Sermon for Artie Jones Memorial

“Living God, Living Hope”

Jan 24th, 2021

THE GOD OF THE BIBLE is called the Living God. While the nations worshipped dead idols made of stone or silver or gold, the people of God worshipped the Living God, who could not be fashioned in any image nor carved in any statue. The living God made the very world, and all that is in it, and all that has life.

The Living God was worshipped through the generations. He was the God of Abraham. And He was the God of Abraham’s son Isaac. And He was the God of Isaac’s son Jacob. They each looked to God in faith, and it was by faith that these men lived and were declared just.

In time Abraham died, and Isaac died, and Jacob died. Naturally, as all people do succumb to death so did all of those of old who were faithful to God.

Though death came to each generation the people of God continued to look to the living God. They looked to the living God in hope of eternal life. The prophet Job believed that the Living God would send a Redeemer to give him everlasting life. Job said “after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God.” (Job 19:26) Job knew that though he would die he would once again — in his flesh — see God. In faith he looked to God with hope for the resurrection of his body and life in the world to come.

Like Job, David also looked to God in faith and had hoped for the resurrection of his body and the life eternal. David said in one of his Psalms “my heart is glad and my whole being rejoiced; my flesh also dwells secure, for you will not abandon my soul to hell.” (Psalm 16:9)

The same truth is found in the prophets Daniel and Isaiah and Ezekiel. Throughout the Old Testament the prophets had a hope in the living God for a resurrection from the dead and everlasting life.

Yet this truth of the resurrection was not accepted by all. In the times of Jesus the Pharisees believed in the resurrection but the Sadducees did not. Jesus encountered these Sadducees as is recorded in the Gospel of Matthew.

There we read:

[Mat 22:23-33 ESV] 23 The same day Sadducees came to him, who say that there is no resurrection, and they asked him a question, 24 saying, “Teacher, Moses said, ‘If a man dies having no children, his brother must marry the widow and raise up offspring for his brother.’ 25 Now there were seven brothers among us. The first married and died, and having no offspring left his wife to his brother. 26 So too the second and third, down to the seventh. 27 After them all, the woman died. 28 In the resurrection, therefore, of the seven, whose wife will she be? For they all had her.” 29 But Jesus answered them, “You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God. 30 For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. 31 And as for the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was said to you by God: 32 ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not God of the dead, but of the living.” 33 And when the crowd heard it, they were astonished at his teaching.

As we today are astonished by Jesus’s teaching. He spoke with authority, not like the scribes and Pharisees.

In the account in Matthew’s Gospel Jesus tells us that these believers of old—Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—who once died are now alive, BECAUSE God—the living God—is a god of the living.

It is in the living God that Peter tells us that he has a living hope. He opens the first of his letters in writing to Christians through the world saying:

“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.”

As the resurrection was promised in the Old Testament, so it was fulfilled in Jesus Christ, who rising from the dead was the firstfruits of all people who will one day rise again. So in this living God and in the resurrection to new life shown in Jesus Christ, Peter has a living hope—an active hope based on the truth of the resurrection of Jesus Christ—that he too—and indeed all people—will one day rise again. His hope is not fleeting, but it is is ongoing; it is alive and confident.

Without this Living Hope, we have no Hope. Without Christ we have just this brief life, full of trouble and short in days. But in Christ, those who believe are made alive by the Holy Spirit to live here and now as well as forever with the Lord. We are called to live Holy lives, and we are called to live joyously, not for the sake of joy itself, nor for any empty reason, but we are called to live for joy because of Jesus Christ, and the joy of knowing him and his salvation.

In him we live and move and have our being. We live because He liveth. Praise be to the Living God for life and the promise of eternal life for all who believe in his name. And it is in his name that I pray, Amen.

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