While the world does not like the Gospel, it can tolerate parts of it, particularly the first half—Jesus from His birth to His death on the cross. As such, Jesus is just a tradition of the past to them and He has no relevance or power over their lives today.
Paul and the other apostles truly hoped and longed for the return of Jesus Christ. They wrote of it often in their letters in the New Testament. They reminded the early Christians of Christ’s coming as a means of encouragement. But sadly today, many Christians are no longer looking for the “Blessed Hope.”
Many Believers live in fear of God’s judgment. But God’s Word tells us that we should not fear if we are in Christ.
Behind any apprehension we have with God’s judgment is the truth that we actually have apprehension with God Himself. At the core of the issue, we don’t trust His nature and we don’t have faith in His character. If we did, we would have faith in His judgment because we know it is part of His character, a character that He spelled out for us in His Word, a character that is loving, kind, holy, and pure.
Realizing that God will eventually and certainly judge this world explains the need for the Gospel in the first place. Man has to have a remedy for the penalty and power of sin. Otherwise, he would be hopelessly and eternally lost. God is a holy God Who simply cannot tolerate sin. In His mercy, He provided a way of salvation by faith in Jesus Christ. And, this is the only way to avoid judgment.
If judgment begins from the house of God, it is a point of origin for God's judgment on the world. There are so many arguments today that Christians must go through the Tribulation to be “purified” or “cleansed” because we are not yet “without spot or wrinkle.” People who believe this often use 1 Peter 4 to teach that the Church has to go through a “judging” process and partake of the Tribulation. I don't find this mentality in the Bible at all.
Let me ask you a question: how many of you can think of a time when you were hurt by another person’s judgment of you? This is an easy question to answer. I am sure most of us can quickly come up with more than one example of times where we have experienced this kind of hurt in our lives. Let me ask you another question: how many times have you been guilty of being the one passing the judgment? Now, this is a harder question to answer. Most of us don’t want to admit to ever having being found on this side of the equation. But now is the time to be completely honest with ourselves.
Eternity – what we hope for (as Believers), but we do not see. Paul calls it a poor reflection; it is dim, blurry, shadowy, unclear, etc. It is known only in part. And I am certain only a very, very small part. We know in our hearts that eternity exists, but beyond that we have very limited understanding. Paul goes on to proclaim “then I shall know fully” – our eyes will be opened. We will gain full understanding of eternity in the presence of Christ.
In a sermon, it was once said there are two things to learn on earth: how to live and how to die. We get lots of daily practice “living” and “dying.” The world teaches one way of “living” and “dying,” but Scripture teaches another way. We are to follow the Way of Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith. How did Jesus teach us about “living” and “dying”? First, He defined the terms; then, He lived as our example as “the firstborn of many brethren” (Romans 8:29b, NASB). Jesus is the firstborn of those who have eternal life.