The Incredible Hope
Acts 25:23-27; 26:1-8
Paul before King Agrippa is the longest and most elaborate of the five trials that Paul endures.
King Agrippa- the son of Herod Agrippa, or “King Herod” who persecuted the Jerusalem church, having James killed and Peter imprisoned. Agrippa was well acquainted with Christianity.
Paul defends his Jewish roots as a Pharisee and he was on trial of the hope in God’s promise to all of Israel, which he and they shared, namely that God would sent the promised Messiah (foretold and foreshadowed in the OT) to rescue and redeem His people. Israel was still eagerly expecting the fulfillment of this promise.
To which Paul proclaims, this hope has been fulfilled in Jesus, whose resurrection was the proof of His Messiahship and the pledge of our resurrection too.
Why should anybody think resurrection to be incredible?
This is our incredible hope- the resurrection. The greatest event in the history of the world
“Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body. For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.” Romans 8:23-25 NKJV
When we have hope we can expect and confidently anticipate the good things in the Word of God to become a reality in our lives. The amount of hope working in our heart determines how we view the circumstances around us as well as our view of the future.
That is the difference between faith and hope. Hope is a future reality or experience. It is something to look forward to that we desire, expect, or anticipate happening at some time in the future.
Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
Presently, in the now of our life, we are not experiencing it or have not received it. It hasn’t manifested or become a physical reality yet. The things we hope for we are not seeing them physically in our possession or having happened. Faith gives us the confidence, the assurance, the full persuasion, that what we hope for will happen.
The resurrection gives us incredible hope for this life and in the life to come. Jesus said, “If you will only believe, you will see the glory of God!” What hope does the resurrection give us?
1. Incredible hope for a changed life
Titus 2:11 For the grace of God that brings salvation hath appeared to all men,12 Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; 13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ;14 Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.
1 John 3:3 And every man that hath this hope in him purifies himself, even as he is pure.
Those who have this hope in them (the hope of the resurrection) are to purify themselves and live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world.
A Resurrected life looks different- we are not the “walking dead”, but dead men revived and made new
They didn’t recognize Jesus after He was resurrected. (Luke 24:13-35 ref for me only) Walk to Emmaus
v.32 “Did our heart not burn within us, while He talked with us by the way?” Mark records, “After this, He appeared in a different form to two of them as they were walking into the country”
If you do not look different after having proclaimed Christ- have you truly been converted?
Jesus gave parables about incomplete conversions- some seed fell among the wayside….
John 12:24 “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.”
The hope of the resurrection is that we can live in the here and now as a changed person!
1 Corinthians 15:12-19 New King James Version (NKJV)
12 Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. 14 And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. 15 Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up—if in fact the dead do not rise. 16 For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. 17 And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! 18 Then also those who have [a]fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.
Colossians 1:27 To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:
This is the hope that encourages and assures us that we can change outwardly into Christ-like behavior and attitudes because the hope of that change and potential for that change has been put in us by the Holy Spirit. It is Christ in us the hope of glory– the hope of becoming manifested outwardly all that God says we already are inwardly in Christ. We have been freed from sin and made a new creation, we are not the walking dead.
When we become frustrated with ourselves not changing in our conduct, our attitudes, and our words we have to be able to hope that we can change.
When we keep failing, struggling, and feel like giving up or giving in to despair we need to have a hope that we can change. We don’t have to get into self hatred or diminish ourselves. The hope and potential for change is already in us and made available
Lamentations 3:21-23 New King James Version (NKJV)
21 This I recall to my mind, Therefore I have hope. 22 Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. 23 They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.
IT IS POSSIBLE for anyone to be forgiven and to change— if you have been converted. (incomplete conversions)
I do not buy into the “I cannot change” mode, you may be slower at change- but the power of the resurrection is power to be a new creation. The Spirit is an agent of change.
God is committed to our becoming Christ-like. God won’t give up on us and neither should we give up on ourselves.
Some people just want sympathy but in their heart and mind do not really believe that God is all powerful and all mighty and ABLE. And so by your thinking, and your words, “God cannot change me”; you limit God’s ability to do the miraculous. The problem is not with God or His ability or even His will; but in your lack of understanding the nature and character of God. Maybe in your lack to do the hard work of disciplining your flesh.
Have you truly sought the Lord? Fasting and praying? Confessing your helplessness? Have you waited on God? Or are you impatient, and do your “own thing”? (God won’t do this, I must) Do you to the wicked for help instead of the Lord? Do you obey what He asks of you? When’s the last time you sat still in His presence?
God predestined us to be conformed to the image of His Son Jesus
Romans 8:29 New King James Version (NKJV)
29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.
Philippians 1:6 being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;
2. Incredible hope for a promised future
Hope is a future reality and experience, it is something we expect and anticipate to happen.
Anticipation is excitement, waiting eagerly for something you know is going to happen. Imagine having a front seat to your favorite sports team or band. It’s a done deal- you have the tickets, you are just waiting in anticipation for the date and time to arrive. THIS is HOPE- it’s not a “hope so”, but a “know so”
Romans 4:18 Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations; according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be.
This area of hope is from God’s promises in Scripture and given by the Spirit-
Romans 15:4 New King James Version (NKJV)
4 For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the [a]patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.
This is a Biblical hope as opposed to natural hope. There is a difference between natural hope and Bible hope.
Romans says of Abraham,
Romans 4:18 New King James Version (NKJV)
18 who, contrary to hope, in hope believed, so that he became the father of many nations, according to what was spoken, “So shall your descendants be.”
Natural hope is based on natural knowledge and information. Someone could say to Ps Kevin, “I know someone who wants to purchase a million dollar home” That information could cause him to get his hopes up but then if days later he found out the person only qualified for $150,000, his hopes would go down.
His hope was built totally on natural knowledge and information. When natural hope is gone, it’s natural to say there is no hope.
BUT Bible hope has nothing to do with natural knowledge. In Abraham’s case all natural hope was gone. The natural information said your body Abraham is now dead and Sarah’s womb is also dead you cannot have a child. The promise of God came and said he would be the father of many nations. He could have hope based on spiritual information that he decided to believe against the natural information.
Biblical hope is believing that God’s plan, His timing, His ways are better than we can even think or imagine.
Hope is never seeing, but having the faith that God knows what HE is doing and there’s a hope of good things to come in anticipation of something miraculous according to His Word:
Psalm 119:49-50 New King James Version (NKJV)
the word to Your servant, Upon which You have caused me to hope.
50 This is my comfort in my affliction, For Your word has given me life.
Hope cannot coexist with fear. Fear will choke out hope and displays a lack of faith in God and His Word.
We were at Costco on Monday… OMG
#1 cause of death in America- heart disease. AT least have a fear of something that’s a real threat.
Fear has torments and it will cripple you. Fear also has the potential to shut you out of heaven-
Rev 21:7-8 He who overcomes [d]shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. 8 But the cowardly (fearful), [e]unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”
3. Incredible hope for eternal rest and reward
1 Corinthians 15:50-54 New King James Version (NKJV)
50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. 51 Behold, I tell you a [a]mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed— 52 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. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 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.”
There is a hope that one day, I will not have to put up with this disgusting flesh, I will be truly free and will put on an immortal body. There will be no more pain and no more tears.
1 Peter 1:3-5 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance [a]incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
Philippians 3:20 For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,
2 Corinthians 4:17-18 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, 18 while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.
Romans 8:18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
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