Hope is inherent throughout the message and meaning of the Word of God.
And hope is intrinsic to the very Gospel. The word “Gospel” means “good news.”
Indeed, the Gospel is good news—in fact; it is the best news possible. Yet the Gospel—and the whole message and meaning of the Bible—are much more than what most professing Christians think that they are.
Most of professing Christianity maintains that Christ died for them. Many say that He also lived a perfect life in their stead. They often believe that God loves them and fully accepts them “just as they are.” Yet is this a true complete understanding of what God has said, done, and is doing, for and in the lives of His children?
Christ died for our sins—and that truly is good news which generates hope for us. But why was it necessary for Christ to die for us in the first place? What does this mean for Christians and for our lives going forward?
It was and is essential that Christ die for our sins because “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). There is no right or expectation of eternal life any of us can claim—for we are not worthy. Our sins have separated us from God, and our situation has become utterly helpless (Isa. 59.2).
Yet there is completely sobering—and yet incomprehensively good—news for all of us. For the righteous standard of God fully allows for the life of the innocent to go in place of the life of the guilty. Life for life.
This is a vital realization that was emphatically shown through the sacrificial system in the old covenant, which in part foreshadowed the ultimate sacrifice to come—the sacrifice of Christ (Col. 2:17, Heb. 10:1).
Yet God’s righteous standard also requires one life to pay for one life. A perfectly righteous man having never sinned, could only offer himself for one other individual; for his live would only be worth one life.
So how then could Christ alone atone for the sins of all of humankind, with only one sacrifice of himself?
Because He was God with us (Matt. 1:23). Christ was not only human, but He was God in the flesh. He was and is the very One who was and is our Creator (John 1:3), the very one who was the God of the Old Testament (1 Cor. 10:4), is God today (Heb. 1:3), and is the very one who died for our sins (1 Cor. 15:3).
As the Creator, His life is worth more than the sum total of all creation.
That is how and why He could pay the penalty in one sacrifice for all of mankind and for all of time. And that is why it had to be Christ who died for our sins—why His is the only name under heaven whereby we must be saved (Acts 4:12).
But is that the end of it? Is that the good news? It does seem overwhelmingly good that we are saved from a terrible fate— death. It is utterly awesome that we are forgiven, and that the slate of our sins is completely wiped clean in God’s sight!
Yet many Christians seem to not fully realize that we were in a wretched state of being when Christ died for our sins. That it was and is necessary for Him to die for us in the first place. We were in a state of human nature—habitually doing, thinking, being that which was and is contrary to the law and will of God. Shouldn’t we understand what a terrible joke it would be if God would then leave us in that state of sin? The truth is that God loves us too much to leave us “just as we are.” Thus it is perfectly fitting that the very first preached word of the Gospel recorded after Christ’s death is to repent: to change (Acts 2:38).
It is for our own good that God instructs us to have a complete change of heart, mind and direction—to turn to His way of life. We are to choose life, and we are promised to have life abundantly (Matt. 10:10).
In reality, forgiveness is just the beginning!
It is predicated on recognizing that we have sinned, that we need God’s forgiveness. When we truly understand the tragic state of our own nature, then we wholeheartedly desire to change—to become more godly.
And thus, there is even more good news, as God proves that He loves us too much to leave us as we were and are by nature!
God knows that we cannot overcome on our own. He says we cannot change our nature, any more than a leopard can change its spots (Jer. 13:23). Yet He was not only willing to die in our stead—to pay the penalty for our sins in our place. He is also willing to give of Himself, His very own life—to live in and through us—to enable us to overcome, and to become, something that we could never be of ourselves!
This is the gift of the Holy Spirit (Luke 11:13, John 7:39, Acts 2:38). This is the power that enables us to obey God and fulfill His holy will with power and with absolute faith and love (Acts 2:4, 2 Tim. 1:7). God not only was with us and dwelt with us when Christ walked here on the earth with the disciples (1 John 1:1), but now He dwells within true believers through the power of His Holy Spirit (John 14:17). Those who truly call upon His name and worship Him in Spirit and in Truth He enables to truly fulfill His will and do more than they could ever dream of doing on their own.
This process of overcoming, and becoming, is for true Christians the very fulfillment of the Christian life.
So is this then the conclusion of it all? Is this the completion of the plan and purpose of Almighty God?
It does seem amazingly awesome that we are given the power to obey God and worship Him in Spirit and in Truth!
Astonishingly, yet again, this is all still just holy groundwork! Just a foundational preparation for what is to come!
The sacrificial system was a type of things to come. Ancient Israel reflected a type of the world to come. We assuredly need to understand the very words of Christ expressing the Gospel of the Kingdom of God—referring to and describing His Kingdom.
The Good News that Christ proclaimed, the Good News that He sent his disciples to preach, was not focused upon His sacrifice or on the forgiveness and enablement for Christians. It was and is all about the Good News of the coming Kingdom of God here on the earth (Luke 13:39; 21:31, John 3:5, Rev. 5:10; 11:15; 12:10)
When we understand the whole message, we realize that God has been orchestrating a purpose—a plan for human kind, from the beginning (Isa. 40:21, Acts 15:18). We begin to realize the hope that is in store all of creation; for every man, woman and child who ever has been, and who ever will be (John 5:28).
The Good News takes on a more complete dimension as we comprehend that God is in control of His creation, and that He takes on full responsibility to assure that His creation will be supremely successful.
The reality is that we are still in the process of being created.
God is not finished with the spiritual work that He has begun in us (Phil. 1:6). He is carrying out the fulfillment of His spiritual purpose step-by-step. God has been been working out—through human civilizations and human experiences—a divine purpose.
The lessons of human history are being written to amplify our understanding of the difference between right and wrong— between good and evil. These real life experiences are vital because God is creating beings through the human family that will willingly, individually, discern right from wrong and good from evil. God in in the process of creating freewill beings that enthusiastically will choose to wholeheartedly embrace and live the way that God has taught and revealed to be right, just, good and holy. Through experience we see how even the innocent are victims of the guilty, and how hideous sin actually is.
This is why free moral agency is a hallmark of Biblical and Christian understanding. God is not creating robots, automatons or puppets. He is creating living freewill beings. He is infusing them through life’s experience with understanding via His Holy Spirit—to recognize and choose the true way of life!
He is allowing human beings to develop holy spiritual character that will be the hallmark of His Family as He brings resurrected saints into His Kingdom, to fulfill specific roles here on the earth—and throughout all eternity. The future that God is preparing for us is beyond our ability to fully comprehend in this life (Isa. 64:4, 1 Cor. 2:9).
Not everyone has had or will for now have had opportunity to hear the Gospel or the message of Salvation through Jesus Christ. God has not planned or purposed for every man woman and child to know the truth this past 6,000 years of human experience. Many human beings have lived, and will live, without ever even so much as hearing the name of Christ or the Gospel message…
Yet it is God’s will that every human being will ultimately come to understand the Truth and have full opportunity to discern and choose right from wrong—good from evil—life from death. That plan is fully outlined in His Holy Word, the Bible.
And so the hope, the fulfillment of God’s Holy Purpose, is far greater than many Christians have known or understood. And what an astounding hope for all of human kind it is! God does not desire any to perish (2 Pet. 3:9). He does desire all of humankind to experience joy and goodness beyond our wildest dreams or expectations (Jer. 29:11, Isa. 64:4, 1 Cor. 2:9)!
God will yet perform astonishing miracles for all of humankind!
Isaiah 54 and Ezekiel 37 provide context for part of God’s plan that is yet to be fulfilled. God says “…ye shall know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves, And shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the Lord have spoken it, and performed it, saith the Lord.” (Ezek. 37:13-14) Do we realize what this means? Do we realize what the Word of God says?
There are people who will have lived out their normal lifetime. People who could not and did not have full opportunity for Salvation. Yet, when God resurrects them—in a physical resurrection—as flesh and blood human beings; God will then put His Spirit in them, and then they will know that God is the Lord. For the first time they will understand what life is all about, and will be able to begin to fulfill God’s will through the power and understanding provided by His Holy Spirit (2 Tim. 1:7).
God is not a cruel harsh monster (as some think) who would condemn those who did not, and could not, fully understand or comprehend the truth about the purpose of life, about salvation, about Him. Though God’s plans were known by Him from the foundation of the world, they have not been revealed to all people at all times (Matt. 13:35, Heb. 4:3, Rev. 13:8).
It is absolutely true that God will hold humankind accountable for what they did know (Luke 12:47-49, John 4:29), yet the multiple resurrections as outlined in the Bible actually also profoundly reveal that God truly is an equal opportunity Savior!
In this brief outline we can hardly do more than scratch the surface of the True Gospel and the hope awaiting all of human kind. Yet our hope is that you, the reader, will be inspired to continue to learn more of God’s plan and purpose that has been being orchestrated from the very beginning (Acts 15:18).
Our hope is that you will be inspired to apply the very lessons of life to learn and understand that God’s right way is the only way of life, and that you will turn to God in the earnest fulfillment of His Plan of Salvation —and await the True Hope— to be fulfilled at Christ’s return, when He will literally reign over all the earth in the Kingdom of God! (Rev. 5:10; 17:14; 20:4, 6)
Below are links to a few articles and sermons that will assist in providing Biblical understanding and guidance purposed to assist those whom God calls in the fulfillment of His Holy Plan and Purpose:
- Why Were You Born?
- The Gospel – What Is It?
- The Gospel in the Old Testament
- Understanding the Plan of Salvation Audio
- How to Finish the Race for Salvation Audio
- Salvation – What Does It Mean?
- Developing Character & Overcoming Temptation
- The Apostles on Christian Living #1
- Does Character Matter?
Please don’t hesitate to contact Bethel Church of God with any questions or requests that you may have!