Reasonable Requirements, Rational Hope
Intro: A few years back a business man in Harrisonville who owned several Fina Gas Stations. adopted a slogan, which he used whenever his ads appeared in the paper.
"Work hard, sell a good product and donít try to kid anybody".
As advertising goes it sounded pretty homespun, plain and unexciting not at all like the exaggerated, clever or flashy slogans of the ad-men.
Christianity has not escaped the spinódoctors and sometimes, in order to make an impact; Christian teachings have been hyped and taken out of context.
Do you want to please God? Notice how homespun Paulís inspired advice sounds. He says in effect, "Avoid any immoral conduct and in this regard practice self-control. Be holy and honorable. Be loving, hard working, independent and mind your own business.
Is it Possible to Please God?
"All of us have become unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags"
This shows the deplorable state of affairs Israel had fallen into. It is not a statement that Godís people are incapable of doing any good thing at all which is considered other than filthy rags.
Paul tells some of the things that "please" God.
"Control His Own Body"
"Self-control" 16 times in N.T.
"Self-control" from sever al words, but two mean "Strong in a thing, masterful" and another which means "powerless" or no self-control.
While the bible teaches we to have a mind "controlled by the Spirit"
8:6,us to be "controlled by the spirit" that without conversion we are slaves to sin and our lower nature, it never suggests that can just totally "let go and let God"
In fact, it says that we are given the spirit of "self-discipline" along with the spirit of power and love
1:7) "of power, of love & self-discipline"
This is for those to whom He gives His "Holy Spirit" v. 8
Paul said, "I beat my body and make it my slave ("bring it into subjection ("Gk. "slave driver").
"Donít look for shortcuts to God. The market is flooded with surefire, easygoing formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time. Donít fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do. The way of life Ė to God! Ėis vigorous and requires total attention.
Be wary of false preachers who smile a lot, dripping with practiced sincerity. Chances are they are out to rip you off some way or other. Donít be impressed with charisma; look for character. . . A genuine leader will never exploit your emotions or your pocket book. These diseased trees with their bad apples are going to be chopped down and burned . . . . Saying ĎMaster, Master,í for instance Ė isnít going to get you anywhere with me. What is required is serious obedience Ė doing what my Father wills." (Matt.
7:15-21) N.T. in Contemporary Language.
Further Things that Please God
Make allowances, show extended patience, and just feel close to our brother.
"Taught by God"? Unclear. Godís spirit engenders in us an "Abba, Father" as well as a sense of family with each other.
"Mind your own Business"
... they are busybodies" (bustle all around,
meddle). 2Thess 3:11
"Work with your hands"
God does not set up a demanding standard of financial or worldly success.
Success has itís ups and downs (Ecc.
9:11) The race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong, nor does food come to the wise or wealth to the brilliant, or favor to the learned; but time and chance happen to them all."
"this rule, if a man will not work, he shall not eat"
COMFORT FOR THE BEREAVED
What hope does the bible give for loved ones that have died?
One basis; Death and resurrection of Jesus.
What does Jesusí experience have to do with others? Everything!
"Because I live, you also will live."
No doctrine is more taught in the N.T. Resurrection is referred to well over 100 time and the resurrection of Jesus specifically at least 60 times in the N.T.
"Raised from the dead, raised to life, etc".
Our faith in the resurrection of Jesus is the basis for faith in our resurrection. V. 14
"AND SO" Ė "God will bring with JesusÖ"
"bring with Jesus" to some implies the saints will be coming back with Jesus from heaven.
"Bring" means to bring forth or lead away, to open as well as go, etc.
Who is he to "bring" - "those who have fallen asleep in him"
"NEB renders it, "We want do not want you to remain in ignorance, brothers, about those who sleep in death; you should not grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again; and so it will be for those who died as Christians; God will bring them to life with Jesus".
The Bible often explains itself. V. 15-17
"The Lord Himself will come down from heaven"
"the dead in Christ will rise first"
"we who are still alive and left will be caught up together with them in the clouds"
for a "meeting in the air"
What is our hope for all that die prior to Jesusí return?
1. That God will send Jesus back to earth to resurrect them.
Order given in 1Cor. 15:12, 21-23 "Now if the rising of Christ from the dead is the very heart of our message, how can some of you deny that there is any resurrection?
But the glorious fact is that Christ did rise from the dead: he has become the very first to rise of all that sleep the sleep of death. As death entered the world through a man, so has the rising from the dead come to us through a man! As members of a sinful race all men die; as members of the Christ of God all men shall be raised to life, each in his proper order, with Christ the very first and after him all who belong to him when he comes"
It is the sole hope for the dead. "For if the dead do not rise. . . those who have died believing in Christ are utterly dead and gone.
1Cor. 15:13-18 parts, Phillips.
What would we think of a Holy God Who approved of an immoral lifestyle, laziness, self-indulgence, panhandling and sticking our noses into other peoples private business? God is pleased with uprightness and integrity. He requires it. It is reasonable.
What would we think of a God Who set His own Son as our pattern, demonstrated victory over death by His resurrection to immortality and then promptly taught that our hope lies elsewhere?
Godís requirements are reasonable. Our hope in relations to Jesusí resurrection from the dead is rational. If we believe Jesus died and rose again, we should be able to believe that God can and will raise us also.