The next truth we uncover here is that there is always hope. The world is a relatively hopeless place. That is how Satan, the lord of this earth, has designed it. Sure it has the illusions of hope. We hope to become rich but so few do. We hope to be relevant but so few are. We hope for a better life for our children but know deep down inside the world is getting worse; not better. We see the headlines. We see the horrific natural disasters. We see the eroding moral underpinning of our society. Wait a minute preacher! I thought you said this was going to be encouraging! Once again, if you look at things through an eternal lens - it is!
He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away." - Revelation 21: 4 (ESV)
Beloved; the world we lament over is passing away. These discouraging things that continually drag us down are passing away. But take heart! Be encouraged by the fact that one day Jesus will return and all tears will be wiped away. Do you know the Psalmist says that God collects your tears? He does not waste any of them. No more mourning and no more pain. That is hope. But here is the key - verse four only says we MIGHT have hope. Hmm...what does that mean? Look at the qualifiers in the verse! There are two qualifiers that guarantee our hope. First we must endure and secondly we must be encouraged by the Scriptures. Hallelujah!
Our hope hinges on our taking our encouragement not from lies but from the truth! That is why there are so many Christians who live completely defeated lives. Saved by the blood but crawling into heaven. Covered by the sacrifice of Calvary but impotent to the power gained from it. Beloved, encouragement is not found in the flashy preaching of earthly prosperity. It is not found in the poignant preaching of hyper grace. It is not found in motivational nor self help talks disguised as sermons. It is not found in pretending that anything other than the Gospel is your purpose! All of these things are lies! They are lies that feed our perpetual cycle of searching for encouragement. We search and we search when the answers are right in front of us the whole time. The answers to encouragement, which provides us with the hope of Almighty God, are always found in His Word. Encouragement is found in the truth, not lies. Encouragement is found in sound doctrine.
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. - 2Timothy 3: 16-17 (ESV)
Let's face it. When we feel discouraged we feel incomplete. Well here is God saying that we can become complete in Christ through His Word! I know some of you are thinking that the Bible cannot provide the encouragement you need but you are wrong. It has all of the promises God has made to us, so when the devil comes lying in your ear, you can tell him to get behind you! Besides promises, the Bible has the instruction we need to live the lives God wanted us to live! No more guessing what the world wants! Who cares as long as I am doing what God wants! Besides instruction and promises we know that the Bible is absolute truth in a world gone mad. We know that the Bible is black and white in a world that blurs the lines with shades of gray. How is that encouraging? Eternal perspective! There is absolute truth and God has let us in on it! No more guessing. No more uncertainty. The world shifts under our very feet but our God is the same yesterday, today and forever! Continuing in the key verses:
May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, - Romans 15: 5 (ESV)
Paul continues by reminding us that God is His Word! The endurance and encouragement we seek are found in Scripture because Scripture is God! I am sometimes bewildered at how trivial Christians can treat doctrine. I watched an interview with a renowned false teacher who proudly proclaimed that doctrine to him was a dirty word. That it wasn't his "gifting" to divide the Word of Truth! He went on to brag that he feels just fine in not bringing a Scripture into his sermons until the very end! As if the Word of God was an afterthought to him. At least he was being honest because it is an afterthought to him! Yet 45,000 people show up to his "church" every week to hear him lie to them. Beloved, if the preacher you listen to treats doctrine so casually, you need to run as fast as you can. Only God has the words of eternal life. Not your favorite TBN huckster. He is not encouraging you - he is lying to you.