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"This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil." (Hebrews 6:19)
"When all around my soul gives way, he then is all my hope and stay." -- Edward Mote (1797-1874), writer of the hymn, "My Hope is Built" (Ref. 1, Ref. 2).
Consider. When the storms of life come, in whom or in what is your soul secure, even when tossed by waves of trouble, grief, or loss? What is the anchor for your soul?
Hope Is an Anchor for the Soul
"This hope [this confident assurance] we have as an anchor of the soul [it cannot slip and it cannot break down under whatever pressure bears upon it]—a safe and steadfast hope that enters within the veil [of the heavenly temple, that most Holy Place in which the very presence of God dwells]." (Hebrews 6:19 AMP)
For believers in Jesus Christ, our hope -- our expectation for the future and our confident assurance for the present -- is an anchor for our soul (Hebrews 6:19). Hope accomplishes for our soul the same thing an anchor does for a ship (Ref. 3). In the same way that an anchor holds a ship sure and steadfast through a storm, our hope of heaven and eternal life with Christ holds us firmly and keeps us calm through the difficult storms of life. Our hope of heaven and eternal life with Christ cannot slip and it cannot break down under whatever pressure bears upon it (Hebrews 6:19 AMP). Edward Mote referred to Christ and to hope when he wrote the hymn line, "When all around my soul gives way, he then is all my hope and stay" (Ref. 1, Ref. 2).
Which enters within the veil
The writer of Hebrews adds that this hope set before us is "one which enters within the veil" (Hebrews 6:19). The Amplified Bible describes the veil as "the heavenly temple, that most Holy Place in which the very presence of God dwells" (Hebrews 6:19 AMP).
Recall that under the Old Testament system, the Most Holy Place, the innermost and most sacred place in the tabernacle and later the temple, was separated from the Holy Place by a veil (a curtain) (Exodus 26:31-33, 1 Kings 6:14-19, Hebrews 9:3). The Most Holy Place contained the ark of the covenant which was the symbol for the presence of God (1 Kings 8:6, 10-11). Only one person, the high priest, entered the Most Holy Place one day a year taking blood to atone for the sins of himself and the people (Hebrews 9:3, 6-7).
During Jesus' earthly life, he did not enter the Most Holy Place in the human-made temple in Jerusalem. However, when Jesus Christ, the Messiah, the Son of God died sacrificially to atone for our sins, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom (Mark 15:37-39). Jesus Christ gained direct access for us to the holy place in heaven, the presence of God (Hebrews 9:24, Hebrews 10:19-21). Now, as believers in Christ, our hope has entered within the veil and is surely anchored in heaven, in the presence of God.
Edward Mote wrote the hymn line, "In every high and stormy gale, my anchor holds within the veil" (Ref. 1, Ref. 2).
A Living Hope (1 Peter 1:3)
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead" (1 Peter 1:3).
Without the resurrection of Jesus Christ, there would be no anchor for our soul -- no hope, no eternal life. However, because of God's great mercy, and because of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we do have an anchor for our soul. God has given us a secure living hope through believing in his Son and in his resurrection (John 11:25-26, 1 Peter 1:3). Jesus said to Martha, "I am the resurrection and the life; the one who believes in Me will live, even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?" (John 11:25-26).
A Hope that Abounds (Romans 15:13)
"Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit" (Romans 15:13).
The Apostle Paul prays for us as believers that God will fill us with joy and peace not just that we will have hope, but that we will abound in hope (Romans 15:13). The Greek word for abound means to overflow beyond measure (Ref. 4). The power of the Holy Spirit fills us with joy and peace, and our hope does abound -- a full assurance of hope until the end (Hebrews 6:11). Our abounding hope in Christ and eternal life is the anchor for our soul that keeps us steady and calm through the storms and trials of life.
Apply. Through whatever storm or trial you are going through, Jesus Christ and his gift of eternal life is your hope, the hope that is an anchor for your soul. Trust him, believe him, have confidence in him. Ask him to fill you with joy and peace by the power of the Holy Spirit so that your hope abounds, overflows without measure, and keeps you steady and calm, with full assurance of hope until the day you are with him in heaven.
"What is Eternal Life?" (John 17:3)
"Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life (Job's Question, Jesus' Answer)" (Job 14:14, John 11:25-26)
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"And he was saying, 'Jesus, remember me when You come into Your kingdom!' And He said to him, 'Truly I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.'" (Luke 23:42-43)
Read: Luke 23:33-43
Consider. For the person who puts their faith in Jesus, upon the death of their body, their soul goes immediately to be with Jesus in Paradise.
Two thieves were crucified with Jesus that day - one on the right and the other on the left (Luke 23:33). Both thieves were next to the One who could save them. Yet, one thief hurled abuse (literally, blasphemed) at Jesus (Luke 23:39, Ref. 1). The other, penitent thief recognized that he himself was guilty yet Jesus was innocent. The penitent thief said, "Jesus, remember me when You come into Your kingdom!" (Luke 23:40-42). To this thief, the penitent thief, Jesus said, "Truly I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise" (Luke 23:43).
Jesus' promise to the penitent thief has brought hope to millions of believers over the centuries since Jesus' death and resurrection. Jesus' promise to the penitent thief brings believers hope today as we consider the destination of our souls upon our death and the destination of the souls of our loved ones.
In the next two sections, I would like to focus on two important points, or "take aways" from Jesus' promise to the penitent thief.
Paradise is Where Believers Will Be with Jesus after Death
Jesus could have told the penitent thief, "Today you will be in Paradise." But Jesus did not say that. Jesus said, "Today you will be with Me in Paradise" (Luke 23:43, underline added).
Paradise in Greek is paradeisos (par-ad'-i-sos), which is "an ancient Persian word meaning 'enclosure, garden, park'" (Ref. 2). Paradise is mentioned in the New Testament only three times - in Luke 23:43, 2 Corinthians 12:4, and Revelation 2:7.
The Apostle Paul expressed his desire (his passionate longing) to be with Jesus after his death when he wrote, "But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose. But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better" (Philippians 1:22-23, Ref. 3). Likewise, the early Christians were encouraged, that when they were absent from their body, they would be at home with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8, Ref. 4).
Note that Jesus' promise to the penitent thief, "Today you will be with Me in Paradise," did not apply to the unrepentant thief who verbally abused Jesus and did not believe in him. Scripture teaches that the souls of the unrighteous go to the place of torment Jesus described in Luke 16:22-26 . There they await judgment and the second death (Revelation 20:11-15). It is far better to believe in Jesus during our earthly lifetime and to have his assurance that upon the death of our body our soul will be in Paradise with him.
The Souls of Believers Immediately Enter Paradise to be with Jesus after Death
Jesus told the penitent thief, "Truly I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise" (Luke 23:43, underline added). Not tomorrow. Not some time in the future. Today. Jesus spoke to the penitent thief in language that he would understand. Even though their dead bodies would be on the cross or in the grave (Luke 23:50-53), the souls of the Savior and the penitent thief would be alive and in Paradise together that day (Ref. 5).
Another biblical example illustrates a believer's expectation of going immediately to be Jesus upon his death. At the time of his death from stoning, Stephen the martyr said, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!" Then he died (Acts 7:57-60).
Apply. Let the words of Jesus to the penitent thief comfort you as you consider the destination of your soul upon your death. "Truly I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise" (Luke 23:43).
Put your faith and trust in Jesus who is the Messiah, the Christ, the Son of God. You will receive God's gracious gift of eternal life (Romans 6:23), and upon the death of your body, your soul will go to Paradise to be with Jesus.
"What is Eternal Life?" (John 17:3)
"What is the Tree of Life in the Bible?" (Genesis 2:9, Revelation 2:7)
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Mr. Whitney V. Myers. Christian. For more information, please visit the Author Page.
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