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Strangers and Pilgrims


   As one reads the list of the “faithful” named in Hebrews chapter 11, it is easy to see they knew they were headed somewhere.   This is perhaps why the Spirit had the penman write what we see in vs 13. “These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.”       Upon reading the 16th verse it is apparent that these “strangers and pilgrims” were indeed on a journey and were striving to get to that heavenly country prepared by God.  

   The physical example of Abraham is offered as an example for Christians as the promise to Abraham was a physical one with a physical inheritance, but with spiritual implications.   In Hebrews 11:8-9 we are told of this, yet in vss 10 & 16 we see the “spiritual application” of the physical existence.    And, we can see both applications in the final two verses of this great chapter of the letter to the Hebrews. And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: 40 God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.  (Hebrews 11:39-40)

   In the 13th chapter of John, Jesus told His apostles that He was going away. He too was a stranger on this earth, but He knew where He was going. He came to provide the means so that all others that are strangers and pilgrims can be made whole and that their destination could be defined and attainable.   In John 14:2-4 He told them what was waiting and that they knew the way to get there.   In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know.     Then in John 14:6 He tells Thomas (and us) that He is the way, and that none can come to the Father, except through Him.   Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

      And, we have many “hints” as to where our journey should take us as we find out where the Father is.   One such place is found in Matthew 6:9, often referred to as the “Lord’s Prayer”, but in fact is part of the Sermon on the Mount.   After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.  From this we see that the Father is in Heaven and that is where we all should want to go as we “sojourn” on this earth.

   But, how are we to know the way?   Jesus had told His apostles that He was the way, yet He was going back to the Father.   Just how were they to follow Him after His departure? Well, the Lord took care of this. We see in John 14:16 & 26 that the Lord would send them the Comforter.   In these verses He identifies this comforter and tells not only what He would provide, but also how long He would be with them.   16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;  26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.    The “all things” the Spirit gave and taught them was the gospel.  

   In 2Thessalonians 2:14 we are told that this gospel calls us so that we can go and be where Christ is after we complete our pilgrimage. Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. 

And we are told that this gospel is the “power of God unto Salvation” which means that through the gospel we can follow the Christ and ultimately be where He is – With our Father in heaven. For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.  (Romans 1:16)

   -- It stands to reason that since Jesus is the “way, the truth and the life” and that He sent the Spirit to provide the gospel that guides us to where He and the Father are, that we should make heaven our destination as we sojourn in this life.  We are told in Colossians 1:4-5 that it is through the gospel that we learned of this hope that is only in Christ.   Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints, 5 For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel; 

        Isn’t it about time that we all embrace the fact that we are all “strangers and pilgrims and our existence extends beyond this life?   Why not obey the gospel and then do as Paul was doing when the Spirit had Paul write to the brethren in Philippi in Philippians 3:14? I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. 

Everyone has a destination.   What’s yours?   Where are you going?

                                                                     Dennis S. - Mooresville

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