We live in an imperfect world with its fair share of ups and downs. Good and bad things happen to everyone. So then the question asked by skeptics is “where is God?” or “Is Christianity true?”
But what did the Apostles say? Did Christians enjoy a perfect life here on earth? No, they suffered just like everyone else. But what is the purpose of this life?
Romans 5 “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”
For the unbeliever, the purpose of life is to eat, drink and be merry – enjoy this short life because there’s nothing beyond the grave apart from judgment for their works!
But believers are justified not by works but by grace through faith in Jesus Christ having received peace with God. We boast in the future hope of glory because He gave us His Holy Spirit in His love. Christians face sufferings in this world but it produces character and the hope of the resurrection.
Romans 8 “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death…….
9 You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. 10 But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. 11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.
4 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. 15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19 For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.
22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.”
There is no condemnation for the believer and this gives us great hope through the Holy Spirit who lives in us! Our bodies will die due to sin but the Holy Spirit will raise us from the dead because Christ has made us righteous! Just as our Lord was raised from the dead by the Holy Spirit, He will also raise us up – this is our great hope! All of the suffering will not be in vain – this is the great hope of Christianity as opposed to the hopelessness of the rest of the world.
Christians may suffer and die just like everyone else but we have REAL HOPE unlike the rest of the world. For unbelievers, this life is all they have: there is no guarantee of tomorrow for anyone but for the believer we look forward to being with the LORD forever. For the unbeliever, they have NO HOPE beyond the grave. But when Jesus comes in the clouds and reveals God to the world, the dead in Christ will be resurrected and those alive in Christ will be transformed/raptured into immortality and be with the Lord forever and ever!
1st Thessalonians 4 “13 Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. 14 For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 15 According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.”
Everything in this life is temporal. Money can come and go! People are not guaranteed the next breath or the next day of life! But our salvation in heaven is guaranteed and nobody can take that away from the believer! This is given to us through the guarantee of the resurrection of Jesus and His 2nd coming! Christians may suffer in this world but their faith is being refined and strengthened so that the glory of our salvation will be revealed in the 2nd coming!
1st Peter 1 “3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, 5 who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9 for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”
Paul suffered a lot to take the Gospel to the Gentile nations. It is thanks to the Apostle Paul that we have most of the New Testament and Christianity has spread to the nations. He said that Christ living in a believer is the HOPE of GLORY!
Colossians 1 ” 24 Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church. 25 I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness— 26 the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the Lord’s people. 27 To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”
Paul said that we as believers, set our focus on Christ in heaven in whom we are hidden! We were dead in sin but raised WITH Christ and seated with Him in heavenly places so that when He returns, He will reveal His glory in the resurrection – when we will receive immortality in the new heaven and earth to be just like Jesus!
Colossians 3 “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.“