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Where is the Best Place to Go When You Need Encouragement and Hope?

“The Encouragement of the Scriptures”

By Dr. James Montgomery Boice

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. – Romans 15:4 (pictured at left – the Alps in Switzerland – James Boice received his Doctorate in Theology in Basel, Switzerland)

A number of years ago a German theologian named Juergen Moltmann wrote a book entitled The Theology of Hope. His point, which meant a great deal to Bible scholars at the time, was that eschatology (the doctrine of the last things) should not be an appendix to Christian theology—something tacked on at the end and perhaps even dispensable to Christian thought—but should be the starting point of everything. He said that it is confidence in what God is going to do in the future that must determine how we think and act now.

I am not sure that is entirely right. I would call the cross of Christ, not eschatology, the center, arguing that we must take our ideas even of the future from the cross. But Moltmann was correct in stressing that hope is important for living well now. To have hope is to look at the future optimistically. So to some extent a person must have hope to live. The Latin word for hope is spes, from which the French derived the noun espoir and the Spanish, esperanza. But put the particle de in front of those words, and the resulting word is despair, literally “without hope.” People who despair do not go on. When John Milton wanted to depict the maximum depth to which Satan fell when he was cast out of heaven, he has him say to the other fallen spirits in hell, “Our final hope is flat despair.”

How can any sane person have hope in the midst of the desperate world in which we live? The frivolous can, because they do not think about the future at all. Thinking people find the future grim. Winston Churchill, one of the most brilliant and influential people of his age, died despairing. His last words were, “There is no hope.”

Our text says that a Christian can have hope and that the way to that sound and steadfast hope is through the Bible.

In The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy and her friends—the scarecrow, the tin man, and the cowardly lion—make their way down a yellow brick road to find their future. Our text likewise gives us a road to hope. That road leads first through teaching, second through patient endurance, and third through encouragement. The text says, “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (Rom. 15:4).

The Teaching of the Scriptures

The first and most important stop along this important road leading to hope is teaching, because it is through the teaching of the Scriptures that the other elements, endurance and encouragement, come. Christianity is a teaching religion, and our text is the Bible. It is true that those whose minds have been enlightened by the Bible often go on to learn in other areas too. Some of the greatest scholars in the world have been Christians, and many have traced their love of learning to their Christian roots. Moreover, wherever the gospel has gone throughout the world, schools and colleges and other institutions of higher learning have gone with it. Still, Christians maintain that however much a person may come to know in other areas, if he or she does not know what God has revealed about himself and the way of salvation in the Bible, that person is ignorant and remains a great fool.

Paul said of the Gentile Christians at Ephesus, among whom there must have been many learned persons, that before they had been taught about Jesus and had received him as their Savior, they were “excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world” (Eph. 2:12). They may have been educated, but they were ignorant of the things that matter most. After they had been taught and came to faith in Christ, however, they had hope of “the riches of [God’s] glorious inheritance in the saints,” which was future, and “his incomparably great power for us who believe,” which was present (Eph. 1:18–19).

Our text in Romans is about the teaching of the Scriptures and tells us at least three important things about the Bible:

(1) The Bible is from God. When Paul says that everything written in the past “was written to teach us,” he is not saying that when Moses wrote the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible, he did so intending that the church in future ages might be blessed by his writings, or that David wrote the psalms so that we might profit by them. His point is that God caused the human writers of the Bible to write as they did, because what he had in mind was the edification and encouragement of his people through the ages, whether or not the human writers understood this.

This also flows from the context. We remember that Paul has just quoted Psalm 69:9, applying it to Jesus Christ, whom he brought forward as an example for our right conduct. Some may object, “How can you imagine that David was writing about Jesus Christ, who was born so many hundred of years after his own age, or that this has anything to do with us?” Paul is answering, in effect, as F. Godet suggests, “If I thus apply this saying of the psalmist to Christ and ourselves, it is because, in general, all Scripture was written to instruct and strengthen us.”

Of course, many other verses say the same thing. Peter wrote, “Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:20–21).

Similarly, Paul told Timothy, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16–17). The reason the Scriptures are so valuable is that they are unlike other books written by mere human beings. They are from God; therefore they have the authority and power of God within them. Besides, God has promised to bless them to the ends for which they have been given (Isa. 55:10–11).

(2) Everything in the Bible is for our good and is profitable. The second important teaching about the Scriptures in Romans 15:4 is that all Scripture is for our good and is profitable. In 2 Timothy 3:16, Paul wrote, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful.…” In our text he uses the words “everything that was written,” but he means the same thing in both passages.

This is not an endorsement of every piece of ancient literature, as if the words “everything that was written in the past” refer to the writings of the ancient Babylonians, Egyptians, Greeks, or Romans. Paul is not writing about secular literature, but about the writings that are “God-breathed.” Other books may instruct and even charm us wonderfully, but only the Bible gives us a sure ground for hope, since only it speaks with full authority and trustworthiness about what God did to save us from sin and give us eternal life.

Paul’s statement is, however, an endorsement of all of the Bible. That is, he is informing us that “all Scripture … is profitable” and “everything that was written in the past was written to teach us.”

Some critics of the Bible have found things in it that they do not like and have therefore argued either that the Bible is from men only, not from God, or that it is a mixture of the two—some parts being from God and some from man. The parts that are from God are then regarded as authoritative, but the parts said to be from human beings only are discarded as error-prone and nonauthoritative. This is a convenient way of pretending to submit to the Bible’s authority while at the same time avoiding anything in the Bible that is convicting or contrary to the critic’s thought. This is not the Bible’s teaching. It is not historic Christianity. The Bible teaches that everything in it is the true Word of God and that it is binding upon the minds and consciences of all persons. Therefore, if we are being led by God’s Holy Spirit, we will conform our thoughts and actions to whatever we find in his Word.

(3) Nothing in the Bible is without value. Paul’s third point is that not only is everything in the Bible for our good and profitable, but nothing that is in the Bible is without value.

John Calvin was strong in this conviction: “This notable passage shows us that the oracles of God contain nothing vain or unprofitable.… It would be an insult to the Holy Spirit to imagine that he had taught us anything which it is of no advantage to know. Let us also know that all that we learn from Scripture is conducive to the advancement of godliness. Although Paul is speaking of the Old Testament, we are to hold the same view of the writings of the apostles. If the Spirit of Christ is everywhere the same, it is quite certain that he has accommodated his teaching to the edification of his people at the present time by the apostles, as he formerly did by the prophets.”

Patient Endurance

The second checkpoint we must pass along the road to hope is endurance, which some versions of the Scriptures translate patience (King James Version), perseverance (New American Standard Bible) or even patient endurance, since the word involves both passively accepting what we cannot change and actively pressing on in faithful obedience and discipleship. This word (hypomonê) occurs thirty-two times in the New Testament, sixteen times in Paul’s writings, six of which are in Romans.

Is Paul saying that endurance comes from the Bible—that is, from knowing the Bible? I raise that question because a detail of the Greek text provokes it. Paul uses the word for through (dia) twice, once before the word endurance and once before the word encouragement (the New International Version omits it the second time). According to the strictest rules of Greek grammar, that should mean that endurance is separated from encouragement with the result that the words “of the Scriptures” should be attached to encouragement only. In other words, Paul would be saying that it is through our own personal enduring as well as through the encouragement that we have in studying the Bible that we find hope.

Leon Morris is a fine Greek scholar, and he is led to this position by his grammatical sensitivity. “[Paul’s] construction seems to show that only encouragement is here said to derive from the Bible,” he says.

In my judgment this is a place where it may be wrong to read too much into a fine point of grammar. Grammatically Morris is right. But in terms of the flow of thought it is hard to suppose that Paul is not thinking of the role the Scriptures have in producing endurance too. For one thing, he links the two ideas together in verse 5, saying, “May the God who gives endurance and encouragement.… ” Again, in verse 4 both terms follow Paul’s opening words about the use of the Scriptures for teaching: “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that…” Or again, even apart from what Paul is saying, elsewhere we are taught that endurance comes from reading how God has kept and preserved other believers even in terrible circumstances.

James wrote, “Brothers, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy” (James 5:10–11). He is saying that we learn to endure by reading about the way God helped others before us.

Although they recognize the grammatical issue, a large number of other writers nevertheless see the matter as I have outlined it here. Among these are John Murray, Charles Hodge and F. Godet.

Encouragement

The third checkpoint along the road to hope is encouragement, which also comes to us through Scripture. Encouragement (paraklêsis) is found twenty times in Paul’s writings out of twenty-nine occurrences in the whole New Testament. It occurs three times in Romans.

The interesting thing about this word is that it is virtually the same one Jesus used to describe the work of the Holy Spirit among believers, saying, “It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you” (John 16:7; see 14:26; 15:26), and that the apostle John used to describe the work of Jesus himself: “My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One” (1 John 2:1). The word Counselor and the phrase “one who speaks … in our defense” translate the same Greek word paraklêtos, which is also sometimes translated advocate. The literal meaning is “one who comes alongside of another person to help him or her,” to back the person up or defend him. So together the passages teach that Jesus himself does this for us, the Holy Spirit does it, and the Scriptures do it too. Indeed, it is through the Scriptures that the Holy Spirit chiefly does his work.

The end result of this is hope. In our text the article is present before the word hope (“the hope”), meaning the Christian hope. This is not just optimism that Paul is writing about, not a hope founded on something the world thinks possible. Also, the verb have is in the present tense, meaning that hope is a present possession. As Calvin says, “The particular service of the Scriptures is to raise those who are prepared by patience and strengthened by consolation to the hope of eternal life, and to keep their thoughts fixed upon it.”

An Example from History

But enough analysis! If we are to travel the road of endurance and encouragement to hope by learning from the Scriptures, we should study how it actually works.

There are hundreds of examples of this in the Bible, of course, but let’s examine the familiar story of Joseph. Joseph was the next-to-youngest son of Jacob, and he was favored by his father because he was born of his much-beloved wife Rachel and also perhaps because he was an extraordinary young man. His brothers hated him for his virtue so they threw him into a cistern and then sold him to Midianite traders who were on their way to Egypt. Joseph was just seventeen years old. In Egypt he became a slave of a rich man named Potiphar. Joseph served the man well, and he was placed in charge of his entire household. Then Potiphar’s wife was attracted to Joseph and tried to seduce him. When Joseph refused to sleep with her, the proud, angry woman denounced him falsely to her husband, and Joseph was thrown into prison.

Joseph languished in prison for two years. Once when he had correctly and favorably interpreted the dream of Pharaoh’s cupbearer, predicting that he would be taken from the prison where he too had been confined and restored to his previous position, Joseph asked the man to remember him when he was released and speak a good word to Pharaoh to get him out of prison. But the cupbearer forgot.

The years dragged on. One day God gave a dream to Pharaoh. No one in the palace could interpret it, but the cupbearer remembered Joseph and his ability to interpret dreams and told the king about him. Pharaoh sent for the young man, and Joseph interpreted the dream, predicting seven years of prosperity to be followed by seven years of severe famine. He recommended that the king appoint a wise man to save grain during the good years so that the people would not starve when the years of scarceness came.

You know the story. Pharaoh appointed Joseph to the task. Joseph served well. The land was saved, and in time, when the famine drove Joseph’s wicked brothers to Egypt to buy grain, God used Joseph to bring the brothers to repentance. The family was reconciled, and Jacob moved all of them to Egypt, where the people stayed and prospered for many years.

The climax of this great story comes in the final chapter of Genesis, when Jacob dies and the brothers come to plead with Joseph not to take revenge on them. They had completely misunderstood him. He had no intention of doing any of them any harm. “Don’t be afraid,” he exclaimed. “Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives” (Gen. 50:19–20). The story teaches that God is sovereign even in such terrible circumstances as those that overtook Joseph. And from it we learn to trust God’s sovereignty, endure in hardship, be encouraged, and so grow strong in hope.

I have picked this particular story because of Psalm 105, which refers to it. It may have been written by King David, but whoever the writer was, he was a man who needed encouragement. He found it in Joseph’s story:

Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done.…

He [God] called down famine on the land and destroyed all their supplies of food;

and he sent a man before them—Joseph, sold as a slave.

They bruised his feet with shackles, his neck was put in irons,

till what he foretold came to pass, till the word of the Lord proved him true.

The king sent and released him, the ruler of peoples set him free.

He made him master of his household, ruler over all he possessed,

to instruct his princes as he pleased and teach his elders wisdom. – Psalm 105:1, 16–22

This writer clearly knew that “everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” Do you know that? If you do, you will study what God has spoken and move ahead boldly for him and with hope.

About the Author: James Montgomery Boice, Th.D., (July 7, 1938 – June 15, 2000) was a Reformed theologian, Bible teacher, and pastor of Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia from 1968 until his death. He is heard on The Bible Study Hour radio broadcast and was a well known author and speaker in evangelical and Reformed circles. He also served as Chairman of the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy for over ten years and was a founding member of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals. He is the author of numerous Bible expositions and one of my favorite Systematic Theologies called Foundations of the Christian Faith. The article above was adapted from James M. Boice. Romans, vol. 4. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1991, 1803-1809).

 

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What Can We Learn About the Resurrection of Jesus from the Life of Job? By Dr. James M. Boice

 *“He Lives!”

I do not know if you have had the experience of gaining an insight or receiving a revelation so important that you wished it could be preserved forever. If you have, or if you have even experienced that in a partial way, you will understand the tone in which Job spoke his most widely quoted lines, beginning, I know my Redeemer lives.” We hear something said in a particularly vivid way, and we say, “If I could just remember that!” Or we have an insight and say, “If I could just get that written down so I won’t forget it!”

That was the feeling that Job experienced. He had suffered a great deal, first by the loss of his possessions, then by the loss of his ten children and eventually his own health. His friends came to comfort but actually abused him, charging that his misfortunes were the result of some particularly outstanding sin in his life. In the midst of one reply Job gave vent to the insight to which I am referring.

Job perceived that his story was not being told completely in this life and that a later day would vindicate him. In fact, he perceived that there was an individual who would vindicate him, even Jesus Christ, whom Job calls “my Redeemer.” This individual would stand on the earth in some future day, would raise Job from death, and would enable him to see God.

Can you imagine Job’s excitement as he gave expression to this hope? There were many who shared it in Job’s day; few understood it. So Job said that he wished his words might be preserved. “Oh, that my words were recorded, that they were written on a scroll, that they were inscribed with an iron tool on lead, or engraved in rock forever!” (Job 19:23-24). Fortunately for us, Job’s wish was fulfilled. Not only were his words preserved in a book; they have been preserved in the Book of books, the Bible.

A Kinsman-Redeemer

“I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth” (Job 19:25).

The first thing we shall look at in Job’s statement is its key word: “Redeemer.” This is a rich and particularly illuminating term. In Hebrew the word is goel, which refers to a relative who performs the office of a redeemer for his kin. We must visualize a situation in which a Hebrew has lost his inheritance through debt. He has mortgaged his estate and, because of a lack of money to meet the debt, is about to lose it. This happened in the case of Naomi and Ruth so that, although they had once possessed the land, they had become impoverished. In such a situation was the goel’s duty, as the next of kin, to buy the inheritance; that is to pay the mortgage and restore the land to his relative. Boaz did that for Ruth.

That custom is what Job refers to in his expression of faith in a divine Redeemer, and it is why this passage must refer to Job’s own resurrection. As Job spoke those words he was in a dire physical condition. He had lost his family and health. He must have imagined that he was about to lose his life, too. He would die. Worms would destroy his body. But that was not the end of the story. For his body, like the land, was his inheritance; and there is one who will redeem it for him. Years may go by, but at the latter day the Redeemer will stand upon the earth and will perform the office of a goel in raising his body. He will bring Job into the presence of God.

I recognize that there are different ways of translating the phrase “Yet in my flesh I will see God” (19:26). Some versions read, “Yet without my flesh.” But those fail to make full sense of the passage. What is redeemed if it is not Job’s body? Not the soul or the spirit certainly, for those are never forfeited. And not Job’s physical possessions, for the passage is not even considering them. It is the body that will be redeemed. Consequently, it is in this body and with his own physical eyes that Job expects to see God.

A second duty of the goel was to redeem by power, if that should be necessary. Abraham performed this duty when Lot had been captured by the four kings who made war against the king of Sodom and his allies. Abraham armed his household, pursued the four kings and their prisoners, and then, attacking by night, recovered both prisoners and spoil. That is what the Lord Jesus Christ did, was it not? He attacked in power—we speak rightly of resurrection power—and broke death’s hold.

Finally, the goal had a duty to avenge a death. Imagine that an Israelite has been attacked and is dying. The goal learns who has struck his relative. He snatches up his own sword and dashes off to avenge his own sword and dashes off to avenge the murder. Our Christ is likewise our avenger. We are dying people, but we have a Redeemer. We read of Him: “For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death…Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:25-26, 55-57).

A Living Redeemer

As we think about his words in greater detail, we discover next that Job took confidence, not only in the fact that he had a Redeemer, but that he had a living Redeemer. That is important, because a redeemer must be living to perform his function.

If Job had been able to say merely that he had a Redeemer, that would have been wonderful. If he could have said further that the Redeemer of whom he was speaking was the Christ, that would have been even more wonderful. To have known such a one, to have been related to him, to have been able to look back to what he had done—all that would have been both pleasant and comforting. But so far as the present need was concerned it would have been inadequate. A person in that position could say, “I had a Redeemer, and I value that.” But he would undoubtedly add, “But I wish I had him now.” A redeemer must be living if he is to buy back the estate, recover the prisoners, and defeat the enemy.

Job does not say that he had a Redeemer. He says that he has a Redeemer and he is living. We too have a living Redeemer, the same Redeemer, who is Jesus.

That is the thrust of our testimony on Easter Sunday. And indeed on every other Lord’s Day. We testify that Jesus rose from the dead and that he ever lives to help all who call upon him. The evidences for this are overwhelming. There is the evidence of the narratives themselves. They are quite evidently four separate and independent accounts, for if they were not, there would not be so many apparent discrepancies—the time at which the women went to the tomb, the number of angels and so on. At the same time, it is also obvious that there is a deep harmony among them—not a superficial harmony but rather a detailed harmony that is increasingly evident as the accounts are analyzed. In fact, the situation is precisely what we would expect if the accounts are four independent records of those who were eyewitnesses.

One writer summarized the evidence like this:

It is plain that these accounts must be either a record of facts that actually occurred, or else fictions. If fictions, they must have been fabricated in one of two ways, either independently of one another, or in collusion with one another. They cannot have been made up independently; the agreements are too marked and too many. They cannot have been made up in collusion…the apparent discrepancies are too numerous and too noticeable. Not made up independently, not made up in collusion, therefore, it is evident they were not made up at all. They are a true relation of facts as they actually occurred (R.A. Torrey, The Bible and Its Christ: Being Noonday Talks with Business Men on Faith and Unbelief, New York: Revell, 1904-1906, pp. 60-61).

The resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ is also proved by the transformed lives of the disciples. Before the resurrection two negative charges could be made against them; and these by their own confession. First, they had failed to understand Jesus’ teaching about the crucifixion and resurrection. Second, they were cowardly. Peter had said that he would defend Jesus to the death and never deny him. But on the night of the arrest he did deny Him. He abandoned Him, as did the other disciples. On the day of the resurrection, but before Jesus had appeared to them in the upper room, we find them hiding in fear of the Jews. Yet hours later they were standing up boldly in Jerusalem to denounce the execution of Jesus and call for faith in Him. Moreover, when they were arrested later we do not find them cowering in fear of the future but rather giving full testimony to Christian faith and doctrine. What made the difference? What made cowards bold, a scattering body of individuals a cohesive force, a disillusioned following evangelists? Only one thing accounts for it: the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

There are many evidences, but I cannot help but mention a third—the change in the day of worship. Before the resurrection the followers of Christ worshipped, as did all Jews, on Saturday. The need to do this would not even have been questioned—it had been practiced for centuries. Yet from that time on we find the newly formed body of Christians meeting, not on Saturday, but on the first day of the week, Sunday. Clearly it was because of Jesus’ resurrection.

A Personal Redeemer

There is a third point to Job’s statement. Not only does Job declare that he has a Redeemer, not only does he affirm that He is living Redeemer—he adds, quite properly, that He is his Redeemer. “My” is the word he uses. “I know that my Redeemer lives.” Do you know that “my” in relationship to Jesus Christ? It is a reminder of the need for personal religion.

This is what we desire, is it not? We are persons, and we desire personal relationships. We are made in God’s image, as persons; so we desire a personal relationship with God.

In my church I notice that the young people often have a great deal of appreciation for one another. There are young women, for instance, who greatly appreciate certain young men. And there are young men who appreciate certain young women, even though they sometimes fail to say so. That is a wonderful thing. I am glad that virtue and good looks are noticed. But I have observed that in addition there are also many young women who would like to be able to say, not only, “Look at that fellow; how handsome he is!” but also, “Look at my fellow.” And some of the young men would like to say, “Look at my girl.” Admiration is good, but personal involvement is better.

That is our privilege in relation to Christ. It is good to admire Him. He is the risen Lord of glory after all; it would be foolish not to do so. But how much better to know Him personally, as Job did. Jesus came to earth to die for sin and to rise again. Can you say, “My God came as my Redeemer to die for my sin and to rise again for my justification? You give no real evidence of being a Christian until you can.

Do not delay. Do not say, “I’ll do it next year.” I can give no guarantee that you will be here next year. On the contrary, some who read these words will not be. Even tomorrow may be too late. The Bible says, “Now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2).

Assurance

I would also like you to possess Job’s assurance. That is the fourth point. Not only does Job refer to his Redeemer and declare that he is both a living and personal Redeemer, he also says that he knows all these things: “I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth.”  You should possess such assurance if you are a Christian.

I do not know why some people think that it is meritorious to express doubt in matters of religion. They think that it is somehow vain or impolite to be certain and that it is humble and therefore desirable to say, “I do not know…I hope so…I would like to believe…I think…” Nothing could be more faulty. The humble person is the one who bows before God’s revelation and accepts it because of who God is. It is the proud man who thinks he knows enough about anything to doubt God. Besides, God says that doubt is the equivalent of calling Him a liar; it is as much to say that His word is untrustworthy (cf. 1 John 5:10). Jesus lives! Believe it! Declare it! Act upon it! Say with Job, “I know that my Redeemer lives, we shall live. His resurrection is the pledge of our own.

Then, too, we shall see God. This is the second benefit. We shall live again and in that living form shall see God. What a wonderful thought. And how much more wonderful than anything else that might be said. Notice that Job did not say, “I shall see heaven.” That was true, but it was relatively unimportant compared to the fact that he would see God. Spurgeon wrote, “He does not say, ‘I shall see the pearly gates, I shall see the walls of jasper, I shall see the crowns of gold and the harps of harmony,’ but ‘I shall see God’; as if that were the sub and substance of heaven” (Charles Haddon Spurgeon, “I know that My Redeemer Lives,” in the Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, vol.9, Pasadena, Tex.: Pilgrim, Tex.: Pilgrim Publications, 1969, 214.) Nor does he say, “I shall see the holy angels.” That would have been a magnificent sight, at least it seems so to us we look through the eyes of John the evangelist, who wrote the book of Revelation. I find  few scenes more thrilling than John’s description. But that too pales beside the gaze of the soul on God. Notice, finally, that Job did not even say, ”I shall see those of this world who have gone before me,” even though that would be a great joy and his departed children would be among them. Job would see all these things: the pearly gates, the holy angels, and his children. But over and above and infinitely more glorious than any of those, he would see God.

Do not think that this is a narrow vista, wonderful but small, like looking at one of those old-fashioned pastoral scenes within a candy egg. God is infinite. To see God is to experience perfect contentment and to be satisfied in all one’s faculties.

 Living Memorials

Our conclusion is this: If Job, who lived at the dawn of recorded history, centuries before the time of the Lord Jesus Christ—if Job knew these things, how much more should we know them, we who are aware of Christ’s resurrection and have witnessed his power in our lives. Job lived in a dark and misty time, before the dawning of the Lord Jesus Christ, that sun of righteousness. Job lived in an age before Jesus brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. If he had failed to understand about the resurrection and had failed to believe in it, who could blame him? Nobody. Yet he believed. How much more than should we?

Can you say with Job, “I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God”? If so, then live in that assurance. Do not fear death. During the next twelve months death will certainly come for some, but there will also be a resurrection. Besides, Jesus is also coming; and if that should happen soon, He will receive us all.

I add one more thought. We believe these truths, yes. But let us not only believe them; let us pass them on so that others may share in this resurrection faith also. What was Job’s desire after all? It was that his words might be preserved and that his faith in the resurrection might be saved for coming generations. The resurrection hope has come down to us through many centuries of church history. Let it pass to our children and to our children’s children until the living Lord Jesus Christ returns in His glory. Jesus Christ lives. He lives! Then let us tell others, and let us shout with Job, “I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth.”

*”He Lives” is an Easter Sermon excerpted from Chapter One in James Boice, The Christ of the Empty Tomb, Chicago, Moody Press, 1985; reprinted in 2008. James Montgomery Boice, Th.D., (July 7, 1938 – June 15, 2000) was a Reformed theologian, Bible teacher, and pastor of Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia from 1968 until his death. He is heard on The Bible Study Hour radio broadcast and was a well known author and speaker in evangelical and Reformed circles. He also served as Chairman of the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy for over ten years and was a founding member of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals.

 

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