During the early years of origin and development of the Lord’s church, or kingdom, many miracles were performed by Jesus and the inspired apostles in order to prove the authenticity of the word and to establish that He was indeed the Son of God. Even the newly baptized Christians who were added to the church by Jesus, were granted a miraculous gift. Some were gifted with the ability to speak in a foreign tongue, some could preach truths although they had not been indoctrinated with it all, and various other such gifts needed to get the church going.
The method of the new Christians obtaining such a gift could only be by one of the apostles bestowing it to them by laying their hands on them. And this ability went no further. After the death of the apostles, no one else could bestow such.
The apostle Paul tells of these miraculous gifts and how they played a different part in the establishment of the church, in 1 Corinthians chapter 12. Read it.
Then in chapter 13, he tells of the miraculous gifts that will cease as the church grows and becomes established. Once all the writings of the inspired men became available, the gifts would no longer be needed. Listeners during that time were privileged to witness these gifts so they could believe. But when the entire New Testament became available (not when it was canonized and made into one book) it became the work of miracles and it is left to the individual to study it and determine it’s truths.
But at the end of the chapter 13, Paul makes this statement:
And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity. (1 Corinthians 13:13 KJV)
The New International Version (NIV) translates that verse thusly: And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. (This version makes it more clear. Charity does mean love and the word translated “abideth” does mean “remain“.)
So the word of God does indeed give us hope. Hope is much more than a wish. It is a desire as is a wish, but with hope it includes expectation. One may wish for something but yet, not expect it. With God’s word, we have promise which gives us great expectation.
Both the Old and New Testaments describe God’s promises to man and in all cases where man has fulfilled his part of the agreement, God has kept His word. He promised Abraham that his seed would be given the Land of Canaan, a land flowing with milk and honey. And they did get the land. He promised the Israelites that they would prosper and be kept safe from their enemies, “if” they would follow His commandments. And He promised them if they did not keep His commandments, they would be overrun and be subjects of foreign powers. They prospered as long as they followed his will, but after many years of disobedience, they were captured and ruled by others. Finally their nation was completely destroyed and their generations ceased.
Alexander Campbell, a Gospel preacher in the early years of the church in the new world of America, once held a public debate with an atheist. One of his most unforgettable expressions was at one point when he said to the atheist, “Sir, you are like that oxen yonder, you have no hope!”
Perhaps many feel that to expect complete eradication at death is something they are willing to accept. But the hope that is instilled in the Christian, makes death a welcome transition to a life of such as we all would wish this one could be.
To witness a loved one’s death is always a sorrow, yet when that one has lived a faithful life before God, the loss is made much easier for those who remain.