Today I want to talk about hope. And the hope I want to talk about is the great hope we have as Christians – the hope of eternal life. Without the hope of eternal life, our faith in Jesus Christ is meaningless. The apostle Paul wrote:
1Co 15:13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised.
1Co 15:14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.
1Co 15:15 We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised.
1Co 15:16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised.
1Co 15:17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.
1Co 15:18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.
1Co 15:19 If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.
1Co 15:20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.
1Co 15:21 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead.
Without Christ, we have hope in this life only? Is anyone happy about that? Of course not because even though we are constantly reminded through all kinds of media how great this life is and how we are all so great, each of us knows, believer and unbeliever alike, this life is hopeless. We can’t put our hope, our faith, in this life because this life comes to an end.
We see and hear about the symptoms everyday. If this life is so great, how come suicide is on the rise? Why is there an opioid epidemic? Why is obesity now the number one health crisis in our country? Because hope in this life, like Paul said, is futile and people know it and they feel it.
Now the opposite of hope is hopelessness. As our country continues its cycle of rejecting God, there is a growing sense of this hopelessness. This hopelessness takes on all kinds of forms – rebellion, sexual immorality, greed, despair – people are essentially grasping for happiness in all of the wrong things. And they destroy their minds and their bodies to the point where they are no longer fit for the purpose they were created for, serving and worshipping the God that created them.
Mat 22:34 But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together.
Mat 22:35 And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him.
Mat 22:36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?”
Mat 22:37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.
Mat 22:38 This is the great and first commandment.
Mat 22:39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
Mat 22:40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
It’s for this purpose we are created and it’s the only purpose in which we can find hope and be the people we are supposed to be. Anything else just breeds hopelessness.
Much to my surprise, or maybe not, I find that this hopelessness even finds itself at home in many Christians today. Christians, or those who claim they are Christians, are reaching out in desperation for anything that makes them happy or numb for a brief moment. Church not entertaining enough? Just go find a different one. Don’t like what the Bible teaches? Fine, just read this or that book that will make you feel like a Christian even though it teaches you to NOT to follow Jesus but to follow your own appetites. We must be careful in the information we consume. The thing we call church today is a business pure and simple – let the buyer beware!
For me, I don’t know why anyone would want to live like that when we have such a great hope in Jesus Christ. Because of His death, burial and resurrection (1 Cor. 15) we can rejoice in the fact we are loved by God as His own children and indwelled with the power of His Holy Spirit to live life to the fullest.
Jesus also said,
Joh 10:10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.
Wouldn’t you rather live life abundantly? With real and lasting joy and happiness? That’s what following Christ will give you. It will give you purpose and hope.
In the Book of Ephesians, Paul writes,
Eph 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,
Eph 2:9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
Eph 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
We are created to do good works, not the works of evil. This is our PURPOSE. To obey the will of God. And what is His will?
1Th 4:3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification
Sanctification is the process of perfection in the Christian life. This simply means becoming more like Christ by overcoming sin and thereby proving ourselves to be His. This creates hope in the life of the Christian. It gives us our assurance of the hope of eternal life. For those who keep trying to find hope outside of God, there is only the the fear and hopelessness that comes with knowing after this life you will be judged and eternally condemned.
Heb 10:19 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus,
Heb 10:20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh,
Heb 10:21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God,
Heb 10:22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.
Heb 10:23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.
Heb 10:24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works,
Heb 10:25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
Heb 10:26 For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins,
Heb 10:27 but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries.
So what does the Bible say about hope? How doe we know what real Christian hope looks like so we know we are not putting hope in the wrong things?
First, the Christian hope is faith in things not seen
Heb 11:1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
Rom 8:24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees?
Rom 8:25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
In other words, hope is in eternal life, not life in the here and now.
Tit 1:1 Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness,
Tit 1:2 in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began
Second, the Christian hope rejoices in the glory of God
Rom 5:1 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Rom 5:2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
Third, Christian hope endures
It’s through endurance that hope is produced in us. Endurance means not getting what we want in this life, but rather sacrificing all in this life for the hope of eternal life. Christians who do this are worthy to be called the children of God.
Rom 5:3 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance,
Rom 5:4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,
Rom 5:5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
Fourth, Christian hope is encouraged by the scriptures
Rom 15:4 For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
2Ti 3:14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it
2Ti 3:15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.
2Ti 3:16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,
2Ti 3:17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
Anyone who avoids the scriptures is avoiding truth. And it’s by the truth of God’s word that we understand hope.
And last, Christian hope seeks righteousness
Gal 5:5 For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness.
Again as we said earlier, God’s will for us is our sanctification – our overcoming this world. This means living righteously through the Holy Spirit instead of sinfully.
The scriptures tell us we should check ourselves to see whether we are in the faith or not.
2Co 13:5 Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!
So do you have the type of enduring hope described in scripture? Or do you put your faith and every Christian fad or marketing gimmick that comes your way?
If our life is not focused on the hope by faith we have in eternal life, are we pursuing the right things? Are we maybe really in love with the world and not Jesus…