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The Daily Word of Righteousness
For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it. (Romans 8:24,25)
We are saved by hope. The true Christian life is one of patient hope. We Americans tend to make the Divine salvation something that improves our present life in some manner. But the actual salvation of the Scriptures is a hope for a better resurrection.
What was Paul hoping for, and what should be our hope?
As we have said, Paul wanted to be free from his body.
Why did Paul want to be free from his body?
Because Paul was a righteous man who deplored the sins that his body urged on him. Paul wanted to be free to live righteously.
Have you ever once in your entire life heard a Christian groan for the making alive of his body so he could live a righteous life?
The fact that groaning for the redemption of our body in order to behave righteously is seldom heard reveals clearly that we do not understand the Gospel of the Kingdom of God.
The believers of today are anxiously awaiting the coming of Jesus so they may be "raptured" into Heaven and thus escape trouble and pain.
Paul groaned for the redemption of his body in order that he might behave righteously.
What a difference!
Paul saw the Christian salvation as a means of acquiring that which he found impossible under the Law of Moses. Paul wanted to be righteous! Paul wanted to be righteous in order to please God and have fellowship with Him.
When we Evangelicals present the Gospel we do so as a ticket that will admit us to Paradise when we die, with righteous behavior being a kind of side issue.
Something is fishy in Denmark, as we say.
There is no indication of any kind whatever in the writing of Paul that he viewed the redemption of his body as a means of getting to Paradise to live forever. Paul spoke often of the Day of the Lord and of the Kingdom of God, but never of living forever in Heaven.
Paul expressed his desire to be with the Lord, not just to leave the material realm and enter the spiritual realm. And certainly never about the idea of living forever in a mansion! How ridiculous, when we will have bodies like that of the Lord Jesus. Jesus doesn't live in a mansion and neither will we, unless we are speaking of the body of glory that will descend on us from Heaven.
Here is a remarkable thing. The most common understanding of Christianity is not found in the Epistles.
What did Paul hope to do with a redeemed body? It appears he hoped to be with Christ and to serve Christ in righteous, holy behavior. There is no indication that Paul saw himself standing before God for a thousand years, as one commentator has it, and praising God for His grace, meaning that God received Paul into Paradise even though he still was a sinner.
Paul was out for righteousness and the Kingdom of God.
In the Book of Philippians we read of Paul's goal. Paul's goal was to attain the resurrection (literally "out-resurrection") from the dead. This hope was expressed toward the end of Paul's life so it certainly is not a cry to be saved from wrath.
What was Paul pressing toward? He was pressing toward the first resurrection in which his sinful body will be replaced with a house of life. Why a house of life? So Paul can be with Jesus in all the relationships, tasks, opportunities, and marvels of the endless ages to come.
But won't every believer receive such a body and such opportunities?
If so, then what does Paul mean in Philippians when he says he is trying to win Christ and the out-resurrection?
To be continued.