The Hope of the Christian
Romans 5:20 – 6: 22.
Titus 2: 11 – 3: 9.
We have talked recently about having an honestly repentant fellowship with God; about following Christ as a disciple, and earlier this year choosing our life-style – to follow a self centred style, or to follow and serve Christ. All these had in them things that we ought to do, or maybe even had to do. But the question remains, "Why should we? Don’t we go to Church regularly and don’t we live a good enough life?
The secret lies in the future and in our own future. Christianity is a Religion of Hope. As Duncan has said to us a couple of times – “Not a Hope so, but a Know so, future hope.” Not a wish for but something that has been promised to us and all we need to do is to claim it in Faith. Promised results in our lives that have been promised by the one who never breaks His Word, promises that if we accept Christ and His commands and teachings then what we are promised will come to pass for God’s promises are sure.
What are these Hopes that we are promised, and that no other religion can promise? First of all in 1 Peter 1: 3 we read of a Living Hope. We are born again by the power of the Holy Spirit when we come to Christ and accept Him as the controller of our life. It is a living hope in that from that moment on we have the life of the Spirit available to us, in every aspect of our life, at home, at work, at play. What ever happens God can work together with the faithful believer to bring about good. This is confirmed in 3: 13 – 15. God looks after us even when challenged to explain the Hope that is within us. That Hope has become part of our life, it enlivens us and encourages us as the Spirit leads us through thick and thin.
Col. 1: 23 we read that this hope is part of the Gospel – the Good News that we heard and that led us to make our commitment to Christ. This hope in the Gospel is part of God’s eternal plan, it was provided for us from the beginning. How can we not rejoice and be happy that God Himself has planned for us to receive His great blessings through our faith in Jesus Christ.
1 Thes.5: 8 – 9. This Hope of ours is a great protective thing. If we keep it in mind we will have the confidence in front of difficulties and dangers such as a steel helmet gives us when facing an enemy. This Hope of Salvation is the confidence of the Christian, each one of us. God has promised us that if we accept Jesus into our lives by faith then we will be saved. From what? From the guilt and taint of past sins, from the power of the devil to tempt us, from the ultimate consequence of sin – eternal death of body and soul. From ultimate separation from God Himself, the creator and power for sustaining all of creation including you and me.
2 Chon. 7: 13 – 15. Even in the OT we find God’s promises. If the people turn away – that is, repent and change the direction of their lives and their priorities – then God will be attentive to their prayers and will forgive then their sins. Compare with the reading from 1 John 1: 8 – 10 that we had last month.
In Eph. 1: 18 – 19 we read of the riches of our hope in God’s calling of us. A hope of inheritance. An inheritance comes to the child of the Father, thus we have the hope of being sons and daughters of God through Christ the crucified and resurrected Son of God, and our Saviour by means of His sacrifice and our faith. Our hope then is that we also will be resurrected and live with our Father God for all eternity alongside our elder brother Jesus.
Further in Gal.5: 5 – 6 we are told of our hope that we ultimately will be holy and righteous – that is right with God our Father – and that isn’t by forms or creeds or rituals, but through our faith and our love for Jesus and God and our neighbours.
In Col. 1: 27 – 28 we read that God has willed from the very beginning to give us – even the Gentiles – the Hope of Glory. The promise to the Jews which they rejected when they crucified Jesus has united all Christians of all nations and ethnic groups to look forward to the time when this world will indeed be the Kingdom of our God and King. In the meantime, while we obey Jesus command to take the Gospel to all nations and groups in the world, the Kingdom is within each faithful Christian person, and within all who come to Christ in faith.
So what is this Hope of the Christian? It is nothing less than the hope of eternal life with God our Father and Jesus Christ the Son who is our Saviour. This is not a matter so much of length of time – after all the Spiritual world is outside of time and space – no restrictions on it at all. No, Eternal Life is a quality of life lived with God and lived in and through His power. Life so rich and satisfying that it could take all of Eternity to fully experience it. Life with Christ in control and walking with us – and it start here and now – not after death. Those who believe and serve the Lord are in Eternal Life right now. It is God’s promise to us.
Jn. 17: 1 – 3. Jesus in His prayer to the Father defines Eternal Life.
Rom. 6: 23. Paul re-emphasises that Eternal Life is the free gift of God to all who believe.
Lk.10: 25 – 27 Jesus tells us how we get Eternal Life. We must Love God with all our Heart, Mind and Strength, and Love our neighbours as we love ourselves. An impossible task for an unregenerate worldly human being, but quite possible to one who has been born again and by faith has accepted Christ into their life so that the power of the Holy Spirit strengthens us and guides us so that we can do just what Jesus says.
Do you live hopefully, rejoicing in the promises of God, walking with Jesus Christ, allowing the Holy Spirit to enliven you and guide you to all good works? Are you today living in God’s presence in His glorious Eternal Life? If not today is the day that you need to decide. Have faith in Jesus and His sacrifice; accept Him as the controller of your life, and today you will begin walking with Jesus in Eternal Life. Amen.