Published on June 8th, 2017 | by Millennium Magazine Staff0
Pastor Paula White: Hope In Christ
We all know what it’s like to experience deep loneliness. It can be healthy to remember those times. On an infinitely higher, different plain, Paul encourages his readers to remember their aloneness before Christ came and died on the cross.
Remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. (Eph. 2:12 ESV)
When these first century Christians had recalled the state of affairs before Christ came to reconcile them to God, they would have felt their heart drop like a sinking anchor. They would have understood that “alienation from commonwealth of Israel” meant no help from the only God that existed. They would have realized that without Yahweh their lives were an existence that had a hopeless beginning and a destructive end.
The construction in the Greek shows that the Gentiles did not actively choose to be alienated from the salvation of Yahweh. God shut them out. As impossible as it would be to enter the Oval Office uninvited, even harder would it be to enter the gates of eternal life without the right garment (Matt. 2:13).
The Greek also shows that the Gentiles actively or really lived an existence without God, thus “having no hope” (2:12). The same stands true today. Everyone outside of Christ needs deliverance from the worst situation. An existence without a loving God in Christ but only a judging God out of Christ means eternal punishment. But existence with a loving God in Christ means that Jesus bore the punishment of the Judge, absorbing eternal wrath for a sinful people.
The good news is that of deliverance. “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ” (Eph. 2:13 ESV). By the blood of Christ those who were without God now have hope. They have hope in God through Christ. Existence is no longer God-less. The blood of the eternal Son paid the ransom of an eternal debt. The debt racked up by sin was paid once and for all by a single sacrifice which actually perfects those who were acquiring the debt (Heb. 10:10).
Christians have many issues that unbelievers will never have. For instance, there’s a daily burden placed upon all Christians by their union with Christ. When one member suffers the whole body suffers with them (1 Cor. 12:26). Everyone who is not in Christ won’t experience this burden.
There could be numerous causes of suffering. Right now I’m sure you know plenty of devout Christians who have committed their children to the Lord by instruction and prayer but they continue to rebel and reject the faith. Not only are there heavy burdens placed upon the backs of these gospel-driven parents, but there’s also the unseen pain and hurt of these children that steadily drive them to disobedience. Only Jesus can rescue them. They know that. The only thing they can do right now is fall on their knees and ask Christ to deliver their loved ones, and perhaps bring them comfort in the process.
Since the Spirit lusts against the flesh and the flesh against the Spirit (Gal. 5:17), a constant struggle takes place in everyday life that doesn’t happen within the unbeliever. Paul will go on to say that since Christ has reconciled Gentiles to God through His cross, they “are no longer strangers and aliens . . . but fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household” (Eph. 2:19). The encouragement we have to fight the battle of sin is that God has brought us into His home. We have an identity and privilege that no one else has. We have God’s Spirit to teach us how to live in God’s eternal house while on earth. Although unbelievers don’t have to fight the battle of sin now, unfortunately they will have to pay for it later.
Whatever pain or suffering you may be going through right now, remember that Jesus is here to set you free. Jesus is the only hope for anyone. He makes all things new. He restores peace to our home. He grants new strength so that we can face our job and employees tomorrow. He reminds us that we are special and loved when others attack and mistreat us. He gives us His Spirit to teach us about Him. Jesus walks beside us to lead us in a life that’s full of joy and hope. An existence without Jesus is a life without God. Let’s remember that only by our union with Christ is deliverance possible and that the greatest need we have is to be with God.