhaps a moment
of inspiration recaptured some illusive childhood time of wonderment
and joy for the ideal frame of mind for the occasion. But even
with all of these vivid images and lingering memories we are
reminded in God's Word how pitifully inadequate man's thoughts
and experiences are in comparison to the reality that He has
reserved in His promise for the redeemed.
We read in I Cor. 2:9-10, "Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him. But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit."
Here is the pure high ground of the future citizens of heaven. It is the place where God has divinely opened future's curtained window for the union of believers to view their shared hope. It is from this vantage point that we know that the day of His coming for His Church is near.
In His Word the Lord assures us that all believers will one day soon see justice carried out, sickness eradicated and wickedness cease. Life on earth will be peaceful, prosperous and joyous beyond mortal comprehension.
The glorified saints will soar with heavenly angels through celestial lands and will sit down to eat of foods prepared at God's own table. They will accompany Christ when He triumphs over evil at His return and will bathe in the infinite light of His love for time without end as death becomes a fading, then forgotten dream.
There is no boredom, hatred, depression or pain in God's kingdom. There is no such thing as an "off day." Those who have believed in Jesus Christ shall truly live happily ever after (Rev. Chaps. 19-22).
From all appearances the Day of the Lord is near at hand and therefore the coming of the Lord for His Church even more so must be imminent.
Finishing our opening quote from II Peter 3 we read in verse 14, "Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless."
As believers in Jesus Christ we cannot stress too strongly that we all need to get our priorities in order. If we are unsure of what affairs need to be taken care of then we need to go in prayer to that higher ground of God's promises and examine our life in light of His certain coming.
If you are a non-believer then this is likewise the time for you to seek that high calling of God in Christ. Eternal happiness in place of eternal shame lies just before you as an open door. A simple childlike faith in Jesus Christ can at this moment bring the assured hope of His promises into your life.
According to every sign that Christ gave as a warning we know that the time of His coming is at hand. Don't become like the predicted many who have reached the point in their lives where they themselves are part of the prophesied fulfillment of II Pet. 3:3-4, "Knowing this first; that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, "Where is the promise of His coming?"
In Psalm 84:1-4 the prophet writes of His yearning to be at home with the Lord in God's heavenly courts. In verse 5 he proclaims, "Blessed is the man whose strength is in You, Whose heart is set on pilgrimage."
The prophet's reference to "pilgrimage" should be an inspiration of incomparable Hope. He is speaking of a longing to make a pilgrimage or a sacred journey to the dwelling of God.
The pilgrimage being spoken of here is one that is to be undertaken by the living, so the Psalmist is not expressing a desire to die. With his sacred journey to God starting on earth, he hints at his pilgrimage ending in heaven without having to pass through death.
To the Old Testament believers such an idea might bring to mind Elijah or Enoch who did indeed experience being caught up alive to God, but to the New Testament believers the vision inspires the hope of the promise in I Thess. 4:16-17 where we are assured, "For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of 'God. And the dead in Christ will arise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, And thus we shall always be with the Lord."
A new day is soon to dawn full of unspeakable wonder and adventure. Through Christ's atoning blood sacrifice the sins of the world have been atoned for and the reservations to go to Heaven have been paid in full for everyone. They only need to be picked up with faith in Jesus, the only begotten Son of God who will be coming back soon. Prepare yourself for the journey and don't be left behind.