Alright. It’s obviously a very intense title. Not many of us think about facing death for our Christian faith anytime soon. But I imagine the early church didn’t think things would escalate the way that they did either. As we’ve been mentioning throughout our studies in the book of Acts, Christians should expect opposition, persecution, and possible death following Jesus. After all these were all part of Jesus’ life and ministry.
But what I want to do here is give you three things that I've learned from reading Jonathan Edwards that will help believers in Christ maintain our joy and hope no matter what circumstances may come. But before we do that let’s first consider this word from the Apostle Peter:
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. - 1 Peter 1:3-5
If what you and I place our ultimate joy and hope in can be threatened, taken, or destroyed then we have something to fear. But the scripture says that our hope is in heaven; our hope is for a new heaven and earth where righteousness dwells; our hope is a kingdom whose builder and maker is Christ. Our hope is being guarded by God - it is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading. Truly, nothing can affect it for good or bad, nothing can touch it. We have a living hope - hope for today. So look to that hope, look to that joy. Think on that hope, think on that joy. Live in that hope, live in that joy that is set before every follower of Jesus! We are going to see the face of God and we are going to be filled up with his glory and we will be with him forever and ever in eternal bliss!
Now for the Jonathan Edwards bit.
Jonathan Edwards used these three points to support the Christian’s joy or happiness in all circumstances:
- Our “bad things” will work out for good. (Romans 8:28)
- Our “good things” (adoption into God’s family, justification in God’s sight, union with him) can never be taken away. (Romans 8:1)
- Our best things (life in heaven, new heavens and the new earth, resurrection) are yet to come. (Revelation 22:1)
Think on these things. Remind yourself of these truths when you feel overwhelmed or overcome by darkness, guilt, or fear.
Truly, for those who are in Jesus, in the words of Paul McCartney, “It’s getting better all the time.”
Vaya Con Dios