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Rays of Light Bible Lessons by Keith Holder

HEIRS OF THE HOPE OF ETERNAL LIFE

Titus 3:4-7 But after that the kindness and love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness, which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; which He shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior; that being justified by His grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

For God so loved the world, that he gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life (John 3:16). God's plan of salvation for mankind was in His mind from the beginning of time. It was fulfilled in His Son, Jesus Christ. Paul wrote this explanation to the churches of Christ in Galatia: But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons (Gal. 4:4-5). This gift of life eternal was demonstrated in the kindness and love of God our Savior for all mankind, who, in the beginning of time, He created in His image. The hope of eternal life was God's gift of love that He offered, by His mercy and grace, to all men and women of the world that love Him, obey Him, and accept His Son, Jesus Christ, as their Savior.

Eternal salvation, indeed, is a gift of God. Certainly, as Jesus told us, the hope of salvation takes believing and obedient faith, which He assured us, and was recorded by the apostle John (See John 3:14-18). Works of righteousness, which we have done, cannot merit salvation, even though God requires them. James assured us of this, when, by inspiration, he wrote, even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone (See James 2:14-18). The hope of eternal salvation requires both faith and works. However, God's saving grace is still necessary for that hope to be fulfilled. Eternal life will only be extended to those that have paved the narrow way that leads to heaven with true, obedient faith, and dedicated works of righteousness, that bring glory to God, our Heavenly Father, through His Son, Christ Jesus.

God extends His plan of eternal salvation to us, by the washing of regeneration. Eternal salvation concludes in heaven, but the expectant hope of salvation begins on earth with the scriptural acts that culminate in the washing of regeneration, which is baptism for the remission of sins. After Jesus told Nicodemus, except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God, He explained this regeneration more completely by saying, except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God (John 3:3-5).

This is exactly what Jesus told His apostles and the entire world when He said, He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned (Mark 16:16). Peter and the other apostles stated this scriptural requirement for eternal salvation to the multitudes on the Day of Pentecost. When asked by the Jewish multitude, Men and brethren, what shall we do,Peter, and the other apostles replied,Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost (See Acts 2:37-38). Three thousand repentant Jews were immediately baptized, and were added to the body of Christ by God that same day (See Acts 2:41 & 47). Thesesame acts of obedience were also carried out when the Ethiopian eunuch heard the message of salvation from the inspired teaching of Philip, believed it, confessed Jesus Christ to be the Son of God, all prior to descending into the water where Philip baptized him (See Acts 8:26-39).

Eternal salvation cannot be obtained simply by the righteousness of men and women; it is extended to all mankind by God's mercy. The culminating act God chose to extend salvation through His mercy is stated here as baptism into the body of Christ for the remission of sins, that is, the washing of regeneration. It is by this act that we experience the renewing of the Holy Ghost - the Holy Spirit of God, which dwells in every Christian by His New Testament gospel of salvation. In his letter to the Christians of Rome, Paul confirmed this to be true: But if the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwelleth in you (Rom. 8:11).

The Holy Spirit of God dwells in the minds of all people that hear and accept the Holy Spirit-inspired word of God (Mark 16:15; Rom. 10:13-14), believe that Jesus Christ is the Messiah, the Son of God (John 3:16; Acts 16:31), repent of their past sinful life (Luke 24:46-47; Acts 2:38; 17:30), confess their faith in Christ Jesus (Acts 8:36-38; Rom. 10:9-10; 1 Tim. 6:12), and are baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of their sins (Mark 16:15-16; Acts 2:38; 8:38; 22:16). These are the God-required acts of obedience that the apostle Paul spoke of when he wrote that, when culminating baptism, men and women put off the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, ...(and) put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness (See Eph. 4:22-24).

Indeed, the Holy Spirit of God dwells in the minds of all obedient Christians. And how is this possible? Men, who were inspired by the Holy Spirit, wrote God's Holy Word, the Bible. We heard it, believed it, obeyed it, and now, as Christians, it continues to dwell in us, and guide our lives, by showing us what God requires us to do, as well as those things He commands that we refrain from doing. Although a lengthy quotation, Paul confirms this as the role of the Holy Spirit of God. To the church of Christ in Corinth he wrote: But as it is written, eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things, which God hath prepared for them that love Him. But God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man, which is in him? Even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit, which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words, which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. (1 Cor. 2:9-14).

It is the Holy Spirit of God, which He shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior. Prophesied by Joel (2:28), and confirmed by Peter and other apostles on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:17), we find that God poured out His Holy Spirit-inspired gospel message of salvation, through His Son, Jesus Christ, on all that obeyed His will, and were baptized into His body. And until the full gospel of Christ was written, by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and made available to the world, God's gift of His Holy Spirit was even given, in miraculous measure, to all obedient Christians, in order to confirm the will of God (See Eph. 4:7-13; Acts 4:27-30; 6:8; 15:12; 19:6; 2 Cor. 12:12; Rom. 15:18-19).

Today, there is no need for additional miracles to confirm God's Holy Word, because we have the same miracles recorded, and made available, by Holy Spirit-inspired writers of the New Testament, for our understanding, which comfirm the same word of God that was verbally preached to men and women in first century Christianity. God's plan of eternal salvation is contained within the pages of the Holy Bible, the Word of God, inspired by His Holy Spirit, and recorded by holy men chosen by God through His Son, Jesus Christ.

Therefore, today, without God's word being imparted in a miraculous way, the Holy Spirit dwells in Christians today through the inspired books of the New Testament that were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope (Rom. 15:4b). It is this indwelling of the Holy Spirit of God, His word, the Holy Bible, by which Christians learn to obey the will of God. And by obedience to it, we are able to avoid doing the things that are sinful in His sight, and we know what, and how, to do doing the things that He commands us to do. Paul assures us that the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, which is given (by Him) unto us (Rom. 5:5b). When we stray from the will of God, the knowledge of His word, gained through indwelling Holy Spiritconvicts our hearts and minds, and causes us to return to the righteous conduct God requires of His children.

The Bible, the Holy Spirit-inspired word of God, dwells in all obedient Christians, not only to guide our conduct while here on earth, but also to give us the assurance of a home in heaven - that being justified by His grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. God's holy word that abides in us, by inspiration of His Holy Spirit, states that, if we obey His will, He will give us contentment and peace of mind, that is unknown by those outside the body of Christ.

And finally, quoting William Barkley, in his comments on this passage, he said that "The Christian is a man for whom the best is always still to be; he knows that, however wonderful is life on earth with Christ, the life to come will be greater yet. The Christian is the man (or woman) who knows the wonder of past sin being forgiven, the thrill of present life with Christ, and the hope of the greater life which is yet to be."

Indeed, obedient Christians are heirs of the hope of eternal life! The Holy Spirit of God gives us this assurance. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified together (Rom. 8:16-17).