Pastoral 2017

Christians’ Hope

Written by Rev (Dr) Prabhudas Koshy Sunday, 03 September 2017

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Though the Bible predicts perilous times in the last days, Christians are urged to live with the hope of glorious experiences of heaven which their Saviour has promised them. They might live through many troubles and sufferings in this present world, but they can live in the hope of a glorious eternity. Every Christian can say confidently, “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18).

The apostle Paul reminds us in Romans 8:24 that “we are saved by hope … But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it” (Romans 8:24-25). Our salvation that we have received by faith also kindles within us an undying hope. We hope in the promise of Christ concerning our eternal heavenly home – “then do we with patience wait for it.” We wait, not as criminals for execution, but as a bride for the wedding! The joy is sure to come. So, we eagerly and patiently wait for His return. He will surely come to take us to His glorious home.

A Christian’s real possession is not what he can see. Suppose God prospers him and he has riches: let him be grateful, but let him confess that these are not his treasures. All the wealth of the world gathered together cannot be compared to the glory that awaits all those who are saved by the blood of Christ.

Paul speaks of “the glory which shall be revealed in us”, and he tells us in another place that it is “a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory”. He then said, “While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:17- 18). What great hope Christians possess! It is glory! Glory shall be ours, even ours, poor sinners as we are. Grace is sweet, but what must glory be? And it shall be revealed in us, and about us, and over us, and through us, through all eternity.

Hope’s Descriptions

Scripture has the following descriptions for the hope that we have received through our salvation in Christ:

A blessed hope – Titus 2:13 says that Christians must live their lives by “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ”.

A good hope – 2 Thessalonians 2:16 tells us that “our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father … hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace”.

A lively hope – 1 Peter 1:3 tells us that “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ … according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead”. We have a lively hope, a vigorous, active, operating hope! It lives for ever. Our hope shall never die.

It is worth waiting for the fulfilling of our hope, for it is certainly a blessed, good hope, which is imperishable.

Hope’s Demeanour

In his first epistle, the apostle Peter exhorts the believer to "hope to the end." He wrote, “Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:13). Here Peter mentions three duties of every true Christian. It is interesting to note that in the Greek text, only the last verb is an imperative or command; the first two verbs are participles. In other words, the first two verbal expressions explain to us how we can keep our hope in focus.

The first expression of hope is to "gird up the loins of your mind". To understand the expression, "gird up the loins", we must take our thoughts back to the time and place of Peter. In those days people wore long robes which often constrained them from moving freely and fast. So whenever they needed to move quickly, they would gather up their robes and tuck into a belt. This action of girding up the cloth around the loins is often used to represent one’s preparedness for action. The people of Israel were told to eat the first Passover "with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and ye shall eat it in haste: it is the LORD'S passover" (Exodus 12:11). So when Peter told his readers to "gird up the loins of your mind", he was telling them to be mentally prepared. Our minds must diligently study the prophecies of Christ’s second coming and enthusiastically await His coming. We cannot let our minds wander into the things of the world and conveniently forget the promises of His return.

The second expression of hope is to "be sober", which gives us further understanding as to what it takes to hope for Christ’s return. The Greek word translated as "be sober" carries the idea of alertness or vigilance against dangers. Hope involves not only mental preparedness but also spiritual alertness against the snares of the devil which may keep us trapped in sin at His coming. We must keep a wakeful spirit amid all the narcotising conditions around us. The apostle Paul also calls us to be sober as we hope for Christ’s return – "Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. For they that sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation" (1 Thessalonians 5:6-8).

Finally, "hope to the end" is the ultimate expression of genuine hope. The words, "to the end", comes from the Greek word (telios) which means "perfect" or “complete”. We must set our hearts on our ultimate hope – the Lord’s return.

We look forward in steadfast hope for God’s grace towards us to be fully realised at the revelation of Jesus Christ on the last day. Then His grace shall accept us to our eternal home while the great wrath of God’s judgment will cast the unbelievers into the eternal hell. This grace has already been coming to us since the day we received Christ into our hearts. When our hope is fully set on the final appearance of His return, we will continually receive a greater portion of His grace in our trial-filled journey in this world, that we may complete our journey and receive the final gift of God’s grace, i.e. our glory.