Saved by Hope


By John Thiel, Audio: mp3

This is a message of hope, practical, meaningful hope. The people who approach unto God make interesting and quite unexpected experiences. Often they are fraught with opposites of emotion. Coming before Him, have you experienced a contradiction of expectations? When we come to God, to Jesus, we expect comfort and acceptance, but we are shocked many times with the sense of overwhelming unworthiness. So overwhelming that we wonder whether we are ever going to be saved. We see our shortfall in the light of God’s perfect character and of His high calling and expectation.

Many people don’t realise that when they meet the real Jesus such as Saul met Him on the road to Damascus, they meet an experience similar to his, just with different circumstances. But Romans chapter 7 tells us what apostle Paul met in his inward experience when he met Jesus.

Romans 7:9 For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died. 10 And the commandment, which [was ordained] to life, I found [to be] unto death.

Apostle Paul is here describing his internal experience when he met face to face with Jesus who was the true representative of the law of God. Having thought as a Pharisee that he was righteous, he then discovered what an unrighteous person he really was and he didn’t find an exhilarating experience meeting Jesus. He met an experience of, I am dying. We have a description of this surprise that takes place when people meet the real Jesus.

We may have flattered ourselves, as did Nicodemus [and Paul], that our life has been upright, that our moral character is correct, and think that we need not humble the heart before God, like the common sinner: but when the light from Christ shines into our souls, we shall see how impure we are; we shall discern the selfishness of motive, the enmity against God, that has defiled every act of life. Then we shall know that our own righteousness is indeed as filthy rags, and that the blood of Christ alone can cleanse us from the defilement of sin, and renew our hearts in His own likeness. {SC 28.3}

One ray of the glory of God, one gleam of the purity of Christ, penetrating the soul, makes every spot of defilement painfully distinct, and lays bare the deformity and defects of the human character. {SC 29.1}

That’s what it means to meet Christ. What do they do those rays of Christ’s righteousness penetrating the souls do? They lay bare the deformity and defects of our human character.

It makes apparent the unhallowed desires, the infidelity of the heart, the impurity of the lips. {SC 29.1}

We don’t know, many times, what we are like. Just come to Jesus and you’ll come to know.

The sinner’s acts of disloyalty in making void the law of God, are exposed to his sight, and his spirit is stricken and afflicted under the searching influence of the Spirit of God. He loathes himself as he views the pure, spotless character of Christ. {SC 29.1}

This is not a very pleasant experience. Our soul is smitten by the revelation of Jesus in our life. But as it is smitten in terms of our own discovery of ourselves, quickly come the words of grace. We feel terribly overwhelmed and as we stand before such a forceful discovery of ourselves, there comes to us these words:

Isaiah 43:1 But now thus saith the LORD that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called [thee] by thy name; thou [art] mine.

To meet Jesus, is the way a person meets Him because God knows that this person is His. He chose Saul of Tarsus, He chose Nicodemus, He chose Joseph of Arimathaea and all the others that met the reality of Jesus and saw themselves as they really were. He met them to have them see themselves so that He could say to them I have redeemed thee. Every time you and I experience the horrendous discovery of my ugliness of nature and character, it is because Jesus is telling me, I have redeemed you. That is why I came to die for you because of what you are seeing about yourself. As we don’t resist that expression of God, even though we feel so grotty, so hopelessly lost in our condition, although we feel that way, we don’t give over to it but we give over to the words of His love: “I have redeemed thee.” “Fear not. … I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine.” It’s hard to believe isn’t it? that God would accept me as His child even though I am such a terrible sinner.

For those of us who are on this platform of original Adventism, there are such high standards, such clear truths that make us feel and many Adventists have said this to me, that the. Adventist message is a damning message, because it’s a message of God’s judgment, of His examination of my personality and character, and I’m condemned, it doesn’t make me feel good because of the high standards that we are called upon to reach. We discover that our ways are so deeply entrenched in our makeup, in our heredity, in our genome, that we become overwhelmed, thinking that, I am never going to change! This is no different now than it was back then. All who have a relationship with the God of heaven will make this overwhelmed outcry. God says, This is what you are saying, yes, I know what you are saying.

Ezekiel 33:10 Therefore, O thou son of man, speak unto the house of Israel; Thus ye speak, saying, If our transgressions and our sins [be] upon us, and we pine away in them, how should we then live?

How do you feel when you see all this? Do you pine away, are you overwhelmed with a consternation of your condition and you just wither inside? How can we live? How can we find grace and hope?

Ezekiel 33:11 Say unto them, [As] I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?

This still doesn’t give me much hope because I can’t even turn, I can’t even turn from my evil ways, I’ve tried, I’ve had this message long enough, and I know how much I’ve tried and it is not working. Well, He still means what He says. Turn ye from your evil ways, don’t stop. Keep on turning. Why will ye die? It’s going to kill you. The fact is that there is a message of hope. Even though the answer here is disconcerting, the hope is there because God says, You are Mine, I am not going to give up on you, just don’t you give up on Me.

Often the answer of the gospel touches the heart with comfort, but again an overwhelming sense of our distance from God and from His ways threatens our peace. We say, God loves me, that’s wonderful, but look at me. I can’t change. Over a period of time, and this is what I have watched in the ranks of Adventism, those who have first come into the message and who have seen the wonderful message of original Adventism, say, Yes, this is it now! But after a period of time something withers.

Our danger is to become overwhelmed with a sense of distance that we have to travel and of the changes necessary to ultimately appear in His presence according to what is being taught within the ranks of original Adventism. Therefore many people withdraw. When I say withdraw, it doesn’t mean they withdraw from the church, but they withdraw from what the church once taught, into a different way of thinking. That is what has happened in the ranks of Seventh-day Adventists. They have changed certain aspects of God’s word. When I say Seventh-day Adventists, I am not merely talking about the Seventh-day Adventist church, I am talking about Seventh-day Adventists by profession. I am not having a go at any church. I am sharing a message that pertains to people who have once believed original Adventism but then are tempted to withdraw. Why are they tempted to do such a thing? Because the overwhelming sense of this message is one that takes toll upon our sense of hope and we think there is something wrong here. It’s just not working. When this sense overwhelms us and causes us to think I am out of here, I don’t want any more, this is too much, it is at such a moment that we need this present message. Never lose hope. Why?

Romans 8:24 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? 25 But if we hope for that we see not, [then] do we with patience wait for [it].

I can’t see that I’m changing. I can’t see that I’m ever going to change. I can’t see victory in my life. I cannot understand how my personal discovery of myself is ever going to change. I’m always going to be feeling miserable. So we give up hope. But what does the scripture say? If you’re going to be saved, you’re going to have to hope. What is hope? It’s something you can’t see. It is something that you cannot visualise in reality. “If we hope for that which we do not see, then do we with patience wait for it.” In other words, I’m trusting it’s going to happen even though I can’t see it happening now. If you could see and feel that you are really holy and changing and you have the holiness without which no man shall see the Lord, if you could see that holiness, then would you be saved by hope? It’s plain, isn’t it? The process of change is a process that cannot be seen by yourself.

We are going to be changed and we are being changed.

2 Corinthians 3:18 But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, [even] as by the Spirit of the Lord.

When you look at God’s glory, what happens to you? You see yourself as completely sinful. But as we keep on looking at that glory, at that glorious character that we are meant to be and that we aren’t, we will be changed into the same image. But I can’t see it! But we are going to be changed.

Imperceptibly to ourselves, we are changed day by day from our own ways and will into the ways and will of Christ, into the loveliness of his character. Thus we grow up into Christ, and unconsciously reflect his image. {RH, April 28, 1891 par. 2}

Is this being saved by hope? I don’t see it; imperceptibly to myself I am changing. I see myself as perfectly imperfect because I look at His glory and I am such in contrast to that. The more I look at the glory, the worst I feel about myself but I’m changing by beholding that glory.

Christ rejoiced that He could do more for His followers than they could ask or think. {DA 679.2}

Than they could ask or think: I can’t even think that this is going to happen to me.

He spoke with assurance, knowing that an almighty decree had been given before the world was made. He knew that truth, armed with the omnipotence of the Holy Spirit, would conquer in the contest with evil; and that the bloodstained banner would wave triumphantly over His followers. He knew that the life of His trusting disciples would be like His, {DA 679.2}

Of His disciples? No. Of His trusting disciples.

He knew that the life of His trusting disciples would be like His, a series of uninterrupted victories, not seen to be such here, but recognized as such in the great hereafter. {DA 679.2}

Can you see the hope? A series of uninterrupted victories that I hope are happening but I can’t see it. We are saved by hope. Jesus rejoiced that He could do more for His followers than they could even ask or think because it’s something they can’t see. It’s something that is happening imperceptibly to themselves.

Along this path of change where we are imperceptibly changing, we will more often than not discover a continual falling.

Proverbs 24:16 For a just [man] falleth seven times, and riseth up again: but the wicked shall fall into mischief.

The words seven times some people read and say, count, one, I’ve fallen, two, I’ve fallen, three, four, five, six, seven, and now it’s finished, I’ve fallen too many times so I can’t rise anymore. That’s not what this is saying. The symbolism is that of completion. It doesn’t matter how many times you fall, you will rise again.

Peter asked Jesus: “Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him?” Jesus said, “Until seventy times seven.” You lose count after that. This is God’s attitude. A man may fall seventy times seven, and he rises up again, while the wicked falls into mischief. Here is a demarcation between the righteous, the just, and the wicked, and both fall. So why should you give up if you’ve given your heart to Jesus and you want to follow Him – and you may fall – because both the wicked and you fall? Whereas the wicked are such that they don’t care. Every time you are tempted to say, I don’t care, I’ve gone too far and I’m gone; then you are wicked, if you choose to do that. A wicked person chooses to continue to fall because it’s too bad. The wife of Job said, Go on, curse God and die. That’s the wicked thought. Job said, No way. “Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh.” The fact is that the person who is changing will fall but because he is not wicked he will rise again.

Many times while in this fallen sense and keenly aware of the abject weakness of our nature, God’s way and God’s glory looms up as so high that the utterance is, who is able to stand? Up to which point in your experience will these words, who is able to stand be uttered by you and me?
In Early Writings is the description of Jesus coming in the clouds. Many people have said and it is written too, that when we see Him coming in the distance, we will say, This is our Lord, we have waited for Him, and we will save us. But as the cloud drew nearer, and nearer, and nearer, this is the description that is given:

Soon our eyes were drawn to the east, for a small black cloud had appeared, about half as large as a man’s hand, which we all knew was the sign of the Son of man. We all in solemn silence gazed on the cloud as it drew nearer and became lighter, glorious, and still more glorious, till it was a great white cloud. {EW 15.2}

Jesus is on the cloud with the angels. Then comes an interesting experience as they can now see Him vividly.

…upon His head were many crowns. His feet had the appearance of fire; in His right hand was a sharp sickle; in His left, a silver trumpet. His eyes were as a flame of fire, which searched His children through and through. Then all faces gathered paleness, and those that God had rejected gathered blackness. Then we all cried out, “Who shall be able to stand? Is my robe spotless?” Then the angels ceased to sing, and there was some time of awful silence, {EW 15.2}

What do you think a person gathering paleness is going through? There’s something terrible going on inside. How many times through the history of your life have you come face to face with expectations of, This is Lord! He is wonderful, He is a wonderful Saviour and then, Oh, no. Here is another such occasion. In fact the occasion is so serious that every face is gathering paleness and the wicked are gathering blackness and as they hear the people suffering under this, the angels stop singing. Please angels, start singing. No, they’ll stop singing. When the angels don’t sing in your heart anymore, you think you’re lost don’t you? Right there at the coming of Jesus, there are a people who are God’s people and they are gathering paleness. At that juncture, at the coming of Jesus, they say, Who is able to stand? Is my robe spotless? After the silence:

… Jesus spoke: “Those who have clean hands and pure hearts shall be able to stand; {EW 15.2}

If that was all He said, then we would still hang our heads because we don’t feel that we’ve got clean hearts and pure hands, but then He says:

…My grace is sufficient for you.” At this our faces lighted up, and joy filled every heart. And the angels struck a note higher and sang again, while the cloud drew still nearer the earth. {EW 15.2}

Wouldn’t you have thought that by the time you see Jesus coming you would be saying, Praise the Lord, He is here now? But as He looks at you with His flaming eyes, your life comes up before you and you go pale. I look back at my life and I see, Yes, this has happened to me time and time again. Just when I thought this is the end, the words would come; “My grace is sufficient for you” Oh, what joy wells up in the heart. That’s why Psalm 126 is very interesting; “When the Lord turned again the captivity of Zion, we were like them that dream… Turn again our captivity, O Lord.”

We will continue on this planet with the experience of a sense of captivity that we need to get freshly recovered from and that will carry us through. That kind of experience of the overwhelming sense of my weakness and God’s amazing grace will continue to reverberate through my being again and again as my weakness reverberates through me until Jesus comes and right there at that last time, that sense will be repeated and the words “My grace is sufficient for you” will be expressed and then it’s over. God’s people will have made it.

A deep sense of one’s sinfulness is not an indication that I am lost. Listen to Jesus that perfect sacrifice, that perfect person there at Gethsemane and the cross.

Psalm 22:1 My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? [why art thou so] far from helping me, [and from] the words of my roaring?

Psalm 22:6 But I [am] a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people.

What is He expressing? A total sense of unworthiness.

Psalm 22:14 I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels. 15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death.

Was Jesus lost? He felt it. He felt as though he was lost and forsaken of God. But was He? What is He crying here?

Psalm 69:1 Save me, O God; for the waters are come in unto [my] soul. 2 I sink in deep mire, where [there is] no standing: I am come into deep waters, where the floods overflow me. 3 I am weary of my crying: my throat is dried: mine eyes fail while I wait for my God.

There is the criterion. He is not wicked. He is waiting for His God. The wicked don’t. This is Jesus speaking.

Psalm 69:21 They gave me also gall for my meat; and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.

This is Jesus speaking in prophecy.

Psalm 69:13 But as for me, my prayer [is] unto thee, O LORD, [in] an acceptable time: O God, in the multitude of thy mercy hear me, in the truth of thy salvation. 14 Deliver me out of the mire, and let me not sink: let me be delivered from them that hate me, and out of the deep waters.

We see that the hopelessness of the sense of the guilt and sinfulness that a person feels who comes to God for help does not mean that they are lost.

Psalm 71:4 Deliver me, O my God, out of the hand of the wicked, out of the hand of the unrighteous and cruel man.

The cry of the soul is, Deliver me! This is the acceptable time, when we are in such a state, instead of despairing, we cry for help and are in a perfect position for the Lord to save us. While we are not in that position we are okay. He doesn’t have to save us, we’ve got a sense that I’m happy here because I’m succeeding but I’ve still got character defects that are still going to cause me to be lost until I see them and cry to God, and continue to cry.
A person who feels overwhelmed with his terrible condition and guilt is not lost.

Psalm 40:12 For innumerable evils have compassed me about: mine iniquities have taken hold upon me, so that I am not able to look up; they are more than the hairs of mine head: therefore my heart faileth me. 13 Be pleased, O LORD, to deliver me: O LORD, make haste to help me.

These are the words of Jesus at Gethsemane and the cross and He was not forsaken. The words of Jesus were, While I wait for my God.

Psalm 71:14 But I will hope continually, and will yet praise thee more and more.

Waiting and hoping. That person is not lost. He is waiting on the Lord, hoping. Notice the effect of this attitude that Jesus had when He was overwhelmed with the guilt and the deep sense of all these terrible things that were coming up to his neck like they do to us. In His affliction He was crying and it was this attitude of “while I wait for My God, I will hope continually” that saved Him in the perplexity that surrounded Him.

Suddenly the gloom lifted from the cross, and in clear, trumpetlike tones, that seemed to resound throughout creation, Jesus cried, “It is finished.” “Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit.” {DA 756.2}

The overload of everything came to a point where His heart burst. He knew this is it, it’s finished. I’m going to cast Myself upon God in consequence of the brokenness of heart that has affected Me through My guilt and feelings that I’ve got. “Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit.”

A light encircled the cross, and the face of the Saviour shone with a glory like the sun. He then bowed His head upon His breast, and died. {DA 756.2}

Although He died, He was not lost:

Amid the awful darkness, apparently forsaken of God, Christ had drained the last dregs in the cup of human woe. In those dreadful hours He had relied upon the evidence of His Father’s acceptance heretofore given Him. He was acquainted with the character of His Father; He understood His justice, His mercy, and His great love. By faith He rested in Him whom it had ever been His joy to obey. And as in submission He committed Himself to God, the sense of the loss of His Father’s favor was withdrawn. By faith, Christ was victor. {DA 756.3}

Our experience with Jesus has been that we have rejoiced to see what He has done for us. We’ve all got experiences of that nature. It is what Jesus experienced at the hand of His Father in the past that He took His mind back to and He rejoiced that He could cast Himself upon God’s mercy because mercy and justice kissed each other at the cross. It is you and I that He did this for so that when we are so overwhelmed by our condition we have this picture of Jesus imprinted upon our minds, so that no matter how hopeless I feel I will cast myself upon the mercy of God, instead of giving up.

When we pass through our Gethsemane’s and our Calvaries with the deep senses of our sins and our helplessness upon us such as we feel at these times, let us consider Jesus. He is displaying the hopeless sense that we experience and He is the hope of my salvation He took upon my hopelessness and expressed it but threw himself upon the mercy of God. Then let us open our hearts to that. Let that be the choice we make when we are so overwhelmed. It’s the choice of our response to what Jesus did that is going to get us through. If we don’t make that choice, if we relinquish it, we are indeed lost. It all depends on our choice. That’s what Jesus said in Psalm 40, He made the right choice. Father, into Your hands I commend My spirit no matter how much I feel that You are not there.

Psalm 40:1 I waited patiently for the LORD; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry. 2 He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, [and] established my goings. 3 And he hath put a new song in my mouth, [even] praise unto our God:

He said, This is what happened to Me.

Psalm 40:3 …many shall see [it], and fear, and shall trust in the LORD. 4 Blessed [is] that man that maketh the LORD his trust, and respecteth not the proud, nor such as turn aside to lies.

It’s a lie to say that God will forsake you if you call upon Him. Don’t turn aside to lies. Don’t be so proud that you can’t give over, because that’s what the wicked are. That’s what wicked people have said to me. They were too proud to accept that God would accept them as they were and would actually help them. They want to help themselves. They’re proud of their unrighteousness; they don’t want God’s righteousness. This is the demarcation point between the wicked who fall and the just who fall. Is there hope when you cannot see release? Yes indeed. Jesus revealed that. We are saved by hope and our hope is in God’s saving love demonstrated unmistakingly in Jesus. It is this love that will bring rejoicing and light to us. It is our choice whether we will do that.

When we are overwhelmed by the deep sense of our fall, these are the scriptures that come to our souls.

Micah 7:7 Therefore I will look unto the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation: my God will hear me. 8 Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy: when I fall, I shall arise; when I sit in darkness, the LORD [shall be] a light unto me. 9 I will bear the indignation of the LORD, because I have sinned against him, until he plead my cause, and execute judgment for me: he will bring me forth to the light, [and] I shall behold his righteousness.

This is the language of hope. Yes we have fallen and God’s indignation is felt. That’s what Jesus felt. But as with Jesus, so my Saviour will plead my case for me. When you can’t see that you will ever change so that you can be ready for Jesus to come, come to Lamentations 3.

Lamentations 3:18 And I said, My strength and my hope is perished from the LORD:

I haven’t got strength to change, my hope is perished.

Lamentations 3:19 Remembering mine affliction and my misery, the wormwood and the gall. 20 My soul hath [them] still in remembrance, and is humbled in me. 21 This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. 22 [It is of] the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. 23 [They are] new every morning: great [is] thy faithfulness.

Haven’t you experienced it in the past? You thought, This is it, I’m finished. Then the next morning there is life again. They are new every morning.

Lamentations 3:24 The LORD [is] my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him. 25 The LORD [is] good unto them that wait for him, to the soul [that] seeketh him. 26 [It is] good that [a man] should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD.

Hope and quiet wait because the Lord is like this. It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed. Am I consumed yet? No. Jesus was consumed but He trusted the Lord just the same. Here is the amazing hope while I am trying to change.

Because this fluctuation of hope versus no hope wants to grab us, this is a very important scripture:

Isaiah 56:1 Thus saith the LORD, Keep ye judgment, and do justice: for my salvation [is] near to come, and my righteousness to be revealed.

While you are striving to keep the commandments and fail, and you lose out here or there and you fall and rise again, while that is going on, don’t stop. Continue to keep the law, continue to keep the Sabbath, continue to put into practice the things of the law because although you don’t feel that you’re succeeding, God’s salvation is near to come and His righteousness to be revealed. It’s still to happen, wait patiently for it. We don’t see it until those words are uttered, Who shall be able to stand? Jesus says, My grace is sufficient for you, when we see Him face to face.

Galatians 5:5 For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.

It’s something that we have by faith but we can’t see yet. It’s a hope. This is the important thing that will carry us through:

Hebrews 3:6 But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.

We are His children if we hold firm to this hope right to the end. Don’t make a decision to think that I feel so bad and it’s not worth it, I might as well give up. Don’t make that decision. You are a child of God if you hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope. This is the anchor that will keep our soul.

Hebrews 6:18 That by two immutable things, in which [it was] impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us:

I have set it before you in this message. Are you laying hold upon it?

Hebrews 6:19 Which [hope] we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; 20 Whither the forerunner is for us entered, [even] Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.

When you next feel down, and you will, when you next see yourself as a frail, hopeless person, flee to the meditation I have shared with you here. When you next see a brother or a sister down, communicate the hope and remind them of what we have learnt.

May God grant us this because this is the only way by which we are going to be among the 144,000 who will meet Jesus when He comes.

Amen.

Posted on December 20, 2014, in Divine Service Sermons and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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