37 All that the Father gives me will come to me; and him who comes to me I will not cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me; 39 and this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up at the last day. 40 For this is the will of my Father, that every one who sees the Son and believes in him should have eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day."
1 But the souls of the righteous are in the hand of God, and no torment will ever touch them. 2 In the eyes of the foolish they seemed to have died, and their departure was thought to be an affliction, 3 and their going from us to be their destruction; but they are at peace. 4 For though in the sight of men they were punished, their hope is full of immortality. 5 Having been disciplined a little, they will receive great good, because God tested them and found them worthy of himself;
6 like gold in the furnace he tried them, and like a sacrificial burnt offering he accepted them. 7 In the time of their visitation they will shine forth, and will run like sparks through the stubble. 8 They will govern nations and rule over peoples, and the Lord will reign over them for ever. 9 Those who trust in him will understand truth, and the faithful will abide with him in love, because grace and mercy are upon his elect, and he watches over his holy ones.
Meditation: Is your hope in this present life only? What
about the life to come after our physical death? God puts
in the heart of every living person the desire for unending life
and happiness. While physical death claims each of us at the
appointed time, God gives us something which death cannot touch -
his own divine life and sustaining power.
God does not abandon us to the realm of the dead
One of the greatest examples of faith and hope in the promise of everlasting life with God is the testimony of Job in the Old Testament. God allowed Job to be tested through great trial, suffering, and the loss of everything he had. In the midst of his sufferings Job did not waver in trusting God. In chapter 19 of the Book of Job, he exclaims:
"For I know that my Redeemer lives, and that at the last he will stand upon the earth; and after my skin has been thus destroyed, then in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see on my side, and my eyes shall behold, and not another" (Job 19:25-27).
Through testing and purification God strengthened Job in faith
and abundantly rewarded him for his trust and hope in God's
King David also expressed his unwavering hope in the promise of everlasting life with God. In Psalm 16 David prays,
Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful one see decay. You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand (Psalm 16:9-11 NIV translation).
We wait with hope for the Lord to raise us up to
Jesus made an incredible promise to his disciples and a claim which only God can make and deliver: Whoever sees and believes in Jesus, the Son of God, shall have everlasting life and be raised up at the last day (John 6:40)! How can we see Jesus? The Lord makes his presence known to us in the reading of his word (John 14:23), in the breaking of the bread, and in his church, the body of Christ.
The Lord Jesus reveals himself in many countless ways to those who seek him with eyes of faith (Hebrews 12:2, 11:27). When we read the word of God in the Bible the Lord Jesus - who is the Word of God - speaks to us and reveals to us the mind and heart of our heavenly Father. When we approach the table of the Lord, Jesus offers himself as spiritual food which produces the very life of God within us (I am the bread of life, John 6:35). He promises unbroken fellowship and freedom from the fear of being forsaken or cut off from everlasting life with God. And he offers us the hope of sharing in his resurrection - being raised again with him to abundant life that will never end. Do you recognize the Lord's presence in your life and do you long for the day when you will see him face to face?
The Holy Spirit is the key to growth in faith
What is the source of faith and how can we grow in it? Faith is an entirely free gift which God offers us through his Son Jesus Christ. We could not approach God if he did not first approach us and draw us to himself. The Lord Jesus gives us his Holy Spirit who works in us to open our ears to hear God's word and to respond to it with trust and submission. The Holy Spirit is the key to our growing in faith. The Holy Spirit is our teacher and guide who makes our faith come alive as we cooperate with his help and and to his wisdom and instruction.
To live, grow, and persevere in faith to the end we must nourish it with the word of God. Augustine of Hippo (354-430 AD) said: I believe, in order to understand; and I understand, the better to believe. Jesus promises that those who accept him as their Lord and Savior and submit to his word will be raised up to everlasting life with him when he comes again at the close of this age. Is your life securely anchored to the promises of Christ and his kingdom of everlasting peace,joy, and righteousness?
1 The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want;
2 he makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters;
3 he restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil, my cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.
Daily Quote from the Early Church Fathers: Whoever sees and believes, by Augustine of Hippo, 354-430 A.D.
"He has said two things: 'This is the work of God that you should
believe in the one whom he has sent,' while here he added,
'whoever sees and believes.' The Jews saw but did not believe;
they had the one condition, lacked the other. How could they
attain to eternal life without the other? The reason those who saw
did not attain eternal life was because they did not also believe.
If so, what about us who have believed but have not seen? If it is
those two things that earn eternal life, seeing and believing -
and whoever is lacking one of them cannot attain to the reward of
eternal life - what are we to do? The Jews [who saw him] lacked
the one; we the other. They had seeing but lacked believing. We
have believing but lack seeing. Well, as regards our having
believing and lacking seeing, we have prophetically been declared
blessed by the Lord himself just as Thomas, one of the Twelve, was
blessed when he felt [Jesus'] scars by touching them." (excerpt
from HOLY VIRGINITY 3.1)