We return tonight to our study of 1 John, and this has been such a wonderful, wonderful study, I think, for all of us and particularly for me. I benefit more than anybody else because of what goes into each message, each lesson. We come to the end of the second chapter and actually flowing into the third chapter.
Breaks in the epistle of John are sometimes hard to figure out, and I know they made an effort at putting the chapter where they thought it should be when they put together the Scriptures, but those - those editors, I think, in this particular case may have served us better if they had not put a chapter heading between verse 29 and the next verse because I do think that there’s one section here from verse 28 to verse 3. Let me read it to you.
First John 2:28, “Now, little children, abide in Him so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming. If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone also who practices righteousness is born of Him. See how great a love the Father has bestowed upon us that we should be called children of God and such we are. For this reason, the world does not know us because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we shall be. We know that when He appears, we shall be like Him because we shall see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies Himself just as He is pure.”
Now, just that reading identifies for you why I think this section needs to be taken together. Verse 28 begins, referring to the appearing of Jesus Christ. And then down into chapter 3 and verse 2, we have further reference to the appearing of Jesus Christ. And then verse 3 says we are to have this hope. This entire section is about our hope in the appearing of Jesus Christ. Our hope for the return of Christ for those who are His beloved children.
The word “hope” in verse 3 really sums up our responsibility. We have this hope and we are, by virtue of this hope, to be purified even as He is pure. The word “hope” then really sort of opens up this section for us, and because it’s not a word that we deal with a lot, it’s not a word that we take time to explain, I want to do a little of that by way of an introduction tonight. Don’t know how far we’ll actually get in the passage, but I would like to address this word “hope.”
There are three great words, a kind of triumvirate in evangelical terminology, “And now abides faith, hope and love.” Plenty of discussion occurs in the Bible with regard to faith. In fact, we’re doing some of that even now in our series in the mornings in Luke chapter 9. And there has been and shall be abundant discussion of the subject of love in Scripture because it is the greatest of those and is a dominant theme in many portions of the New Testament.
On the other hand, hope goes begging a bit, and it would serve us well, I think, to understand something of this wonderful, wonderful spiritual privilege, wonderful provision, wonderful gift called hope. The very word “hope” is like turning on a light in the darkness. It’s like bringing joy into a sorrowful situation. It’s like introducing life into a scene of death. Hope is a word that immediately brightens, lifts, produces joy. Life without hope is bleak. First Corinthians 15, verse 19, Paul says, “If in this life only you have hope, you are of all men most miserable.”
The severest misery, the severest reality of misery is when your hope is only in this life. If you don’t have anything to hope for beyond this life, that is the supreme misery because this life is a vapor that appears for a little time, vanishes away. This life is at best very, very brief and full of trouble. And if all your hope is tied only to what happens here, that is a severe misery. But that’s how it is for most people. That’s how it is for the vast majority of people in the world. There is a bleakness to life because there is no sure hope in the life to come.
There are some wishes, there are some fantasies, there are some religious promises that are made that are false hopes, but for most of the world, for most of humanity throughout its history, there has been no real hope, no hope that could be described in the language of Hebrews 6, “Hope that is an anchor for the soul,” a real hope. And, of course, death immediately brings the realization of the fact that any hope outside of God was a false hope. Job 8:13 says, “The hypocrite’s hope will perish.” Job 27:8 says, “For what is the hope of the hypocrite when God takes away his soul?”
Job 31:24, “If I have made gold my hope, or said to the fine gold, ‘You are my confidence,’ then I have denied the God above.” Proverbs 10:28 says, “The hope of the righteous shall be gladness, but the hope of the wicked shall perish.” It’s a terrible thing to have all your hope in this world, all your hope in a false religious system of this world or all your hope in gold or money or whatever it is in this world. This is virtually to have no hope. In Ephesians chapter 2, in describing the plight of lost humanity, the apostle Paul says, “They have no hope, being without God in the world.” If you don’t have God, you have no hope.
And, in fact, many people in Paul’s day actually acquiesced to that. Unable to find anything that they could anchor their soul on, unable to find anything that was a sure and true hope, they came themselves to the conclusion that life was, in itself, futile. There were philosophies extant at the time that believed that there was no hope for the body, that the soul was somehow imprisoned in the body, someday when the body died, the soul reluctantly would leave the body with the last breath of the individual, leaving through the mouth of one who died of illness or through the open wound of one who was killed.
And the soul at that time, philosophers said, in one way or another that that soul would depart into the shade world where the dead bemoan their existence without comfort. One writer, Diogenes, said, “I rejoice, I play in my youth, long enough beneath the earth shall I lie, bereft of life, voiceless as a stone and shall leave the sunlight which I loved. Good man though I am, then shall I see nothing more.” Now, that, I suppose, is the hope of the atheist or the hope of the godless philosopher.
That is the hopelessness of those without God who have nothing they can be sure of in the life to come, and so they have hope only in this world and are, therefore, truly most miserable. They drown their misery in alcohol, they drown their misery in sex, they drown their misery in entertainment, they drown their misery in acquisition, they drown it in sequential relationships. Somehow, some way they try to make something out of their hopelessness - very different from those who know God.
In Romans chapter 8 and verses 23 to 25, there is a wonderful section that looks at our hope. Verse 23 says not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves,” and I love this phrase, “waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. For in hope we have been saved. But hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one also hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see with perseverance, we wait eagerly for it.”
What this is saying is we have a salvation, the greatest part of which is as yet unrealized. And that is all bound up in our hope. It is wonderful to experience the joys of salvation presently, but they cannot be compared with that which God has prepared for us when our hope becomes reality. The true benefits of salvation are as yet unrealized. We hold to them by hope. They are yet to be ours in their fullness. And he says in verse 23 that we are waiting eagerly for that realization, we are waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons and the redemption of our body.
We have the redemption of our souls, we have received new nature within, we have been transformed by the renewing, regenerating power of the Spirit of God. We are new in the inner man, but we have the same old unredeemed human flesh, and we eagerly wait until our hope is realized in the redemption of our body - that is, to receive the new body which God has prepared to go with the already redeemed soul when we will be made into the image of Jesus Christ, as we just read in 1 John, when we are made like Him because we see Him as He is. We live in hope.
That is why death for us is not an ending. It is the loosing - that’s the very Greek word that is used, it is loosing us from our bondage. We’re in bondage now, our redeemed inner person, our redeemed man, the inner man, the redeemed nature, the life of God that has been granted to us in a transforming manner is incarcerated in unredeemed and fallen flesh and longs to be liberated so that for us, death is liberation. It is indeed the spirit being freed from the debilitating effects of sinful flesh. This is our great hope.
And as I said earlier and I say again so you don’t ever forget this, hope will become reality, and when it does, we will know for sure that the greater elements of our salvation were in this life unrealized. It is good to know and experience the forgiveness of sin and the ministry of the Spirit of God that affirms that. It is good to have the indwelling Holy Spirit. It is good to experience the fruit of the Spirit - love, joy, peace, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, self-control.
It is good to be led by the Spirit. It is good to experience answered prayer. It is good to know Christian fellowship, to enjoy worship, et cetera, et cetera. It is good to be engaged in serving the Lord. It is good to see His hand of sovereign direction in our lives. All of that is good, but none of that comes close to what it will be when hope becomes reality. We have a salvation, then, that is in its fullness as yet unrealized.
And so - verse 24, then, says in hope we have been saved. And hope, then, is the major component of our salvation in the sense that we will only, when that hope is realized, participate in the very fullness of God’s purpose in saving us in the first place.
Now, the Bible says a lot about hope, and I want to give you a little hope-ology here, if I can, take you through some of the things that the Bible says about hope just because I think it’s good to have a foundation. Our hope comes from God, and that’s where we want to start, and I might even give you a dozen things as they roll around in my brain up here. But I want to start with the idea that our hope is in God, it is in no less than God. It is not in men, it is in God. It is in the unchanging God, the God who is never, ever subject to alteration. The God who has spoken and has spoken the truth and cannot speak anything other than the truth.
Our hope is in God, and that’s why Psalm 43:5 says this: “Why are you in despair, O my soul? Why are you disturbed within me? Hope in God.” Things aren’t what they should be. Things aren’t what you’d like them to be. Things aren’t the way you would plan them if you were in charge. And so you become despairing and you become disturbed, and the psalmist says, “Stop that and hope in God.” Remember that God is your help. He is your help, he says, and your God. Our hope, then, comes from God. It is because God has made promises of care and concern and protection and guidance and direction and sustenance that we can trust Him for a better tomorrow.
Psalm 78 again emphasizes much the same things. Verse 7, you should put your confidence in God. Put your confidence or your hope in God. He is the one worthy of our hope. It is God Himself who has committed to us the promise of care, the promise of meeting all our needs, and the promise of eternal life.
The Bible also says about hope - and it’s important to note this - that it comes from God, He is the source of our hope, but it is a gift of grace. It is not something you can earn. This is tucked into a little verse in 2 Thessalonians chapter 2 at the end of verse 16. It’s really a benediction. “Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who has loved us and given us eternal comfort and good hope by grace, comfort and strengthen your hearts in every good work and word.”
Never let it be said that we did anything to earn our hope. It is a gracious gift. God is the source of that gift. God is the one who gives us something to hope for - God is the one who gives us everything to hope for - and He gives us this good hope by grace.
Now, where do we find the essence of this hope? Where do we find the information about this hope? Where do we learn what this hope means? For the answer to that, you would expect that we would turn to Scripture and, indeed, we do. Look at Romans 15, verse 4. Here again, just following up our little bit of a study on hope here, we find that whatever was written in the Scripture - Romans 15:4, Paul referring here, of course, to the Scripture the people were familiar with, the Old Testament at that time, but it certainly refers to all God’s revelation.
Whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have what? Hope. Our hope comes from God by grace and is dispensed to us in the Scriptures. It is as we know what the Scripture says that we have hope. Just as our faith is believing God for what He said just because He said it, so our hope is believing God for what He promised just because He promised it.
In Psalm 119, the psalmist says, “May those who fear thee see me and be glad because I wait for thy Word.” Here is a man who understood that what God said was true, and there were times in his life of severe trial and difficulty where he had to wait until the realization of what he had hoped for came to pass. He learned to live in that expectation. He says it again in Psalm 119, verse 81, “I wait for thy Word.” I will wait, God, until the time is right for you to deliver what you promised me in hope.
Because, then, this hope from God by grace is given through the Scripture, it is something that is reasonable. Look at 1 Peter 3:15 - and we’re building our case here. “Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts,” 1 Peter 3:15, “always ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you.” And it says then, “Give this with gentleness and reverence.” You can defend your hope. That’s what Peter is saying. Your hope is defensible. It is reasonable. It is not pie-in-the-sky.
Our hope in eternal life, our hope in heaven, our hope in ultimately being made like Christ, our hope in a redeemed body wed together in indivisible oneness throughout all eternity with our redeemed spirit by which we will praise and serve the Lord is a reasonable hope. It is a hope that is defensible. You say, “How is it defensible? How is it that it’s not just pie-in-the-sky?” It is defensible because it comes from the Word of God. And God’s Word is true. Any faithful study of Scripture, any honest study of Scripture will allow Scripture itself to unload on an open-minded reader its own truthfulness. The Bible can defend itself to anyone who studies it.
So we have a hope that comes from God. We have a hope that is given us by grace. We have a hope that is laid out for us in Scripture. We have a hope, therefore, that is objectively defensible.
I want to add to that. Our hope, promised us in Scripture, has already been secured for us. And how was it secured? By the resurrection of Jesus Christ - by the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Again, Peter helps us with this. First Peter 1:3, “Blessed,” writes he. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus, our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again unto” - what? - “a living hope that is a hope in life.” We have the hope that we’re headed toward eternal life. It’s a living hope in the sense that it’s a hope in eternal life. And we bless God because He’s caused us to be born again to this hope which truly lives through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
There is the securing of our living hope. If Jesus didn’t rise, guess what? We don’t rise, either. John 14. Jesus said, “Because I live, you will live also.” We died in Him and we rose in Him. We have risen to walk in newness of life in the very resurrection of Jesus Christ. When Jesus went to the cross, there might have been some question about whether our hope was valid. There might have been some reason to wonder whether the promise of the Old Testament, “Thou will not allow thy Holy One to see corruption,” would really be true.
We might have wondered whether Job could honestly say, “Though worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God.” Did Job have a reason for that hope? Did the psalmist have a reason for that hope? When Jesus was saying, “Whoever believes in me though he were dead yet shall he live, and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die,” when He said that the home of Lazarus, Martha, and Mary was there reason to believe that? Well, it was at least open to question until one monumental event, and that event was the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and at the resurrection of Jesus Christ, our eternal life was secured. And so, we have a living hope secured in the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
But that doesn’t end this amazing treatment of hope in the Bible. Turn back to Romans 15 again, and this is - by the way, this is just a long introduction to this passage, but it gives me a good excuse to deal with this hope because this, as I said, goes begging as a subject very often. There’s another benediction in Romans 15:13 - I love this. “Now may the God of hope” - do you ever call Him that? As I say, it goes begging. “The God of love” is often a term or a descriptive to refer to God. Very rarely do I hear people call Him the God of hope. That simply means He is, as we’ve already learned, the source.
The God who is the source of hope, the God who has graciously given that hope to us and laid it out for us in Scripture and secured it by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing that you may abound in hope” - listen to this - “by the power” of whom? - “of the Holy Spirit.” Isn’t this interesting? Our hope is then confirmed, energized in us by the Holy Spirit. Granted by God through grace, by means of the Scripture, secured by Christ, confirmed in us by the Holy Spirit.
It is the Holy Spirit who stirs up that hopeful attitude in the heart in response to the promises of God revealed in Scripture. This is a marvelous hope. This engulfs all of redemptive purpose. This encompasses the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The Father gives the hope, the Son secures the hope, the Spirit confirms the hope. We are to live with hope. We are not a people who have hope only in this world; we have hope in the world to come, and it is a living hope. It is a hope for real life, guaranteed and secured for us because Jesus conquered death not only for Himself but for all who are in Him.
That’s not all about this hope. That would be enough, but there’s more. The Bible makes more of the magnificence of this hope. In Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians, 1 Thessalonians, he, in chapter 5, discusses the Christian’s armor, as Paul does also in Ephesians 6, but here in 1 Thessalonians 5 - 1 Thess. 5 - in verse 8, there’s an abbreviated treatment here of spiritual armor and he talks about having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet, the hope of salvation. What he means there is very, very important to understand.
As a Christian, I assume that I’m going to be attacked by Satan. I assume that. I assume - if I sort of slide over to Ephesians chapter 6 - that I’m going to be engaged in a battle not against flesh and blood but against spiritual wickedness in the heavenlies against the rulers of this world, against the forces of darkness. I’m going to be engaged in a real battle with the forces of Satan. And that battle is going to come on many, many levels. One of the attacks, one of the avenues, one of the angles that Satan uses is to try to crush us with doubt.
Every Christian who’s ever lived has experienced doubt. Doubt is not an indication that you’re not saved. Doubt is a sin, but like all other sin in the life of a believer, it’s forgivable. And by the Scripture and the work of the Spirit, we overcome it. And so here we find that we are protected by a helmet. Satan wants to come in with crushing blows of doubt, smashing us in the head, as it were, but we have on the helmet, which is the hope of salvation. Hope, then, defends us against Satan’s attacks.
That’s where the battle often is waged. There are times in your life, I’m sure, where you wonder whether you’re really a Christian. Maybe you had the fleeting thought, “I don’t even know if this whole gospel business is true, I wonder if I’m believing in a fantasy.” Maybe your thought is, “I don’t know whether the Lord has really saved me. I’m so sinful, I’m not sure I’m worthy. I don’t know whether I’m in or out. Maybe the Lord has decided to let me go. Maybe I only thought I was a Christian.” And all those battles go on and on, and where do you go to be anchored?
You go back to the hope of salvation which is given you in Scripture by grace, guaranteed by the resurrection of Christ and confirmed by the wonderful internal witness of the Holy Spirit, who continues to affirm that you are the child of God.
Hope defends us against Satan. It’s understanding the glorification aspect of salvation that is a defense. It’s not just a comfort. It is a comfort, it’s a very great comfort, our hope, isn’t it? Because no matter what goes wrong in this world, we know there’s a better life to come. No matter what trouble and trial and struggle and illness and disease and disaster and death comes, we know that there’s something better to come. And we eagerly wait for that. But it’s more than just a positive hope, it’s a defense. Because when Satan is hammering and hammering and hammering with doubt, we go back to the revelation of our hope.
The psalmist over and over again says, “I have hope in your Word - I have hope in your Word - I have hope in your Word.” That’s where you go and you read again what God has prepared for them that love Him, as much as has been revealed. So our hope defends us against Satan.
Our hope also - and this might be a bit surprising - is confirmed through trials. Our hope is confirmed through trials. Look back at verse 8 there. We have as a helmet the hope of salvation. We go back and remember as we read the Scripture, verse 9, that God has not destined us for wrath but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ who died for us, that whether we’re awake or asleep, we may live together with Him. Therefore, encourage one another and build up one another just as you’re also doing.
In other words, what he’s saying is in the middle of a trial when you’re pounded by doubt, you go back, you re-grip the Scripture, you are reminded that God has not destined us for wrath, but rather has given us through Christ the salvation that is ours, that has been obtained for us through Christ. And by that, you encourage one another, you build up one another so that even through the struggle of doubt, even through the trial itself, you come out stronger.
I think Paul is affirming that in Romans 8 again. This is such a great chapter, Romans 8. He says in verse 31, “If God’s for us, who will be against us?” Do we know God is for us? Is that revealed? Is that part of what Scripture constitutes as our hope? Absolutely. We know that. We know that He who didn’t spare His own Son but delivered Him up for us all will also freely give us all things necessary. We know that no one can bring a successful charge against God’s elect because God has already declared us righteous.
No one can successfully condemn us because Christ has already died for us. No one can separate us from the love of Christ. How do we know that? Because Paul would say in personal testimony, “I’ve been through tribulation, I’ve been through distress, I’ve been through persecution, famine, nakedness, peril, sword, and I’m telling you, in all those things, we are conquerors.” And out of all those experiences, he is convinced that there is nothing that can separate him from the love of Christ. Trials actually have a way of affirming our hope, of strengthening our hope, and certainly of making our hope brighter.
Our hope is the source of our joy, really. That’s another element of hope. It is what defends us against the onslaught of Satan when he hits us with doubt. It is confirmed and strengthened through our trials because we see the protective, preserving hand of God and we suffer the pain that makes us long even more for the bright reality of our eternal hope. But even while living in this life, hope is the source of our purest joy. That’s such a practical thing, it hardly needs explanation.
But if you’re writing down a lot of verses and you want another one, here’s one for you. “How blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord, his God?” How blessed is he? That’s the source of our greatest blessing; consequently, our greatest joy that our God, the true and living God, has committed Himself to be our help. Blessed is the man, Jeremiah 17:7, whose trust is in the Lord. Blessed is that man.
When you have your trust in Him, when you have your hope in Him, there’s the source of your truest and purest and highest joy because you know your God is a rock, you know your God is unchangeable, you know your God is a covenant-keeping God, you know your God is sovereign and rules over everything, and no one can hinder His unfolding purpose. All these things are components of our hope.
One other thing that I need to say, maybe a couple beyond it, but this for sure. It is hope that removes the fear of death. It is our hope that removes the fear of death. We’ve already hinted at that, of course. We have this hope from God, it is a gracious gift. It comes to us from the Scripture, secured for us by the resurrection of Christ. It is defensible because it is in the pages of God’s holy Word which is true, confirmed to us by the Holy Spirit. It defends us against the doubts that Satan would bring. It is the source of our ongoing blessedness and joy. It is strengthened and confirmed through trials, and it removes the fear of death. It removes the fear of death.
What is there to be afraid of if all death does is release you into the fulfillment of your hope? When you came to Jesus Christ and you acknowledged Him as Savior, what did you want? You say, “I wanted forgiveness for sin.” Why did you want that? “Because I didn’t want to go to hell. I wanted to go to heaven.” You didn’t come to Christ and say, “I want to be saved so I’ll be a better wife,” “I want to be saved so I’ll be a nicer husband,” “I’ll be a better kid.” “I want to be saved so that I can have God working in my corner to make my life more successful, full of peace and joy and happiness.”
That’s not what was really in your mind because when you were truly saved, what was overwhelming you at the time was the reality of your what? Your sin. It wasn’t about your circumstances. You had to get beyond that to your sin, and so you were coming as a sinner and you were saying, “Oh, God, deliver me from my sin and its consequences into the blessedness of that eternal life which you provide.” You were very much aware, anybody is who comes to salvation, that you were engaging God in a matter that had eternal consequences, right?
This wasn’t just a temporal deal, you were looking all the way down into eternity and realizing the path you were on had immensely frightening eternal consequences. It wasn’t about fixing your marriage, it wasn’t about fixing your family or your career or making life easier to tolerate. You weren’t thinking that. Nobody does when they’re genuinely saved. You were overwhelmed with sin as to its reality and its severity and its permanent, eternal consequences. When you came to Christ, then, you were given eternal life, you were given the hope of that eternal life. It should have been immediate that you lost the fear of death.
Now, I didn’t say the fear of dying. There are normal things to be afraid of. I would just as soon not be in a car wreck and have my body mangled and be lying somewhere in pain and agony. I would just as soon not suffer some debilitating illness that makes everybody around me have to stop their entire life and pay attention to me while I slowly pass away, even though God has reasons to allow those things to happen. I would just as soon not make a hasty exit into heaven for my own benefit because it might be better for me to stay here and be with you, as the apostle Paul said. I don’t look forward to pain. I don’t look forward to suffering. I’m not a masochist. I don’t welcome that. I would like to avoid it.
I was talking to my Dad because it was on January 14th four years ago that my mother died. And she sat down on the bed, and she put a teacup on a little table and she went to heaven, just about that fast. And people said to me, “You know, you might have that same potential, you might have that same potential problem of an aneurism in the brain and you could go that quickly, and you ought to get that checked.” And I said, “I hope I have that tendency, I hope that’s how I go, I just want to sit down and be in heaven - no muss, no fuss, and that’s it.”
If I have my choice - I’m not asking now to do that, but I mean, that’s - I can’t -- the only better way to go than that would be in the rapture. But that isn’t how it is. I don’t look forward to the dying, it’s normal to fear the dying, it’s normal to fear pain, that’s natural, God built that into us, but that’s not fearing death.
And you remember I mentioned about Larry King. Larry King off the air said to me, “Are you afraid to die? Do you have a fear of death?” I said, “I have no fear of death.” And he asked me again, he said, “You really mean that, you have no fear of death?” I said, “I have no fear of death.” I said, “I have normal anxiety about the way you might suffer prior to death, but I have no fear of death because of my hope in Christ. That’s the fulfillment of everything that matters to me.” And then he said, “I wish I could have that faith.” And I said, “Oh, you could. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the truth of Jesus Christ, the Word of Christ.”
And so when you have this hope, the sting of death is gone. It disappears because death simply ushers you into the presence of the Lord, and that’s why the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 15 looks forward joyfully to death. He says, “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? The sting of death is sin, the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” We’re already - we’re victorious over sin. We’re victorious over the indictment and punishment of the law, and so we can look at the future and we have a hope, Colossians 1:5, “a hope laid up for you in heaven.”
There’s no fear of heaven. Anybody afraid of heaven - anybody afraid of heaven? Anybody afraid of the presence of Jesus Christ? Anybody afraid to go into the New Jerusalem, the heavenly city, the capital of the eternal state? Anybody afraid of holy angels? God the Father? Anybody afraid of the saints? Nothing about heaven frightens me and death is simply the door. So Paul, Colossians 1, says we have a hope laid up for us in heaven and he says of which you previously heard in the Word of Truth. Again, he goes right back to the Scripture. You know about this hope because it’s in the Word.
It’s been revealed by God in the Word and you have this hope. And over in verse 23 of that same chapter, he says, “If you just continue in the faith, firmly established and steadfast and not moved away from the hope of that gospel, you’re going to realize it.” Verse 27. He calls it the hope of glory. So we don’t have anything to be afraid of when it comes to death. Death is our releasing, freeing us up to be what we were redeemed to be. This hope is sure. It is an absolutely fixed hope. In fact, Titus 1:2 refers to the hope of eternal life, which God who cannot lie promised before time began.
Don’t you just love that? God, who can’t lie, promised this hope of eternal life before time began, and He promised it to His elect, and He wrote their names down in a book. And before you were ever created, before Adam was ever created, before the universe was ever created, God had already written down the names of those who would receive the hope of eternal life. And God cannot lie. And that is why Hebrews 6 says, “We have this hope.” Strong words. “We have this hope as an anchor of the soul, a hope” - verse 19 - “sure and steadfast.” And he says, “It’s tied to one who enters within the veil, even Jesus.” This is amazing language. We have a hope that’s anchored to Jesus who is inside the veil in the very throne of God, interceding for us. This is our hope.
Now, all of the glories of our hope will be fulfilled when Christ comes. It’s not really until He comes that we enter into the fullness of our hope. If you’re to die now, your spirit would go to heaven, but your body would remain in the grave, right? Until Jesus comes back, until He returns and the dead in Christ rise, 1 Thessalonians 4. So it’s not until Jesus comes that we have the full realization of our hope. When He comes, everything comes together. So - Titus 2:13. “We are looking for the blessed hope.” And what is the key to that? “We’re looking for the blessed hope, even the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus.”
Isn’t that great? Titus 2:13. Our hope realizes its fullness at the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Christ Jesus. And then the One who gave Himself for us, the One who redeemed us from every lawless deed will purify for Himself a people for His own possession in the purest sense possible. This is our hope. What an amazing reality it is at the very heart of our Christian faith.
Quickly to review: Our hope comes from God. It is a gift of grace. It is explained to us in the Scriptures. It is reasonable and defensible because the Scripture is true. It is secured by the resurrection of Christ. It is confirmed by the work of the Holy Spirit in us. It is a hope that defends us against the blows of doubt that come from the enemy. It is strengthened through our trials as we see the hand of God continually delivering us and protecting us and preserving us unto that hope.
It is the source of our greatest blessedness and joy. It removes the fear of death. It is absolutely secure and steadfast. It is an anchor that is tied to Jesus Christ Himself, who is inside the veil in the throne room of God, interceding for us. And all of its elements will be fulfilled when He appears. This is our hope.
Now let me close with having you go back to 1 John - and at least make a brief reference to this text. Go down to verse 3. This hope has immense ethical implications. This hope, verse 3, “Everyone who has this hope” -- now - I had to explain what this hope was, didn’t I? And I did. “And everyone who has this hope” - and this is the hope I’ve been talking about - “fixed on Him purifies himself just as He is pure.” It is then finally a hope that affects our conduct. It is a hope that purges and purifies. This becomes, then, the primary thrust of John’s writing.
John is concerned with the ethical implications of this hope because it is - listen carefully - the ethical implications of this hope that verify whether we’re truly Christians. We already know John is concerned about giving tests and standards by which a person’s spiritual condition can be determined. There are doctrinal tests that he’s given in his epistle, such as one’s view of sin and one’s view of Christ. There are moral tests, such as obedience and love, to which we have addressed ourselves in the months passed.
And here, he expands that moral category, that ethical category, and says, “A true believer, one who really has this hope in Christ, purifies himself.” It’s demonstrable. The proof of being a Christian is what you believe about sin, what you believe about Christ. Proof of being a Christian is obedience, love, and purity. And personal pursuit of purity, personal pursuit of holiness is an evidence that you’re living in the light of a true eternal hope. John is going to help us to understand that when we get into this passage next time.
Father, we can only say thank you for this, this hope that you’ve given us, this hope of eternal life, which we do not deserve, could not earn, and cannot forfeit, because it is anchored within the veil to the exalted, interceding, perfect High Priest, Jesus Christ. We thank you for our eternal hope.
We thank you that we live in hope, that we have laid up for us an inheritance in heaven that fades not away. We live in hope, we’re saved in hope. We long for the realization of that hope and all its fullness at the appearing of Jesus Christ and can say then with John, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus.”
Until that time when our hope becomes reality, when what we long for becomes what we are, may we be faithful in living in the light of that hope in self-purification as we prepare ourselves for your eternal presence. Help us to be faithful in that, we pray. In your Son’s name, Amen.
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